Time to Stop American Action in Syria

This article was originally written while the president was considering action in
syria a month ago.

The Congress is being asked to approve a limited military strike on the Syrian government. The aim appears to be punishment for using chemical weapons against their own citizens. The House Republicans have a unique chance to change the perception of Republicans among younger voters; the House leadership could be the anti-war party which may increase their support in future elections. Will the leadership of the House use this opportunity to stand firmly against this use of power?

What is the purpose of this operation? The administration’s military and foreign policy leadership could not provide a clearly articulated explanation of the Syrian policy. The Secretary of Defense and State gave contradictory views of the Syrian civil war while appearing before Congress. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff could not give expectations or an exit strategy. What is the point of this action?

We participated in military action in Libya to help the rebels overthrow Kaddafi. The result was a government that has not solidified the country under democratic principles. Last year Ambassador Stevens and three aides were killed by terrorists. Our two governments have had cool relations since then. This is not a good outcome.

We supported the overthrow of President Mubarak in Egypt. As a result the Muslim Brotherhood assumed control of the country. They were the forerunner of the terrorist groups which became Al Qaeda. The purging of military leadership loyal to Mubarak threatened them. It is not surprising that they engineered a coup. We supported groups hardly inclined toward American interests.

In the Middle East complex groups are not often allied with Western values. We do not appreciate Islamic values. A 14 century argument between Shiite and Sunni involves the correct line of succession from Mohammed. Americans do not appreciate the depth of religious fervor among those in this region. We grow weary after 10 years of war, while the terrorists have worked for decades to gain an advantage.

Our financial situation is quite poor with a national debt of almost $17 trillion. Warfare is a financial burden that must be critically considered. Along with the social burdens of the welfare system, foreign entanglements have cost many great powers throughout history. At $1.5 million per Tomahawk missile this mission will cost hundreds of millions plus the cost to position the ships and manpower. Is this a wise use of our resources? With the budgetary restraints, will we be able to replenish our stock of weapons?

The administration claimed to have the power to undertake military action without the approval of Congress. Secretary of State Kerry announced the intended action and then was quickly overruled. The President decided to get Congressional approval suddenly. Last year he announced that the Syrians would cross the “red line” if they used chemical weapons. In Europe this week he indicated that the “red line” was set by others. An indefinite policy emboldens enemies.

The overwhelming opinion of Americans is opposed to intervention. In a democratic republic should a President take us to war without the support of the people? His efforts to create a coalition have not been successful as Britain has withdrawn following the parliamentary rejection of Prime Minister Cameron’s proposal. France is a qualified supporter. A coalition of two is far less than the mission in Libya. The President chided Bush when he engaged with Iraq, though his coalition was more robust. Our international support is quite limited also.

Senator McCain states that we should help the moderates in Syria. Undoubtedly, there are such people, but are they the major opposition to Assad? Rebels are being supplied by radical Islamists. Many are allied with Al Qaeda. Iran has supported Assad, but they could easily play both sides for insurance. The Russians support Assad and are tweaking the President.

Most likely Assad has used chemical weapons in the past. Do we know with certainty that the rebels have not used chemical weapons on civilians more recently to draw in outside forces to turn the tide? Assad’s forces have made great strides against the opposition. Most analysts feel that his army is winning. Why would he use chemical weapons at this point? What is he to gain by this action? The rebels have much to gain. Islamists have shown willingness in the past to kill civilians.

Some argue that we must act to send a message to Iran to halt their nuclear ambitions. The international restrictions imposed during the past several years have not stopped the Iranians and this military action will not deter them. A limited military action with limited objectives will hardly shield Israel from the existential threat from Iran. The likely result is that Syrian sympathizers will attack Israel for retribution and as a unifier of Islamist forces.

The policy being negotiated in Congress is to allow an attack for days (not weeks); there would not be any boots on the ground; no regime change is intended; the effort is to punish Assad for using chemical weapons. What about the nearly 100,000 dead civilians killed by conventional weapons? Does it matter how they died? Does this civil war directly threaten us?

The cost of imported oil will certainly increase on the spot market because of the uncertainty created by war. Is there any benefit to our country in paying higher gasoline prices? How will this help our struggling economy? This does coincide with the administration policy of increasing gas prices to lessen use of petroleum products and limit carbon emissions.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost $1trillion and countless lives and wounded American soldiers. Many will question the decisions to go to war in these nations. The results are mixed with the military winding down in Afghanistan. The Iraqi effort ended with a hasty retreat at night. Neither country is a stable ally after all our spilled blood. Why would the Syrian effort result in a better outcome?

The President has yet to articulate a cohesive rationale for intervention in the Syrian civil war. This might benefit the Saudis more than us. Chemical weapons threaten our troops in foreign lands. Terrorists might us such means to damage our homeland. If we are determined to rid the world of such weapons, it would take a more determined effort than the pin-prick being contemplated.

