John McCain – A Hero Yet Again

10 Dec
by John, posted in leadership, Liberty, Life, Pursuit of Happiness   |  No Comments

The best American speech in quite a long time – perhaps all the way back to President Reagan.  Short, direct, with zinger after zinger, supporting one central theme – we, “Americans, are different, stronger, and better than those that would destroy us.”

This will require me to be more thoughtful again when he speaks on national security.  I do not take back my abhorrence to sending in the military for every crisis, but this is simply too good a speech to be an outlier.

 

 

What Kristof Doesn’t Get About White Privilege

28 Nov
by John, posted in Government Spending, leadership, Liberty, Life, Policy, Poverty, Pursuit of Happiness, Urban Policy   |  No Comments

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Photo by Julie Clopper / Shutterstock.com

The eminent New York Times columnist, Nicholas Kristof, has written four pieces over the summer and fall regarding race relations.  He identifies a variety of statistics that once again demonstrate a white child is statistically more likely to succeed in America than a black child.  He then blames that result on “white privilege”.

This is the concept that whites have it so good in terms of resources: good schools; good lawyers: access to people of power; jobs; good parenting; and a variety of other advantages that whites are oblivious to the plight of black youth. Oblivious to an unjust war on drugs, failed racial justice policies, and despair. No matter how much they give to charities, how much they volunteer, how much they pay in taxes toward federal poverty programs, they are oblivious.

Given the amount of ink, television, and new media attention devoted to Rodney King, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and the relentless procession of killings of black children does that theory really pass what lawyers call “the straight face” test?

Except for the out and out racists, the “white” population is enormously frustrated that progress on race relations is so fraught after so much effort following the 1960s.  They are not oblivious, but rather keenly aware that five decades of federal intervention (busing, affirmative action, minority contracting, poverty programs) still allowed for a predominantly African-American community, Ferguson, governed and policed by whites.

Most “whites” one way or the other do “get it”.  What unites them in frustration is commentators purposely targeting them for shame when they too want a solution.  Tell me what the answer is? Beyond my own personal efforts, what are the policies measurable with real data that will heal this wound that dates from the founding of the republic?

Kristof is a proponent of data. Let me once again point out how selective and therefore frustrating Kristof can be.  And as a policy matter how dangerous this faux argument is for the poor.

As I have previously written Head Start, the federal program designed to deliver early childhood education to the poor, does not.  But Kristof refuses to accept the bipartisan study funded over three administrations, including presidents of both parties, that found Head Start failed to deliver effective early childhood education to the poor.

What that study and subsequent studies  do show is the unintended consequence of this massive federal program. It provides adequate part-time daycare.  Now I would argue that quality safe daycare that allows mothers to work or focus on their families is in itself a worthy goal.  But is it too much to ask that a federal program designed to deliver early childhood education, deliver it?

And worse talk about not “getting it”.  While Kristof may have sent his kids to local Head Start or equivalent programs in his overseas assignments, most politicians in Washington, D.C. appear to send their kids to elite privately funded childhood education programs. Programs that actually deliver early and lifelong advantages in reading and math.

Talk about separate but equal.

Every citizen regardless of race who cares about equality shares a disappointment about the lack of success versus investment in fifty years of racial justice and reconciliation.   I would argue a majority of “whites” are keenly aware of that failure, the differences in the communities, and share a desire for new effective ideas for racial justice. Many are frustrated with talk that wants to shame them as a racial group as a way of expanding failing federal programs.  Can you imagine the reaction to an article titled “when blacks just don’t get it.”  Yet it is somehow helpful and persuasive for Kristof to title his article “when whites just don’t get it.”

A huge part of the “white” reaction to Mr. Kristof’s columns is also really an argument for empowerment.  Register to vote, elect your prefered local candidate, and hold them accountable.  Do not wait on Mr. Kristof and the federal bureaucracy. Take control of your destiny. Because as Mr. Kristof so aptly demonstrates a certain section of the intelligentsia preaching equality and delivering poverty remains alive and well.

Our Resignation From Save the Children

21 Nov
by John, posted in Israel/Palestine, Middle East, UK   |  No Comments

November 21, 2014

Ms. Janet Brady
Associate Director, Donor Services
Save the Children
501 Kings Highway East Suite 400
Fairfield, CT  06825

Re:  Val Howard, Donor ID:  XXXXXX

Dear Ms. Brady,

Val and I are in receipt of your note of November 10th.  We have given a lot of thought to Save the Children since the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip began sending rockets into Israel.  Both of us at times fail to understand Israeli policies, particularly in Jerusalem and the West Bank. We often find the issues throughout the Middle East difficult to reconcile with modern morality.

But we were appalled by Save the Children’s statements:

We demand a lasting ceasefire for children in #Gaza and #Israel. We don’t choose sides. We #ChooseChildren.

We have carefully reviewed your website and watched your video.  We can not give money to an organization that would make a relative comparison between Israel and Hamas.

The facts in Gaza are clear.  Hamas breached a ceasefire and began firing thousands of rockets into Israel.  It rebuffed multiple warnings that Israel intended to act in self-defense as recognized in the United Nations charter. Israel as a recognized member of the United Nations exercised its right to self-defense.  I am not sure we in the United States or Great Britain are in a position to pass judgement on whether that action was somehow disproportionate.  The bombing seems entirely consistent with the level of collateral casualties our countries inflicted in an effort to protect our citizens in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc.

