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Under the Bus
Under the Bus

Nuking The Nuke Deal

Blog From
May 8th, 2018

Living up to one of his main campaign promises, President Trump today withdrew the U.S. from the Iran nuclear agreement. Calling it a “horrible, one-sided deal” and “defective at its core”, Trump delineated the reasons for withdrawal.

They include, among others, (1) the inability to inspect military sites, (2) lack of restrictions on ballistic missile development, (3) lack of restrictions on financing international terrorist activities and (4) the prospect of turning the region into a nuclear wasteland as neighboring countries develop their own nuclear capability in defense against Iran.

As expected, France, the UK, Germany and a chorus of Democrat politicians at home decry our withdrawal. But, they can’t credibly dispute Trump’s reasons.

For example, as part of the deal, Iran received in excess of $55 billion in payments from the U.S.  Where did the money go? It’s hardly a head scratcher. Since the agreement was signed, Iran’s military budget has grown by almost 40% while its economy remains depressed. Iran has also increased its financing of international terrorism and accelerated the development of its ballistic missile program. Last September, it successfully tested a missile capable of carrying multiple warheads, some or all of which can be nuclear.

In 2016 when the deal was signed, John Kerry acknowledged that some of the payments to Iran would finance terrorist activities. But, he said, the U.S. could do nothing about it.  Those activities have since killed hundreds of Americans. The loss of our lives should not be an acceptable part of the price paid to the leading sponsor of terrorism.

Chuck Schumer and others contend that withdrawing from the Iran deal will impede our ability to negotiate a deal with North Korea. In reality, the opposite is true. Our withdrawal today underscores to Kim Jong Un our determination to strike only deals that are fair to the U.S. Embarrassingly bad agreements went out with the last Administration.

Posted in Under the Bus

 

 

Under the Bus

The Buck Stops Over There

Blog From
September 30th, 2014

LFU_UndertheBusDriver_vFIn 1945 President Harry Truman had a sign placed on his desk in the White House that read, “The Buck Stops here!” Truman also used the phrase in speeches he gave between 1945 and his final address to the Nation in 1953.

 

During his farewell address Truman explained why he used the phrase. “The President – whoever he is – has to decide. He can’t pass the buck to anybody. No one else can do the deciding for him. That’s his job.”

 

As Truman indicated, “the buck stops here” derives from the expression, “passing the buck”, which means dumping responsibility on someone else. In this century, we call passing the buck the blame game, as in anyone’s fault but mine.

 

A lot of other things have changed in the last 69 years, like the professional sense of responsibility for the actions of those who work for you. President Obama tried to blame the current ISIS crisis on his National Intelligence Director, James Clapper. He criticized Clapper for downplaying the ISIS threat for too long.

 

Apparently, in castigating Clapper, Obama is trying to walk back his heavily disparaged “jayvee team” remark made in January of this year. But, he has stumbled badly. Critics have been quick to point out that, based on publically released assessments over the years, Obama had to have understood the threat.

 

Yet, the President allowed ISIS to grow in strength because appropriate action came with significant political risk. The recent beheadings finally tipped the political scale and Obama acted.

 

The President is not alone in his anyone-but-me mantra. Hillary Clinton tried a hybrid approach over her involvement in the Benghazi attack – “I take responsibility, but I was not making security decisions.” By the time the buck gets to Hillary, it’s only worth a penny or two.

 

Hillary’s self-assessment is a way of both taking and ducking responsibility in the same breath. It is especially disappointing after her claimed security expertise during the 2008 election. Most of us recall the campaign ad she ran against Obama questioning whom we want in the White House during a 3 am crisis.

 

To be fair, the Secretary of State wasn’t physically in the White House during the Benghazi attack. She was too busy releasing a fanciful statement tying the attack to an anti-Muslim video.

 

Then there are the adults in the Obama Administration. During congressional testimony today, Secret Service Director Julia Pierson took full responsibility for recent security failures at the White House. There have been six fence jumpers this year, the last two less than 10 days apart. One of them breached the interior of the White House and was finally tackled by an off duty official in the East Room.

