Monday, December 28, 2015

The true "Person of the Year"

Atlanta, GA - Time magazine, the once great publication, chose, earlier this month, as they always do, a “Person of the Year.” While in times past such greats as Charles Lindbergh, Elisabeth II, Martin Luther King Jr., and Winston Churchill have taken the great honor, this year the weak, indecisive, and oft criticized by both sides of the political spectrum Angela Merkel, head of the nation of Germany, was chosen. She it was that let half a million hungry, ragged, war weary Syrian immigrants into her country earlier this year with nearly no vetting process, and blasted all other nations that did not do the same. Her nation has since closed its doors as her own party considers kicking her out of office.
Merkel is of course not the person of the year. J.J Abrams, the head of ISIS, John Stewart, or Hillary Clinton would all have been better picks for someone who "for better or for worse...has done the most to influence the events of the year.”
But my vote goes towards the yellow thing that goes around speaking its own language. No, not the minions, although that’s a tempting choice as well. I’m talking about the patron saint of comedians and disillusioned people everywhere; Donald Trump.
For many years in the political world, a sort of almost Victorian propriety has reigned. Stifling rules that force people to call their greatest enemies “my dear friend” even though we all know it isn’t true. Constant shouts for political correctness and a demanding that nobody say anything offensive to anyone. For a long time, in the winter of political correctness, while we almost all froze to death listening to speeches so full of empty promises, boring rhetoric, and yawn inducing nausea that politics, one of the most important of all endeavors, was in danger of losing its audience, which is, of course, one of the greatest dangers in the world. Loss of freedoms and the rise of dictatorships thrive in darkness disinterest.
There are plenty of things not to like. You don’t have to agree with Donald Trump on one single thing. But he has at least put the fire back into politics, and into the most important race in the entire world. For a long time there was a suffocation in the nether world of political conversation. I don’t know how long it will last, Trump might die a horrible political death just days into 2016, although that doesn’t seem overly likely. However, 2015 will forever be remembered, not as the year that some German bureaucrat did some very forgettable things, but rather, 2015 will be thought of as the Year of Trump, the year that, for a little while at least, if even for one fleeting second, the billionaire put the air back in our political lungs, and let us all breathe again.

Andrew C. Abbott

Friday, December 18, 2015

Star Wars: The Force that Never Sleeps

Atlanta, GA— On May 25th, 1977, Star Wars, (later subtitled “A New Hope”) came out in the theatres. To put into perspective how long ago that was, the last man to be executed by the guillotine in France was put to death seven months later. Jimmy Carter was president, man had first walked on the moon less than a decade before, the Cold War was still going on, the internet was something many had never heard of, and the 2016 presidential race hadn’t even started yet.
Since that time there have been five more films, too many books to count, fan films, an animated show, and billions of dollars made off of George Lucas’ idea. Everywhere you go you are met with Star Wars images and paraphernalia. Lego sets, coloring books, quotes, references, and people that think they know how to talk like either Jar-Jar or Yoda.
Yet for all that, the secret to the franchise’s success seems allusive. After all, in the traditional sense of the word, it isn’t even a franchise, the movies came first.  The acting is often wooden, and sometimes downright dreadful. It is filled with overly animated scenes that can make you bleary eyed, and the story itself swings from helplessly complex to little more than family feud. The stories are occasionally stretched, sometimes absolutely ludicrous. Case in point is the final installment of the first trilogy, The Return of the Jedi, when Hans Solo’s master strategy is to tap a storm trooper on the shoulder and run the other way.
Then there are the many inconsistencies and glaring problems in the  story lines; for instance, if Yoda and company are so powerful that even a teenager trained in the Jedi arts  can feel the movement of tiny worms in the next room, (Attack of the Clones) why can’t they tell that the emperor, who they are always hanging out with, is planning on putting them to death? And if these guys have all this ultra-modern equipment so that they can whiz around in spaceships or create wormholes at will, why are they still using swords?
It’s hard to say why we all like Star Wars, maybe George Lucas has played Jedi mind tricks on us all to so that we will mindlessly watch his stuff whether its good or not.
More likely, however, is that the epicenes of Star Wars, combined with the fact that there is a little something for everyone, is what gives the tale its massive audience. And that audience keeps coming back despite the fact that they hate some characters, don’t like some story lines, and say that some of the movies were horrible.
The tale is much like a mirror, which will allow you to cast your own ideas onto its reflective surface and find something you can relate to. If you are prolife, there is a line in Revenge of the Sith that you will say supports your cause. If you are into eastern mysticism, the Jedi are your friends. If you are into political allegories, there is plenty in this work to either support arguments that big government is big, or that it is bad. If you are a Catholic you might like the fact that much of Star Wars revolved around a character born of immaculate conception -virgin birth.
All throughout history mankind has had his legends. The Greeks had Homer’s Odyssey, the Romans had their Romulus and Remus. The ancient Germans, living in the dark depths of their never ending forests, told each other tales of golems and horrors, some of which have survived to this day. But throughout the world, all of these legends had their heroes. From China to Peru, from London to Baghdad, the stories of heroes as different and varied as the lumber jack in little red riding hood, Sung Su, King Arthur, and Beowulf have captured the imaginations of generations of earth dwellers.
And now Star Wars is one of our legends, one of the epics of our time, as much as Hobbit, Harry Potter, or Captain America is.
Some might protest that Star Wars is different, King Arthur and Sung Su were based on real people, and the world of Lucas is pure fantasy. But that isn’t quite true. Not really. Maybe there never was a grand Republic, maybe Anakin and Luke never lived, but just like any great epic, they didn’t need to. They were based on the emotions, the struggle between light and darkness, that all of mankind has always been involved in. And, much like the true struggle, there are times when the darkness triumphs-for a time. But in the end the light always wins, weather it is Beowulf defeating the dragon at last, David killing Goliath, Dr. Who destroying the Daleks, Luke bringing down his enemies, or Jesus, in the ultimate story upon which all others, both true and legend are based, finishing off Satan.
Star Wars is nothing more than the most recent reincarnation of a very old tale that began a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…
May the force be with you.
Andrew C. Abbott