But at any moment Hamas could have halted that collateral damage.  They could have halted the killing and wounding of Gaza’s children.  But they chose to reject multiple ceasefires and to continue firing rockets and sending suicide teams into Israel. They did this because they believe as stated in their charter in killing every last Jew, including children, in Israel.

Those are the facts.

What you should have done is unambiguously call upon Hamas to stop the root cause of the violence – the rocket attacks.  But I am sure because you want to serve the children of Gaza, you chose to knuckle under and engage in this despicable moral relativism.

There is good and evil in the world.  You chose to say there is not. We cannot support an organization whose moral judgement differs so much from our own.

Please accept this letter as final notice that we are terminating our twenty year relationship with Save the Children and remove us from your mailing lists.

Very truly yours,

John and Val Howard

Democratic Opportunity

18 Nov
by John, posted in election, leadership, Middle East, Policy, President   |  No Comments

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I have written two very direct pieces on what mistakes Democrats made that drove the disaster in the recent midterm election.  It was not encouraging to see Elizabeth Warren nominated to Democratic Senate leadership, because that means the party in the Senate for the time being is going to double down on left wing ideology.  I actually find Senator Warren much more reasonable in person than she is often portrayed, but she has never run any major government agency, business, or unit in the military.  I think after President Obama we can conclude that is not the right type of person for the presidency.

But there is a liberal leftist policy change that President Obama can make that will arouse his base and a majority of the country.  He can pull American troops out of Iraq.  He can return to the winning formula for Democrats in 2006 and 2008.

The weight of evidence as I have written before is US involvement in the Sunni/Shia civil wars in Syria, Iraq, and much of the Persian Gulf is all participants learn to hate us.  Instead of busily killing each other, they tend to turn to also killing Americans.

There is no public evidence that ISIS/ISIL was going to attack the US prior to the US bombing campaign.  There are a variety of politicians claiming there is classified intelligence revealing that intent.  It is hard to understand a decade after Colin Powell’s presentation at the UN on Iraq, the secret torture memos, the secret surveillance, and all the other baggage of the security state erected after 9/11 that politicians think these “trust me” explanations have any validity.

In 2008 a big part of the McCain loss to the President was McCain’s tendency to see every overseas crisis as an opportunity to invade everywhere.  McCain’s odd obsession for absorbing into NATO every unstable undemocratic former Soviet state from Georgia to the Ukraine was genuinely frightening.  President Obama was the candidate of national interest, caution, and withdrawal.

But such a policy has its consequences.  It means that a lot of despots are going to kill a lot of people.  It is not a pain free policy to stand apart from a spreading civil war that has no vital US national interest.  And as the pain of watching beheadings was amplified in the press, he buckled and now we are busily sending US ground troops into Iraq and air power across Iraq and Syria.  Last week the Administration and its proxies floated the specter of sending US troops back into combat in Iraq.

We have some basis to believe that President Kennedy was preparing to declare Vietnam a lost cause and ordering the withdrawal of US advisors prior to his assassination.  President Obama should learn from that and exit Iraq and Syria.  Otherwise, what difference is there between Democrats and Republicans?

It is that clear distinction that is both the right policy and an electoral advantage.

Democratic Delusion II – Gun Control

13 Nov
by John, posted in election, gun violence, Policy   |  No Comments

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In traditional Democratic media and particularly today’s New York Times you can find a raft of misleading statements about the success of gun control in the mid-term elections.  The Times tries to somehow paint the near defeat of Colorado’s centrist governor, the loss of the Colorado Senate to Republicans, the narrowing of the Democrats margin of control in the Colorado House, the embarrassing drubbing of Andrew Romanoff to Mike Coffman in what was thought to be a big Democratic opportunity, and the defeat of almost every contested statewide Democrat as no big deal.  It does so by narrowly focusing on the replacement of two Republicans in traditional Democratic seats where Republicans had previously recalled two pro-gun control candidates last year.  It ignores the third recall seat  effort which forced the resignation of Colorado’s principal gun control advocate in the State Senate, Evie Hudak. That swing-seat in the Denver suburbs so crucial to Democrats in any election also went Republican two weeks ago.

Gun control hurt Democrats in Colorado.  Denying it is a delusion that helps ensure further losses for the party in two years.  The election returned an overwhelming tide of Republican governors and state legislators nationally.  Gun control is a loser for Democrats outside Democratic strongholds.

Activists are trumpeting the Washington State initiative that imposed a background check on gun buyers at gun shows, in private sales, and over the Internet.  As followers of this issue know, gun control advocates have harangued the nation that 92% of Americans support this type of gun control.  Yet in Washington State this initiative passed by 59%.  As with so much polling prior to the election, support for the Democratic position was overstated for what should be the easiest gun control measure to pass into legislation.

If you can only get a 59% vote in a deeply blue state such as Washington, how can you ever win in the South?  If you can only get a 59% vote in a deeply blue state, how do you ever win in the Rocky Mountain West?

Gun control is an albatross for Democrats in red and purple states – that was the unambiguous message of the election.

And on a final note, gun control advocates need to stop with the silly marketing attempt to call gun control “gun safety”.  If your organization does not offer gun safety courses, if it seeks to shut down every public shooting range necessary to teach gun safety to the general public, and if your organization’s only offer to prevent suicide and accidents is a background check you are not about gun safety.  You are about making guns harder to acquire.  That is certainly a reasonable policy position, but do not try and claim the mantle of gun safety.

What matters is not national polls with carefully choreographed polling questions on the heels of a great tragedy.  What matters is the poll on election day.  And gun control along with anti-capitalism returned a resounding defeat for the party.