On Wisconsin

On March 12, 2012, Stanley Fish wrote the following in the New York Times:

“I know the objections to what I have said here. It amounts to an apology for identity politics. It elevates tribal obligations over the universal obligations we owe to each other as citizens. It licenses differential and discriminatory treatment on the basis of contested points of view. It substitutes for the rule ‘don’t do it to them if you don’t want it done to you’ the rule ‘be sure to do it to them first and more effectively‘. It implies finally that might makes right. I can live with that.”

Now, this article was trying to make the case to justify war on Rush Limbaugh but not a war on Bill Maher. I posit the same principles are being utilized to justify the ongoing political war being waged by the Democratic Party and the public service unions in Wisconsin against Gov. Scott Walker and other elected officials. If you believe all will be well in the US if only President Obama were defeated this November, then I submit that Wisconsin is the proverbial “canary in the coal mine”.

In November of 2010, the GOP swept Wisconsin politics. The governor, the lieutenant governor, the State House, the State Senate, and the U.S. Senate seat held by Russ Feingold were won by the GOP. In 2011,Gov. Walker introduced a bill to restrict the right to collective bargaining by the public unions. This was done to relieve some of the financial pressure on the state and municipalities. The Democratic Party and the unions did not take this lying down and led a movement that not only facilitated the fleeing from the state of Democratic legislators but included public demonstrations utilizing violence, threats of violence, and intimidation. When this failed to stop the passage of the bill, the Democratic Party and the unions utilized Wisconsin’s recall law; targeting for GOP state senators. The unions spent close to $30 million and only won two of these races. The state Senate remained in the hands of the GOP.

In November of 2011, emboldened by the rejection of a similar collective bargaining bill by referendum in Ohio, the Democratic Party and the unions embarked on recalling not only Gov. Walker but the lieutenant governor and four state senators. Of course, this was all done under the guise of nonpartisanship.

The Democratic Party and their union allies submitted over 1 million signatures to recall Gov. Walker. Their allies in the media were thrilled. Despite cases of people bragging of signing the recall petition 80 times and signatures of Donald Duck, Bugs Bunny, and Adolf Hitler, the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board decided it would not check signatures. So much for ensuring the integrity of elections in Wisconsin. However, a county circuit Judge ruled that the state GAB needed to take more aggressive action to vet recall signatures stating, “counting the signature of Bugs Bunny is something only a lawyer make seem okay”.

There is an air of desperation from the Democratic Party and their union allies. A recent report showed that membership in organized labor unions in Wisconsin dropped by 16,000 according to the latest data from the US Bureau of Labor statistics. This is almost a 1% decrease from 2010. Although labor unions gained members in 19 states last year, union membership nationally dropped from 11.9% of the employed population in 2010 to 11.8% in 2011; continuing a decades long trend. Union members also tended to be older than nonunion members, according to the BLS data. Union membership is 15.7% among workers 55 to 64, but 4.4% for those 16 to 24. The Democratic Party is in danger of losing not only a base of power but also the millions of dollars the unions would generate for political campaigns and causes. Recalling Gov. Scott Walker is a matter of political life and death. At this time, it appears the primaries will be held on May 8 and the general election June 5; that is assuming that GAB request is granted.

It should be noted that the anti-Walker forces are leaving no stone unturned. They have challenged the state voter identification law and a Wisconsin judge has struck down said law. Oddly, the judges and other government officials who have ruled against Walker and these laws have also signed the recall petition against Walker. Most people would consider this a conflict of interest; but obviously not in Wisconsin.
Wisconsin has always been notorious for a lax voter standards. Anecdotes range from Marquette University students registering and voting multiple times on election day to people crossing state lines in order to vote on election day. The Democrats have never been keen on cracking down on potential voter fraud. The obvious reason is voter fraud is one of the very few things they are really good at.

They have also caused one of the GOP state senators, who was subject to the recall, to resign. It appears she was the target of a harassing e-mail campaign by an AFSCME Union official. Although she stated her health was her reason for leaving, her statement, “for the sake of the electorate, I hope that better days are ahead for this institution”, seems to allude to the threats and intimidation she and others have had to encounter since taking on the Democratic power structure.

