Bet only what you can afford to lose

Conservatives play into the hands of the “roust your enemies” right and the “love your enemies” left when they buy into bogus arguments.

Reasonable Nevada conservatives should know better, understanding that neon signs and self-advertisements just invite gambling against odds. There is no more percentage in heeding political posturing than in throwing dice at a craps table.

Political talk and posturing amount to small side bets in history, which critical thinking demonstrates. Super-partisans take positions due to a strange admixture of malleable ideology and short-term maneuvering.

A bizarre recent example came when former Vice President Dick Cheney accused President Barack Obama of dithering over Afghanistan.

Dick and his lapdog boss, President George W. Bush, shorted Afghanistan while going long elsewhere by putting more troops between Iraq and a hard place. Their gamble was neo-conservative nonsense, not conservatism.

None of this means the current president gets a pass regarding Afghanistan. Without Pakistan next door, it would be an in or out Hobson’s choice. But the choice is in some or in more. Obama’s gig is nuanced dancing, so he’ll try to square the circle, but know this: If Vietnam was purgatory, Afghanistan is hell.

Obama’s decision is important, but whether he makes it tomorrow or next week makes little difference. What bothers me is that his decision-making on other issues up to now shows he doesn’t understand if you’re in for a dime, you’re in for a dollar. Or billions. The 21st century won’t be lost at war, but in finance.

The point isn’t to criticize the Bush and Obama administrations, even though I just did. My point is that in politics—which is war without bloodshed—short-term decisions are rationalized for long-term goals and bring longer term spinoffs. The same goes for war, which is politics with bloodshed.

Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves—not for their benefit but to win a war and preserve the union. He was lionized for all three. You would think the party that he and Republican colleagues spawned would enjoy legions of African-American supporters.

The GOP, a party of business and foreign policy, wound up instead a century after Lincoln’s martyrdom with Republicans Barry Goldwater in 1964 and Richard Nixon in 1968 employing a Southern strategy to garner votes.

It worked for Nixon short term, but really antagonized blacks. Today, the once solidly Democratic South is mostly Republican, but the GOP is a declining party.

As economics remind us, risk for immediate gain can bring long-term pain. Politics, war, business and life have much in common.

Years ago, Democrat Lyndon Johnson talked big while pursuing guns and butter, then quit in failure and handed Republican Nixon inflationary trends plus Vietnam. Nixon talked peace, pursued war and fought inflation with anti-conservative wage/price controls. Inflation denied merely became inflation delayed. Peace with honor wasn’t.

Who are politicians kidding? They rationalize on the run, fitting facts to arguments rather than vice versa.

Conservatives want to preserve and promote the good. Politicians make similar noises, but to retain or regain their party’s power. Obama talks like all things to all people can work, a fool’s errand. Cheney talks ad nauseum of battling terrorism, but his and GWB’s single-minded crusade meant we bit off more than we can spit out.

Talk, once cheap, certainly isn’t now. Deadeye Dick charges dithering but it is ready, fire, aim advice once again. Basketballer Barack blathers on about everything and builds a record that looks like ready, aim, and aim again.

However, the dice are about to roll. If we must play, the odds say bet the pass line.