To Pander Or Demagogue?

Posted April 21, 2015 by zukunftsaugen
Categories: 2106 Presidential election, Democratic Party, Hillary Clinton, Politics, Republican Party, Ted Cruz

In the crowded field of declared or potential Republican candidates for the 2016 Presidential nomination, next to raising money, the hardest task is how to stand out. One technique everyone in the field has selected is to use Hillary Clinton as the root of all evil. Ted Cruz, however, has chosen a new way. He has taken on the military.

Cruz has spoken out about the Pentagon rule that military members cannot “carry” while on government property unless, of course, they are officially on guard duty or training. Cruz believes the second Amendment protects the rights of soldiers to arm themselves with concealed weapons while on or off duty. Hmmm.

It’s head scratching time trying to figure out why Cruz would consider this a Presidential campaign issue. The cause does offers him a chance to “pander” to the NRA and like minded people. The question is whether Cruz is also bringing up this issue because demagoguery is more his style? Hmmm.

Either explanation should disqualify Cruz from the primaries (although it won’t).

If Cruz is pandering, his statements display an impressive lack of knowledge about military life. (Did you ever wonder why Navy sailors are always chipping paint? The Navy knows that you must keep sailors busy or else they will get into trouble. Guns don’t help!)

If it is “demagoguery” which Cruz is practicing, all other Cruz positions must be put into question. Does he really mean what he says or is he just saying it because he thinks the other person believes it?

In either case, Cruz comes across as not ready for prime time.

Waiting On The Side Lines

Posted April 18, 2015 by zukunftsaugen
Categories: Uncategorized

Tags: , , , ,

I noticed an article in the local newspaper today which said “Millennials Sit Out This Election”. It was a curious article since the same newspaper carried many other stories about both national and State-wide candidates raising so much money for elected positions ranging from State Supreme Court to President of the United States. Money, of course, is free speech and with so much fee speech its hard to understand one demographic group being overlooked.

The “millennials” are different we are told. They were raised on the internet and all the wiz-bang applications. Millennials are the ones who go around with their cell phones six inches in front of their nose while they miraculously navigate around other pedestrians. Millennials were raised in the “good times” and seek to work in friendly settings, play friendly sports after work, and then relax in friendly bars to review the days hardships.

Somehow and in ways unfamiliar to older generations, millennials seem to gain a perspective on the political free speech that the news media spews out 7/24 without ever listening to it. I suspect millennials have developed a sense which detects acrimonious, hollow, or empty words, and just as I might discard milk which didn’t smell right, millennials reject the inflow of “free speech” and search instead for friendlier discourse.

I worry about this cohorts civic-mindedness. How can they have a sound opinion on which candidate or which political party has the better position on government? Life can’t be just about Facebook, Twitter, or the many other self revealing internet applications.

On the other hand I wonder whether millennials are just starting from a different position. They see things as they really are, and do not dwell on how they might be. With this burden out of the way, it is relatively easy to conclude what a supreme waste of time it is to listen and get caught up in political speak.

As with most of my generation, I cannot help but see how things could be better. I listen to the many versions of free speech that bombard us 7/24. To my regret, with this input the best I can do is select the lesser of two evils knowing that neither candidate will see “how things could be better” as I would. Hmmm.

Maybe, or at least I wonder, whether I should begin to keep my cell phone six inches from my nose all day?

You Can Run, But You Can’t Hide

Posted April 17, 2015 by zukunftsaugen
Categories: 2106 Presidential election, Barack Obama, Democratic Party, GOP, Hillary Clinton, jeb bush, Neoconservatives, PNAC, Republican Party

Yesterday, so early in the 2016 Presidential nomination process, Jeb Bush’s claim to be his own man was put in question. Thanks to Jeb Bush’s truthful and candid answers to reporters questions, voters now know that a Jeb Bush Presidency will follow a foreign policy similar if not identical to that of George W Bush.

Gaining this confirmation, so early in the nomination process, will provide voters with a clear warning about what to expect if Jeb Bush becomes the nominee and eventually wins the election.

The issue at hand is described as “America taking a lead in world affairs”. What does he mean? According to the Washington Post, Jeb Bush would not be on speaking terms with Cuba, tighten sanctions on Iran, and partner more closely with Israel. Bush would deploy more NATO assets in Eastern Europe and would use the military to root out “barbarians” and “evil doers” around the globe. Sound like the “axis of evil” speech by “W”?

This foreign policy view has a very rational sound. When the US acts preemptively and with force, adversaries are put on the defense, and potential adversaries think twice before acting provocatively. So, if ones view is that the US is a basically “good” nation which should serve as a model for other nations to follow, then what better way to conduct foreign affairs than to lead?

Bush’s views are not new or unique to him. The “neoconservative” movement which propelled the George W Bush Administration into the Iraq invasion and occupation documented their foreign policy views before “W” was elected in a document (PNAC – Project for the New American Century). PNAC was signed by among others Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Elliott Abrams, Paul Wolfowitz, Scooter Libby, and yes, Jeb Bush).