The events in Wisconsin seem to prove the observation that in a state of confusion the actions of a few committed people can have devastating consequences to the opposition. The blame for these events should be placed on the few whose desire for power is greater than the need for civility. This country was founded on ideas. For better and worse, this country has changed politically because of ideas. However, we have always been civil and have accepted the consequences of elections.

Something has changed in the last 20 years. The level of incivility is unsustainable. As a result, there is a lack of dialogue to change arcane and unsustainable policies. It is a “win at all costs and take no prisoners” attitude established by raw emotion instead of logic. Instead of embracing the concepts and beliefs of conservatism or liberalism, proponents seek to strong-arm and/or destroy those who do not embrace their beliefs.

It will be interesting to see the results of this recall in Wisconsin. I understand the fear and dread the Democratic Party and their union allies have over the policies of Scott Walker. Residents of Wisconsin have seen their property taxes stabilize for the first time in many years. Will they give in to these tactics of threat and intimidation by the Democratic Party and their union allies?

A loss by Walker and the GOP will end not only the idea of fiscal responsibility to the cash strapped local governments but it will embolden Democrats and their union allies to intimidate and threaten any entity or person who dares interfere with their power structure. It will not just be contained to Wisconsin. It will become a national movement to counter any change to their entitlements. These folks care nothing for ideas and civility. They have no respect and venomous contempt for anyone who disagrees with their views.

A victory by Walker and the GOP will bring shivers of terror to the national Democratic Party. It will change an area of the country the national GOP abandoned 15 years ago. This is the paradigm shift. It is truly on Wisconsin.

Spartan

Advertisements

Concerning Afghanistan and Syria

With all the focus on rising gas prices, a sluggish economy, and boring presidential primary campaigns, events in Afghanistan and Syria may have a greater impact than we realize. I am not sure which is worse; an incompetent administration’s foreign-policy or the rush by some within the GOP to involve this nation in another foreign adventure.

The tragic news concerning an American soldier killing 16 innocent civilians is not only an act that is reprehensible but it seems the act may be a consequence of arcane rules of engagement and an increasing pressure to survive the daily grind of warfare in Afghanistan. I am not absolving the soldier of his responsibilities but I believe the situation in Afghanistan to be more complicated than what the media is reporting. We should always keep in mind the events surrounding a similar act several years ago in Haditha, Iraq. Despite being called murderers and war criminals by politicians and the perpetually angry Left, all eight soldiers were found not guilty of murder when all the facts were put on display.

We should always remember that we are fighting an asymmetrical war in Afghanistan. The enemy does not fight us openly nor do they operate under the constraints of the Geneva Convention. The enemy also uses Afghan tribal culture and customs to perpetuate the warfare. For instance, they will pay someone to plant an IED on a roadway; knowing that roadway is monitored by our snipers. When our snipers kill this person, the family and tribe of this person will then join the fight against us to avenge this death and not because they seek a return of the Taliban. Meanwhile, this country attempts to bring Afghanistan into the 21st century. We have made much progress but to date, Afghanistan remains stuck in the 17th century.

In the meantime, President Karzai demands that this soldier be put on a public trial in Kabul and President Obama is quick with an apology.
Karzai has not really been our ally in this fight. He seems more inclined to advance himself over Afghanistan. He has seen the US leave Iraq and abandon allies like Mubarak of Egypt and believes a similar fate awaits him. He has also been influenced by the ISI of Pakistan and the Iranians; both antagonists of the US. Our policy of nation building has been an abysmal failure. I contend the time to leave Afghanistan has been long overdue. I have been quite uncomfortable keeping our forces between a devolving Pakistan to the East and an increasingly aggressive Iran to the West. It should be noted that Pakistan already has nuclear weapons and Iran is working towards the same goal. If the allegations contained in the recent Sunday edition of the German newspaper Die Welt are correct, Iran already possesses a nuclear weapon.