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

When Cruz Controlled

Atlanta, GA— In the fifth battle of the great Hunger for Power Games, the Tributes once again squared off in the endless war to become the most powerful human being alive on planet earth. In another beautiful venue in Vegas, hosted by America’s second most powerful cable network, CNN, and moderated by Wolf Blitzer, Dana Bash, and conservative talk show host Hew Hewitt, last night was quite a rollicking affair.
The moderators did well, especially Blitzer, beating down Cruz until he stopped stepping out of line, laying down the law on the unruly and sometimes downright unmannered John Kasich, and handling disturbances from disturbed audience members very well.
As for the warriors themselves, there was one that again stood out above the rest. He was the one that, in the pre-debate, one CNN pundit called “the man of the moment.” It was, of course, Ted Cruz. Cruz once again reminded Americans why he has risen to second place nationally and first in the all-important state of Iowa. Staying out of useless arguments with Donald Trump, as he had promised, Cruz brought biting attacks against the Democrats, saying that “Hillary and Obama” were looking for a “purple unicorn” when it comes to finding moderate rebels to replace the dictators that are fighting radical terrorism.
Cruz had the best line of the night, with his “All horse thieves are Democrats, but not all Democrats are horse thieves,” zinger, seconded nicely by his quip that he will build a wall along our southern border to keep out terrorists, illegal immigrants, and drugs, and that he would make Donald Trump pay for it. I expect Cruz to carry on from this debate to even better momentum across the nation.
The winner of the last debate, Marco Rubio, was partly outshined last night by Cruz, although he still did well. Rand Paul hurt him more than once, and Cruz went after him in a way we haven’t seen before. Rubio is a brilliant general in the war for the nomination, but his flank is horribly exposed when it comes to immigration and granting legal amnesty to millions who came to this country knowingly in an illegal fashion. While Rubio constantly tries to pit himself as tough on foreign policy, which is something many primary voters in the GOP want, he also has a weakness in that he could be portrayed as putting temporary security ahead of liberty, which is a cardinal sin, no matter who is doing it, and no matter how good their intentions are.
Last night could just be a bump for Rubio on his eventual drive for the nomination, something he is well poised to win, along with only two or three others or it could signal, looking back in a few months, the beginning of the end of the junior senator from Florida.
Donald Trump had his first really great night. He sounded like a statesmen, like a man who really cared about people, like a man who desperately wanted to save his country. He mercifully explained his “shut down the internet” comments at last, proving he is not simply an Asian Style despot who wants to end free speech. Trump could have won the debate last night with his calmness, his refusal to attack Cruz, and even defending of the senator, except for his face making at Jeb Bush. Bush deserved Trump’s “I’m at 42 and you’re at 3,” and maybe even a little mocking for acting like he was tough, but Trump didn’t need to do it. Trump is helped by the debate for his overall performance, but he needs to keep working on his self-control.
Carly Fiorina wore a cross last night, presumably because many evangelicals are not sure about her, and she wants to prove to them that she is one of them. While Trump was busy sniping, she had her best line of the night; “Margaret Thatcher said if you want something talked about, you ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.” Mrs. Fiorina continues to lag in the polls, and I do not expect her to win, but she once again proved -with her clear understanding of foreign policy and belief that liberty should not be sacrificed for security- that she deserves a look as a potential secretary of state.
Ben Carson had a horrible night, right from his opening statement when he asked for a moment of silence for the San Bernardino victims. I have no evidence whatsoever that Mr. Carson was anything other than completely sincere in his gesture, but this was a political debate, and such a move had no place. If Mr. Carson felt such a thing was needed, he could have asked Mr. Blitzer before the debate, and I am sure the moderator, being a decent man, would have been more than happy to oblige. Carson did poorly the entire night, and in the end I was left struggling to remember anything of note he had said. He will probably continue to fall in the polls, which I have predicted from the day he got in.
Rand Paul did not have his blitzkrieg night as he did last time, but he did do fairly well, once again blasting out his message of freedom first for all the world to hear. He just barely made it into this debate by the skin of his teeth, despite doing fairly well in Iowa. This might have been his last debate in primetime, but he will continue to be a shining light for lovers of liberty the world over, not matter what he does. And, who knows, if his upward momentum continues in Iowa, he just might be one of the top three there.
Chris Christi had another good debate, although he will never win the nomination for several reasons, among them the one that Rand Paul pointed out last night. Some people think he shut down a bridge because he was mad. Because the field is so crowded, Christie has avoided constant, wall to wall coverage of his past, but if he were to move up in the polls, you can be sure the mud would start flying until he was buried alive under it.
John Kasich…the governor from Ohio seems to live in a world of puffy white clouds, lemon drops, light blue skies and children’s nursery rhymes. The world is a dangerous place, not built for those who use their opening statements to beg everybody to be nice to each other, and make the millionth reiteration of the tired line “we are not Republicans first or Democrats first, we are Americans first.” Kasich tried to interrupt everybody again, although fortunately Blitzer shut him down. Kasich had nothing original to say, and nothing worth anyone’s time. Maybe now he will just leave, but I’m not holding my breath.
And finally, our old friend Jeb Bush. Exactly a year ago today, Jeb Bush announced that he was running for president. At the time I said that he was in fourth place, and I hoped he stayed there. Well, he hasn’t, he’s fallen even further. He was supposed to ride his name and his massive war chest like a magic carpet all the way to the White House. Jeb forgot, however, that one little thing that so many pundits forget or simply fail to mention when making political plans and predictions, and that is the people. The people just don’t want Jeb. They just really don’t. It’s not that he says highly offensive things, like Trump, or that he has little experience, like Carson. It’s just that they don’t want him. It’s not that they don’t know who he is, like Graham; it’s worse, they know him, and they still don’t want him.
Mr. Bush has spent well over 30 million dollars in early voting states, and still his message continues to drag. Last night he sounded pedantic, annoyed. It was as if he still cannot understand that nobody wants him. The Washington Post this morning asked him to get out of the race for the good of the Republican Party.
If Mr. Bush continues on, he will simply continue to drain funds from the viable candidates who really need them, draw staff from those who could use them, and divide the party even further. The Bushes have had their chance with the country, and it seems that nobody wants a third go round. So Mr. Bush needs to give all of us all what really want for Christmas. That is, to hear the sounds of announcing he’s done.

