Another Gulf of Tonkin?

September 18th, 2014

 

For years the Obama administration refused to provide assistance to the forces fighting President Assad in Syria despite his repeated talk of “red lines”. For months, there was no policy to deal with ISIL. Now in just a few days Congress has given President Obama broad authority to bomb in Syria and fund Syrian “moderates”.

 

I have several concerns. I believe his efforts are more to solve political issues than really defeat ISIL (more on that later). I wonder if we really have a handle on who is receiving weapons and whether we can depend on them. Back in the Reagan administration we funded what later became the Taliban.

 

Finally, I worry about blindly ceding such power to President Obama. He has consistently ignored the checks and balances in the Constitution any continues to do despite numerous Supreme Court rulings against him.

 

The classic example of hastily expanding presidential authority occurred in 1964. On August 2, North Vietnam attacked a US destroyer in the Gulf of Tonkin. Only eight days later a congressional resolution gave President Johnson a blank check to do what he wanted in Vietnam.

 

I am not suggesting that Obama will act like Johnson. However, it is not a good idea to give more power to a man who desires to rule by fiat.

 

Kentucky

September 10th, 2014

 

Thinking about Kentucky might bring images of bourbon, fine racehorses or fried chicken. Their latest claim to fame is the most expensive Senate race in history. The final tally will likely exceed $100 million. That is over $50 per voter.

 

So how did this happen? Democrats decided to make Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell one of their key targets. Some of their money men jumped in. This alarmed Republicans so they came in with both guns blazing. We now have a political arms race.

 

I think both sides have been a little foolish. With so many vulnerable Democrats, it doesn’t make sense to go after a red state Republican in a Republican year. Putting so much money into a small state will antagonize voters. Imagine seeing the same commercial over and over and getting phone call after phone call. It doesn’t sound like a good way to entice voters. McConnell is up by 5-8 points in the polls so will likely hang on to his seat.

The Kentucky record will likely be shattered in 2016. Then the state will be known for Mammoth Cave, Louisville Sluggers and Lincoln’s birthplace.

Less Talk, More Action

September 7th, 2014

 

Theodore Roosevelt used the saying “speak softly and carry a big stick” to describe his approach to foreign policy. He further characterized it as the “exercise of intelligent forethought and decisive action sufficiently far in advance of any likely crisis”. His approach worked well. The US achieved a world prominence it never had before and he won the Nobel Peace Prize for settling a war between Russia and Japan.

 

By contrast, President Obama’s strategy is to speak loudly and carry no stick at all. We remember the famous “red line” in Syria. If he had done something then, we might not be in such a mess now. We heard more tough talk when Russia invaded Ukraine. All he has done is trot out a few sanctions and offer to send food and medical supplies to Ukraine.

 

Now we are seeing the same approach to dealing with ISIS. He caused a stir when he talked about not having a plan.  Political considerations always come first in this administration so now he is talking about destroying them.

 

Perhaps he doesn’t care about foreign policy, is disengaged, wants peace at any price or is not up to the job. He is our president for 866 more days so it’s time for him to step up to the plate.

 

Nude Pictures

September 4th, 2014

 

One of the stories in the news is the hackers that obtained nude pictures of actresses and posted them to the internet. I certainly hope that the people that did this are caught and prosecuted. However, there is another side of the story that should be explored.

 

Sex and celebrity sell. Even respected news organizations report juicy gossip and show pictures of bikini clad women. We also have an epidemic of hacking. These victims should have realized the combination of sex, celebrity and hacking made it highly inadvisable to put naked pictures out on the cloud. Of course this doesn’t excuse those who stole the pictures.

 

If an actress absolutely has to have nude pictures taken, she should put them on a thumb drive and stick it in a locked drawer. Or better yet, send them to me for safekeeping.

 

Obama Disengaged

August 30th, 2014

 

A Google search of the term “Obama disengaged” turns up over 300,000 responses while “Obama great president” brings in 70,000 less.

 

He received a lot of criticism for going to Texas for a political fundraiser but not to the border during the child immigration crisis. More recently he was seen grinning on a golf course following the beheading of a reporter. While these may be PR flubs, they aren’t important in the long run. Presidents raise campaign cash and go on vacations.

 

The real problem is that the Obama administration isn’t responding to crises. They were slow to act on the VA health care problems. All they did in the immigration crisis was to request $4 billion in spending, the bulk to be spent on other things.

 

Even worse, they are slow to act on foreign policy challenges. They are doing little to stop Russian aggression against Ukraine. There is no reaction at all to China’s growing militarism. After dithering in Syria, he publicly admits there is no policy to deal with ISIS.

We would expect criticism from Republicans. Now many Democrats are also expressing their concern. We face many challenges and deserve to have a president willing to deal with them.