Making Sense Of Ukraine

2014-03-07_16-42-24Clarifying moments are usually uncomfortable, but if taken to heart, they’re quite instructive. This week President Obama has had the opportunity to learn from a clarifying moment with regard to the imbroglio in Ukraine. Whether he’ll learn from it is a long shot, of course. He hasn’t gotten the memo that all of us, irrespective of age and our lots in life, are works in progress.

A friend asked me last weekend to sum up in a brief nutshell what exactly was going on in Ukraine, so here goes: Vladimir Putin intends to reconstitute the Soviet Union. He has wanted to do this for some time now, and the most delightfully entertaining reaction from liberal pundits is that—no joke—it’s George Bush’s fault. Russia invaded another Soviet state (Georgia) on Bush’s watch, after all. So shut up, liberals say, about Obama being weak. This whole thing would have happened despite who was in office.

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Among the things to note is the fact that Russia invaded Georgia in August of 2008, when it seemed rather obvious that Obama was going to beat McCain. Putin knew then that the incoming President was unconcerned with foreign policy. That’s different from paying attention and drawing the wrong conclusions about what works; from day one, foreign policy was a pesky distraction from Obama’s domestic ambitions. And so, as Russia, China, and the mullahs in Iran, for example, have observed this president’s priorities, among which the rest of the world simply isn’t one. The rational conclusion has been that now is the time to act. In the case of China, the desire to surpass us as an economic superpower actuates. The powers that be in Iran want to spread radical Islam at all costs, including death to themselves.

And in Russia, President Putin intends to rematch the United States in The Cold War.

Why? To say ego is the first reason is to be right, but insufficient. Putin, indeed, wants a legacy of rebuilding The Soviet Union. But he also is concerned about energy—traded worldwide in dollars—and isn’t too happy about our national debt. If Ron Paul had a point when he said that bad guys were attacking us because we’ve made them mad, he didn’t know what the point was. Reagan’s “peace through strength” policy worked. Part of the strength that Reagan helped procure, though, was strength of the dollar.

Russia’s economy depends on energy, which, in part, is what has driven Putin into Ukraine, rich with pipelines. Putin’s calculation (and it’s rational) is that the dollar weakening. He’s right.

So, what can we do to fix this? Stop printing money, I say in concert with my Ron Paul friends. And stop electing presidents who are hostile to the notion of paying attention to foreign policy. It matters.
By: Will Anderson

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2014-02-22_16-06-40

Barack Obama’s 2012 Presidential election victory is the eighth wonder of the world. The economy was Carteresque, the world was—and continues to be—in disarray, and Romney (while not the ideal conservative candidate) was the evident adult in the race. So what gave?

2014-02-22_16-06-29The temptation is to attribute incumbent Obama’s victory to his skin color. The case could be made that in the waning days of the battle the President came across as a victim of sorts, insinuating through his style on the campaign trail that a vote against him was a vote against racial progress. In fact, when he won, he said, “Tonight, more than 200 years after a former colony won the right to determine its own destiny, the task of perfecting our union moves forward.”
Unfortunately, one man or woman can’t singularly perfect the union, and for Obama to suggest that his re-election has somehow made America more authentic is, megalomania aside, preposterous.

A book could be written on the subject with the thesis being “Liberalism is trumping conservatism in election after election because libertarianism stubbornly refuses to be pragmatic.” In 2012, bona fide libertarians decided that Romney was inauthentic. Some chose to sit the election out, others chose to cast a vote for Gary Johnson, which was roughly the same as sitting it out. No one thought Johnson could win.

A recent Gallup poll revealed that Wisconsin was the most conservative state in the union. Alabama, surprisingly, fell from the number one spot to number ten. On the liberal side, our nation’s capital unsurprisingly came in first.

The numbers on both sides though leave a question mark. Just over half of those who live in Wisconsin identify themselves as conservative; about thirty-eight percent of D.C. citizens call themselves liberal. Where is everyone else?

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Gallup’s other option was “moderate,” a vulgar appellation, but one that respondents, given no other options, chose.
So what is today’s “moderate?” A moderate is, first and foremost, anyone who thinks that there is no difference between the parties. Shame on Gallup for not offering “libertarian” as an option. My guess is that this option would have garnered the most votes.
Libertarian candidates are on the ballot every year, and enough conservatives who are fed up with the Republican Party vote for the libertarian candidate with the vague goal of making a statement. Their vote is frustrating but understandable. Republicans in Congress have abandoned their conservative base, and conservatives have returned the favor by abandoning the Republican candidate in election after election. The quixotic impulse is understandable ideologically, but it’s dreadful at the end of each Election Day.