The President has requested the Congress concur with his decision to attack Syria. He wants to share the political fallout should this action have a negative outcome. If they refuse to support his request, then he will blame them for the continued deaths in the Syrian civil war. Assad is a bad actor. However, his opposition may be worse.

Only a few years ago, Secretary of State Clinton called Assad a reformer. Secretary of State Kerry has had good relations with Assad in the past. Mixed messages confuse others, including our enemies. We need a coherent policy before we undertake another war.

Time to Stop American Action in Syria

The Congress is being asked to approve a limited military strike on the Syrian government. The aim appears to be punishment for using chemical weapons against their own citizens. The House Republicans have a unique chance to change the perception of Republicans among younger voters; the House leadership could be the anti-war party which may increase their support in future elections. Will the leadership of the House use this opportunity to stand firmly against this use of power?

What is the purpose of this operation? The administration’s military and foreign policy leadership could not provide a clearly articulated explanation of the Syrian policy. The Secretary of Defense and State gave contradictory views of the Syrian civil war while appearing before Congress. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff could not give expectations or an exit strategy. What is the point of this action?

We participated in military action in Libya to help the rebels overthrow Kaddafi. The result was a government that has not solidified the country under democratic principles. Last year Ambassador Stevens and three aides were killed by terrorists. Our two governments have had cool relations since then. This is not a good outcome.

We supported the overthrow of President Mubarak in Egypt. As a result the Muslim Brotherhood assumed control of the country. They were the forerunner of the terrorist groups which became Al Qaeda. The purging of military leadership loyal to Mubarak threatened them. It is not surprising that they engineered a coup. We supported groups hardly inclined toward American interests.

In the Middle East complex groups are not often allied with Western values. We do not appreciate Islamic values. A 14 century argument between Shiite and Sunni involves the correct line of succession from Mohammed. Americans do not appreciate the depth of religious fervor among those in this region. We grow weary after 10 years of war, while the terrorists have worked for decades to gain an advantage.

Our financial situation is quite poor with a national debt of almost $17 trillion. Warfare is a financial burden that must be critically considered. Along with the social burdens of the welfare system, foreign entanglements have cost many great powers throughout history. At $1.5 million per Tomahawk missile this mission will cost hundreds of millions plus the cost to position the ships and manpower. Is this a wise use of our resources? With the budgetary restraints, will we be able to replenish our stock of weapons?

The administration claimed to have the power to undertake military action without the approval of Congress. Secretary of State Kerry announced the intended action and then was quickly overruled. The President decided to get Congressional approval suddenly. Last year he announced that the Syrians would cross the “red line” if they used chemical weapons. In Europe this week he indicated that the “red line” was set by others. An indefinite policy emboldens enemies.

The overwhelming opinion of Americans is opposed to intervention. In a democratic republic should a President take us to war without the support of the people? His efforts to create a coalition have not been successful as Britain has withdrawn following the parliamentary rejection of Prime Minister Cameron’s proposal. France is a qualified supporter. A coalition of two is far less than the mission in Libya. The President chided Bush when he engaged with Iraq, though his coalition was more robust. Our international support is quite limited also.

Senator McCain states that we should help the moderates in Syria. Undoubtedly, there are such people, but are they the major opposition to Assad? Rebels are being supplied by radical Islamists. Many are allied with Al Qaeda. Iran has supported Assad, but they could easily play both sides for insurance. The Russians support Assad and are tweaking the President.

Most likely Assad has used chemical weapons in the past. Do we know with certainty that the rebels have not used chemical weapons on civilians more recently to draw in outside forces to turn the tide? Assad’s forces have made great strides against the opposition. Most analysts feel that his army is winning. Why would he use chemical weapons at this point? What is he to gain by this action? The rebels have much to gain. Islamists have shown willingness in the past to kill civilians.

Some argue that we must act to send a message to Iran to halt their nuclear ambitions. The international restrictions imposed during the past several years have not stopped the Iranians and this military action will not deter them. A limited military action with limited objectives will hardly shield Israel from the existential threat from Iran. The likely result is that Syrian sympathizers will attack Israel for retribution and as a unifier of Islamist forces.

The policy being negotiated in Congress is to allow an attack for days (not weeks); there would not be any boots on the ground; no regime change is intended; the effort is to punish Assad for using chemical weapons. What about the nearly 100,000 dead civilians killed by conventional weapons? Does it matter how they died? Does this civil war directly threaten us?

