The passing of George Voinovich

A common theme appearing in coming-of-age tales is one of a youth who becomes disenchanted with a hero.  The youth discovers the hero has flaws.  The youth becomes a bit cynical.   The youth feels disillusioned.  The youth doesn’t look at the hero the same way again.  It’s just a part of growing up.

But then one is not all the way grown up at that point.  One has to grow up a little bit more and not only be forgiving of flaws, but giving permission to others to be flawed.  Why?  Because no one is perfect and because no one ought to coerce another to give up their flaws.  We have to respect agency–people making choices about their own lives . . . and if someone doesn’t make any wrong choices, then that somebody isn’t making choices, period.  Furthermore, one only has to look in the mirror to find a person who needs forgiveness for being flawed, for making wrong choices.

So as I reflect on the passing of George Voinovich and what George Voinovich meant to me, I have to own up to making a hero out of him.  By September 2009, I was disenchanted.  Now, I find my criticisms a bit harsh and now I find myself wondering why I didn’t try to muster some forgiveness sooner.  I need to look in my mirror and take a good long look at a flawed person again to cement in my mind the need for forgiveness.

I first remember Voinovich from my boyhood, when he was mayor of Cleveland.  He performed two miracles.  One was getting elected as mayor of Cleveland as a Republican.  That he had been a Cuyahoga County commissioner some time prior to that was amazing enough, but Cleveland mayor?  Republicans just don’t get elected as Cleveland mayors.  It just doesn’t happen.  At least, not anymore.  There have been mayoral elections in Cleveland where Democrat primaries settled the mayoral races.  The other was that he led a Cleveland economic renaissance immediately after his predecessor, Dennis Kucinich, had led the city to financial default.  If only Detroit could have been so lucky as to have a person like Voinovich take over as mayor after Kwame Kilpatrick was ousted.

He went on to be Ohio’s governor, and then U.S. Senator.  He was the rare Republican who could sweep the vote across 88 counties.

One of the issues that I really felt close to Voinovich on was his opposition to casino gambling.  His steadfast stance on the issue was perhaps the main reason I lionized him.  The casino lobbyists had infested Ohio by the swarms, targeting weak and corrupt legislators of both parties.  The lobbyists kept saying that casino legalization would be an easy revenue raiser.  Voinovich had brought Cleveland back from financial default without resorting to gimmicks like gambling.  The lobbyists were doling out campaign contributions left and right, but Voinovich wasn’t having any of it.  It’s refreshing to see politicians who will not be bought by the agents of sleaze.

I really feel like Voinovich’s star shone brightest when he held executive office.  Not so much legislative office.  He was better at on-the-spot and uncompromising executive decisions than the highly deliberative and compromising legislative decisions.

My first taste of government service came as a volunteer intern in the office of Governor George Voinovich.  Though my tasks were menial clerical ones, I felt like I had an excellent aerial view of Ohio’s political landscape from atop the Vern Riffe State Office Tower.  I assisted with the filing of the “Governor’s Clips.”  Each day, staffers combed through the print media to assemble a digest of the day’s political stories.  This digest kept the governor informed about the issues without occupying too much of his time.  This was back in the day before internet killed print media, and back when filing cabinets held paper files rather than computers holding data files.  After the governor read each day’s clips, that wasn’t the end of them.  They had to be filed for possible future retrieval.  They had to be filed according to date, according to source, according to location, according to the names of people in the news clips, according to issues, etc.  I do that on this blog with tags.  With paper files, tags don’t quite cut it.  The date, location, and source filing was easy.  That was done by others before I even arrived at the office.  My task was to skim through the stories, themselves, to pull out the keywords, then make as many photocopies of the clipping as I needed in order to file away each story according to each keyword.

Working with the “Governor’s Clips” gave me a brief glimpse into my political future when I encountered an article outlining a state legislator’s gambling expansion proposals: Some guy named Joe Koziura wanted a casino built on Lorain’s lakefront.  I was incensed.  Years later, in 2002 and 2004, I would run against that same Joe Koziura for the office of state representative, but lose both times.

Until 2009, I had voted for Voinovich every time his name appeared on my ballot.  I had handed out his campaign literature door-to-door.  I had attended some of his fundraisers (which meant that some of his campaign money came from me).  I had also worked phone banks getting out the vote on his behalf.  But the chinks in my hero’s armor had begun to show.  Congress bailed out Wall Street in 2008, something it should not have done.  I didn’t understand Voinovich’s voting patterns.  When I finally paid a visit to the offices of the U.S. Senate in Washington, DC, I figured it out.  Those office buildings, especially the Hart Senate Building, resembled palaces.  Democracy gives way to aristocracy in the rarefied air of these Senate offices.  It was the Beltway Bubble.  Our Senators are too far removed from the real world, and even a man as principled as George Voinovich succumbed to the disengagement with the real world.

In the upcoming Senate race, I have no love for Ted Strickland, who reneged on his pledge against the expansion of gambling on his watch as Ohio governor.  Voinovich and Strickland had touched base on the topic of casinos, and Strickland had told Voinovich that he would hold the line against them.  He lied.  He lied to George Voinovich.  He lied to Ohio.  Strickland doesn’t deserve Ohio’s vote.  I here and now endorse Rob Portman for reelection.  However, I would note that Portman has been around DC for far too long.  Between a stint in the US House, and a stint in the US Senate, Portman served in the George W. Bush administration.  I would urge Portman to (get reelected and) use this upcoming Senate term to groom someone else to succeed him.  Make that two someone elses, for we need someone to oust and succeed Sherrod Brown, too.  And I would say that we need more diverse representation than what we’ve had.  Portman has had “listening” tours around Ohio so that he feels like he hears from folks outside the bubble, but I would say to Portman that, at some point, before he serves any additional terms in DC beyond the next one, that he needs to BE one of the folks from outside the bubble if he’s to remain useful as a representative of Ohioans.  This is what I learned about the bubble on my trip to DC.  Even a hero like Voinovich could not make sound decisions after spending too much time in the DC bubble.

