Americans want ever more Free Stuff as the Founding Fathers feared they would under Mob Rule

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 27th, 2014

Week in Review

Let’s imagine you buy your groceries a different way.  Instead of going to the store and picking things off of the shelves and paying for them at checkout imagine this.  You don’t pay the store.  A third party does.  Like it does for everyone else that shops at this store.  Sounds great, doesn’t it?  Let’s say people pool their money together for purchasing power.  And have this third party take that pooled money and use it to get better pricing.  Because of the large amounts they will be paying for.

So everyone pays in a monthly amount to their third-party purchaser.  Then goes to the store and takes what they want.  And at checkout they just sign an invoice to acknowledge they took this stuff.  And the store will submit the bill to the third-party purchaser.  Of course, there would have to be some rules.  Because if everyone pays a flat amount each month you can’t have someone picking up steaks every day when you’re buying hamburger for your kids.  So there are limits to what you can buy.  Requiring the third party to review every submitted invoice.  Requiring a very large staff to review every grocery store purchase to approve and disapprove line items on each and every invoice for payment.  To resolve billing and payment errors.  And to bill shoppers for any unapproved purchases they made.  Even if they didn’t understand that these items weren’t covered.

So, included with that monthly payment there must be an overhead fee.  To pay for all those people reviewing those invoices.  Those who bill shoppers for unapproved items.  Those who pay for the approved purchases.  And those who process payments from shoppers.  Still, things slip through the cracks.  People are getting unapproved purchases through the system.  Grocery prices rise.  The overhead costs at the third party grow due to new costly regulations.  Etc.  Such that on occasion the total amount of cash out at the third party exceeds the total of cash in.  Requiring them to raise the monthly amount everyone pays.

Sounds a bit more complicated than just going to the store and paying for what you want out of pocket.  And more costly in the long run.  But if someone else pays the third party for those monthly fees it’s a whole different story.  Say as a benefit at work.  Because without you having to pay anything it’s just free groceries.  At least, to you.  And you will demand that your employer pays for more stuff so it’s free to you.  Even though it’s not.  Because the rising cost of third party grocery purchases will cost your employer.  Which will limit your pay.  And other benefits.  Because in the real world nothing is free.  Even if people think that a lot of stuff is free.  Or should be free.  Like health care (see Nearly 7 in 10 Americans say health plans should cover birth control by Karen Kaplan posted 4/22/2014 on the Los Angeles Times).

Among the various provisions of the Affordable Care Act, few are as controversial as the one requiring health insurance providers to include coverage for contraception. A new survey finds that support for this rule is widespread, with 69% of Americans in favor of the mandate…

Women, African Americans, Latinos and parents living with children under the age of 18 had higher levels of support for mandatory contraception coverage than people in other demographic groups, the survey found…

— 85% of those surveyed supported mandatory coverage for mammograms and colonoscopies.

— 84% supported mandatory coverage for recommended vaccines.

— 82% were in favor of mandatory coverage for diabetes and cholesterol screening tests.

— 77% backed the provision on mandatory coverage for mental health care.

— 75% supported mandatory coverage of dental care, including routine cleanings.

There’s a reason why the United States is a republic and not a democracy.  For the Founding Fathers feared a democracy.  And wanted responsible people between the people and the treasury.  For once people understood they could vote themselves the treasury they would.  And things like this would happen.  Mob rule.  Where the mob demands more and more free stuff while fewer and fewer people pay for that ‘free’ stuff.  And people in government anxious to win elections will keep giving the people more ‘free’ stuff that others have to pay for.  Until one day you end up with the health care system we have in the United States.  All because other people were paying for routine costs people could expect and budget for.  Things that if they paid out of pocket for would cost less in the long run.  Which would keep insurance what it was supposed to be.  Insurance.  And not turn it into a massive cost transfer scheme that only allowed the price of health care to soar.

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Anchor/Passport Babies proof that People wished Britain/America had conquered the World

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 8th, 2014

Week in Review

The problem with a generous welfare state and porous borders is that they attract a lot of foreign-born people to your country to cash in on those generous welfare benefits.  Some even make the journey while pregnant so their child is born in the country with the generous welfare benefits.  And not the cruel, cold-hearted benefit-free country they are escaping.  Giving them an ‘anchor’ in the country they’d much rather live in than the country they don’t want to live in.  Their native country.

The United States has a porous border with Mexico.  And many Mexicans give birth in the United States while in the country illegally just so their child doesn’t have to grow up in Mexico.  Which when you think about is a statement on how these Mexicans feel about the ‘imperial’ United States.  They must really hate them for not taking the rest of Mexico when they won the Mexican War.  Had the Americans done so there would be no need for anchor babies.  For they would already be enjoying American citizenship south of the Rio Grande.  Based on the number of Mexicans entering America illegally, at least.

The United States isn’t the only country people want to live in.  Canada, too, is a beautiful country with a generous welfare state.  The winters are a little colder, though.  But that doesn’t stop people from trying to become Canadian citizens with anchor babies.  Only they call them ‘passport babies’ in Canada (see Canadian citizenship bill to be tabled Thursday by Susana Mas posted 2/2/2014 on CBC News).

Alexander said the proposed changes to the Citizenship Act would also aim to reduce the current backlog of applications and change the conditions for eligibility.

The government is also considering changes to tackle the problem of so-called “birth tourism” or “passport babies,” but Alexander told CBC News they would not be included in this bill.

Americans and Canadians aren’t better people.  They just live in countries that allow their people to be better.  Which is the problem in Mexico.  Not the people.  As the Americas were colonized Britain was further along in representative government than Spain.  Free market capitalism replaced mercantilism quicker in British America than it did in Spanish America.  And democratic institutions were more developed in British America than they were in Spanish America.  Such that the foundation for representative government, free market capitalism and democracy was more robust in British American than it was in Spanish America.

