Know When to Hold ‘Em: Barack, I’ll See Your Rebel Flag and Raise You a Racist Donkey

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By Greg Smith

“Removing the flag from this state’s capitol would not be an act of political correctness. It would not be an insult to the valor of Confederate soldiers. It would simply be an acknowledgement for the cause for which they fought, for slavery, is wrong. . . By taking down that flag, we express God’s grace.” – Barack Obama

“I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. Now, for me as a Christian — for me — for me as a Christian, it is also a sacred union. God’s in the mix.” — Barack Obama

If it is time to bring down the stars and bars for the last time, let us not be selective in our condemnation of symbols of oppression.

In 1864, nearly two years after President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, it was the Democratic Party that opposed continuing the Civil War. It was the Republican Party that insisted the war must continue to re-unite the nation. It was the Republican Party that pushed through the 14th Amendment. It was the Republican Party that freed the slaves. For those who cite the rebel flag as a symbol of slavery and treason, in 1864 those were basically part of the Democratic Party’s platform which preferred an immediate cessation of hostilities over both the Union and ending slavery. The black man was of no matter.

In 1912 and 1916 it was the Democratic Party that elected Woodrow Wilson, a man whose views on race quite openly celebrated a continued organized oppression against blacks.

In 1963 it was a Democrat who stood blocking the schoolhouse doors to deny admittance to black students, as it was the Democratic Party – the dominant party in the South from Reconstruction into the 1980s — that stood foursquare in favor of “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!”

More recently, the Democratic nominees in 1992 through 2008 were opposed to gay marriage. Barack Obama was opposed to it before he was in favor of it. That seems to be a common practice. Hillary Clinton, who loves to talk about leadership, was opposed to gay marriage until it was convenient for her to switch sides and be for it. Her husband even signed the Defense of Marriage Act.

The words that flow today from the mouths of Mrs. Clinton and Obama make it clear the Democratic Party’s history is one of shameful repression, and if the rebel flag should be permanently retired, the symbol of the Democratic Party should likewise be pensioned off. Almost any other animal will do, since studies suggest animals have very short memories.

The Democratic Party's main name for it's annual fundraiser, Jefferson Jackson Day, is named after slaveholders. Andrew Jackson was especially racist.

The Democratic Party’s main name for it’s annual fundraisers, Jefferson Jackson Day, is named after slaveholders. Andrew Jackson was especially racist.

President Obama should ask Indians – Native Americans to you Prius drivers – if the American flag should continue to fly. When he or his fellow leaders of the party of Jefferson and Jackson – those oppressive white, male skeletons in the Democratic closet – have dealt with these issues they can claim some moral authority on the subject. Until then, they are as they ever have been: politicians mining an issue for personal and political gain.

I call on you President Obama – hoping he’s one my four regular readers – “express God’s grace” — and pull the plank out of your own eye.   ©

Greg Smith is a freelance writer and political consultant who lives in Bantam, CT. His blog is found at www.betterfatthanfascist.com.

Missing John Paul II

While the papacy is a religious position, it is hard not to miss Pope John Paul II at a time when Russian forces are supporting and fighting a war in Ukraine simply for the geopolitical machinations of a former KGB colonel.

John Paul understood how to use his influence rather than just mouthing the words expected. Why Pope Francis would waste his breathe lecturing Vladimir Putin on the need for real efforts at peace in Ukraine is a mystery because even a dilettante of the world stage like Francis couldn’t possibly think it would have any effect.

Putin and the pope

There are several versions of the following story, but one has it in 1944 British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was trying to dissuade Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin from seizing control of Poland by invoking the Vatican’s interests, to which Stalin replied, “How many divisions does the pope have?”

Expecting a different tack from Vladimir Putin is the essence of naivety.

Brian Williams Saga Should Not Surprise

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By Greg Smith

Why is there any surprise that a television ‘journalist’ paid $10 million per year has problems with embellishing the facts?

Journalism is among if not the lowest-paid line of white-collar work there is. Ask any Joe Shlub print reporter how they feel about having to listen to teachers, who work less and are paid a lot more, complain about how much they make.