Andrew C. Abbott

Monday, December 14, 2015

Tis' the Season to Take Offense

Atlanta, GA – You don’t have to like it. You might be an atheist that believes in neither God nor Santa Claus. You might be a part of the roughly 8% of Americans, according to Gallup, who will not be celebrating Christmas this year. You might be one of those of who gets offended when somebody says Merry Christmas, or ho ho, ho, but, you can’t deny, its Christmas time again, and more than a third of the world celebrates it as a holiday.
The war over Christmas has been raging for two thousand years, ever since it’s first protractor, Herod, tried to nip it in the bud by mass infanticide. Fortunately the antics of the anti-Christmas crowd have mellowed since those days, now relegated to Starbucks, (if they are indeed anti-Christmas), only coloring their cups red rather than saying Merry Christmas, Buick calling it a “Holiday Sale,” and a large school in Italy canceling their Christmas Concert because it might offend Muslims.
Christians and others who simply enjoy the greatest holiday ever have fought back in various ways. At Starbucks they have retaliated by telling the people at the counter their name is “Merry Christmas,” so that when their order is ready, the server will be forced to call out “Merry Christmas” for all coffee lovers to hear. In Italy, at that school of a 1,000 or so students, where the principle canceled the Christmas Concert, renamed it “Winterval,” and planned it for January, so as not to offend any of the 250 students who aren’t Christians, the Catholic Church and the prime minister of Italy lambasted the principle, who resigned in shame, as even the non-Christians of the school complained, saying they liked Christmas.
Of course, Christmas in America does have its proponents in the mainstream. Ted Cruz, who sent out an email to supporters to remind them that he feels "real Americans" don’t care about offending people, and so they should say “Merry Christmas.” And there is Wal Mart, where every aisle, it seems, greets you with a massive placard crying “Merry Christmas!”
In past years, Americans have made strides in various places against possible hate speech, attempting to defend those who love Christmas from those who get offended because a baby was born to save their eternal soul from hell. In Texas, a few years ago, a law was passed protecting anyone who says Merry Christmas from discrimination.
There are those who say that there is a war on Christmas. That may be true, as a friend of mine tells me her boss has ordered her not to say “Merry Christmas” because someone might get offended. She has to instead say “Happy Holidays,” like the people wouldn’t know what holiday she might be implying. But it would seem really that there is a war on sanity. If you curl up into a ball and cry because you see a nativity scene, or if Santa, while giving you free gifts, says “Merry Christmas,” you post on twitter that he’s a hater, you have problems. If you are such a person, I believe there are still mental hospitals alive and well across this country. You should really check one out.

Merry Christmas everybody.
Andrew C. Abbott

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

What will Happen, if Hillary falls

Atlanta, GA – Even with the recent revelations that the Pentagon was ready to send in extra forces to save our ambassador on that fateful night in Benghazi, Hillary Clinton remains unlikely to arrested, indicted, censored, or even written a ticket for her many supposed or real violations of the law during her time as Secretary of State and in connection with the Bill and Hillary Clinton Foundation.
Even so, it is barely possible that something could still happen. The other shoe could drop, the FBI could announce that they have found enough evidence to indict, or the Department of Justice might decide that they need to drag Mrs. Clinton into court. So it is not too early to start wondering just what the Democratic Party will do if its star character, indeed, almost its only character, falls off the stage.
It does not seem likely that Hillary would continue on her Presidential Campaign, if she were actually indicted and taken to court. She would of course release press statements saying that it was all a “Vast Right Wing Conspiracy,” she will say she is “disappointed” by what is going on, but then she is likely to announce a “suspension” of her campaign for “the time being.” In other words she would then be in full panic mode, running for the hills, and screaming and crying behind closed doors.
But while the news, were all of this to happen, would be fixated on the grand display of the Fall of the House of Clinton, the Democratic leaders would be running around like chickens with their heads cut off trying to figure out what to do. Pundits call everything “unprecedented” because it just sounds so awesome, but your front runner getting arrested, leaving almost half the nation with no real, viable person to vote for would truly be unprecedented in the American experience.
Some might think that the Democrats will bring in somebody from the bullpen. But that doesn’t seem very likely. The Castro brothers are too young and do not have the name recognition, while anyone else who might consider is either a national joke, (Biden) too old for this, (Gore), or legally ineligible, (Bill Clinton.)
One thing that will not happen is that the Democrats will not all run to Sanders. That would be a recipe for a 49 state Republican landslide. The guy thinks women want to be raped, and he wants to give free college to everyone.
So what would be the answer? Two words: Martin O’Malley.
Most people have probably never heard of him, and for the moment he only running to make Hillary look like she has some kind of completion. He has less chance of winning this Lindsey Graham, and that’s saying something.
But if Hillary were to go down, we would suddenly see a “Captain America” moment. One of those times when someone is very weak politically, nothing more than a skinny bag of bones. But the party needs them. So a special serum, called “hype” is prepared. When the doors open up again to reveal our hero, he is big muscled, faster than the fastest, and can knock your head off with one punch.
Hillary is doing fine right now. But if she ever falls off the cliff, the serum will be injected into O’Malley. You can count on it. It doesn’t mean he will win, he probably wouldn’t. But somebody has to carry the party line, somebody has to pretend they care about all this politics stuff. So that is what will happen, if Hillary falls.

Andrew C. Abbott

Monday, December 7, 2015

Who is to blame for terrorism?

