Filed under: Bureaucracy, Capitalism, Crime, Economics, Foreign Policy, Free Markets, Military, National Security, Police, Regulation, Terrorism, The United States | Tags: Honest Speech vs Political Speech, Misuse of Language, President Barack Obama
Every four years, I forget just how much I dislike political conventions. Not just theirs, but our as well. I’m already tired of how wonderful our candidate is and how dreadful their is. Conventions are big parties of excess. But then I may just be getting cranky.
I am exceedingly tired of being lectured by our president. He turned up on the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal yesterday to lecture the Senate about their duty to confirm his nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. You always knew there was something not quite right about the claim that he had been a professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago. He was a lecturer in civil rights law, which he mostly used to teach Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals.
The Constitution directs the Senate to advise and consent, not to approve. The Daily Caller subjected his op-ed to a fact check, and it didn’t fare well, directly from the words of, oh, Joe Biden, and Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama when he voted to filibuster Justice Alito. (Politicians still are not familiar with the fact that we can quickly look up their words from yesterday and ten years ago.)
He’s getting very predictable when he scolds us. “That’s not who we are as Americans!” “That’s who we are, and who we have the capacity to be.” Or as John Podhoretz recently put it:
As usual, Obama made strange use of the word ‘we,’ because when he says ‘we,’ he means ‘you,’ and when he means ‘you,’ he means people who aren’t as enlightened and thoughtful as he and his ideological compatriots are.
Well, clearly, we are all a great disappointment to our president. I’m not alone in noticing. David Harsanyi did, at the Federalist.
At the funeral service for five slain Dallas cops, Barack Obama delivered another one of his needlessly politicized lectures. As is customary these days, those who were critical of his rhetoric were branded racists and unthinking haters.
That’s one theory.
Another one is that people might be put off by Obama’s grating habit of turning every tragedy into a sermon about our supposed collective failings. I doubt the president is substantively more partisan than the average politician, but like most people on the Left these days, he no longer bothers to make a distinction between a policy position and a moral struggle.
The issue of gun control, for example, isn’t a good-faith disagreement between people of different persuasions, but — like civil rights or suffrage — a struggle waged by the righteous against the evil (and sometimes those poor souls tricked by the NRA).
I went on a bit a few days ago about the fallacy of the term “gun violence” which is nothing but propaganda. It’s not the gun that is violent, but the shooter. Consider the latest terrorist attacks in France. We had truck violence in Nice, and axe violence on a bus. That allows us to ignore the terrorist (we can’t call them that) who committed the act because we “don’t know what their real motives were.”
That’s what I am cranky about — the purposeful misuse of language to confuse, or hide, or misplace blame. The world is a very dangerous place right now. It is impossible to deal effectively with those dangers if we cannot even use clear language. Fuzzy language reveals fuzzy minds, and the inability to take clear action.
Filed under: Economics, Foreign Policy, History, Islam, Middle East, Military | Tags: Recep Tayip Erdogan, Turkey Aflame
Europe has, in general, thought of Turkey as their bulwark against the hordes of Islamic migrants (heavily infiltrated with ISIS fighters). The democratically elected president of Turkey, Recep Tayip Erdogan, has just been the subject of a military coup (while he was absent from the country) which failed. Many believe that it was not a real coup, but Erdogan’s own plot to dispose of future military coups, and confirm his preferred position of lifetime dictator of a radical Islamist state. That seems to be the customary and approved form of governance in the Islamist states of the Middle East. It does not bode well.
Erdogan is taking advantage of the coup crisis to justify a major crackdown on his enemies. He seems to have a prepared list, ready to go, of officers and judges who have already been arrested in the thousands, along with civic leaders, journalists, professors, and government employees. The government is calling on the people to protest in the streets, and encouraging jihadists and IS sympathizers to raid the homes of secular people beat them and kill them.
