Saturday, March 26, 2011

Notes on Libya

To put it mildly, the Libyan situation is complex and more than a little perplexing to your humble blogger. Honestly, I'm not sure where I stand on our intervention in the region, but I do have some thoughts on some of the "smaller" issues surrounding it.

The Big Question: There's a question I haven't seen anyone but me ask since the start of hostilities in Libya: Do the Libyans want us involved? This is a vital question because a wrong answer can feed into the very perception of America we have been trying to overcome in the Middle East. The last time we got involved in a purely internal struggle was in Kosovo, and neither the Serbians nor the Albanians wanted our help. Yet, we "helped" the Albanians (and, surprise surprise, al Qaeda) to do...exactly what the Serbians were doing to them. Until we know for certain whether either side of the Libyan conflict really wants America's help, we could be making the same mistake we did in Kosovo.

Impeachment for Obama?: Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich recently raised some eyebrows when he said Obama should be impeached for launching missile attacks into Libya. He has since walked back his comments, saying impeachment would be a "non-starter." Personally, I don't think President Obama should be impeached for the missile attacks, as they were done under the auspices of the War Powers Act of 1973. The War Powers Act gives the President the ability to send troops into combat provided he gives Congress at least 48 hours notice. Since there were no troops actually engaged in the missile strikes, the President was acting in accordance with his duties as Commander In Chief, in my opinion. Thus, impeachment under Kucinich's notion would definitely be a non-starter.

However...: After Obama said there would be no ground troops involved in the Libyan conflict, it turns out there will be Marines going to Libya as ground troops. If Obama failed to give Congress notice, then a case for impeachment could be made under the War Powers Act. However, we would most likely see a similar situation to when Bill Clinton was impeached and nothing would be done. I hope no Republicans undertake an impeachment effort in this case because it wouldn't help.

A Follower, Not a Leader: I've long said Obama was more of a follower instead of a leader. The Libyan situation bears that out perfectly. Whether it was waiting for the United Nations to sign off on military action, allowing other NATO countries to spearhead the attacks while we provide the bulk of the military hardware, or his unwillingness to speak to the American people about our involvement in Libya, we are seeing a man whose actions speak louder than his words. And those actions (or lack thereof) do not speak well of his leadership.

The President's Speech: Many people on both sides of the aisle are urging President Obama to address the nation as to why we're involved in Libya. Democrat strategists, on the other hand, are saying the President doesn't need to make a speech because then the Libyan conflict would be his instead of the UN's. Granted, from a political standpoint, such a speech would be a clear indication of Obama's "ownership" of the conflict, but there is a greater dynamic at work here. Most Americans, myself included, really don't have a sense as to why we're there in the first place. If only to address those questions, the President owes it to the American people to give his rationale. And it sounds like he will on Monday.

What's In a Name?: Does anyone outside of the Administration and the press know what the name of the Libyan operation is? I had to do some digging because the name really isn't all that memorable or fear-inducing. It's Operation Odyssey Dawn. And we're not at war; we're in a "kinetic military action." Is it just me, or do neither one of these make any sense whatsoever?

I'm sure I'll have more thoughts on the Libyan war...I mean the Libyan kinetic military action...soon.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Political Suicide

The Left has accused Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker of many things, most of them untrue. Yet, no one but the Left could have cooked up this one.

It starts with the apparent suicide of Jeri-Lynn Betts, an early childhood teacher from the Watertown school district. She had a history of depression and was greatly distressed by the current budget situation, especially concerning what it would do to the teaching jobs in Wisconsin. After her death, people guessed it, Scott Walker was to blame.

Seriously? That's your next big attack on Walker?

Depression and suicide are serious matters, folks. For anyone to even suggest Walker had anything to do with Betts' suicide is stretching the credibility of the anti-Walker crowd. Whatever good points you guys have made are going to be undercut by the people who think Walker had anything to do with the suicide. Unless you denounce these folks, like the TEA Party denounces racism in their ranks, you're going to be tainted by their statements.

And to anyone who really thinks Walker's actions had anything to do with Betts' suicide, you need to really think carefully about this. Put aside your partisanship and give an honest assessment of the situation. If you think about it and still believe Walker is responsible, so be it, but understand that kind of thinking is no different than Republicans and conservatives who blame everything bad in their lives on Barack Obama. Some things transcend politics. This is one of them. To try to make any kind of political hay out of it is beyond contemptible.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Leftist Double Standard? Naaaaaaaaaaah!

The latest sting video by James O'Keefe exposing NPR has the media world buzzing, and not necessarily in a good way. As one might expect, Leftists are complaining about O'Keefe's video, alleging there were edits made to take certain comments out of context and make them sound worse than they actually were. These are all legitimate beefs as far as I'm concerned, especially if they're based on fact and not bluster.

But, I do have to take issue with the Left on this because they're holding someone who does what they accuse O'Keefe of doing to a different standard, solely because of his political ideology. This individual has manufactured scenes, done clever edits to make things appear to have happened in a certain order that didn't, and generally attempted to push a particular point of view, regardless of the truth.

That individual is Michael Moore.