Farewell, George Voinovich.  We didn’t end up with quite the Ohio that we wanted.  Four casinos are legal in Ohio now.  The lobbyists wouldn’t be denied.  But as long as you were in the real world with us, outside of that bubble, no lobbyist could cross your conscience.  We need a government with a conscience.  Badly. And so I should have forgiven you a long time ago. I do forgive you.

 

 

How does Scott Walker win Ohio? He won’t.

I hear that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker gives really good stump speeches in his quest to win the U.S. Presidency in 2016.  In a very crowded GOP field where a candidate only has to have more than 10% support to be considered one of the serious contenders (really? when 2016 is still 5 months away?), Walker appears to be well positioned for the first GOP caucus contest early next year in Iowa.  So, what if he wins Iowa?  What if he wins nominating contests in New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada?  A lot of competitors will have quit after striking out in the first four contests, true.  But will those potential wins provide the bump he needs to win the White House?  I don’t think so.  Though Ohio’s electoral votes seem to decrease with every census, I still do not see how a Republican candidate wins the White House without winning Ohio.  I don’t see how Scott Walker can win Ohio in a general election unless the Democrat nominee makes a mammoth (and I mean huge, huge, huge) blunder.

It is conceivable, however unlikely, that Walker could win a GOP primary in Ohio, especially if the GOP field is still crowded.  But the field won’t be crowded.  With so many candidates at this stage of the race, the double-digit support Walker currently has makes him seem like a Goliath (OK, maybe not compared to Donald Trump or former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, but I think you know what I mean).  In my memory, I can never recall a GOP primary ballot in Ohio that listed more than five presidential candidates.  Going from double-digit numbers of candidates down to 5 candidates would mean that Scott Walker would have to climb to at least 20% of the vote to win, and 20% would only win if the other candidates were also deadlocked with 20% of the vote yet each tallying one less vote than Scott Walker’s.  If there were just 2 candidates Ohio’s GOP primary ballot and one of them were Scott Walker, I seriously doubt he could cross the 50% threshold to win.  His best chance to win Ohio’s delegates is for all the other candidates to drop out (and sometimes that happens by the time Ohio votes).

Walker was making national news as governor of Wisconsin at the same time that John Kasich was making national news as governor of Ohio.  True, Kasich made national news as a key member of the Congress that balanced the federal budget in the 1990’s, but, for many voters, that is not recent memory.  Governors Walker and Kasich were in the national spotlight for the same thing: passing legislation to drastically alter the collective bargaining rights of the public-sector labor unions.

To me, showing real leadership in executive office means toughly negotiating a fair contract.  Leadership is needed not only at the state level to get labor contracts that strike the right balance, but also at the local levels of government, too.  Voters don’t always elect good leaders, and that’s on them if they didn’t do their homework prior to voting.  So, if labor contracts exist that are not in the public’s best interest, then the public needs to recruit good leaders and vote them into office.  After the victors take office, they need to remember that taxpayers expect that our government executives negotiate contracts that the public can support.

What Walker and Kasich tried to do was compensate for an overall lack of leadership, at state and local levels, regarding labor contract negotiations.  They tried to use the legislation to overturn negotiated contracts.  This step, in and of itself, is not only wrong (because it breaks promises), but it weakens the executive branch’s negotiating clout down the road.  Negotiating in good faith strengthens one’s clout.  Wiping out contracts with legislation shows that one did not negotiate in good faith.  Now, what does one do to engender trust when negotiating with the unions if the unions think that you’re just going to turn around and lobby the legislature to undercut what you just agreed to?  Walker is insulated from his mistake, for now, because voters in Wisconsin sided with him. Now, he needs to find votes in other states, and, speaking of states, Ohio is not an insignificant one.

I think that the labor unions in Wisconsin mistakenly thought that marketplace principles don’t apply to them, for they must have assumed that they could do a crappy job and get away with it. When I think about how things turned out, I think Walker’s victories must have had more to do with taxpayer discontent with public employee performance than with anything else. The moral to the story for Wisconsin’s public employees is this:  Serve the public well.  Had that been the case, Wisconsin’s public employees might have succeeded like the public-sector labor unions in Ohio did.  Ohio turned out to support its public employees at the ballot box.

In 2011, Ohio voters supported the referendum that killed Senate Bill 5, carrying 83 of Ohio’s 88 counties. In Kasich’s bid for re-election in 2014, he had to assure Ohioans that he had learned his lesson and would not go back down that same path to do an end run around labor contracts via legislation.  Lucky for Kasich, he was opposed by Ed Fitzgerald, an ineffective and disgraceful politician from Cuyahoga County, in the 2014 gubernatorial race.  Media observers outside Ohio should not read too much into Kasich’s 2014 win because they need to take into account just how pitifully weak a candidate Fitzgerald was.  Therefore, Kasich’s ability to win Ohio as a presidential candidate is not a foregone conclusion.

