Good Governance trumped by Election Anger

img_0154“How can working class Americans vote against their own interests?!?”

Sound familiar?  This was just one twist on the voting results from the 2016 Presidential election posited by Democrats whose candidate, Hillary Clinton, lost despite polls that gave the appearance of an impressive lead.  The query was a vague attempt to rationalize the loss by suggesting a short-sighted view by those working-class/middle class voters who supported Donald T. Trump.

Given the Republican leadership’s inability to control their own herd of cats, it’s too early to determine whether that rationalization is an accurate reflection of the 2016 vote.  Parsing all the Winners from the Losers, when it comes to the 45th President’s administration, may take years.

Separating Winners from Losers does not take nearly that long when one looks at most Local Elections.  By now, some of the unabashed Moderate‘s regular readers may be tiring of my favorite political bumper sticker slogan, courtesy of long-time Democrat politician, Tip O’Neill

All politics is local!”

Now certainly, I cannot speak for the quality of all local political administrations; and for sure some of those that changed hands last week ago did so for legitimate cause.  But I can state unequivocally that one local Pennsylvania upset was nothing more than the expression of Political Anger and Frustration on the part of Democrats.  A state of fury clinging like a bad taste in the mouth for a Party misguided by their own leaders, who felt compelled to give Hillary Clinton just one more shot …

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We can all understand their anger and frustration.  We just wish they would come to terms with their anger in more productive ways than punishing local leaders doing good work and building strong, productive communities.  In the case of township elections in Horsham, PA – my own little slice of suburbia – the ranting Group Think did nothing more than punish local officials for decades of efficiency, foresight, and quality governance!

Witness the facts as they relate to last week’s results in Horsham, PA:

  • Local Democrats – a committee in varying forms of disarray largely due to past election failures  – ran the exact same slate of candidates – save one – that figured prominently in their most recent unsuccessful election history.
  • Said Democrats likely spent the same – if not less – than prior elections in money and political groundwork.
  • Republican leadership has successfully piloted the Township through a daunting Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process, fraught with implications for future Township growth and economic health, all the while …
  • Maintaining a favorable property and municipal tax position, relative to surrounding townships, which – among other things – allowed the School Board to replace an aging elementary school without tax increases to cover the costs.
  • School Board successfully replaced an outdated elementary school with a state-of-the-art facility without raising school-funding Property Taxes!
  • All of this accomplished without controversy, scandal, or subterfuge.

Certainly Life in Horsham is not always a bed of roses.  Opponents will point to an exasperatingly long BRAC process and the discovery of PFA pollution (perfluorinated compounds) in groundwater resulting from contaminants from the BRAC’ed  military base.  But none of those problems were caused or controlled by local Leadership.

BB6ED508-9B63-4AD2-A8D9-2E3CB166824ALastly, Horsham has been routinely listed in Money Magazine as a “Best Place to Live” community.  And recently was cited by a local NBC affiliate for the dynamic business and employment opportunities and municipal-provided amenities that make the Township a quality environment in which to live and work!

Despite that very favorable reputation and their own personal choice to remain in a township that undoubtedly meets their own definitions for Quality-of-Life, last Tuesday many Democrats chose to bounce two-thirds of a candidate slate whose legacy made much of the above a budget-friendly reality!

We get it!  Democrats are angry, depressed, disillusioned, and looking for Republicans to blame.  And apparently that anger and desperate need to “send a message” was done at the expense of elected officials guilty of nothing more than doing a good job!

“How could you vote against your own interests?!?”

Indeed …

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Pennsylvania flipped to Trump

Berwood A.Yost provides a well-written analysis (See link provided below.) of how Pennsylvania ended up in the Trump column after voting Democrat in 6 consecutive Presidential elections dating back to 1988. In some regards it’s a “Duh … no kidding!” analysis, but it hits squarely on my favorite Tip O’Neill quote, “All politics is local.”
the unabashed Moderate can relate because I tend to concentrate my political efforts towards local politicians and elections, where the effects on everyday – and every voter’s – life is more directly felt. Locally, our Republican leadership has maintained its hold because the Residents appreciate the efficiency of township government; the favorable reputation of our schools; and the efforts to maintain a balance in taxes.
These conditions demonstrate Yost’s conclusion that people tend to vote based on how their communities prosper – or don’t – and whom they credit or blame.
It’s not difficult to extrapolate the same theories to National Politics, as any voter who pays attention can tell when their life is positively – or negatively – affected by what Leadership DOES … and not by what Leadership says or promises. And the theory works not only for explaining why people will vote a certain way, but also why they WON’T support some (e.g. Hillary) even when they represent the legacy of a “favored” outgoing administration.
This may be an all-too-obvious treatment of what happened in November; but it reinforces the concept that people will vote the way they see THEIR lives at that given moment in time … not flowery speeches; personal attacks; or hazy promises of social change.
This is the reason the Democrats have had such a difficult time trying to break into our township government. With all-around successful management, the opposition has no options for offering meaningful change. And our voters appreciate the living environment our long-running municipal leadership has provided!

