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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

War


It’s always about resources, they say.  That is why wars are fought. One country has what another wants.  But for a democratic republic, that’s a lie propagated by people who don’t want to talk about the ideas and whose ultimate desires are just a bigger share of the pie. As a kid studying history, I choked on this explanation.  Plus, if you have a little logic, you can disprove things. 

Revolutionary War is a case in point.  The resource supposedly was the land—who gets it, Britain or the colonies?  Nonsense.  We fought for Liberty.  Liberty is defined as the ability to follow what’s in your head--your conscience, your faith, the dreams you have. Liberty loomed large to colonial Americans especially after The Great Awakening, a religious revival.  And so the Declaration of Independence has 22 line items, almost all about the abuse of power (i.e., violations of liberty) by the crown.  Note that men, women, Indians fought for Liberty.  Molly Pitchers manning cannons and women sharpshooters at Saratoga.  Men, who had a good living as landed gentry and leaders, became hunted rebels.  A bigger piece of the pie?  Naw, “Give me Liberty or give me death!” And Liberty was won, mostly by the fact that the Brits couldn’t conquer an armed populance who just kept coming from the rocks and trees after Concord to the Battle of Cowpens. A people motivated to demand that they should live free.

War of 1812, I was told in school was The Stupid War, with little reason for fighting except to protect New England merchants. Really?  People fight for nothing?  It began from two quarrels with Britain.  First our young men were being forced into British naval seamanship for the most dangerous jobs.  Secondly, Britain had given the States land all the way to the Mississippi, but then fomented Indian tribes with propaganda and weapons in that raw land west of the Appalachians.  During the colonial period, the crown had forbidden Americans to share the Christian faith with Indians. USA  built a navy and held their own against the greatest navy in the world.  True, many American settlers were greedy for the land over the mountains. An area about the size of Kentucky was uninhabited (held as game preserve by 7 tribes). But they were also romantic.  In the 1890 census, 2 million people had part native American heritage.  In all Indian wars, skirmishes and violent encounters to that time, the US Army kept statistics of 73,000 deaths of Indians.  That’s a lot more romance than fighting. Old World diseases were the real killers of Indians, whittling down the population from Columbus at 5 million to 1776 at 1.5 million to 1890 at 200,000.  In 1814, the greatest army in the world invaded and captured Washington DC by just walking into town. That night a category 2-3 hurricane blew in.  In the aftermath of flooding and mosquitoes the Redcoats lost 1/3 their army and Britain called off the invasion.  In the end, USA got freedom of the seas and freedom from British interference provided we leave Canada alone. And a deep abiding sense that not us, but God had saved the nation as the last verse of Francis Scott Key’s poem, turned anthem, said.

Mexican War. It actually started when Mexico wouldn’t recognize the Treaty of 1824 with Tejas Province calling for free elections and other rights.  The Mex government had invited loads of Anglos into the state as a buffer of suckers against the Comanches and Apaches.  But Tejanos fought alongside Anglo Texians for freedom.  They won, but in the aftermath Tejanos were badly treated.  A house divided soons falls and Texas amassed huge debt with no way to pay. Law and order was chancy.  Finally, somewhat reluctantly, US Congress agreed to accept them as a state in 1845.  Mexico wanted Texas back and was willing to fight for it.  But Texas didn’t want Mexico and their dictators.  USA fought for the Texans and won decisively.  In the aftermath, Mexico ceded a vast territory which they hadn’t really done much to claim. ( There were only 14,000 Mex ranchers in California in 1848.  The following year of the gold rush, the population doubled.)  The Mexican President said that the Anglos wanted too much freedom and was glad to be rid of them. Carlos Del Rio, a freedom loving illegal I knew, said USA made one terrible mistake by annexing the SW part of the country from Mexico. “Should have annexed the whole darned country so we could all be USA Americans!”

Civil War was fought over slavery and the union but slavery was the big issue. History books tell all this baloney about how all southerners wanted states rights and it’s the cotton/tobacco economy, stupid.  That’s stupid!  Only 10% of southerners owned slaves.  Lincoln was ardently abolitionist and rejected an eleventh-hour Crittendon treaty that would have forever guaranteed slavery but preserved the union.  Yet he was a plurality winner and had only slim mandate.  So often he argued in the first part of the war for the union to persuade racist Democrats in the North to join the war effort.  In 1862 he signed Emancipation Proclamation that only applied to Southern states in order to keep border states loyal. West Virginia peeled off and the border states stayed.  But by 1863, Northerners had died for the cause and anti-slavery became increasingly the Cause.  Part of the reason was that slaves were escaping, fleeing north, volunteering to fight.  As comrades, whites found it hard to reject the blacks via racism.  The War turned with the fall of Vicksburg in the west and Gettysburg in the east, then cascaded  with Chattanooga and Atlanta. The problem for the South was that they had founded their republic on white supremacy and there were pockets of unionists and abolitionists throughout the south as well as rebellious slaves.  They often held back about 1/3 the troops to quell slave rebellion when the North advanced.  Many southerners switched sides.  Southern atrocities against black union captives were horrifying and motivational for the North. The 1864 Democrat jingle, Nigger Doodle Dandy, backfired from their racism.  When Sherman marched through Georgia, his army actually grew by 13,000 as slaves and sympathetic Southerners joined ranks. Meanwhile, “states rights” were abrogated by the Confederacy early on with Jones and Winton forming rogue states. The South lost the war of ideas as much as the battlefield. 

