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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Personal Update

(If you must have politics, please scroll down)

As regular readers of this blog know, I suffered a detached retina in September 2013 and had a very difficult and painful surgery on October 2.  The pain is gone now after several months of misery, but my vision in the operated eye is still somewhat compromised in that (1) lines which should be straight on a page or computer screen are wavy and (2) visual acuity for distance is not 20/20.  On the other hand, I can read with the repaired eye without a glass.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Democrats — Then And Now

With a hat tip to TOTUS:


Also see Illegal Immigrants Hopping 'Death Train' to US, Hoping for Amnesty — the direct result of the immigration policies of the Democratic Party's Obama administration. The 21st Century equivalent of slave trafficking? Certainly what's happening with this influx of illegal immigrants will result in a heavier burden for American taxpayers, and the tax burden will be both national and local.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Compassion: Part II

by Sam Huntington (Continued from last week)

Of course, we have no evidence of a serious effort by any federal or state legislative body to decrease the number of impoverished citizens.  In fact, the opposite is true. If federal and state welfare program enrollment criteria are relaxed to the point where there are no serious restrictions, then there can be no fraud.  It’s all good.  No problem, Amigo.  Just pay out money to everyone —it doesn’t really matter.

Au contraire.  It does matter.  The long-term effects on the children of welfare recipients, particularly in single-parent homes, guarantees that a hefty percentage of these “impoverished” children will never themselves become productive members of society.  Their only model is a career welfare single parent with multiple love interests who never seem able to pull them selves out of the welfare abyss.  From a practical standpoint, this situation is both dismal and dire —and one that makes leftist politicians outright giddy.

In all of this, we seem to be missing one important aspect of welfare assistance programs: compassion.  Let me take a moment to address this.  The literal meaning of compassion is “to suffer together.”  Compassion is the feeling we get when confronted with the suffering of others, particularly people we know, when we become motivated to help relieve that suffering.  How many of us are motivated to reach out to people we don’t know?

Even though compassion is related to empathy, it is not benevolent.  Empathy suggests the ability to assume the perspective of and feel the emotions of others; compassion comes from a desire to do something to relieve suffering.  It is an overt act ... and if you happen to be religious, it should be an explicit act.  These are the things that religious people believe will help them to find a pathway to Heaven.  Sadly, our welfare system in the US is not compassionate, nor does it elicit empathy for the plight of the impoverished.  In fact, the government has relieved us of any overt act of Christian charity.  They take from us a certain percentage of our income, and give it away to others … and there is scant impetus to change the status quo.

Should we, therefore, endeavor to be more compassionate toward others?  Perhaps ... but unless we are personally affected by another person’s misery, it is almost impossible for us to “feel” their pain.  Who in St. Louis actually feels the pain of someone living in Boston?  So we must wonder, where will we find the greatest opportunity for true compassion —from the federal or interstate bureaucracies, that treat citizens as numbers, or from within local communities, church organizations, and other civic associations?

As part of his doctoral work, a friend of mine proposed community-based corrections as a way to significantly reduce the recidivism rate.  He argued that we must stop sending people away to far distant state and federal prisons.  Instead, offenders should be incarcerated locally, rehabilitated locally, and when their time is served, release them back into the embrace of the community they offended. 

Community-based corrections is similar to the strategy of placing a beat cop within a neighborhood, someone who knows the people.  A beat cop does far more to prevent crime than any other strategy, and yet city planners argue that the costs far outweigh the good.  Considering the costs of incarcerating a million citizens, I find this argument no less than remarkable.  Now extrapolate this schema to welfare assistance programs. 

If community-based policing and corrections appears to make sense, then so too does the notion of compassionate assistance from within the immediate community —but, of course, this is only true if you wanted to remove people from welfare rolls, rather than keeping them enslaved to it.

Monday, June 23, 2014

A Guest Post

Richard Cloward (1926-2001) was a sociologist and political activist who developed the notion that criminal behavior is caused by social factors.  It was a notion that sought to find an explanation for unacceptable behavior by blaming everyone, except, of course, for the criminal himself.  In 1966, Cloward published a paper that he titled “The Weight of the Poor: A strategy to end poverty[1],” and co-founded the National Welfare Rights Organization and advocated federalization of Aid to Families with Dependent Children.  To Cloward, the Constitutional limitation of government didn’t really matter; ardent communists rarely care about Constitutions and such.  In 1992, he and his wife Frances Fox Piven created another organization called “Human SERVE” (Service Employees[2] Registration and Voter Education), which helped to establish the so-called motor-voter programs leading to the Motor Voter Act of 1993[3].