Thoughts on National Anthem protests

It’s a shame we can’t have nice things anymore.

Nice things like symbols of our American heritage (both the good and the bad).  Heritage is heritage … Something to either exalt in or learn from.  Sometimes both …

Nice things like a healthy appreciation for Free Speech, as set forth in Amendment 1 of the United States Constitution, and the challenges its practice presents.  Nice things like being able to veg in front of the dumbbox on NFL Sunday afternoons, not having to listen to pontifications by sports and social/political talking heads and in-depth analysis as to who will or won’t – and why or why not – stand, kneel, sit, etc. during National Anthem protests.

My first reaction to the notion of professional athletes protesting social injustices through protest during The Anthem was reluctant acceptance.  After all that is what Free Speech is all about.

Did it annoy me at first?  Certainly … But it bothers me much more now that the displays have dragged on and on, with pre-game speculations becoming a regular part of every Sunday.  Still it does not bother me nearly as much as flag burning.

Which brings me this accidental American sports heroes from 1976 …

That – to me – is much more egregious insofar as disrespect to Country is concerned.  But one must realize – even when it comes to such horrendous displays – that Tolerance for such behavior is precisely the essence of Free Speech.  That one willingly manages what offends them to their core as the expression of another American’s Right to air their views and feelings is paramount to the Constitution’s protection of Speech

No one ever suggested that American Citizenship should be easy!  The challenge is in the bystander’s response to expressions of Speech with the potential to enrage them.  Do you respond in an ever-escalating cycle of counter-attack?   Do you turn a deaf ear?  Or does one try to engage the opposition in productive, non-threatening discussion of the topics?

The problem with the NFL players’ ongoing displays is that the original intent of those early and limited protests have been twisted beyond recognition by the emotional reactions that have resulted.  Assisted largely by the MainStream Media’s exploitation of the protests to generate viewing interest and on-line click bait, the displays have become weekly events.

What was largely a carry-over from the Colin Kaepernick self-immolation during the 2016 season, has now morphed into either protests of the American social strata or a desecration of Country, its Institutions and icons … depending on which side of the divide you reside.

In my humble opinion, protests like these fade away the LESS attention and outrage is directed at them and the participants.  Attention not only tends to harden the resolve of those involved, the heat can attract other tangential movements.  Unfortunately muting the spotlight is generally a hopeless expectation, especially given the attention of The Media; but others – be they private citizens or Presidents (hint hint) – would be better off not making such a fuss over the expression of Rights we should all hold dear.

No matter how much it makes one’s blood boil …

 

 

 

 

 

Hate is Hate … period!

The Unabashed Moderate has a very difficult time making any sense whatsoever from the events in Charlottesville, VA last weekend.  There is no question that the message pushed by white supremacy groups must be countered; shouted down; challenged intellectually at every opportunity.  America has no room for – and certainly should show no tolerance for – the morally corrupt message such groups cling to for whatever misguided and hateful reasoning.

Of that there is no question!

But what does one make of the hate demonstrated by the so-called anti-fascists?

I am an old-fashioned white guy.  I readily admit that.  I will readily admit that our race relations are not where they should be.  I will own up to the fact that racism still exists in this country, although I firmly believe that the actions, speech, and behaviors are much improved over where they stood in the 1960’s and ’70s when I was a much younger white guy.

We aren’t there yet, as was so aptly demonstrated last weekend when the concept of “white  pride” was trotted out under the guise of preserving American History.

Yet the hate we all saw in Charlottesville was hardly one-sided.  Under similar circumstances I do not have a problem with hating the “white pride” message, and the people pushing that message.  To be honest, it’s perfectly understandable that anyone in this day and age could hate white supremacists.

The problem in my mind is that Antifa demonstrated that they are not all that different from the white supremacists when it comes tactics.  Antifa has demonstrated this on numerous occasions.  What happened Saturday was just the latest occasion that their own brand of hate was on display.  They have provided us examples all over the country under the guise of various political, economic, and social causes.

How is WHAT Antifa does any different from that which white supremacists do?  Intimidation, invoking fear and violence, equipping for warfare in the name of protest …

The tragic, unnecessary murder of Heather Heyer was the obvious answer in Charlottesville.  But killing is not generally a tactic of white supremacists in this day and age.  (Please, do not take that as a defense of that heinous act.  It’s simply recognition that in the context of this discussion, what happened on that street in Charlottesville was an aberration of sorts.)

Or put another way … Will anyone be surprised when – not if – Antifa actions, given their current trajectory, result in a death?  I know I will not be surprised.