The cost of imported oil will certainly increase on the spot market because of the uncertainty created by war. Is there any benefit to our country in paying higher gasoline prices? How will this help our struggling economy? This does coincide with the administration policy of increasing gas prices to lessen use of petroleum products and limit carbon emissions.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost $1trillion and countless lives and wounded American soldiers. Many will question the decisions to go to war in these nations. The results are mixed with the military winding down in Afghanistan. The Iraqi effort ended with a hasty retreat at night. Neither country is a stable ally after all our spilled blood. Why would the Syrian effort result in a better outcome?

The President has yet to articulate a cohesive rationale for intervention in the Syrian civil war. This might benefit the Saudis more than us. Chemical weapons threaten our troops in foreign lands. Terrorists might us such means to damage our homeland. If we are determined to rid the world of such weapons, it would take a more determined effort than the pin-prick being contemplated.

The President has requested the Congress concur with his decision to attack Syria. He wants to share the political fallout should this action have a negative outcome. If they refuse to support his request, then he will blame them for the continued deaths in the Syrian civil war. Assad is a bad actor. However, his opposition may be worse.

Only a few years ago, Secretary of State Clinton called Assad a reformer. Secretary of State Kerry has had good relations with Assad in the past. Mixed messages confuse others, including our enemies. We need a coherent policy before we undertake another war.

A Primer on the Capitalist System

Today Rush Limbaugh tried to explain the purpose and consequences of the minimum wage during his radio show.  Why would he do this?  Because the Senate had hearings in which Massachusetts Senator Warren explained that the minimum wage should be about $22 per hour if it were adjusted for inflation and the increase in productivity since 1960:  In a hearing of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions last week on “indexing the minimum wage,” Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren inquired of University of Massachusetts professor economics Arindrajit Dube, “If we started in 1960, and we said that, as productivity goes up — that is, as workers are producing more — then the minimum wage is going to go up the same. And, if that were the case, the minimum wage today would be about $22 an hour. So, my question, Mr. Dube, is what happened to the other $14.75?”

 

So how did we get to a point where a former professor at Harvard Law School is so uniformed about the process of wage development?  Can we ever hope to solve our financial problems if this is the caliber of leadership within the Capitol? Limbaugh went on to explain that the minimum wage costs jobs, which is correct, and is designed for the lowest skilled workers.  He also explained that the labor unions support the minimum wage and want it to increase regularly to encourage higher salaries for their members.  All of this is true, but even this explanation misses several crucial points.

 

Perhaps more critical is the response that Professor Dube gave to Senator Warren’s question and her retort as reported:  Dube backed up Warren’s math, and even stated that if minimum wage had kept pace with the rise in income of the top 1% of taxpayers that it would have been around $33, before the recent recession.

Warren then went on to question David Rutigliano, owner of the Southport Brewing Company. Rutigliano took the side of small business owners, stating that his business doesn’t run the same way or with the same volume as a McDonalds, which Warren pointed out could weather a minimum wage hike with relative ease. 

 

After 100 years of progressivism and its influence within the public school system, high school graduates do not understand the fundamental differences between socialism and capitalism.  They have been taught that under socialism the government owns the means of production, but while under capitalism individuals own the productive businesses and valuable resources.  This dated and limited definition plays to the progressives’ and socialists’ ability to accumulate power and increase the growth of government.  It also stifles all efforts toward economic growth and stability.

 

The growth of governmental influence over productive private entities which is a threat to individual liberty is the aim of statists.  In Europe, this power was consolidated into the monarchy during the Middle Ages.  With the growth of feudalism, the aristocracy grew into a wealthy, privileged class.  Mercantilism reached a height in England in which the king granted individuals commercial and territorial rights.  These entrepreneurial efforts did not respect the value of a meritocracy.  It took our founders to provide this form of capitalism in America.

 

The socialists and progressives cannot accept their limitation to compel economic behavior.  Progressives, following Marx and Engels, believe that fairness requires redistribution of wealth within our society.  This comes from the socialist principle that “from those that have to those that need” must operate.  Yet, people will endeavor to thwart this aim for their own benefit.  Large corporations have staff that work to move profits to other nations as the tax rate is lower elsewhere.  This defeats the governmental aim to collect greater tax revenue.  Smaller businesses have less flexibility to accomplish this aim, but still endeavor to maintain the greatest profit for themselves.

 

Smaller businesses have owners that manage their affairs for direct benefit; in contrast, larger public corporations hire managers (CEO’s) that are concerned with their survival as the leader and that results in quarterly stock increases or higher profits for stockholders which are the owners.  Smaller businesses show an independent streak, while the government can solicit larger companies to comply with regulations more easily.  Larger businesses have the means to adjust to onerous rules, which might wreck havoc on smaller businesses.  Statist find the larger businesses more willing to accept their regulations as the CEO’s see these regulations as an inconvenience

 

A private business pays staff based on the lowest salary that can be expected to elicit the necessary work.  Some may obtain higher salaries as a convenience to the manager, who might want to limit negotiations.  Yet, the job will only be available at a wage that the owner or manager will commit, since they control the money.  If the salary does not solicit enough positive response, then a ne and higher offer will result until the ceiling is met.  The minimum wage is not a living wage because the business does not hire staff to generate income in the community, but rather to generate wealth and profit for the owners.  There must be value in this transaction.