While higher education is pretty much a requirement to get hired, it doesn’t take a college degree to be a good journalist. More than anything it takes common sense, some tenacity and a willingness to work; work really hard. Any journalist I ever knew would have been pretty darn happy to make even $60,000 a year. To make half a million a year would be too good to be true. So how are network anchors so far above the rest of their field that Brian Williams makes $10 million annually? In itself that should be a red flag.

Brian Williams and other network anchors, strictly speaking, are not even journalists. They are actors paid to provide the right face, voice inflection, gravitas and likability to generate viewership. Their clothes, hair color, glasses or lack thereof and every other detail of their public persona are a calculation. An expensive suit their normal costume; on the road a Brooks Brother safari jacket lends just the right feel. For them reporting involves a set, be it at a New York City corporate high rise or a third-world, debris-filled side street cloaked in smoke and awash in distant gunfire.

Does anyone remember Peter Arnett, the Pulitzer-prize winner who became the face of CNN by reporting from a Bagdad hotel during the 1991 Gulf War? He, at least while the cameras were rolling, walked the walk and talked the talk of the consummate globe-trotting journalist who would brave anything to bring us the facts. In 1998 CNN ran a report which said U.S. forces had used chemical weapons, sarin gas, in 1970 while trying to kill Americans in Laos who had defected during the Vietnam War. Arnett reported the 18-minute story with all the convincing flair of a reporter.

Then fate pulled back the curtain on Arnett’s professional costume party. The story turned out to have a few important holes and as criticism mounted against the network, Arnett and producers involved, Arnett’s response was he was just the face of the story, not the journalist. He wasn’t accountable for errors or omissions.

“I’m a company guy,” said Arnett to the Washington Post describing his place in the brouhaha. “You want me to read a script, I’ll read it.”

So we have costumes, sets and a script. Shouldn’t be any surprise about the occasional foray into fiction.

To be fair to Brian Williams, I have “misremembered” things, and I know others have as well. Talk to someone with whom you shared an experience 10 years ago and see if you both remember the pertinent facts the same. Williams’s story about his helicopter taking fire is a little bigger deal and is more problematic. From the descriptions he didn’t misremember his own experience, he inserted himself into someone else’s.

Why Williams would consciously or unconsciously create a personal story should be obvious. His rather substantial livelihood and celebrity are based on a public perception. He is no worse than the aging actress on her third set of plastic surgeries or the has been climate-activist singer whose life and livelihood use 500 times more carbon-based energy than the rest of us, all in a bid to remain relevant.

The perplexing question is how did a guy who makes $10 million a year reading stories researched and written by others ever get a level of journalistic credibility in the first place? Considering his job could be done with a $100 piece of software, there should be no surprise that he has taken some license to keep himself relevant.

Greg Smith is a freelance writer and political consultant who lives in Bantam, CT. His blog is found at www.betterfatthanfascist.com

http://ajrarchive.org/Article.asp?id=%20838

Jeb? No Thank You to Romney Sequel

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By Greg Smith

One down, Jeb to go.

Thankfully, Mitt Romney has dropped any plans he had for a third run for the White House. Now, the GOP needs to tell another pillar of softer, gentler Republicanism he is not the right person for the presidency.

I like Jeb Bush in the same way I like Romney. Both seem like nice guys who have been willing to run for public office and take the requisite public lashings. Both seem genuine and intelligent, maybe people I’d want to go camping with. But both have a fatal flaw if viewed through the prism of the Republican presidential nomination.

The biggest chink in Jeb’s armor is his continued support of Common Core, the federal government’s latest attempt to graft higher standards onto the states’ public school systems. Common Core reminds me of something Will Rogers once said about another major social innovation that promised to use activist government to improve people’s lives: “Communism is like prohibition, it’s a good idea but it won’t work.”

Rogers could tell Communism couldn’t work because it was too complicated and contradicted basic human nature. The Red Menace was based on what sounded nice — what sounded nice quickly turned genocidal — rather than what is. We saw the same in No Child Left Behind, and Race to the Top, two bold education initiatives that after billions of dollars spent made as big a difference as a sno-cone dropped in Lake Michigan. Any positive effect they provided was tiny compared to their cost. Money from these types of programs could instead be used for something as simple and effective as limiting class size. America’s post-war history is littered with these types of projects that were too radical and invasive to improve the status quo for the long term, instead wasting precious resources in the short term.