Together, Cloward-Piven developed what has become known as the Cloward-Piven Strategy, outlined in 1966 and calling for the overloading of the U. S. public welfare system in order to precipitate crises that were beyond the ability of government bureaucracies to manage.  It would, in other words, cause the collapse of the U. S. government and lead to the creation of a national welfare state paid for through onerous taxation imposed upon working Americans.  Cloward-Piven supposed that this could be the result of forcing the Democratic Party (which in 1966 controlled both houses of Congress and the presidency) to federalize all poverty based programs.  Now of course, this is very close to what Lyndon Johnson foresaw in his now infamous Great Society scam ... which Americans are still struggling to pay for today.  In The Weight of the Poor, Cloward-Piven wrote, “The ultimate objective of this strategy —to wipe out poverty by establishing a guaranteed annual income—will be questioned by some.  Because the ideal of individual social and economic mobility has deep roots, even activists seem reluctant to call for national programs to eliminate poverty by the outright redistribution of income.”

We do not need to study further Barack Obama’s stated goals toward the redistribution of income —he’s been doing this very thing now since the American people elected him to the presidency in 2008.  Instead, consider the people with whom Obama has surrounded himself, and you come up with a composite of neo-Marxist activism over the past 60 years.  Then add to this mix the strategy, which is to so overwhelm the federal system that it will collapse upon itself and open the way for extraordinary executive action.  Has Barack Obama employed the Cloward-Piven strategy to destroy what is left of the United States of America?  The number of assaults on our social and political culture has been nothing if not overwhelming —it has been a continuous onslaught even to the extent that most people have been unable to keep up with all of Obama’s shenanigans. 
·       Mr. Obama and his acolytes have undertaken to rewrite American history, even to include the assertion that Mohammedans participated in the American Revolutionary War.  There is nothing in history even remotely accurate in this, but it serves to demonstrate how Obama seeks to change our history.  If you can change a country’s history—or the people’s perception of it, then you can likewise redefine national character and culture.
·       Mr. Obama went on an international apology tour where he visited European and Middle Eastern countries—telling these people that Americans are arrogant and egocentric, that our claim to American Exceptionalism is undeserved.  It was a two-fold mission: Obama also intended to send a strong message to the American people about what he thought of them, and of the United States.
·       By asserting federal authority over private corporations, at the taxpayer’s expense, of course, he usurped the Constitutional limits on federal government.  In this, Barack Obama had the willing assistance of every single Democrat in the Congress, and particularly of the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi[4].
·       Barack Obama has increased federal spending and increased our national debt to in excess of $17 trillion.  In 2008, our national debt was only $9.8 trillion.  US federal spending increased from $2.8 trillion to $3.5 trillion, which amount to budget deficits of $294 billion and $606 billion, respectively.
·       Since taking office, Barack Obama has signed 180 executive orders, thereby bypassing the legislative process and pushing forward the notion that he is creating an imperial presidency.  Arguments abound whether the number of his executive orders are extraordinary, but rather than looking at the number of executive orders, we should consider the topics where he has sought to circumvent Congress[5].
·       Under Barack Obama, the government has imposed high taxes on job creators and created huge budget deficits.  Some say this is the worst-case scenario of any administration since Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, whom everyone affectionately called Caligula; it is a paradox that forces one to wonder if Obama looks upon deficits as a mechanism to increase taxes.
·       Do near-zero interest rates act as a stimulus for a moribund economy, or does it act as a mechanism for demanding even more public funded welfare assistance and public sector hiring?  This we know for certain: low interest rates have sharpened the distinction between the haves and the have-nots.  Wealthy persons have benefitted, and the very poor don’t care because they are already getting something for nothing.
·       In the Time Before Obama, the production of natural gas and nuclear power were viewed as preferable alternatives to oil and coal, but since Obama —even in spite of his destruction of coal as an industry, what we now must contend with is enormously expensive electricity bills on the backs of those who can least afford it.  There will be no relief under Obama and one must wonder why he has undertaken these destructive policies.  Well, actually, we do know why.
·       Race relations in this country would not be worse today had either Condoleezza Rice or Colin Powell become our president —but under Barack Obama, racial polarization is at its highest levels since Reconstruction.  We have heard Eric Holder speak of “my people,” and we all heard him say that America is a nation of cowards ... but should anyone endeavor to have a discussion on race, they are immediately classified as racists and right-wing extremists.
·       In 2007, there were essentially two views about immigration policy.  Liberalists argued for relaxing immigration rules (in order to increase their voter base), while realists favored border sovereignty and reinforcing that America is a nation of laws.  No one can embark upon a path to citizenship that is willing to break our immigration laws on their first day.  Today, under Obama, illegal immigrants are streaming across our borders in droves.  The debate has become both racial and political.  Recently, suddenly, and quite inexplicably, tens of thousands of children have arrived at our border and these have somehow managed to end up in Arizona, whose sovereign is Governor Jan Brewer, a hated enemy of the Obama camp.
·       A little over one year ago, we learned the extent to which the NSA is spying on the American people; two years ago we learned that Obama’s IRS was being used as a political vendetta mechanism against conservatives; three years ago we learned that the Social Security Administration and IRS paid out multiple millions of dollars rewarding democratic employees for their loyalty.  It is no wonder then, that Obama and his henchmen don’t actually care what we think about Benghazi or the Taliban Five.
·       Obama also announced a preference for the Mohammedan Brotherhood operating inside the United States, and specifically within American prisons, and in this process of ingratiating himself to this foreign ideology, Obama gave us the Arab Spring, which is nothing but an unmitigated disaster for US foreign policy and American credibility abroad.  Now, many Americans go to bed at night asking for an American Spring —whereby we may somehow rid ourselves of this pathetic excuse for a president.