When the Cambrian Measures were forming, they promised perpetual peace, They swore if we gave them our weapons the wars of the tribes would cease… –Rudyard Kipling
On June 17, Charleston, South Carolina, Dyllan Roof entered the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church and began the horrific mass shooting that would leave nine dead. Dyllan Roof was, as has been pointed out by a now famous cover of the New York Daily News, a terrorist.
But that same paper, in a monumental breach of professional reporting, dropped all pretense of being fair and balanced, dropped all pretense of following the long history of journalism, where you report the facts, not your own radical opinions. After calling Roof a terrorist, the Daily News, over a picture of Wayne LaPierre, a caption reads “And so is this man.”
What was Mr. LaPierre’s crime that caused him to be dubbed a terrorist on the front page of a so called “newspaper”? He is the executive vice president of the NRA, and he agrees with the founding fathers that guns are a right that shall not be infringed.
In recent weeks, when the Planned Parenthood shooting happened, many people seemed very confused as to the nature of the attacks. Many said that Rand Paul and Ted Cruz and indeed, anybody that is a modern progressive who understands that the way of the future is more guns, less gun free zones, and more liberty for gun owners is to blame because of some crazed maniacs.
When Dyllan Roof shot up a church, we didn’t blame atheism for causing him to be anti-Christian, because of course we realized that it wasn’t Bill Maher and Richard Dawkins fault. When Muslims cut off people’s heads, bomb buildings, shoot people in San Bernardino, we don’t blame Islam. We blame the radical terrorists themselves; because of course it’s their fault and no else’s.
One of the most glaringly idiotic statements about the most recent, horrific mass shootings, came, unsurprisingly, from The Huffington Post, or, as you may know it, that place where they believe in flying pigs. The Post actually called the San Bernardino terrorist massacre “gun inspired.” Of course, it was no more “gun inspired” than Cain’s attack on Abel was “rock inspired.” It was sin inspired. It was hatred inspired. It was radical Islam inspired.
The mantra seems to be, from many of those who are anti-progress and refuse to learn from history, that because there are innocent victims that are being horribly murdered we need to do something, and that is true. But then the mantra becomes that we need to disarm ourselves. Which makes sense-not at all. An unarmed society is much like a sheep herd, vulnerable, helpless, and forcibly led by any shepherd with the will to do so.
Hillary Clinton and her allies shout out that “we do not want to take away all your guns. Just the dangerous ones.” But, as has been pointed out, “If they can ban one, they can ban them all.”
The deaths of innocent victims should be a time grieving and then striking back at the root causes of such mass shootings. Clinical insanity, sin, radical Islam, etc. The tools used in them are barely important. If we took away all guns we would have mass stabbings, just ask China.
Ted Cruz isn’t a terrorist, and neither is Wayne LaPierre, but I do know that the person who called him that isn’t a journalist.
The poem I began with, by Rudyard Kipling, continues on from the promises of perpetual peace by saying: But when we disarmed they sold us, and delivered us bound to our foes.
Thus is the end of all such endeavors.
The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not infringed.
No matter what.

Andrew C. Abbott

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

I'd Call Them Infantile, but Babies don't get offended

The best cure for bad speech is more speech. –John S. Mills

Calvert City, KY – Students in America have recently been asking for “safe spaces.” Places where they can be free from anything offensive. It is, of course, the worst idea since someone invented chocolate covered beetles.
The idea is that the safe spaces would be a place where students could go to help lay salve their damaged egos, lick their wounds, and cry in quiet because someone out there disagrees with them. It would sort of be to free speech what gun safe zones are to guns.
Supposedly, when one group of students was recently offended by a debate happening on a campus: “A ‘safe space’ was created for students upset by the debate; the space included cookies, coloring books, bubbles, Play-Doh, calming music, pillows, blankets, and a video of puppies.”
Besides the fact that if the government were to start mandating safe spaces of any kind, where free speech was not allowed, it would be violating the constitution and beginning an Orwellian society where the “safe spaces” would grow and grow until there was nowhere left anyone could say what they believed-besides all that, practicality makes them an impossibility.
For instance, what sort of people shall be allowed in? Can a white supremacist or a black supremacist retreat here and demand that anyone of other ethnicity not be allowed in? What if a practicing nudist decides to flee to the safe spaces and demand that everyone else take off their clothes, because the nudist finds such things offensive? What if a Muslim wants to take refuge there, and demands that all gays be cast out, because they are antithetical to the Islam? Or, vice versa, what if the gays want to kick the Muslims out?
What if the Catholics want to kick the atheists out, or the atheists want to kick out someone who is tired of hearing about evolution, and has taken refuge here to watch videos about creationism.
Shall we have a safe space for everyone? For each ethnicity, for each religion, for each political party and each way of thought? For, if we do that, if we run for the hills because we are being offended, if we hide in our own cocoons and refuse to talk to anyone to disagrees with us or might offend us, and demand that the government keep them away from our ears and eyes, we will be right back where we started sixty years ago, with the whites and the blacks and the Catholics and the Protestants and the Atheists all living in their own areas, and hating and misunderstanding anyone outside of their own sheltered place.
We don’t need safe spaces, and we can’t have them if we want to keep our country going. However, for those that really need them, there are already safe spaces…it’s called your home. Go there. If your family disagrees with you, move to your own place. Some might cry “but the internet, the internet is still in my home, and there are people on there that disagree with me and offend me!” Then, to you I would say stop sucking your thumb, and start arguing. Debate until you are blue in the face. For that is the purpose of free speech. We are to strive to convert others to our opinions, not demand that they not share theirs.
And if you are a horrible debater, and you must be, if you want a safe space, then to you I would say go to your internet router, take a look at all those flashy lights, and turn it off. Now your safe. Safe from ever learning anything, safe from ever being stretched, safe from ever being offended. Congratulations, you have at last created your own dystopia.

Good luck.


Andrew C. Abbott

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Trump has one A on his scorecard

