Monthly Archives: April 2012

Iron Fist Dictator You Deserve

Two new plays about Joseph Stalin are opening in London.  Two!  Why so much interest in Uncle Joe?  The answer jumps out of The Economist’s review – craven people get the callous rulers they deserve.

American voters, and European voters for that matter, support politicians who tell them what they want to hear.  If someone tells the uncomfortable truth – whether it’s Bill Clinton, Paul Ryan, or Jens Weidmann – we don’t want to hear it.  The truth is that Western economies are getting crushed by foreign competition, and we can no longer afford the quality of life that we have come to expect.

From Amsterdam to Athens, voters angry at unemployment and austerity are turning to protest parties.

Will voters support longer working hours, later retirement, and reduced benefits?  Why should they?  There will always be some smooth talker with an easier solution.  Blame the “grand bourgeoisie,” as they say in Europe.  Blame the Jews.  Blame the kulaks.  Vote for Francois Hollande, with his 100% marginal tax plan.  Genius!

So, here is Jeremiah’s bleak forecast for Western democracy.  As one economy after another feels the pinch of austerity, voters will turn to socialists, and nationalists, and National Socialists.  Don’t think that it can’t happen here.


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Mad Soybean Disease

The USDA has averted – we hope – an outbreak of “mad cow disease” in the United States.  James Mackintosh tweets this hilarious timeline, based on the British experience –

  • meat sales collapse,
  • government insists safe,
  • politico shows kids eating burgers,
  • people die,
  • government burns cows, yum.

Jeremiah believes that too much meat is bad for America and Americans.  Our romantic heritage of wide open ranching has been replaced by dirty, unsafe, feedlot farming.  Eating meat is wasteful and dangerous, even when it is not tainted – and there’s no such thing as “mad soybean disease.”

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On A War Footing

The New York Times has another article about what went wrong in Afghanistan.  Pundits say that, since Vietnam, America has lost the will to fight.  This is a paradox.  America has the best-equipped, best- trained army in the world– and yet it’s a paper tiger.  Why?  Because we send them off to war without moral support.  Having the American people at your back is a soldier’s most important supply line – more important than the carefully-managed supply of rations and ammunition.

Think of a soldier’s experience of fear and isolation at the front line.  He (or she) is not going to college and not making a career.  Back home, a spouse struggles to keep the household together.  The boss has long since hired a replacement.  The press writes that the war is a fool’s errand, and Senator Kerry states publicly that the army is only for kids who couldn’t get into college.  In their wildest dreams, the Taliban could not contrive a better campaign to demoralize our troops.

This cultural sabotage dates back to President Kennedy and his adventure in Vietnam.  That is indeed when America lost its will to fight.  The anti-war movement blamed our soldiers for being foolish enough to go to war, where our leaders had sent them, instead of going to Canada.  Returning soldiers were abused by their fellow Americans, whom they thought they had been protecting.  Imagine returning home in a wheelchair, only to learn that you are a stooge and a “baby killer.”

The Vietnam war, like Iraq and Afghanistan, was intended to be a little back burner war that would stay out of the press.  This very idea is cowardly and corrupt.  Imagine your son or daughter being killed in a not-quite war.  There was a draft, but college kids could opt out.

After Vietnam, Congress passed the War Powers Act.  The letter of the law is that the President may not commit troops without the approval of Congress.  The spirit of the law, which has been forgotten, is that the American people must support the war effort.  Now imagine what that looks like, in contrast to our experiences since Vietnam.

Imagine America “on a war footing,” as we were in World War Two.  The entire country is at war, not just the kids who couldn’t get into college.  There is no one back home taking your job, or your wife – because he is in the trench beside you.  Your boss has been called up by the reserves.  Food and gas are rationed.  Women, who had not previously held industrial jobs, are running the factories.  The nation’s entire productive capacity is given over to the war effort.  We are all in it together.

General Powell, among others, has stated that America should not go to war without a clear and compelling objective.  There must also be a formal declaration of war and a war footing.

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Not Clever Anymore

This is what socialism looks like in Spain today.  The government is broke.

They can’t pay pensions.  They can’t pay unemployment.  They can’t pay for health care.

They tried taxing the rich.  There are no more rich.

They tried borrowing, but no one will lend to them.

They saved the unions, for the people who were in unions.  But the young people are all out of work.  They have nothing to do but smash glass in the street until someone bails them out.

Michael Moore says socialism is wonderful.  Rob from the rich and give to the poor.  Back when he was in college, it was clever to put down America.

Socialism didn’t work in Cuba, and it didn’t work in Spain.  Ask yourself, is this the kind of America we want for our children?

Socialism.  It’s not clever anymore.

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Separation of Powers

America’s Constitution lays out a sensible division of labor.  Congress sets the budget, and the president runs the country.  Congress makes laws, and the Supreme Court checks their work.  On a good day, everyone plays their position and things run smoothly.

Lately, though, the partisan culture war has overwhelmed these fine distinctions.  There is only “us versus them.”  Never mind which branch of government is relevant.  They must all pile in to defend our special interests.

For an example, choose any of the hot-button rights issues.  These are the province of state and federal legislatures, with escalation to the courts.  They are mostly not the province of the Executive – unless the Executive should choose to “bypass Congress” and rule by fiat, which in turn comes to the courts.

The pundits love this – we’ve got one chamber of Congress, but they’ve got the other. There are five of ours versus four of theirs on the Supreme Court.  We need to elect “one of us” as President, so that we can pack the Supreme Court.

If the culture war continues to trample our Constitution, it will do lasting damage to the Republic.

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Vice President Martinez

It looks like Joe Biden is going to stick around.  He is a good complement to the president, and he connects well with middle-class voters.  Mitt Romney will seek similar attributes to round out the Republican ticket.  Jeremiah would like to nominate Governor Susana Martinez, of New Mexico.

“Latinos care about education, yes, so we need reform, not just money.”

Ideally, Romney would find a candidate from the South or the Midwest, and someone like Biden who can connect with the middle class.  The Republicans are fortunate to have a strong farm team of reformist governors.  Gov. Martinez can speak credibly about running a government and balancing a budget, and she has a compelling story about discovering her Republican values.

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Don’t Eat That!

AFA Foods has filed for bankruptcy following a media campaign against their “finely textured beef” product, also known as pink slime.  The surviving producer, Beef Products, Inc., will mount a defensive campaign of their own.  The beef scraps, which might otherwise become dog food, are ground fine and then washed with ammonia, which kills the germs.

If you have ever worked in fast food, you know that those frozen pink patties are not “meat” in the normal sense of the word.  Just try thawing one out.  Yuk!  That’s why they hide it in a bun.  It is a crime that poor, uneducated people are duped into eating this.  Then they become obese, and diabetic, and a burden to Medicaid.

Raising animals for food is grossly inefficient, because while animals eat large quantities of grain, soybeans, oats, and corn, they only produce comparatively small amounts of meat, dairy products, or eggs in return. This is why more than 70 percent of the grain and cereals that we grow in this country are fed to farmed animals.

It is better not to eat meat at all.  The same quantity of beans, for instance – or an avocado – is far healthier.  The notion that you must eat meat to survive is a fraud.  Just look at muscular herbivores like gorillas and, um, beef cattle.

Furthermore, meat production is a waste of scarce resources like fresh water.  It takes 2,400 gallons of water to produce one pound of meat.  Nearly half of all the water used in the United States goes to raising animals for food.  If Americans would reduce the amount of meat we consume, starting with the pink slimy variety, we would be a richer and a healthier nation.

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