As to Syria, the media is basically reporting that the Assad regime is ruthlessly putting down an “Arab Spring” movement. The genesis of the turmoil in Syria is related to a lack of food and higher prices to attain food. However, the ongoing battle between the Assad regime and its civilians may be a prelude to something much greater.
One common thread in history is the continuing ability and capacity of world leaders and opinion shapers to delude themselves. The refusal of both to accept reality and the limits of their idealism have produced devastating consequences. Recent historical examples include 1914 Europe as well as recent belief that our presence in the Middle East will usher an era of Muslim democracy. As we have seen with events in Egypt, Libya, and Yemen, the Obama Administration has taken this delusion to a new level. Unfortunately, I believe this delusion extends to the current situation in Syria, as well as, the recent Israeli-Iranian crisis.

This administration views the world through the eyes of anthropology. They sympathize with the “oppressed” people without a thought to real time events and consequences. Syria is the closest ally of Iran. Iran also has a very close relationship with the groups supporting the overthrow of the Assad regime. There have been recent reports of Iran sending 15,000 of their Qods force to Syria to put down the rebellion. Iranian military involvement in this matter makes very little sense unless you wonder whether there is another purpose for their presence in Syria. The Iranians tend to think asymmetrically. I cannot help but wonder if the Syrians and the Iranians are involving themselves in a joint military operation in the guise of a civil war. I have thoughts and images of the Spanish Civil War where the town of Guernica is now replaced by Homs. The bombing of Guernica in 1937 was the first aerial bombing by the German Luftwaffe. This was considered a practice run for the German military before the invasion of Poland in 1939. Could Syria and Iran be testing military weapons as well as terrorism and asymmetrical warfare on Syrian civilians?

One of the consequences of having a political power structure in which the current events are viewed through anthropological eyes is that they also influence other parts of our government. Thus, we have General James R. Clapper, Obama’s director of national intelligence testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee that Iran has not yet tried to build a nuclear weapon. General David Petraeus, Obama’s CIA director went along with that assessment. It would seem that this administration would risk calamity then ruin a Third World nation like Iran.

There are those like Sen. John S McCain who believe the US has a moral obligation to enter the Syrian theater of operation. I submit that any overt act with regards to Syria on the basis of moral obligation should be deeply rooted in the reality of the moment. This administration’s theory of “Soft Power” should be scrapped until we have an idea who exactly are the rebels and what are the consequences of doing something or doing nothing. I believe we ‘jumped the gun’ with regards to Egypt and Libya. We cannot risk making a similar mistake with regards to Syria. We must watch these events carefully and refrain from making any public comments and predictions as to the future of the regime or offering assistance to the Syrian civilians.
During the late 1940s and 1950s, there was a question floating around DC. The question it seemed everyone was asking was; “Who lost China?”. I hope in the near future we will not be asking; “Who lost the Middle East?”

Spartan

Rush’s Fluke

Rush Limbaugh went on the air as usual Wednesday, February 29. As usual, Limbaugh discussed current political events. One of these political events surrounded the Congressional testimony of one Sandra Fluke, a law student at Georgetown University.  Ms. Fluke was the sole witness in a congressional hearing held by Nancy Pelosi on Friday, February 24. Fluke testified about the need for ObamaCare to mandate religious institutions to provide free contraception and abortifacients under their health insurance plans.  Ms. Fluke claimed that 40% of her fellow students “struggled financially” because of contraceptive costs averaging $1000 a year.  Yet, the pharmacy at Target sells birth control pills for nine dollars per month. This is the price without insurance.

Limbaugh cited a CNS article from February 27,which mocked Fluke’s assertions. However, Limbaugh made a mistake in using the words “slut” and “prostitute” to describe Ms. Fluke.  Unfortunately, for Limbaugh, Ms. Fluke never made any claims that she was complicit in this type of behavior.  Limbaugh also forgot that every word of every one of his broadcasts are monitored by leftist groups like Media Matters For America and Think Progress. Within 24 to 48 hours, the mainstream media picked up Limbaugh’s comments and a firestorm of controversy ensued. Lost in the examination was any analysis of how and when Ms. Fluke conducted her survey of Georgetown law students. Questions should be asked as to how many students were surveyed as well as what questions were asked.  It will not happen ( unless the GOP leadership miraculously subpoenas her to testify under oath under penalty of perjury) but Limbaugh’s remarks will be parsed and remembered.