In "Roger and Me," Moore gives the impression that he was at a GM stockholders meeting with Roger Smith and his microphone was cut off at Smith's insistence. Transcripts of the meeting show Moore wasn't in attendance, thus his microphone wasn't cut off when he asked a question. It was all fabricated for the movie.

In "Bowling for Columbine," Moore does slick editing to film a meeting with Charlton Heston about guns and gun control to take different scenes out of order and put them in a way that made Heston look less than stellar. He was also guilty of fabricating a scene in the movie where he appears to get a rifle at a bank the same day he requests one, except he had to make special arrangements for that to happen.

In "Fahrenheit 911," Moore plays fast and loose with the timeline of 9/11 and with statements and actions President George W. Bush made.

In "Sicko," Moore tells story after story about people allegedly denied health care because of insurance companies, only to find a number of those people weren't insured at the time of their care.

In "Capitalism: A Love Story," he blames Ronald Reagan for the state of the economy today, all the while ignoring or downplaying the efforts of Democrats in the 1990s that lead to the current economic problems.

And this guy is speaking "truth to power" while O'Keefe is just a "conservative liar"?

I have misgivings about O'Keefe's style and alleged misdeeds, and if he's proven to be a conservative version of Michael Moore, I'll gladly criticize him in the same vein I criticize Moore.

Will you Leftists do the same to Moore?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

That Depends on What Your Definition of "Broke" Is

There's a new Leftist narrative starting to make its way into the public consciousness. It seems the Left doesn't believe we're running out of money, but rather that the money isn't getting spent on the right things. Van Jones has said it. Michael Moore has said it. And now New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has said it.

The problem is we actually are broke as a country. Just because companies make profits, people are rich, and we can still borrow money, it doesn't mean the economy is rosy. If anything, those situations and the simplistic notions Leftists draw from them mask the real problem. We are still spending more than we take in and hoping we can shift money around so we can cover all the bills in the short term, just like some people do today. It may keep the creditors off our backs for a little while, but eventually something happens that causes the house of cards to fall in on itself.

Right now, there are a lot of things that could cause our national economy to fall apart. Unrest in the Middle East, oil and gas prices on the rise, the number of people on the public dole, unemployment, unnecessary federal spending, all of these and other factors stack up to a monumental fiscal mess.

And what does Krugman suggest? Spend more now that will equate to savings later.

Yeah, that might work, provided we ever get to later. Right now, I'm not sure we can safely make that assumption because we're not willing to make the tough choices now that will shore up the economy down the road. Oh, we agree to it in theory, but in practice...not so much. Just look at the attempts to shave billions off the federal budget proposed by Democrats and Republicans. Both proposals are half-hearted and seek to save sacred cows for their side. Now isn't the time to ignore waste because we like the outcome. If we're going to get serious about having an economic future, we need to turn sacred cows into holy hamburger.

Including the sacred cows of Leftists like Jones, Moore, and Krugman.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A New Hope?

Since the beginning of the media coverage of the Wisconsin budget battle between Governor Scott Walker and the unions, there's been a whispering campaign that is now becoming a full blown shout-fest. The Left wants the unions to become the Leftist equivalent of the TEA Party. Judging from the commentary on Politico, the Left is warning of Walker "waking a sleeping giant" and his electoral doom is all but certain once that giant awakes and gets moving.

I have three words for any Leftist who believes that: The Coffee Party.

Remember when The Coffee Party was supposed to be the Leftist counterpart to the TEA Party? Yeah. That lasted for about a month before the Left realized it just wasn't taking off like they'd hoped. Seriously, aside from this blog post, when was the last time you hear anyone mention the Coffee Party?

Although the Wisconsin union protests are encouraging, I honestly don't think the union movement is strong enough to be a Leftist TEA Party mainly because the union movement isn't that strong right now. With dropping membership and a badly damaged image over the past couple of decades, the time when unions were to be a feared political machine are pretty much over on a national level. Sure, you'll still have enclaves on a statewide level, but nationally unions are becoming dinosaurs.

And that's who you want to be the next TEA Party?

There is another reason why the labor movement will not be successful as a TEA Party substitute, that being a fundamental difference between the two movements. Say what you will about the TEA Party, they are motivated by a love of country and a desire to put the country back on the right financial course. From what we've seen and heard from the union movement recently, they seem more motivated by a love of money regardless of the fiscal consequences. Of course, they don't come out and say that because it would undercut their credibility as "hard working average Americans."

Just like Air America failed to live up to its billing as a Leftist alternative to talk radio, just like the Huffington Post failed to be an alternative to the Drudge Report, Leftists will fail if they try to make the union movement into a Leftist version of the TEA Party for the same reason the other two ventures I mentioned failed.

The Left doesn't understand Americans as well as they think they do.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

It's Official

Labor unions have jumped the shark. And they have Michael Moore to thank for it.

Moore's appearance in Wisconsin yesterday may have given the union folks a spiritual lift, but if they knew Moore's history with union labor, they might have told him to stay away. Seems Moore wasn't too keen on using union labor during the filming of his documentary "Capitalism: A Love Story."

