September 23rd, 2009

#1738: Oh, how the consequences of Carter's incompetence resonate, even 30 years later

"How we all miss the Shah".

If Iran hadn't fallen to religious zealots:
Iraq would never have dared to even send a plane over our country. The Gulf War wouldn't have happened, nor would any of the problems of the past 30 years, including the exporting of religious fanaticism.
That's right, folks! The entire issue of islamic terrorism wouldn't have been a problem. Why? Because the Shah and his regime--as bad as it was--kept a lid on the islamic nutjobs and was preferable to what we have now.

Carter's foriegn policy was a complete failure. The Democrat tendency to pander to dictators and oppressors always falls on the side of removing freedom and making the world more dangerous for everyone.

Was the Shah a model of restraint? Hell no. But letting his government topple was probably the biggest foreign policy error of the last fifty years, and that decision was made by a lefty Democrat who had no business being anywhere near the White House...and the only reason he got elected? He wasn't the Republican.

Remember, in 1976, Gerald Ford was finishing out a term that had started with Richard M. Nixon as President. Nixon himself had resigned to avoid dragging the country through an impeachment. The press had years to pound on Ford; by the time the elections of 1976 came around he couldn't have won a local election for dog catcher.

Couple that with the recent expansion of the franchise to include anyone over the age of 18, rather than 21: Carter's win was virtually guaranteed. Democrats could have put Leonid Brezhnev up for election and he probably would have won. (Being a citizen of the USSR he couldn't have served, of course, but he could have won that election.)

Carter was elected primarily because he's not Nixon or Ford and it resulted in one of the worst Presidencies in US history.

In the 1970s the Democrats were making a habit out of abandoning countries with which the US had allied itself. They first did it with South Vietnam, deciding not to send military aid to that country when North Vietnam invaded. The result was, of course, the fall of Saigon and a fully communist Vietnam. (Laos, Cambodia, Pol Pot, Khmer Rouge, etc, etc. Millions dead. Thanks, Democrats.)

Carter's decision not to support the Shah was more of the same, and it made plain to the rest of the world that America is weak and won't stand by her allies when the going gets tough. And nothing could have underscored that point more perfectly than America's complete inaction to having its embassy in Tehran seized and held by terrorists for more than a year.

And because we so completely demonstrated our unwillingness to stand up for ourselves, now we have to deal with all sorts of these goons.

* * *

"Proposals to Enhance the Community Reinvestment Act". That's right; the law which resulted in the recent housing meltdown is up for expansion.

Democrats: "We don't care what happens; we're doing it anyway."

* * *

Many leaders and supporters are beginning to wonder what is causing this growing gap between the Barack Obama that many people saw on the campaign trail, and the Obama they see in the White House?"

That's easy: the Barack Hussein Obama we saw on the campaign trail was fictional. What you are seeing now is the real Barack Hussein Obama.

...I say "that's easy" but in fact it is not easy for his supporters to realize that they didn't know what they vere voting for, and projected their own desperate hopes onto the empty suit with the (D) next to his name.

In its closing paragraphs the article condemns the American political system as unrepresentative and unfair:
But it must be recognised that it's not just Obama's shortcomings that are causing the problem. The very structure of the American political system is at the heart of these failures. For example, thwarting Obama on a regular basis is an unrepresentative senate where "minority rule" prevails and undermines what a majority of the country may want. With two senators elected per state, regardless of population, California with more than 35 million people has the same number of senators as Wyoming with just half a million residents. This constitutional arrangement greatly favours low population states, many of which tend to be conservative, producing what one political analyst has called "a weighted vote for small-town whites in pickup trucks with gun racks."

In addition, the senate's use of that arcane rule known as the "filibuster" means you need 60 out of 100 votes to stop unlimited debate on a bill and move to a vote. A mere 41 senators, representing as little as 20% of the nation's population, can stymie the other 80%. Given a vastly unrepresentative senate wielding its anti-majoritarian filibuster, it is hardly surprising that minority rule in the senate consistently undermines majority rule, whether on healthcare, financial industry reform, environmental legislation and many other policies.

Pile on to that an uncompetitive, winner-take-all electoral system, marinated in money and special interest influence, and the sclerotic US political scene is deeply troubling. None of these anti-democratic structural features are going away any time soon.
Mr. Steven Hill is apparently a citizen of the UK so he can be excused for being ignorant of how the American political system works; he cannot be excused for failing to research the difference between a democracy and representative republic. The US is the latter, not the former, and any journalist attempting to equate the two is abysmally ignorant of their differences.

He says the Senate is "unrepresentative" because there are only two senators from each state. The entire point behind the Senate is to provide a counterweight to the populist House of Representatives; the House is the "representative" body, with representation proportional to a state's population, which is meant to be populist and responsive to the desires of the public. That's why Representatives have two-year terms.

On the other side, the Senate is meant to be more stable, more deliberative. A senator's term is three times longer than that of a Representative. A senator from a rural state is meant to have an equal voice to the senator from a populous state. It's that way by design.

The two bodies form the legislative branch of the federal government, and it's no accident that both bodies have to agree on the legislation they send to the executive for signature or veto. This way--at least in theory--you balance the whims of populism with the sober reflection of statesmen. (It usually does not work that way, but it works well enough regardless.)

Hill excoriates the Senate as being "unrepresentative" and totally ignores the House of Representatives. Dude, you missed a spot.

Hill complains about the filibuster; I don't recall reading anything from him about Democrats using the filibuster to prevent George Bush's judicial nominations from confirmation. But there is no filibustering which is stopping Obama's agenda; the Republicans have threatened one a few times since January 20th but none have happened.

Then he condemns the electoral college as being "winner-take-all".

...which is it, anus? You want everything to be "representative", but you also want the majority to be unhindered by the minority, but you also don't like it when the winner wins everything? MAKE UP YOUR MIND. Assuming, that is, that you have one.

The entire point of the republican system is to avoid "winner take all". It's meant to foster debate and discussion and compromise. It's why we have an upper and lower house in the legislature (Senate and House, respectively). It's why the President has different duties and powers from the legislature and judiciary; hell, it's why those functions are separate in the first place!

What Mr. Hill is really complaining about here is that he wants Obama to win everything and doesn't like the fact that Obama isn't getting everything he wants, and he is focussing on the elements of our system which are preventing Obama from doing so. Those elements are all working exactly as designed to limit personal power and to limit the change one man can effect.

It is a feature, not a bug.

The blame for Democrats not getting their way with socialized medicine lies squarely at the feet of the Democrats themselves. They can't agree on what the final product should be, and schisms within the party are preventing easy passage of the thing. The Republicans have (wisely) decided not to support any bill, but to let the Democrats do it on their own; and in fact if the Democrats were all to vote "yes" the thing would pass and become law. The minority party--the Republicans--could not stop it if the Democrats simply fell into line.

But Representatives face election every two years, and the American public doesn't want socialized medicine, and a lot of people aren't afraid to make their opinions known to Washington, D.C. A third of the Senate is up for election every four years, and enough of those Senators also hear what the people are saying.

The article is headlined "Obama the impotent" but he's not; he's just the President. He's not king.

* * *

As for me, I have a new SF story idea percolating within the confines of my fevered brain.

Premise: everything revolves around the Earth after all.

It's more complex than that, including some seriously nifty topological conundra, and I'm still working out how and why and who; but I think it's going to be good.