I must be old-fashioned, because I can remember a day when white supremacists and neo-Nazis were met face-to-face on the public square with nary a punch being thrown.  Arrests and perhaps a scuffle or two, but not wild, pitched battles with pepper spray, human waste as weapons, flame-throwing aerosol cans …

Hate is hate.  Violence is violence.

I do not believe the legitimacy of your stand or the difference in your objective makes the hate any more palatable or acceptable.

It’s easy to spot a white supremacist.  You know what their objectives are; who they hate; and how they will go about expressing that hate.  They want to impose a social order, long rejected by American values even if we still struggle to completely right that boat.

On the other hand, Antifa looks to push several social and political objectives, using not only very similar tactics, but certainly a similar brand of hate as those they purport to reject and work hardily to oppose.  The BIG PROBLEM is they do not hate only white supremacists and neo-Nazis.

Antifa – through their very actions – have shown that they also hate Conservatives, Republicans, and people who simply exercised their personal political freedom by daring to vote for and support President Donald Trump.  We have seen this at political rallies, speaker events, world organization meetings, even at local festivals!

In Philadelphia, antifa elements vandalized property simply because they do not like the concept of gentrification.  This despite conventional wisdom that major urban centers depend on the improved tax base to fund important programs like inner city education and municipal services to the benefit of all city dwellers.

Antifa hates people for the way they vote.  They hate people for the way they think.  They hate people for simply assembling in the manner in which they identify themselves as the Portland example demonstrates.

Antifa hate is not limited to those with ancient notions of the relation between the races.  They hate even those with conventional, mainstream political thought.  They hate people simply because they disagree with them.

Their hate is corrosive, violent, and frankly quite deliberate, a political methodology.  And in that regard is no different than racist hate at its basest, most disgusting level.  Antifa may hold higher ground than the racists, but it’s not much higher.

It has always been easy to spot hate grown from the beliefs of white supremacy.  Now we have to be mindful of those whose hate is so easily expressed with violence simply because they disagree.

Tribute to those killed in service at Charlottesville

A Conversation about Immigration (1)

gettyimages-518777418Admittedly, I struggle with the question of illegal immigration.  Not so much whether or what constitutes unauthorized entry to the United States so much as what to do about it and how.  The objective of this post – and others to perhaps follow – is to generate discussion that will hopefully add to my understanding of immigration law and consolidate my thinking on a subject that – among other things – was crucial to the election of President Donald J. Trump last November.

Yes, I realize many people prefer “undocumented immigrant” over “illegal immigrant”.  But to me the terms are interchangeable at best, and – at worst – undocumented suggests sneaking into another country is a matter rectified by simply locating one’s wallet, where undoubtedly the proper piece of paper would be found!

Feel free however, to liberally interchange “undocumented” for “illegal” if it makes the subject more palatable. 

I like to think I have a pragmatic view of immigrants, their contributions, illegal immigration, and potential solutions.  But thinking and knowing are different states of mind.  Maybe you can help me sort through my pragmatism and bring me to an even more thorough understanding of the issues and problems.

First however, I would like to set the foundation for the things I believe – and do not believe – in when it comes to immigration both legal and otherwise.

  1. Nation Security starts with secure borders.  There are few areas in the world where an individual can enter another country without being challenged to prove identification, status, permissions, and the absence of illegal contraband.  The European Union has tried an open borders policy, and many have not been happy with the results … particularly when one of its member-states decides to throw out the “Welcome!” mat to all comers.
  2. America is a country of immigrants.  This is no different than any other country,
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    A queue at Ellis Island

    yet it seems to be a major stake-holder for those who favor looser immigration restrictions … particularly in the U.S.  All countries and regions – at one time or another – demonstrate the same fundamental behaviors (exploration, conquest, settlement, assimilation), whether immigration occurred thousands of years ago or is occurring presently.  Both human nature and the survival features of human existence dictate the need to acquire new territories when needed, and can motivate the newcomers, assuming they are sufficiently advanced compared to the native inhabitants, to push aside weaker cultures and peoples, who are competing with them for space and required resources.

  3. The United States has a proud tradition of compassion.  Whether pulling for the underdog/down-trodden or recognizing the contributions of groups that have immigrated here in the 220-plus years since the ratification of the U.S. Constitution.  Whether it’s Irish immigrants fleeing potato famine; varied European artisans who built the stone churches in my native Philadelphia; or the dependence our agricultural programs have on cheap, plentiful labor, we tend to embrace the concept of Immigration, if not always the immigrant themselves.  On immigration our Constitution requires only due process and extension of the Rights all U.S. citizens enjoy.  Society demands compassionate response to the World’s disasters, whether man-made (civil war, oppression, etc.) or natural.
  4. Illegal is illegal.  There is no way around it.  Unauthorized entry and those who conspire to assist such entries must be handled as criminals.  For this reason and the fact that they usurp federal powers, Sanctuary Cities are a joke.
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Checkpoint in  Singapore … Immigration: Controlled everywhere

My view is that America’s response to the issue of immigration should be a balancing act of the above factors.  And within the problem of illegal immigration there are various conundrums.

