Tag Archives: Politics

One Year after MH17 Shot Down over Ukraine: The Blood of 298 Stains the Hands of Vladimir Putin

Today marks the first anniversary of the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines flight 17 over Ukrainian by Pro- Russian rebels. While Malaysian Airlines can be faulted for flying over an area of known conflict even though the airspace was open, today there is no doubt that this was a deliberate act of mass murder committed by Pro-Russian rebels fighting the Ukrainian government.  There is equally little doubt that the BUK Missile launcher used by those rebels was provided by the Russian Government of Vladimir Putin. Indeed many speculate that given the difficulty and considerable training needed to operate there may well have been Russian military advisors and or operators at the controls of the BUK launcher. These questions do nothing to change the fact that Russian President Vladimir Putin bears personal responsibility for constructing the environment that lead to these deaths, a criminal accessory before the fact to 298 counts of murder.

Wreckage of MH17 in Days After Being Shot Down by Pro-Russian Rebels

Wreckage of MH17 in Days After Being Shot Down by Pro-Russian Rebels

Video which has aired today shows gruesome images of the Pro-Russian thugs rummaging through the personal effects of the dead and treating their remains without respect in the moments after the attack. International investigators were kept away from the crash site for several days and once they arrived it was clear the wreckage had been tampered with in such a way that there will always be unanswered questions. Very much like KAL007 in 1983, the Russian military showed they have no moral hesitation shooting down civilian airlines without regard to cost.

While the west was quick to express outrage at the shooting down of a civilian airliner by irregular Russian forces, they have been long on words and short on action. The European nations are reluctant to too deeply offend their commercial partner Russian and the Obama administration continued its policy of spineless appeasement. But let there be no doubt, Vladimir Putin is a cold blooded murder whose hands will be forever blood stained. Never has appeasement deterred international criminals from further bloodshed. As the families mourn the anniversary of their loved ones deaths, we must wonder who will Putin kill next?

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Filed under Foreign Policy, Russia, Terrorism

President Obama’s Prison Visit & the Folly of the Left

Today President Obama became the first American President to visit a prison while in office. The core of his visit was to promote his newest campaign, reforming the criminal justice system. Now this is an issue many conservatives can actually get behind with prominent GOP members such as Rand Paul questioning the logic and wisdom of the current sentencing system. But as Barack Obama has done so many times before he takes an issue where bipartisan progress could be made and turns it into a leftist wet dream. In this case he is advocating increased spending on early childhood education. What? Anyway…

President Obama Visits Federal Prison

President Obama Visits Federal Prison

Buried inside his long wordy statement was a tremendously insightful glimpse into the leftist mind. The President said we should all look at the conditions in prison and be grateful that there but for the grace of god go we. WRONG. The president, like the institutional left, seems to think each of us is equally bad and but for luck we could have ended up in prison. WRONG. The vast majority of Americans are not in prison because they decided to NOT COMMIT CRIMES! Those who are there decided to break the law or hang around with those who did. They are not there because they learned to count watching Sesame Street and not in Pre-K, but because they lacked the self control to obey the law. Life isn’t easy for most people. Almost everyone has been in a bad place at one time or another where there was an easy way out that was not legal. The difference is the vast majority of people chose not to commit a crime. Many of us on the right would agree life in prison for a first offense drug dealer and 20 years for a bank robber is not fair and sentencing needs to be re-balanced. But the left has fundamentally believes there are no bad people and nobody is responsible for their own action.

The solution to crime is not more unionized teachers babysitting Pre-K or hot school lunches for all. Crime reduction will only be achieved when parents as well as the community teach people right from wrong, good from bad and to accept personal responsibility for your actions. America is a nation where the quality of an individual should not be judged by the size of one’s wallet and where we believe in second chances and redemption. But there are consequences to actions and while second chances are noble, repeat felons are not “unfortunate”, they are just bad and should be treated very humanly in prison. Sorry Mister President, your prison photo-op was a flop, but rather insightful.

