Monday, April 11, 2011

After the 2010 Budget Compromise

They say that Politics is the art of Compromise. Well, that may well be the problem! We in-artfully compromise, and get screwed by shrewd Democrats. We need to be tough, and get tough with those who would spend our country into oblivion. For example, what we need is better strategy. I like Mike Steele, but if he's helping craft the GOP messaging, we might need some young guns in the GOP HQ message-crafting office instead. The first thing we need to do is to NOT rule out a government shutdown. Even the threat of it helps negotiate a better deal. Second, we need to close all of our primaries, so only GOP can vote in them. No more outside influences on our primaries. Third, we need to pass a military funding bill that appropriates the defense budget separately, and for the rest of the year and pass it in both the House and Senate. Fourth, we need to reclaim the idea that we are cutting the PPACA (Obamacare) because it has been ruled unconstitutional twice. We didn't lose much in 1996 (2 house seats?! That's all!), and we held the House and Senate until 2006. Sounds like a fair trade to me. Finally, we just have to keep any shutdown focused on the issues, not on personalities; ours or theirs. The president would love to demagogue the shutdown, but if we stand confidently, firmly, cheerfully and refute their lies and distortions, the president will not get much credit. In fact, it will become obvious that the president is standing in the way of those working on serious spending reductions, and it will help any good GOP 2012 candidate who clearly articulates the responsible policies and reasons for them. There is enough alternate media out there to reach the moderates who truly love our country and its freedoms, and the seniors who will not be hurt by the Ryan Road-map to Prosperity spending reductions.

Monday, March 28, 2011

What are we Doing in the Middle East?

This article in The Hill linked above makes us as a nation seem rudderless, leaderless, and aimless. It leads to the question "What are we doing in Libya?" If we did not go into Libya based on any sense of precedent or consistency, then why did we go? Are we going to keep making unprecedented decisions that use our borrowed money, risk our precious lives, and are short-sighted, in that they are only based on best achieving our interests (which, without using precedent or consistency can be nothing but short sighted)? This is really disturbing to me.
The seeming confusion reigns up to now, with the President due to finally make a speech about why we went into Libya, and how things are going there. The article goes further to suggest that it is likely Mr. Obama will not lay out any foreign policy that would define "any doctrine encompassing the administration’s philosophy for intervening in foreign conflicts." This seems like the perfect time to do so, since there are several other countries with similar uprisings happening right now in that very region. I hope our press is downplaying hopes so that when the President does outline a consistent, thoughtful strategy that keeps American interests first and foremost, we will be pleasantly surprised. I will be relieved if he does lay out some sort of philosophy that can be used to foreshadow out military involvement in any other countries in the region, because if not, he will have to once more come before us and Congress, and make basically the case for whatever other intervention he chooses to make.

One thing that needs to be said, though it seems obvious to me is that the President should be a leader, have a plan ahead of any invasion, and get the American people on-board for any future invasions or "kinetic military actions" that risk American lives and treasure. Giving a speech a week or two after military action has begun seems like following, not leading. Being a leader entails risk, but also yields big rewards. In this case, the risk is that some may not be on board with the military action, but the reward is that our mission is defined, and with a coherent strategy and public voice, the nation will be behind whatever action is taken. Such leadership could also go far toward showing that our President is a leader, and that he deserves to be re-elected. By putting forth a philosophy or doctrine, our friends and enemies can take note and respect our position, even if they disagree with it. It would help to stabilize the world money and oil markets, as well, keeping the price of gas from going higher. With such a strategy publicly stated, our President could then leave the details unspoken, and keep our enemies more afraid of us, because we could then take any tactical action we deem necessary to protect our national interests.

That leads to another point: we need to clearly define our national interests both in Libya, and elsewhere. For example, I don't consider a life lost to a dictator in Iran any less valuable than one lost to a dictator in Libya. Nor are they less valuable in Syria, so if the point is to stop genocide, let's broaden our scope to take on all similar deadly dictators. If the lives of Innocent people plus oil interests in a country are the real motivation, then let's say so, and define where those interests lie. This line of reasoning sounds cold and cruel, but it more sounds even cold and capriciously cruel to me to pick one genocide over another to use our military might to stop. Then we truly are playing God, not just looking out for our vital national interests.

The final point is the concept of vital national interests. Our President needs to define for us what he considers our vital national interests in Libya, and elsewhere. What makes an interest "vital" is that if we do not address it, it will pose a direct threat to the lives of Americans. That threat must be against our citizens lives, our sovereignty, our national security, or have a severe impact on our economy, such that it would weaken our country. An argument could be made for other wars, such as WWII, where Japan attacked our sovereign territory, and Hitler stated and demonstrated that he intended to rule the world. It was a little less clear in Vietnam, though you could point to the attacks on our military people in the Gulf of Tonkin. Gulf War I was about Iraq invading a sovereign country and threatening our oil supplies, both from Iraq with Kuwait, and from Saudi Arabia. If Iraq had been able to take over the Middle East, it would have had a severe economic impact on our country, and made us more vulnerable to other hostile nations. Gulf War II was the result of Saddam Husein threatening our allies in the region again, and the attack on our homeland by Al-Qaeda from his base in Afghanistan.
In each case listed, there have been anti-war protesters, and detractors who don't believe there was justification for those wars. Truth be told, they probably would have been against any and all wars. I therefore discount all of those detractors, who are a loud, but small minority. Our President came before the American people and addressed our imminent entry into each of those wars before we sent anyone into war. In each case, even if I did not buy into the reasoning of the President, there was a national speech and some national political dialogue about going to war. In the case of this Libyan "kinetic military action", however, this has been sorely lacking. We have heard conflicting objectives such as
  • "Kadhafi must go"
  • "Regime change in Libya is not our objective."
  • "It's time for Qaddafi to step down."
  • "We will impose a no-fly zone"
  • "Our aircraft have targeted tanks and forces loyal to Kadaffi."
  • "There will be no 'Boots on the ground'".
  • "Our rescue teams have recovered the pilots who ejected from their F-15 Fighting Eagle."
So what will we get tonight from our President? We'll see.