I am somewhat stunned that Limbaugh missed the intent of this testimony.  It was a distraction from the debate over the freedom of religion.  Limbaugh became the distraction to the distraction.  The mainstream media bought the hype that Fluke was some 23-year-old law school student. However, she is a 30-year-old activist who also happened to be a past-president of the Georgetown Law Students for Reproductive Justice.  Nancy Pelosi knew exactly who her witness was while everyone else was half awake.  Thus, instead of focusing on the message and the background of the messenger, Limbaugh focused on the messenger. Limbaugh fell into the ready-made trap.  Media Matters and Think Progress struck gold.  It should be noted that both organizations are working hand-in-hand with Democrat politicians and activists, as well as  the White House.  It should be obvious to history buffs what is going on with the current administration.  In what is reminiscent of the Nixon White House, the Obama White House has an enemies list and uses these outside groups to wage war on anyone who is an enemy of this administration.  However, it is  not enough to get Limbaugh to apologize, the goal is to destroy  Limbaugh.

The irony of the Left is that we are to accept their dissent;  which they equate with being patriotic.  When the Right dissents, the violator is not only expected to apologize but confess to any and all crimes committed in words, thought, and deed.  In short, there is a war ongoing against conservatives. The first person to receive this treatment was Richard Nixon.  Nixon was  savagely attacked for his role in bringing Alger Hiss to justice.  Nixon was continuously  attacked by the liberal elitists.  The attacks tended to be confined to these folks.  Through the years, conservatives have been subjected to this kind of behavior.  However, the eight years of the Bush presidency saw an unprecedented depth to these attacks.  They were not confined to liberal elites but now the attacks were made by a broad spectrum of people.

Limbaugh is being savagely attacked by the same folks.  The goal of these people is to take Limbaugh off the air.  They have devised various methods from reinstituting the Fairness Doctrine to pressuring companies to stop advertising on his show.  To date, the Limbaugh show has lost seven advertisers over this furor.  One of them, Carbonite, has pulled its advertising from the Limbaugh show, yet, they continue to advertise on the Ed Schultz show on MSNBC.  In case you have forgotten, Ed Schultz openly called Laura Ingraham a right-wing slut.  It should also be noted that the president and CEO of Carbonite gives money to MoveOn.org, Americans Coming Together, and Obama.  It’s funny,  when conservatives dislike liberal programming, they are told to change the channel or turn off the program.  They do not take their own advice.

Yes, I disagree with Limbaugh’s personal attacks on this activist.  I believe an apology was in order and that apology should be accepted.  Limbaugh has apologized and in my mind the matter is concluded.  To demand anything further is not only overkill but we are getting very close to accepting the end of free speech because we disagree with the speaker or their speech.  When free speech is censored, our days as Republic are numbered.  We should be watching this situation carefully.

Spartan

Is it over?

Super Tuesday is just around the corner with 786 delegates at stake. The polls and the pundits are all over the place.  The Michigan and Arizona primary results were interesting in that they showed very little momentum for Mitt Romney. Michigan, which is Romney’s home state had an voting increase of 13% from 2008. However, Romney won the state by little more than 3%. Arizona, had a voting decrease of 15% from 2008. Although Romney had tepid opposition in Arizona, he still could not break the 50% barrier. Yet, politicians and pundits say Romney will close the deal on Super Tuesday. I am not so sure.  Although I am on record as being against Romney as the GOP nominee, I shall endeavor to argue in good faith.