Because of this when the Americans gained their independence great peace and prosperity followed.  A first following a civil war.  Allowing America and Canada (later granted their independence from the British Empire) to be lands of opportunity.  With strong human rights.  Ironically, in large part to the School of Salamanca.  One of the greatest gifts Spain gave to the world.  Which is why people want to have their babies born in these countries.  So they can be as great as they want to be.  Because only representative government, free market capitalism and democracy can make this possible.  At least based on history.

But you can’t have people entering your country unchecked.  Especially if they’re coming for the benefits.  And your country has annual deficits and a growing national debt.  For adding more people to the benefits roll when you can’t afford it will transform the country from that land of opportunity people want to come to into the country they are fleeing.  Countries with high spending and devalued currencies that lead to black markets and lawlessness.  The very things people want to get away from by having their babies in the United States and Canada.

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With every Increase of the Debt Ceiling we get Closer to Third-World Status

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 8th, 2014

Week in Review

George W. Bush’s last deficit was $498.37 billion.  President Obama’s deficits were $1,539.22 billion, $1,386.92 billion, $1,350.31 billion, $1,120.16 billion and $680 billion, respectively.  President Obama has taken the national debt from $12,973,669,938,453 to $16,738,183,526,697.  And increase of $3,764,513,588,244 (29%).  Or the amount added to the national debt from 1791 through 1985.

So President Obama did in 5 years what his predecessors did in 194 years.  Putting the U.S. dollar in great peril.  For the only reason why the United States hasn’t become a third-world economic basket case is because the U.S. dollar is the world’s reserve currency.  But once the world loses confidence in the American dollar they may choose another reserve currency.  And if they do all of that printing and borrowing will hit the U.S. economy hard.  Making the inflation of the stagflation Seventies seem like child’s play.

We can’t keep printing and borrowing money.  For we are approaching a tipping point.  Yes, having the power to print money can forestall the inevitable.  As long as people still have confidence in your currency.  But if they don’t there is nothing to prevent the U.S. from spiraling down into third-world status just as every other nation that destroyed their economy with out of control printing and spending.  Making these debates over increasing the debt ceiling more than Kabuki Theater (see All’s Fair in Love, War and Government? by Robert Schlesinger posted 2/3/2014 on US News and World Report).

The way that the approach to the debt ceiling has changed – going from a rhetorical opportunity and classic round of Kabuki Theater where lawmakers feign outrage and denounce the debt ceiling increase they know they’re going to vote for anyway to a genuine threat to the economy – illustrates a larger trend in Washington: the movement away from certain accepted norms in our governance. As I’ve written before, there used to be unwritten rules which helped keep the governance train on its rails – they limited the use of the filibuster to rare issues, they made the notion of deliberately shutting down the government in order to extract policy concessions out of bounds and the same with the idea of intentionally harming the economy by not raising the debt ceiling.

Those norms have increasingly been replaced with an ends-justifies-the-means view that the pursuit of power makes anything OK. That’s a real problem for our democracy.

The ends-justifies-the-means in the pursuit of power?  Yes, that is a problem for our democracy.  Such as passing the Affordable Care Act on partisan lines with back room deals.  Causing people to lose the health insurance and doctors they liked and wanted to keep.  Higher insurance premiums and higher deductibles.  A cost that went from just under $1 trillion over ten years to over $1 trillion each year (if our health care is anything like Canada’s health care).  And prolonging the worst economic recovery since that following the Great Depression.  Even telling the Lie of the Year.  Horrible things for our Democracy.  All in the pursuit of power.  In the left’s quest for the holy grail of power.  National health care.

With our huge debt weighing down our democracy we are fast approaching the tipping point.  And raising the debt ceiling may not be the best thing to do.  So someone should be trying to get some spending cuts before agreeing to raise the debt ceiling.  To save our democracy.  Before it’s too late.  Thanks to the Democrats’ pursuit of power.  Where ‘the ends-justifies-the-means’.  Even if it turns the country into a third-world nation.

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Our Free Press has become an Extension of the Democrat Party instead of Safeguarding Democracy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 9th, 2014

Politics 101

Our Free Press embraced the George Washington Bridge Scandal to ignore Robert Gates’ Autobiography

“The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.”  A quote attributed to Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry and Wendell Phillips.  To name a few.  John Philpot Curran may have said it first when he said, “The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt.”

This is why the Founding Fathers gave us the First Amendment.  And freedom of the press.  Which exercises that eternal vigilance.  To safeguard democracy.  By keeping government transparent.  And making it difficult for government to hide things from the American people.  Especially when those in power use their positions of power for self interest.  Instead of the public’s interest.

So this is the free press as envisioned by the Founding Fathers.  Is it still that noble institution?  Well, you be the judge.  Recently Robert Gates just published a tell-all memoir putting the Obama administration in a very poor light.  Saying things like Vice President Joe Biden has been wrong on every important foreign policy issue.  That senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama voted against the surge in Iraq for political reasons.  What was best for them.  Not their country.  And that as much as Candidate Obama said Iraq was the wrong war while Afghanistan was the right war he never believed in the war in Afghanistan.  He didn’t have any interest in winning.  Only in getting out.  Big news.  But now you don’t hear anything about it because someone in Chris Christie’s administration caused gridlock on the roads leading to the George Washington Bridge.