 

Milton Friedman, in his august work Capitalism and Freedom, argued that “liberalism” in the Enlightenment spirit requires economic freedom.  This threatens the progressives and limits their ability to dominate others.  The European enterprise model evolved from the feudalist past.  The American model rewards individual success.  It cannot protect against failure or deficiencies, but the government can offer a safety net for those unable to manage their affairs.

 

The hubris that progressives demonstrate can result in accumulations of power beyond the corrupting influence.  Clearly few people can resist the temptation to collect material and wealth along with the power to control others.  Lord Acton warned of this corrupting influence, but still citizens surrender their liberty for a “few pieces of gold”.  Joseph Schumpeter, the Harvard economist, warned of the opportunistic (during crises) grab for power by politicians that would threaten democracy in this country.

 

Our society may be at risk, but the solution is to educate the populace on the value of the private entrepreneurial system.  Rebuilding the social studies curricula is a must, but this is just the beginning.  One thing to consider regarding the orientation of higher education is the extent to which the left has controlled the agenda.  Austin Goolsbie, the former Chair of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors firmly accepts the need for more government intrusion into private business.  He teaches at University of Chicago, the same institution that once housed Milton Friedman.  Could this be any more worrisome?

Sequestration and the Future of the GOP

Less than two days to go before the sequestration of $85 billion for fiscal year 2012-2013 kicks in and the weak-kneed Republicans are struggling to find a compromise that gives the President another victory. They fear another loss in public perception of their management of the American economy. This demonstrates on many levels why last November’s election gave split results.

Arguments from moderate Democrats and Republicans now emanate suggesting the need for flexibility in making these cuts. They want to give the President the authority to adjust these cuts. The President has continuously used Executive Orders to accomplish political aims beyond the intent of the Constitutional framers. Yet, curiously, he refuses to use that power in this case. This can only mean that he does not want to improve the situation. Maximal pain gives him the edge in growing the government and increasing spending despite the lack of revenue. Previously, he had to present the cuts that would result under this legislation; these could have been massaged for the benefit of the public, yet he chose to make them draconian.

In the end, he hopes to eliminate the GOP majority in the House in 2014, which would free him from lame-duck status for the last two years of his term. This is another issue given to him to demagogue. Why are we spending $2 billion in the Transportation Department to send employees to training conventions? Could this be more important than adequate numbers of traffic controllers? Does anyone expect legal challenges in this regard? So much for the argument he made on Monday.

Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano claimed that we will have less safe borders due to these cuts. They have threatened to release 10,000 illegal aliens held by ICE in Arizona due to lack of beds and manpower. This is unfortunate since these aliens have committed crimes necessitating the incarceration. Yet, the Department has started releasing some criminals ahead of the Sequester. Again, maximal pain and political punishment are meted out for a state that has opposed the President.

The Sequester has been delayed for two months which was to give both parties time to find a more reasonable and intelligent way to make the cuts to the growth in spending. Therefore, the real cuts will be about $68 billion. The Sequester was intended to be too onerous to ever occur. Yet, we are again at the last minute scarring the public. Never fail to use a crisis to get what you want. The President managed to take a rather expensive golfing trip only a week ago. No urgency then to sit down with the Congress.

The idea for this Sequester originated in the White House according to Bob Woodward. The President denied this during the election, but finally the White House Press Secretary admitted this fact. Why have the Republicans not constantly mentioned it and used it against the President as a flip-flop? The public relations disaster for the GOP is of their making. The general press will certainly support the President, but the GOP must adjust to this by creating new outlets for information

The total being saved for the entire year is less than the amount the Federal government borrows in one month to maintain the budgetary debt. This is the most important argument that the Republicans can make on the national level to gain back the White House. It robs our future generation’s wealth and threatens to bankrupt our nation. This is enough reason to make some cuts to spending. Weakened politicians see the polls holding them at fault for the Sequester, but the President ultimately will pay a price for lost jobs and weak economy.

Some Republicans are now calling for more taxes and loophole reductions. Can the Republican base ever trust these leaders if they falter on this issue. Some worry that giving the President more flexibility increases his power. Yet, the lack of an annual budget hides his already increased power through continuing resolutions. The President will never have enough taxes in place to satisfy his spending desires. Therefore, the budgetary gap will never be closed.

