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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Obama's Plan to Seek Congressional Approval

Okay, for those who read my posts often, you may be surprised:  president Obama gave a great speech today.  His plan to seek the approval of Congress for any action against Syria is the right thing to do.

That being said, I have to wonder why it took all this time for Obama to come to the conclusion that Congress had to be included in the decision making.  Was it the 80% numbers in the polling that showed as support among the American people for including Congress in the decision?  Was it a ploy to delay the attack beyond the G-20 meeting next week?  It cannot be that Obama just forgot to consider the need for Congressional approval.  If one were truly cynical, one could conclude that Obama is now hoping that Congress will say no to his plan so as to allow him to step back from the edge of his red line cliff.

Then there is the question why Obama is not calling Congress back now.  Is it that he weighed vacation schedules against the atrocities of chemical weapons use and came down in favor of vacations?  I know the man likes his vacations, but in this case, it is just the vacations of Congressmen and Senators.  Why is everything on hold until September 9th at the earliest?

Obama also did not tell the nation what comes after the attack he proposes.  Don't get me wrong; I am not opposed to action against Assad.  I do think, however, that Obama has to tell us what he plans to do after lobbing a few cruise missiles at Damascus and the Assad forces.  Right now, Obama's policy for that period (assuming one exists) is a complete mystery.  If the past is any guide, Obama has not yet even thought about it seriously.

In the next week before Congress reconvenes, Obama has the chance to clear up all the mysteries.  He can tell us why it was the 15th chemical attack that brought him to action when the prior 14 times that Assad crossed the red line did not bring any response.  He can tell us how he proposes to deal with the inevitable aftermath of the attack he wants to launch.  He can make clear to the American people why the use of chemical weapons by Assad or any other regime is unacceptable.  On this last point, he made a good start today.  Much more, however, is needed. 


Never Let A Crisis Go To Waste????

In the early days of the administration of president Obama, America was constantly reminded by those in power of their adage, "Never let a crisis go to waste."  In other words, when the nation faced urgent problems, the Obamacrats could use the sense of urgency to get enacted measures that they have long wanted.  That urgency brought us a nearly trillion dollar stimulus that did not stimulate the economy, a series of green energy measures that produced no energy, an Affordable Care Act that made healthcare less affordable for all and less available for many, and a financial reform measure (Dodd-Frank) that reduced the availability of loans for small business while doing nothing to end "too big to fail", among other things.  Now, we are facing a crisis in Syria as the Assad regime systematically uses chemical weapons against the population, and once again, the Obamacrats are trying to make use of the situation to get its way on other issues.

The specifics this time are as follows:

1.  Spending levels for the federal government are limited by Sequestration.  Sequestration is the plan that Obama proposed to push through automatic slowing in the growth of spending if Congress could not agree on specific spending cuts.  It does not actually cut spending; it only slows the growth rate of the increase.  When Sequestration was about to kick in last Winter, Obama blamed the whole process on the Republicans even though it was his idea.  Since then, Obama and the Obamacrats have thrown fits because they were unable to push through major spending increases in the face of Republicans holding the line to stick to the lowered target rates.  Obama and company told America that civilization as we know it would end unless Sequestration was undone.  Of course, the slight cut in the spending increase brought by Sequestration was shrugged off by the economy and the government.  The furloughs that were supposed to affect millions of workers were somehow avoided.  The mass cancellation of flights across America that was supposedly coming just never materialized.  Sequestration went into effect and no one noticed.  The budget deficit of the federal government was cut in a major way, however.

2.  Now that Obama is contemplating a "measured" response to Assad's use of chemical weapons, the Obamacrats have seen their chance to once again attack the limits on spending.   The drum beat has already started.  The Pentagon needs to have all of its prior budget restored, we are told.  The Pentagon does not have money for Syria, we are told.  Oh, and while we are restoring the Pentagon budget, we ought also to restore the budgets of every other agency, we are told.

This is truly shameless.  Think about it.  The likely attack on Syria will consist of about 50 cruise missiles or so the incessant "leaks" from Obama's inner circle tells us.  At $1.4 million per missile, the 50 missile salvo costs $70 million in total.  If Obama decides to go all out and launches 200 missiles instead of 50, the total cost will still be less than $300 million dollars.  This expenditure will hardly break the Pentagon which is spending over $600 billion dollars this year alone after all the cuts.  At $300 million, a missile strike would add costs of  less than 0.05% to the annual Pentagon spending.

If things are really so tight at the Pentagon, then Congress can pass a supplemental spending bill to fund the Pentagon an extra $300 million to cover the costs of the Syria strike.  There is certainly no need to change the overall budget as a result of this contingency.