President Obama sacrificed the Americans in Benghazi for the sake of a Campaign Message

The George Washington Bridge scandal has gripped the media.  It’s all they can talk about.  Unlike those ‘phony scandals’ president Obama complained about that the Republicans were creating out of nothing.  Like the ATF Fast and Furious scandal.  Gunwalking to put thousands of weapons on the street.  So the Obama administration could pick them up after they were used in a crime and say, “See?  We need to pass new gun control legislation.”  In Fast and Furious that meant new controls for multiple rifle sales or long guns.  As explained in Demand Letter 3.  One of these guns killed a U.S. border agent.  And countless people in Mexico.  But that was a phony scandal.  Not a real one like the George Washington Bridge scandal.

The Solyndra scandal funneled money to a maker of solar arrays that was bleeding money.  To delay the bankruptcy until after the 2010 midterm elections the Obama administration promised the largest private investor—and Obama donor—to restructure the loan.  To put him above the taxpayers in any bankruptcy filing.  In violation of Section 1702(d)(3) of Energy Policy Act of 2005.  The Obama administration did.  And the taxpayers’ ate the private investor’s loss.  But that was a phony scandal.  Not a real one like the George Washington Bridge scandal.

With the death of Osama bin Laden President Obama said al Qaeda was reeling.  On the ropes.  On the path to being no more.  And he was going to ride this foreign policy achievement into the 2012 presidential election.  Which is why when Ambassador Stevens requested additional security at the Benghazi mission the Obama administration denied his request.  For how would it look if they were beefing up security in the country they just liberated when the threat from al Qaeda was receding?  The problem was that al Qaeda was resurgent in Libya.  It was so dangerous the British pulled out completely after an attack on their people.  But President Obama sacrificed the Americans in Benghazi for the sake of a campaign message.  And after four Americans died President Obama, Hillary Clinton and Susan Rice blamed their deaths on a spontaneous protest that turned deadly due to an obscure anti-Muslim video no one had heard of in Benghazi.  A spontaneous protest where people had rocket propelled grenades.  And mortars that were pre-sighted on their targets.  Things few people normally carry on them.  The administration lied and they stonewalled Congress over Benghazi.  Hiding the truth.  Of how politics trumped the lives of four Americans.  But that was a phony scandal.  Not a real one like the George Washington Bridge scandal.

Our Free Press is NOT exercising that Eternal Vigilance that safeguards Democracy

CBS correspondent Sharyl Attkisson was one of the few in the media to investigate the Obama administration.  Breaking stories on Fast and Furious.  And Benghazi.  Someone hacked into her computer in late 2012.  Someone sophisticated who was searching for something on her computer.  And knew how to cover their electronic tracks.  Well, almost.  The Obama Justice Department denied any involvement.  But they did spy on reporters at the Associated Press.  And Fox News journalist James Rosen.   Attorney General Eric Holder even personally signed an affidavit naming him a potential criminal for doing his job.  And then lied under oath when asked in Congress.  Saying he didn’t get involved with the prosecution of journalists for doing their jobs.  Even though he had.  But these were phony scandals.  Not a real one like the George Washington Bridge scandal.

And then there was the IRS scandal.  Which targeted enemies of the Obama administration.  Holding up tax-exempt status for Tea Party groups.  Hindering their ability to fund raise and exercise their free speech during the 2012 presidential election.  And conservative donors faced punitive IRS audits.  Dissuading others from donating.  Further hindering fund raising and free speech.  The Obama administration said that those responsible were low-office holders in the Cincinnati office.  But when the head of the tax exempt division, Lois Lerner, appeared before Congress she pleaded the Fifth Amendment.  For the paper trail led to her.  And possibly into the White House.  For she was an active Democrat supporter.  And wasn’t above breaking the law to help her party.  Such as violating Section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code.  Forbidding her to disclose income tax return information to anyone.  Even another governmental agency.  Which she did.  And now we learn that the Justice Department lead investigator for the IRS scandal is a Democrat donor.  But the IRS scandal was a phony scandal.  Not a real one like the George Washington Bridge scandal.

Of all of these scandals which one are you most familiar with?  Probably the George Washington Bridge scandal.  Because our free press is NOT exercising that eternal vigilance that safeguards democracy.  They have become an extension of the Democrat Party.  Putting politics above the wellbeing of the people.  Helping the Democrats to advance their agenda.  While hiding their scandals.  To destroy what the Founding Fathers gave us.  Liberty.  And expand one-party rule.  Putting us on the road to servitude.  Just as John Philpot Curran warned.

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The French boo Socialist François Hollande because of High Taxes and a Bad Economy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 16th, 2013

Week in Review

The Founding Fathers gave us a republic because they feared democracy.  Or mob rule.  In a republic you elect responsible people to represent you in government.  In a democracy it’s majority rule of the people.  Often when they are agitated or angered about something.  Which can trample on minority rights.  If the mob is angry over a group of immigrants working for a lower wage the mob can vote a ban on those immigrants.  Round them up.  And send them home.  Or imprison them.  This is the danger of a true democracy.  Anything the majority agrees on can become law.  Which is why the Founding Fathers gave us a republic.  And prayed that only wise men who shared their Enlightenment views would enter government.

Another danger of a true democracy is that once the people understand that they can vote themselves the treasury they will.  While responsible representatives won’t.  Until people start looking at government as a way to get rich.  And become professional politicians.  Instead of the part-time representatives the Founding Fathers envisioned.  Which transformed the republic into a democracy.  Only it’s our representatives that have descended into mob rule.  As professional politicians buy votes by giving the people generous government benefits that the state will soon be unable to afford.  Which is what is happening in France now (see French president booed at WWI ceremony posted 11/11/2013 on the Associated Press).