In 2008, it became apparent early on the McCain-Palin ticket was adrift when Sarah Palin was explaining in an interview how a McCain administration planned to pay for some new programs by eliminating waste in current programs. What is wrong with controlling waste? The most basic notion behind American conservatism is the government is inherently wasteful and it cannot be controlled because every penny government spends is free money to someone. If government waste can be controlled, there is no reason for fiscal conservatism.

In that vein, any belief by Jeb Bush that Common Core can positively impact education in America says one of two things about him: Either he is willing to overlook a basic truism to appeal to more voters – I don’t believe this to be the case – or he lacks a basic understanding on the limits of government effectiveness.

If the GOP can’t finally find a nominee who both understands the limits on government capabilities and offer an effective platform within that sphere, it may be time to look for a Grand New Party.

Greg Smith is a freelance writer and political consultant who lives in Bantam, CT. His blog is found at http://www.betterfatthanfascist.com

https://betterfatthanfascist.com/2014/02/26/gw-bridge-scandal-endemic-of-government/

GOP & the Common Core

Elizabeth Warren for president? Why does this seem so familiar?

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By Greg Smith

It is downright sad to hear the growing chorus of Democrats calling for Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-MA to run for president.

“Let’s get a liberal populist former Harvard law professor with little Senate experience and no legislative accomplishments to run for president because her speeches are electrifying,” shouts a participant at a Peace And A Metric Ton of Justice for Homeless Transsexuals protest in Boston, clutching her $11 free-trade soy frappe mocha. “Yeah, that’s what the country needs.”

The 2016 presidential election is shaping up to be tough on the Democratic Party. Obamacare will be the gift that keeps on giving, to Republicans.

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The hacking of Sony Pictures Studio and threats of violence against movie cinemas is going to hurt the more liberal wing of the Democratic Party in 2016. There is a persistent notion that the GOP is the party of the rich, but in reality the super-rich are at least if not more likely to financially support Democrats.

The super-rich have seen a belligerent foreign power cause many millions of dollars in damages to an American company on American soil and threaten violence against theaters, and get away with it. It makes one wonder if they now have a little more understanding of the general reality behind Col. Nathan R. Jessup, Jack Nicholson’s character in A Few Good Men: “. . . My existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall.”

“You snotty little bastard!”

Most of the world’s governments do not follow Western notions of freedom and tolerance. Since U.S. merchant ships and crews in the Mediterranean Sea faced the threat of captivity and death at the hands of Barbary pirates – and New England merchants and bankers at home faced financial ruin — Americans have learned time and again that real or perceived weakness on our part is looked at merely as an opportunity by these enemies. Wealthy liberals are going to wonder if a little more fear of American power is necessarily a bad thing.

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The 2014 midterm election revealed the Democratic Party has a problem with white voters. Party officials may not yet even understand how the racially charged atmosphere that motivated the assassination of two on-duty police officers by a black man in New York City is going to sway the nation politically. White voters are not turned off by some protests and generally support legitimate agitation against injustice, but when protesters walk the streets calling for the murder of police, which shortly comes about, that is a recipe for continued white flight from the party of Jefferson.

The current unrest in New York City and across the country is nothing more than a pathetic political correctness run amok. The city is a bastion of liberalism that not only tolerated but silently approved of stop-and-frisk laws that mock the Constitution and the notion of personal freedom. Had stop-and-frisk been carried out on Wall Street, outside synagogues or in white neighborhoods there would have been a hue and a cry, but the heavily Democratic city was silent so long as minorities were the target. Now they want to pretend they care about all lives.

Hypocrites.   ©

Greg Smith is a freelance writer and political consultant who lives in Bantam, CT. His blog is found at www.betterfatthanfascist.com.

Hillary’s Chance Was in 2008

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By Greg Smith

Why is anyone suddenly surprised the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination is not sitting on a silver platter in the DNC headquarters with a “Property of Hillary Clinton” note on it?