Party Politics in Blacks and Whites

I was following up on a thread in FB where a respondent asked the question why does it seem black Conservatives are no longer considered black? This was based on a statement in the linked video where the Rev. said that he had to convince people that yes indeed, he is still black.

I think there is a media blackout on both the conversions to the Republican Party, and on the doubts people in "the black community" have regarding the positions and effectiveness of the Democrat party. This fits neatly into a cultural difference, which is that blacks tend to place higher priority on and commit to personalities and "the group" than on their principles, while whites largely place higher priority on principles than on a person or group. Thus the media can be largely successful in herding blacks into the Democrat party by creating the perception that "their group" (the Dems) is where they are, where they belong, and that "the other guys", (GOP) is against them. Never mind that blacks' social beliefs more closely align with "the other guys", it's about staying with "our party". For example, in 1992, I campaigned for the GOP up and down the ticket, but when I went to the election night party, I felt a bit out of place. I soon left, and stopped by the Democrat election night watch party, where they made me feel right at home, assuming I was on their side. It didn't make me switch parties or anything, but I determined that we need to make all feel welcome and valued in the GOP. Still a lot of work to be done!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

President Obama at Chamber of Commerce 2/7/11

I listened to the speech, and here is one thing that popped out at me: He referred to FDR marshaling business leaders in the late 1930's to change over to making war materiel, and that they had the greatest expansion ever known. He said that we can do it again. The elephant in the room is that they had a war coming on, one for national survival, and we do not. We only have big spenders who won't reign themselves in, spending us into oblivion. I feel another observation coming on... in my next comment.

Jobs trail demand, in the economy. When the economy picks up, jobs will be required, and they will be added. What our President suggested and requested was production before demand. That's against the "just in time" models we implemented in the 1990's, and is a high-risk approach for business. It won't happen, unless we lose our business minds (in which case, it might as well not happen at all).

One last thing: He also lamented that technology is created here, then built overseas. Very good observation. What he fails to address is why. The reason is cost: if cost for labor, regulatory compliance, healthcare, etc. is higher here than overseas (not to mention wages), any smart business will get things made where it costs them less, even considering shipping and customs/local taxes. He did address regulations, but left loopholes so big as to render his proposals ineffective, since most of the regs were put in place for "good reasons". Those reasons are still there, so the regs will stay, no matter how crippling they are to business and jobs.

A guy named James wrote this in reply:
I'm surprised(not really because the government never takes direct routes toward a solution or takes the common sense action) that with the call from both sides to cut spending that they haven't made the decision to sit down and go through ...every single entity that the government spends money on and see where things can't be cut. Several duplicate or even triplicate agencies exist doing basically the same thing. Cut one or two of those agencies and make the one left over more efficient.

I believe they need to do the same thing with each regulation they put into effect as well. In fact, each and every thing the government does at any time needs to be revisited every five or ten years to make sure the reason for it's implementation is still justified and that it is doing what it is supposed to do without harming anyone or anything.

Government's basic job is to ensure protection from enemies foreign and domestic. Then there is the job to ensure the greater good is protected in this country.
Taxing the crap out of anyone in this country isn't exactly providing for the greater good because even the millionaires and billionaires are citizens in this country. They have the power and resources to take their money elsewhere, as we have seen.

So I replied this:
James, you must understand Obamaspeak. When he talks about getting rid of useless regulations, consider what "use" he might consider enough to keep it. If milk is considered as dangerous as petroleum, then the EPA can impose the same rules... on dairy farmers as on Exxon for storage of their products. If a regulation has the effect of redistributing wealth, it is therefore useful (to Obama). If a regulation has the effect of stopping burning of anything, which he considers to be warming the atmosphere, that Reg is thus useful.

When it comes to cutting spending, there is the baseline, and that is a projected growth based on last year's budget, plus inflation. Then they talk about cutting from that, or any increase. One other key thing is that Congress critters always want to cut the other guy's program, not their own. When you replace the Constitution with Congressional whims, there is no consistent basis for justifying spending. Thus, whoever is in power will spend whatever they can get passed and signed into law. If we get back to basics, and follow the Constitution, what we spend our tax dollars on will become clear, and the budget will shrink, because the Constitution doesn't provide for so many things we spend our money on now. Both parties are guilty of this type of spending, which is why there is a popular uprising against both parties in our country.

FB Reponses could be Posts

I spend a lot of time replying to people on Facebook. That time is spent on writing these detailed posts that get lost in the ether. If I post a reply that is longer than a sentence or two, I might as well start it as a post her eon my blog. Then you can have a single place to review and peruse my thinking on various subjects.

Yes, it might be messy, and yes, it might be disjointed. But with this, I can go back and edit posts, and perfect them as I either get more detail, or those brilliant afterthoughts that often come to me hours or days after my initial response. I might also start throwing some pix in here, like those I took around the tailgating for the Superbowl.