Romney has an overwhelming advantage in money and organization, yet, he has yet to achieve 50% in any caucus or primary. His numbers in the caucuses and primaries are rather pedestrian. There is not, despite the many polls, an overwhelming enthusiasm surrounding Romney. To be fair, the rest of the field has had a difficult time sustaining any momentum.  Whenever any one in the field becomes a threat to Romney, Romney’s super-PAC uses a sledgehammer to take out the threat. I believe these actions will come back to haunt Romney to the convention and beyond. Team Romney has decided to campaign against their opponents in lieu of promoting Romney. Team Romney has used an array of distortions, lies, and half-truths to take out their opponents.  Unfortunately, they also use an array of distortions, lies, and half-truths to promote Romney and his record. I believe these actions will also come back to haunt Romney to the convention and beyond.

I believe that Team Romney has made a strategic mistake in their campaign. They are running a general election campaign full of campaign rhetoric and promises to attract non-Republicans, when they should be running a primary campaign to attract the Republican base. The perception is that Romney believes he is the inevitable GOP nominee. Romney may end up being the nominee but the air of entitlement will turn off the GOP base. His ruthless attacks on his primary opponents will lose him valuable assets in money and manpower for the general election. There will be those who will cheer Romney’s Machiavellian tactics against his primary opponents. However, it is very important to remember to promote your virtues instead of your opponent’s vices. Perhaps, when one has never felt comfortable being a conservative, they must tear down their opponent to make themselves look better. The problem with that method is that the typical GOP primary voter tends to be a political activist who also tends to be very keen on issues and politicians. They know Romney’s record better than Romney and no amount of negative advertising or smoke-and-mirror promotion is going to change their perception of Romney.

Thus, the non-Romney vote as always been stronger than the Romney vote. I see Santorum is putting together an organization but lacks the financial resources to compete. Gingrich seems to be raising money but outside of Georgia he doesn’t seem to be building much of an organization.  Both Santorum and Gingrich have to blunt Romney’s organizational ability to garner absentee ballots for Romney. I think this is one of the most under analyzed topics of the primaries. Without the absentee ballots, Romney would probably have lost Florida and Michigan. I have not seen the numbers for Arizona but I assume that 75 to 80% of the absentee ballots are for Romney.  Absentee ballots may give Romney primary victories but they also overstate Romney’s strength in the primaries.

The question on Tuesday is whether either of them will be able to continue. The main reason I believe that both will continue is the power of the Internet. The Internet allows information and mass communication to many people in a quick time frame. The TEA party utilized the Internet to great advantage to mobilize people to appear at rallies and to vote in 2010.  I believe both Santorum and Gingrich have and will utilize the Internet to extend their campaigns. As long as they continue the run, I believe Romney will have to fight tooth and nail for every convention delegate. I think Team Romney is worried about a long and drawn out process. They are not worried about spending copious amounts of money to win the nomination but if they do not attain enough delegates to win the nomination on the first ballot, they may be worried about losing the nomination in a brokered convention. This may have played a role in the Michigan State GOP giving Romney both at-large delegates instead of splitting them between Romney and Santorum; as per the original agreement. It does make one wonder about the machinations surrounding access to the Virginia ballot.

I am in favor of a brokered/contested GOP convention this year. I do not believe that any of these candidates will be able to unify the GOP against Obama in November. I believe the GOP/TEA party activists are currently putting their efforts into taking the Senate and increasing their margin in the House.  I believe a brokered/contested convention will produce a candidate who will not only unify the party, embrace conservative ideals, but will ably destroy the Obama campaign of class warfare and war on culture. There will be those who say that a brokered/contested convention will produce a candidate who will be behind in money and organization. I disagree. I believe, with the power of the Internet and the advent of the super-PACs, the candidate will be able to hit the campaign trail immediately. I also believe that the enthusiasm generated by the broker/contested convention will nullify any advantage Obama believes they maintain.  At this time, my first choice for brokered nominee is Paul Ryan. I believe that he can unify the social conservatives, foreign-policy hawks, and the economic conservatives, to win the presidency. My second choice, unfortunately, has a seemingly unpopular last name but I strongly believe he has the right executive experience to be the best president since Reagan; Jeb.  I may be one of the very few, but I believe Jeb would make an awesome candidate to face Obama.