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Filed under Barack Obama, crime, justice, Leftist Myths, Liberals

The Folly of the Euro and the Disaster that is Greece

The circus that has been the Greek financial crisis over the past five years reached a new crescendo over the last few weeks with all the mystery of a Shakespearean tragedy.  Leftist Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras played the role of populist defender of the needy by standing up to those bullies in suites from all those pompous European nations trying to extort austerity from the Greek people. In defiance he defaulted on the first round of IMF loans and called for a referendum. When the Greek people voted over 60 percent in favor of rejecting the onerous terms Tsopras went to the European parliament and gave a defiant speech in favor of giving money to the people not the evil bankers. Then, after reality slapped him in the face with all the subtly of a wet tuna, he promptly folded like a cheap suit on a humid day. Of this outcome there was little doubt. Greece’s entire banking system was about to implode, the savings of every Greek were about to disappear. The world was about to see a first world nation, all be it only barley, turn into a third world disaster live on CNN.

Greek Voters in the Street Following July 8 Rejection of EU Demands

Greek Voters in the Street Following July 8 Rejection of EU Demands

While the intricacies of the Greek Crisis will be filling the pages of Economic Journals for years to come, the problem is remarkably simple. When you spend more than you make you go to others to borrow money. When you borrow more than you ever hope to repay, your creditors run the show. This is as it is in every household’s finances and thus it is with nations as well. If financial debt had physical weight, Greece would be down at the bottom of the Aegean along with the lost city of Atlantis. With a debt exceeding two times GDP and with five years of IMF/EU enforced austerity under its belt with little to show, Greece is an economic corpse. This article is not focused on how Greece ended up where it is, but the reality is national overspending comes to an end when the banks run dry. Simple.

Now this is nothing new, the economics of South America in the 20th century is littered with failed economic turn around and booms gone bust. The drama played out repeatedly with similar script each time. A “new” regime took over in a nation and turned around the sick economy they inherited. Happy days were there again! Foreign banks rushed in and willingly funded deficit spending that fueled a boom akin to a sugar high. Then, at the first sign of real trouble the bubble burst. However the South Americans (and yes, not all South American countries experienced this or followed the outcome below, but enough did, you know) with all their experience with the blue suits from the IMF, ever end up where Greece finds itself. That is because when their government felt the domestic pain of austerity was exceeding that of the foreign banks, they simply devalued their currency. As sovereign debt is almost always denominated in the home currency, if a country owed let’s say 100 billion pesos and it did a 3 for 1 devaluation, the total money supply would increase by 3 times (economists reading this please excuse my simplicity, this is for illustration) but the debt would remain the same. Sure devaluation is painful, but not as painful as cutting pensions in half and may prevent you from being overthrown like the last government (but not likely!). The foreign banks likely take a hosing, but they will soon forget and with the promise of a “new” economic miracle will be back lending to you in a few years. After several decades of this the 21st century has seen several of the South American problem economies seem to actually achieve a free market renaissance.

But Greece no longer has the Drachma and monetary policy is now controlled by the Blue Suites (well tailored, very nice) from the EU. After decades of irresponsible fiscal policy and a national economy which has seen a significant decline in its base economic generating ability, the Greek government has about as much influence as the homeless man begging outside trump Tower. Yet what makes this story truly Shakespearian is that the new “loans”, almost 100 billion Euro worth, will never be repaid. Take a person who maxes out their credit cards, more debt to pay the existing debt never solves the problem; it just kicks it down the road. The Greeks want debt forgiveness (sorry they call it restructuring) but the fiscally disciplined German voters, and to a lesser extent French, would never stand for it if their leaders simply gave their cash to those Greek spendaholics. So for the sake of the phony Euro, the game goes on yet sadly nothing is resolved.

Now all this would be an amusing economics lesson if it were not for the potential consequences. While world markets largely factored in a Greek default and thus did not really react to the events of the past week, the stakes have simply risen for an eventual uncontrolled collapse. Additionally, if you think this is a uniquely Greek problem, think again. Europe has Portugal, Spain and potentially even Italy lined up to face similar situations. While each is unique and those economies have better underlying fundamentals than Greece, they are also of increasing magnitude and with the resources (and generosity) of the EU increasingly strained, the potential for significant global economic consequences are very real. Not my problem you say? A default of a major Euro member (say Spain or Italy) would dwarf the financial losses that triggered the 2008 economic crisis. “Tax the Banks” and “Let em Fail” make for cute slogans, but when your money vanishes and stock markets melt down the pain would be widely felt.