France’s unpopular president ignored jeers by protesters as he laid flowers at the tomb of the unknown soldier during a ceremony marking the end of World War I…

Shouts of “Hollande resign!” rang out and some demonstrators wore the red caps that have come to symbolize an anti-tax movement that has caused violent protests in Brittany in recent weeks…

Hollande’s popularity has sunk to record lows amid growing dissatisfaction over weak economic growth, high taxes and rising joblessness.

The French people voted the socialist into office because they wanted more free stuff.  Or wanted not to lose the free stuff they already had.  Courtesy of their social democracy.  Which promised cradle-to-the-grave government benefits.  But declining birthrates led to a falling population growth rate all over Europe.  Such that the number of people receiving those government benefits is growing while the number of people paying for those benefits is not.  French president Nicolas Sarkozy tried to be responsible.  While socialist presidential challenger François Hollande (the guy the French now hate) said the problem was that they weren’t taxing the rich enough.  And the other usual socialist claptrap.  Well, the socialist won.  He raised taxes.  The economy tanked as expected.  And now the French people hate him.

This is exactly what the Founding Fathers feared about democracy.  The French republic devolved into mob rule.  And tried to vote themselves the treasury.  Which leads to only higher taxes.  Or cut benefits as the state can no longer afford to pay for these benefits.  Which is where the French are now.  And the Americans will soon be.

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FT185: “When it comes to foreign policy the Republicans do what is best for the country while Democrats do what is best for their party.” —Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 30th, 2013

Fundamental Truth

Wherever the Soviets pushed the Americans pushed back to Contain the Expansion of Communism

Once upon a time Democrats were practically warmongers.  Woodrow Wilson got us into World War I.  FDR got us into World War II.  Harry Truman got us into the Korean War.  And LBJ got us into the Vietnam War.  While Republicans were nearly pacifists.  Dwight Eisenhower got us out of the Korean War.  And Richard Nixon got us out of the Vietnam War.

Eisenhower was the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe during World War II.  Saw the carnage of war up close.  And was glad when it was over.  Unlike General Patton.  Who wanted to invade the Soviet Union.  Because he knew we would have to fight them sooner or later.  And rather do it then when they had the most awesome military force in the world still in Europe.  General Patton lost command of Third Army because of talk like that.  And later would die from injuries he got in a freak car accident.

It didn’t take long following the end of World War II for the Soviets to become the new big bad in town.  Just like General Patton foresaw.  Truman stood up to them in Berlin.  Greece.  Turkey.  Iran.  And Korea.  Wherever they pushed the Americans tried to hold the line.  To contain the expansion of communism.  It was the Cold War.  And it first got hot in Korea.  But the UN forces held the line in Korea.  After three years of war.  About as long as America spent fighting in Europe during World War II.

JFK’s refusal to commit American Military Power during the Bay of Pigs Invasion led to the Cuban Missile Crisis

Communism was a thorn in the side of democracy.  The democratic West believed in peace through strength.  With the occasional war breaking the peace.  While the communist East believed in a perpetual state of war with the occasional peace breaking that war.  The communists sought to expand through violent revolution.  If you contained it early (like in the Berlin Airlift) you could avoid a shooting war.  And keep it cold.  But if they got a foothold you could find yourself mired in a hot and prolonged war.  Like in Korea.

When Fidel Castro turned Cuba communist it was not a good thing for the United States.  For all their efforts to contain communism throughout the world here they were.  On Cuba.  Within missile range of the United States.  And Castro was cozying up to the Soviets.  Which is why President Eisenhower gave the green light for the CIA to remove Castro from power.  To remove a threat so close to the United States.  The plan was the Bay of Pigs Invasion.  Which proceeded under the following administration.  JFK’s.

The invasion, though, did not go well.  And unlike in the Guatemalan coup d’état, JFK did not commit American military power to help the invaders (unlike Eisenhower did in the Guatemalan coup).  Who were soon pushed back.  And defeated.  Which breathed new life in Cuba’s communist revolution.  Brought them more into the Soviet sphere.  And encouraged the Soviets to test this young president.  Which they did.  By sending nuclear missiles to Cuba.  Leading to the Cuban Missile Crisis.  And near nuclear war (Castro’s right hand man, Che Guevara, was angry with the Soviets because they refused to nuke the United States during the crisis).  While the Cuban people suffered under their communist oppressors.  And still do.

Today Iran—and Radical Islam—is the Thorn in the Side of Democracy that Communism once Was

Truman was the last Democrat warrior president.  LBJ got us into Vietnam.  But he also gave us the Great Society.  Turning the nation towards a welfare state.  A very costly welfare state.  Which the great costs of the Vietnam War threatened.  The government, much like they did during the Revolutionary War, began printing money to pay for all of this spending.  Devaluing a dollar pegged to gold.  With nations concerned with this devaluation they traded their dollars for gold.  Which is what is supposed to happen under a gold standard.  So nations don’t devalue their currencies.  But printing money is easier than cutting spending.  So President Nixon decoupled the dollar from gold.  So they could really print it.  Giving us the inflationary Seventies.

Since then Democrat presidents have done two things.  Expanded the welfare state.  And demonized their political opponents.  Which extended to their foreign policy.  President Carter cut back on defense spending.  And tried to make friends with our archenemy.  The Soviet Union.  A president the Soviets had little respect for.  Even considering a nuclear first-strike policy as they didn’t think Carter would ever launch his nuclear weapons.  And then President Carter criticized American ally, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran, for his human rights violation.  There was revolutionary fervor in the air.  The Shah implored for help from their long-time friend and ally.  The United States.  Who assured the Shah that the Americans would intervene militarily on his behalf.  But didn’t.  The Iranian Revolution followed.  And Iran became America’s new archenemy.

