Obama offers peace for our time; where have we heard that before?

April 3, 2015

President Obama seems to be offering peace for our time much as Neville Chamberlain did back before Hitler completely ignored him and proceeded to try to take over the world — and came a little too close at times to doing it.

Obama proclaims our negotiators (along with those of other Western powers) have reached a breakthrough with Iran that will stop it from plowing ahead with its program to build a nuclear weapons arsenal.

It should go without saying that even though many other nations have nuclear weapons most of them are not actively or openly threatening war. But Iran’s leaders have time and again called for wiping Israel off the face of the earth. And Iran is supporting armed insurrections in the Middle East.

It would be nice if news of a real breakthrough were true.

But so far the news is that Iran seems to have agreed to a bunch of things (even that is hazy) but one major thing it has not agreed to is unlimited inspections to make sure it is abiding by the no-nuclear arms agreement.

Iran gets to keep thousands of reactors and we are just supposed to take its word that it is just trying to run the lights.

I hate to quote the late President Ronald Reagan, but quote I will: “trust but verify”. That’s what he said when negotiating for a nuclear arms treaty with the old Soviet Union.

Certainly I am no war hawk. I want peace. But it sure looks like the United States is dealing from a position of weakness here.

We won the Cold War by not backing down. Even though we lost the hot war in Vietnam (a proxy war between the U.S. and the Soviet Union) by default — we gave up — we did wear down the Soviet Union, who eventually met its own Vietnam in Afghanistan (and why are we there now — please don’t ask).

Don’t get me wrong, I think the negotiations with Iran are a good thing. Keep ’em talking I say. But we have to be strong and let them know it is not a deal unless we have free and unfettered inspections. Without the ability to inspect anywhere and anytime there is no real way to be sure Iran is abiding by the agreement.

Hopefully we do have intelligence that will help, but I would not count on that. Our track record has not been good.

There is a delicate art of being strong but avoiding public drawings of lines in the sand. Obama has already fallen prey to that in Syria where he told the regime there that if it used chemical weapons he would attack — he did not.

I just don’t think we are there yet with Iran. Even so I would applaud improved relations with that nation.

Peace beats war except when a belligerent uses the peace as a cover before it pounces on the weak.

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Tactics have no place in war authorizations…

February 15, 2015

BLOGGER’S NOTE: The following is the declaration of war against Nazi Germany congress adopted and President Franklin Roosevelt signed. It essentially reads the same as the one against Japan adopted after the surprise attack by that nation on Pearl Harbor in December of 1941:

 

Whereas the Government of Germany has formally declared war against the government and the people of the United States of America:

Therefore, be it Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, that the state of war between the United States and the Government of Germany which has thus been thrust upon the United States is hereby formally declared; and the President is hereby authorized and directed to employ the entire naval and military forces of the government to carry on war against the Government of Germany; and to bring the conflict to a successful termination, all of the resources of the country are hereby pledged by the Congress of the United States.

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That’s what a declaration of war looks like.

That does not look like what President Obama has proposed to fight ISIS.

Mr. Obama seems to be of the mind that you can and should spell out your policy, tactics, and methods within such a declaration, even including provisions to limit warfare.

Nonsense!

I mean I realize this is not 1941, and we don’t seem to fight ultra large-scale wars as in the past (and I imagine we should be somewhat thankful for that), and I realize one size does not fit all in war resolutions, but when you limit yourself from the git go in the war resolution itself, as is done in Obama’s draft of a requested authorization to use military force against ISIS, how can you hope to have any military success?

We lost Vietnam for a variety of reasons, but number one was that we limited ourselves, in the terribly misguided notion that we could preserve lives of American soldiers — instead it turned out to be the opposite. Of course in that one it could be argued we never should have gone there. But we did, and the only honorable and moral course after committing so many of our children to battle would have been to use everything we had to win and get it done.

And I am not saying that every time we get into a dispute we have to immediately deploy large scale landings and combine air and ground assaults and put the public on war rationing, I’m just saying we have to be willing to do what needs to be done. And it would sure help if we did not telegraph what we plan or can do to the enemy.

As I understand it, the president is still using military forces in the Middle East under the authorization to use military force passed by congress as the result of the 9/11 attacks. And he says in reality that is all he needs, he just wants to clean things up and be a little more specific. He also says he would like to rescind the 2001 resolution.

I can see an argument for doing just that — I mean the 2001 declaration asked for and received by George W. Bush seems to allow for open-ended war forever.