The U.S. Government has a history of turning a lazy eye towards unauthorized entries at the behest largely of its agricultural industry.  It would be grossly unfair to dispose of those used in such a way once the work is done.  Immigrants here illegally prefer to stay off the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) radar, which also keeps them off the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) radar, and allows them to avoid paying taxes, yet said immigrants absorb tax-funded benefits and protections.

On a personal note, I have a socially conscious family member, who has spent time in years past working in the border desert regions to ease the dangers and sufferings of those trying to infiltrate our southern border.  Despite my feelings about “Illegal is Illegal”, I admired the humanity of his efforts even as they ran counter to the objectives of protecting a precious border.  My own personal conundrum …

With that in mind, I would like to add a few other considerations from the perspective of personal responsibility with which all of us are entrusted.

  1. The Decision to enter any country illegally is a personal decision.  And that decision carries with it responsibility for all that transpires afterwards.  There are often good reasons to seek immigration, and good reasons why one may not wish to wait for permission to do so.  But the result is the personal choice to disobey the laws of another country.
  2. immigration-reform-obama-300x212
    Where does Responsibility lie?

    The presence or involvement of a child does not relieve the Offender of the responsibilities of the Decision.  As parents, we are uniquely responsible for a child’s safety and welfare.  While these considerations may be the reason why one may choose to immigrate illegally, those same considerations should include a hard and clear look at the potential situations into which an unauthorized immigrant’s child might be subjected.

  3. Compassion for the innocent “co-violators” should be of paramount concern when confronting unauthorized parent immigrants.  Despite 2. above, primary consideration should be exhibited toward the treatment and potential aftereffects of confronting a parent, who has entered the country illegally, on the children also directly affected.
  4. “Anchor babies” do not relieve the Parent of the consequences of their decisions.  Another one of those conundrums …
  5. Felony crime – committed before, during, or after entry – should end any discussion of potential legal relief.  Misdemeanor crime is another story, but should be addressed where repeated with a reasonable line drawn for repeat violations on a case-by-case basis.  That is, a traffic or public intoxication conviction should not be the sole basis for expulsion or imprisonment for illegal immigration, all other things being acceptable.

So this is from where I start.  I enlist all those reading this to give me honest, respectful, and productive feedback, advice, admonishment even.  Maybe when we are done talking we may still be different in places philosophically; but maybe we will understand the varied facets of the issue a bit more.

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Hungary’s eventual response to immigrant flood out of North Africa

Why it’s easy to distrust Politicians …

In a stunning development Philadelphia’s District Attorney, Seth Williams, changed his plea to Guilty in a federal corruption trial shortly before the case was to go to the jury.  What was “stunning” was not that Williams pled guilty.  In view of the evidence, guilt was almost a given …

What was stunning was Williams’ position – knowing what he must have known – in allowing his case to go to trial.  What was disheartening was William’s complete indifference to the norms of behavior expected of a high-level law enforcement figure, especially in retrospect to his actions fighting a particular type of State-level misbehavior.

It’s as though Seth Williams believed an entirely different set of rules applied to him.  Unfortunately in Pennsylvaniaone of the most corrupt States in the Union (Fortune’s Top 5 pick!) – this is becoming a trend, particularly in its lead legal counsels.

It’s already irritating enough that I have totally given up on our “leaders” at the National level.  Little appears to ever get done in Washington, D.C. without monumental meltdowns in bipartisan cooperation that begets obstructionism and flat-out guerrilla-style sabotage.

Even when one Party or another controls all facets of legislative governance, they would rather bicker with each other than seek quick, effective actions on the topics with which they seemed to agree.  It’s almost enough to make you give up on Politics in general. 

I often preach the underappreciated importance of Local Elections, where the Voter’s life will be more directly and more quickly affected by Policy and Administration decisions.  But when you look at the corruption found in local Pennsylvania politicians, you have to wonder which collection of nitwits is more troublesome!

Seth
former Philadelphia DA Seth Williams

The Williams saga becomes unimaginably depressing when you consider its bizarre intersection with the equally difficult-to-comprehend case of Kathleen Kane, the disgraced former Pennsylvania Attorney General!
For me it’s even a bit personal … politically speaking.

When Kane was running for Pennsylvania AG, she seemed to fit nicely into my pragmatic brand of political logic that suggests having an opposition party represented in positions of Legal and Budgetary oversight.  When Kane ran, State government was in the control of Republicans.  So I bucked my Party and voted for what appeared to be a qualified opposition candidate.

I may never learn … though I hold no illusions that Republicans are above disillusioning me.