 

Pierson took a verbal beating from Congress during her testimony. A lot of critics are now calling for her resignation. When the buck stops at the top, it can cost a bundle. The only upside was that none of the intruders were heard to yell, Allahu Akbar.

 

But, it shouldn’t be only the managers in the Administration who beckon the buck to stop with them. The point Harry Truman was making in 1945 is that the President is the leader of the Nation. That job requires a grown-up sense of responsibility not the infantile reaction of a politician.

 

If Clapper had been too slow to respond, Obama should have taken responsibility and then addressed the problem with his National Intelligence Director in private. Pass the baby rattle to Barack Obama.

 

Posted in Under the Bus

 

 

Under the Bus

Under The Union Bus

Blog From
April 27th, 2014

LFU_UndertheBusDriver_vFWho, on the receiving end, can forget all of those annoying telemarketing calls during dinner? People answered the phone, thinking it was something important, only to find out that it was a pitch for the latest pocket blender. The calls were so irritating and the volume of consumer complaints so large that, eventually, the Federal Communications Commission intervened.

 

The National Do-Not-Call Registry was the result. With some exceptions, Americans can ban these annoying calls permanently. The FCC made the Registry permanent in June 2008.

 

Today, the National Labor Relations Board, a different authority in a different White House administration, views exasperating home phone calls as positives. In a proposed rule published on February 5, union reps will be allowed to call non-union members at their homes during unionization election campaigns. The comment period on the rule closed on April 14. It will go into effect on May 12.

 

Companies will be required to disclose personal information about their workers including their full names, home addresses, home phone numbers and email addresses. The Board decided that the disclosures are necessary to remove unfair barriers and permit modern communication between the unions and the non-union workers. The disclosures will be made without worker consent.

 

Throwing workers’ privacy under the union bus is not the only change. Another will shorten election periods from an average of eight weeks to an average of three weeks. Shortening election periods will certainly intensify union campaigning. The home phone calls, as well as other contacts, will be persistent and persistently invasive.

 

The NLRB’s dismissal of workers’ privacy as necessary to remove unfair communication barriers is especially bothersome. Apparently, the Board missed the fact that the entire purpose of privacy is to be a barrier. The Constitutional right to privacy exists to protect individuals from unreasonable governmental intrusions in their lives, not to open the floodgates.

 

Yet, the NLRB, a government authority, is forcing union intrusions into peoples’ homes for the sole purpose of advancing union interests. But, since unions can conduct their campaigns in public locations, home invasions are unnecessary.

 

The Board may attempt to justify the intrusions because of the shortened election period, which also limits campaigning.

 

But, the NLRB itself shortened the period so the privacy invasion is a “necessity” of the Board’s own creation. Further, shortening the period is an attempt, according to critics, to find a cure for which there is no illness. The average eight-week election period is not lengthy and it does provide time for adequate campaigning without the need for privacy intrusions.

 

The Board may also try to rely on the common assumption that everyone’s personal information is available without much effort anyway. Pay a little money to an online snooping site and end up with a ton of information about your personal obsession. But, stockers getting information online is fundamentally different than labor unions obtaining it by government mandate.

 

Another pro-invasion argument is that union stocking for such a short period of time isn’t actually intrusive. Anything can be tolerated for only three weeks. To test that out, NLRB members can disclose their full names, home addresses and phone numbers to non-union workers. During election time, the workers can forward their calls to Board members’ homes. After a few calls, members might change their minds on how long three weeks can be.

 

Where will this all end? Union reps will know where workers live. If unions are rejected, will reps picket on front lawns? Follow workers to grocery stores? Post nasty grams on their Facebook pages? Harass them in more creative ways? Sounds far out? No farther out than the forced disclosure of personal information to unions in the first place.

 

Workers will need more than a Do-Not-Call Registry under the bus.