When Clinton, from a then reliably Democratic Arkansas, wanted to run for Senate in 2000 she had to go to super-liberal New York to do it. A college basketball player working out on a Dunk Hoop would hardly impress NBA scouts. And going into the 2008 primaries Clinton was the odds-on favorite of Democrats, with all the name recognition, connections and fundraising potential a candidate could possibly hope to have. She went on to lose the nomination to a nobody. How has anyone taken her seriously since?

More damaging to her chances are the 20-plus years of her on the national stage. To put it mildly, she has baggage. In 1993 while pushing for her own version of health care reform Clinton was questioned about how the proposal would obviously harm millions of small American businesses and responded, “I can’t be responsible for every under-capitalized business.”

In 1959 Mao Zedong ordered large amounts of food exported from China to earn hard currency to pay for the Great Leap Forward, starving tens of millions to death. “When there is not enough to eat people starve to death. It is better to let half of the people die so that the other half can eat their fill.”

Sounding a little more humane than Mao isn’t much of a campaign strategy. Incidentally, why do the people in charge who want to make an omelet always insist on breaking someone else’s eggs?

This past October Clinton said – out loud – “And don’t let anybody, don’t let anybody tell you, that, you know, it’s corporations and businesses that create jobs. You know, that old theory, trickle-down economics. That has been tried. That has failed. It has failed rather spectacularly.”

An aide tried to say Clinton’s meant giving tax breaks to businesses doesn’t help create jobs and Clinton herself tried to add context, but even the explanations didn’t alter the meaning of what Clinton said. She actually believes higher tax rates do not impact a business’ ability to compete or create jobs. A presidential candidate who tried to defend that idea would simply lack credibility with most independent voters.

Clinton’s record as secretary of state is similarly punctuated by notable naivety like the ‘reset’ button on relations with Russia. She and President Obama pushed the notion President Bush was a cowboy packing pearl-handled diplomacy that soured U.S.-Russo relations. Five years on and Russia has annexed a part of Ukraine and is still there fighting a proxy war. Obama has even resorted to mocking Russian life expectancy and as a nation that “doesn’t make anything.”

Since she lost in 2008 Clinton has been considered the favorite for the next open ticket the Democratic Party had to offer. The reason is simple: The Democratic Party is light on talent and has been since the turn of the century. One only need look at Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi to see how shallow the DNC’s bench is.

Their politics aside, Pelosi and Reid are train wrecks. The lack of cooperation in Congress is a two-way street, but these two have done as much as anyone to poison the well of bipartisanship with their incessant rhetorical attacks. The fact that after two historic drubbings in just three elections Pelosi and Reid are going to keep their leadership positions shows the paucity of political talent on the Democrat’s roster.

Democrats will shortly be down to 44 senators, and nearly all of them are either pretty liberal – Chuck Schumer, Barbara Boxer – with no chance at winning the White House or have no name recognition and no accomplishments. One of the few otherwise electable Senate Democrats is Robert P. Casey, Jr. D-PA. He is from an important battleground state, personable and likeable and somewhat moderate. But Casey is pro-life which means he has no chance at being considered for the top ticket, even as vice-president, because the next president will most likely nominate at least three supreme court justices, and if re-elected could nominate six or seven. The next kook who jumps the fence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue has a better shot at making it into the White House than Casey.

Bill Nelson D-FL is another Democrat from a populous state with a track record and who manages to connect with the political middle. Michael Bennet D-CO has been called a rising star within the Democratic Party. Unfortunately, these two and all of their cohorts have one fatal flaw: They either voted for Obamacare or to maintain it since it first passed. After 2014, Democrats should be quite hesitant to bet the presidency on the electability of anyone who voted for the ACA.

Democrats also must privately recognize they elected a man whose charisma did not make up for his considerable lack of executive experience. Obama has shown almost no willingness or ability to work with others even within his own party. He demands others give him what he wants, and if they don’t he complains and fundraises; hardly an example of successful presidential leadership.

Having a nominee whose fingerprints are not on the ACA and who has shown leadership skill is why the next Democratic presidential nominee is going to be a governor. If Democrats are smart, their next presidential nominee will be from a GOP-leaning state where the governor had to work with opponents to get anything accomplished.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon is one of the very few Democrats with a moderate track record and experience working with Republicans. When not running excessively liberal candidates Democrats have historically had traction in the Midwest, a region generally important in deciding presidential elections because it can go either way.