Here is why the Euro is not only an economic folly but potentially a dangerous accelerant. Macroeconomics 101 defines that nations have two tools to manage their economies, Fiscal Policy and Monetary Policy. The EU however takes away the handle of monetary policy from a National Government and hands it over to the unelected bureaucrats of the EU. Fine individuals all, they simply have too big and diverse a group of national economies to deal with no shared fiscal policy. Quite simply and regardless of your philosophical approach, monetary and fiscal policy have to work in a coordinated manner; in the EU that simply cannot happen. When the fiscally responsible nations have to continually bail out the spend happy, politics will kick in and the hand outs will stop. National self determination is the right of all nations but each must accept the consequences of their own actions. The Euro simply cannot long exist within that reality.

Greece would be far better off with a controlled exit from the EU and abandoning the Euro. Let’s be clear, Greece has made its bed and things are going to become less comfortable before they improve. However a realization that Greeks should control the future of Greece makes global economic sense and faces political reality. Today the wisdom of Margaret Thatcher in keeping the UK out of the Euro zone seems increasingly bright.  I wonder if the Germans could have the Deutsche Mark back how their people would decide.

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Filed under Economics, Europe, Greece

War, Peace and Political Cowards: Debating Conflict with ISIS

As a nation America is now engaged in a debate about a potential full scale war with the islamofascist group ISIS. At its face there is little debate that ISIS is a modern manifestation of evil with social media savvy which must be eliminate before it gets to the point where such elimination is either not possible or has caused damage that will make the events of 9/11 seem tame. This post is not going to debate the virtuous goal of wiping the ISIS infection from the planet but rather the political dance currently going on and the widespread political cowardness being demonstrated in Washington. Let’s be fair, there are some who have taken well thought out policy positions, at considerable political risk. Senator Rand Paul favoring very restrictive use of force to Senator Lindsey Graham who favors a virtually unlimited authority for fight the Islamofascists.  Then there are the fast majority of politicians who are desperately trying to hide from being the ones to make the decision to send America back to the Mideast in what is almost certain to end up another large ground war. No one epitomizes this more than former Secretary of State and presumptive Democrat nominee for President Hillary Clinton who seems to be using a “Grandma Strategy” to be avoiding any public statements on the largest foreign policy debate of the election cycle and which emerged in large part as a result of the policy of the State Department she led. We are not going to debate the policy positions today but rather the growing game of political hot potato being played. It’s almost spring in Washington and the Yellow Back flowers of Capital Hill and the White House are in full bloom.

Constitutional Confusion

Dating back to the administration of our first President George Washington, the Constitution has provided ample opportunity for confusion over the requisite authority needed for the United States to wage war. This is not entirely accidental as during the constitutional convention which drafted the Constitution, the delegated debated the same core issue we are today, the respective powers of the Executive Branch personified by the President and the Legislative being Congress. At the time the debate and the resultant compromise was less of an imperative as waging a war in the 18th Century was a relatively time consuming process of raising an Army and or Navy and then dispatching it into harm’s way. Short of an enemy fleet arriving on our shore without notice, an event which would clearly result in war, there was time to work the process to resolution. The founding Fathers could never have anticipated our world where wars are fought in real time. Just imaging George Washington’s reaction to a B-2 crew who after breakfast with their family near their bases in the heartland go to work, board one of the most power weapon systems ever developed, take off and several refuelings later bomb targets in the middle east and then turn around and after a few more refuelings  land back home just about a day later. This is a challenge for which the constitution was not written.

President George Washington in Uniform at Fort Cumberland Prior to the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794

First let’s understand the inherent constitutional conflict. Article 1, Section 8, Clause 11 clearly gives Congress the power to declare war. Additionally the same section specifically gives power to the Congress to establish, provide for and maintain a Navy and Land Forces of the United States. It actually reads rather clear. The complicating factor is Article 2, Section 2, Clause 1 which makes the elected President the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces (thus clearly establishing civilian control). Now in the late 18th century this kind of made sense as Congress could have lots of time to debate while the President readied his forces to execute any Declaration of War which Congress may ultimately issue. They never envisioned the military technology of today which has made war fighting real time but more importantly they never envisioned the television camera in the 24 hour news cycle. Get ready your hair care products and makeup, congress is ready to debate; well at least a few members.