So yes, there ought to be some specificity, but there is language in Obama’s draft that prohibits the president from deploying ground troops. But what if that becomes necessary? Better to just say we will use necessary force to get the job done — in the correct language of course, not verbatim as I just put it, maybe.

In the 1941 declaration the president was authorized to use the total resources of the military and the nation. That should always be left open. Just because a president can does not mean he will or should, he just needs to have all options open (well not nuclear war I don’t think — that would be a doomsday approach, but we should just keep mum on it and leave them wondering).

One thing, when we use military force, the president, the congress, and the American people should be on board. Confusion just costs lives and hinders success.

 

 

 


Obama right in going to congress over Syria situation, but perhaps wrong in delcaring he has the power to act unilaterally

September 1, 2013

Surprising as it was I think U.S. President Obama made the correct decision in deciding to go to congress to ask permission to make a military strike on Syria after initially indicating that he just might order it on his own.

I don’t agree with his contention, though, that he nonetheless has the authority to act on his own in the matter. I mean I thought the president only has such authority in emergency situations, such as an ongoing or possibly imminent attack on the nation. Of course, I’m not a constitutional scholar, and the issue is one that has been debated all my life so far. Strong presidents just kind of do what they want.

An attack on Syria, no matter what the purpose, would be an act of war. And only congress can declare war under our constitution, even if that provision has not always been strictly followed in the past.

And I just want to get this out there too. There is the War Powers Act, that was passed by congress many long years ago, that authorizes the president to act militarily on his own for a limited amount of time but then requires him to go to congress. I can’t recall if that act has ever been tested in the courts. I really question its constitutionality. I don’t see how one branch of government, in this case the legislative, can create new powers for another branch, the executive, and I don’t see how congress thought it could abrogate its own responsibility on deciding on wars.

As everyone knows, the present Syria situation in question is that the Syrian government has purportedly (and the evidence seems to be overwhelming) used chemical weapons on its own people, more than once and at least once on an large scale. These weapons are banned by international law. And anyone can see how dangerous it is to let this go by, not to mention the moral imperative here in putting a stop to it somehow. Nonetheless the question is does all this pose an immediate threat to the U.S.? Unless it does, I don’t see how the president has the authority to act on his own. And now that he has said he is willing to go to congress and not even call for a special session — the congress being out on recess — and that furthermore no action has to be taken immediately, then is seems the nation must not be under any imminent threat.

The UN should act on this possibly, but that institution is feckless. It can’t act anyway because of an almost assured Russian veto in its Security Council.

In my last blog post I had said something about this being a proxy war between the U.S. and Russia (Syria being an ally of Russia). More accurately it is a proxy for showing Iran that we (the U.S.) won’t tolerate its own development of nuclear weapons.

It is a dicey situation. On the one hand we certainly don’t want to get bogged down in another war over there. On the other hand letting these dastardly people use such terrible weapons ultimately threatens the whole world.

And I don’t think there is such an animal as “limited war”. I mean if we were lucky we might be able to take limited action and be successful. But one never knows what will happen and one thing leads to another. Our past experience has shown that when we declare from the onset that our military actions will be limited, we limit our chances of winning. War itself is a moral outrage. But fighting a war and sacrificing blood and treasure without a resolve to win is worse in my books.

While transparency is good for democracy, I think in reality the president should have gone behind the scenes and worked out a deal with the lawmakers so they would approve his actions and if that failed then he could forget about it and save the embarrassment and the weakening of his powers if he loses a vote in congress. The British prime minister got egg on his face when he went to parliament over the issue. They turned him down.

We really need to figure out how much of a threat the Syria situation poses to us and then act accordingly. It is a prelude to what one day may happen if Iran gets or gets too close to having its own nuclear weapons. We just can’t afford to let that happen.


Obama sets a liberal/progressive tone…

January 23, 2013

Felt rather self-conscious when one of my brothers asked me what I thought of the inaugural or more specifically President Obama’s speech . I had not watched it and had only read the headlines over the past day or so. Been real busy with the real job.

But I got on the computer and watched and listened to the whole thing through the magic of You Tube.

It was rhetoric but good rhetoric. And really that is what an inaugural speech is all about, pure rhetoric. It is meant to set a tone.

And the tone was good.

It seems as if Mr. Obama may be ready to cash in on some of his accumulated political capital via his resounding victory in winning a second term.

Sorry conservatives and listeners to Rush Limburger Cheese, but the nation has turned somewhat liberal/progressive. And that may well be the result of hard economic times and the reality of what can happen when everyone is left on his or her own. Actually only folks around the age of my mom (she’s 102) really know what that means. She was a young housewife when the Great Depression began.