The reason Clinton lost in 2008 and will lose any election that isn’t heavily stacked in her favor is because she has high negative approval ratings. If 40 percent of the people would crawl through glass to vote against you it leaves very little wiggle room in the electoral math. She has specialized in being a polarizing figure, which makes her great at fundraising, great at drawing attention, and lousy at winning national elections.

With President Obama left on the sidelines, Bill and Hillary Clintons acted as surrogates on the midterm campaign trail. According to a list compiled by ABC News, of the 24 Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton campaigned for or with since September 9, 14 lost including the candidates for governor in Massachusetts, Maryland and Michigan. Practicing on a Dunk Hoop won’t get you ready for Lebron.

Nixon has said he wants Clinton to run, but if she doesn’t he’d consider a run himself. Over the next year watch for stories of the whisper campaign against Clinton as more Democrats recognize they need a fresh start, and a fresh face.

Clinton went into the 2008 primaries as a heavy favorite and lost, which shows how difficult it is to predict presidential elections years in advance. Still, given the rare circumstances Democrats face I would give Nixon a 40% chance at the Democratic nomination – perhaps with Sen. Elizabeth Warren on the ticket to satisfy Hillary supporters — which is at least 10 times greater than the odds Clinton herself merits.

Hillary can take heart in the fact the two major parties make foolish, ideologically driven choices with such regularity that nothing can be ruled out.   ©

Greg Smith is a freelance writer and political consultant who lives in Bantam, CT. His blog is found at www.betterfatthanfascist.com.

http://news.yahoo.com/hillary-clinton-slips-presidential-poll-2014-bad-her-215214468.html

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/midterm-elections-2014-clinton-backed-candidates-fared/story?id=26694294

Professor Gruber’s Lesson: Intelligence isn’t Wisdom

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And if I claim to be a wise man, it surely means that I don’t know.” – Kansas, “Carry On Wayward Son”

By Greg Smith

Anyone who took a few humanities or social science courses in college probably dealt with professors, highly educated people, who were dismissive in word or deed of views that opposed their own. These classes taught, through the arrogance of academia, how humans use education to justify an ideology instead of expanding an understanding of opposing views.

More than anything else the hubris of these academics taught the difference between knowledge and wisdom.

Which brings us to the MIT economics professor who has so thoroughly embarrassed himself and the Obama administration with his comments disparaging the intelligence of the American voter. Jonathan Gruber must be a smart man. You don’t graduate with a Ph.D. from Harvard and get a job on MIT’s faculty by being academically challenged.

How could someone who is evidently pretty bright talk about the “stupidity of the American voter” on camera? Moreover, why would he feel the need to repeatedly disparage the common people who stock the shelves, build the cars, police the streets, pay the taxes, fight the wars and support the bowling alleys? He comes off sounding – and come to think of it looking – like Waylon Smithers describing the “drones” who work in sector 7-G.

GruberSmithers

So often the hallmark of high intelligence is an arrogance-induced foolishness in which the sufferer dupes him- or herself into a dazed delusion of omnipotence. This is dangerous in anyone involved in government because it is such a short leap to justifying the means with the ends.

One need only look back to the Vietnam War to see where such hubris can lead. When John F. Kennedy was elected president in 1960 he brought in a youthful administration that included Robert McNamara, a Harvard MBA who ran the Department of Defense and war in Vietnam until 1968. McNamara was a very successful auto executive who advocated modern management techniques for the Pentagon.

These data-driven decision-making processes work very well in a highly defined process like building cars – McNamara ran Ford Motor Company – or even ordering military spare parts. A war, on the other hand, has far too many components that cannot be quantified. Placing a technocrat in charge is a recipe for disaster.

Enter, stage right, Obamacare and our dear Dr. Gruber and his computer models. It is hard to imagine the computer model that can take into account all the nuts and bolts that form healthcare in America. It covers all roughly 318 million residents. It covers births, deaths and every medical expense and decision in between. Anyone who believes they can accurately quantify and plan the infinite number of individual inputs and outcomes, especially in such a rapidly changing sector, is fooling themselves.