So what’s the answer? Voters should be more pragmatic, and the Republican Party should return to its conservative roots.
By: Will Anderson

2014-02-22_16-07-02

Obama And…Christie?

1-17-2014 4-15-54 PMRecently, senior White House advisor Dan Pfeiffer said about the President that he “will use his executive authority, both his pen and his phone, to work with anyone to get things done — whether they be leaders in business, education, Congress, states, or local communities.” Zeus, in other words, dwells in The White House.

It will be curious to see how Obama handles himself during the upcoming State of the Union address. It was four years ago (time gets away, doesn’t it?) that the president lectured The Supreme Court during his yearly address to the nation. The subject was the Court’s recent ruling on campaign finance reform, with the President saying, “I’m urging Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to right this wrong.”

Pressuring one branch of government to undermine another will likely not result in success. But in Barack Obama’s world, he is in charge at the end of the day, other branches of government notwithstanding.

The good news is that the likely outcome of his overreach is that the Executive Branch will be beaten back to its proper place in our world.

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Meanwhile, on the Republican side, there’s Chris Christie, not the star that polls seem to make him out to be. What, I asked my audience, has he done that constitutes his being the next Reagan?

The answer seems to be that he’s not a wimp. He won’t back down when the press presses him. Never mind that he raised property taxes in New Jersey. And never mind that two scandals make a pattern. He stands to be at the center of others. Why do Republicans want him over, say, Rand Paul?
The answer is, like Obama on the Left, Christie, because he can out-chat the press, is a hero to some. Is he Republican toxin, though?

No, is the long and short answer. Christie will end up disappointing his base the way Obama has.

We have an election this year in Congress, and our goal should be getting conservatives elected to the Senate. We’ll worry about 2016 next year. By then, we can only hope, the irrational fixation with Christie will have gone away.
By: Will Anderson

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1-3-2014 6-23-02 PMThe days that open up each new year always seem to bring about a sense of optimism; the slate is clean, and we resolve to solve all of our financial challenges, lose weight, and permanently get along with all those we love. These chimeras don’t always come to fruition, of course, but there’s always hope.

Legislatively, we’re about to see at the state and local levels roughly 40,000 new laws and regulations kick in in 2014 most of which, if enforced, will diminish our freedoms nationwide. Thirteen states, for example, plan to raise the minimum wage. In SeaTac, Washington, the rate is scheduled to skyrocket to fifteen dollars an hour, more than double the federal rate. With history as the guide, this will be a job killer.

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In Colorado, you can now buy an ounce of pot; in Oregon, you are prohibited from smoking tobacco in your car if children are present. In Illinois, no one under eighteen can use a tanning bed starting this week.

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Parsing through the plethora of local laws facing Americans nationwide, it can safely be said that some of them stand a better chance of passing the freedom test than others. Employers in Rhode Island, for example, will no longer be able to ask whether or not prospective employees have a criminal record. In Colorado, if you decide to buy an electric car, you’ll be paying fifty dollars a year to plug it in. And in Florida–get ready–early voting is being expanded. What could possibly go wrong?

Those of us who believe in federalism always like it when states and not Washington D.C. take the lead on passing new legislation. States are indeed the grand laboratories that teach us empirically what works and what doesn’t. So the good news in this that states will spend the next year discovering just that. And if you happen to live in a state saturated with laws that make no sense, your recourse is to move out. That’s the beauty of the 9th and 10th amendments to the Constitution; the powers of the federal government are, as Madison insisted, few and defined.

Still, it’s troubling that so many states are set to implement so many stupid laws. It is their Constitutional right, but the lack of outrage at the local level about the content of some of these laws sheds a little light, perhaps, as to how Obama won two terms. The nanny state, in many parts of the nation, is alive and well in mindset.

The good news is, it’s likely that the obnoxiousness and in some cases the failure of many of these new laws will complete the task started when Obama’s big government machine went into full throttle. He scared most Americans by behaving as though all wisdom came from Washington. Philosophically, a majority of us recoil from such a notion. That’s a procedural thing, though. Procedurally, the new laws being passed by states are being passed in the right place.

The problem is that philosophically, the laws offend in some cases the fundamental premises of economics and in other cases (like the you-can’t-smoke-in-your-car law), the essence of liberty. What can be hoped in the new year as the recently passed laws get under way is that people, state by state, will become perturbed with Big Brother, however close to home he is, micromanaging the way they live their lives.
By: Will Anderson

1-3-2014 6-23-14 PM
12-21-2013 9-19-02 AM

I saw a sign recently that said, “Christmas trees, five dollars a foot; holiday trees, ten dollars a foot. Merry Christmas.” Surely some would cry discrimination, (which was, I think, the point).