Iranian oil won World War II.  It fed the Red Army.  Iran served as a portal into the Soviet Union.  War material as well as oil flowed through Iran and into the Soviet Union.  After the war the Soviets didn’t want to leave Iran.  Give up that oil.  Or a warm-weather port on the Indian Ocean.  But the British and the Americans helped the Iranians keep the Soviets at bay.  Their actions included a coup.  And some human rights violations.  To keep what happened in Eastern Europe following World War II from happening in Iran.  Iran prospered.  And Westernized.  It was becoming everything the American left loved.  Secular.  It was becoming more like America.  Where men and women enjoyed doing things they could enjoy in New York City.  Which angered the Islamists.

Today Iran—and radical Islam—is the thorn in the side of democracy that communism once was.  And unlike their Cold War warrior forefathers, today’s Democrats choose party over country.  Basing their foreign policy on expanding the welfare state.  Or demonizing their political opponents.  President Clinton treated al Qaeda’s increasing acts of hostility against Western/American interests as a legal issue.  Which grew bolder until they culminated in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.  Clinton did this so he wouldn’t waste money on defense by risking war to protect America.  Or anger his liberal base.  After 9/11, George W. Bush fought back.

The Democrats have demonized George W. Bush as a rich oil man who traded blood for oil.  While at the same time they said he was purposely causing oil shortages to raise the price of oil.  When an opportunity came to overthrow America’s new archenemy, Iran, President Obama did nothing to support the Green Revolution in Iran following questionable election results that kept Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in power.  An intervention that would have been in the best interests of both America and the Iranian people.  But when the Arab Spring blew through Egypt he was quick to tell our friend and ally, Hosni Mubarak, that he had to go.  Turning Egypt over to the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood.  But when civil war came to Syria he chose to do nothing.  Until now (to save face from his ‘red line’ comment about chemical weapons?).  When the opposition has most probably been infiltrated by al Qaeda.

What is the constant in these Democrat foreign policy decisions?  They are the opposite of what the Republicans would have done.  So they couldn’t have done them.  For it would have vindicated George W. Bush.  Angered their liberal base.  And made the world a safer place.

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FT177: “For democracy to work you need responsible citizens who will temper their wants with knowledge and experience.” —Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - July 5th, 2013

Fundamental Truth

The British Subjects were bothered by their Protestant King having a French Catholic Wife

King Henry VIII had a falling out with the Pope.  And broke away from the Catholic Church.  Putting England on the path to becoming Protestant.  Now, for those of you unfamiliar with the Protestant Reformation the resulting conflicts between Catholics and Protestants were really horrible.  And bloody.  Some of England’s greatest enemies during that time were Spain and France.  Both Catholic.  But this Catholic-Protestant animosity was not limited to her foreign enemies.

Religion played a large part in the English Civil War (1642–1651).  In fact, it started it.  When King Charles I tried to impose an English prayer book on Presbyterian Scotland.  To have a singular religion in England and Scotland.  Which the Scottish didn’t embrace.  And pushed back on King Charles.  Who then wanted to teach the Scottish a lesson.  With an army.  But to raise an army he needed money.  Which meant he had to call Parliament.  And when he did they weren’t all that keen on spending money for another war.  Then one thing led to another.  Resulting in a war between supporters of the king.  Cavaliers.  And supporters of Parliament.  Roundheads.

But there was another religious element.  The king’s wife.  Henrietta Maria.  Of France.  Who was a proud practicing Catholic.  This bothered a lot of people.  The king having a French Catholic wife in a Protestant country where they were still executing Catholics.  For practicing religion wrong.  And now the king had a Catholic wife.  Who they believed was turning the Protestant king Catholic.  In fact, they thought that English churches even looked too Catholic for their liking.  And they did something about it.  They smashed idols.  Altars.  Vestments.  Stained glass.  Etc.  Anything that you might find in a Catholic Church they destroyed.  Believing their churches should be properly Protestant.  Plain, boring and dull.

When Hostilities broke out the Anti-Catholic Sentiments among these British Americans were as Strong as Ever

About a hundred years later we come to the American Revolutionary War.  Another war between the British people.  Great Britain.  And the American colonists.  Who had grown into their own people.  And did not like the mother country treating them as second class citizens in the British Empire.  They didn’t like the taxation without representation.  Or their mercantile economic policies.  Which limited the colonists to raw material suppliers.  That they had to sell to Britain.  Ship on British ships.  Then buy only British goods.  Shipped on those same British ships.  Goods often manufactured from their own raw materials.

When George Washington settled his accounts with his British agent he didn’t like what he saw.  The British mercantile house was profiting more from his labors than he was.  And it pissed him off.  For George Washington was an astute businessman.  One of the few planters that actually made a profit in Virginia.  And the current system with Great Britain was just bad business.  So when talk of independence came around he was quick to sign on.  Both for principle.  And for business.  For he was an old man.  Who knew a lot.  And experienced even more.  One of the privileges of being an old man.

When hostilities broke out the anti-Catholic sentiments among these British Americans were as strong as ever.  And when General Washington’s soldiers expressed those sentiments publically the general quickly put an end to it.  For the memories of the English Civil War were not that distant.  He did not need to make his task more difficult by adding in that Catholic-Protestant animosity to the current struggle.  Especially when there was an attempt to get Canada to join their cause.  Which was recently French Canada.  A colony of Catholic France.  Before the British defeated the French in the Seven Years’ War.  Making French Canada British.  So the Americans were counting on cashing in on Canada’s anti-British sentiments.  And hopefully France’s anti-British sentiments.