David P. Goldman, who also writes as Spengler, is expert in matters of demography and finance. He says that Turkey has built up a bubble of debt, financing consumption with debt. Consumer debt is now almost equal to total personal income in Turkey, compared to 20% here, which horrifies conservative economists. Turkey’s average interest rate as consumer debt, according to the central bank, is just under 17%. The birth rate for Turks is way down, while the birth rate for Kurdish Turks remains healthy—but they want to form their own country with Kurds from Syria and Iraq.
An article by Soner Cagaptay in the Wall Street Journal captures the dangerous moment in history for the Turkish nation:
In 2014, Mr. Erdogan, acceding to term limits, stepped down as prime minister and as the head of the AKP. He instead assumed the presidency—a formerly weak office that he has been steadily transforming. The coup gives Mr. Erdogan an excuse to press ahead with his plans to cobble together a parliamentary majority; he intends to amend Turkey’s Constitution and take over the posts of prime minister and AKP chairman in addition to being president.
This process, which would make Mr. Erdogan the most powerful person in Turkey since the country became a multiparty democracy in 1950, fits into his gradualist approach to consolidating power. At the same time, it presents a risk: In the two most recent elections, Mr. Erdogan’s AKP has maxed out at 49.5% support, and although the president’s popularity has risen since the coup, there is no guarantee that this bump will last until the next elections, which, depending on when Mr. Erdogan calls them, could be as late as next year.
The quickest path to power is Islamist revolution. Erdogan supporters are Islamists and jihadists and protesting in the streets. An Islamist counter-revolution would mean the loss of its NATO membership, exposing the country to neighboring enemies, including Russia. And an economic meltdown is not unlikely.
If Mr. Erdogan were to pump up religious fervor further, he could convert the religious counter-coup d’état into an Islamist counter-revolution, ending Turkey’s status as a secular democracy. Adding to the temptation is the fact that the military, divided and discredited in the public eye following the failed coup, is in no position to prevent a counterrevolution.
Filed under: Bureaucracy, History, Middle East, Military, News | Tags: Erdogan Deposed, Military Control Airports and Television, Military Coup
There is a military coup in Turkey. The Turkish military claims success. Erdogan has departed, but Germany refused permission for his plane to land. Anti-coup protest in Istanbul. Nothing confirmed. All iffy information from twitter and other social media.
Military coups have long been a feature of Ataturk’s secular Turkey. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has urged citizens to take to the streets to fight the coup. Turkey is a member of NATO.
The Turkish military said in a statement that it was seizing control to “reestablish Addendum:constitutional order” as it moved to take over all government responsibilities.
ADDENDUM: Erdogan has returned to Turkey, claims the coup attempt is over, and plotters will be heavily punished. At least 42 people have been killed in attacks. An Istanbul hospital is reportedly treating at least 150 wounded people. Erdogan is apparently pushing for an authoritarian Islamic regime. All will eventually become clear, or at least clearer.
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Freedom, Iraq, Middle East, Military, National Security, The United States | Tags: Baghdad, Fourth of July Pizza, Saddam Hussein's Palace
BAGHDAD – How are you spending your 4th of July holiday? While most Americans probably slept, 1,215 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines raised their right hands and committed to a combined 5,500 years of additional service during the largest reenlistment ceremony in the history of the American military. Beneath a large American flag which dwarfed even the enormous chandelier that Saddam Hussein had built for the Al Faw Palace, members of all services, representing all 50 states took the oath administered by Gen. David Petraeus, Commander of Multi-National Forces Iraq. [read more]
Now that’s patriotism!
These men and women, and a total of 8,000 troops from seven bases around Iraq were then treated to 3,000 fresh, authentic deep-dish Chicago style pizzas, shipped directly from Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria in Chicago:
The 3,000 pizzas — each with a pound of cheese and packed with other toppings — were cooked by Lou Malnati’s Restaurant staffers last week, then shipped though New York, Belgium and Bahrain on their way to U.S. troops around Baghdad.
The logistical nightmare of frozen freight and military regulations cost nearly $100,000 to pull off, most of that coming from donations from the restaurant chain and DHL Express.
