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September 20, 2014 / 25 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘U.S. Politics’

A Republican Party that Looks Like America

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

Getting an early start on primary season, Rand Paul stopped by New Hampshire and offered some sage advice for winning elections.  According to the article, “Senator Paul Rand urged New Hampshire Republicans to become more diversified.”

New Hampshire is 94.6% white, 2.9% Latino and 1.3% Black. I don’t know the exact diversity statistics for New Hampshire Republicans, but if they get a half-black and half-Latino guy in a wheelchair to run for something, they will probably have covered all the statistical bases.

“We need to grow bigger,” Rand Paul said. “If you want to be the party of white people, we’re winning all the white votes. We’re a diverse nation. We’re going to win when we look like America.”

Looking like America is common advice these days. What does America look like? For now it still looks more like New Hampshire than like California. And despite that, Democrats scored some big wins in New Hampshire in the last election.

Obama won New Hampshire 52 to 46 and it probably wasn’t the black vote that put him over the top. He picked up over 100,000 votes in Hillsborough County, which is 90 percent white. Clearly, despite Rand Paul’s optimism, Republicans aren’t winning all the white votes in New Hampshire. Or in Kentucky.

Rand Paul’s Kentucky looks a lot like New Hampshire. It’s 88.9% white. And its white Senator, who did not win all the white votes, decided to visit another white state to tell Republicans there that they needed to look more like America or California. Or someplace like that. Because the white vote was all locked down.

In his 2010 Senate election, Rand Paul won 59% of the white vote and his opponent won 86% of the black vote. Two years later, in the national electionRomney won 59% of the white vote and his opponent won 93% of the black vote. Both men scored the exact same percentage of the white vote.

Some might try to find a silver lining in that Rand Paul won 13 percent of the black vote, but he wasn’t running against a black candidate. In 2004, Bush won 12 percent of the Kentucky black vote. Nearly the same amount as Rand Paul. More importantly, he won 64 percent of the white vote and 58 percent of the female vote to Rand Paul’s 51 percent. The female vote is far more important, if you’re going to win elections, than picking up minority votes in New Hampshire or Kentucky.

While Rand Paul tours as some sort of expert on winning the minority vote, he has never actually won the minority vote. Similarly Rubio promises that illegal alien amnesty will turn the Latino tide for the GOP, when he could not win a straight majority of the non-Cuban Latino vote in his Senate election.

The Republican Party is suffering from a surplus of self-appointed experts in winning the minority vote who don’t actually win the minority vote. Their advice is stupid and destructive.

Romney did not lose because he lost the Latino vote. That’s a myth which has been discredited again and again, but still rises from the dead to push for an illegal alien amnesty, five times bigger than the last disastrous 1986 amnesty, so that next time around Republicans can lose by even bigger margins. But instead of trying to be diverse for the sake of diversity, the GOP might try doing what the other side did, increasing the turnout for its base by actually appealing to them.

The Republican National Convention in 2012 was a study in diversity. It was possibly even more diverse than the Democratic National Convention. It also didn’t work.

Diversity is familiar enough to be met with casual contempt. Every company trots out stock photos overflowing with stock minorities so that they can look like America or some part of America. It impresses absolutely no one. “Looking like America” is slang for racial tokenism which is both patronizing and insulting. And it’s the least innovative advice that could be imagined.

Common skin color alone does not win elections. If it did, the Republican Party could just push out countless white Democrats in precarious districts by running black candidates against them. The idea that skin color alone is representation is still the law and its emotional resonance is sometimes undeniable, but emotional identification is also based on more than just race. And representation cannot be reduced to racial diversity as a winning strategy.

How to Use a Midterm Victory

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

There are good reasons to be hopeful about the 2014 midterm election.  The second presidential midterm election has historically been murder.  With the exceptions of Clinton in 1998 and Reagan in 1986, the president in his second midterm has lost massively in the House of Representative: FDR (-71 seats), Ike (-49 seats), Nixon (-49 seats), Bush II (-31 seats.)

Except for Clinton in 1998, each of those midterms produced losses for the president’s party in the Senate (Reagan, in fact, lost the Senate in 1986).  Senate elections are affected by the particular class of senators elected six years before as well as the sentiments of voters in the particular midterm at hand.  That is why Republican Senate losses in 1986 were so bad: Republicans defending their seats in 1986 had last faced voters in the 1980 Reagan landslide.