Let’s make something clear:  In turning back SB 5 in all but 5 counties (Delaware, Warren, Holmes, Shelby, and Mercer), it would appear that a number of Ohio Republicans thought that the bad-faith legislative end-run around promises made to public employees was a bad move.  Democrats, alone, didn’t kill that bill.  In a contested GOP primary, assuming Walker is still in the mix, he can only pick up the votes of those who favored the bill, which, as I pointed out, may not provide a winning margin if the number of candidates is dwindling.  I don’t know what Walker’s fundraising acumen is, but I suppose he could find well-heeled donors in Delaware and Warren counties to give the illusion that he has some kind of political support in Ohio, but money doesn’t necessarily add up to votes.  Though there are other planks in Walker’s platform besides union-busting, many of those same planks exist in the platforms of his competitors.  In other words, he is different from the other candidates in that he engaged in union-busting and got away with it.  Except, he really won’t get away with it, because the path to the White House leads through Ohio.  Kasich, for his part, is apologetic (but he still might not carry Ohio).  Walker remains unapologetic.  And this brings us to the general election of 2016 (okay, I said the 2016 general election might not even happen if all hell breaks loose).

Do we need to remind everyone that Ohio is a swing state?  The Democrats GOTV efforts in Ohio during presidential election years have been full-throttle, to say the least.  The Democrats know that no matter how large the magnitude of resources is that’s poured into Ohio, it pays off if they deny the GOP of Ohio’s electors.  So though Ohio looks red in between presidential election years, the Democrats painted Ohio blue in 2008 and 2012.  History shows us that Republicans do not win the White House without Ohio’s electors.  If Scott Walker were the GOP nominee, how does he carry Ohio?  The death of SB 5 would suggest that Walker will definitely not max out the Republican vote.  What does he offer for Democrats that may cause them to think about crossing over?  Nothing.

Walker slashed the unions claiming that it would save the taxpayers some money.  Maybe it just re-allocated where money is spent, for Walker plans to help the Milwaukee Bucks NBA team get a new arena with the help of taxpayer money–from new taxes.  That’s called corporate welfare.  That doesn’t even sell well with the Tea Party.  Meanwhile, as a saving grace, Kasich works wonders with budgets without more taxation.  Conclusion: Walker’s union-busting is a bust in Ohio.  White House access denied.

Kasich, for his part, has a chance, but the Democrat nominee will not be Ed Fitzgerald in November 2016.  I think he knows that.

The Meaning of Jade Helm 15 for the Future of the United States of America

Editor’s note:  My brother, James Williamson, wrote a guest blog article also about Jade Helm, titled, “Imminent Rebellion: The Perfect Storm,” in which he theorizes that the federal government may be conspiring to quash rebellious states and/or rioters by declaring martial law . . . or worse. Feel free to compare my post with his and post comments with your thoughts.–DJW

What is Operation Jade Helm 15?

Operation Jade Helm 15 is a joint military exercise currently underway in the southwestern United States of America that is due to wrap up on September 15, 2015. In addition to coordination between branches of the US Armed Forces, these exercises will also entail working hand-in-glove with other federal agencies not usually known for pairing with the military during combat missions—oh! . . . and I should clarify for you that these military exercises are, in fact, combat drills. Without that clarification, you might think that these are emergency preparedness drills for either civil defense or disaster relief, because several of the odd partners in these exercises are agencies within the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice.

In this simulation, some of the southwestern states will be designated as allied territory, i.e. staging grounds for combat missions. Other states will be designated as hostile territory, within which targets are designated for the missions launched from allied territory. Two states are considered neutral territory with one seemingly sympathetic toward the allies and the other seemingly sympathetic toward the enemy, but not otherwise actively engaged in the skirmishes between the two sides. In this scenario, California has been partitioned with the two counties that neighbor the Mexican border designated as hostile territory while the rest of California is in allied territory. The other hostile territories are Texas and Utah while the other allied territories are Nevada and Colorado. New Mexico is seen as sympathetic toward the enemy and Arizona is seen as sympathetic toward the allies.

Jade Helm 15 has become a popular topic among conspiracy theorists.

A number of skeptical individual citizens, as well as those in social circles (Tea Party?) and self-styled civilian militias who are distrustful of the federal government, are concerned that Operation Jade Helm 15 is a preparation for carrying out future military operations directed at muting government critics. They point to combat missions planned for Jade Helm wherein small special ops teams, prior to any battlefield engagement, are to quietly swoop in to capture or kill the leaders of the opposition. The FBI and the DEA, both of which are federal policing agencies that operate mostly within the United States rather than abroad, will be the ones detecting and tracking the opposition leaders in advance of the arrival of the special ops teams that will take those targets out.

Put more bluntly, the states designated as allied or hostile territory for the purposes of Operation Jade Helm 15 are not stand-ins for foreign nations, if the rumors of FBI and DEA cooperation with the military are true. The states are cast in the role of actual states of the United States. Thus, another conspiracy theory is that this is more than just eliminating self-styled civilian militias and anti-government propagandists. Instead, many of the conspiracy theorists interpret these special ops missions as preparation for the initial stages of another civil war.

The military has reached out to communities to refute conspiracy theorists.

These military exercises are mostly being conducted on private properties with permissions from property owners. Without some kind of advance public notice of these exercises, the military worried that civilians dwelling near these properties would become alarmed by the noises of helicopters and rifle fire, thereby unnecessarily swamping 911 operators with phone calls while drills were taking place. Communities near where these exercises are or will be taking place have been notified that these are only drills. No real emergencies are anticipated. In some communities, the military has held actual town hall meetings to offer reassurance that these exercises are merely tests of coordination between military branches and federal agencies to enhance military readiness for operations in other parts of the world.