Posted in Under the Bus

 

 

Under the Bus

Obamacare and the Five Stages of Grief

Blog From
January 19th, 2014

LFU_UndertheBusDriver_vFWe’re hearing it pretty regularly now. Obamacare is here to stay and there’s nothing we can do about it. So, get ready to pay for its colossal funding shortfall and learn to love living under the bus where you’ve been kicked. On Tuesday, speaking with less smugness, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) opined that, eventually, people will come to accept the law.

Hoyer sounded a lot like a disciple of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, the Swiss psychiatrist, and her long-time famous five stages of grief.  According to Kubler-Ross, humans progress through five stages of grief after being informed that they are suffering from terminal conditions.

Acceptance is the fifth, and final, stage, except for dying, of course. To be fair, the Obamacare situation is a little different. Death came first to our healthcare system and the grieving has come afterward.

Will Americans actually reach stage five and accept Obama’s signature legislation? The first four stages are denial, anger, bargaining and depression. There has been a huge amount of denial about the demise of our healthcare system. Practically all of it has been expressed by politicians and a shrinking number of Obama’s true believers. The rest of the populous went almost immediately to the anger stage, where many remain.

The bargaining phase will begin in earnest later in this election year. It, too, will be a little different than the Kubler-Ross vision. Rather than voters bargaining with their government for relief from the law, those running for re-election will haggle with them. The spiel will go something like this. “Don’t worry about Obamacare. It’s a done deal, but trust us, we’ll make it work for you in the long run. In the meantime, vote for me and I promise to do many more great things for you.”

This type of dickering is typical of the implicit tit-for-tat language of election year politicking. But, this time, a lot more than usual is hanging in the balance. Will the bargaining efforts of politicians work? Will voters accept Obamacare by returning to power those who have imposed it on the nation? If the answer is yes, then, in another departure from the Kubler-Ross model, depression will be the final stage for many.

Whether the acceptance and depression stages happen depends on the success of the modern political propaganda campaign that has been ongoing since 2009. It has taken several planned turns along the way. First, we were told repeatedly that the current system is unfair to many. Second, we were told, again repeatedly, that the new system will bring fairness to those denied. Third, we were told that those satisfied with their plans and doctors could keep them.

The second and third points were critical twin selling points. If you’re hawking this type of product, it’s not enough to be fair. It’s also necessary to do no harm. While most people support equality, they draw the line at pointless self-sacrifice. So, the Obama Administration hammered home the tandem promises of not disrupting what worked and only fixing what did not. We won’t interfere in your life. We will only help others.

Fourth, when the repeated deceptions came to light, the propaganda campaign took three planned turns. The first was to deny the deception. The second was the Nanny State pitch that the unwanted changes were for our own good. When the first two tactics failed, a third stressed that the law is cast in stone and nothing can be done about it.

On October 29, during the website rollout debacle, Hoyer admitted that Democrats knew from the beginning that existing insurance policies would be cancelled. However, rather than conceding the lie, he cast the deception as “not wrong”. Rather, it was “accurate” yet “not precise” enough. Hoyer went on to justify Obamacare in Nanny State terms as being better for us than what we have now. He also justified the misrepresentations as necessary to “allay the fears” of the national populous.

Will voters accept stark manipulation, disingenuous denials and the destruction of our healthcare system? Or will they reject Obamacare by sending to Congress those who will stop it in its tracks? Contrary to the cast-in-concrete claim, it can be stopped.

Late last week, the White House delayed for one year the implementation of yet another Obamacare provision. This time it’s the equal coverage rule that prohibits employers from providing top executives with better health benefits than other employees. The delay allows IRS bureaucrats to figure out how to measure the value of benefits, what a top executive is and what discrimination looks like.

If making bureaucrats pivotal players in our healthcare system is not a good enough reason to kill the law, we’ll all be depressed. And that’s going to send healthcare costs soaring ever higher.

Posted in Under the Bus