Every year we hear about the war on Christmas–something I think is a bit overblown. I don’t know anyone personally who is hostile toward the birth of Christ (and I have friends of all religious stripes) and if a friend comes to the house this year, presumably he will keep silent about any Grinchesque anti-Christmas impulses.

12-21-2013 9-18-41 AMHow has it come to this? When I was a maladjusted child, Christmas wasn’t the problem. In fact, I never heard any anti-Christmas obloquy growing up. And somehow, I didn’t end up being maladjusted as a child. I watched all the Christmas specials, never heard the phrase “Happy Holidays,” and somehow, I made it.

I could make a religious point here, but perhaps the more important point is that political correctness has indeed run amok. And to allude to the Grinch imagery above, the PC folks have made us all wondering whether or not say “Merry Christmas” will offend someone.

And it gets worse. The Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood is protesting that Norad is promoting violence and militarism by tracking Santa’s Sleigh, something they’ve being doing for years. So we’ve reached the point where it’s not just the parents who get burned by those who refuse to let Christmas be; it’s the children, as well.

The Left loves to exploit children but usually when they do it, it’s to advance bigger government. Not this time, unless you think that distorting the 1st Amendment isn’t activism.

Come to think of it, it is. If you don’t like Christmas, Mr. Grinch, then sit on your hill and leave the rest of us alone.

Incidentally, the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood wants to ban Happy Meals as well. Happy Meals (as far as I know) don’t contain a prize ready to proselytize.

Merry Christmas, everyone.
By: Will Anderson

12-21-2013 9-18-51 AM Retro Foam Citgo Touchless Car Wash
11-16-2013 9-46-35 AM

It was a wonderful Thanksgiving—particularly if you’re an Auburn fan—but not so much so if you’re a believer in healthcare.gov.
There’s a “good chance,” we’re told, that we’ll all get to buy insurance cheaper. Most of us, that is. And buying the insurance online doesn’t guarantee that one will actually get to see one’s doctor, or any doctor, for that matter.

12-7-2013 8-51-22 AMTuesday, the President said, “This law is working. We’re going to fix any problems that come up.” He went on to urge all of us to convince our friends and family, especially young people, to sign up.

The problems that stubbornly persist with regard to the website are symptomatic of a much larger problem for the President: government simply doesn’t do much of anything well, and talking us into talking our loved ones into believing otherwise simply won’t work. So Obama’s challenge going into next year’s midterms (which he desperately needs to win) is to defend an illusion.

12-7-2013 8-51-31 AM

When the President first assumed office, criticism was strictly off limits, from newsrooms to Saturday Night Live. As his first term waned, and promises went unfulfilled, pundits (left-wingers) and comics (again, those on the left) felt a sense of betrayal that morphed, on MSNBC in particular, into rage. Why hadn’t Guantanamo been shut down? Where was environmental legislation, or, if necessary, regulation by executive fiat? What had Obama done for his union buddies lately?

The one victory for the left was Obamacare. Or so they thought; its partisan success in passing has been eclipsed by its perpetual problems, manifested in the website’s ongoing ailments. This week we were told that, in fact, the website was working.
In fact, it isn’t. We can sign up just fine, but when we show up for a checkup, chances are our insurance—unlike all of the information that went along with signing up—is untraceable.

The mantra from The White House is that things are getting better, a line most of us aren’t buying. In all fairness to the President, things can’t get better until market forces are unleashed in the health care market where, just as in every over sector in our economy, Adam Smith’s invisible hand will efficiently prevail.

Obama’s problems start with his website and end with the logical conclusion that socialized medicine works. It doesn’t. His latest problem has nothing to do with his ideology and everything to do with his defense of it. At best, he sounds naïve. At worst, he sounds like a con artist.
The truth is somewhere in between. Obamacare can’t succeed, and his obstinate insistence that it can is becoming a character issue for the President.
And that doesn’t bode well for his party next year.
By: Will Anderson

12-7-2013 8-51-45 AM

A curious thing happened this week. The former President said about our current President, “I personally believe, even if it takes a change to the law, the president should honor the commitment the federal government made to those people and let them keep what they got.”

11-16-2013 9-43-43 AMThose people were all of us who are getting health insurance cancellation notices, and the ex-President intimated, to put it mildly, that President Obama was either a liar, or was in over his head with regard to his now famous line that those of us who liked our health care could keep it.

