|Friday, November 7, 2014|
|Understanding How Things Work|
The adage, “You get what you pay for,” never seems more apropos to me than when politicians pontificate about how “things” should work, meaning the economy, thereby displaying their ignorance of the economic system that has been the engine of America’s success and produced the highest standard of living in the world for over 200 years.
Unfortunately, the American people are not getting what we are paying for in our political leaders.
What we should be getting is people who understand how the free market system works, that the less it is regulated (restricted) by government, the better it works.
However, what we are getting is politicians and political leaders who have no clue about capitalism and believe it is their responsibility to pass legislation that causes the government to intrude on the free market, in effect defining the rules by which it should function.
Currently, the lead player in this scenario, of course, is Obama, who has never run anything or held a job, yet seems to believe that he knows better than everyone else how the system should work. The problem is that his notion of “the system” is not the free market but socialism.
No government in history has ever created prosperity by managing the economy. The most notable example, at least in the last century was the U.S.S.R., which failed to the point of collapse in about 90 years.
But, hope springs eternal. Each succeeding generation seems to believe that they have the answer, that they know how to “run” the economy better than the “free market.”
To some extent, this is reflected by the percentage of presidential cabinet members who had any business background and/or experience.
Following are the percentages of past presidential cabinet members who had worked in the private business sector prior to their appointment to the cabinet. (The private business sector is a real-life business, not a government job.)
Here are the percentages:
26th President (1901-1909): Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt 38%
27th President (1909-1913): William Howard Taft 40%
28th President (1913-1921): Woodrow Wilson 52%
29th President (1921-1923): Warren G. Harding 49%
30th President (1923-1929): Calvin Coolidge 48%
31st President (1929-1933): Herbert Hoover 42%
32nd President (1933-1945): Franklin Delano Roosevelt 50%
33rd President (1945-1953): Harry S. Truman 50%
34th President (1953-1961): Dwight D. Eisenhower 57%
35th President (1961-1963): John F. Kennedy 30%
36th President (1963-1969): Lyndon B. Johnson 47%
37th President (1969-1974): Richard M. Nixon 53%
38th President (1974-1977): Gerald R. Ford 42%
39th President (1976-1980): Jimmy Carter 32%
40th President (1981-1989): Ronald W. Reagan 56%
41st President (1988-1992): George H.W. Bush 51%
42nd President (1993-2001): William Jefferson Clinton 39%
43rd President (2000-2001): George W. Bush 55%
Note that during the 100 year period covered by the foregoing list, the lowest percentage of cabinet members who had business experience was 30%, during John F. Kennedy’s presidency, and the highest percentage was 56%, during Ronald Reagan’s term in office.
© 2014 Harris R. Sherline, All Rights Reserved
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|Friday, November 7, 2014|
|Pass a Law, Fix the Problem|
How many laws do we pass to fix problems, only to find out that they don’t fix anything and often make things worse? Sometimes laws are passed for political purposes, sometimes to bestow some benefit on a particular group or individual, sometimes simply out of ignorance. Whatever the case, the more they pile up, the worse things get.
Logic and reason have no effect on those who support many of the actions that are taken by our political leaders. They do it for a reason, albeit often wrong, but the bigger problem is the lack of knowledge of the electorate who support many of these laws.
Does anyone ever stop to consider the number of laws that are passed?
In a 2010 article, “Too many crimes – a function of too many laws,” former U.S. Attorney General Edwin W. Meese III makes the case that “America is in the throes of over criminalization.
He supports his assertion by citing a number of cases that are noted in a new book, “One Nation Under Arrest”:
· A 12-year old girl arrested and handcuffed for eating a single french fry on the Washington subway system.
· A cancer-ridden grandmother arrested and criminally charged for refusing to trim her hedges the way officials in Palo Alto, CA, mandated.
· A former high-school science whiz kid sent to prison after initially being arrested by FBI agents clad in SWAT gear for failing to affix a federal sticker to his otherwise legal UPS package.
· A 67-year-old retired husband and grandfather imprisoned because some of the paperwork for his home-based orchid business did not satisfy an international treaty.
One of the major problems in America today is that there are too many laws and too much regulation. There are a seemingly endless number of examples of legislators who either have no sense or somehow lose it in the exalted halls of government. For instance, Kentucky law mandates that people must bathe once a year.
Not to pick on Kentucky, but like most states, they have a number of crazy laws: Throwing eggs at a public speaker is punishable by up to one year in jail; it is illegal to dye or color a baby chick, duckling or rabbit unless six or more are for sale at the same time; or if a horse dies in front of a residence, the owner (of the horse, that is) must remove the dead animal within 12 hours.
If it is not done, then it becomes the homeowner’s responsibility. That may have made sense in the 1800s, but it hardly seems necessary today. One city had an ordinance that required the sheriff to shoot dogs whose owners did not pay a local tax on their animals.
Consider the number of jurisdictions with boards, councils or commissions that legislate and the number of laws they adopt annually. There are over 3,000 counties in the U.S., ranging in size from 41.6 square miles (Arlington, VA) to 141,398 square miles in the North Slope Borough of Alaska, along with almost 19,500 municipalities, in addition to the 50 states. That adds up to roughly 22,500 entities in addition to the Federal government, all putting laws on the books, presumably to correct problems or to influence or regulate behavior. In California, the legislature adds upwards of 5,000 laws to the state’s code books every year.
As Will Rogers said, “Congress met. I was afraid they would.”
Obviously, a certain amount of this is necessary. For example, local ordinances for such purposes as regulating traffic, land use, or taxation. Or, advances in technology bring new problems and with them the need for new laws. The rapid development of computers and the Internet has created new opportunities for mischief with them, such as Internet fraud and identity theft. And bio-technology is presenting society with moral and ethical challenges that never would have occurred to earlier generations.