The saying needs to be changed.  It should be "Never again let Obama misuse a crisis -- especially one he created due to his own incompetence!"

Friday, August 30, 2013

We Can Still Hit Plants That Make Medicine

In Bill Clinton's second term, the American embassies in two east African nations were bombed by al Qaeda and there was significant loss of life.  In response, Clinton ordered a cruise missile strike on some training camps in Afghanistan and on a factory in Sudan that was, we were told, suspected of making chemical weapons.  Of course, it turned out that the al Qaeda camp had been emptied before the strike and the plant in Sudan actually made medicines, but Clinton trumpeted his strike as a major blow to al Qaeda nevertheless.

Today, Barack Obama is getting America ready for another missile strike.  This time the target is Syria and the Assad regime.  British intelligence revealed yesterday that Assad's forces have launched fifteen poison gas attacks in the last year on the Syrian people.  In case you missed this, that number was FIFTEEN!!!  All of these attacks came after Obama set down a red line that prohibited Assad from using chemical weapons.  Unfortunately for Assad, his fifteenth attack happened to get filmed on video that made its way to Western outlets, so suddenly Obama had to response or he would look bad.  Nevertheless, as the Obamacrats in Washington prepare to launch their missiles, they each try to outdo the others in the level of secret information that they leak to the press.  It is bad enough to tell Assad that the response will be a missile strike.  That happened almost immediately.  Much worse, however, have been the leaks from "senior administration officials" that tell Assad what the exact targets are going to be.  As they might say on Sesame Street, "Can you say evacuation?"  Here is a paragraph out of the middle of a report today in the New York Post about events relating to Syria:

The embattled Assad regime braced for an imminent attack. Assad’s forces have moved several Scud missiles and dozens of launchers from a base north of Damascus, apparently in anticipation of US airstrikes, rebels said.

That base north of Damascus is one of those identified in the leaks as a likely target.  What is the point of hitting one of Assad's bases if we first warn him so he can remove all his weapons?

If there has ever been something that shows the complete lack of competence of Barack Obama when it comes to foreign policy, it has been his policy regarding Syria.  Obama does not even rise to the level of an amateur. 


Obama's Chickens Are Coming Home to Roost - 2

Since I wrote the first post in this series yesterday, I have received a batch of email telling me that there is no way that the British voted against participation in a strike on Syria because Obama had insulted them in the past few years.  I think these people miss the point.  The vote in Parliament to authorize a strike on Syria lost by 13 votes out of about 600 which were cast.  That means that a switch of 7 votes would have changed the outcome.  I agree that the majority of the Parliament is not sitting there nursing wounds from the insults from Obama to the Brits.  Nevertheless, I also believe that there are 5% of the members who do remember Obama's actions, statements and policies that were slaps to the UK.  If only two percent of the members of Parliament voted against the action because they no longer worried about insulting or undermining the American president, then that swung the vote against Obama's position.

I say it again:  Obama's chickens are coming home to roost.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Obama's Chickens are Coming Home to Roost!

It is hard to imagine our closest ally, the United Kingdom, telling the president of the United States to get lost, but that is what happened a few hours ago.  President Obama has already made clear that he intends to send American forces against the Syrian regime of Assad, and the British Parliament was asked to authorize British forces to participate in that military action as an ally of the USA.  Despite the pleas of prime minister David Cameron, whose alliance controls the majority of seats in Parliament, the request for authorization went down to defeat.  Much of the rhetoric used in Parliament against the resolution said essentially that there was no need for British forces to get involved just because the American president shot his mouth off about red lines and painted himself into a corner.  I am not making this up; comments this harsh and worse were hurled at Obama and his attempts at foreign policy.  How can it be that our closest ally for the last 100 years who fought with us in World War I, World War II, the Cold War, Korea, Vietnam, Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan, has now not only refused to help but also mocked the president for his inept handling of international relations?

The truth is something that really hurts:  Obama has undermined our relations with Britain since he took office, so there are many in London who no longer feel that there is a special relationship between the two countries anymore.  When he took office, Obama sent back a bust of Churchill that had been in the Oval Office as a special gift from Britain.  Maybe Obama thought he was just redecorating, but sending back Britain's singularly greatest figure of the last century was seen in London as a snub.  Then we had silly things like Obama sending the Queen a gift of a batch of movie DVDs that would not even work on European machines.  As Iraq wound down and as Afghanistan fighting went on, Obama never attempted to involve the Brits in strategy for moving forward.  They had thousands of troops fighting in these wars, but they were treated as poor relations who had no say in the destinies of their own troops.  The Brits kept on despite the snub.  Then came the new Argentine threats to the Falkland Islands.  The UK went to war in the 1980s to honor the wishes of the islanders and to keep rid the territory of the invading Argentines.  When the Argentine government began, once again, to rattle sabers over the fate of the islands, Obama quickly announced that we were neutral in the dispute between our special ally the UK and the Argentines.  Then he used the Argentine name for the islands (or at least he tried to--he got it wrong) rather than the British name in a move that many thought was a snub to the Brits.  Certainly, the London tabloids all took Obama's statements as a major snub.  So after five years as a dutiful ally of the USA, all that the Brits had gotten in return from our president had been insult after insult.  We have now reached the point where they've lost that special feeling in London.