In considering this “preemptive” foreign policy, voters would do well to remember the disastrous outcome of the Iraq invasion and occupation. Even if one ascribes only the noblest of intentions, the Iraq regime change has unlocked the Middle East pandora’s box of unintended consequences. Also, the expansion of NATO has spooked Russian conservatives and facilitated Russia President Putin to foreign interventions under the guise of protecting the motherland. And, with this view of preemptive action, what does one think a “no deal” with Iran on nuclear weapons will mean?

On a separate basis, the Jeb Bush’s foreign policy does not come cheap. What does one think will happen when a Jeb Bush Administration has to pay for the military size necessary to carry off such a foreign policy (assuming it would be possible in the first place)? Will it be more debt like “W” chose, reductions in all other non-defense government spending, or higher taxes?

Bush and the GOP will target President Obama’s foreign policy, sometimes referred to as “leading from behind”. The President’s policies will be labeled “weak”, “naive”, and “misdirected” whereas a preemptive policy will be billed as “bold”, assertive, and above all, based upon what is right (Americans want to be right).

These are just a war of words which conceal the reality that Bush’s policies are no longer affordable nor do they make sense with global nature of world economics. The US simply can’t confront every threat every place in the world and could not afford to pay the bill if it were possible.

Jeb Bush may continue to say he is his own man but his words suggest something quite similar to his brother.  Jeb can run but he can’t hide from “W’s” recent history and foreign policy failures.

Bush’s words, of course, may seem strong and may harken back to America’s pride emanating from our WWII and Cold War strength, but that simply is not 21st century reality.

For Democrats, however, how will they describe their foreign policy?

Delivering The Mail

Posted April 16, 2015 by zukunftsaugen
Categories: China, cold war, Middle East, muslims, mutual deterrence, Politics, Russia, washington

In an amazing feat of audacity, a Florida postal worker flew his ultralight from Harrisburg, PA to the steps of the Capital in Washington, DC. The pilot landed his craft without incident and was immediately arrested. The pilot explained that he was protesting the obscene amounts of money currently transforming the US political process. I guess this 60 year old individual feels strongly about the corrosive effect of unlimited money.

Listening to the evening news, the postman’s campaign financing protest was lost in their exploration of how anyone could have flown so close to the White House and the Capital. And if that was not enough, the Press reported that the postman had describe his intention about a year ago and had been contacted by local newspapers and Federal investigators. Money in politics, I guess, is both not newsworthy or attention getting for the Feds. Hmmm.

For Russia and China, this was probably a non-event. Would either country be pushed to the point of taking military action against the US, they could employ submarines, long range aircraft, and intercontinental missiles.

But for any of the dysfunction Middle East regimes, this incident may have been a wake up call. Al Qaeda wrote the first chapter in unconventional warfare with the attacks on the World Trade Center. Now their successors have been given a demonstration on how a small, unobtrusive aircraft could deliver a knock out punch to both the White House and the Capital.

Hmmm.

Mutual deterrents kept the cold war powers at bay even though there were conservative war mongers in the capitals of the major powers. With the emergence of Muslim radical groups who apparently possess nothing they wish to protect, the major powers have no mutual deterrent tools to combat them.

One would hope that the light bulb would go on in Washington, Moscow, and Beijing that it is high time to move beyond the cold war, and work together to contain, defang, and ultimately domesticate these radical Muslim threats before they possess weapons of greater mass destruction.

Get It?

Posted April 15, 2015 by zukunftsaugen
Categories: 2106 Presidential election, chris christie, Democratic Party, federal budget, GOP, medicaare, Republican Party, social security, tax reform

Yesterday, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie opened his unofficial run for the GOP Presidential nomination with speeches in New Hampshire. It is well accepted that Governor Christie needed to do something especially noteworthy to gain the public’s attention. And he did.

Most everyone recognizes that Medicare, Medicaid, and the overall Federal Budget are spending more than they are receiving in tax revenues. Social Security while technically solvent is projected to produce a huge deficit in the years ahead. Christie chose to speak about these entitlement programs and proposed some steps to reign in their future costs. Was that bold? Was that wise?

The ideas of means testing Social Security or increasing the age when one qualifies for entitlement benefits is not new but for a politician seriously running for a major office, it is extremely noteworthy.

It will take a few weeks to know whether Christie’s proposals have any measurable impact upon his candidacy. In the meantime, however, it is worthwhile to recognize how unfair and unbalanced Christie’s proposals are.

To be clear, I do not mean that “means” testing is unfair or that increasing the age of the onset of benefits is out of hand a bad idea.

What I mean is that these measure done by themselves transfer the burden of balancing the US budget to many of those who can least afford the costs, and in effect shield the very wealthy from paying for the services that enable them to accumulate so much wealth.