But the idea came from retired Master Sgt. Mark Evans and his 16-year-old son Kent, Illinois residents who have sent much smaller care packages to overseas troops in the past
“My son and I were having a man’s night — eating some of Lou’s pizza while the women were out — and they were talking about the war on TV,” he said. “He asked me about the food over there, and I told him, ‘They do their best, but it’s not like home cooking. They don’t have pizza like this there.’
“Then he asked if we could get some over there.”
The military provided ribs, corn on the cob and red, white and blue cake for others, and yet other troops had no special Fourth of July celebrations, just hard work in unforgiving heat.
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Freedom, History, Military, Music, The United States | Tags: "Semper Fidelis", The U.S. Marine Corps, United States Marine Band
“The President’s Own” United States Marine Band recorded John Philip Sousa’s march “Semper Fidelis” on March, 3, 2009, in the John Philip Sousa Band Hall at Marine Barracks Annex in Washington, D.C. This video was recorded for the National Museum of the Marine Corps gallery titled “A Global Expeditionary Force 1866-1916,” where visitors will find an interactive Marine Band exhibit.
Filed under: Capitalism, Domestic Policy, Economy, Free Markets, Freedom, History, Military, Regulation, The Constitution, The United States | Tags: A Representative Republic, President Calvin Coolidge, The Declaration of Independence
Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President of the United States, who was born on the Fourth of July, gave one of the best Independence Day speeches ever at the celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia. Do read the whole thing, or better yet, download it. Here are a few excerpts.
It was not because it was proposed to establish a new nation, but because it was proposed to establish a nation on new principles, that July 4, 1776, has come to be regarded as one of the greatest days in history. Great ideas do not burst upon the world unannounced. They are reached by a gradual development over a length of time usually proportionate to their importance. This is especially true of the principles laid down in the Declaration of Independence. Three very definite propositions were set out in its preamble regarding the nature of mankind and therefore of government. These were the doctrine that all men are created equal, that they are endowed with certain inalienable rights, and that therefore the source of the just powers of government must be derived from the consent of the governed.
If no one is to be accounted as born into a superior station, if there is to be no ruling class, and if all possess rights which can neither be bartered away nor taken from them by any earthly power, it follows as a matter of course that the practical authority of the Government has to rest on the consent of the governed. While these principles were not altogether new in political action, and were very far from new in political speculation, they had never been assembled before and declared in such a combination. But remarkable as this may be, it is not the chief distinction of the Declaration of Independence. The importance of political speculation is not to be underestimated, as I shall presently disclose. Until the idea is developed and the plan made there can be no action.
It was the fact that our Declaration of Independence containing these immortal truths was the political action of a duly authorized and constituted representative public body in its sovereign capacity, supported by the force of general opinion and by the armies of Washington already in the field, which makes it the most important civil document in the world. It was not only the principles declared, but the fact that therewith a new nation was born which was to be founded upon those principles and which from that time forth in its development has actually maintained those principles, that makes this pronouncement an incomparable event in the history of government. It was an assertion that a people had arisen determined to make every necessary sacrifice for the support of these truths and by their practical application bring the War of Independence to a successful conclusion and adopt the Constitution of the United States with all that it has meant to civilization.
These remarks fro the conclusion of his Fourth of July speech seem especially appropriate today.
Under a system of popular government there will always be those who will seek for political preferment by clamoring for reform. While there is very little of this which is not sincere, there is a large portion that is not well informed. In my opinion very little of just criticism can attach to the theories and principles of our institutions. There is far more danger of harm than there is hope of good in any radical changes. We do need a better understanding and comprehension of them and a better knowledge of the foundations of government in general Our forefathers came to certain conclusions and decided upon certain courses of action which have been a great blessing to the world. Before we can understand their conclusions we must go back and review the course which they followed. We must think the thoughts which they thought. Their intellectual life centered around the meetinghouse. They were intent upon religious worship. While there were always among them men of deep learning, and later those who had comparatively large possessions, the mind of the people was not so much engrossed in how much they knew, or how much they had, as in how they were going to live. While scantily provided with other literature, there was a wide acquaintance with the Scriptures. Over a period as great as that which measures the existence of our independence they were subject to this discipline not only in their religious life and educational training, but also in their political thought. They were a people who came under the influence of a great spiritual development and acquired a great moral power.