The national debt now approaches $17 trillion. Together with unfunded governmental liabilities at the state and federal levels, there is in excess of $70 trillion in future liabilities. There is insufficient money in the entire world to guarantee this debt. This Sequester does not reduce spending, but reduce the rate of growth. This fight will determine whether sanity ever returns to our national priorities.

On the political level, a loss for the President will embolden the opposition. This will strengthen them when they battle over the debt ceiling authorization in May. Recently, it was recognized by the CBO that over $100 billion in payments was made to people in error last year alone. This exceeds the amount of the Sequester. The federal spending has doubled since 2000. At this rate, we cannot hope to achieve a balanced budget.

The President has gotten Democrats to call for a “balanced approach” to the effort to reduce our federal budget deficit. Poll testing show this resonates with the public. It is time for the GOP to provide a definition for this term that truly is balanced. The future of the GOP as a dominant party requires this realignment. The President uses “fairness” as the mantra, but what is fair about robbing from your children and grandchildren?

Our capitalistic system will fall if private banking capital is crowded out by federal borrowing. This is the aim of our President: To weaken the system that fuels the private sector, thereby strengthening the government sector in our economy. He is already redefining the conception of “socialism” by growing the government influence over businesses rather than by direct ownership of those businesses. The regulatory control over health insurance and the banking system demonstrates this effort. Because the GOP and Mitt Romney did not make this the focus of the campaign, many stayed home and did not vote. Social issues are important, but this is the essential divide between the two national parties.

A Plea to the 112th Congress to Heed Our Founding Fathers

This article was written in January 2011 as the Republicans assumed power in response to overreaching by President Obama during the previous two years. After the fiscal cliff negotiations concluded last evening giving us a very poor compromise, it is necessary to remember that the House is our only protection from an imperial presidency. The Senate is dysfunctional and will not pass a budget nor vote on any legislation it receives from the House limiting spending. As a new House is sworn in, we can hope that some sanity will emerge and halt our glide toward insolvancy.

With new leadership in Congress, the conservative ascendancy has begun. Are Representatives John Boehner and Eric Cantor prepared to follow our founding fathers’ intentions? Our country was founded on principles rarely taught today. Opposing socialist governance is not enough. Our founders were not conservatives or progressives. As Enlightenment era of enthusiasts, who valued the individual decision maker, they resembled modern day libertarians. Founders wanted the least powerful federal government that could unite the several sovereign states. Their earlier attempt at small federal government failed when they abandoned the Articles of Confederation in 1787. The Constitution was developed with many compromises allowing the states autonomy while providing a central government that could govern a large and diverse nation. Since much of American history is taught from the prospective of an apologist, students are not given an appreciation of this great experiment in freedom. Our founders were radical in their approach, but they were not collectivists.
President Obama’s worldwide apology tour reflected the progressive theme that American individualism is grandiose and threatening to the world. When he says the country has been arrogant, he is expressing the historical approach taught in many American schools for the last 50 years. His speeches set a new tone throughout the world, but little else has resulted. Our allies’ political orientation, democratic socialism, is in contrast to our country’s “cowboy mentality” which results from our individualistic survival mode. Our President had aimed at remaking our image, but he has missed the distinction between the American and European approaches: Our system was designed specifically to limit change while the Parliamentary system encourages it. Our Constitution requires a 2/3 vote of Congress and ¾ vote of the states for an amendment. Our society may evolve. Although our Constitution may be changed, it is not “evolving document”, otherwise it cannot serve as a contract between the people and the government it created.
History textbooks often neglect the religious and social imperatives underlying the “manifest destiny” dogma. Students are rarely taught that “manifest destiny” was the moral compass for westward expansion of the nation during the 1820 through 1860’s. Religious undertones accompanied this social imperative that Presidents such as Jackson and Polk asserted. However, with the removal of religion from curricula, this expression of American exceptionalism is eliminated. Xenophobia and persecution of the Native Americans become the causes. Arguing over the amount of government rather than the effectiveness of programs cedes the point to progressives. Our founders were theists, but ensured that our government would not become a theocracy through the First Amendment. Yet, they did not intend to eliminate religion from our lives, as this is among our most precious freedoms. While liberals frequently use humanistic terminology through their concern for society, they are principally incremental socialists.
President Obama sees the Constitution as a “negative limitation” of the government. He understands the founders attempt to limit central power against the natural instinct of politicians to expand power. The President wants the Constitution to be a set a “positive affirmations” empowering the government to correct societal ills. This is socialism. However, since history lessons focus upon dates, places and names, rather than upon enduring lessons of humanity and human nature, we are ill prepared to recognize this conclusion. We become prey to politicians who want to remake this country without transparency. Historians may point to our country’s failures, but ours is an enduring attempt at freedoms. Governmental growth has not eliminated poverty, ignorance, sickness or decay of our infrastructure. Cuba, the former Soviet Union, France, and Greece give us a glimpse of our future if we continue on this path.
Great movements require social imperatives to unite populations and endure difficult times. This was the purpose of arguing against “taxation without representation” during the American Revolution. President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and the Emancipation Proclamation gave purpose to Northern soldiers during the American Civil War. Some argue that religion serves the same purpose: to encourage humans to behave in a manner not consistent with their nature. The United States is a great movement of people toward unification without loss of individualism. Although the nation is evolutionary, our core document, the Constitution is not. Many governmental programs are inefficient and burdensome. While they originate as well intentioned efforts, few citizens can identify positives when describing the government agencies they must negotiate. Overreaching and expansion of government has resulted in budgetary deficits which threaten our greatest imperative, our survival. We must not surrender to politicians who do not respect our founding principles.
Today we are told that our politics are divisive. This has been the norm. Few are aware that our first Treasury Secretary, Alexander Hamilton, was killed by President Jefferson’s Vice President, Aaron Burr in a duel. President Washington assembled the greatest Cabinet. Yet two friends, Adams and Jefferson became bitter enemies resulting in the end of the Federalists and the creation of the Democratic-Republicans. The vitriol at that time exceeded the present rhetoric. While Jefferson opposed the expansion of federal power in the Alien and Sedition Act of 1798, he then expanded the Presidential power with the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. This expansion of power stands in sharp contrast to President Washington. Few would expect pleasantries between the warring parties during the Civil War. The press, with its own political prejudices, will not support reduction of the government in its reporting. We can hope that the incoming Congress heeds this lesson.
Socialists seek government expansion. President Obama desire to “redistribute the wealth” ignores the founder’s intent. The founders desired a system of equal opportunity, rather than equal outcome. Several changes to the Constitution were necessary to accomplish equitable opportunity. First, citizenship was conferred on former slaves after the Civil War; then women were given the right to vote. Our founders were successful white males who did not seek economic equality. They thought this was not possible. They created a system that allows creative persons to flourish. The incoming Congress must not stifle this creativity and should reverse impediments already in place.
Congress cannot solve all societal ills and generally hinders creative people. The marketplace of ideas and business hold the best hope for our economic recovery. Restraining federal growth and influence is necessary. Entrenched people will fight this move aggressively as their special interests are threatened. Our long-term debt and obligations threaten our future wealth and economic vitality. This malaise can end only if the expansion of government is curtailed. We wish these leaders well and recognize the uphill battle that they face.