However, people’s wants are insatiable, and legislators respond to special interest groups that want to impose their particular need or desire on the rest of society, which results in thousands of laws and regulations.
The latest example of excessive regulation was noted in a January 1, 2014 Sacramento Bee article, “California’s new laws: What changes in 2014.”
The article lists about 30 new laws or modifications of existing laws that became effective in the new year.
Many of them amount to nothing more than housekeeping measures, clarifying or expanding existing laws that are already on the books, such as Immigration, prohibiting employers from punishing or retaliating against workers on the basis of their immigration status, Hydraulic Fracturing for oil drilling, banning lead ammunition because of the health risk to wildlife, Abortion, Pharmacists, Transgender students, Domestic Workers, Prevailing Wage, various gun laws, Paparazzi, Limo Safety, Texting while driving, Food Stamps, Mattress Recycling, Distillery Tastings, and Residential Plumbing.
However, notwithstanding the necessity for the laundry list of bills outlined in the article, one in particular got my attention, because it illustrates the absolute foolishness of bureaucrats and legislators, who seem to think they can craft an answer to every problem. This is a new law that requires “cars to stay at least 3 feet away from bicyclists…”
I’m not sure how this will actually work, because my experience is that it’s generally impossible to move three feet away from someone on a bike, even when they are in a lane dedicated to bike riders. In the area where my wife and I live, in order to give a bike rider a three-foot clearance, it is necessary to move into oncoming traffic. I presume this rule will also apply when driving on the highways (freeways), which generally do not have a bike lane, in which case it may become necessary for a driver to pull out in front of fast-moving traffic coming up from behind.
I strikes me that this is just another example of “do good” legislation being passed by legislators who all too often seem to be disconnected from reality.
It’s also worth noting, I think, that America has more lawyers than the rest of the world combined, and our society is suffering the consequences.”
For example, we can be prosecuted for breaking laws we don’t even know exist. “Ignorance of the law is no excuse” has always been a traditional mantra, but it has been reported that Americans are now subject to over five million laws. How can anyone possibly know and obey them all? And, they keep piling up. Every legislative body, municipal, county, state and Federal, is constantly making new laws, and nothing ever seems to be taken off the books. CNN recently reported, “40,000 new laws take effect in 2014.”
So, if ignorance of the law is really no excuse, then we are all charged with specific knowledge of the millions of laws that regulate us. That’s impossible and is undoubtedly one of the reasons why many Americans have become increasingly cynical about the law and justice in this country.
And, if five million laws are not enough, there are also hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of rules that are superimposed on top of them – by OSHA, EPA, HUD, EEOC and a host of other
agencies, including everyone’s favorite villain, the Internal Revenue Service.
Legal precedent has also added to the burden of excessive control and regulation that are strangling our society. Hundreds of thousands of court cases are litigated to interpret the laws, which comprise entire libraries of additional rules we are expected to abide by in our daily lives. The sheer weight and complexity of all this breeds contempt for the law, evasion and deliberate
As Ronald Reagan said, “I have wondered at times about what the Ten Commandments would have looked like if Moses had run them through the U.S. Congress?”
© 2014 Harris R. Sherline, All Rights Reserved
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|Wednesday, October 8, 2014|
|“A Billion Here and A Billion There”|
During the Watergate hearings in the mid 1970s, Senator Everett Dirksen, said, “A billion here and a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money.”
His humor made headlines back then, but we seldom heard anyone talk about another aspect of his observation. That is, just how much money is a billion dollars?
Today, we hear the word constantly. Government budgets in the multi-billions are debated and approved all the time, and we seem to think nothing of it. Hardly a flicker from anyone.
As a matter of fact, it’s more often the opposite. What we usually see is “pork” being piled onto appropriations bills as if the economy were a bottomless pit for our politicians, who ignore the public good for private benefit. California is a prime example of unrestrained political excess gone astray, to the point of bankruptcy.
I can remember a time when the idea of a billion dollars was a source of wonder at the sheer scope of that amount of money. It no longer seems to elicit any response at all, except perhaps boredom.
But, a billion dollars does add up to “real money,” especially when you look closely at what it can buy.
With that in mind, consider the following illustrations of just how much money a billion dollars really is:
The U.S. median (half above, half below) annual salary is $68,947 for men and $53,123 for women, it would support over 11,000 families for one year. Or, in the nation’s capital, it would pay the salaries of the entire Congress plus those of the complete Congressional staff and their combined office expense budgets for one year, with money left over. Which is the better buy?
In many third-world countries, where the average annual income is about $1,000, it would provide for a million families for one year.
At $8,400 per student, it would pay the costs of schooling for almost 119,000 children (K-12) for one year; or for the entire college education of over 9,300 students (at, say, $26,700 per year each).
At a median salary, nationwide, of about $52,100 a year, it could pay for more than 19,000 secondary school teachers for one year.
Five million doctor visits at $200 per visit adds up to $1 billion. That’s a lot of patients. Or, at an average Rx expense of $200 a month, one billion dollars would pay the prescription costs for over 416,000 people for one year.
For apartment dwellers, at $2,000 a month rent, a billion dollars would provide shelter for over 41,000 families for one year.
For the investment minded, the earnings on one billion dollars, at 5% per annum, would be $50 million a year. Think you can retire on that?
Looking at it from the viewpoint of seniors who receive Social Security, with the average retiree receiving about $1,230 a month, one billion dollars would provide annual retirement payments to about 67,700 people. If a one billion dollar endowment fund were invested at 5%, the $50 million investment income it would earn would help support almost 3,400 seniors with the equivalent of their Social Security payments, without dipping into the principal.