In 2014, the Senate class strongly favors Republicans both by the number of seats each is defending (21 Democrats to 14 Republicans) and the particular states involved, which are predominately conservative and Republican.  Sensing this, many Senate Democrats from conservative states are retiring.  The chances of Republicans taking the Senate are very good.

Winning in House races and state government elections will depend upon turnout.  Those eager airheads who have now turned out for Obama in two presidential elections will find few reasons to go to the polls in November 2014, when Obama is a lame duck and is not on the ballot.

Voter fatigue, more important than any notional polls of presidential approval or voter intentions, may well hand Republicans the sort of major victory that has been the norm in a president’s second midterm.  The growing sense of unease, even among the otherwise docile establishment media, may combine into a major Republican victory in 2014, giving perhaps fifty-five or more Senate seats and perhaps 260 seats in the House (a gain of 24 seats).  If this happens, what should Republicans do?

First, Senate Republicans should very directly state that only strict constructionist jurists will be confirmed onto the federal bench.  In fact, Senate Republicans should make it clear that no radical leftists will be confirmed for any appointed to federal courts or independent regulatory agencies.  Democrats have done this for decades — just ask Robert Bork — and Republicans must do it, too.

Second, Senate Republicans ought to do what Harry Reid threatened to do:  adopt a rule which ends filibusters and always moves for cloture with fifty-one senate votes.  This would allow Republicans in Congress to actually pass bills which would be placed on Obama’s desk to sign or to veto.  Ideally, these bills should have unanimous Republican support and, perhaps, that of a few conservative Democrats as well.

Obama will never sign ever moderate conservative reforms, so the nation would see the president vetoing one bill after another, accomplishing nothing but obstruction.  Republicans ought to research these bills as they did with the Contract With America:  find out what bills appeal to Americans, and then pass those out of Congress.

Third, Republicans must conduct aggressive investigations of the myriad abuses of power by Obama and his lackeys.  The best way to do this is would be to create a Joint Congressional Special Committee composed of members of both houses of Congress and, of course, both political parties.  Those called to testify before this committee would think twice before lying or acting flippantly.  In fact, if only a few Democrats on this Joint Committee called the Obama administration to the carpet, then the political stakes could rise dramatically for Obama almost overnight.

Unless the president and his flacks behaved much more respectfully and much more seriously than they have so far — and that, of course, would involved miles of backtracking — a Contempt of Congress citation adopted by both houses with some bipartisan support would be a real possibility.

The goal should be to deny Obama: to deny him any real power to influence the judiciary and regulatory agencies, to deny him any legislative victories by compelling Obama to veto reasonable legislation supported by the American people, and to deny Obama the unmerited support of many Americans by showing him before joint congressional committees to be a mendacious and venal politician.  There is no need to try to do too much, but doing these three things is critical to turning our nation around.

Here’s the Deal: Solving the U.S. Deficit

Monday, May 27th, 2013

Can America’s economic problems be solved? Is there an end to the deficit, and is the U.S. economy really that bad? In the first part of this week’s Goldstein on Gelt podcast, Doug meets David Leonhardt, Washington bureau chief of The New York Times and author of Here’s the Deal: How Washington Can Solve the Deficit and Spur Growth. Find out about Washington’s deficit problem and some possible solutions to America’s economic difficulties by listening to the part of this week’s podcast.

Death & Taxes: Welcome to Obamaland

Friday, May 24th, 2013

In this world, nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes.

We’ve heard this clever aphorism countless times, and nodded our heads in bleak recognition. And yet, have we ever really pondered the ghoulishness that equates taxes with mortality?

Anyone who has ever been audited by the IRS—Seraphic Secret has been twice audited, each time emerging battered but owing the government zero dollars—knows the helpless feeling of being forced to submit to an absolute power, where the normal rules of law and civil society are suspended by an all-powerful government with unlimited resources.

The IRS is a temporal tyranny. Death is the ultimate tyranny. One was created by man, the other by God.

Barack Hussein Obama and the Democrat party are now playing God, by joining death and taxes into one sinister package.

Obamacare is administered by the IRS.

The same lawless agency that has been targeting and oppressing citizens who disagree with the current administration’s policies, is the very agency now tasked with the health—which is to say every breath—of every American.

Indeed, the Obama administration is now setting in motion a system whereby a central government data base will connect Health and Human Services with the Internal Revenue Service, the Social Security Administration, Homeland Security, and who knows how many other government agencies.