The Lack of Civility Begins at the Top, But Taps into Ignorance and Resentment from the Bottom

This article was originally written in Sept. 2012 following the Democratic National Convention.

The Republican Convention was an attempt to humanize Governor Mitt Romney.  The Democrats and their surrogates have spent the past three months portraying Romney as a heartless businessman who does not care about average people.  After all, his persona is generally stiff and he is not charismatic on the television screen.  On the contrary, this is Obama’s greatest asset.  Are we voting for a successful manager or a celebrity?   This conundrum results from our poor education in social studies and civics.  Few students understand that our Constitution is a document generated by citizens limiting the powers of the federal government.  This contract between the people and the government is unique in the history of mankind as Mark Levin has shown.  Our President has remarked that he wants to fundamentally change that relationship.

Mark Levine cited the declining viewership numbers for the Republican Convention as a curious problem.  He asked why half the audience tuned into the Convention this year versus 2008.  Clearly, the press coverage has helped drive up Romney’s negatives.  The lack of enthusiasm for Romney by many conservatives has added to this decline in interest, but can’t explain it thoroughly.  The general distaste for things political is more aptly due to the many disappointments that our leaders have given us.  It is no wonder that politicians that provide new services are rewarded by re-election.  The electorate lacks the background to challenge the cost or unintended consequences.  The press selectively gives the daily news and analysis knowing that the ignorance of the public is their greatest weapon in shaping national opinion.  Much of the coverage implied that the Republicans lied during their speeches. 

A perusal of most American history textbooks from high school curricula portray the industrialists of the early 1900’s as robber barons who enriched themselves at the expense of ordinary people.  Many college texts give capitalism a negative implication.  The great wealth that results from individual efforts is rarely the model that is encouraged.  One must attend a graduate business school to study any encouragement of the entrepreneurial spirit.  Yet, most MBA programs are geared toward larger corporations, rather than small businesses. The left plays into this narrative which is underlined by Marxist theories.