Isn’t that how Social Security should work, instead of as some type of “Ponzi scheme,” which would be illegal if it were not the government doing it?
Are we getting our money’s worth from government? Or, is too much of it being wasted?
Like the man said, “A billion here and a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money.”
© 2013-2014 Harris R. Sherline, All Rights Reserved
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|Wednesday, October 8, 2014|
|The Tyranny of The Majority|
When I was in high school in the 1940s, we were taught to believe that majority rule was best, that the function of government was to help us, that our system
of justice was intended to be a “search for the truth.” These ideas were widely accepted as immutable truths. Today, almost 70 years later, to my eye, they
are no longer as true as we once thought. The cause may be directly attributable to our treasured democracy in action.
A brief examination of four major issues helps illustrate how the rule of a simple majority has been impacting our rights as American citizens: taxes, tobacco,
health care and property rights.
Taxes: Everyone should pay their “fair share,” especially the rich. But, who are the rich? How many people do you know who think they are rich?
According to IRS figures, 50% of all taxpayers pay only about 3% of the total Federal income tax burden, while the top 10% pay around 66% of the bill.
Almost half of all those who file Federal returns pay no tax at all, the top 25% contribute 86% of the total, and the top 1% pay about 39% of all income
taxes collected. Is that fair enough? Or, should the “rich” pay even more? Remember, the definition of rich probably includes you, no matter how you view
yourself, since taxpayers with Adjusted Gross Incomes around $55,000 are in the top 25% of taxpayers. So, is the “fair share” concept really fair?
Tobacco: The tyranny of the majority is also seen in matters involving the tobacco industry. Tobacco companies have been cast in the role of villains and
should be punished for selling a legal product but lying to the public about the effects of smoking on their health. The power of the government has been used
to levy a massive tax on the industry through litigation and settlement of court cases, in spite of the fact that cigarette packaging and advertising have carried
warning labels for 25 years. Whatever you may think about the tobacco companies, we should question the actions of Federal and state governments
extracting money from any industry by this means and using it to fund pet projects that could not gain the necessary public support to increase taxes to pay
for them. If they can do this to the tobacco industry and get away with it, who will be next?
Health Care: Government intervention in health care has become a major focus. It is no longer possible to escape the consequences of Big Brother’s
involvement in health care. Driven by the votes of a growing elderly population, the “tyranny of the majority” continues to expand government intervention
in our lives with cries for government funding of health care for all Americans.
Property Rights: Here too, the “tyranny of the majority” is at work. Do you actually own your real property? Your home? The apartment complex or
commercial building you bought as an investment? Your ranch or farm? If you think you do, consider just some of the following limitations on your ownership:
The government can take your property if they want it for some public purpose (eminent domain).
Even if your property is paid for, you still have to pay a form of rent - forever (in the guise of property taxes and assessments) - to keep it. If you fail to pay,
the state will eventually take it from you and sell it at public auction.
Limitations on the use of your land can be forced on you for such purposes as riding trails, access to the beach, power lines, view corridors, roads and highways, maintenance of public areas, zoning laws tell you what you can build - how to build it and what it must look like, how much you can charge tenants (rent control),
and a host of other restrictions too numerous to include here.
The answer to the question, “Who owns your property?” is – you don’t! Not really. You may have title, but your control is limited.
It’s important to note that a majority is only “one” over half. One vote more than 50% is enough to win an election. One is enough to rule. And, that “one”
often delivers the power to dictate to the other half. One-half plus one can truly be a tyrannical majority in every key aspect of life in America: taxation, gun
control, abortion, education and school choice, defense, Social Security, health care, property rights and land use, you name it.
Perhaps a “super majority,” say 60% or 65%, should be required to pass certain types of legislation, such as tax increases, bond issues, and major programs, etc.
© 2009-2014 Harris R. Sherline, All Rights Reserved
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|Wednesday, September 24, 2014|
|George Orwell’s Predictions Come True|
George Orwell wrote two books almost 70 years ago in which he predicted the future of society with remarkable prescience: “Animal Farm” and “1984”.
Many of his observations can easily be applied to the political situation in America today. Consider the following quotes from “Animal Farm,” which was
written in 1945:
"If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear."
"To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle."
NOTE: This has become increasingly difficult in America today because of the failure of our media to meet its responsibility of “speaking truth to power”
rather than submitting to it.
"Speaking the Truth in times of universal deceit is a revolutionary act."
NOTE the growing trend in today’s America to label people as un-American when they disagree over policy.
"The great enemy of clear language is insincerity."
NOTE: We need only to listen to the representations of our politicians today to recognize the truth of this observation.
"Every generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it." (Including the current
generation of Americans).
"All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others." When the animals take over the farm, they think it is the start of a better life. Their
dream is of a world where all animals are equal and all property is shared. But soon the pigs take control and one of them, Napoleon, becomes the leader
of all the animals. One by one the principles of the revolution are abandoned, until the animals have even less freedom than before.
NOTE how this applies to the situation in America today.
"The quickest way of ending a war is to lose it."
NOTE: Iraq and Afghanistan are current examples of this observation.
"Political language. . . is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind."
NOTE how this applies to the political class in America today, who increasingly talk with the appearance of authority yet say nothing of any significance
"Sometimes the first duty of intelligent men is the restatement of the obvious.”
"Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish
the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power." NOTE the naked pursuit of
power by politicians at all levels in America today.
"War is a way of shattering to pieces, or pouring into the stratosphere, or sinking in the depths of the sea, materials which might otherwise be used to make
the masses too comfortable, and hence, in the long run, too intelligent." Consider the waste of resources that is taking place in America today.