The Trumps

Calvert City, KY - There are many reasons, if one were looking for them, to dislike Donald Trump; it’s like a buffet, a little something for everyone. If you are Muslim, you might not like that some believe he wants to make all Muslim’s go on a registry like a modern version of Hitler’s yellow stars. If you are an illegal immigrant, someone who came into America either in an illegal fashion or overstayed your visa, thus breaking the law of the land and making yourself a criminal outlaw, you might not like that Mr. Trump wants to deport you. If you are a woman you might not like the things that Mr. Trump has said that might cause you to believe, rightly or wrongly, that Mr. Trump is a sexist.
However, there is one thing that is must be said the Republican candidate for the nomination for presidency is doing that all candidates ought to. Namely, Mr. Trump is comfortable with his wealth.
In his new book, Crippled America, Mr. Trump’s outline for what he would do as president, there is, in the center of book, a picture of the Trump family. Daddy, mommy, and all the kiddies. If you didn’t know better you might think that you were looking at an image of a Russian Czar before the fall. The background gives the impression of polished gold, which it just might be, while the entire picture gives you the feeling that you are gazing upon some of the Emperors of Constantinople come to life once more.
But for all that, Mr. Trump, the billionaire, has embraced his wealth in a way the vastly wealthy Mitt Romney was never able to do. In his announcement speech, despite all the mocking it engendered on Late-night, Trump proudly took out a paper and read off just how rich he is. Since then, in his stump speech and, it seems, every interview that he gives from within the cavernous halls of Trump Tower, Mr. Trump repeats the same phrase over and over again, “I’m really rich.” “Don’t forget, I’ve made a lot of money.” “I’m really good at business, I’ve made a lot of money.” “I’ve been really successful, I’ve made my pile.” “Hey, I’m really rich.”
Mr. Trump constantly is busy touting his business experience and success as reasons he should be selected as president, but there is more to his bragging, if you want to call it that. He not only touts his business, he touts himself and his worldly riches. Showing off his personal “Trump” helicopter at the Iowa State Fair and giving rides in it to children is one such example.
Although being comfortable with one’s wealth might seem to some observers as simply braggadocio or worse, there is more to it than that. There was a time when presidential candidates were completely comfortable with admitting that they were not the boy next door. The Kennedys made no secret that they were rich, their children had nannies to look after them, and on hot summer days they went boating rather than working. Ted, when he ran for president, publicly said he’d never worked a day of menial labor in his life. The Roosevelts, (Theodore) lived in mansions and made no secret of it.
We can’t all be rich, not all of us can ride in the toboggans with the Russian lords chasing after the hounds. Some are destined to be the ones mucking out the horse stalls. However, presidential candidates need to accept their place as the poser children of successful capitalism and free market principles. When a person or a family has worked hard, or, in the Trumps case, very, very, very hard, and their fellow citizens have rewarded their efforts by paying for their services and making them wealthy, they should be comfortable with it. They should welcome it and explain why they have money. It didn’t grow on trees on the roof of Trump Tower, and Donald wasn’t robbing banks. It was investment and work, which was rewarded. They don’t have to wear crowns of rubies or bathe in bathtubs made of diamonds in public, but candidates need to explain how the system works, and use it as an argument against the evils of communism and variations thereof.
Somehow Mitt Romney never understood that, or perhaps he was afraid others would not, not realizing that if public opinion ever turns against the rich, and when it does that, it will quickly turn against free market capitalism, and then we will have anarchy followed by tyranny.
You don’t have to like Donald Trump. But whatever you think of him, racist-sexist or selfless savior, maniac or messiah, Mr. Trump is doing something important for capitalism whether he means to or not. Under the free market, sometimes called capitalism, everyone shares in the national wealth, although unequally. Under communism or socialism, it is true that there is no income gap, because everyone equally shares the national poverty. Although some claim he’s a bit of a socialist himself, Trump is a walking embodiment of the fact that in a free market, men like himself can invest and create business which create jobs for thousands and services for millions. If someone is not comfortable with their wealth made from this system it might be seen as evidence they are uncomfortable with the system itself, and to be anti-free market is as un-American as burning the flag.

Andrew C. Abbott

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Saints, Strangers, and Savages

“In the name of God Amen.” So it began, the Mayflower Compact, the first contract to which the Saints and Strangers came together and agreed upon. The year was 1620 and the Mayflower had arrived in the new world. They could not have known it then, but those few settlers who survived the treacherous storms as they sailed across the mighty Atlantic in their frail little ship were founding the greatest and mightiest nation the world would ever see. Its sheer size would one day rival and indeed surpass the greatest empires of history, and much of its acquisitions, although certainly not all, would be peaceful.
At that first “Thanksgiving,” there were three types of people: The Saints, or the Pilgrims, as we know them, who had fled England and its religious oppression. There were the Strangers, the sailors, the adventurers and other, rough and tumble types of folks that had joined the party, some of them more upright and steady than others of their number.
And of course there were the “Savages.” Of course, they weren’t all savages, and quite a few of them were peaceful, but in their war paint, lack of clothing, and strange tongue, to the bewildered and storm tossed Englishmen they must have seemed savage indeed in their primitive and uncivilized way.
Already, four hundred years ago, the themes and patterns that would come to be seen as distinctly American were already forming. There was a belief in God, and a belief that one should be free to worship in his or her own way. That was the ultimate reason that the Mayflower came to the new world at all, and indeed it was to God that the thanks was being given in the first place. That belief in a Divine Being would later be laid down further in the founding document of the nation in the Declaration, and the freedom to believe in Him or not was cemented in the Constitution. It has never left us, expanding in later years to the pledge of allegiance and the very currency with which we trade.
The second thing that showed itself early as our first founding fathers took their baby steps away from mother England was that of a fierce independence. Indeed, the very Mayflower Compact was created because many of the Strangers wanted to run into the woods and do their own thing. These were hardy folk, they’d travelled three thousand miles through uncharted waters to an unmapped land just to be free. It speaks of a people who later go against the mightiest nation in the world in war, and win, because that nation had dared to step on their liberty.
There was also the “Savages” acceptance of immigrants. It wasn’t necessarily out of the goodness of their hearts, many historians tell us, as the Indians were simply hoping to gain a new ally in the tribal warfare of the day, yet still, the Pilgrims were refugees, and the Indians did let them come, whatever the reason.
And then there was unity. Three groups of people, who for the most part worshiped in three different ways and spoke different languages, from different places, with different goals and ideas, were able to come together without warring with one another, to talk over their differences. That peace would last for over fifty years, until a true savage, “King Phillip,” an Indian chief, would break it.
Today, we are many millions of people, with scores of languages, scores of religious affiliations, and ideas as to how we should govern ourselves too many too count. And yet, as the other motto on our currency states, we are “out of many one.” We have come here not to be Englishmen or Saints or Strangers or Savages, we have come to be Americans. There are plenty of things to divide us, but we shouldn’t bother being such small people as to focus on those. We have one language, one flag, one currency and one people. The Pilgrims came here looking for unity amongst themselves and peace with the outside world. It’s a goal worth fighting for, and one we can be thankful they gave to us.