Some conspiracy theorists have been in attendance at the community town hall meetings hosted by the military to confront the military officers with their suspicions of preparation for martial law and/or civil war. The military officers conducting the meetings repeatedly gave assurances that the federal government has not and is not planning for either the implementation of martial law or the onset of civil war.

The conspiracy theorists were not persuaded or placated by the assurances, and military officers privately conceded that nothing they could say would have changed the minds of the conspiracy theorists. The view of the military officers was that the conspiracy theorists would not put their minds at ease until September 16th arrived—the day after wrap-up—without the occurrence of any alarming incidents in the meantime.

In many cases, the conspiracy theorists in attendance were not local townsfolk. They traveled some distances to attend these town hall meetings. Overall, local townsfolk in the vicinity of the planned exercises were apt to believe the military officers, or at least give them the benefit of the doubt. Public support for our nation’s troops has characteristically been very strong since 9/11, and perhaps that is why the townsfolk responded to the military in a favorable way. Theories of conspiracy apparently failed to gain traction among locals.

I think Jade Helm is a trial balloon for a contingency, not confirmation of a full-fledged conspiracy.

Perhaps I am drawing a fine distinction, but I hope readers can discern my meaning. Let me first pose a hypothetical question: What if the federal government experienced a financial meltdown? I’m not talking about a Congressional debate that failed to yield enough votes for raising the debt ceiling and thus causing a government shutdown. No, I am talking about a much worse fiscal environment, as I blogged about four-and-a-half years ago, where the value of our money or the sources of our money just evaporate.

If there is a full-fledged conspiracy afoot in the federal government, it is a conspiracy to continue government “stimulus” spending and central bank (the Federal Reserve) quantitative easing that will surely bankrupt our government.

Crony capitalism and government intervention in the private sector is at the heart of the problem, just as it was during the Wall Street bailouts of 2008. Please do not misconstrue my disdain for crony capitalism as disdain for capitalism as a whole. I very much favor free-market capitalism. For more talking points about crony capitalism—what it is and what it brings about—beyond what I share here, perhaps you should follow the 2016 presidential campaign messages of Carly Fiorina, as she has been outspoken on the matter. Big businesses within a myriad of industries have lobbied successfully over the course of decades for federal laws that provide them with distinct marketplace advantages. Incumbent politicians of both major political parties crave campaign donations to retain power. The corporate PACs have been rewarding members of Congress for favorable laws by filling campaign coffers. The Wall Street bailouts of 2008 were not only motivated by a concern that a disastrous nationwide economic meltdown would occur, but also by a concern that politicians would be biting the hands that feed them had they not approved the bailouts. Bailouts only constitute a portion of “stimulus” spending designed to lengthen the careers of professional politicians via rewards to big business political benefactors. Growth of government, for example, leads to growth of private-sector government contractors, thus providing economic “stimulus.” As the government grows, so also does the power of the politicians that run it. The government has intruded on our private economy, and even our private lives, at an ever-accelerating rate. Considering government intrusion, it is no wonder that conspiracy theories abound. The conspiracy theory that I fully subscribe to is avarice. The government and the politicians that run it want money and power in the worst way.

The government’s greed for money and power is unsustainable. When the fiscal system collapses, when the government defaults on debt payments, when the government can only pay its employees with IOUs, when the government can no longer reimburse doctors for Medicare and Medicaid, when no more monthly Social Security benefits can be paid out, when no more unemployment checks can be issued, when no more Temporary Assistance to Needy Families can be provided, when the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation can no longer protect your bank deposits if your bank fails, when there is no longer any ability to bail out well-connected political benefactors, when U.S. Treasury bonds can no longer be redeemed (and when no one with any common sense will buy them), I predict the government will shift into confiscatory mode. Do you think the day will never come that the government is starved for money? I think we’ve already passed the point of no return. That day is coming. I’m convinced of it.

As the federal government becomes insolvent, forget about debt ceiling debates, the government will repeal or ignore any such ceiling in a desperate attempt to retain some kind of purchasing power. Woe unto all who may have cheated on federal taxes, owe federal loans, or otherwise committed offenses wherein laws allow for asset seizure, for private assets will be seized—forcefully, if necessary. Expect that more laws will be passed that allow for more private property forfeiture to the government. Expect the federal government to try to commandeer the resources of the states. Expect tax exemptions to evaporate. Expect federal taxes to be levied on assets that were never taxed before in American history. Does it sound far-fetched to you? If so, have you been paying attention to Greece and some of the measures the government has resorted to there? Greece hasn’t resorted to all of these measures, because they still are milking the European Union for as much as they can get, but, if you’ve paid attention, Greece has already resorted to some of these measures. Have you noticed what the Greek government has done to the banks?

Okay, I will concede that the government has not yet conspired to resort to any such measures. The conspiracy for money and power still rings true to me. So, if you, dear readers, will at least humor me by assuming that the federal government conspires to accumulate more money and power, what might the fallout be if the government cannot sustain its efforts to do so? You don’t know? You can’t be sure? You have some vague ideas of what might happen, but no crystal ball to show you exactly how it all plays out? If you are not sure what might happen in such a scenario, I think you are in good company. I think the federal government, though it has some vague ideas, doesn’t know exactly how such a situation plays out, either. I think they are mulling over the multitude of possible ramifications and seeing what options they can put on the table to mitigate against any negative ramifications that may arise. In other words, they are beginning to examine contingencies.