Kathleen Kane quickly fell into dishonor, resulting from her political motivations for blocking the prosecutions of a flock of Philadelphia Democrats caught palming the Abscam-type offerings of a corrupt lobbyist turned State Informant.  Once she revealed the Court-sealed grand jury investigation of a noted Civil Rights figure in an attempt to punish critics formerly employed by the same State AG office, my decision to vote for Kane became a very, very bad one.

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former Pennsylvania AG Kathleen Kane

Enter Seth Williams, who heroically stood up for the targets of Kane’s retribution (former prosecutor and investigator) that now worked for him.  In a pointed rebuke to Kane’s political and legal malfeasance, Williams picked up a challenge Kane carelessly tossed at his feet, when in a snit over Williams’ defense of ex-AG staffers, she dared Williams to take up the Philadelphia prosecutions.

Williams did more than just grab the fallen flag.  He successfully prosecuted or obtained pleas of guilt from all of the offenders!

I considered such acts “heroic” for simply having the intestinal fortitude to stand up to a popular – at the time – fellow Democrat.  And I thought, here’s a Democrat with a promising future.

Wrong again …

It appears now that Mr. Williams was much more sinister – deep down – than even Miss Kane, relying on the patronage of rich businessmen to finance a lifestyle he could not afford.  Williams was even accused of raiding his own mother’s fixed-income financial accounts for such things as gym memberships, vacation trips, and expensive club accommodations.

After a lengthy and contentious Dance of Innocence, Mr. Williams finally fessed up to the overwhelming evidence against him and fell on his own sword.  That it might have been the same sword with which he helped slay the career of Kathleen Kane is not particularly comforting or encouraging.

What it does accomplish however, is piercing the notion that ANY politician can be totally trusted no matter how sparkling the exterior!

 

False Outrage: Presidential Leisure

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Truman’s Little White House, Key West, FL

The unabashed Moderate is truly sick and tired of the fake outrage expressed by any Opposition Party at certain presidential activities and benefits our duly elected Presidents are inclined to use to their personal advantage, specifically Presidential vacations.

Those who take note of such things might recall much being made of presidential respites dating as far back as Ronald Reagan (POTUS40), as I certainly do.  Used to be Presidents could enjoy regular escapes from the Machiavellian energy of Washington, D.C.

Harry S Truman (POTUS33) enjoyed “The Little White House” in Key West.  Franklin Delano Roosevelt (POTUS32) enjoyed Hot Springs, AR.

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JFK at Martha’s Vineyard

Martha’s Vineyard was a favorite spot for several Presidents, mostly Democrats for some reason (John F. Kennedy, POTUS35; Bill Clinton, POTUS42; Barack Obama, POTUS44).  Richard M. Nixon (POTUS37) loved Key Biscayne, FL.  Both Lyndon Baines Johnson (POTUS36) and George W. Bush (POTUS43) preferred their personal ranches in Texas.  George H.W Bush (POTUS41) frequented the family vacation compound in Kennebunkport Maine.

The venues are as varied as are the personalities who have served as Chief Executives.

Unfortunately, where and how often a President takes a vacation has recently become an outlet for opposition frustration and anger, veiled behind so-called concerns about Costs, compromised National Security, even Global Warming.  In reality, they have become nothing more than another opportunity to toss darts at a President simply because you did not vote for them.

As the unabashed Moderate, my take on Presidential Vacations takes the Politics out of the equation.  And once you do so, you quickly realize the only ones with sufficient cause to complain about such things are those concerned about deficit spending and ballooning National Debt levels.  Assuming – of course – that such complaints are consistent across both Republican and Democrat Administrations.

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Bush43 biking his Crawford, Texas ranch

Fat chance, right?

Witness the outraged defense of President Bush43’s habit of enjoying his Crawford, Texas spread on a regular basis morphing into merciless howls of criticism over President Obama’s preference for Hawaiian vacations.  One might have a point arguing the footprint of a presidential junket to speak on Climate Change using a fleet of military planes and helicopters, armored limousines, etc.  Not so much though when it comes to presidential vacations; and here’s why:

  1. Presidents do not get paid a lot of money.  Now before you toss your computer monitor through that nice picture window, consider the economic impact of the US Government vs. that of the largest corporations.  As the ultimate CEO The President is paid but a fraction – a very small fraction in some cases – of the compensation poured upon Fortune 500 Chief Executive Officers.  This despite the fact that the fiscal responsibilities and economic impact of the Executive Branch far outpaces the financial influences of most (all?) large corporations.
  2. Another example …  As a lowly mid-level Subject Matter Expert in the Federal Government, I earn a low six-figure salary.  (That’s LOW as in LOW for a six-figure salary, not that a six-figure salary is “low”.)  My responsibilities cover roughly $13 million in direct expenditures I oversee, among other duties. I also participate in the approval cycle for $2 billion in expenditures controlled and executed by others.  By contrast, POTUS will manage a FY18 budget estimated at $3.6 trillion dollars!  The annual salary for POTUS is $200,000., or roughly just double mine. In matters entirely fiscal that comparison is whacked, even if you also make allowance for the non-monetary benefits to which all POTUSes (POTI??) have access.
  3. The Stress of being POTUS (Commander-in-Chief, Chief Executive Officer, de facto Political Party Godfather, etc.) has to be exhausting, draining, deafening, and generally debilitative to any POTUS’ ability to focus, be circumspect, commanding, decisive, etc.  That’s not an ideal recipe for successful performance and decision-making, particularly in times of crisis.
  4. The White House is a fishbowl, hardly the place where any POTUS gets to totally discharge the cumulative aggravation and recharge without the prospect of 3 AM sessions in crisis management and disaster mitigation.
  5. Family life and the Joys of Parenting can suffer significantly in The Fishbowl.  Suggesting a POTUS’ family does not deserve its own escape from White House Suffocation is simply a cruel expectation.

So let’s address the 800-pound gorilla in the room.

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The Reagan Ranch at Santa Barbara, CA

The REAL reason most critics hammer away at a President’s proclivity for solitude and isolation from the pressure of Washington is – nowadays – always political.  Even those who criticize behind veils of fiscal responsibility or climate change do so because the meme is a quick, easy shot.  But the complainant’s  goal is still the same … throwing a cheap, no frills political Molotov cocktail.

You see it now – too much – whether the President is a Bush, Barack Obama, or Donald Trump.  It’s a silly, entirely lazy reason to disagree with any President.

Claims of limiting greenhouse gases and strains on the U.S. Budget ring hollow when one accepts that Presidents have no control over the costs or the methods for getting them to their preferred vacation spots.  Security – a lot of security – preps and accompanies any presidential trip.  Add atop that the weight of critical National Security equipment, redundancies in methods and tactics, and the support personnel and equipment necessary to make everything hum properly and you get quite the load – both literally and figuratively.  And none of that truly lies within the realistic control of any President.

Security – the overarching requirement – is not negotiable … not even for great deal makers.  Security actually becomes a fairly good argument for any President to have a regular, established (i.e. one favorable to pre-staging equipment, materials, etc.) leisure address whether it be in Texas or Hawaii.

Certainly, a few Presidents have made regular use of such amenities as Camp David.  But as President Trump recently remarked, “Camp David is very rustic, it’s nice, you’d like it. You know how long you’d like it? For about 30 minutes …“.  If you are the active, cosmopolitan, and/or adventurous type, you might need a little more to shed the weight of being The Leader of The Free World.

Let’s just give that false outrage a break … and The Presidents – all of them – one too!

 

 

 

 

 

Why a President might “lose” an Aircraft Carrier Task Force

USS Carl Vinson
USS Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group

The Unabashed Moderate has been holding onto this one for a few weeks to avoid type-casting the new blog as a Defender of President Trump every time someone develops agita over his unconventional administration.  Whether the President unawares where exactly the U.S.S. Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group was, or “lying” about its whereabouts and movements is immaterial to this discussion.

My objective is to take to task the notion that The Media, our Allies, South Korea, or even the American Public has a right to know the deployment details of forward-deployed combat forces.  Yes … Combat Forces … in the sense that such units must always be prepared for hostile operations at the direction of the Commander-in-Chief.

At times like this, the realization sets in that many people have little appreciation for how military operations have been executed throughout history … be it during conflict or peacetime.  At the very least, they display a lack of appreciation for Strategy and Tactics.

My own personal bank of knowledge on such subjects is based entirely upon readings and civilian experience in the employ of the Department of the Navy.  No direct military experience.  Hopefully, my professional contacts within my little slice of the U.S. military establishment provides a rudimentary understanding for the objectives and reasoning of what you reveal; how you reveal it; why you reveal such things; and why you might not.

korea_peninsula1For the purposes of discussion, I refer to an article, How Did the Trump Administration Lose an Aircraft Carrier, appearing in The Atlantic on April 18, 2017 during the peak of the “lost carrier” controversy.  The article, written by David A. Graham, starts off  acknowledging “A certain amount of unpredictability is a virtue in foreign policy.”, then quickly devolves into an excoriation of the Trump Administration and The President for either lying, incompetence, or being unpredictable …

That very same quality lauded as being “a virtue”.

The really unpredictable ones in this equation however are the North Koreans.

When the tin pot dictators from Korea’s North end start clamoring for attention, …

You can almost predict North Korean what-about-us tantrums, which seem to sprout up whenever the Head TinPot there decides the North is not getting its fair share of attention from the rest of the world!

… it’s common practice for the U.S. to send a second carrier strike group into the seas around the Korean Peninsula.