Most of us are probably not smart enough to put together a credible computer model of something much smaller than the U.S. healthcare system. But then most of us lack the sanctimonious belief in our own infallibility to try, which places us much lower on the scale of “stupidity” than Dr. Gruber.

A smart man may be able to put together a convincing healthcare computer model. A wise man would know better than to try.   ©

Greg Smith is a stupid freelance writer and political consultant who lives in Bantam, CT. His stupid blog is found at www.betterfatthanfascist.com.

“Do you know me?

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Gruber

“Of course not because you’re stupid. As a Harvard-educated MIT economics professor the little people should bow down and grovel before my mighty intellect, but my face isn’t recognized by people who don’t summer on Martha’s Vineyard. That’s why I carry the American Express card. It allows me to spend some of the millions in taxpayer money I’ve greedily suctioned up and act in a haughty, superior manner even though the people I encounter are not bright enough to recognize I.M. Better Than You.

AMEX

“The American Express card. Don’t subvert democracy without it.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/wp/2014/11/14/did-jonathan-gruber-earn-almost-400000-from-the-obama-administration/

Image copied from: http://ldopa.net/wp-content/uploads/2007/03/amex.jpg

“Yeah, eh!” Canada Among Midterm Winners

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By Greg Smith

There must have been a wave of cheers across Canada last week as Republicans won a majority of the U.S. Senate because the logjam over approval for the Keystone XL Pipeline may finally be over.

The Obama administration’s blockage of approval for construction of the proposed pipeline from Alberta to Texas sums up six years of his presidency: a feel-good strategy that was both doomed to fail at its intended environmental goals while certain to antagonize a key ally in the process. Stopping the pipeline from being constructed offers no benefit to anyone, including the environmentalists who form the heart of the opposition.

The crux of the matter is whether the lack of a new pipeline to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries that can process the heavy crude oil coming from the Canadian oil sands will cause Canada to simply stop extracting the oil. During the 2012 presidential debates, Obama pointed out the U.S. is increasing oil production. Due to concerns about pollution and fears of global warming opponents don’t want oil extracted from the tar sands of Alberta.

It seems rather hypocritical for the U.S. to be in an oil boom while telling a neighbor their oil should stay in the ground. It is the usual argument made by too many comfortable, well-heeled environmentalists to save the planet others need to ditch their car and each winter set the thermostat to “Mother Earth thanks you.”

Canada has made it clear it will continue extracting the oil. Without Keystone oil will travel by rail – which requires more fuel and is more dangerous — to the U.S. refineries able to process it, or be sent via a proposed pipeline built to Canada’s east or west coast. In that scenario the oil can be refined in Canada and shipped elsewhere in the world, or sent abroad as crude to be refined elsewhere with lesser environmental regulations. U.S. refineries and oil companies can be cut out of the process with less energy available to the American consumer, and greater pollution in the atmosphere.

With Keystone there is a large construction project employing thousands of Americans, added business for American refineries on a permanent basis and more energy available to the American market. This will mean lower prices and encourage other business and commerce in the U.S.

Without Keystone U.S. companies and consumers could be completely shut out of access to the benefits of Canadian oil, while the oil continues to flow, but at greater economic and environmental cost, and we have jerked around a close ally for years for no good reason.

Forgoing the benefits of Keystone is still less maddening than a sitting president unable to muster the courage to just make a damn decision and live with the consequences. Obama’s unwillingness for a verdict on the pipeline permit may have actually come into the calculations Vladimir Putin made when Russia invaded Ukraine. It’s a pretty easy bet that a man afraid to make a choice on a proposed pipeline probably isn’t much of an adversary in realpolitik with a former KGB colonel.

As Soviet leaders saw decisiveness in Ronald Reagan’s willingness to fire air traffic controllers during an illegal strike in 1981, Obama has shown himself unwilling to ascend the ramparts in a fight. In short order such vacillation moves from farcical to dangerous.   ©

Greg Smith is a freelance writer and political consultant who lives in Bantam, CT. His blog is found at www.betterfatthanfascist.com.