The President requested that our politics be elevated while appearing in Tucson, Arizona after the shootings that killed several and wounded Representative Gabby Giffords.  Yet each day brings a reduction in the level of discourse.  This decline reflects an animosity by the President’s supporters toward traditional families, a dislike of capitalism, a challenge to individual liberty in favor of statism, and a desire to enact programs despite our ability to manage the cost.  The administration deflects from the poor state of the economy, while the opposition consistently attacks the President.   The most disturbing character of our leadership is that our President condones the animus.  The President questioned the efforts of business leaders when he said they did not build it without government support.  Obama said that the private sector was doing well.  The President’s comments demonstrate a skewed understanding of economics and enterprise which results from the biases of academia.   Commentators missed the irony that President Clinton reached out to Republicans to enact legislation that benefited the nation, unlike President Obama.

We are given a daily dose of inflammatory rhetoric from the campaigns.  Most have seen the Super PAC ads showing a like Ryan look-a-like throwing an elderly lady off a cliff.  Recently the First Lady produced an ad implying the Romney’s election would result in more cancer deaths.  The Vice President gave a speech now repeated for several days in which he discussed Romney’s plan to remove “the chains from Wall Street.  But they are going to put ya’ll back in chains.”  This, said to a predominately black audience, has racial undertones.

Hyperbole and dishonesty appears to be an often used tactic.  The California Democratic Chair, John Burton, likened the Republicans to Goebbels from the Nazi era.  They demonize Romney and Ryan, using words such as “extreme”, “hateful”, and “evil” which is meant to make them unacceptable.  Clearly, the administration’s record must be presented as interest group (such as the UAW) successes, rather than for the nation as a whole.  At the Democratic National Convention film from the campaign between the deceased Senator Kennedy and Mitt Romney was used to attack Romney.  Where is the decency in this approach?  Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the DNC Chair, recently stated that Israeli Ambassador Oren had accused the Republicans of being a threat to Israel which was untrue.  The fight over the platform language concerning the use of the term “God” and Jerusalem as the capital of Israel demonstrates the lack of candor which is now commonplace in politics.  The press and politicians often play on the ignorance of this minutia.

The Republicans have a glaring problem which can be seen from the podium.  They advocate success and relate their stories of upward mobility in the United States.  The vast majority of Americans has not tasted this success and has no understanding of how to accomplish it.  This is the rub:  the Democrats have used class warfare because it speaks to the resentment of the majority of people.  They view Mitt Romney’s success as a negative:  he is too rich to understand normal people and is aloof and detached.  After listening to the tales of Romney’s personal commitment to families during difficult times, could anyone continue to feel that he is the Ebenezer Scrooge of Dickens tales?  But the liberals will still call for his tax returns and claim he evaded taxes in the Cayman Islands.  Stephanie Cutter continues in her position after remarking that Romney committed a felony.  The President could end this tone instantly.

After the Republican Convention, it is clear that Romney has given women a place at the table.   Now liberals will question their policies:  Do they pay equal amounts for the same work?  Will they give women full contraceptive and reproductive rights without any additional costs?  Will the gender gap close after these conventions?  The Democrats will portray the opposition as anti-female.  Sandra Fluke’s speech at the DNC was inflammatory.  Yet the Democrats complain that the speeches at the RNC were a personal attack.  Perhaps the divide is too great to bridge.  However, the class warfare employed by Elizabeth Warren conflicts with Michelle Obama’s statement that her husband does not view people differently.  The conflict between the parties deepens as the public appetite for details decreases since we cannot hold them accountable.  Our ignorance and envy of success may undermine any public discourse.  It certainly limits any chance for compromise.

Will The Re-Election Of President Obama Encourage More Violence in the Middle East?

This article was originally written during the earliest period of response by Israel to the rocket fire from Gaza in Nov. 2012.

 

During 2012 Hamas has fired over 800 missiles and mortars from the Gaza strip into Israel.  The recent uptick in firings has led to retaliatory strikes by Israel.  This resulted in the assassination of Hamas’ military leader Ahmed Jabari.  At least 450 rockets have been fired during the past three days.  Israel has called up 16,000 reservists for an anticipated ground war and possible incursion into Gaza.  Already 30 people have died in the hostilities.

 

The Prime Minister of Egypt, Hesham Kandil, visited Gaza on Friday with a hope of ending hostilities.  He has indicated that his country supports Hamas, a change from the past administration of Hosni Mubarak.  But, the violence continues.

 

The escalation was predictable.  Hamas leaders in the Gaza consistently test the leadership of the PLO and Mahmoud Abbas who controls the West Bank.  He is weak and has asked the U.N. to recognize his territory as a new nation.  That effort threatens his financial support from Israel and the U.S.  Another challenge to Palestinian unity comes from Tunisian based Farouck Kaddoumi, who called for a federation between the West Bank and Jordan.  In the Middle East the status quo is unacceptable and is exploited by hopeful challengers.