Following are some of the many cogent observations that George Orwell made in his second book, “1984”:
"Big Brother is watching you."
NOTE the massive intrusion of government in our lives today. This is perhaps best exemplified by the federal income tax code (now estimated to require
over 72,000 pages to document) and the power of the IRS to define and enforce tax regulations and collect taxes.
"The best books . . . are those that tell you what you know already."
"Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious."
"But the proles (the people), if only they could somehow become conscious of their own strength, would have no need to conspire. They needed only to
rise up and shake themselves like a horse shaking off flies. If they chose they could blow the Party to pieces tomorrow morning. Surely sooner or later it
must occur to them to do it? And yet -----!" NOTE the fierce, largely spontaneous resistance that has recently developed to the massive deficit spending
and expansion of government in the lives of Americans.
"If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face -- forever." NOTE: As the size and reach of government continues to grow
beyond all expectations, the power of the United States’ government has become increasingly oppressive. As Lord Acton (1834-1902) famously said,
“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
George Orwell’s observations about the future of society were made 67 years ago, and they are proving to be remarkably accurate in today’s America.
It’s more than a little scary to contemplate. My fear is that if the American people do not take their government back from their politicians, our nation’s
future will look increasingly like Orwell’s “1984.”
© 2012-2014 Harris R. Sherline, All Rights Reserved
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|Monday, September 8, 2014|
|9/11: A Perspective, Thirteen Years Later|
Contemplating the thirteenth anniversary of the 9/11 Islamofascist attack on America, I continue to wonder why our nation is so divided about the War on Terror?
I was in high school during WWII, and I don’t remember any major disagreements between Americans about the war, whether we should be fighting it at all, or if we brought the Pearl Harbor attack on ourselves, or whether we should take the fight to the Japanese. It was abundantly clear that to allow them to hit us again on our own turf was unthinkable.
FDR famously memorialized December 7, 1941 as “a date which will live in infamy”. There was no hesitation about what our response should be, nor do I remember any equivocation during the conduct of the war, which did not end until after we dropped A-bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Everyone understood that we were in a fight for our very existence. A fight we did not start and for which we were not prepared, but surely one we had to finish, or we would have ceased to exist as a nation. It was a simple proposition: They win, we lose, live or die. That’s the nature of wars. You can’t fight wars in a half-hearted or politically correct way. For all the talk about the Geneva Convention, they are not regulated by some sort of Marquis of Queensbury rules, and everyone understood that.
So, what’s different now, some 73 years later?
For starters, our politics: We continue to be divided over whether the War on Terror is a real war or some sort of regional conflict or if, in fact, it’s a war at all, as opposed to criminal activity that more properly falls within the purview of the justice system.
A clear understanding of who the enemy is: In past wars, everyone knew who the enemy was. That was still true during the “Cold War” with the Soviet Union and communism in general. But today, not everyone seems to fully appreciate or agree that we are fighting an enemy that transcends national boundaries and whose motivation is based on their religious beliefs, that their ultimate goal is to convert or subjugate entire world to their religion or kill all those who refuse. Islamic Fundamentalists are waging war on a wide variety of fronts, Boko Haram, ISIS, Al-Qaeda, The Taliban, Islamic Jihad, is a partial list.
Letting the military run the war: During WWII, we let our military make the essential decisions about how the war should be fought. MacArthur was given a free hand to wage the fight in the Pacific. And, it was pretty much the same for Eisenhower in Europe. We lost Vietnam because our political leaders interfered with the conduct of the war, with disastrous consequences.
Acceptance of the nature of war: Recognizing that war is brutal, that no quarter is given and that it cannot be conducted in a politically correct way. During WWII, Americans did not question the necessity of fighting with no holds barred. The objective in past wars has always been to bring the enemy to their knees, striking against centers of production and destroying their ability to produce weapons. That invariably caused civilian casualties. As terrible as that may have been, it was generally accepted as necessary. London and many Russian cities were almost totally destroyed by the Germans, and many German cities were almost bombed out of existence by the allies. Loss of life on both sides, both military and civilian, was massive, totaling in the millions.
Agreement on the meaning of the term, “giving aid and comfort to the enemy:” Supporting our enemies during times of war has always been considered treasonous. We went astray during the Vietnam War, as exemplified by the Chicago Seven and the likes of Jane Fonda. But, during WWII there was no doubt what the term meant. Today, there don’t seem to be any limitations on the behavior of American citizens or media, including releasing classified information to the public.
Wars are messy: For all the strategic and tactical planning that goes on during wars, the fact is that both sides are constantly maneuvering to gain the advantage, and their moves are always changing. Dwight Eisenhower, the Commander of Allied Forces in Europe said, “In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”
Recognizing that wars often last for many years: Many Americans are showing signs of fatigue in the process of what promises to be a fight that could last for a generation. The Brits didn’t pull their troops out of Northern Ireland for almost 40 years of fighting with Irish terrorists. Many Americans appear to have the mistaken impression that wars are waged in the time span of a T.V. show or a movie, while the reality is that they may last for decades.
America has not been placed on a “war-time” footing: In general, we don’t seem to be deprived of anything because we are at war. For many Americans, there has been little or no direct consequence affecting their personal lifestyles, careers, education or other aspect of their lives: no significant shortages, no rationing, no military draft. Indirectly, of course, everyone has been affected by massive government spending to finance the effort. And, although our individual freedoms have been curtailed somewhat by the Patriot Act, it doesn’t appear to be unreasonably limiting them. There are those, of course, such as the ACLU, who argue otherwise, but I don’t believe it’s possible for us to protect ourselves adequately without also limiting our rights to some degree. Unlimited freedoms are simply not possible in wartime.
