Clinton, Obama, and Political Mantras

Hillary Clinton did an interview for The Atlantic magazine in which the former secretary of state criticized President Obama’s foreign policy. She reduced his foreign policy down to a mantras, specifically the phrase “don’t do stupid stuff”. Although, we are told that in the Obama version the word stuff was actually a cruder word.

Politics is often a harsh arena, where loyalties are for convenience only and truth is spun in whatever direction the speaker wants to exert influence. It’s a bummer for President Obama that someone so close to his administration is already turning against him. Chances are her statements are a simplification to accentuate the president’s weaknesses. She is likely taking this action in order to make it appear she was hindered by the president during her role as our top diplomat, and therefore cannot be held accountable for the problems that occurred during her tenure.

I would like to make a couple of observations here.

First, reducing Obama’s foreign policy to a mantra is likely unfair, but it probably has a degree of truth to it. If you think of the coverage of almost every policy change  we have seen come from the Obama administration we only hear the overarching principle. In regards to the economy, ‘some agencies are too big to fail.’ But he wasn’t the least bit wary of how this would contradict free market principles. In regards to health care, ‘America is great enough to provide every person with coverage.’ But when it comes to working out the implications he is seemingly caught off guard as each new problem comes to light. In regards to immigration, ‘children brought here by their parents are not at fault.’ But again he didn’t  foresee or deal with the problems these policies generated.

Second, if Clinton was aware Obama’s administration was headed in the wrong direction, and if she was not allowed input or action to improve the situation, then she should have resigned. If she remained in such a position she must have believed she was doing some good, either for the world or for her own career.


The Politics of Victimization

Perhaps nothing is worse than being a victim. We fear it. We have compassion for those who are victimized. But in the interactions of human relationships some people have learned to gain favor by playing the part of the victim.

Politicians are sometimes elected based on pointing out the ways they feel victimized. The homosexual community has made great gains, not by discussing the issues, but by making people feel sorry for them. In the current attempts at immigration reform, we are being constantly baraged with images of children in order to motivate compassion—both pictures of unaccompanied minors crossing the border and the children of illegals that have grown up here.

Living in a society which is so prone to favoring the underdog, has motivated a large number of people to become underdogs. Never has there been so many applications for disability. Never has there been such large changes to the minimum wage as the proposals bantered around today.

Good policy and real truth ire discovered in facts, not in intentionally created emotional manipulation.

Immigration Revenge

The failure of the US Government in regards to dealing with illegal immigrants is appalling. America does not want an open border policy, but neither should we allow the manipulation and mistreatment of immigrants for political purposes.

A new situation is just beginning to come to light as Phoenix and other locations around Arizona are receiving multitudes of illegal aliens dumped there by the government. The stated reason for this action is Texas officials have been overwhelmed with the number of illegal aliens entering that region of the country. If they had been Mexican they would have been simply returned across the border, but these individuals are from other places and only passed through Mexico with the goal of reaching the United States. In the original groups there were men, women and children, but in the last couple of days, it has been only women and children.

Part of what makes me call this a failure is the fact the individuals are simply released to the streets. They are given orders to appear at hearings which would likely result in their deportation, first, but they are in charge of themselves until that time. Of course many of them are not prepared to be in charge of themselves, nor are they of a mindset to appear for deportation.

Media coverage has made it clear the only assistance they receive when they hit the ground here is from compassionate citizens. In many cases the people were assisted in getting bus transportation to other U.S. Cities where they had relatives. I assume these individuals have no intention of coming back for their hearings. Others have said they will begin looking for work. Another distressing aspect of the situation is that some of the people have been unaccompanied minors. Reports on supervision of these kids has been inconsistent, some saying they were always given supervision others saying they were treated the same as adults.

Two things worth saying. If we had closed the borders we would not have this problem. But second, dumping these individuals here, in a way in which hundreds or maybe thousands per week will become the responsibility of Arizona appears to be revenge. Arizona is made to be the bad guy in the national discussion of illegal immigration. (Even though every action we have taken has also been taken by other states.) And now we are being punished by being inundated with illegals.

But notice the process of taking this revenge included treating these immigrants as pawns, or worse like cattle. Also notice the compassion of Arizonans of all kinds have stepped up to assist these immigrants.

I bet there will be more to revelations on this story in the weeks to come.

Micromanagement vs. Grandstanding

On Saturday, May 31, 2014, President Obama announced the release of the only POW in the afghan conflict. It kind of looked like he was expecting to bolster his popularity by taking this action. When I see this kind of grandstanding I often wonder how much the credit taker had to do with the item he was taking credit for. It often crosses my mind to wonder if they even knew or understood the details of the event.