Andrew C. Abbott

Friday, November 20, 2015

Paris Attacks: One Hundred Dead, Ten Thousand Homeless

Appomattox, VA – It has often been stated that when a horrific event happens, 9/11, the death of John F. Kennedy, Pearl Harbor, you remember the very place you were. For me, on Friday the Thirteenth of November, I was about to watch Batman Begins again when I checked the news for one last time…and I never did end up watching the film that night.
The Paris Attacks, like a shock wave, have vibrated round the world. The responses from the Western World were quick, as all of us hastened to change our Facebook images to French flags and everywhere from DC to Chicago to London-the ancient enemy of France, hastened to light up its monuments in the red, white, and blue of the French tricolor.
In the world of the barbarians, sometimes called radical Islamic Terrorism, the response was one of jubilation almost bordering on euphoria because they had done something only an animal (and I apologize to rats for equating them with terrorists) would find any pleasure in.
But the question is, how should our continuing response be measured? Anonymous, the online hacking group has initiated cyber war on ISIS, shutting down twitter accounts and hacking their bank accounts, and Britain’s next Prime Minister, George Osborne, has promised to do the same. France has taken the wise step of closing its borders, and of course all the other European Countries should do the same.  For too long insufficient border controls and a fear of being seen as racist stopped many from speaking out about the unspeakable crime of open borders. But hopefully these horrific acts in Paris will stop this trend and open the eyes of the world that the next time terrorists come through open borders, either through Mexico or Luxemburg, and the target could be Chicago or Brussels.
In America, anyone who may have been oscillating in the old fashioned isolationist or leftist positions of not continuing the war on terror have now been silenced for a few more years at least, Politico underscoring this with its headline article “On Terrorism, we are all Right Wingers now.”
But of course, here in America the most important question is not only how we will close our southern border to keep members of ISIS, who have already threatened to attack DC and New York out, but also what will we do with the 10,000 refugees that our president has promised to bring in, in the first wave of a mass migration a quarter of a million strong. The vast majority would be Syrians, many of them young men, coming from a nation torn by civil war and rife with terrorists and extremist Muslim propaganda.
Some have said let none of them in, some have said let them all in. Some have said let a few in, as long as they are Christian. The last one is of course not an option. Not only would it be a knee jerk reaction to this crisis, and a poor reaction at that, in a practical sense it would be an impossible proposition. Who decides who is Christian? How do we know if they are lying? It’s all nonsense.
For the moment, this wave of ten thousand refugees are perhaps the ones the most affected by ISIS’s acts of terror outside of the immediate friends and family of those who were murdered of wounded, which is ironic, because supposedly Muslims and non-westerners are supposed to be the very ones they are supposed to be fighting to protect.
Over thirty governors have so far said they want no part of the refugees, while everyone from Mitt Romney to Ted Cruz, and even a few Democrats have said that the refugees must not be allowed in.
Whichever side one takes in this debate, it cannot be denied that this is an issue that needs to be addressed. These people should not be left in limbo. A yes or no answer needs to be returned very soon. Our leaders must think through this very carefully. If the answer is yes then stringent background checks must be put in place that are more searching than the test to become Caesar’s wife. If the answer is no, we must stand by that answer, and explain to the world that we would love to take in innocent refugees, but since there could very well be wolves amongst the sheep, we can’t take anyone. And if we do return that answer, we need to stand by it, all angry charity groups or the UN itself to the contrary.
And one last thing, the president needs to stop talking. So far his pronouncements on this subject have not been helpful or constructive. He is saying the first thing that comes to his mind, and most of it isn’t any good. His calling anyone who doesn’t want the refugees here “hysterical” is ridiculous, a hundred people just got killed, and one of the murderers was reportedly a refugee. And his mocking of those who don’t want them here as “afraid of little girls” is shameful. It wasn’t a little girl that blew herself up in Paris.
Pray for Paris, and for our president, that he would start using wisdom before he opens his mouth; honestly, what happened to all that bipartisan discretion he exercised in 2008 when he first ran for the presidency? At this rate he will be labeled the Democratic Donald Trump.
But all of that aside, the terrorist attacks have now left 10,000 people in limbo, and we need to come up with an answer. But whatever that answer is, it must not put our compassion ahead of our security.

Andrew C. Abbott

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

When Emperors Walk Naked

In the humorous and timeless story of Hans Christian Anderson, The Emperor's New Clothes, the famously nude emperor parades himself throughout the town in a nonexistent suit, thinking, like all those about him that he had nothing at all on, but not saying anything for fear of being labeled "hopelessly stupid." But the brave and proverbial little boy shouts out "the emperor is naked!" All the town's people take up the cry, the two tailors are run out of town and the poor emperor goes and finds himself some pants to put on.

But herein lies the difference in this children's tale from reality. For in true tales, if a man or woman speaks up, exposes the lies, tells the truth, and shouts "the emperor is naked" the crowd will not take up the cry. They will gasp, turn, and then begin stoning the one that would dare, in his ignorant, unpopular, narrow-minded and unenlightened mind, think that he could say the emperor was naked, when goodness knows-everyone can see he's wearing very fine robes. The little boy would not have been a hero, he would have been the bigoted villain. In the real world those who tell the truth are rarely deified, they are more often crucified.

There are many ideas that must be challenged, many lies that need exposing, but as you do that, don't forget that those who discover the man behind the curtain are sometimes killed. If you take the glasses of the useful idiots mindlessly wandering around the city of OZ thinking it is made of emeralds, they probably won't thank you for it. More likely they'll despise the one who took away the illusion of great beauty, even though the only thing there was a lot of peeling green paint.

Andrew C. Abbott

Monday, November 16, 2015

How About them Dems?

Atlanta, GA – On Saturday, Bernie Sanders, the Jr. Senator from Vermont left his hotel, owned by a capitalist. Got in his car built by a capitalist, and checked the news on his phone invented by a capitalist. When he got to his destination, a debate on a television station started by a capitalist, Sanders looked into a camera run by a capitalist, and screamed that capitalism is destroying America.
Such was the Democratic Debate in Iowa on CBSN.
Sanders, a man who has never started a business in his life or even held a job for a prolonged period of time, spent most of the debate bashing those who do create jobs and decrying the evils of being rich. (Sanders is himself rich.) The senator once again said that the way to fix the country is to tax millionaires more than they are already being taxed, even though CNN recently reported on a study which shows that taxing the millionaires and billionaires, even a lot more, would make little difference to the vast US budget.
There was Martin O’Malley, the former governor of Maryland who is polling around 2% or less. His main job on stage is to stick around so that if Hillary gets indicted, the Democratic Party Elite will have another choice besides Bernie Sanders. He had a very good debate, all things considered. Although his style proves why he is not polling better, O’Malley was better than last time. His oddest moment of the night came when he claimed Donald Trump is an “immigrant bashing carnival barker.” He must have forgotten Trump is married to an immigrant and has thousands of them working for him in jobs he has created. O’Malley has created no jobs in his life.
As for Hillary Clinton, she had a night which was ok for her. She's already on the road to victory, and unless she suddenly breaks down and has a blowout moment where she admits everything the GOP has said about her is true, Clinton will sail to the nomination barring anyone else joining the race. Her foreign policy statements were well thought out, as was to be expected, and she managed not to run too far after Sanders to the left of the party, which, if she were to do, would cause her problems in the general election.
CBSN hosted a fine debate; John Dickerson handled the candidates very well, even without a buzzer. I may just be biased because I am a regular viewer of his Sunday show Face the Nation, but I thought with his focus on the issues and well thought out follow up questions, along with his “governor, your breaking the rules,” Dickerson set a high bar for future moderators of Democratic Debates this cycle.