This makes Big Brother look like a benevolent midget.

The dream of the left, articulated by Marx and Lenin, is to create a rigidly ordered society where messy individualism—AKA liberty—is suppressed in favor of  a utopian common good. Of course, the common good, as defined by the ruling leftists, is forever being downgraded to new normals.

For Obama, this is the new normal of massive unemployment and unsustainable national debt. In a few years, the new normal will be further redefined and downgraded. Before you know it, you live in a society where the common good has been so degraded that the very act of remembering what life used to be like under the banner of liberty and free enterprise is but a distant memory, if not a subversive thought as defined by those supermen who regulate our intake of salt, the size of our soda cups, what light bulbs we can use, and how we flush our toilets.

Welcome to Obamaland, where death and taxes is no longer an ironic statement, but a grim reality.

Visit Sephardic Secret.

Partisan Nation

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

The use of the IRS to target conservative groups should be the least surprising development in years. Not only does that sort of thing date back to Clinton and JFK, both of whom unleashed the IRS on their enemies, not to mention Nixon who never managed to pull off the things that JFK grinned, did and got away with, but there was no reason for not to do it.

The two reasons not to sic the IRS on your enemies are decency and the law. Is there anything in Obama’s career, including his treatment of fellow Democrats, to suggest that he cares for either one?

The man in the White House clawed his way to power by stabbing his mentor in the back, leaking the divorce records of his political opponents and throwing out the votes of Democrats in Florida and Michigan to claim the nomination.

And he was just getting started.

In the last election, Obama urged voters to punish our “enemies.” It was a window into the mindset of a man who moans and groans about partisan politics, but talks like Huey Long when he gets in front of the right audience.

But these days the description is fairly apt. Who was the last president that both sides could agree was an okay sort of guy or something less than the devil incarnate? The answer might be George H. W. Bush, who was pilloried for being an out of touch rich guy, but really not all that bad when you think about it. And that means we have to go back two decades to find a president that the other side didn’t think should be put on an ice floe and pushed out to sea.

And before Bush I, we would have to go back all the way to the Eisenhower or Truman era. Politics was never nice. It was often very nasty indeed. But this isn’t the petty infighting of the political class anymore. We’re not talking about Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr shooting it out or Eleanor Roosevelt driving a car with a teapot on its roof behind Theodore Roosevelt Jr to keep him away from the job that would eventually go to her husband. This is a partisan politics born out of ideology.

The old politics sought a status quo that could be tweaked to favor one side or interest. The new ideological politics seek a fundamental transformation that will entirely destroy the status quo and eventually tear out every element, overturn every trace of what was and replace it with what should be. Ideological partisanship of this stripe is not concerned with the stability of the system. It is not worried about burning bridges because it believes all the bridges will have to be burned anyway.

There is a limit to what any political movement can do out of greed or personal vendettas in a democracy, but there is no limit to what it can do when it combines these with a political ideology whose ends justify all means. There is nothing that it will not do because it is unconcerned with the long term consequences of its actions, only with the short term results. It has no long term investment in the existing system which it intends to destroy.

Corrupt ideologies treat men with no decency as valuable assets. Their lack of scruples proves their willingness to put ideology over all mores and norms. The more extreme the ideology, the fewer limits it accepts on its freedom of action against its enemies and the more such actions come to seem natural. And then why not punish your enemies by using the full force of government against them?

The practical reason for not using government agencies to repress your opposition in a democracy was that they might do the same thing to you. But the mobilization of the bureaucracy as an arm of the left has made that fear largely irrelevant. Using the IRS to target Democrats would be dangerous business for a Republican. And the same would go for every other Federal agency whose appointees may be loosely conservative, but oversee organizations stuffed full of liberals and union members.

There is no such deterrent on the other side. And the only remaining deterrent, the fear of public exposure was largely nullified by the media. The impression was that Obama Inc. could do anything it pleased and get away with it. And so it did.

The Obama-Media War

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

Revolutions are rarely undone from the outside. Mostly they come apart from the inside as the forty thieves descend into petty squabbling over the loot.

The loot comes in different forms, but at its core it is always power. It may be the power to kill or to steal. It may be the power to claim a nice piece of real estate or to send a million people off to their deaths. The scale of it will occupy historians and shock the people of the future who leaf through the history books and walk through the silent museums, but it is all of one piece. The purpose of power, as a fellow in a little book by George Orwell once said, is power.