Of course, some might say this was a one-time thing and that Moore's history of being pro-labor makes up for it. Not so much. Seems Moore has a history of saying he supports labor unions, but he never quite acts on it. Furthermore, Moore talks about his personal wealth while doing his best to come off as a common man. Personally, I have no problem with Moore making money doing what he does, but when he's playing both sides of the fence as he does, it should raise some eyebrows, especially among the union protesters.

The fact that it didn't speaks volumes.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

An Open Letter to Michael Moore

Dear Michael,

It's rare that I agree with you on anything you say. However, sometimes you do say something that makes me nod my head in agreement. During a recent interview, you said the following:

They're sitting on the money, they're using it for their own -- they're putting it someplace else with no interest in helping you with your life, with that money. We've allowed them to take that. That's not theirs, that's a national resource, that's ours. We all have this -- we all benefit from this or we all suffer as a result of not having it.

At first, I scoffed at the notion. After all, as a conservative and a capitalist, why would I support the collective ownership of wealth? Then, I was enlightened. You're absolutely right, Michael. The rich should share their wealth with everyone.

And I can think of no better person to lead by example than, well, you.

According to, your net worth is estimated to be $50 million. Granted, that's not Bill Gates money, but it's not too shabby a nest egg. As one of the "common people" you so love to claim to represent, I believe I'm entitled to at least some of that nest egg.

For example, I have accumulated medical bills over the past few months. As the champion of the "little guy" in your film "Sicko" as you took on the health care system in America, I would think you'd whip out your checkbook and pay them all.

Also, I have credit card debt. As the champion of the "little guy" in your film "Capitalism: A Love Story" as you took on big banks, I think you'd be more than willing to hand over your Visa and pay off my debt.

More importantly, though, think of the example you'd be setting for wealthy people of your political persuasion. Why, I'm sure Barbra Streisand would be more than willing to hand over her...I mean our money to people like me. She's only going to keep it for herself, right? Ditto with Oprah, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, and other celebrities who swing to the left. All they need is someone to lead them.

I believe that someone is you, Michael.

I propose we meet and hammer out the specifics of this arrangement. Let's say, a nice steakhouse in New York City. You'll pay for me to fly out there, put me up in a really nice hotel, take me shopping for some fine clothes to wear to the meeting, and be kind enough to pick up the entire tab without so much as a second thought.

After all, it's our money, right?


Thomas Lindaman

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Scenes from a Rally

This past Saturday, organized a series of pro-union rallies in every state capitol in the country designed to show support for the public sector union workers in Wisconsin. As a working man who happens to live in a state capitol, I decided to do what any red-blooded American would do.

I crashed the rally.

Before I go any further, I should clarify I am not anti-union nor am I anti-teacher, anti-worker, or whatever other label the Left wants to slap on people like me. I am, however, pro-taxpayer, and when it comes to public sector unions, we're dealing with union employees whose benefits are paid by taxpayers. In a situation like that, taxpayers are often not represented well, if at all, when public sector unions make demands, which gives the public sector unions a decided advantage at the negotiating table.

That dynamic changed in Wisconsin with the election of Scott Walker and Republicans in their legislature. Instead of having an easy path to getting what they want, public sector unions finally had to put up a bit of a struggle, especially after Walker made it clear he was going to ask unions to make concessions as a means to try to get state spending under control. One of those concessions was to have the public sector unions give up collective bargaining except when it came to salaries. Unions, and, objected.

That brings us to the union rallies across the country. For the most part, it was a pretty civil affair. There were occasional snide comments about "corporate fat cats" and "politicians in the back pocket of Big Business" (oh, and the occasional shouting match and vague threats of violence against me for carrying a sign reading "Real workers don't have 'sick-ins.'"), but most left me alone.

From my vantage point, I saw and heard a lot of things that gave me pause. First, the union protesters kept trying to seamlessly fuse the public sector unions and the private sector unions, even though there are distinct differences between the two. I understand they wanted to show solidarity with their union brethren in Wisconsin, but it's like swapping a German Shepherd with a French poodle to guard your property. Sure, they're both dogs, but the differences between the two are stark. Plus, the poodle would surrender at the slightest sign of trouble.

Second, the union speakers were complaining about matters that unions been complaining about for decades. Yet, things aren't getting any better. To me, that's a sign of the failure of unions across the country, public and private. With union membership declining, having the same message with the same failure rate isn't a good sign. In a way, unions are becoming dinosaurs, and they may be heading for the same fate as the dinosaurs unless they change their approach.

Judging from the people at the rally on Saturday, I don't see that happening anytime soon.

Third, there are still people within unions who try to act as "enforcers," but they don't know how to handle people who aren't afraid of them or who understand their tactics and have ways to overcome them. I did have a couple of minor run-ins with union folks who didn't like my sign or my position on the Wisconsin situation, so they tried to get me to leave through intimidation, by threat of physical harm or legal repercussions. When I presented a firm challenge to their authority, the "enforcers" became toothless and the fight went out of them.

All in all, it was an interesting afternoon among the union folks. We may not have agreed, but the exercise of free speech was refreshing in an era where people take the exchange of ideas for granted.