That has never been the goal, of course; Obamacare is nothing more than a step toward a single payer system, in which the government, and not “market based exchanges,” decides what’s good for us, at our expense. This was, in fact, the same goal of HillaryCare back in the ’90’s. The polls convinced Bill back then that team Clinton should back off, and so they did.

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Barack Obama is a different political beast. He convinced his party, with no Republican votes, to pass his plan. The Democrats paid the price in 2010. President Obama was uninterested in his party’s losses; he won, after all, and the Affordable Care Act stood to be his legacy.

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Three years later, things have gone south, to wit: it isn’t working. As a pundit correctly said earlier this week, the number of people who are actually enrolled in Obamacare–roughly 50,000–could fit inside of Yankee stadium with seats to spare. So what is President Obama’s reaction? An 800 number, and a promise that his team is working overtime to fix the “website problem.”

The problem isn’t the website. The problem is the notion that the federal government can administer medicine competently and efficiently. Bill Clinton knows that, and he knows that if his wife is to win the White House in 2016, she is going to have to run as far as possible away from the sitting President.
Here’s where Saul Alinsky’s Rules For Radicals comes in. Rule number four is, “Make the enemy live up to [his] own book of rules.” Clinton, knowing that there is no way for President Obama to keep his if-you-like-your-insurance-you-can-keep-it pledge, challenges the President, (with classic Clintonian charm,) to honor that “book of rules.”

Why? The answer is, Hillary has a lot on her plate as she prepares to be the next President. It’s not just Benghazi (though that’s a legitimate case alone against her); it goes back to her tenure as co-president, with multiple scandals plaguing her, from Travelgate to Whitewatergate to the turning of a thousand dollars into a hundred thousand dollars in no time in cattle futures. Bill, make no mistake, wants back into the White House.

The former President though, isn’t the ambitious one in the Clinton partnership; he’s the charmer, and he’s the thinker. So it makes sense that as she works tirelessly to do, logistically, what it takes to win, he will say what it takes to tantalize voters into voting for her, irrespective of her opponent.
It’s far from certain that their strategy will work. But that’s their plan.
By: Will Anderson

11-16-2013 9-46-35 AM

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9-6-2013 5-57-52 PMThe issue that shall define Obama’s presidency, I told my radio audience a day or two after he won in ’08, will be foreign policy, whether he wants it to be or not.

And so it is, with Obama’s decision to enter Syria’s civil war. For the first time in the history of my analyzing the news, I confess to being befuzzled on this one. Last Friday, John Kerry made the case for a time sensitive “surgical strike.” The following morning, the President announced that he was, after all, going to seek Congressional approval, which meant, in the case of the House of Representatives, waiting nine or ten days.

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Then John McCain and Lindsey Graham jumped aboard the trolley of bad ideas, meeting with the President, and giving a post-meeting press conference in which they strongly made the case for war.

There was something curious about their tone, as there has been with every member of Congress who supports our going to war with Syria: They were rather outwardly disdainful of the President. He had waited too long to take action; he has done an insufficient job of selling Syria to the Public. Nevertheless, Syria is important, and its importance is larger than the President.

And then something even more fascinating happened! In making the case that limited action is necessary before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Secretary of State John Kerry took essentially the same position—that his boss was inept, and that in considering war, Congress should essentially overlook how weak the President might look.

It strikes me that such insubordination wouldn’t be tolerated randomly; it’s bound to have been sanctioned. The President is willing to appear weak, if it means putting the onus on whether or not to strike Syria on Congress. He did, after all, say that he had the authority to strike without Congress’ go ahead, but he feels that (and I paraphrase) America will be more united if Congress says yes. In other words, he is taking his case to the people, and the message is, call your congressman or woman, and urge them to vote for a war with Syria.

The salient question is, what if Congress isn’t unanimous in its support of the war? Does the President act?

It’s an academic question, because it strikes me as likely that both Houses of Congress will support the President’s use of force. My guess is, the sense is that the President, despite having unilaterally drawn a line in the sand, would give an impassioned speech about how Congress prevented us from doing “the right thing” in Syria, should it not pass both Houses.

In other words, America’s credibility is on the line here. The President has clearly said he has the authority to attack Syria without the blessing of Congress. But in all likelihood, if they vote no, he will balk. And America will look ever weaker.

It’s remarkable that a President, can singlehandedly put the credibility of our country on the line. But this President is in the process of doing it.

