Sunday, March 27, 2011

Trump to Obama: You're Fired! Not.

Nowadays most people are more enthusiastic about scheduling a colonoscopy than watching a presidential election debate, but it wasn't always that way.

Debates in recent years have suffered from the effects of political correctness and an overabundance of candidate handlers, such that the candidates themselves are so careful they can hardly land a punch on the other.

But it wasn't always that way. In the earlier years of my lifetime I can remember three major game changing moments in presidential election debates.

In the 1988 vice presidential debate, George H.W. Bush's running mate Dan Quayle, a relatively young Senator at 41 years old, defended his inexperience by noting that he had more years in Congress than John Kennedy did when he ran for president. His opponent, Lloyd Bentsen, responded by saying, "Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy." The cutting remark could not save the disastrous Dukakis/Bentsen campaign but indeed it was the only bright spot for the Democrats that year. Doubts about Quayle's fitness dogged him throughout his term as vice president and certainly helped lose the 1992 campaign for the Bush-Quayle ticket.

Gerald Ford, who was Richard Nixon's "unelected" vice president (he had been picked by Nixon to replace Spiro Agnew, who had to resign due to a business scandal), didn't even need any help from opponent Jimmy Carter to stumble badly in a 1976 presidential debate. Responding to a moderator's question about the Cold War, he claimed that there was "no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe". He knew better, of course, but he was trying to make the point that Eastern Europe, though under communist control, was free at heart. Too fine a point. The blunder help put the second most incompetent president we've ever had in office.

Just four years later Ronald Reagan turned the tables in a presidential debate by delivering perhaps the most famously devastating one-liner of all to the hapless incumbent Jimmy Carter. Responding to Barney Fife-like attacks on his record by Carter, Reagan smilingly retorted, "There you go again." As simple as the phrasing and the response, it was devastating, highlighting Carter's petty and strident nature and Reagan's self-confidence. Reagan won the general election by a huge margin and subsequently saved the U.S. economy and brought the U.S. to victory in the Cold War.

Now consider the possible Republican candidates for president. Listing them all would take up too much space. Hopefully there is a sleeper among them who will rise to the top. But it seems they are nearly all more like yawners.

Except for two. One of whom is detested by many on both the left and the right: Sarah Palin.

I can tell you why they both hate her. It is not her screechy voice. It is not her Idaho accent. It is not her hairdo or her glasses or her good looks or the fact that she resigned as governor of Alaska.

It is because she has actually done something with her life. The people who criticize her left and right are almost universally the types who are big on the talk but not the walk. They have inherited or married money, they have gone to all the right schools and been in all the right clubs thanks to somebody else's money and achievements, but they have done little themselves. They recognize a Sarah Palin as the biggest threat to the self-aggrandizing bubble of the lives they live.

Nowhere was Palin's power as a do-er to devastate non-do-ers more evident than in one line of her speech accepting the nomination as John McCain's running mate in 2008: "I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a community organizer, except that you have actual responsibilities." Like Lloyd Bentzen's zinger directed at Dan Quayle, Palin provided the one bright spot in an otherwise pathetic campaign by McCain who refused to go for the jugular to defeat his opponent.

Some have said that Palin's additon to the ticket sank McCain's campaign. The truth is that had McCain chosen a running mate anything like his middling self, he would have lost two to one.

The thing is, left or right or middle, the American people respond to leadership, not tact.

Despite the constant mantra from pundits that a Palin candidacy would be a disaster, and despite unrelenting attacks on her from left and right, academics and journalists, politicians and bureaucrats and other moochers and looters, her candidacy could galvanize a powerful backlash against the leftist disaster that is the Obama presidency.

Evidence so far is that there is only one other candidate who can do that: Donald Trump.

He too is a do-er and he does not pull punches. With either Palin or Trump running on the Republican ticket, Obama is doomed. That is why you hear so many of the sissy-britches on that side squealing like piggies whenever either Donald Trump or Sarah Palin is mentioned.

But... I hate to disappoint. You will never hear Donald Trump say "You're fired" to Barack Obama in a presidential debate. It's too obvious, for one thing. Like my title above, a million different blogs have already come up with the idea.

No. Should either Donald Trump or Sarah Palin emerge as the candidate, they will come up with something even better.

Friday, March 18, 2011

U.S. Attack on Libya: Huge Mistake

Many have criticized Ronald Reagan for pulling our Marines out of Beirut in 1983 after an Islamist suicide bomber killed 241 American military men by driving a bomb laden water delivery truck into a U.S. Marine barracks. We were there to try to keep the lid on the civil war in Lebanon. The suicide bomber, it turned out, belonged to Hezbollah, "Party of God" translated from Arabic as Donald Rumsfeld points out in his new book, Known and Unknown.

Critics called the withdrawal a sign of weakness. It was quite the opposite. Reagan simply recognized that there was no use inserting ourselves in a no-win situation. You go to win a war, or you don't go at all. As he showed in Grenada.