Americans were able to Win the Peace because they didn’t Need Government to tell them how to Live

The Canadians didn’t join the Americans.  But the French did.  And General Washington avoided defeat for 8 years.  And won the American Revolutionary War.  Against the mightiest empire in the world.  A remarkable feat.  Then Washington won the peace.  Which was even more remarkable.  For revolutions rarely end in peace.  Because these conflicts are typically civil wars.  Where brother fights brother.  And when brother fights brother the fighting gets especially brutal.  With bitter feelings of animosity.  Like those between Catholics and Protestants.  Which they often just can’t shut off after the fighting is over.  But the Americans could.  And did.  Which is why their democracy worked.  When so many others have failed.

America’s experiment in self-government worked because of men like George Washington.  Responsible citizens who tempered their wants with knowledge and experience.  Who saw the bigger picture.  Who knew when to stand on principle.  When to compromise.  And when to leave things the hell alone.  Not acting on passions.  Or emotions.  Not acting like children.  But adults.  Who knew they couldn’t have everything they wanted.  And went without a lot of the things they really wanted.  For with liberty came personal responsibility.  You were free to do pretty much whatever you wanted to do.  But that personal responsibility kept you from doing a lot of the things you shouldn’t do.  By exercising restraint.  Which our Founding Fathers exercised after winning the Revolutionary War.  There were no reprisals.  No vengeance.  Only law.  Where justice was blind.  Something that didn’t happen during the French Revolution.  Fought but 5 years from the close of the American Revolution.  But unlike the American Revolution the streets of France ran with blood.  Where vengeance ruled the day.  And justice wasn’t blind.

This is what makes the American Revolution different.  It was the character of the men fighting it.  Men of the Enlightenment.  Selfless men.  Who put the country first.  Instead of settling old scores.  Helped in part by a short history in the New World.  And a long history in the Old World.  As they were able to learn the lessons of history.  Without having centuries of wrongs to right inflaming their passions.  Exceptional men.  And exceptional circumstances.  Something the French just didn’t have.  Which is why the streets of France ran with blood.  And why there were many fits and starts to their republic.  While the Americans were able to make theirs work from the beginning.  Because of the character of its people.  Who were not used to a ruling power subjecting them.  Who expected no one to take care of them.  And just wanted their government to leave them the hell alone.  So they could work hard.  And provide for their families.  And their ideal form of government was one that let them do just that.  Not one that was a big part of their life.  Or one that provided for them.  Made them dependent on it.  The Americans were able to win the peace because they didn’t need government to tell them how to live.  They chose to live harmoniously together.  Thanks to a character honed by their religious beliefs.  And having exemplary men to emulate.  The Founding Fathers.  This is why the Americans were able to win the peace.  Why the French were unable to win theirs.  And why the Egyptians are struggling to win theirs.

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The Muslim Brotherhood is out in Egypt for Ruling against the Will of the People

Posted by PITHOCRATES - July 4th, 2013

Politics 101

The Muslim Brotherhood did not like Hosni Mubarak or Peace in the Middle East

President Mohammed Morsi is no longer president of Egypt.  Thanks to a bloodless military coup.  Why did the military do this?  Is there some power-hungry general that wanted to become dictator?  No.  The army stepped in to prevent the country from degenerating into civil war.  As the people were unhappy.  And angry.  Filling Tahrir Square.  Protesting the rule of President Morsi.  Just as they protested the rule of Hosni Mubarak.  Back during the Arab Spring.  When democracy was flowering all over the Arab world.

The people were unhappy with Hosni Mubarak because of soaring unemployment.  And his oppressive police state.  To name two things.  The people wanted jobs.  And liberty.  So they demanded democracy.  And got it.  They had free elections.  And the people chose their new leader.  Mohammed Morsi.  Who since becoming president did nothing to improve the employment picture.  And seemed more interested in imposing Sharia law on the Egyptian people than liberty.  In fact, he seemed more interested in restricting liberty.  Especially for Coptic Christians.  And women.

Mubarak’s police state did a lot to suppress the Muslim Brotherhood.  President Morsi’s party.  The Muslim Brotherhood also wanted to impose Sharia law on the Egyptian people.  And did not like Hosni Mubarak for making peace with Israel.  Being secular.  Making it harder to smuggle arms into the Gaza Strip to their friend.  The terrorist group Hamas.  A militant Palestinian Islamic movement dedicated to the destruction of Israel.  And member of the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.  So the Brotherhood was no friend of peace in the Middle East.  Or secularism.  Which is why Mubarak brutally suppressed the Muslim Brotherhood.  But now the Brotherhood was in power.  And they would have their revenge.  As they put Egypt on the road to Sharia law.

Both the Nazis and the Muslim Brotherhood lied to Rise to Power

Hosni Mubarak was a friend to America.  Israel.  And Middle East peace.  He had his faults.  But he was so critical to peace and stability in the region the United States and their friends and allies should have tried to help Mubarak reform Egypt.  Instead of throwing him under the bus.  Like President Obama did.  Who spent his political career bashing George W. Bush for trying to bring democracy to the Middle East.  And here he was.  President Obama.  Trying to bring democracy to Egypt.  Telling our friend and ally, Hosni Mubarak, he had to go.  When the only opposition party in Egypt was the friend of Hamas and Iran.  The Muslim Brotherhood.

The conservatives warned President Obama about letting the Muslim Brotherhood rise to power.  That it was not in America’s best interests.  Israel’s.  Or the Middle East’s.  And the Brotherhood knew the Americans and Israelis and the West in general were uncomfortable with them in power.  So to appease everyone they said not to worry.  They weren’t interested in rising to power.  And they wouldn’t run for the presidency.  They just wanted to help the nation they loved, Egypt, to be free.  That’s all.  But then one thing led to another.  And the Muslim Brotherhood rose to power.  With one of their own becoming president.  Just like conservatives warned would happen.  And the Brotherhood promised wouldn’t happen.  So what happened?