This is the distinction I am drawing. In my mind, Jade Helm is not a government conspiracy. The government has not committed itself to implementing martial law. It has not pledged to engage in civil war. It has not fully formulated plans for either of these actions. These are not the unspoken intentions behind the conception of Operation Jade Helm 15. Instead, the federal government is just brainstorming—throwing things at the wall, so to speak, and seeing what sticks—in case all hell breaks loose. The government does not yet know if they would put martial law, let alone civil war, on the table if the people and/or states revolt. Maybe there will be no revolt. Maybe citizens will pull together, help each other out, and keep the peace, giving the federal government time to regroup and conceive of a new way forward. Jade Helm, to me, is an exploratory mission to see what may be feasible in planning for the contingencies that may arise in an uncertain future.

In my opinion, the future will bring revolt and the U.S. government will act with hostility toward the people and the states.

The revolt I foresee will not be premeditated and the harsh actions of the government will not have arisen from conspiracy. It will unfold spontaneously. The federal government’s unsustainable avarice for money and power will be the underlying cause of the actions that follow. People desperate for basic essentials will riot and plunder. States will want to insulate themselves from the chaos to the degree that they will assert their autonomy and move toward secession.

The United States, to my knowledge, has not set up internment camps since they forced Americans of Japanese heritage to live in such camps during World War II. It was a mistake to set up the camps in the first place. The threat posed by those detained was minor to negligible. Their constitutional rights were suspended for the purpose of security, but in my mind, civil liberty trumps the small risks to security that a few individuals may pose. Jade Helm, from my understanding (but I hope I’m wrong), includes exercises in setting up and maintaining internment camps for government dissidents. I believe that if such exercises are conducted, that it may embolden the federal government to put internment camps on the table as an option should widespread popular revolt materialize.

The supposed joint exercises involving special ops, the FBI, and the DEA may encourage the government to put another option on the table to neutralize dissidents. I believe the DEA will be active, anyway, even without revolt, because the greedy government will act aggressively to seize property in connection with suspected drug crimes. We can only hope, in such desperate times, that the actions of the DEA will be directed only at legitimate drug criminals rather than impacting innocent civilians via dragnets too broad in scope. But, if things get out of hand and there is an uprising, particularly among self-styled militias, I can easily conceive of the FBI sniffing out the leading dissidents and special ops, in turn, snuffing them out.

Secession would first be attempted by states that have already passed measures in their legislatures asserting their sovereignty over their own territory. Many states have done so. Some of these states, like South Carolina, Utah, and Texas, have planned for contingencies that anticipate the possibility of the collapse of our national currency. South Carolina has reserved for itself the right to mint coins. Utah has reserved for its people the right of the people to mint their own coins. The Texas treasury’s investments include gold, held in a New York vault. The Texas legislature has garnered media attention for its call to relocate that gold to a yet-to-be-built vault on Texas’ own soil. Not only would these states be among the first to move toward secession, they would also be the first targets of federal military power, were the situation to escalate, in efforts to both block secession and commandeer states’ resources. Civil war may materialize. South Carolina—the last holdout in banishing the Confederate flag (not only a detestable symbol of slavery but a symbol of secession) and the first to engage in combat at the start of the Civil War, could conceivably be the starting point of a new civil war. This time, if such a scenario were to arise, instead of South Carolina’s troops assaulting a federal military installation, it will be the federal government that initiates an assault against South Carolina.

Seizing state assets in Texas and Utah before those states can secure them will serve as prime motivation for the federal government to strike preemptively in those states as well. I point to Operation Jade Helm 15 as evidence of the federal government’s conspiracy to obtain more wealth and power, for the whole states of Texas and Utah are designated as hostile territory in Jade Helm. You decide. Is this coincidence, or not? Is this a way to explore a contingency, or not?

As further evidence that designating Texas and Utah as hostile territory for the purposes of Jade Helm may not be coincidental, the neutrality of New Mexico and Arizona along with their supposed political leanings make little sense unless viewed through the eyes of federal avarice. After all, Arizona has had several high-profile squabbles with the federal government, so sympathizing with the federal government, as conceived of in Operation Jade Helm 15, doesn’t ring true. Meanwhile, the blue-leaning state of New Mexico has very different political leanings than Texas or Utah, so why would New Mexico, though sitting on the sidelines, be leaning away from the feds? In my travel through New Mexico, the bilingual nature of the state is evident. Spanish is spoken nearly everywhere, and a large proportion of New Mexico’s population speaks Spanish as its first language (which, in my mind, is not a bad thing). I am assuming that while the U.S. is reaching a point of meltdown, the nation of Mexico is still intact. I think New Mexico may seek to strengthen economic ties with Mexico as an economic stopgap measure, and though the New Mexico legislature may make no movement toward formal secession, the U.S. government may look upon New Mexico’s commerce with envy and have to make a decision whether to take action against New Mexico or look the other way. Meanwhile, Arizona has already burned its bridges with the Mexican government, so expanding commerce in that direction is not an option. Could the California counties bordering Mexico take even bolder action than New Mexico in engaging commercially with Mexico by going a step further and adopting a political stance defiant of the federal government? If the designations of hostile and friendly territory for the purposes of Jade Helm are totally innocent and random, so be it. But if the federal government has an appetite for plunder, doesn’t the map of Jade Helm finally make sense?

Putin is an opportunist, and Russia will swing into action if the U.S. is in disarray.