·       Finally, we have noted one continuous assault upon our Second Amendment rights, and at the same time we learn that the Obama administration is providing military- style arms and equipment to local police agencies.  The likely purpose for this is enough to send chills up our spines.  What is Obama planning for us next?

Who is helping Obama to manage the never-ending stream of crises?  Why, John Podesta, of course —and Valerie Jarrett, both of whom are vapid Marxists; red-diaper babies and adherents to the view that they can destroy America, they can demoralize the American people, by overwhelming them and their institutions —Cloward-Piven.

At this stage, of course ... there is nothing anyone can do about this.  Obama has a free reign for another 3 years.  It may even be true that we haven’t seen anything yet...

[1] Advocating the defeat of poverty by causing the collapse of Republican democracy
[2] Any similarity between this and the Service Employees International Union is more than coincidental
[3] Which explains how illegal aliens are able to vote, along with citizens long deceased
[4] Remember this the next time you hear a Democratic politician tell you how much he loves the American way of life...

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Open Thread

So, what's on your mind?

Here is your chance to vent, but please observe the guidelines listed below the fold.  Also below the fold are my two entries.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Thought For Today

(If you must have politics, please scroll down)

We've become a nation that is obsessed with and demands infinite conveniences.  And we want rapid delivery of what we want — in other words, instant gratification. 

Perhaps this change is the result of a pervasive sense of entitlement.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Compassion: Part I

by Sam Huntington

Having created a welfare system in this country, the left seems to have produced a deep hole into which we pour literally hundreds of billions of dollars each year.  In spite of all these expenditures, we seem to end up with more impoverished people.  One wonders how this is even possible.  One wonders how long we must continue shoveling money into the abyss of welfare programs before we able to conclude that it is time to consider other avenues.  It would be preferred if we could put physically-able people back to work —but with this president, this is asking too much.  It doesn’t appear to fit his narrative.

One popular refrain from the right is that leftists want to increase welfare programs; it is a means of growing government, which benefits statists, and there is something to be gained, and maintained whenever the impoverished become dependents of the state: political power.  The conclusion, therefore, is that the left actually cares very little about the penurious —they are only a means to an end.

Welfare programs are a partisan issue; there is no escaping that.  Part of the problem is that we do not really know any of the data that helps us to understand the truth about welfare in the United States.  Some even believe that those who benefit most from a welfare state have intentionally muddled the issue quite so that it is confusing.  I am writing now about politicians who hinge their careers on loudly supporting perpetual welfare.  We must also not forget the career bureaucrats who will do whatever it takes to retain their high-paying jobs —even sinking to low as to fabricate welfare data.  Keeping the issue confused is a clever ploy, for if no one understands the true cost of welfare programs, if there is no clear picture of attendant fraud and waste, then there will be no consequential changes to what many consider illegal spending at the federal level.  The leftist imperative is to maintain this chasm no matter what it costs. 

Conservatives insist that welfare fraud is rampant; leftists argue that welfare fraud has never exceeded 4%.  What is missing is an honest broker.  Since the word trust is no longer part of our lexicon describing the federal government, we have an issue with the credibility of information provided by welfare management agencies.  Wee simply cannot know whether what we are being told is true.

The 2010 Census told us that there are 115-million families in the United States.  A full third (34%) of these are receiving welfare assistance.  This tells us that 39-million homes are being supported by the American taxpayer, at an average cost per working household of $11,500.  Now, if it is true that welfare fraud doesn’t exceed 4%, then 4.6 million families fraudulently receive welfare benefits —at your expense.  Even if the percentage of fraud is low, the cost to the American taxpayer is high.  The suggestion here is that were it not for fraud, we could be doing a better job on behalf of the legitimately impoverished.

Of course, we have no evidence of a serious effort by any federal or state legislative body to decrease the number of impoverished citizens.  In fact, the opposite is true. If federal and state welfare program enrollment criteria are relaxed to the point where there are no serious restrictions, then there can be no fraud.  It’s all good.  No problem, Amigo.  Just pay out money to everyone —it doesn’t really matter.

(Continued next week)