As we approached the sixth Anniversary of 9/11, Cal Thomas wrote in Townhall.com, “‘Why didn’t we see 9/11 coming’ was a question frequently asked in the aftermath of that terrorist attack. And the answer should be, because we forgot the attacks preceding that one, or brushed them off as inconsequential aberrations so we could get back to watching the stock market go up and obsess about Bill Clinton’s pants coming down. By not remembering those earlier attacks, the reasons behind them and the intentions of the terrorists and those who trained and incited them, we put ourselves in further jeopardy…Not to remember 9/11, is to forget what brought it about. That can lead to a lowering of our guard and a false sense of security…”.
That’s what concerns me most as I contemplate another anniversary of 9/11, that the attack has not become a battle cry, like “Remember the Alamo,” exhorting Americans to never forget that we are at war, that we must not only remain vigilant but that we must respond directly to the threat of Islamofacists everywhere, at home and abroad, or we risk becoming just another footnote to history.
© 2013-2014 Harris R. Sherline, All Rights Reserved
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|Thursday, August 28, 2014|
|John Kerry, Patriot or Fraud?|
“On February 1, 2013, John Kerry was sworn in as the 68th Secretary of State of the United States. The Secretary of State, appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate, is the President’s chief foreign affairs advisor.
The Secretary carries out the President’s foreign policies through the State Department, which includes the Foreign Service, Civil Service, and U.S. Agency for International Development.” (Source: The U.S. Department of State website.)
On the surface, Senator Kerry appears to be highly qualified for this important post, but appearances can be deceptive, and there is at least one consideration that I believe should have given the President reason to re-think his appointment.
So, you may ask, what’s the problem?
Think about this: in the past John Kerry has told blatant lies under oath.
So what, you may ask. What politician hasn’t done that?
However, consider the following commentary by a U.S. Marine:
A MARINE IN IRAQ RESPONDS TO SEN. KERRY
John Kerry said, "You know education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well, and if you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."
As a candidate for lieutenant governor in 1982, John Kerry assured the voters of Massachusetts that he wasn't seeking the position as a mere "stepping-stone" to higher office. But just one year into his four-year term, he announced his candidacy for
the US Senate seat that Paul Tsongas was vacating because of illness.
Few people held Kerry's broken commitment against him. In part that was because nobody had believed it in the first place (all candidates for lieutenant governor seek the position as a stepping-stone). But it was also because everyone knew what Kerry
knew: If he passed up the chance to run for the position Tsongas was relinquishing, it might be years before it opened up again. So Kerry jumped into the Senate race and won. Sure enough, the seat has been occupied ever since.
For nearly 28 years Kerry had been a senator, and in all that time no Massachusetts Democrat has ever seriously challenged him in a primary. (He faced token opposition from a little-known Gloucester lawyer in 2008). Yet once speculation began that
President Obama might name Kerry to a Cabinet post, three Democratic congressmen — Edward Markey, Michael Capuano, and Stephen Lynch — quickly let it be known that they were interested in taking his place, raising the likelihood of a knock-down
A Senate bid by any of them would undoubtedly trigger in turn a lively primary fight for the House seat (or seats) being vacated. Otherwise, none is likely to face more than weak opposition for his party's re-nomination — especially not from incumbents lower
down on the food chain, hoping someday to move up. The last time a member of the Massachusetts congressional delegation lost a primary battle was 20 years ago, when Marty Meehan of Lowell ousted Concord's Chet Atkins. Before that it hadn't happened
Ours isn't the only part of the country where incumbency-worship runs deep. West Virginia sent Robert Byrd to the US Senate for 51 years, and Daniel Inouye represented Hawaii in Congress since it became a state in 1959. Charleston, S.C., has had the same
mayor since 1975. No matter how unpopular Congress is said to be, more than 90 percent of House members seeking re-election generally keep their seats; in that respect Nov. 6, 2013 was typical.
Yet American politicians didn't always assume that incumbency was meant to be for life. Most of Kerry's Senate predecessors served one or two terms and moved on; the endless reigns of senators like Ted Kennedy (46 years) and Henry Cabot Lodge (31 years)
were historical anomalies. Yes, there is always the possibility of electing someone so exceptional that his talents and experience make him irreplaceable. But the odds are overwhelmingly against it. Far better for officials to come and go, serving a spell in government,
then heading back to real life.
"Representatives ought to return home and mix with the people," Connecticut's Roger Sherman argued during the Constitutional Convention in 1787. "By remaining at the seat of government, they would acquire the habits of the place, which might differ from those
of their constituents."
George Washington could have been president for life, but he voluntarily stepped down after two terms. He could be trusted with power precisely because he could let it go. Most of today’s politicians can't bear the thought of giving up the authority with which we
trust them. And we, to our discredit, are rarely willing to take it away.
In popular wisdom, one-time presidential runner-up Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) was nominated by President Barack Obama for Secretary of Secretary of State. But a group that was credited with helping to thwart his presidential bid considered re-organizing to
take him down once again.
The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a group formed of military veterans who served alongside Kerry, worked to bring attention to the senator’s anti-war activities following his military service and to raise doubts about the truth of Kerry’s own accounts of his
conduct during the war and his overall portrayal of events in Vietnam.
Dozens of vets who, like Kerry, served aboard swift boats in Vietnam, prodded the then-presidential candidate to release his complete military records. And they castigated him for giving testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971
about American war crimes in Vietnam – “glorification of body counts,” destruction of villages, and numerous atrocities – all of which, the veterans said, were exaggerated or falsified.
While the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth officially disbanded as a political organization in 2008, former members say they were furious at the prospect of Kerry as Defense Secretary.
The organization’s co-founder and spokesman John O’Neill, a swift boat veteran who authored the bestselling Kerry expose “Unfit for Command,” hedged at questions on the subject from Sean Hannity of Fox News.