In the 2012 presidential campaign, the Obama campaign ridiculed Republican rival Mitt Romney for stating that Russia is the USA’s number one geopolitical foe. Now, even President Obama’s new appointee for Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff admits the ill will and great danger the US faces from Russia. We knew Romney was right before the POTUS and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did. That ridiculous Russian relationship reset button is reason enough for me to dismiss support for Clinton’s 2016 presidential bid out of hand.

Close observers of Putin say that he looks at adversarial situations through the lens of a judo martial artist.  (On that note, I really like this article by Matthew Hedrick at Fortune magazine.)  Martial arts are comprised of more than just rehearsed moves and strategies, for, at the highest level, they are accompanied by a mindset, a way of perceiving interactions between external entities, a way of perceiving self in society, a way of perceiving one’s place in the world, a way of perceiving one’s internal thoughts and emotions, and a way of perceiving the spiritual and supernatural. Putin has achieved a black belt in judo. His instinct is not to be the aggressor when his adversary is most wary and least vulnerable. His instinct is to throw his adversary to the ground when his opponent exposes a vulnerability. Often, the force of the throw is not just determined by how much muscle Putin puts into it, for it is also significantly determined by how much momentum carried the adversary in the direction of the throw. With the United States already moving in a military direction against its own states in a civil war, a direction that could potentially result in the demise of the federal government, Russia may make a grab at the opportunity and finish the job—throwing the United States government to the ground.

The Russian propagandists have been bragging to their own nation that they have refined the abilities of their nuclear arsenal through advanced technology while the U.S. has stood pat with weaponry based on the designs of yesteryears. The Russian public loves this propaganda, and recent public opinion polls show that Russians have a very dim view of America. The Russian government propagandists have gone so far as to say that it can win . . . WIN . . . a nuclear war with the United States. If Russia indeed possesses this capability, we should look upon that nation with dread, for the Russian people have the political will to see it through.

I think that while the casualties mount in the United States, Russia will choose a time and place to strike with nuclear weapons that will break the back of the federal government as we know it. For those of us old enough to remember the Reagan Administration, the U.S. military proposed the development of a neutron bomb. I believe the Russians possess such bombs. The bombs are intended to leave buildings and infrastructure largely intact while killing off all inhabitants within the blast area. The radioactive fallout decays more rapidly than the nukes in our arsenal so that, in a short number of years (maybe less), the blast area can be occupied by the victors. Instead of blasting the planet to oblivion and radioactively poisoning the planet’s remains forever, Russia’s nukes can allow for surgical strikes that take out the populations of much smaller targets with little worry about incurring many casualties from radioactive fallout drifting over the Russian homeland. They win and we lose.

I do not believe Russian troops will be deployed to occupy American territory (with maybe exceptions for Alaska and the very strategically placed Hawaii). I believe Russia may use proxies for that purpose. Much as we won’t put boots on the ground to beat ISIS, but instead use airstrikes to enable allies such as the Kurds to occupy liberated territory, I think Russia will do likewise with their long-range military strikes while enabling an occupying invasion from elsewhere in the Americas. I believe Canada will not be able to maintain its territorial integrity as the invaders will not respect Canada’s borders and the Russians, coveting the whole of the Arctic Ocean basin, will strike our ally to the north, as well. The Russians will then turn toward reaching military objectives in their own hemisphere without any worry of intervention emanating from the United States.

If Jade Helm convinces the federal government that resorting to civil war is an option to put on the table as a response to widespread revolt over the government’s strong arm tactics in the wake of a fiscal emergency, then woe to the United States as we know it, for Russia will strike a crippling blow and America will be overthrown.

I believe there will be a rebirth of the nation, but it will take perhaps a decade for it to happen.

The new occupants of this region of North America will have swept in seeking the riches and the abundant life that was characteristic of the United States in its heyday and will not find it. Feeble regional governments will dot the landscape. They will totter until they find the right formula for governance. At some point, one of those governments will adopt principles contained in the U.S. Constitution and enjoy some prosperity as a result. Peoples of other regions will discover that the prosperity of the United States of the past proceeded not from an abundance of natural resources, but from the checks and balances upon government that the Constitution affords a sovereign people. Other regions will then seek to participate in a republic governed by that Constitution and will seek to have their territory annexed to that republic. In time, even peoples in distant parts of the Americas will seek the advantages of governance according to the principles of the Constitution. After all the destruction and chaos, a new American power will arise and immigration from the Eastern Hemisphere will start to swell.

If these events unfold, I project the onset to be quite soon, but I’ve been wrong before.

As mentioned in a blog post written in December 2010, I projected an utter economic collapse far worse than the one experienced in the fall of 2008. I said at that time that I could not envision, with our government’s fiscal condition so out of order, that the smoke and mirrors supporting the illusion of a strong fiat currency could be maintained for more than four years into the future. I was wrong. I am glad to be wrong. I hope to continue to be wrong. I hope our national debt turns out to be a mirage. I hope crony capitalism yields to free markets. I hope Americans can find meaningful employment that allows them to support their families. I hope that American prosperity leads to diminished demand upon government resources for family survival. I hope that economic growth yields sufficient growth in the tax base that we can trim tax rates. I hope that the working population grows so much and makes so much money that the money paid into Social Security and Medicare will help provide for the nation’s retirees and disabled. But I cannot see a turning point in our future that allows us to merrily proceed toward that utopia.

