Monday, September 28, 2009


We tax all the others and pass the revenue on to you

Is federalizing a word? We federalize the National Guard in times of need. Should be a word, the taking of local authority by the federal gummint. As opposed to, say, socializing: The gummint taking rights and property formerly believed to be inherently private.

No end of examples of the latter. Whoever believed that the gummint would own GM or AIG? BTW, don't start believing that AIG and the other bigs are going to repay their bailout debt. Some of it, yes, but only enough to make you get off their backs. They'll keep overpaying themselves, sure, but somehow there will never be quite enough money for you.

But federalizing is different. We have a Dept. of Education, y'know. $46.7 bil budget authorization for 2010. $46.7 bil is a LOT of Ameribux. But look at what we get for it. Just look. Uh, look. There's got to be something, doesn't there?

Not really. Since the earliest days of American history, education has been a quintessentially local issue. An important local issue because we think that we, not disinterested far-off strangers, should be in charge of what our kids are learning.

The DoEd does, essentially, nothing. For that nothing you pay the $46.7 bil. Part of that goes to the cost of tax admin, part to funding the DoEd bureaucracy - salaries, rent, equipment - itself, part just adds to the deficit and part goes to funding whatever it is that the DoEd decides to fund. ALL of it comes out of your pocket. One thing they're NOT funding is your kids' schools. Nope, that's still mostly up to you.

The DoEd funded a bunch of bailouts of the Detroit school system. Detroit really needs help - education in Detroit is a cruel failure - and a lot more. Complete bailout failure though, much of the money unaccounted for. Now the prez wants to do it again without even looking at why the previous attempts failed. Hear that flushing sound? Oh, and they're taking over the entire national student loan system. They did so well investing in Chrysler, GM, AIG and the like that they want to put major Ameribux into the loan market.

Is the gummint federalizing the loan market? So far they have student loans, home loans and car loans. They're telling the credit card companies how they can do business. What other kind of loan did you want?

The point is, American gummint is supposed to be limited, not an unlimited provider of all things to all people. But that's not the way things are heading. The core conservative principle of limited government, abandoned by Bush 43 and Clinton before him and now the prez, still exists. Its voices, Ron Paul the clearest but sadly the goofiest, still speak. Not likely to be heard again without a major national crisis, though. Really, free health care sounds a lot better than health care (just as an example) you have to pay for.

The gummint is federalizing autos, major investment firms, health care, loans and education. The various state national guards are already pretty much federalized and have been for years. What else can you think of? The airwaves, maybe, by way of a "Fairness Doctrine"? Energy? Who else would or could sacrifice people and energy for political expediency in the name of greening America? Hello, San Joaquin Valley. While they're at it, California has a $27 bil deficit and wants its own bailout. Will we federalize California? If so, why not all the other states?

Yes, of course there is a role for the feds. No doubt about it. There is also a role for local control over local issues. Where the locals have acted irresponsibly - Little Rock comes to mind - then federalizing may be called for. But federalizing is a last resort, not the first one.

The question to ponder is whether there is room for local control over anything at all or will we surrender it intact to the federal gummint? Popular sentiment, as expressed through the last election, is for the latter. Do we really need proof that local control over most functions is preferable to an engorged federal bureaucracy that never stops feeding on your - and your great-grand-kids' - wallet?

No individual should be forced to accept the tyranny of their own people -- Barack Obama

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Afghanistan -- Where's Our Leadership?

We tax all the others and pass the revenue on to you

The administration can't decide what to do in Afghanistan. No surprise, I can't think of a single invader/occupier/major influence in history that has successfully handled that problem. Certainly Bush wasn't up to the task, nor Clinton.

The NYTimes tells us today that the prez and his top advisers met and couldn't come up with a consensus on what to do. So, naturally, they're going to hold more meetings. That's what politicians do when they won't make a decision that they may be held to account for.

VP Biden -- who never served in the military because he was "pre-occupied" (thank you Wikipedia) -- wants us to reduce our forces, generally ignore the Taliban and concentrate on surgical strikes on al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan using Special Forces and air. Call it the Arthur Tedder approach to modern warfare. And btw, no war has ever been won by air power alone. Or did you forget?

The problem is, the Taliban is not planning a corresponding pull-back. Biden wants to involve fewer troops and concentrate on one enemy and generally ignore the other. Trouble is, they're intermingled. Biden's plan would be like (and here I show my age) ignoring the Viet Cong, withdrawing troops and concentrating our remaining forces on the NVA.

Hey, wait a minute. That IS what we did in Vietnam. Do you remember the outcome? I do. How much more proof do we need that this is an idiotic strategy?

There's not a single "thing" in Afghanistan worth the life of one American soldier. Nothing, because there isn't anything of value IN Afghanistan. It is a hiding place for our enemies and that's why we're there, to kill our enemies. Therefore, our strategy should be to kill or capture as many of our enemies as we can and destroy their means to resist. If we destroy the opium crop or stabilize a faltering government in the process, fine, but that's NOT why we should be there. Whatever it takes, that should be our strategy. If it's NOT our strategy then our soldiers are dying in vain.

Are our soldiers dying in vain? That is a forbidden statement in DC, the idea that we may, yet again, be sacrificing our best and brightest without cause. Any politician who utters it is afraid of it being used against him in the next campaign. As in, "Why did you vote to send our troops into harm's way when you couldn't even define why you're doing it?"

Alexander the Great failed in Afghanistan. So did the British Empire and the Soviet Empire. The Soviets had armor and complete control of the air, just we do today, and they still couldn't do it, even with more than twice as many troops as we have there today.

Nuclear weapons, even tactical nukes, are permanently out of the question. At least we hope they are, along with chemical and biological weapons. So then what? It seems that we're stuck with the same two choices we had in 1971: We either make a truly massive commitment of our armed forces or we get the heck out of Dodge.

Either choice involves heavy risk and cost. Either choice may, likely will, end political careers. Either choice will certainly have major unintended consequences. But either choice is better than no choice. Either choice plans an end game and charts a course toward it. Either choices staunches the blood.

So choose, Mr. President. You've had enough meetings. You've listened to your most trusted advisors. You know that Gen. McChrystal wants more troops and VP Biden wants fewer and you know how to weigh the value of all those recommendations. You'll be surprised how many of us will rally around you if you chart a well-reasoned course for us in Afghanistan.

Please, Mr. President, just make a decision.

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In modern war... you will die like a dog for no good reason.
Ernest Hemingway