 

 Prime Minister Netanyahu has called for early elections and must be perceived as protecting his country.  Iran threatens Israel and continues to enrich uranium at a faster rate.  Such work can only be aimed at bomb production.  He has told the world that Iran will reach the red line at some time in the spring.  Does Netanyahu believe that Obama will help if he attacks the Iranian nuclear facilities?

 

The Palestinian attacks had to be answered by Israel.  Netanyahu has had a poor relationship with President Obama, though he is close friends with Governor Romney.  Obama has supported Israeli defense, but with restraint.  Netanyahu cannot expect Obama to have his back, which results in a more aggressive response.  So full war threats mount.

 

Israel has four Iron Dome missile batteries to protect the country.  Another battery is to be delivered soon.  Defense Minister Barack is seeking three more batteries.  Missile defenses have limitations:  They cannot be used when the rocket firings are too close.  They cannot hope to stop every attack.  They are reactive and not offensive.  They do not control destiny.  Therefore, a ground war is more likely.

 

The attacks on Israel have involved Tel Aviv and Jerusalem using Iranian rockets.  Iran encourages strife and turmoil through its terrorist surrogates.  Weapons abound and move throughout the region.   Thanks to the Libyan civil war efforts by the West to oust Kaddafi, sophisticated Western weapons are in the hands of Islamists.  These weapons have been smuggled to Hamas in the Gaza.  Iran uses surrogates to test Israeli defenses.  Will Hezbollah fire missiles from Lebanon and widen the war?

 

An old adage reminds us to “beware what you wish for”.  Democratization of the Middle East comes at a peril.  Islamists gain in the elections and oppose American policy. The President encouraged the Arab spring revolution which began in Tunisia.  Syria is engulfed in civil war.  Egypt has turned against America as the Muslim Brotherhood has seized control.  This was predictable as the Islamists are most organized.  Egypt receives about $2 billion per year from the U.S.  We have leverage, but Obama is loath to use it against Arab nations.  Peace is not in the offering.  The Obama foreign policy in the Middle East is under pressure. 

 

Some call for the President to engage in Mid East peace talks.  Until the Palestinians are willing to accept the existence of Israel, there can be no peace. This means the end of the “right of return”, which would lead to a Muslim majority in Israel.  Israel sought a partner in Abbas, but his influence dwindles.  He sought a seat at the UN, but was rebuffed.  America appears unengaged.  Foreign overtures by the U.S. are limited to the Afghanistan war.

 

Our influence in the Syrian crisis is limited since Russia is a continuing protectorate. Russia supports President Assad against the rebels.  Syria is also the strongest ally of Iran in the Arab world.  The hegemony continues since no Arab state is willing to engage Syria in battle.  America provided air power to assist the rebels in Libya.  However, this time the President is unwilling to do the same.  In Libya, he used air power at the behest of the Europeans; this was done without seeking Congressional support. Ironically, Libya was no longer an enemy of U.S.A. as Khadafy resumed relations with our nation after the second Iraq war began.

 

The Syrian civil war threatens to involve other nations.  Missiles from Syria have crossed into Turkey.  Will combatants decide to involve Israel in the Golan Heights and redirect the war?  The policy of leading from behind (as the administration described the Libyan effort) may allow Islamists in Syria to misjudge our resolve.  Our country provides funds to many of the players, but will this translate into influence?

 

As the hearings regarding the murder of four Americans at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya on September 11th begin, some events become evident.  People will argue whether the President was aware of the deteriorating conditions in Libya.  There will be fights over his handling of the post-attack reaction.  Our Middle East enemies will note that he was unengaged, a sign of weakness.  Every void is an opportunity for aggressive action.

 

Our low profile in Libya left a small footprint.  The Ambassador requested more security, but the

Department of State denied a greater military presence.  This policy was naive and foolish.  Radical elements in the Middle East are always testing for weakness.  Moderation has never been a hallmark of strength in the area. 

 

Our departure from Iraq has not evolved into a peaceful condition there.  Bombings occur regularly and the extreme elements of the Sunni and Shiite communities vie for relevancy.  As we draw down in Afghanistan, more extreme elements of the Taliban will arise.  The administration has shown a desire to reduce aggressive rhetoric.  Will these efforts result in peace?  Can they keep us out of conflicts?  Or will we be an unwilling victim of hostilities for years?  In the Middle East, overtures for peace have often been confused for weakness.  Weakness in the Middle East invites conflict.

 

Projection of power requires financial strength and a solid economy.  The discussions to avoid the “fiscal cliff” will help maintain this stability.  Any solution that weakens our economy will threaten our military strength.  This may ultimately lead to more hostilities in the Middle East as the stabilizing influence provided by the U.S.A. shrinks.  President Obama’s budgetary policies do not offer sustained economic growth.  In the end, spending beyond ability was the ruin of the great military empires of the past and will lead to more wars.