Further, similar changes to Medicare simply display ignorance of the fundamental underlying healthcare problem, US healthcare costs are the highest in the world (two times) and deliver no better outcomes.

If Governor Christie wants to be America’s President and if he interprets that to be all Americans’ President, he will need to broaden his domestic economic views. Tax reform where loop holes and exemptions are eliminated, increased marginal rates will apply to the highest income levels, Federal expenditure reductions will include both Defense and Entitlements and are proportionally, and a determination that Government services exist for the benefits they provide citizens and not as an employment vehicle are worthy additions.

With Governor Christie’s words, the GOP candidates all sighed in relief that someone else had said what they wanted to say.

I wonder whether the other candidate “get it” and will add to these proposals cuts in Defense, tax reform and an overall attack on healthcare costs?

Hill, Hill, Hillary

Posted April 14, 2015 by zukunftsaugen
Categories: 2106 Presidential election, congress, Democratic Party, GOP, Hillary Clinton, Politics, Republican Party

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced her candidacy for President of the United States on Sunday. Pundits gave a audible sigh of relief (they would now have something to talk about). Women’s groups shouted “hurray”! (maybe this time a woman President).  Republican strategists clapped for joy. (at last someone to run against). There was something in her 2 minute, 28 second announcement for everyone. Hmmm.

The Press almost seemed unprepared for the announcement. They critiqued her video and contrasted her low key approach to Iowa and her last unsuccessful campaign. But the press simply could not be satisfied and kept asking the questions of what does a Clinton campaign have as its goals and what programs does it think will achieve these goals?

There is close to no chance Hillary will answer this line of questions anytime soon (if at all). There are two practical reasons for this.

  • First, each of the GOP candidates will soon concoct there own anti-Hillary points. With no statements sitting out in the real world, GOP candidates run the risk of making claims that Hillary can later easily debunk.
  • Second, Hillary is well aware that she is unlikely to have a Democrat controlled Congress. She is wise enough to know her path with Congress will look much more like President Obama’s and getting legislative support is a low probability happening. Why make promises you are most likely will be unable to keep.

Hillary supporters know where she will stand on the Affordable Care Act, on preserving Medicare and Medicaid, on appointments to the Supreme Court, and on Women’s and Gay rights. It is not necessary for Hillary to make statements that she will not dismantle these policies or follow GOP practices.

Hillary needs to remain patient. If history repeats GOP candidates will box themselves into untenable positions on global warming, women’s rights, immigration, and fixing the deficit at the expense of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Hillary will only need to say “I won’t destroy those programs or policies”.

Never the less, the 2016 campaign will be close since the country is so evenly divided. A young GOP candidate, running on a moderate platform could have a solid chance of defeating Hillary. Enough Americans might just want to try someone knew.

The problems is simply “who might that be” and “how could such a candidate win the GOP primaries”?

Rant Paul ?

Posted April 8, 2015 by zukunftsaugen
Categories: 2106 Presidential election, Democratic Party, GOP, libertairian, Politics, Rand Paul, Republican Party, Ted Cruz

Senator Rand Paul announced his campaign for the GOP Presidential nomination yesterday. Surprisingly Paul wants to take the government back… from special interests. He wants to get the government out of every crook and cranny of our lives, what ever that means. And he wants a US stronger than any other country so it can lead world affairs without question. Hmmm.

His announcement was given to unbridled cheers… from faithful followers. I don’t think there were Ted Cruz supporters present. And what sensible politician would choose to make such an announcement to an unknown group of voters?

Paul has never the less an appealing message on the surface. His libertarian anchored views would make one expect domestic policies where government keeps out of implementing religion driven laws and enables the individual greater freedom to make decision which only impact themselves. One would also expect a Paul Presidency to carefully review all government spending, somewhat like zero based budgeting, and confirming that each program was still necessary and working as designed.
More worrisome was his rants about US military might. His message was that the US should remain the overwhelmingly strongest country (no problem so far) but Paul wants the US to freely exercise this power around the world. Two problems emerge.

First, Paul is silent on how to pay for this military might. Unless he favors new taxes, the augmented US military would have to get its funding from cutting other government programs or borrowings. Hmmm. I wonder which butter programs Paul would cut to pay for more guns?

Second, Libertarians are generally committed to keeping out of foreign entanglements unless these external forces pose a direct threat to our national interests. Paul’s words yesterday omitted this type of qualifier.

These two observations should be no surprise. Paul is entering the GOP primary game. In order to win the nomination, Paul will have to follow the path Mitt Romney took and pander to groups which do not reflect his real beliefs. Such is the world we live in.

Paul becomes the second announced GOP candidate, along side Senator Ted Cruz. While Paul and Cruz are just the first two to announce, they will be more candidates soon.

Before that time, and with the paucity of real information about each candidate’s likely platform, Paul’s libertarian views trump Cruz’s bible thumping antics.


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