The crumbling of Greece may very well cause the European Union to crumble. Japan has never really recovered from its economic crisis dating back to the mid 1990’s. China has overextended itself with massive infrastructure projects, a number of which are underutilized even after completion. The Middle East has discovered that oil is becoming a common commodity. Russia sees the economic writing on the wall and is working feverishly to insulate themselves from the coming crisis as best they can. At least Russia has a jump on attempts to stay on its feet in relation to the rest of the Northern Hemisphere. South America is likely to escape the full brunt of the coming crisis, though Venezuela is already deluged in its own crisis. Much of this I rehearsed in that 2010 blog post. I see no reason to retreat from this falling domino scenario. The United States will not be able to withstand the economic blows reverberating around the world.

From what I can piece together, first shoe falls this fall. It is summer, already. I believe Jade Helm will wrap up on September the 15th without incident. It will be in the weeks after that during which the foundation shakes. I think many of us will still be leading normal lives through the end of this year, but we will no longer be so naïve about what might transpire. Perhaps Social Security payments will be suspended sometime in 2016 and the federal government finally shows its desperation for all to see.

I think that we might not have a federal election in November 2016. I think that is how calamitous the turn of events may turn out to be and how soon things might become unraveled. We will still exist in the fall of 2016, I think, but be too dysfunctional to carry through with the election. Or perhaps the elections take place, but quickly deteriorate in the aftermath so that the transition to a new Congress and POTUS is rocky and highly disputed, with states perhaps not sending their full delegations to Congress in a show of real intent to assert their own sovereignty. I think the majority of the states will be embroiled in violence in 2017, with an invading force from elsewhere in the Americas already mustering. I think the Russians will strike by 2018, the invasion will ensue, and we will hit the nadir and stay there for two or three years. I think worldwide recognition of a renewed America does not occur until 2025. I think it may take until 2030 before the renewed America encompasses as much territory as it does now (though I think the borders are not likely to be located where they are now).

The rapid onset of these events, I believe, will cause the federal government to revert to the playbook scripted for Jade Helm. Following the Jade Helm script will not be directly due to a conspiracy, but will merely unfold that way because the federal government will have little time to formulate a better response to an uprising that the government will feel it cannot ignore.

James Williamson guest blog: Federal shutdown? Who cares?

Editor’s note: James Williamson is a former Ohio resident (currently residing in Nevada) who has written other guest blog pieces for Buckeye RINO. I am grateful for his contribution, especially as I am desperately trying to finish writing a thesis to obtain a masters degree. (Once I complete my degree, I hope to blog frequently.)

Guest bloggers at Buckeye RINO express their own opinions which may or may not represent my own opinions. That being said, I take issue with the following assertion that appears within this article: “Remember the Wisconsin fight over collective bargaining rights? Um, neither does anyone else.” I think Ohioans remember that fight, for they fought over public union collective bargaining rights, too, and the outcome of that fight in Ohio was markedly different than the outcome in Wisconsin.–DJW

Federal shutdown? Who cares?

With everything that has been going on for the last few months it’s hard to even pin down a topic to blog about. White house scandals, Anthony Weiner, Bob Filner, unrest in Egypt, our (non) involvement in Syria, the list goes on. With this smorgasbord of juicy discussion topics I am going to pick something that is not getting much press…. yet….

The government’s fiscal year ends September 30th which means there are a little more than 60 days for Congress to pass some sort of budget or continuing resolutions to fund the government starting October 1st. Already liberal pundits are salivating over the possibility because of what happened in 1995-1996. This idea that things turned out badly for the Republicans in 1995 so it will be turn out the same again is a fallacy of logic. While I’m not sure what the fallout would be if a shutdown does take place I can be certain of a few things:

1. Economic growth was much higher in 1995.
2. None of the sticking points of the budget (education, environment, Medicare, etc.) were as unpopular as Obamacare is.
3. John Boehner is not Newt Gingrich.
4. The senate was not controlled by Democrats in 1995.
5. Barack Obama is not Bill Clinton.
6. There is not a presidential election in 2014.
7. Unemployment was much lower in 1995.
8. Unemployment was much lower in 1995.
9. Unemployment was much lower in 1995…

Obviously, I think the unemployment rate will have an outsized impact on public reaction. I believe (based on personal observations) that there is much less sympathy (if there ever was any) for federal workers now than there was in 1995. Not only are private sector workers envious of the near impossibility of getting fired or laid off if you work for the federal government, the wages and benefits have now eclipsed that of the private sector. The Government will quickly discover that there is as much or more voter apathy toward their worker’s plight as there is toward the unions. Remember the Wisconsin fight over collective bargaining rights? Um, neither does anyone else.

Since the federal government does not provide services that affect everyday lives of average Americans immediately (like utility services, vehicle licensing, education) I doubt many people would be upset over the government shutting down for a few months. In fact, after the IRS scandal they may even cheer. Unfortunately this means that the people that would be the most upset by a shutdown would be government employees and federal contractors. So who will this constituency blame? The party that controls 1/2 of congress or the party that controls 1/2 of congress and the white house? Will that affect Senate and House elections in 2014?

Personally I think as long as the department of defense doesn’t shut down the majority of the public won’t miss much. They certainly won’t miss having the IRS pester them. They probably won’t miss the Department of Energy, Department of Education, Department of Agriculture, TSA, GSA, or any other of the myriads of federal bureaucracies. Oh and the entitlement programs that liberal constituencies love so much? They don’t stop if there is a shutdown. They won’t get roused one way or another and this won’t be a major draw for them to go to the ballot box next November. Remember that last time the Democrats failed to gain control of the House of Representatives and lost two seats in the Senate. This time there is no presidential election in 2014 and in 2016 the incumbent is ineligible to run.