The quarrel between Obama and the Media is largely a lovers’ quarrel, but the love is only there on one side. The media made Obama what he is. But what he is, among many other things, is a control freak spawned by a political ideology that distrusts everyone and consolidates power at all cost.

The media loved Obama, but it discovered early on that he did not love it back. Instead of basking in the adoration of the Candy Crowleys and the Anderson Coopers and the massive corporate machines behind them, the love child of every liberal fantasy shut them out, rigidly controlled their access and ruthlessly punished unauthorized conversations with the press.

The media had made Obama into a tin god, but were constantly suspected of heresy. Instead of being rewarded for their loyalty, they were kept at arm’s length.

Obama Inc. knew that their biggest asset was the narrative. A close study of Obama’s qualifications or accomplishments would have given no conceivable reason for voting for him. The only thing he brought to the table was race and even in this he was less qualified than most of the black men who had run for president.

The narrative was the dearest treasure of Obama Inc. It was the one thing that its cronies protected. The economy could tank, wars could be lost and an asteroid could smack into the Pacific Ocean and none of it mattered nearly as much as the golden narrative. They didn’t trust anyone with it including the media.

The media these days doesn’t have much. Its numbers are bad in every medium from the tube to the inky pages of newsprint to the crackling AM radio waves. It isn’t very profitable. Often it’s a dead weight. But it wields a great deal of institutional power. The New York Times and CNN may both be dogs when it comes to the balance sheets, but owning either one gives you an impressive amount of heft in the national dialogue; though not as much as working for one of them does.

Power is all that the media has. Its power is projected in a fairly narrow circle. Fewer people are reading, watching and listening to it, so its circle becomes more incestuous. Everyone has learned to act like a member of the D.C. press corps, interpreting events through the lens of old West Wing episodes. The resulting noise reaches fewer people, but helps form the shaky consensus on which the institutional power of the media stands.

In its dying hour, the media used that power to ensure the double coronation of a corrupt Chicago politician with a facility for mimicking speech patterns. And that politician rewarded it by trying to bypass it and set up his own media.

Obama’s vision of the proper place of the media isn’t just at his feet, but under his control. Instead of dealing with the media, he has tried to cut it out of the loop by putting a larger emphasis on social media and developing narratives through think-tanks and media influencing groups. It was a power struggle that the media was initially baffled by. It had held out an ice cream cone to the little boy, only to have the little boy kick it in the shin, grab the ice cream cone and run away.

For years the media had groused about a lack of transparency, the unprecedented prosecution of whistleblowers and the hostile relationship between Obama Inc’s minions and many reporters. The grousing was usually understated. It could be mentioned offhand, but not too loudly. When Bob Woodward made the mistake of speaking his mind, he was swiftly punished for it by the avatars of the post-media media, while the old media sat silently and watched the show.

Benghazi’s Lesson

Monday, May 20th, 2013

I haven’t written about the Benghazi affair before. I’m not in a position to judge whether the State Department or military could have intervened in time to save Ambassador Stevens, or why the consulate wasn’t reinforced, etc.  I’m sure the disaster could have been prevented, and someone is responsible for it. But I’m not the one to explain how and who.

What I am competent to discuss is the politics of the decision to present the attack as something that it was not and that the relevant people knew at the time it was not.

Some of President Obama’s opponents have been saying that it was all about the election. Obama’s claim was that he had more or less ended the terrorist threat — after all, he killed bin Laden! So the truth that an American ambassador was murdered on the anniversary of 9/11 by al Qaeda linked terrorists would not be helpful. Therefore, the story that the attack grew out of a spontaneous demonstration over an anti-Islam video was pushed instead.

This is true as far as it goes. But it doesn’t go far enough. The fact is that the video story was part of a theme that has run through Obama’s presidency from the beginning. This is the idea that the policy of the United States toward the anti-Western jihad should have two dimensions: we will kill overt anti-American terrorists, while at the same time try to placate the Muslim world through diplomacy and propaganda.

Every effort is made to relate positively to Muslims here and abroad. Aid programs are established to Muslim countries. NASA administrators are asked to reach out to the Muslim world. Less benignly, ‘Islamophobia’ is presented as a more dangerous phenomenon than domestic jihad, the administration embraces the Palestinian cause, supports Islamists in Egypt, falls in love with the Islamist prime minister of Turkey, etc.