Spanish-American War, World Wars, Korea and Vietnam, Iraq.  USA is constantly accused of fighting for resources and greed, but if you read the details, it was always about ideas.  If greed was the overriding cause, war wouldn’t start between democratic governments. They’d just negotiate market arrangements.  The almighty buck doesn’t make free men want to fight and die. Resources as a war motivation is from the amoral, fair-share obsessed  left. And historians tend to be liberals so this is what gets written in textbooks. Malarky. Colin Powell said it best, “We have only asked for enough land to bury our dead.”     

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Higher fees, less returns


So you are old and retired and you can only get a small return on your money?  2% on CD’s?

The Labor Dept. just enforced a Presidential Order to make all investment advisors “act in the best interests of their client”  This is called the Fiduciary Rule.  Now you might think that Leroy, your investment advisor who operates out of the back of an old Mercury Marquis trunk, should have had your best interest in mind all the time.  Here he was selling you stocks that benefitted himself with bigger commissions and fees.  So in that sense, the Fiduciary Rule applied to all finance people was a good thing.  But here’s the hidden complication.  Leroy is suable if he doesn’t act in your best interest.  No, you may die, but your heirs, irascible cousin, Sebastian, wants to sue Leroy and get as much as he can.  So what is Leroy to do for now?  He has little research staff to hide his decisions behind, so he is going to offer you only a 2% CD.  Everything else is risky and for your own good, you had better take on no risk. You get little more than if you’d invest on your own. But the stodgy investment protects your broker from charges that he risked too much.

The fiduciary duty has applied for a long time to certified financial planners and FIA’s who work for the biggest brokerage houses.  They can still recommend stocks as part of your overall financial plan—but only up to a limited percentage of your investments based on models of your age, etc.  If you want to invest in something risky, the advisor might say no.  A portfolio of 100% stocks is out of the question.  Making Wall Street firms suable makes Obama happy.  Most of his donors are lawyers who love to sue.  He and Hillary hate Wall Street, so anything to make brokers miserable!  But of course the broker's cost of defending themselves will come out of your pocket in higher fees.  Higher fees, less returns and sanctimonious Democrats and consumer interest groups.  The old days of guessing an Apple or Walmart, investing heavily and making a fortune aren’t impossible, just more unlikely.  You'll get offered old conventional companies like Baldwin Locomotive or Seymour Buggy Whips or Philco Radio.

The consumer interest groups get good publicity out of the deal.  Look how Consumer Reports just held your broker’s feet to the fire!  That same Consumer Reports and AARP also advocate for vote-by-phone in your next election.  Of course, the reason you get a socialist is that some Russian hacker voted 38,000 times and nobody in the county election board can figure it out.  To be continued.
 
And Hillary gets elected because "She Will Fight For You"

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Would Texas go blue?


One of the more fun things to do when thinking about politics is to read the other side.  I just finished Big, Hot, Cheap, and Right by Erica Grieder, who has written for Economist, NY Times, New Republic and other lib papers.  She is now with Texas Monthly, consults with Media Matters and Daily Kooks, I mean Daily Kos.  But she is a pretty good reporter and a fair observer.  Much of her analysis of Texas is correct.  The book bills itself as “what can we Dems can learn from Texas?” but what it turns into is “How do we get power back?”

Like Oklahoma, Texas has a heritage of oil and cattle, the people are conservative by nature, and each state is growing faster than neighbors (each has diverse population).  I think Grieder is native Texan and long time Dem.  She attributes the conservatism and limited government to the fact that Tejas had little support from government in it’s past, either from Mexico City or Washington or Austin. So instead of the Great God Government solving everything, people were left to their own devices—churches, neighbors, and businesses. (just an accident, she asserts)  But lo and behold, this has led to lower regulation and taxation in general and the economy flourishes.  Oil and gas industry however is heavily controlled by the Texas Railroad Commission, hence was not able to rape the land and the poor people.  She notes that Texans are thought corrupt, callous, racist, theocratic, stupid, belligerent and above all dangerous by the rest of the country.  See this is where it starts getting humorous.  If it was still a Dem state, would she be saying these things?  Words like theocracy amaze me when they come out of liberal mouths. A theocracy is a government run by priests who present themselves as the sole source of a god’s wisdom. So who would that be? Rick Perry? Lyndon Johnson? But libs use this term to mean anytime the R’s react with legislation to the latest fad in pop culture, like trying to reign in bathroom identity choice. 