“To make (Kerry) secretary of Defense or secretary of State would be a disaster to our national security,” O’Neill said on the Nov. 15 show. “It really would be a total forfeiture of the loyalty that we owe the troops in the field.”
When Hannity asked if the Swift Boat Veterans would reunite, O’Neill said, “we will do the very best that we can.”
Weymouth Symmes, former national treasurer for the group and biographer of its founder, Rear Adm. Roy Hoffmann, told Human Events that any political activity was still in the planning stages.
“There’s nothing formal,” he said. “There’s been a lot of discussions. But nothing official, nothing as a group.”
It’s not clear what a Kerry swift boating sequel would even look like. With the advent of new media, advocacy is more complex and varied than it was in 2004. Moreover, the veterans’ task this time would not be so much to inform the American electorate as
to strategically lobby the senators voting to confirm Kerry. That was an uphill task to begin with: most conservative senators were more concerned with preventing U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice from ascending to the top spot in the State Department than with
a Kerry nomination, and codes of collegiality generally dictate that senators confirm the nomination of one of their own.
Nevertheless, at least one veteran connected to the Swift Boat efforts is advocating the use of tactics employed in the recent election, from TV ads to SuperPACs.
“I can tell you I am personally appalled at the thought of John Kerry as secretary of defense,” Symmes said. “I suspect that will be the position of the vast majority of the Swifties and POWs who were involved with (Swift Boat Veterans for the Truth) in 2004
© 2014 Harris R. Sherline, All Rights Reserved
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|Thursday, August 28, 2014|
|This War Is For Real!|
America is now facing the most serious threat to its existence since WWII.
The seriousness is compounded by the fact that there are very few Americans who think we can possibly lose the War on Terror and even fewer who realize what losing really means.
First, let's examine a few basics:
1. When did the threat start?
Many will say September 11th, 2001, but as far as the United States is concerned, the answer is 1979, 22 years prior to September 2001, with the following attacks on us:
• Iran Embassy Hostages, 1979
• Beirut, Lebanon Embassy 1983
• Beirut, Lebanon Marine Barracks 1983
• Lockerbie, Scotland Pan-Am flight to New York 1988
• First New York World Trade Center attack 1993
• Dhahran, Saudi Arabia Khobar Towers Military complex 1996
• Nairobi, Kenya US Embassy 1998
• Dares Salaam, Tanzania US Embassy 1998
• Aden, Yemen USS Cole 2000
• New York World Trade Center 2001
• Pentagon 2001.
(Note: During the period from 1981 to 2001 there were 7,581 terrorist attacks worldwide).
2. The attacks happened during the administrations of Presidents Carter, Reagan, Bush 41, Clinton, Bush 43, and now Obama.
We cannot fault either the Republicans or Democrats as there were no provocations by any of our presidents or their immediate predecessors.
In each case, the attacks on the US were carried out by Muslims, who are 25% of the world’s population.
3. Hopefully, the Muslim Religion is peaceful, but that is really not material. There is no doubt that the predominately Christian population of Germany was peaceful, but under the
dictatorial leadership of Hitler (who was also Christian), that made no difference. You either went along with his administration or you were eliminated. There were 5 to 6 million
Christians killed by the Nazis for political reasons (including 7,000 Polish priests).
Almost as many Christians were killed by the Nazis as the six million Jews who were killed in the Holocaust, but we seldom heard of anything other than the Jewish atrocities.
Although Hitler kept the world focused on the Jews, he had no hesitancy about killing anyone who got in the way of his exterminating the Jews or of taking over the world, German,
Christian or any others.
It is the same with the Muslim terrorists. They focus the world on the U.S., but kill everyone who is in the way - their own people, or the Spanish, French or anyone else.
The point is that, just like the peaceful Germans were unable to protect anyone from the Nazis, no matter how many peaceful Muslims there may be, they are no protection from the
terrorist Muslim leaders and what they are fanatically bent on doing - by their own pronouncements - killing all "infidels."
I don't blame the peaceful Muslims. What would you do if the choice was shut up or die?
4. So who are we at war with?
There is no honest response that it is anyone other than Muslim terrorists. Trying to be politically correct and not acknowledging this conclusion can be fatal.
There is no way to win if we don't clearly recognize and say who you are fighting.
Given that background, there are two important questions:
1. Can we lose this war?
2. What does losing really mean?
We can definitely lose this war, and the major reason is that far too many Americans simply do not fathom the answer to the second question, “What does losing mean?”
For one thing, it means we would no longer be the premier country in the world. But, regardless, the attacks will continue.
Remember, the terrorists want us dead, not just quiet. If they just wanted us quiet, they would not have increased the number of attacks against us over the years.
I believe their plan has clearly been to attack us until we become completely submissive to them.
As a result, we would no longer receive support from other nations: for fear of reprisals and because they would see that we are impotent and cannot protect them.
In addition, they will pick off the other non-Muslim nations, one at a time, which will become increasingly easy for them.
If we lose the war, our production, income, exports and way of life will all vanish. Who would trade or deal with us, if by doing so they were threatened by the Muslims,
and if we can't stop the Muslims, how can anyone else?
The Muslims have no doubts about what is riding on this war, and therefore are completely committed to winning it.
We had better know it, too, and become committed to winning at any cost as well.
However, until we recognize the costs of losing, we cannot unite and really put 100% of our efforts into winning.
If we do not, we will defeat ourselves by refusing to recognize the enemy and their purpose, but if we are united, there is no way we can lose.
However, if we continue to be divided, there is no way we can win!
Here are a few examples of why many Americans simply don't comprehend the life and death seriousness of this situation.