It seems that Reagan was the last President for a while to understand this concept.

In 1999 we inserted ourselves into the Kosovo debacle, attempting to keep peace between the Albanian Muslims and the native Serbs after Tito's death led parts of the former Yugoslavia into violence - um, those parts where Muslims lived. The rest of Yugoslavia made a relatively peaceful transition into the free world. We had as many as 12,000 troops there at the turn of the century, and they're still there, presumably protecting the Albanians from genocide. But it was precisely one of those Albanians we were protecting who attacked and killed some of our soldiers in the Frankfurt airport just a few weeks ago. We can't extricate ourselves from the Kosovo tarbaby. If we stay, we are hated by both sides. If we leave, we are blamed for unleashing chaos.

Now we're joining a U.N. brainstorming/ barnstorming production in Libya, a so-called no-fly zone. Late in the game. When Khadafi has nearly re-won his entire country from the rebels after President Obama pronounced that Khadafi has "lost his legitimacy". Hunh? He was legitimate before, but now he's not? And we are not at all certain of exactly who these rebels are. In fact, I suppose President Obama is glad attention has shifted from Egypt where he was quick to badmouth weak, ailing old President Mubarak and look like a champion of the people. Those "people" now in charge have already resulted in the Israelis having to interdict one Egyptian ship loaded to the gills with weapons and amunition for the Palestinians. That would be the same Palestinians who spawned Hezbollah, whence President Reagan learned his lesson twenty-five years ago.

Speaking of lessons, the last no-fly zone I recall was the one put in place by the first President Bush after pushing Iraq back from Kuwait in 1990. We successfully kept Iraqi jets out of the sky but we allowed helicopters to fly for "humanitarian reasons." The principle "humanitarian" aid that Saddam delivered with those helicopters was euthenasia. He used them to kill thousands of his own people who rose in revolt against him, assuming we would help them overthrow their dictator. We didn't. Quite the opposite. The very no-fly zone that was supposed to help protect them, doomed their cause.

As I type this, so far there are no reports of attacks underway on Libya. I hope our military leadership is pushing back hard against the incompetent political leadership now in charge, delayinig or better yet preventing actual bloodshed at our hands. Because one thing's for sure. Barack Obama is no Ronald Reagan. He can neither win a just war, nor have the guts to abandon an impossible one.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Atlas Shrugged Opens April 15

You think it's coincidence that the first part of the Atlas Shrugged movie is opening on tax day?

I heard about the novel first in in high school. I've been a passionate fan of the novel since I finally read it about fifteen years ago. In a re-reading just a couple of years ago, I was amazed at the parallels with what is going on in the U.S. right now. I wrote a blog entry here about it at the time.

I've bought extra copies several times and given the book away to anyone who would take it and hopefully read it - a daunting task, as it is a thick book. The reward is an original, clever, riveting story and a rush of inspiration for anyone who is a do-er in this life - as opposed to a moocher or a looter, of course.

An independent production that I've heard is scrupulously faithful to the book (and thus released in parts), the movie at this date seems to have very limited distribution, but there are tools available online to show interest in the film to help secure theaters all over.

You can find those tools, the movie trailer, and much more at the official Atlas Shrugged Movie web site.

If it's not showing in a theater near me, I'm traveling whatever distance it takes to see it.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

What's Wrong with Collective Bargaining?

It's a fair question. So is: "What's wrong with monopolies?"

The answer is that both subvert the free market system by compromising individual achievement in the name of "rights" which are not really rights. Trying to justify collective bargaining (especially in the timely context of public sector employees which is the root of the Wisconsin and other protests) or monopolies is like trying to offer 1930s Germany or a popular vote in Afghanistan for imposition of Sharia Law as good examples of democracy.

Collective bargaining is not a right. It is a privilege granted the union movement on a state by state basis. States can revoke the privilege as certainly as they can revoke a driver license from a DUI offender. And now that in the dismal Obama economy the destructive results of years of expanding union rights are apparent, any state that does not work to reverse the trend is foolish.

Collective bargaining is especially toxic in states that do not have right to work laws. We're lucky here in Tennessee that we are a right to work state: no one has to join a union to hold a job. That at least keeps the unions somewhat honest.

But in states like Wisconsin where a union can not only claim the power to bargain for the renumeration and benefits of every single worker in its industry but also can force every single one of the workers in that industry to pay whatever dues it deems necessary, the situation is exactly the same as an economy where monopolies are allowed.

Think Bell before it was busted up as a monopoly, for example. Basically it controlled all telephone service nationwide. Its service stank. Technological advances were slow. Rates were high. And if someone came along with a better idea? Forget it. If it didn't make money for Bell, it was a non-starter.

Same with unions which have collective bargaining power and captive workers. The dynamic turns from what is good for the worker, especially the highly productive worker, to what is good for the union.

And what is good for the union is no better for the taxpayer than a monopoly like Bell was for the telephone customer.