She prescribes Dems do the following—boost education spending, promote gay civil rights, get better politicians. 

Left out is Liberty.  The Anglo Texians who came to the state had that strong belief in liberty—that one should be allowed to follow the inner voice and conscience.  Grieder wastes all of 4 pages on the “vestigial tradition” of religious faith.  She thinks Max Lucado a shallow thinker.  The Texians dumped religion, according to her, but what most historians say is that Mexico would only allow Catholic settlers, so the Anglos hid their Protestantism.  And in the face of Goliad and Alamo massacres, they doubled down on faith and determination.  The author thus misses that primary ingredient of why Texans want limited government and don’t like control of their lives.  They learned to rely on friends, neighbors, local businessmen, and charities during hard times and are self-reliant as possible and wary of Washington.  Same with Okies.  The tribe, the neighbors the church bails them out often, not government.  If anything, government is the vile dog that forced the Trail of Tears, gave the reservations, then took them away.  The good guy was the man in town who had a job he needed filled and sent home groceries for the family.

Despite 100 years of Dems, the Texas constitution of 1876 and the populist Oklahoma constitution of 1907 restrict a lot of government taxation and central planning. Hence the government footprint is small.  Because the citizens are used to limited government, they like it that way out of force of habit, Grieder says.  Hmm.  Maybe it was planned that way.  And of course both states were Dem for many years because that was the farmer party of the 19th century, the party of hope in the Depression.  And with fewer resources, that means that Big State School will have a hard time getting votes.  This, however, she says is what Dems should try for, because in the future, a poor education means a poor people.  Yep.  But here is how the R’s will thwart this.  School Choice.  This still allows the low budgets, but will give superior results.

She also laments meanness and guns.  Hmm.  Perhaps we call this manliness and asserting rights.  Which will appeal more to the coming Hispanics with their macho and femininity.

She does point out well the economic advantage of industries getting various stimulations when in need, as a key to Texas growth.  What this points out to me is that the partnership of business conservatives and constitutional conservatives must be kept alive with some compromise in the Republican party.  This was Reagan’s genius.

Much of the fault of Texas Dems declining is self-inflicted according to Grieder.  Crappy leadership, in other words.  But just what Robespierre or Mussolini is needed is not specified. When a national party shuns issues and calls the other guys stupid and racist, this doesn’t leave much room for an intellectual giant or even an Adlai Stevenson.   The big hope of Texas Dems is the tsunami of Hispanics that have come into the state.  But here, she also notes that R’s have been clever to appeal to the conservatism and family values of the Latinos.  Well, of course, this is exactly why so many R’s ar nervous about Trump and his treatment of minorities. 

Security from Islamic terror is completely left out of the prescription for Dem success.  R’s see the answer as strong defense and homeland security.  They should be capable of drilling a hole in the wishy-washy Dems on this issue.

So it is quite possible that D’s may take over Texas or even OK in the future but not if the R’s play their cards right. 

 

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Solutions to a loss


Don’t tell me the R’s aren’t blowing an opportunity.  Polls last summer had 70% of people saying we were going the wrong direction, 80% of R’s eager to vote while Dems were 30%.  This was a banner year coming.  Well, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum.  Trump came along and won the nomination.  He should be 20 points ahead of uninspiring Hillary right now, but the two are in a dead heat.  Trump won Nebraska easily the week after Indiana when he was the only candidate still in the race—with 61%.  His win in Indiana, the 41st contest, was the first majority win in one of the 26 red states.  People are having trouble lining up behind him.  He insults Hispanics and other people of color, a weird situation for the party of Lincoln.  He’s about a 75% conservative which will leave the base disgusted at having to once again vote for a half-liberal.  The one this year is from NY.  Last one was from MA, right?  Well, not to fear, on the last day of the primary he won with 67-72% of most states, and even got 81% of NJ.  He might still win, and that is our hope.

But I want to make a prediction.  If Trump loses in Nov., all hell is going to break out with the postmortems.  How in the dickens did we lose in a year that was supposed to be an Obama fatigue slam dunk?  It will show a party with fleeing Hispanics just like blacks fled in the late 60’s.  It will show deep divisions over the issue of free trade/free enterprise. It will show a party split over whether USA should ever go to war again in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, and our enemies will surely take advantage of coward Democrats.  People will shrug and say, so just what does the Republican party now stand for anyway? And you will hear this all over the media.