The President said that “preserving individual freedom requires collective action”. So freedom in his estimation does not mean I have my guns and I can hold you off as long as my ammunition holds out. I was kind of paraphrasing a liberal commentator there.

I think the president meant that government does have to take steps to protect the minority from the majority at times.

And this sounds promising: he said that “a decade of war has now ended”. Now you could read and interpret that in many ways, but I took it to mean that a stage of perpetual war is no longer going to be our policy as had seemed to have been the case under Bush/Cheney. He did say we will continue to protect ourselves.

For the benefit of all the climate change disbelievers and the rest of  us who wonder why people have such a hard time with reality and science (and yes, no one knows all the facts on this), he said: “we will respond the threat of climate change.” I think a lot of reactionary right-wing people think that just means the liberals want everyone to drive around in a tiny car.

And after kind of muted or ambiguous support of gay marriage in his first term, the president came out solidly for it.

(I’m sure that was tough for him and simple politics ruled. For me it is a tough one because it deals with tradition and morals and even practicalities. But there seems to be a realization that homosexuality is a born trait and not some kind of learned bad behavior. While I had thought and continue to wonder if civil unions for homosexuals could not suffice, it seems that such would be just a version of the legally abolished separate but equal doctrine.)

The president also called for equal pay for women (hard to believe that it is still an issue).

And finally, he addressed the reality of gun danger by saying that we have to protect our children on the streets of Detroit (the urban ghetto) and Newtown, Conn. (white suburbs).

One line I particularly liked was:

“Being true to our founding doctrines does not require us to agree on every contour of life.”

While I personally prefer fairly close attention to original meaning in interpreting the constitution I am always uneasy with people who claim to be able to decipher with ease and certainty the meaning of words and phrases that sound confusing and somewhat complex and sometimes even down right ambiguous to the rest of us at times.  I’m talking about those who claim to be following the “literal” meaning of the Holy Bible and those who follow just exactly what is written down in the constitution.

I did not cover every word of the speech, but I hit most of the high points I think.

It was rhetoric, but as I said before, good rhetoric, I think.


Obama get angry, Obama get mad, give those Republicans the biggest lecture they ever had!

September 19, 2011

Obama get angry (to the tune of Johnny Get Angry) at the end of this post:

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UPDATE: late in the day 9-19-11

Caught a little of the president’s address on his deficit reduction proposal, but it was confusing because for fun I was listening to it on French radio and I don’t speak French, so I only heard him in bits and pieces between the ongoing translation into French. But I caught his new hard-hitting tone and I have read some more about it since I originally posted all this below. I don’t have to agree with him to agree that finally he is fighting back and dropping the hopeless compromise tactic. Maybe he has just been pacing himself all this time. Now he can sprint to the 2012 finish line and he can also say he gave the Republicans a chance for compromise — they just were not interested. And even though my post below criticizes the confining quality of  ideologies when it comes to critical thinking, maybe it will be nice to have a clear struggle between right and left in the next election and see what the mood of the public is by now or then.

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The trouble with political ideologies, such as conservatism and liberalism, is that they are so confining. They force one to think only inside the box, not outside the box.

I mean although I am not a registered Republican and although I do not consider myself a political conservative I wholeheartedly endorse the concept of making one’s own way in life and not depending upon the government or munificence of my fellow taxpayers (and that is not to say I have not ever benefited from that — most of us have or do to some degree). And that is considered quite conservative, that is making one’s own way and all. But at the same time, I would favor socialized medicine (I am not afraid to use that term — I don’t have to hide behind another term, such as single-payer or whatever). But I have come to realize that socialized medicine seems to be something U.S. voters as a whole just can’t get their arms around. Instead it seems we are all in a muddle on the subject and in so being go on supporting our crazy inefficient and highly expensive patchwork system. Yes I know, we now have Obama Care —  it’s still early with various parts to phase in later (unless the GOP wins and abolishes it) — but so far the only result is that I pay the same as I have in the past for less coverage in my job-connected health insurance (the alternative being to pay more for still less coverage than I would have had in the past).

But I did not begin this blog post to talk about healthcare or socialized medicine.

More and more I am convinced that President Obama is heading for defeat in his bid for a second term. He is supposed to, as I understand it, announce details of a proposal to cut the deficit over many years by $3 trillion by closing tax loopholes (probably a good idea, unless it is your loophole) and, according to the headlines, taxing millionaires at a higher rate that they are currently.

