The NFL and Domestic Violence

September 25th, 2014

 

Like everyone else, I was shocked by the brutal video of Ray Rice knocking out his fiancé. Many people are angry with the NFL over the way they handled the affair. Personally, I think the anger should be directed at Rice and the judge and DA who gave him a pass but want to send a single mother to prison because she forgot she had a gun in her car when entering New Jersey.

 

I’m sure that, if a poll were taken, most would favor a lifetime ban for players who hurt family members. That may satisfy a desire for vengeance but think of the harm done to the family when the only breadwinner is permanently unemployed.

 

I also have concerns about the approach the NFL uses to handle disciplinary problems. The commissioner acts as judge, jury and executioner. His judgment is based primarily on PR concerns, not the facts of the case. Once there was an uproar over the handling of Rice, he changed his mind. Can you imagine the chaos if judges could change their mind?

 

So what should be done? First of all, these decisions should be made by an arbitrator, like in baseball. I would recommend a long suspension, a longer probationary period and mandatory counseling. After all, the objective should be on preventing future abuse.

 

It is hard to be sympathetic toward people that make more in a year than many do in a lifetime. Just because they make the big bucks doesn’t mean it is OK to bar them from their profession based on the whims of one person.

 

Fighting the War on Terror

September 23rd, 2014

 

We have been fighting Islamic extremists for a long time. The Iran hostage crisis took place 35 years ago. The World Trade Center was bombed 21 years ago and destroyed 13 years ago. Nobody knows how long the threat will continue. In the meantime, fighting terrorism must be a given a high priority by the government and the country.

 

So how are we doing? I would have to give the government high marks for the effective use of intelligence. Agencies are doing a much better job of gathering and sharing data compared to the days before 911. Of course there are privacy concerns but that is for another post. Unfortunately we are facing increased threats from “lone wolves” and that is much harder to detect.

 

There is an old saying about generals fighting the last war. We have seen a high level of security at our airports. The basic presumption is that a 90 year old man, 3 year old girl and nervous man with a one-way ticket are equally likely to be terrorists. Many can’t fly because someone with the same name is on the no-fly list. Even Ted Kennedy once had trouble getting on a plane. Other targets get much less protection. I once read that the government spends around $10 per airline passenger for security and a penny per passenger for other forms of public transportation.

 

Political correctness can trump security needs. Nothing was done about statements the Fort Hood shooter made to avoid the appearance of religious bias. Afterwards it was called “workplace violence”.

 

Each of the last two presidents made horrible mistakes. President Bush chose to launch a war against Iraq. There was no justification whatsoever. Even if they had weapons of mass destruction, there was no evidence we were a target. It sucked up resources and attention that should have been devoted to fighting terrorism. President Obama has refused to act. He did nothing in Syria and pulled all of our troops out of Iraq. He has weakened the military to make it harder for them to go to war.

 

Now we are faced with a new threat, ISIL. They have tens of thousands of troops and sophisticated weapons. A great outcry for action came after they beheaded the American reporters and Obama said we had no policy. One again he talks tough and threatened to destroy them. Almost nobody believes that airpower and questionable allies on the ground will accomplish this goal. It really is about looking tough in advance of the fall election.

I certainly hope we don’t have another major terrorist attack. I’d be a lot more comfortable if I felt we had done all we could to prevent one.  

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.