That goes for China too, by the way.  In June 2016, President Obama sent the USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) to WestPac to sail – along with 7th Fleet mainstay USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) – through international waters where China was attempting to claim disputed islands in the South China Sea.

north-korea-missiles-getty
North Korean missiles

Recently, the Vinson was touted as a significant part of the U.S. reaction to North Korean missile tests seen as a threat to local allies (Japan, South Korea) and eventually – should experimentation result in ultimate success – the west coast of the U.S.!  The President made much of the decision to move the U.S.S. Vinson, which was scheduled to participate in fleet exercises with the Australian Navy, to Korean waters in a show of strength in the face of North Korean agitation.

The problem was a garbling of the way the Commander-in-Chief’s order was to be carried out.  It was difficult timing for the U.S. Navy and The President, since Australia is a strong ally and there was no desire to cancel naval exercises whose opportunity might not occur again for years.

Some people interpreted the order to mean the immediate re-routing of the Carrier Strike Group.  Many had little appreciation for the importance of peacetime drilling with favored allies.  The Navy itself compounded the issue by announcing the cancellation of Shore Leave scheduled while the Group was in Australia.  (A big letdown for the sailors, no doubt!)  The Vinson Group’s Commander felt the imagery of U.S. sailors enjoying shore visits during a crisis to be counter-productive and inappropriate.

Kim Jong Un
Let’s remember who the REAL danger is here!

Good call by the CO.  But the messaging back home, which filtered to The Media via the Department of Defense suggested the planned exercises with Australia had been canceled, not just the port visit.  Undoubtedly, the communications snafu complicated the Big Picture; but it was the overly dramatic reactions by a media establishment that’s very, very, very quick to excoriate the Trump Administration over anything not fitting their Generally Accepted Rules of Oval Office Operation was – frankly – hysterical … both in the emotion and the reaction by those with little appreciation for Strategy and Tactics.

A. One view suggested The President did not know where his Carrier Strike Group was.

But The President does not need that information short of a bullets-flying, aircraft scrambling scenario.  When that time comes, any President would simply turn to his Secretary of Defense and Joint Chiefs-of-Staff to discern the wheres and what-fors of an escalating conflict,

Japan+Map+1B. One view suggested that portraying the Vinson Carrier Strike Group as heading away from the Korean Peninsula at such a time left Korea 3500 miles removed from carrier protection.

Fact is, there is a substantial U.S. military presence in Japan, less than 600 miles from Korea, and home to the 7th Fleet.  Given that the USS Ronald Reagan was down for scheduled maintenance, South Korea was hardly left naked and afraid.

C. Another view even suggested that The President was lying about the movements of the Vinson Carrier Group.  An astonishing claim, not because obfuscation seems a preferred tactic by an unorthodox President, but more so the suggestion that Openness, Transparency, and Honesty should be hallmarks of military operations!

Seriously … Thus my biggest concern in all of this emotional hullabaloo.

Are there people who really believe “Honesty is the best Policy” when it comes to moving military assets on the three-dimensional global field?  I sure hope not …

220px-Loose_lips_might_sink_shipsNo Commander-in-Chief, Secretary of Defense, Joint Chiefs, or star-studded Admiralty owes Truth to either the American people or its watchdog Media when it comes to these sensitive, life-or-death movement of assets where so much is at stake!  Dishonesty is a time-tested tactic when it comes to War or the potential for its outbreak, as is Unpredictability, Diversion, Obfuscation, etc.

And let’s not lose sight of the fact that there was every intention of routing the Vinson CSG to Korean waters as soon as the Australian Navy exercises were completed!

In wars past, there has been the saying, “Loose lips sink ships!”

When you have no control over the Loose Lips of Society … Be it the open-kimono Media, shipyard workers loudly enjoying post-workday libations, home-bound families sharing pride in their homegrown sailors, etc., then you must clamp down on the flow of information.

To suggest Truth in such situations provides benefit to anyone other than The Enemy is precisely why NO FOUL was committed in the way the USS Carl Vinson “incident” was handled, regardless of how such miscommunication comes about.

 

 

 

 

 

Jimmy Kimmel’s misdirected tug at your heart-strings

chlaFeel bad for their son and the experience they had to go through, but turning it into a misdirected, ill-conceived political statement, Kimmel sounded as short-sighted as those he often chastises comically for making similarly silly or stupid arguments.

Of course the episode had to be extremely emotional for the Kimmel family.  But turning it into a political message, where you are so clearly off base factually, was an error in judgment.

Using his newborn son to do so just makes it all the more irritating.

The following article describes why Kimmel’s emotion-turned-political statement was so off the mark as it morphed into a tearful plea for ObamaCare.