In this particular case, if President Obama did determine this one soldier’s return was important enough to make it a priority, did he also decide to violate a number of US policies in order to make it happen? Was he aware of the background of the soldier in question?

I don’t know the answer to these questions. But if Obama was as involved as he seemed to want the public to believe, then the situation makes me question his loyalties. The entire deal seems to favor the Taliban.

Micromanagement is when a leader is bogged down in every little detail, and thereby fails to move the organization forward. In my opinion if Obama was brokering this deal personally he was micromanaging. And if he was aware of all the details then that we are all aware of now, his choices were very questionable.

The other choice is, Obama wasn’t very involved, but tried to make political gain by stepping in at the last minute for the photo ops. But as the past few days have demonstrated grandstanding also has its risks.

Illegal Immigrants and Crime

Here in Arizona one of the big stories this week was when an off duty police officer was hit head on and killed by a drunk man driving the wrong way on a highway in Phoenix. The man who was driving the wrong way was an illegal immigrant, who had been convicted of crimes here previously and likely would still have been incarcerated if he had been a citizen.


It is being reported that about 36,000 illegal immigrants have been released during 2013. Many of these were released as a way of making the sequester more painful, that is as political gamesmanship to try and make opponents look foolish. This included individuals who had been convicted of about every type of crime imaginable.


Here in Arizona it has been a relatively common event to hear news of crimes committed by illegal immigrants. Sometimes that would happen because the person was deported after committing a crime, but they simply re-crossed into the US. Other times people entered the country specifically for the purpose of committing crimes. But this final case of illegal immigrants being released because they are some kind of political pawn is most frustrating.


Part of the problem is we don’t know how to handle illegal immigrants anymore. The public information has been to sympathize with them, especially those who have become multi-generational. Consequently enforcement of immigration law now causes a person to be painted as a racist. So law is unenforced, people tiptoe around the issue, and now you even get out of jail free.


Our political and legal environment is getting to be so convoluted I wonder if the day will come that instead of immigrants applying to become citizens, citizens will seek to become immigrants in order to gain the privileges of that class.

The Sands of Benghazi

Recently we have learned a little bit more about the inane story that the Benghazi riots were spontaneous, based upon a movie produced in California. An email has been finally disclosed which instructed Susan Rice to point to the movie instead of failings in the administration.

For many people this is direct evidence of what they wanted democrats and the United States as a whole to finally admit and accept. There was an intentional spin put on the story in the first few days to avoid having it impact the elections. This spin was in the form of the preposterous lie, that the protests occurring on the anniversary of 9/11 were not planned, premeditated terrorist attacks.

For me the Benghazi debacle is disturbing for this reason, but it is much more disturbing that the false story then caused a number of other riots at different embassies around the Muslim world. This is a fact which seems to be forgotten. It is also very disturbing that we allowed the embassy to be so vulnerable. But what really gets my blood boiling is that the chief official in charge of these matters would testify emotionally, “What difference does it make?” without all of America standing up to remind her, it was on her watch.

Despite how aggravated these items make me feel, I have serious doubts whether another investigation into the events should take place. I am sure this conclusion surprises some of you. But my reasoning is simple. Since most of the citizens have stuck their head in the sand and pretended this was not a failure of the administration and ignored the blatant attempt to cover up the failure, why do we expect them to behave any differently now?

Fiscal Priorities

Oliver North coined or quoted a phrase he called the spies credo, “Just because I am paranoid doesn’t mean there isn’t someone out to get me.” While I don’t know much about spy games, or for that matter anything military, I prefer for to have people protecting our country thinking this way. We don’t know what the future holds, but we should choose to be prepared for big and little threats.

Recently the news has talked about policy changes that will decrease the amount of military and military spending to levels similar to World War Two. I have to wonder why we take such actions. It appears to be cost saving actions, which would make perfect sense in light of the fact we have made a habit of spending money we don’t have.

But this action also reflects priorities. We have prioritized overhauling the healthcare system over national defense. Meanwhile the cost of healthcare reform, both federally and individually is crippling us financially. This will guarantee we are not fiscally fit enough to defend ourselves when conflict escalates. I suppose we are supposed to be happier being healthy while subservient to other countries? Well, if this is how it is supposed to work, we had better make ObamaCare a lot more functional.