Yet for all the complexity assumed to be the foundation of the modern debate, simply reading the constitution, word for word, a few times seems to indeed provide much clarity. Congress has the sole power to declare war and once declared the President has the authority to carry out that war. Now the real issue is that congress is totally unwilling to step up and declare war. The last formal declaration of war by the United States was June 5, 1942 when a declaration was passed by unanimous votes of both houses against Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania. Those actions we fought since the Korean, Vietnam, Gulf War (1991), Afghanistan and Iraq as well as number of smaller conflicts have been fought with some ad hoc form of congressional resolution. Presidents, with the possible exception of the current, have been more than willing to pick up the ball congress has dropped. In 1973 congress passed the War Powers Resolution which became law over the veto of a Watergate weakened Richard Nixon. However a core element of that legislation is the ability of congress within 30 days to vote to end conflicts is the so called congressional veto. That mechanism was declared unconstitutional in 1983 (INS v Chadha) and thus most likely would not have any weight today, other than political. The result is a brain numbing debate that occurs every time we face an international threat and always results in some overly vague (think Gulf of Tonkin) congressional dribble.

Today’s Debate over ISIS

Leaving the merits of the conflict with ISIS aside for this discussion, it seems like the debate we are in, as the great 20th century philosopher Yogi Berra said “It’s like déjà vu all over again.” President Obama is showing no leadership and we are engaging in mission creep chillingly reminiscent of Vietnam. After waiting two years  and not intervening until it seemed like the Iraq government was about to fall, the President unilaterally launched an air war only with commitment to not put American boots on the ground. Within a month he authorized up to 300 advisors and targeting support personal. Within months we had up to 3,000 advisors. Here we go again. One of the core lessons we took away from Vietnam was never to go to war without a clear mission and a commitment by the people by way of the Congress to achieve that mission. Let there be no doubt young American men and women in uniform are going to die fighting ISIS. The insanely barbaric of a Jordanian pilot captured after his aircraft was shot down is just a preview. Another lesson of Vietnam is an AK47 can bring down multi-million dollar jets.  Every member of congress should be required, without cameras to play up to, to go to the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington before this congressional circus goes any further. Having been to the memorial numerous times, there is something haunting about the more than 58,000 names etched in the black granite. Brave young Americans who answered their country’s call and their days cut tragically short. The one lesson congress must take from this is they need to step up and meet their constitutional responsibility.

President Obama in the White House Situation Room

Like Vietnam 50 years ago, we face a conflict where the only certainty about its future is uncertainty. We must, congress and the American people, make a decision to either engage ISIS with the full weight of American military power or walk away and let regional powers resolve the problem in some way. Life is about the choices we make; choices and their consequences. If we engage there will be a major war and American lives will be lost. Those losses will occur on the battlefield, in the air above and most likely in the homeland as ISIS will bring the fight to America in some form. If we walk away we likely will have to deal with a world with an ISIS controlled state, the size and nature of we can hardly imagine. Congress must make a choice, the President most certainly will not.

For me in this debate, as it has for the last 226 years the Constitution provided clear guidance. The Congress must either pass a clear and unrestricted Declaration of War. The President must then either sign that declaration and then fight the resulting war with vigor to victory or veto the declaration. Decisions must be made, forget politics and ignore perceived places in history. Look into the eyes of late teens and early twenty something men and women who will be called upon in one way or another to pay the price of that decision, or worse, indecision. They deserve leaders who lead, not elected cowards who hide within the Beltway. Those young men and women will show extraordinary courage if called upon just as previous generations have and continue to in Afghanistan. Congress and the President must show political courage that pales in comparison and make a choice. Just as importantly the American people much stand and be counted. Cowboy up.

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Filed under Barack Obama, Congress, Islamofascism, Politics, United States Constitution

Vaccines & Measles: Science, Liberty and Political Lunacy

This is a topic I really wish I never had to discuss and I think there are about a million more relevant than this given the choices, in my opinion, are so clear. Yet after an email exchange with a friend I came to realize there are a couple of important political questions here as well as substantiation of that old question, once again, so it’s time to give this some thought. To make this a little easier let’s look at the three main dimensions of the augment: The Science, Personal Liberty and Political Lunacy (Let’s include media coverage under lunacy):

Vaccines & Measles: Science, Liberty and Political Lunacy

The Science: A One Sided Debate

While I will acknowledge there are some who will vigorously disagree with on this point, rarely has there been a scientific question where the argument is so one sided. Vaccines have saved quite literally billions of lives, mostly in the last century and there is likely no other single medical advancement which has been as impactful to humanity (maybe antibiotics). Given I didn’t get past second year anatomy and physiology in collage I will leave the scientific points to those with letters behind their name, but the medical evidence is near unanimous, and not narrowly, that vaccines reduce illness due to major diseases and there is quite simply no quantitative studies which have been subject to repeatability and critique to support major dangers of taking the vaccine. The worst case is in some cases there is a statistically small chance of getting the underlying condition but in these cases those chances are well below the chances of contracting the condition without the vaccine. My advice to readers is think for yourself, read reliable studies and information and avoid the “junk science” that is pervasive on the internet.