But what you aren’t likely to hear much are these vital questions,

*Was Trump an interloper?  Did he come into a crowded field with a bunch of Independents and a lot of celebrity-worshiper/low-info voters and get 25% of the vote from people we had never seen before?  And then did his success and his bluster, on television non-stop, begin to bandwagon some R-voters as well until he was at 35%, then 40%?  And had there been no open primaries on the front end, would Trump’s big momentum have died the way it did in Oklahoma on Super Tuesday and in caucuses like Maine and Colorado? 

*Did the party regulars, the activists, the people who pay attention, lose control of the nominating process? 

*Did Talk Radio, now losing listenership the last 4 years because sophisticated listeners are using Sirius and Apps, make a calculation that they had better support the lesser-educated audience they still retained, and mysteriously ditched conservatism in favor of Trumpism? 

*Will populism in the R’s be repudiated or will it be the new norm, where the lead candidate needs to lambast everyone else? Will clipped phrases and foul-mouthed slogans replace issues, or will we get back to solutions? And women voters.

* Should the state parties, in a year of much-contested candidacy, simply throw open the convention and let everyone vote their conscience on the first ballot?  Should there be some sort of super delegate system like the Dems to keep out an interloper like Sanders?

*Do we need to educate the public about what GOP stands for?  Given that government schools indoctrinate liberalism, do we need alternate learning places?

So here are some answers.  Trump is an insurgent who brings a lot of disgruntled independents and the party did lose control to the primaries, being saddled with a candidate they could only hold their nose and work for.  Solution is to have special state caucuses ahead of the primaries in the five or ten states that voted “most R” in the last election.  Caucuses would be to assign 200-500 additional national convention delegates (who could either vote conscience or are pledged) by county caucuses. These would only be open for those who had attended county party meetings in the previous year, i.e. activists. More people will come to county meetings to become eligible to participate.  Some are the big donors who previously thought themselves too important to attend county meetings.  And some who said, I ought to get involved but have no time. And maybe we will have to have a larger meeting hall to accommodate all the Republicans who used to sit in easy chairs and vote dumb, but now realize they need to be involved in party politics.

The national Republican party has always had the rule that delegates can vote their consciences.  It is the state party that makes them pledged.  Just follow national rules with no add-ons.

Talk Radio will have to answer.  Call ‘em.

Perhaps on the state level, there needs to be an extra-curricular activity in high schools where citizenry is allowed to speak, debate, convince—not run by the government school or teachers, but by the community.  Hence the parties would have a larger task/say in what gets presented.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Ali


Am I the only guy who thinks Muhammad Ali is a leading indicator of America’s decline?  Well, consider.  Single mothers now comprise 25% of households.  A boy without a father figure cannot easily achieve the Warrior phase.  Warrior is when a young man masters a skill and the acclaim of his dad or other men give him confidence to move into an eventual position of leadership.  Moms cannot do this vital role—it takes other men, often a parent but sometimes a grandparent or the military.  Without the settled psyche, a young man coming of age will revert to peers (gangs) for approval, feel insecure and thus exploit women and use braggadocio. He will often reject his country and society or the faith he was brought up in. These “weak roots” also can result in behavior that loses fortunes and families themselves.   

Ali had both parents a grandparents, but dad and granddad died young.  His mother raised him Baptist, but Ali converted to Black Muslim faith.  He refused to serve in the military and declared as a conscientious objector. He lost his money in record time.  As I used to warn our foster and exchange daughters, “the people in Hollywood and entertainment often have disastrous lives offstage. They often lack real roots, an anchor.”  Thus an artificial fa├žade is created around these otherwise successful people.  So today we hear commentators remembering how accepting of others Ali was, “how he loved white people and rejected Malcolm X’s radicalism.”  Well if true, Ali was rejecting Black Muslim belief.  Many former Muslim authors talk about how Black Islam was originated by a white-hating guy who dreamed up his strange, non-Islamic belief system that postulated that Africans originally believed in Islam.  Malcolm X was the radical leader of that sect who went to Mecca on pilgrimage and came home spouting a newfound hope for white Muslim brothers.  The rest of the Black Muslims couldn’t stand this and assassinated him.  Thus the faith still holds that a day is coming when the African race, which they hold are the only actual humans, will genocide the rest of the world.

Ali’s slander of opponents and bragging about being the greatest, has now infested our world.  Maybe that is his lasting legacy.  He called Liston “Uncle Tom”.  (Now when you read Harriet Beecher Stowe’s book it seems that Tom is the old wisened and crafty slave who helps others to freedom.) Ali was the Greatest. Well, now having discovered who the greatest was for all time, we no longer have much need to watch boxing, the most popular sport in America before World War I.