5 Things You Need To Know About The Hospital Where Jimmy Kimmel Took His Son, And Why It’s Not A Case For Obamacare

 

Politics and the Internet: Virtual pogroms of the Unpure

pogrom (noun) – an organized massacre

That word – pogrom – is loaded with emotion, horror, danger.  It’s not a word I like to use, even hyperbolically as I do here to make a point.  But when trying to describe the movements afoot in some corners of the Internet, where profiles are systematically removed (i.e. killed) solely for threatening ideological purity, the words “virtual pogrom” seem to fit.  My apologies to anyone who might find the word offensive.

Our story …

Some day perhaps, I will learn my lesson.  Some day perhaps, I will accept the fact that Politics changes people … especially when they are disappointed for not getting their way … and sometimes even when they do get their way.

Some day … perhaps …

My sullen mood is the result of losing a favorite and – at one time – an all-welcoming “discussion” website where The News was the stated objective, and political discussion (i.e. arguing politics) its true driving force.  It was a crushing turn of events, where the toleration of all views – expressed respectfully – degenerated into a Safe Space for those unable to grasp the fundamentals of a democratic republic (i.e. the Electoral College) nor the results of its freely exercised elections.

internetcensorMy first exposure to WHAPS (Web-based Hyper-Active Political Sensitivity) occurred in the months between the first election of Barack H. Obama and his ensuing Inauguration.  It was December 2008, where after allowing almost eight years of Bush-bashing that a favored hobby site decided it was best for their WHAPS-afflicted egos if all Political discussion be banned from their rather extensive blogging and discussion forums.

The webmaster was completely fine with creating an individual Political Forum for high-strung political arguments that blossomed immediately after the 9-11 attacks, and grew quickly into a hotbed for web clicks.  For seven years we discussed every Bush43 shortcoming and defense thereof, with a pledge from Management to stay out.  The members were left to police their own mess.

That changed with the election of the first African-American President.  Suddenly management was jumping into the middle of all sorts of issues dealing with the expression of political opinion.

twitter_cards_potusIt became obvious after a series of rule changes and standard tightening that the real issue was being critical of that particular President!  Where Bush-bashing had been a contentious and profitable enterprise, suddenly any political reference to his successor would reflect badly on the Web Product.  Political criticism became a dirty word, simply because of who was occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue!

Needless to say, making hay from discourse over National politics no longer sat well with the webmaster.  Neither did pointing out his hypocrisy.  Many were summarily kicked from the forums for no reason other than correctly observing the trend towards restricting discussion.

Certainly this phenomena is not restricted to one political side versus any other.  I’m sure it happens on both sides.  But my experience has been limited to seeing this on Liberal web sites.

I will not share the web addresses for either site which showered opposing opinion with such “Acceptance”.  I simply will not give them a free plug! 

Flash forward 8 years and the same phenomena plays out to an entirely different level.  Another website where – for 3 years – the open and honest discussion of everyday news and politics was not only encouraged, but lauded …. and mightily.  A site that touted talented and fact-based contributors from all along the political spectrum.  A website with a tight set of rules to govern recognition, process, and behavior as a way of maintaining an even keel.

Then came the come-from-ahead loss of Hillary Clinton and the rise of Donald Trump and unconventional politics.

imagesThose of us, who find ourselves excluded from another web-based meltdown, may well have concluded their website development effort was simply prelude.  The ultimate objective a vibrant marketplace dedicated to discussing the rise and exploits of the First Female President of the U.S. of A!

It seems Dreams do indeed die hard!

Us Outsiders started to notice trends in the way posts and articles were being touted and publicized through the website’s cute method of rewarding creative and precise writing.  You could not find a Republican/Conservative voice that was highlighted, despite the suitable presence of non-Liberal thought, unless they were addressing red-light cameras!

That was the REAL gist of the problem … Hurt feelings over the way they had lost an election so many of them thought was a foregone conclusion.

Of course they used those wretched present-day excuses for their organized ridding of anti-Hillary, anti-Liberal, pro-Constitution (that sticky Electoral College thing), and pro-Trump voices.  They simply set out like any authoritarian fascist movement and eliminated profile after profile of non-conforming voices.  Those who did nothing to offend, other than to voice an opinion unwanted by the fragile psych of the website entrepreneur, were invited to leave.  If they chose to say, they simply saw their profiles removed.

That last part is what happened to my profile.

My sin was simply identifying the trend and predicting the future look of so-called all-inclusive political forum.  I called out the Management on their obvious singular focus, and then challenged them to simply be honest about their intent and future plans.

That was enough to get my profile killed.

The website now touts itself as a “Resist Trump” website, where “Trumpkins” are no longer welcomed!

Internet-censorship-pros-and-cons

Now pogrom may not be the most sensitive way of describing what happened there.  But it accurately describes the intent and actions of those who undertook what was essentially an intellectual cleansing!

Certainly, it’s enough to make you wonder why some website entrepreneurs even attempt to take on subjects like Politics when they really have no stomach for dissenting opinion.