No other theory is adequate to explain or comprehend the Declaration of Independence. It is the product of the spiritual insight of the people. We live in an age of science and of abounding accumulation of material things. These did not create our Declaration. Our Declaration created them. The things of the spirit come first. Unless we cling to that, all our material prosperity, overwhelming though it may appear, will turn to a barren scepter in our grasp. If we are to maintain the great heritage which has been bequeathed to us, we must be like-minded as the fathers who created it. We must not sink into a pagan materialism. We must cultivate the reverence which they had for the things that are holy. We must follow the spiritual and moral leadership which they showed. We must keep replenished, that they may glow with a more compelling flame, the altar fires before which they worshiped.
Filed under: Bureaucracy, Domestic Policy, Economics, Free Markets, Freedom, Health Care, History, Military, Politics, Progressives, Regulation, Technology, The United States | Tags: Medicaid and Medicare, The Indian Health Service, The Veterans' Administration
As long as I’m beating up the Obama Administration for their unbelievably dreadful performance on health care — at the Veterans Administration we have found needless patient suffering, fatal delays in medical treatment, and retaliation against whistleblowers — they are as well the shameful traits of the Indian Health Service.
Part of the Department of Health and Human Services, the Indian Health Service is required by treaty to deliver health care to Native Americans around the country, with more than two million depending on this federal agency. Unfortunately, it appears to be failing. Tribal members have told the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs about alarming conditions at hospitals run by the IHS. During the committee’s investigation, which began last summer, we have heard accounts of nurses unable to administer basic drugs, broken emergency-resuscitation equipment, unsanitary medical facilities, and seriously ill children being misdiagnosed. …
The situation has gotten so bad that inspectors from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have issued multiple Statements of Deficiencies over the past few years identifying four IHS hospitals in the Great Plains that are putting patients in “immediate jeopardy.” Our investigators have found evidence that the IHS, like the VA, maintains a culture of cronyism and corruption. Many staff members collect government paychecks without fear of accountability.
Tribal Leaders have contacted the Department of Health and Human Services specifically identifying underperforming supervisors and upper-level management who deserve to be fired. There is no sign that these people have been terminated. Instead employees who perform poorly are transferred to other facilities and in some cases even get raises and promotions with work files that show no records of bad performance. Nice work if you can get it.
According to HHS, Indian Health Service funding has expanded by 43% since 2008, so more money is not a solution. What’s required seems to be a culture change at the agency from leadership in D.C. down to local hospitals. Some hospitals in the Great Plains area actually had money left over at the end of the fiscal year — but made the choice not to spend it on patient care.
When an administration consistently shows that politics and the next election trump duty and responsibility, and the Constitution is just an old tired document, those attitudes seep through the whole administration, and you get a Navy Commander surrendering boats to the Iranians because he believed that Obama’s Iran Deal was so important to the President, you get sexually-confused bathrooms, a military open to transsexuals, women in combat roles, and an administration unable to say “Islamic terrorism” because the words might offend, though it might also kill a lot of Americans.
Contrary to the hard Left who believe all things are better done and controlled by the best and brightest in the federal government, there are few things that the federal government actually does well. There are a lot of things that must be done by a federal government, but most are better left to the states which are more directly responsible to their citizens. Health care is just one of them.
ObamaCare is slowly falling apart, Medicaid is a disaster, we have read of way too many failings of the Veterans Administration health care, and now the Indian Health Service, required by treaty to deliver health care to Native Americans around the country has more than two million depending on that service.
Free Markets, Free People and lots of competition — works every time. Presented with challenges and the opportunity to be free of meddling bureaucrats, ideas for better care pop up and little miracles happen all over.