Which is why, in all likelihood, some members of Congress will vote to authorize the use of force. These members will be voting, not because they believe in the cause, but because they believe in their country, and they don’t want President Obama projecting American weakness. It will, indeed, be a tough for them.
By: Will Anderson

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Will Anderson – On Race

8-16-2013 2-13-01 PMWe were told that race wouldn’t be a factor in the 2008 election—that Senator Obama was a different sort of Presidential candidate who transcended race, and whose policies didn’t matter, because he was a uniter. Somehow, using the best intentions chimerical utopianism could provide would work on all fronts.

It turns out that those of us who bought into that were wrong. Race indeed, determined the election, and it’s now determining policy. Worse, still, some are trying to bully the rest of us into believing that an opposition to President Obama’s policy constitutes racism.

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It’s a preposterous proposition, of course, but, as the days go by, and more and more folks, from Sharpton to Holder posit it, more folks will come to believe it.

That’s what the administration is counting on, in any event. And, at the risk of sounding conspiratorial, the administration has Oprah on its side. She has made headlines lately because of a trip to Switzerland during which she walked into a store and asked to see a purse worth thirty eight-thousand dollars. The clerk, she reports, wouldn’t show her the purse because of the color of her skin.

Oprah and the clerk have both apologized, but the damage, on both sides, is done. The clerk was a snob apparently, and Oprah, obviously was black. The question is, does Oprah’s desire to tell the world about her recollection of what happened do anything to advance her standing as a role model?

Assuming that the account of the story is correct (and both Oprah and the clerk have issued apologies, so such an assumption is reasonable,) what has been gained? Some say that Oprah’s experience proves that racism still exists.

I say that Oprah would have helped race relations by keeping the story to herself. She can be denigrated by those who still live in the 1860’s, but no one can rob her of her success—and it’s come through diligence, hard work, and persistence. Why, then, would she want to tell a story that discourages young African-American women who want to succeed?

The answer lies in the words that she spoke in 2008, when Obama was first elected. “Take all your energy, and put it in Barack Obama,” she said on Larry King. And she did. It probably didn’t make a difference in his election, but she believed in him, as surely that she complains to Americans that one clerk in Switzerland proves that the planet is still racist.

Racism still exists, of course—especially if one has enough money to travel to Switzerland to experience it.
By: Will Anderspm

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8-2-2013 4-18-48 PM

In the last several weeks, we’ve had discussions about race, not heard since the ‘60’s. One court case, which involved a half-Hispanic man shooting an African American young man, caused some—mostly recycled Occupy Wall Street types who put their bongs down long enough to join the cause—to protest. In some (admittedly rare) cases, stores were looted.

8-2-2013 4-17-10 PMThe current discussion of race, tragically, has nothing to do with race, and everything to do with resuscitating Obama. He has confirmed that America, while no doubt still home to pockets of racism here and there, is capable of electing an African American, not once, but twice.

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There is abundant comfort in that; a generation ago, it wouldn’t have been possible. And if Hillary Clinton should run and win (heaven forbid), we’ll all be able to pat ourselves on the back for breaking the presidential glass ceiling. And it’s highly likely that she’ll be 2016’s Democratic nominee, and, by extension, the next President of the United States, assuming the Republican Party’s nominee has no vision, and assuming that megalomaniacal libertarians continue to think that their vote is the only vote that matters anymore.

In a word (or two,) it isn’t. More importantly though, between now and next year’s mid-term elections, it is essential that conservatives don’t allow the Left to control the conversation, which seems to be trending toward a discussion of race relations, with a dash of admonishment for the persistent talk of phony scandals, topped off with the vague resolution to get the economy going, finally, five years into Obama’s presidency.

8-2-2013 4-17-37 PM

If you’re President Obama, this is your best hope. The scandals are far from phony, encompassing the death of four Americans in Libya, and the targeting of conservative groups who were censored in their efforts to point that out during the last election. That the AP and Fox News’ James Rosen was singled out for attempting to accurately assess the administration’s arrogance is Nixonian icing on the cake.

So what better way to change the subject, if one is an administration strategist, than to focus on a murder trial which makes race, and not the economy, or a miserably incompetent foreign policy, the issue? Sadly, liberals like Al Sharpton are exploiting the case, and far too many conservatives are taking the bait, spending too much time focused on race as opposed to, for instance, an economy and a foreign policy that resembles Jimmy Carter’s. Carter after all, was a one-termer, at least. We’re stuck with this guy for several more years.

The point, though, is serious: the current occupant of the White House isn’t capable. And rather than acknowledge that, there are those who suggest that a serious critique of his performance is tantamount to racism. I would suggest that not illuminating his flaws as our nation’s leader is racist in reverse, or, at the very least, a reflection of very bad judgment.
By: Will Anderson

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