Obama brought this on himself by mishandling America's foreign policy.  Just watching the policy unfold this past week through leaks but without a presidential speech or even a Congressional vote illustrates how poorly Obama is doing on the domestic front.  No better indicator of Obama's failures could be seen than this latest vote in Parliament.  To paraphrase Obama's old pastor, Jeremiah Wright, "Obama's chickens are coming home to roost."  Sadly, it is America that pays the price.

Two and a Half Percent ----- Yay!!!!!!!

The growth rate for the American economy was revised this morning from 1.7% to 2.5%, mostly because the foreign trade figures came in better than had previously been estimated.  Supposedly, this is cause for celebration.

Now don't get me wrong.  It is much better to see the figures revised upwards to faster growth than the other way around.  Nevertheless, the babbling idiots who report this "wonderful" even seem not to understand just how bad this GDP growth rate really is.  The only proper way to describe our current slow growth economy is to say that it sucks.

For the last seventy years, there have been times when the growth rate in the economy has been less than 2.5%; essentially all of those times have been recessions.  Our new "cause for celebration" is actually a period of historically low growth in the economy.  In other words, there are too few new jobs, too little being earned by those who are employed, too little chance for advancement among America's workforce, and too few new companies being formed.  And all this is happening despite president Obama's incredibly large stimulus which drove federal spending to new heights and despite a seemingly endless monetary stimulus being thrown into the economy by the Federal Reserve.  When all the stimuli end (and they have to), we may see the economy fall into a deep recession or worse.  After all, the ongoing torrent of money from the Fed is washing into the economy and creating bubbles the will cause havoc when they burst.

It is time for responsible fiscal and monetary policy to be restored to Washington.  We all face the likelihood of hard times ahead.  If nothing is done soon, we may all face worse things yet.


The Follies of 2013

I happened to listen to a business report this morning from Fox business in which the reporter was discussing the likely impact on world oil prices as a result of any American attack on the Assad regime in Syria.  The "expert" reporter explained that Syria is not far from the Suez Canal and the Strait of Hormuz, and that the waterways are a key shipping point for oil.  As a result, the possible attack on Syria would bring higher oil prices.  What a genius!  The Suez Canal is in Egypt, hundreds of miles from the fighting in Syria, but very close to all the current uproar in ........... Egypt.  During the heavy confrontations in Cairo and Alexandria between the military and the supporters of ousted president Morsi, the canal went on as if nothing was happening.  Events in Syria will not change this.  As for the Straits of Hormuz, that water lies between the Arabian peninsula and Iran.  Syria's ally Iran could, in theory, try to close the Straits and it might be able to do so for a month or two before the navies of the world powers completely cleared the area (including the shore) of Iranian forces.  That action, however, would mean an invasion of Iran, a defeat for the mullahs, the certain destruction of the Iranian nuclear program and the decimation of the Iranian military.  In other words, that action is less than unlikely.

I also read today a series of articles announcing that while there is evidence that it was the Assad regime's forces that used the chemical weapons, there is no proof that Assad himself ordered the strike.  In amazing fashion, the reporters then explained that this could be a reason not to strike at Syria because we lacked this key evidence.  Are they kidding?  First of all, since the evidence has not been made public except through the endless leaks from "high administration officials", there is no way to know the accuracy of what is being said.  More important, however, proof that Assad himself ordered the strike has nothing to do with an America response.  This was not an accidental release of nerve gas.  Thousands were affected after missiles filled with gas were launched at neighborhoods near Damascus.  If the order for the launch came from the top of the Syrian army rather than from Assad himself, does that make the launch any less heinous?  Of course not!  Once again, these reporters are trying to mix criminal prosecution with international relations/war.  The act was carried out by the Syrian army.  That means Syria is at fault and must reap the consequences of its actions.  We are not trying now to have a trial as to whether or not Assad is a war criminal.  (He is, but that is for a later discussion.)  This mindset is like the one currently held in Washington regarding the thugs who attacked the embassy in Benghazi last September.  We know who they are.  We know where they are.  We just don't have all the evidence that we would like so that we could convict them in court.  We don't need to convict them; we need to kill them.  They are our enemies who are engaged in a war against America.  We need to wake up.