Dividing America

It has become a common thought. Nothing can get done in America because the country is so divided politically. President Obama has pointed to the Tea Party and said their lack of compromise is the reason. He has often implied the Tea Party is holding the rest of the Republican Party hostage.

This idea might not be original to Obama though. Books have been written on the subject such as Our Divided Political Heart. And commentators have also elaborated on our political division today being unique such as Michael Barone.

Obama references this as the reason he must go around congress instead of allowing them to do their job normally. The implication is because of the presence of a few extremists he is forced to go to extreme measures to get anything done.

In other words, anyone who does not agree with his actions must be an extremist. But he presents himself as not an extremist, but as a man forced to go to extremes in order to enact sane policies.

The problem with this is there are millions of Americans, including me, who do not agree the policies of the president are sane, obvious or appropriate for this country. The majority of us are are not members of the tea party, even if our political leanings would be closer to them than to the president.

The rhetoric about a divided America, from the press and from the president, has been an excuse for holding an uncompromising position. It has been utilized to marginalize opponents. It has been the justification for doing an end run around the normal checks and balances of the United States Constitution.

To hear all this noise you would almost think political division in this country is a new development. It isn’t.  The two party system has been around a long time.

Why don’t we remember that past administrations had to deal with opposition rather than demonizing it? Many reasons, but a major one is we no longer have a neutral press which holds both sides accountable.

The State of the Union

President Obama is set to give a state of the Union address tomorrow. Since we have entered a very difficult period of history, I thought I might offer him some suggestions on things he might want to say.

“Jobs have continued to decrease in the United States. Nevertheless we have followed a path of regulating the remaining jobs out of existence. This is a part of the change we can be proud of. We have leveled the playing field in America by pulling more and more of the middle class down into poverty. A major portion of this leveling affect has been the mandates of the Affordable Care Act. This law has pushed employers to decrease hours of their workers in order to avoid paying the unwieldy mandated benefits.

“There are more people on public assistance in this country than ever before, which we also claim as a victory. Nothing makes a voter come to be in favor of welfare as much as being a recipient. No one should go hungry in this, the greatest nation on earth. Neither should we the policy makers miss a chance to make hungry voters dependent upon us and our policies.

“Millions of people have been dropped by their health insurance, but we have successfully made them dependent on the government by making it impossible to pick up private insurance. They now must rely on a chaotic, expensive, unreliable government system for their healthcare. This too is a part of the change we are proud of. We can point to several hundred people who were benefitted, and the millions who were called on to make sacrifices should be proud to do so, or face the political name calling of left.

“This overhaul of the healthcare system is going to be the legacy of my administration. Nothing leaves the brand of change quite as deeply as voting for laws we don’t understand and have not discussed. As this law is phasing its way into implementation, we have guaranteed the ripples of change will continue to reverberate through our economy.

“The financial adjustments necessary to pay for these changes drove up our national debt in astronomical ways. This is another first of this administration. We can truly say we have driven the United States up to the brink of default without accepting blame. In fact we have managed to lay the blame for every battle at the feet of our opponents.

“In summary we have created new formulas for political success, for suppressing political opponents, and for restructuring American society. All we really promised was change, and everyone must agree, we have blindly and foolishly followed a policy of change.”

The War on Poverty

Recently President Obama addressed the fifty year anniversary of the war on poverty. This phrase was initiated by Lyndon Johnson as he instituted several actions to address poverty in America. The goals of this war on poverty include things like ending hunger, housing the homeless and education programs. These actions were intended to extend opportunities to all people.

Food programs ranging from neighborhood food banks to food stamps accomplish a lot to prevent hunger, but also have fostered an entitlement attitude. Educational programs have managed to get every school district in America dependent on federal dollars to operate. These dollars have had little success at raising the quality of education in lower income districts. Housing projects were built to provide good quality housing for the poor. But all over the country these projects dilapidated into horrible places. They quickly became the face of poverty in their time.

I suggest that the most important thing we can do to battle poverty is to bring jobs back to the country. When we give people public assistance they often just fit a different niche in the bigger picture of poverty. Jobs give people dignity and a desire to earn their way into higher positions.

But the government practices and policies currently in place have decreased the number of jobs, and made them less likely to provide adequate wages. The decreased number of jobs and increased enrollment of government programs has created a heavily divided society. Some feel America must be great enough to take care of its impoverished. Others feel they are unfairly burdened for others and left without a means of caring for themselves. Hostility between the two groups has been steadily growing.

Take note though, this aspect of the problem of poverty was created by the war on poverty. The disparity between haves and have nots should be addressed first by creation of jobs, not the creation of additional public assistance.