Government shutdown imminent? I say, “Bring it on!”

James Williamson guest blog: Imminent rebellion: Rhetoric or forewarning?

Editor’s note:  Ohio native (and current Nevada resident) James Williamson (one of my younger brothers) is back with another in his “Imminent Rebellion” series, which exams the power struggle between states and the U.S. federal government.  This blog article zeros in on the secession petitions forewarded from several states to the U.S. government, but James has been writing about the alienation between states and the federal government for quite some time.  The other guest blog articles in the “Imminent Rebellion” series, starting with the oldest one and progressing to the one just prior to this, can be found here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.–DJW

Imminent Rebellion:  Rhetoric or Forewarning?

There has been a surge of news regarding the secession petitions filed on the White House’s We the People website.  Since I was talking about it over a year ago (you can see my previous blogs on the subject) I’m going to weigh in on the action now that it is coming much closer to front and center.

The latest information that I have is that someone has filed a petition for secession in all 50 states.  I will be the first to admit that many of these petitions have insignificant amounts of support and probably do not reflect popular opinion.  But is it all just talk?  So far.  Talk always precedes actions in the political world.  Is there enough talk that we should be worried?  Worried? Not yet. Concerned? Yes.

There are a few signs that this is no longer just chatter from the fringe elements of society.  One of the signs is the fact that the media is responding to it.  Another is that there are counter petitions being signed.  Another is the fact that several of the states have exceeded the 25,000 signers required to trigger a response from the White House.  As of this writing Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, Alabama, Florida, Texas, Louisiana all exceeded the 25,000 signature threshold.  Texas, of course, is leading the way with just over 105,000 signers and Louisiana a distant second with just under 35,000 petitioners.  What is also significant is that the Texas secession petition has more support than any other issue on the “We the People” site.  Perhaps the most significant signal that this idea is not as laughable as the pundits would have you believe is the fact that both the governor of Texas and the governor of Alabama have made statements about secession (not in favor of) already.

Support for secession will only grow with time, and it’s not really about Obama.  Obama (along with congress) is the symptom not the disease.  The cankerous disease that will rip this country in half is the lust for entitlements.  What do I mean by that? Everyone wants something without having to pay for it.  It can’t continue.  When a business gets bloated and can’t pay its bills what does it do?  It contracts, gets back to its core lines of business, and sheds unprofitable business activity.  When a government gets bloated and can’t pay its bills, what does it do?   It spends even more of course.  That’s because entitlements are more addicting than drugs.  If you don’t believe me look at the news coming out of Greece, Spain, and Italy.  Once you are hooked on them you can’t stop . . . mostly because you forget how to get things like food, clothing, and shelter on your own.  It spreads like the plague too because once your neighbor figures out you are getting stuff for free they want some too.  Eventually the consumers outnumber the producers and the producers get crushed.  It’s happened many times already, just not here in the United States.  Most people who argue against me on this point out that we haven’t gone bankrupt after nearly 100 years of ever increasing entitlement spending.  Study your history.  It took hundreds of years for Rome to collapse financially.  Rome had “progressed” nearly as far as we have.  They didn’t recognize gay marriage but homosexuality was commonplace and so were abortions.  Toward the end of the Roman period nearly 1/3 of the empire was on the government payroll and the regulations were so plentiful, they regulated how much weight you could pack on a horse.  I wish I could resurrect a few of the Romans from that time so they could warn us.  Would we listen?

I digress.  Secession:  Most of the pundits in the media point out that there is no legal mechanism for secession.  Some suggest and some directly say that secession is illegal.  That, in and of itself, is a pretty silly observation to make.  Of course it’s not legal!  Why would the government allow itself to be dissolved? That’s committing suicide.  Government will always protect itself. Challenging the authority of any government is the fastest way to get persecuted by it.  I would also point out that our declaring independence from Great Britain was not legal either. Secession and revolution are not a matter of law.  They are highly extra-legal activities by nature, so declaring them illegal and therefore insisting that such won’t happen is about as naive as it gets.

I don’t know what will happen.  I don’t know if Texas will secede.  What I do know is this:  We don’t live in 1860.  Just because it turned out one way the last time doesn’t mean it will end the same a second time.

No Monday morning quarterbacking here . . . GOP candidates did well

The projections are in, and, aside from good news for the GOP in the U.S. House of Representatives, much of the rest of the news for the GOP was not good.  However, I think Ohio’s GOP candidates did a good job, and so did the Romney/Ryan ticket.

I know that pundits will say that the race for the presidency was winnable (and it was), thus Romney should have been able to cross the finish line with a different strategy.  I am comfortable with the job he did.  I think Josh Mandel ran well, too.  Therefore, I will not be playing a blame game that finds fault with the candidates.  In fact, I will not even place blame on Obama and the opposing camp.

I think voters had enough information given to them to make their own decisions.  I didn’t like the eventual election outcomes, but I do believe that the responsibility for these outcomes rests with the voters.  If I had thought that the candidates had not done enough to inform the electorate about the choices involved in this election, then, yes, I might be looking to cast blame upon candidates.  Even above and beyond the call of duty, both Republicans and Democrats had excellent GOTV ground games.  Therefore, I commend the candidates for doing anything and everything that could reasonably be asked of them.

I foresee unpleasantries ahead as I see a White House on a collision course with the Congress.  These consequences are the responsibility of the voters.  The voters were forewarned.  The voters decided.  Now a word to the voters:  Fasten your seat belts, because we’re in for a very rough ride.