The Muslim Brotherhood, of course, lied.  That’s how you rise to power when you want to change the country against the will of the people.  Adolf Hitler didn’t rise to power through a military coup.  The Nazis won elections.  They didn’t campaign on the truth.  They didn’t tell the people that they were going to invade Poland, Norway, North Africa, the Low Countries, France, Greece, the Soviet Union, etc.  That they were going to build death camps.  Or use a brutal secret police (the Gestapo) to terrorize their own people.  For these aren’t the kinds of things people vote for.  So you lie to the people.  And say you want to do other things.  Not the things people warned would happen if the Nazis rose to power.  Especially those who read Mein Kampf.  Where Hitler himself told the world what he planned on doing.  It was all there.  All you had to do was read his book.

Candidates who Promise Everything typically want to Change the Country Against the Will of the People

Iranian students protested the Shah of Iran.  Just like the Egyptians protested Hosni Mubarak.  Men and women.  Including a lot of college graduates who could not find any work with their new degrees.  They blamed the Shah.  Another friend and ally of the United States.  They demanded jobs.  And liberty.  A democracy of the people.  And that’s exactly what they got.  Then they voted for an Islamic republic.  And those people who protested to overthrow the Shah lost everything they wanted.  Especially the women.  Who had fewer liberties after the Iranian Revolution than they had under the Shah of Iran.  During the elections the Islamists didn’t say they were going to do this.  For people demanding liberty and jobs are not going to vote for someone promising to take away even more of their liberties.  So they lied.  Allowing them to rise to power.  To change the country against the will of the people.

Removing the Muslim Brotherhood from power is good for the United States.  For Israel.  And for peace in the Middle East.  Because with the Muslim Brotherhood in power Iran had a good friend in Egypt.  To help expand their hegemony in the region.  Shiite rule in a predominantly Sunni area.  And what was once a more secular area.  Before the Arab Spring.  Some expressed concern about the military removing a democratically elected president.  Of course they must express this publically.  Especially when they’re trying to spread democracy.  But there is a difference between good democracy and bad democracy.  Bad democracy is the kind that is only transitory.  A tool.  A means to an end.  When you want to change a country against the will of the people.  And once you achieve the end you can dispose of that ridiculous thing called democracy.  Like the Nazis did.  Like the Iranians did.  And like the Muslim Brotherhood was well along the way in doing.

This is something people need to learn.  Not to trust those running for office.  Especially those who promise everything the people want.  You see, there is a reason why the people don’t have everything they want.  It’s just not possible.  It’s too costly.  And you just can’t please everyone.  So no matter how much you give the people there will still be some who want something else.  Always.  Which is good for people running for office.  As they always have something to lie about.  That is, to make a promise they can’t keep.  Or simply have no intention of keeping.  Because they want to change the country against the will of the people.

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President Obama’s Foreign Policy Working no better than George W. Bush’s

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 23rd, 2013

Week in Review

Candidate Barack Obama called George W. Bush a cowboy.  Whose swaggering foreign policy inflamed our enemies.  And distanced our allies from us.  That was no way to conduct foreign policy, said then candidate Obama.  When he got into office he would engage in diplomacy.  Talk to our allies.  And even to our enemies.  Instead of dictating our policy to them.  By doing this he was going to make the world a safer and friendlier place.  Because it would be a Bush-free world.  But things haven’t been working so well for President Obama as Candidate Obama thought they would (see Analysis: For Obama, a world of Snowden troubles by Warren Strobel and Paul Eckert posted 6/23/2013 on Reuters).

Since his first day in office, President Barack Obama’s foreign policy has rested on outreach: resetting ties with Russia, building a partnership with China and offering a fresh start with antagonistic leaders from Iran to Venezuela.

But the global travels on Sunday of former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden highlight the limits of that approach. Leaders Obama has wooed – and met recently – were willing to snub the American president.

The cocky defiance by so-called “non-state actors” – Snowden himself and the anti-secrecy group, WikiLeaks, completes the picture of a world less willing than ever to bend to U.S. prescriptions of right and wrong…

If Russia allows Snowden to continue on his journey toward Ecuador, it could wipe out what is left of Obama’s policy, dating from 2009, of trying to “reset” relations with Moscow after they turned chilly under his predecessor.

Wow.  With friends like Russia and China President Obama doesn’t need any enemies.

So the love-fest didn’t last.  Candidate Obama had traveled the world where people received him as if he was the second coming of Christ.  He read soaring speeches from his teleprompters.  And promised to be nicer to both friend and enemy than George W. Bush.  But all he got from it was learning the meaning of the old adage that nice guys finish last.  Because those who only respect strength don’t respect nice guys.

President Obama finally joined the Europeans in Libya.  And what thanks did he get from the newly freed Libyans?  On the anniversary of 9/11 they killed our ambassador and three other Americans in Benghazi.

Americans continue to die in Afghanistan.  Power in Egypt went to the Muslim Brotherhood.  Who has deep ties to Iran.  Our mortal enemy.  The Arab spring movement President Obama endorsed by throwing our longtime ally Hosni Mubarak under the bus was more of an Israeli-American winter.  The democracy that was spreading in these predominantly Muslim countries was a move towards a very conservative Islam.  Becoming more like Iran.  Who, once again, is our mortal enemy.  And less like the democracy enjoyed in Western countries.