Although all of the terrorist attacks were committed by Muslim men between 17 and 40 years of age, the Obama administration refuses to allow “profiling.”
Does that sound like we are taking this situation seriously?
I blame those Americans who blithely assume we must always be “Politically Correct,” even during times of conflict.
This does not mean that some of our politicians or media people are disloyal. It simply means that many of them are oblivious to the magnitude of the situation we are in
and the direction the Muslim terrorists have been pushing us, particularly in recent years.
Remember, the Muslim terrorists stated goal is to kill all infidels, not just in the United States, but everywhere.
America is the last bastion of defense.
We have been criticized as being 'arrogant,' a that charge is valid in at least one respect, in that we believe we are so good and powerful and smart that we can win the
hearts and minds of those who attack us, and that we can defeat any opponent, even with both hands tied behind our back.
Unfortunately, if we don't recognize this, our nation as we know it will not survive, and no other free country in the world will survive if we are defeated.
Finally, name any Muslim country throughout the world that allows freedom of speech, freedom of thought, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, equal rights for anyone
(let alone everyone), equal status for women, or that have been productive in any single way that contributes to the good of the world.
This has been a long way of saying that we must be united in this war or we will be relegated in the history books, similar to the self-inflicted fall of the Roman Empire.
That is, if Muslim leaders will allow history books to be written or read.
Democracies don't have their freedoms taken away from them by some external military force. Instead, they give them away, politically correct piece by politically correct piece.
Unfortunately, they are giving those freedoms away to those who have shown that they abhor freedom and will not allow them to continue once they are in power.
Yet, we continue to hear about the "peaceful Muslims."
It’s always easy to find fault with our country, but I believe it is painfully obvious that we must UNITE!
© 2013-14 Harris R. Sherline, All Rights Reserved
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|Friday, July 18, 2014|
|A World Without Israel|
A World Without Israel
President Obama’s ill-considered statement that the state of Israel should return to its 1967 borders reveals his abysmal lack of knowledge about this tiny nation, which has perhaps had a
greater impact on the world in general than almost any other society, particularly those of the Arab states.
The stated goal of Hamas is to wipe Israel off the map and drive all the Jews into the sea. But, what would happen if Israel were destroyed and all the Jews killed?
An article by Rabbi Ephraim Shore, Israel: “Defying the Odds, Amazing facts about Israel,” provides some important information about this issue.
Israel is the 100th smallest country, and has about 1/1000th of the world's population. It is only 62 years old, 7 million people strong (less than Virginia), and smaller in size than New Jersey,
surrounded by enemies, under constant threat and possessing almost no natural resources, and yet…
Relative to its population, Israel is the largest immigrant-absorbing nation on earth. It has absorbed 350% of its population in 60 years.
Israel is the only country in history to have revived an unspoken language.
Since the founding of the state, Israel has won more Nobel Prices per capita than any other country other than Switzerland. It has more laureates in real numbers than China, Mexico and Spain.
Counting from the founding of the State of Israel in 1948, three countries (East Timor, Iceland and St. Lucia) have won one or two Prizes each but because their populations are between 170,000
to 1 million they technically have more awards per capita. Israel has received 9.
Israel has the 8th longest life expectancy (80.7 years), longer than the UK, US, and Germany.
Israeli films were nominated three years in a row for the Academy Award's Best Foreign Film.
Israel is the only country that entered the 21st century with a net gain in its number of trees, even more remarkable -- in an area that's mainly desert. The United Nations Forum on Forests,
20 April 2009, noted that during the past 50 years, Israel planted over 260 million trees, covering over 1000 square kilometers. And, the Sustainable World Capital Report, November, 2009,
noted that Israel is desalinating 75% of its waste water, operating the world’s largest desalinization plant.
Over 90% of Israeli homes use solar energy for hot water, the highest percentage in the world.
Israel will be the first country to host a national electric car network.
Israel is ranked in the top five Cleantech countries of the world.
Israeli companies are producing the largest solar energy production facility in the world.
Science & Technology
Israel leads the world in the number of scientists and technicians in the workforce, 63% more than the U.S. It also has the most physicians and engineers per capita.
Israel's scientific research institutions are ranked 3rd in the world.
Israel is ranked 2nd in space sciences.
Israel produces the 3rd most scientific papers per capita, and the most in stem cell science.
More Israeli patents are registered in the United States than from Russia, India and China combined (combined population 2.5 billion). It leads the world in patents for medical equipment.
Israeli companies invented the drip irrigation system, discovered the world’s most used drug for multiple sclerosis, designed the Pentium NMX Chip technology and the Pentium 4 and
Centrium microprocessors, created Instant Messenger (ICQ), and Israeli cows produce more milk per cow than any other in the world!
Israel has the 3rd highest rate of entrepreneurship among women in the world. Kansas City-based Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) and Tel Aviv University’s Faculty of Management
observed that for every 100 Israeli men who start new businesses, 64 Israeli women also begin a new economic enterprise. This compares to 60 in the U.S. and 51 in Canada. October, 2000.
Israel has attracted the most venture capital investment per capita in the world, 30 times more than Europe.
Israel has more NASDAQ-listed companies than any country besides the US -- more than all of Europe, India, China and Japan combined.
In proportion to its population, Israel has the largest number of startup companies in the world. In absolute numbers, Israel has more startups than any country other than the U.S.
Defying the Odds
Israel is the only country whose indigenous population returned to its native land after 2,000 years of forced exile.
Perhaps those who so ardently want to see Israel destroyed should be careful what they wish for.
© 2014 Harris R. Sherline, All Rights Reserved
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|Friday, July 18, 2014|
|It’s All About Me|
We’ve become accustomed to the ego-centric style of our President, but a December 22nd (2012) article by Daniel Halper, “Obama Uses Funeral Service to Talk About Himself,”
clearly illustrates the extent to which he considers himself to be the center of the Universe.