This policy, which started immediately before Obama’s inauguration when he pressured Israel to withdraw from Gaza, found full expression in his Cairo speech of June 4, 2009. Although I was initially shocked by his obscene equation of the Holocaust with the way the “Palestinian people … have suffered in pursuit of a homeland,” the most alarming thing about the speech taken as a whole is its obeisance to the Arab and Muslim historical narrative, the story that is told to justify aggression against the U.S. and the West (and Israel is only a small part of this).

For example, he said,

The relationship between Islam and the West includes centuries of co-existence and cooperation, but also conflict and religious wars. More recently, tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims, and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations. Moreover, the sweeping change brought by modernity and globalization led many Muslims to view the West as hostile to the traditions of Islam.

In other words, it’s all our fault. Never mind the cultural and political backwardness that made Muslim nations hellholes for all but a tiny privileged minority, never mind the cynical behavior of kleptocratic Muslim leaders who sold themselves to whomever would supply the most weapons for them to use in their wars and intrigues against each other and Israel — their problems are all because of those Western colonialists!

Compare them to Israel, which freed itself from British domination to become the most successful nation in the Middle East, or Vietnam, or many other formerly colonized peoples. And keep in mind that many Arab countries, like Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq, went rapidly from Ottoman domination to independence, suffering little, if at all, from Western exploitation.

Obama’s approach extended to the way we respond to ideologically-motivated terrorism in the U.S. The administration seems to have taken the true statement “not all Muslims support terrorism” and quite invalidly inferred from it that “Islam can never be the motive for terrorism.” So Major Nidal Hassan’s mass murder at Ft. Hood is explained as workplace violence, other terrorists are defined as mentally disturbed, the Department of Homeland Security issues a directive that such words as “jihad” and “Muslim” cannot be used in connection with terrorism, and the NYPD is criticized for carrying out surveillance of mosques.

In the view of the Obama administration, the enemy is not an ideology. It is only specific organizations (whose motives are not discussed) that attack us.

Any disagreement with this position — anyone who suggests that there is a dangerous ideology of political Islam out there which often finds violent expression in terrorist acts — is stigmatized as an Islamophobe, a kind of racist, a designation which places the person so vilified outside the pale of discourse, and justifies denying him or her the right to speak publicly.

And so we come back to Benghazi. What better explanation could be given for the disaster than an Islamophobic video? Not only does the randomness of the outburst excuse everyone involved for the failure — who could have known this would happen? — and not only does it hide the fact that even the acknowledged war against al Qaeda hasn’t been going as well as they would like us to think, it casts blame precisely on those intolerant opponents of the administration’s policy of trying to placate the Muslim world!

Thus the schmuck who made the video is imprisoned for a year for a parole violation, after Hillary Clinton tells the parent of one of the U.S. personnel murdered in the attack that she would see to it that the filmmaker was arrested and prosecuted.

The dual policy — killing overt terrorists while expressing love and respect for Islam — is both unfortunate for our real allies, like Israel, which sees itself pressured into concessions to the PLO or Hamas as a way to show that Obama cares about Palestinian Muslims, as well as a failure.

The reason for the failure is a misunderstanding of the messages we send as they are received in Arab and Muslim cultures. The message of caring and respect that we are trying to send is perceived as weakness. Muslims understand that non-Muslims can either fight or submit to Islam — it’s not possible to admire Islam while at the same time refusing to submit. So Obama’s gestures are either ignored or indicate that he is not strong enough to fight.

At the same time, the drone strikes and the war in Afghanistan kill Muslims, and it is the duty of Muslims to avenge these killings. The fact that the perpetrators are non-Muslims makes them obscene in these cultures, the reversal of the natural order.

In the meantime, the morale of our police forces on the home front is weakened, the tools necessary to discover and prevent jihadist terrorism are taken out of their hands, and aggressive Islamic ideologues in our mosques and college campuses are encouraged.

A better policy would be to stop pretending to admire the people who hate us. We should say to the Muslim world, “look, we have a system that’s different from yours, we think it’s better, and we intend to defend it. Anyone who hurts us or our allies will get it back ten times over.” We don’t need to ‘declare war on Islam’ to do that, as apologists for the present policy claim.

Our leaders have become so used to lying, that they haven’t considered simply being honest and standing up for what we believe.

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