Andrew C. Abbott

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Witch from Arkansas


Atlanta, GA – During the ongoing investigations of Hillary Clinton, being done by everyone from congress to the FBI, and about everything in her past from emails to her actions during Benghazi, Mrs. Clinton has taken to calling the investigations a “witch hunt.” She says it derogatorily, like those involved should blush and be ashamed of themselves. But she’s actually right, these investigations are witch hunts.
And she’s the witch.
In the midst of all the scandals surrounding Mrs. Clinton, it still seems at this point that she is unlikely to de indicted or prosecuted on any charge, and of course, one is innocent until proven guilty, even if one is a Clinton. However, there is a high court which no mortal can overrule; that of public opinion.
All the lack of evidence in the world cannot destroy the fact that to those on the outside looking in, Mrs. Clinton’s entire operation looks tainted. Her hidden connections with Blumenthal, her apparent disregard for rules in the handling of classified information, her equivocating and misleading statements to the public about her emails, her receipt of money from foreign governments, many of whom were and remain massive human rights violators. All of this looks to ordinary idiots like it just might be a bit shady.
But while Mrs. Clinton may have some technical jargon to help her get out of every predicament she has ever placed herself in, her final argument at the end generally becomes “well I was never convicted!” That’s true, but Al Capone was also never convicted of the Valentine’s Day Massacre, and anyone on the street would say “I saw the movie, he did it.”
The truth is that Mrs. Clinton has been a public figure who has a hard time staying away from the appearance of wrong doing, someone who looked to be playing with cards under the table, so to speak, for more than two decades.
Stretching back to Watergate, there has been a history of such things, such as when records that were important to the case went missing, and then suddenly turned up, in one of Mrs. Clinton’s aide’s offices. Mrs. Clinton claimed that the room was cluttered, (which was true) and the papers simply had been missed. (Some, including a Secret Service Agent claimed they were stolen from Foster’s office on the night of his suicide.)
Maybe what Mrs. Clinton said was true, but there was also the apparent hush money some friends of the Clintons, the billionaire Indonesian Riady family, played to another player in the 1990s, Clinton scandals. The Clintons claimed their relationship with the Riadys was purely social, even though there is a four-page, single-spaced letter from the patriarch of that family, Mochtar Riady, to President Bill Clinton, urging upon him certain actions on foreign policy. Maybe the fact that the Riadys may have paid hush money to someone who could have damaged the Clintons, and was then urging the president to normalize relations with Vietnam was coincidence, but it sounds much more like graft, nepotism, and corruption than innocence.
After each allegation is made, Mrs. Clinton generally comes up with a quite innocent sounding response, and maybe she is telling the truth each time. But when it happens again and again, it becomes harder and harder for the average person to believe her.
Hundreds of years ago, if little children got sick, if the crops were bad, or if lightning struck the church and burned it to the ground, the locals assumed that there was, somewhere in the dark woods, cackling over a pot full of bat ears and snake heads, a witch who was petting a black cat and holding an oversized broom. Maybe they were right. I doubt it, but you never know.
The important thing was that the woman was seen muttering strange things on the night of the storm. She was probably just senile, but it looked bad. And that was all the public needed. Did all of them really believe she was a witch? Of course not. Maybe some just didn’t like her. But she was projecting an image, and as everyone knows, perception is more important than reality.
These days, when documents that could do damage to someone go missing, and then suddenly appear right in their very house, when hush money appears to be paid, when an entire email server is wiped, when an American ambassador dies and no one, including the Secretary of State, helps him, and when money is received from foreign governments by the very person who is supposed to deal with those foreign governments in the interest of the United States, we might be led to assume that somewhere at the back of all this is someone who, if not quite a criminal, does not go to sleep at night with a conscience as clean as Mother Teresa’s.
Mrs. Clinton didn’t kill Vince Foster; she doesn’t ride a broom, although if you listen enough to Republican talk radio you might start to think she does. There was probably nothing she could have done to save the Americans at Benghazi, but she sure could have handled the situation better. And the fact that she keeps getting caught muttering things on the night of the storm looks bad.
She’s no witch, but she’s no genius at handling the public perceptions and the media, either. If anything she is so bad at it that it might show she is more inept than corrupt. But in the end, a politician lives or dies in the court of public opinion, and that court can still sentence people public burning at the stake. Mrs. Clinton will never face jail time for any of the things she has done. But even if she is, as she probably will be, exonerated on every charge in every scandal, it probably won’t be enough. Children will still hurry past her door for fear of being turned into toads and donors and voters will turn to other, less frightening options, if they can find them, or they might just do nothing at all this cycle.
And that will be the story of the witch from Arkansas; a woman who might well have been innocent, but just didn’t know how to make it look that way.
Andrew C. Abbott

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Ambulance Down in the Valley

Some would fix the world after its broken, rather than save it from collapse.

'Twas a dangerous cliff, as they freely confessed,
Though to walk near its crest was so pleasant;
But over its terrible edge there had slipped
A duke and full many a peasant.
So the people said something would have to be done,
But their projects did not at all tally;
Some said, "Put a fence 'round the edge of the cliff,"
Some, "An ambulance down in the valley."

But the cry for the ambulance carried the day,
For it spread through the neighboring city;
A fence may be useful or not, it is true,
But each heart became full of pity
For those who slipped over the dangerous cliff;
And the dwellers in highway and alley
Gave pounds and gave pence, not to put up a fence,
But an ambulance down in the valley.