So much for being nice to the scientific community as much of the anti-vaccine feelings can be directly traced to the total failure of the scientific community to make its case. Newsflash, we live in a democracy not a science worshiping totalitarian world. You need to make the case to the people and win their trust no matter how much contempt you seem to have for people (more on this later). In recent weeks I can’t count the number of times I have seen network health/science correspondents and/or TV Doctors say, essentially “get vaccinated because we tell you to”. What makes this totally aggravating is they have the science overwhelmingly on their side. The real skill of science in the media is to distill often complex data and arguments into a persuasive and understandable case without being contemptuous of the people themselves. My best advice if you are even giving just a little consideration to not vaccinating your children (and yes getting adult boosters) is talk to your family physician who we assume you trust (if Obamacare still lets you see them) and have a serious talk with them. This decision is truly one of life and death and if made wrong has Darwin Award written all over it.

Personal Liberty: No Exception to the Sanctity of the Person

Part of the debate in recent weeks has been as to when the state should force people to be vaccinated, my reply is NEVER. Nothing is more values to the very concepts of American Freedom and Liberty as the sanctity of the individuals very body from state intrusion barring the most compelling circumstances (vaccines don’t even come close here). This is a simple bright line test, much as free speech, and the true test is standing up for this right when you think the individual is being an idiot. That being said, choice comes with consequences and those choosing not to vaccinate their children should bear those costs without all the wining. Just as the state can compel an individual to wear eye glasses if they want a diver’s license, States should require vaccines in order to enter any public school. Don’t want to vaccinate your kids, enjoy home schooling all the way through high school. As for private schools and colleges and universities, as private institutions they have the choice of rules to set for attendance and given the enormous litigation risk, I doubt many would allow entry to unvaccinated. As a conservative core to my views is the concept of individual rights and individual responsibility; this is one case where the accountability for your actions lands squarely on you the individual.

Now a lawyer friend responded to this argument when I made it, and I paraphrase “well if your unvaccinated Johnny gives my vaccinated (not all vaccines take) sally the (insert horrible medical condition here) then I should be able to make a civil claim for damages. As I said every choice has consequences and leaving aside the potential difficulty of proving direct person to person causation even at the lower standard of more likely than not, let the jury decide. As I said under science, the onus is on the scientific and medical community to make this case and on that they have failed. Yet just because you have a right, it most certainly does not mean you should exercise that right.

The Political Circus: Lunacy, Lies and our Culture of Celebrity

This is a story made for the 24 hour news cycle and the media is milking it for all its worth. Additionally those on the left and their tools in the media have been quick to blame the conservative Neanderthals. But facts are an inconvenient thing. That noted medical expert and outspoken vaccine opponent Jenny McCarthy based on her time on The View and disclosed political contributions is a Democrat. Indeed the Hollywierd crowd is the source of much of the misinformation on the subject. Now in her defense much of the anti vaccine fear comes from the skyrocketing rates of Autism. The failure to research the causes of this may be the biggest failing of environmental science in the last 3 decades. But if you are getting your medical advice from a TV/Radio host whose leading resume line is former Playboy Playmate then well, you live with the consequences. Now I would hope that GOP presidential contenders would have a better answer to this ambush question than Gov. Chris Christie (pander babble). Rand Paul gave a well thought out replay, as he usually does and while I do not totally agree, it is well conceived. The rest, do some thinking, the reporters from TMZ, MSNBC and the National whatever are lurking in wait!

To all others, please do the smart thing, the right thing and get your kids vaccinated and to us adult, have a conversation with your doctor at your next annual physical about your own vaccination status.

Useful Links:

The Mayo Clinic – Childhood vaccines: Tough questions, straight answers

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/infant-and-toddler-health/in-depth/vaccines/art-20048334

The Centers for Disease Control – Measles: Make Sure Your Child Is Protected with MMR Vaccine

http://www.cdc.gov/features/measles/index.html

For a more conservative perspective:

http://www.conservapedia.com/Vaccine

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Filed under Conservative, Liberty, Science