In the meantime, I do not believe that Romney is inevitable to be the GOP nominee nor will the primary race be over on Super Tuesday.  Let’s see what happens.

Spartan

In Memoriam of Andrew Breitbart

This morning, I felt a pain in my stomach as though I’d been kicked by a mule. This was a reaction I felt when I learned that Andrew Breitbart had passed away at the age of 43. It seemed like only yesterday when I first read about Andrew Breitbart and how he and his merry band of conservatives were bedeviling the Left. When he exposed the nefarious actions of ACORN for the world to behold, I became a fan of his style and substance. This was a man of ideas and action.
What influenced me the most was his willingness to take on the Left on any issue and on any act. He challenged the Left, not only on their ideas but actually exposed their words for all to see. He was never a slave to the epistemic closure of the ideologue.  I remember posting on a pay conservative website that this was the direction the Conservative Movement had to go to stem the rising tide of the Left.  I remember the response was tepid. You see, Breitbart was not only willing to challenge the Left but he also challenged the Right.  I can still remember when he confronted a group of “Birthers” at a tea party convention in 2010 and told them that their cause was “self-indulgent, narcissistic, and a losing issue”. As usual, he was correct.
What made me admire him most was his fearlessness. He was not afraid of his enemies or his positions. He led by the conviction of his ideas and an embracing message. He was despised by ideological Left and ignored by the status quo Right.  For many of us, who understood his purpose, he was a beacon of rationality in the world of rigid ideology. I am very grateful for the contributions he has made to the Conservative Movement. It is my hope that we continue the work that Andrew Breitbart began.
Andrew Breitbart left a wife and four young children; please keep them in your prayers.
Spartan

Obama’s Women

It is becoming quite clear where Obama is staking his re-election chances.  It is becoming quite clear where Obama is staking his reelection chances. Team Obama desires to divide and conquer the American electorate by pitting various groups against each other. This is being done via class warfare and most recently through the HHS mandate which requires the Catholic Church to provide health insurance to pay for various forms of birth control including abortions.
When the HHS mandate was made, the biggest supporters of the mandate were senators Barbara Boxer, Patsy Murray, Jeanne Shaheen.  Team Obama has also realized that the one issue that motivated Democrats to vote in the 2010 midterm elections was abortion. This was seen and Barbara boxer’s reelection victory in California as well as Ken Buck’s defeat in Colorado. It is a very risky gamble to make abortion and birth control a national referendum. However, as we have seen since Obama became a candidate for president, that he relies quite heavily on his women advisors.  This is seen in his foreign-policy as well as his domestic policy. The foreign-policy team is made up of Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice, and Samantha Power. It is apparent that the HHS mandate is the brainchild of Karen Sibelius and most of the decisions concerning domestic policy are vetted and championed by Valerie Jarrett.  When combined with the influences of Obama’s anthropologist mother and Obama’s wife Michelle, you begin to see a pattern with who Obama trusts and relies upon for advice and direction.
As a result of the HHS mandate, Obama’s Chief of Staff William Daley resigned. He was replaced by Jacob Lew. Lew’s defense of the mandate on the Sunday talk shows was abysmal and lacked any coherence. To be fair, it is quite difficult to be coherent on such an emotional issue like abortion. It is apparent that team Obama seeks to win reelection on emotional issues. Historically, reelections have been decided on the incumbent’s record. It is obvious that Obama is eschewing running on his record. I don’t blame him because his record has not been consistent and his major legislative accomplishments have not been popular with the American people.
I suspect this will be the first of many attempts by team Obama to divide and conquer the American people this election season. There has not been much enthusiasm to reelect Obama to a second term. Obama has not been raising the kind of money that he raised in 2008.  His poll numbers are still below 50%. This is a tactic that reeks of desperation. He is selling not hope but fear. This is a far cry from the rhetoric of 2008 Obama deserves to be defeated this November and hopefully the GOP will provide a candidate capable of defeating Obama
Spartan