The notion that we can simply tax the rich to balance our budget or pay off the national debt is absurd. At least it is my understanding that the reality of the math is that those in the middle income level (whatever that is) have the burden, by their sheer numbers, of  paying the largest percentage of taxes. Taxing the rich sounds nice and even fair, especially if you are not rich or if you are Warren Buffett and have so much money, well you don’t quite know what to do with it all, especially once you’ve wall papered your house. He says he is not taxed enough, but that’s him — other rich folks don’t agree.

A better idea than targeting the rich would be to greatly simplify the tax code and maybe even flatten it out — everyone paying the same percentage. I know that is supposed to be unfair to all of us at the lower income levels since we need a higher percentage of our total income just to get by, but if the percentage was not too high, we could afford it. And of course the high earners could more than afford it — and that is so bad?

I am not so sure but what the income tax should not be replaced or at least augmented by a national sales tax. And I know that is supposed to be particularly regressive since we “poor folk” would end up paying even more for our basic necessities. So maybe actual basic necessities should be exempt from that national sales tax (and there would be a lot of argument as to what constitutes a basic necessity). But at least a national sales tax would have the advantage of gauging the government intake to the health of the economy. That way taxes could not be strictly blamed for hampering the economy.

Obama also proposes to balance the books through projected savings in winding down our war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, which only serves to point out the absurdity of our foreign and war policy. I mean if we can afford to simply wind down wars, by what right or reason did we get into them in the first place? War should only be fought for true necessity and only end in complete victory, making it no longer a necessity. But of course we have gotten into hopeless causes that never promise any victory.

But I have to begin preparing for my real job now and can’t quite complete the thought here.

Gosh I wish we could get a viable third-party candidate — the party of open-minded reason.

P.s.

Who is rich?

It is often pointed out that many farmers and small business people are millionaires on the books. Several decades ago there was a headline in the Sacramento Bee newspaper about a Red Bluff, Ca. area ranching family that described them as millionaires. But they said they did not feel like millionaires. It seems that because they owned their land free and clear, probably thanks to the efforts  in of their forebears, and land values being what they were then, on the books they were millionaires. Now while I assure you no one need have felt sorry for them — they no doubt having plenty to get by, by all observation they lived a fairly simple, hardworking life. The wife of the rancher told a reporter on the local  newspaper for which I worked at the time that she did not feel like a millionaire, seeing as she had just got done rendering a hog. All I am trying to say is that whether they were wealthy or not, they were labeled by that headline (and it was actually meant to be ironic) as being in the same category as the idle rich (whom many of us envy but love to hate at the same time). Class warfare, as Mr. Obama proposes, does not turn me on. Nonetheless he has the hope that the Republicans will choose one of their crazies, who wallow in their own ignorance and bigotry, to run against him in an election that seems to be otherwise already handed to the GOP on a silver platter.

P.s. P.s.

Just heard a little of President Obama’s address on his proposal — his tone sounded tough; maybe he has taken James’s Carville’s advice and is getting mean. It reminds me of the 1960s Joanie Sommers song “Johnny Get Angry”. In my parody it goes like this:

Barack Obama get angry,

Barack Obama get mad,

Give those Republicans the biggest lecture they ever had,

We want a brave man,

We want a cave man,

Barack Obama show us that you care, really care for us…

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In case you did not recall the original tune: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pI_nk0L-cF4

As much as I enjoy political satire, I won’t quit my day (and night) job.


Obama in trouble; he could be a comeback kid maybe if he pushed wholeheartedly for revival of conventional domestic industry…

September 15, 2011

One of the things that makes the Solyndra scandal, where President Obama threw millions of dollars of taxpayer money away in a shady deal with campaign contributors — wittingly or not — so maddening is that people don’t need solar panels as much as they need jobs. And you won’t create nearly enough jobs via green energy schemes. Even if they are on the up and up, they would only provide ancillary benefits at this time to our economy. We need industry producing real everyday basic products people need to sustain life.

Eventually, some of these green things will catch on, but I do not see how in and of themselves they can produce the economic input we need to keep our economy healthy.

It appears that the Obama administration got taken on the Solyndra thing, funding the company $527 million and then seeing it go belly up — where was the due diligence the Obama administration accused (and rightly so) the Wall Street bankers of not using that started this whole mess in 2008?

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ADD 1:

Reports indicate that it was feared inside the Obama administration that something might be wrong with Solyndra even as the president was touting it to the public. You know, this is not good.

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As Gene Burns said last night on his KGO, San Francisco, radio talk show: it’s things like this that have given rise to and have seen the rapid ascent of the Tea Party (and he is no fan of the Tea Party, but admires their political initiative and wonders why those of other persuasions are not so active, or at least that is my interpretation of what he has said).