Halper reported that “Obama used the funeral for Hawaii Senator Daniel Inouye to talk about himself. In the short 1,600 word speech, Obama used the word ‘my’ 21 times, ‘me’
12 times, and ‘I’ 30 times.”
I realize that he won two elections and that he will continue to occupy the White House for another two years; but frankly, he has reached the point where his speeches are so predictable,
especially his penchant for lecturing everyone else, that I no longer listen to him.
Obama campaigned on bringing people together, something he has never done in his professional life. Instead he has divided us along philosophical lines, separated us, and then tried to
realign America’s leadership into a new and different power structure.
In a December 26, 2012 article titled, “Obama Golfs for the 90th Time as President,” Keith Koffler noted, “After an hour of hiking, President Obama Monday got down to the serious
business at hand, heading out to golf for the second day in his first three days of vacation.
He was back on the course at Marine Corps Base Hawaii.”
With this game, Obama reached a new milestone, having gone golfing 90 times in less than three years as president. That’s about three months of golf, given that the excursions generally
take about five hours, much of the useful portion of the day.
“What’s more, it’s the 32nd time he’s been on the links this year (2012), a record for the president. His 32 outings eclipse the 2010 mark of 30 and is far ahead of his 2009 tally of 28
rounds as president…”
As of January 3, 2014, Obama had played 160 rounds of golf since taking office.
“Aside from a man who appears to be on perpetual vacation, what else has Obama accomplished?”
In a December 2011 commentary, the Boston Herald observed about Obama’s interview on T.V.’s 60 Minutes: “It is amazing what ends on the floor of the cutting room. When 60 Minutes
interviewed President Obama, they edited him out saying that he is the 4th best President.”
“He seems to think that he has accomplished so much that he ranks himself ahead of all the U.S. Presidents except Johnson, FDR and Lincoln.” That means he believes that he is a better
leader than George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, Harry Truman and Ronald Reagan? Who knew he was so great?
“President Obama is correct that his administration will be noted in the history books, but it won’t be for being one of the greatest. It will be for being an even worse President than Carter
and that’s not an easy accomplishment.”
“This is more than just a difference of opinion. It’s an example of the extreme narcissism of the man who is currently leading our nation and, unfortunately, may well be recorded as the most
divisive leader in our history. America has had 42 presidents since its founding, many of whom had to deal with significant challenges, but my sense is that historians in general will probably
consider him to be one of the most ineffective leaders in the nation’s history.”
“Rather than bringing people together, he has deliberately attempted to divide them in a series of attacks on those he perceives to be his political opponents during his speaking tours around
If that’s Obama’s measure of greatness, then he may indeed be the fourth greatest president, but my sense is that most Americans will come to see it differently.
“Divide and conquer may be the best strategy in war, but it is certainly the wrong way to unify the nation and gain the support he needs for his policies and programs.”
President Obama’s approval ratings may be stuck in a sand trap, but that has not deterred him from sticking to his weekly round of golf.
After teeing off Saturday at the private course in Florida where the movie “Caddyshack” was filmed, Mr. Obama hit the milestone number of 150 golf rounds in less than five years in the
The Secret Service loaded Mr. Obama’s golf bag emblazoned with the presidential seal into the motorcade Saturday morning to head to the private Grande Oaks Golf Club in Davie. Sporting
a blue polo shirt, tan slacks and a cap, Mr. Obama spent five hours on the private course with former NBA star Alonzo Mourning, friend Cyrus Walker and former U.S. Trade Representative
Mr. Obama wasn’t much of a golfer before he ran for president. His regularity on the greens started April 26, 2009. He played 27 times that first year in office, including seven rounds during
his vacations on Martha’s Vineyard and Hawaii.
In his second year as president, Mr. Obama played a little more, 31 rounds. He included a woman for only the second time when Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius
joined on Oct. 10, 2010.
Perhaps time on the links gave them time to discuss all the people they knew who would lose their insurance when Obamacare was implemented. Mrs. Sebelius also joined the president on
the golf course on May 18.
After 58 rounds in 19 months, Mr. Obama’s golf game improved. At the private Mid Pacific Country Club in Kailua, Hawaii, on Dec. 28, 2010, the club’s golf pro, Mark Sousa, remarked
to reporters that the president’s “swing looks a lot better this year.”
The president played even more in his third year in office — 34 rounds. Throughout his presidency, he has most frequently used courses at nearby Andrews Air Force Base and Fort Belvoir.
White House trip director Marvin Nicholson, who has an eight handicap according to Golf Digest, plays with the president almost every week. The only times Mr. Nicholson is not on the
course with the commander in chief is during the Christmas vacations in Hawaii.
Vice President Joseph R. Biden, who had a handicap of 6.3 in 2011, according to Golf Digest, has been invited to tag along with his boss just six times in five years. (The golf magazine
estimated Mr. Obama’s handicap at 17 two years ago. )
Other politicians who have played with Mr. Obama during his presidency include House Speaker John A. Boehner, former President Bill Clinton (twice), New York City Mayor Michael R.
Bloomberg and Virginia Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe.
Mr. Obama put aside his weekly golf outings several times while running for re-election in 2012. His annual total fell to 19 rounds, seven of which were in the two months after he won a
Never having to run for office again has given Mr. Obama a free pass to spend every weekend on the golf course. In 2013 he had already passed his 2011 record with a total of 39 rounds
of golf. This includes his whopping 27 holes played in one day at Andrews Air Force Base on Sept. 14.
© 2014 Harris R. Sherline, All Rights Reserved
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