And now this Edward Snowden matter.  Where all of that ‘soft-love’ of the Obama foreign policy not only distanced our friends from us.  But it made them jab their finger in our eye.  To use the words of New York Senator Chuck Schumer.  Something that didn’t happen that often in the Bush presidency.  For he projected strength.  And though our enemies may have hated him for it.  They did respect him.  As did our friends.

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Tyranny of the One, Tyranny of the Few, Tyranny of the Many, Drone Strikes and the Rand Paul Filibuster

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 7th, 2013

Politics 101

Trusting that only Good People will Serve in Government is Sheer Folly

History has been a struggle for power.  Those who wanted it fought those who had it.  And those who had it tried to eliminate anyone who didn’t have it but wanted it.  So people have killed each other since the dawn of time for power.  Making for a rather Hobbesian existence.  “Solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”  A quote from Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan.  Where he posits that only an all powerful dictator can provide a just society.  Otherwise there would be great unrest and civil wars.  Such as was going on in England at the time he wrote Leviathan.

England, though, would choose a non-Hobbesian path.  Choosing to restrict the powers of their monarch with a represented body of the people.  Parliament.  Evolving into what John Adams once called the best system of government.  A constitutional monarchy where power was balanced between the few, the many and the one.  The few, the rich, paid the taxes that the one, the king, spent.  The common people were the many.  Who had a say in what the rich and the king could do.  So everyone had a say.  And no one group, the majority, the minority or the one, could do whatever they wanted.  Which is why John Adams once thought it was the best system of government.

John Adams wanted a strong executive in the new United States.  Not a hereditary king.  But something close to the king of England.  Who would advance the new nation to greatness.  And with disinterested men of the Enlightenment serving in the new government Adams didn’t worry about any abuses of power.  For this wasn’t Great Britain.  But not everyone had Adams’ confidence in the nobility of men.  Worrying that given the chance they would try to form a new nobility.  As James Madison said in Federalist 51, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.”  And that was the problem.  Men are not angels.  And trusting that only good men would serve in government was sheer folly.  So we should form governments under the assumption that bad people would reach positions of power.  And thus limit the power of government.

Today both Houses of Congress win Elections by Appealing to Populism

So the Americans settled on a similar system.  They separated powers between a legislature, an executive and a judiciary.  Further, they separated the legislature into two bodies.  The House of Representatives.  And the Senate.  Representation in the House being apportioned by population.  The more populous a state the greater that state’s representation.  And the greater influence they had in writing law.  They chose their representatives by popular vote.  Making it truly the house of the people.

The states, though, feared a tyranny of the majority.  Where the largest states could have their way.  And force the smaller states to accept their rule.  For in a true democracy the majority could vote anything into law.  Such as the subjugation and oppression of a minority group.  Like the Nazi Party passed legislation subjugating and oppressing the Jews.  So minorities need protection from majorities.  In the United States the Senate provided a check on majority rule.  For each state had equal representation.  Each state had two senators.  And to further protect the interests of the states (and their sovereignty) the states chose their senators.  A constitutional amendment changed this later.  Which weakened the sovereignty of the states.  By making the Senate a true democracy.  Where the people could vote for the senators that promised them the most from the treasury.

Today both houses of Congress win elections by appealing to populism.  Representatives and Senators are, in general, no longer ‘disinterested men of the Enlightenment’ but pure politicians trying to buy votes.  Which is what James Madison worried about.  The people in government are not angels.  And they’re becoming less like angels as time goes on.  Proving the need of a separation of powers.  And a bicameral legislature.  To keep any one group, or person, from amassing too much power.  So there can be no tyranny of the many.  No tyranny of the few.  And no tyranny of the one.

The Obama Administration can’t use the Military to Kill Suspect Americans on U.S. Soil

Senator Rand Paul just recently completed a 13 hour filibuster on the floor of the Senate.  To delay the vote to confirm John Brennan as CIA director.  Not because he had a problem with Brennan.  But because he had a problem with the Obama administration.  Specifically with Attorney General Eric Holder.  Senator Paul had asked Holder if the Obama administration could use a drone to kill an American on American soil without due process even if that person posed no imminent threat.  The attorney general gave his answer in a letter.  In which he didn’t say ‘no’.  Which bothered Senator Paul.  Because the Obama administration had killed an American or two on foreign soil without due process.  Including the son of a guy that posed an imminent threat.  While the son did not.

U.S. drone strikes have killed many terrorists overseas.  And they’ve killed a lot of innocent bystanders who had the misfortune to be in the same vicinity.  Such as being in the same coffee shop.  Basically a policy of ‘kill them all and let God sort them out’.  But you don’t hear a lot about this collateral damage.  As the Obama administration simply counts all the dead from a drone strike as being a terrorist that posed an imminent threat to U.S. security.  And the innocent son that was killed in a drone strike?  Well, he should have chosen a better father.  Or so said a member of the Obama administration.  Which is what so bothered Senator Paul.  For in the War on Terror the battlefield is worldwide.  Including the United States.  Which means given the right set of circumstances the Attorney General of the United States stated the government had the legal right to use a drone to kill an American on U.S. soil without due process.

In the United States there is a thing called the Constitution.  Which guarantees American citizens due process.  If you’re an American fighting Americans on foreign soil you have no Constitutional protections.  And can be killed by a drone strike without due process.  But if you’re on U.S. soil you have Constitutional protections.  Which means the government can’t use the military to kill suspect Americans.  No.  On U.S. soil we have police forces.  And courts.  Miranda rights.  On U.S. soil you have to convince a judge to issue an arrest warrant.  Then you have to collect evidence to present in a trial.  And then you have to convince a jury of a person’s guilt.  Then and only then can you take away a person’s freedom.  Or life.  Thus protecting all Americans from the tyranny of the one.  The tyranny of the few.  And the tyranny of the many.

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