Worse yet, the word is now that there are more Solyndra type scandals out there.

The public is fed up with on the one hand being told that the nation is trillions of dollars in debt and on the other hand being told it must go deeper into debt to deal with that problem. And it is aghast at such scandals as the Solyndra fraud.

I don’t know what really happened at Solyndra, but it does sound like some lobbying and some campaign contributions garnered a lot of government money and probably those in charge were not of the highest moral character — the greed is good type.

Also I heard that China has dumped a lot of solar panels on the market — free trade or most favored nation status for China and all — another thing that riles the public, and should.

And I think that those who cheered the other night at the GOP debate at the fact that Texas Gov. and presidential candidate Rick Perry has no qualms about the fact he has sent so many people to death row are just yahoos who wanted to take a swipe at the news media hosts who they see as liberal or progressive enemies, but are also emblematic of the public mood against seeing the molly coddling of criminals in general and of violent people being let go on technicalities.

Going off track here a little maybe, but although we certainly don’t want a police state, it was interesting to me that I heard a comment on radio from a citizen during the 9/11 commemoration this past weekend in which the person said how nice it was to see the high police presence and how safe it made one feel.

And I often wonder, why is there not more police presence in high crime areas?

Politically, Obama is in big trouble. The Democrats lost a nearly century-old safe seat in the congress over the Anthony Weiner scandal to a Republican over voter disgust. It is hard to see what with the mood of the country how Obama can possibly get reelected. He’d have to be a comeback kid, ala Bill Clinton, to turn the corner.

Why not concentrate on re-vitalizing our conventional industry and get moving on those infrastructure projects he talks about too? And domestic energy exploration to include natural gas (and I would exclude offshore drilling, except in areas where it is already  fact — but that is just me), would be of great help too. Maintaining our oil supply from the Middle East has become way too expensive in blood and treasure.

If Obama could or would go full force with that now, he just might get another term.

If the Democrats cannot beat the Republicans, who would throw out the baby (Social Security and other protections) with the bath water, they don’t deserve to be in power.

And God help us if the Republicans win (maybe Romney would be kinder and gentler than Perry).


What do the voters think of Obama jobs speech? Don’t know yet…

September 9, 2011

Maybe I’m not looking in the right places, but while I see and read pundit and partisan reactions to President Barack Obama’s jobs speech to congress last night, I don’t see any polling results among voters or even any voter interviews.

But it was a strong speech, probably one he should have given some three-plus years ago.

I am concerned that he may have hinted about making cuts in Medicare and Social  Security as a bargain with Republicans to get more government economic stimulus money.

And here’s something I once mentioned in a blog post, but I think rather than raising the retirement age for Social Security it should be lowered. That would allow people to retire  early and get more enjoyment out of life — none of us really knows how long we have — and would conceivably open up jobs for younger workers.

I have to say that when the president claimed his $447 billion jobs proposal would not raise the deficit or debt (those two terms get mixed up in reporting — I probably should just use debt), I’m afraid, well heck I know, that is just so much smoke and mirrors and nonsense. You cannot spend money you don’t have, thus requiring borrowing, and not raise the debt. We all know this, it’s just something politicians have to claim to try to get us all to buy into some kind of alternate reality.

But if he can get the government to introduce a massive amount of money into the economy and things can get rolling, then perhaps economic activity will pick up and be able to sustain itself.

All the republicans offer is cutting benefits for everyone (except tax breaks for the super rich), abolishing safety regulations and other protections for general public, and gutting health care. All the GOP candidates are vowing to dismantle what they tag Obamacare.

While I am not a fan of Obamacare — too complicated and probably overdoing things — all the Republicans offer is some kind of free market free for all in which a whole lot of us would be priced out of the market.

Obama talked about restoring teacher jobs and made a swipe at the GOP for being more interested in preserving tax cuts for the wealthy than preserving the jobs of public school teachers. Personally I think public schools should be funded and operated at the local level and it is the responsibility of local taxpayers to fund them, probably with the help, but only help, of  the states.

And back to health care: Rick Perry is adamant that he would with the stroke of a pen abolish Obamacare as his first act as president. Today in the LA Times there is a story telling of the dismal state of healthcare in Texas, the state of which he is governor.

Mitt Romney also says he would abolish Obamacare, but he designed the Massachusetts health care law when he was governor there and it served as the model for Obamacare. Mitt is kind of everything to everyone He just wants to be president. And he just might get there, although a lot of the pundits seem to think the firebrand Perry has a better chance.

I’m wrapping this up for now because I have to make a living. But I’ll be back.