"For the cliff is all right, if you're careful," they said,
"And, if folks even slip and are dropping,
It isn't the slipping that hurts them so much
As the shock down below when they're stopping."
So day after day, as these mishaps occurred,
Quick forth would those rescuers sally
To pick up the victims who fell off the cliff,
With their ambulance down in the valley.

Then an old sage remarked: "It's a marvel to me
That people give far more attention
To repairing results than to stopping the cause,
When they'd much better aim at prevention.
Let us stop at its source all this mischief," cried he,
"Come, neighbors and friends, let us rally;
If the cliff we will fence, we might almost dispense
With the ambulance down in the valley."

"Oh he's a fanatic," the others rejoined,
"Dispense with the ambulance? Never!
He'd dispense with all charities, too, if he could;
No! No! We'll support them forever.
Aren't we picking up folks just as fast as they fall?
And shall this man dictate to us? Shall he?
Why should people of sense stop to put up a fence,
While the ambulance works in the valley?"

But the sensible few, who are practical too,
Will not bear with such nonsense much longer;
They believe that prevention is better than cure,
And their party will soon be the stronger.
Encourage them then, with your purse, voice, and pen,
And while other philanthropists dally,
They will scorn all pretense, and put up a stout fence
On the cliff that hangs over the valley.

Better guide well the young than reclaim them when old,
For the voice of true wisdom is calling.
"To rescue the fallen is good, but 'tis best
To prevent other people from falling."
Better close up the source of temptation and crime
Than deliver from dungeon or galley;
Better put a strong fence 'round the top of the cliff
Than an ambulance down in the valley.

-- Joseph Malins (1895)

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

All About Business: The FOX Business Debate

Atlanta, GA - In the commercials before the debate on the FOX Business Network, FBN boasted “CNBC never asked the real questions, never covered the real issues. That's why on Nov. 10, the real debate about our economy and our future is only on Fox Business Network.”

They delivered. Except for one question to Carson about the controversies over his past, a question that was quite necessary, the journalists managed to make the entire debate the most substantive so far.
The venue was probably the most beautiful we’ve seen so far, although the crowd seemed divided, on the one hand-cheering Trump when he promised to uphold the laws passed by congress and signed by presidents that any and all illegal immigrants, wherever they are from, be shipped back, and that our border be secured. However, at the same time the crowd also cheered when Bush said that Trump was being ridiculous.
The biggest winners of the night were once again Cruz and Rubio, but this time Rubio pulled ahead of Cruz to be a clear winner, while the senator from Texas was left holding a lessor place. Rubio seemed completely at ease and prepared, and quite knowledgeable about every subject he was asked. It truly seems that Rubio must have a really fantastic team helping him with debate preparation, and one of the necessities for being president is the ability to pick a good team. A-plus, Marco.
Rubio also got in one of the best lines of the night in defense of the a workable, livable wage, a good deal below 15 dollars an hour, reminding everyone that such a high minimum wage would make humans more expensive than machines.
As for Cruz, he did well, his line about the bible and the tax code didn’t make me laugh, but I will remember it, so that’s something, I guess. His discourse on immigration was also quite powerful, especially when he talked about how if the illegal immigrants were journalists and were lowering the income of that profession, the media would care. And he wouldn't bail out the banks, so that's  another good thing.
Cruz continues to do something quite remarkable, that, rise in the polls despite his far right stances and his lack of Trump-like stupidity. We’ll keep watching this guy.
Speaking of Trump…really pal? Everybody was interrupting everybody, that’s why it’s called a debate, and he had to go after the woman. If Trump could have gone after anyone it would have been Kasich, who was by far the worst offender. Trump looked bored on the stage, although to be fair he has said he doesn’t really care about the debates that much. He continues to lead in the polls, nonetheless.
Trump lacked much substance on anything other than immigration, continuing to talk about how “America doesn’t win anymore.” He and Michael Cohen need to have a sit down to come up with some new sound bites. At this rate, Trump will get so old by Iowa that Carson will start to sound exciting.
Carson had his moments, but good and bad. His performance on the whole was mixed, although his response on ISIS sounded confused and unclear. He once again reminded us he has no foreign policy experience and apparently little knowledge of the field. At a time when we are facing such difficulties in foreign relations, and it is clear there can be no on the job training, it is doubtful that Carson’s foreign policy credentials will truly resonate with most voters.

Mrs. Fiorina did a very good job last night, as opposed to her lackluster performance last time around. She was focused and feisty, at times almost sounding like the Iron Lady. Her foreign policy ideas were well worded and thought out. I liked it. If she doesn’t win this thing, (and that looks like a good possibility) she would make an excellent secretary of state.
Jeb Bush’s campaign is like a man who has fallen and bleeding. Last night Bush stopped the bleeding, but the man still has not picked himself up off the ground. It was an okay performance for a man who has showed us he is not a good debater. For those who agreed with him, (and that is not that many GOP primary voters) his answers on immigration were good, but later Bush often came across as some sort of nerd who was in the back of the class crashing the party.
Rand Paul did not win the debate last night, but he finally, finally, came out of his shell. Maybe he fired his last debate prep team and hired a new one, but whatever he did, Paul at last came out swinging. No punches pulled, just him in his comfort zone, real, hard, policy debating. He went after Rubio, calling him “not a conservative” and bashing everyone on the stage for not living in the modern world and becoming a fiscal hardliner. It was his best debate by far and away, and this comes at a time when he is experiencing a small surge in the polls. Who knows, maybe he’ll make it to January.
And now for the big loser of the night. John Kasich. Um…why was there a child throwing a temper tantrum up there? Kasich is supposed to be a governor, not a six year old who didn’t get the cereal she wanted. Kasich kept interrupting, kept getting off topic and being confusing, and in the end got a well-deserved chorus of boos for saying he would bail out the banks again. I certainly hope by the time next debate rolls around Christi, (who by the way won the undercard debate, although Jindal did well) has returned to the big stage and Kasich has left it forever.
The only disappointment for me last night was that Trump turned his sexism on and went after Mrs. Fiorina. I was really hoping he would go after Kasich and expose him for the whining thumb sucker he is. Oh well, maybe next time.

Andrew C. Abbott