Day: February 21, 2010

Colin Powell Defends Obama National Security Record

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell went on Face The Nation today to defend President Obama’s record in the war against terrorism.

He criticized those who have claimed that Obama is undermining our national security. These, of course, include former Vice President Dick Cheney, the Republican leaders and many rank and file members in the House and Senate, and the conservative talk show hosts.

It is a major point in favor of Obama that he has Powell willing to defend his record, which has been outstanding in fighting against terrorism in Afghanistan, and working to overcome the dangers at home.

But realize that no plan on national security can absolutely guarantee total safety, as the bad guys still have the edge. However, the intellligence gathering has worked well so far, and many objective observers feel this charge of weakness on the part of Obama is just a cheap shot by the opposition!

CNN Poll Shows Government Is “Broken”, But Can Be Fixed: What Is The Answer?

A new CNN poll shows that 86 percent of those polled think the US government is “broken”, but 81 percent think it can be fixed if we can get cooperation of both political parties in Congress.

Of course, that seems unlikely, because the reality is the only way to deal with the horrible growing deficits that threaten our economic stability, is to do two things–raise taxes and cut spending!

Neither one alone can work! We have been avoiding the reality that when we have had constant tax cuts under Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, we were just delaying the ultimate reality, which is that we must pay for the government services we want and need! There is no free ride!

But we also need government spending cuts on a bipartisan basis, but not just by itself, as that is an impossibility to deal with this crisis!

The future is likely a national sales tax or value added tax as an alternative, as many nations in the world already have. It is a very unpleasant reality, but it is ultimately unavoidable. It has been totally irresponsible for Congress and the Presidents over the past thirty years to act as if they they can spend on everything the people need or want, and what we need for our defense, and somehow evade paying for it.

But with longevity growing in this country, another reform of social security for future recipients, starting at a substantially later age, is essential. And Medicare and Medicaid, sadly, will also have to be reformed, as it is eating up such a large portion of spending.

Additionally, we are going to have to decide that we cannot be the world’s policeman to the same extent we are now, as we simply are going bankrupt with defense spending. We need to protect our nation, but there has to be a cheaper way to do so, with other nations not expecting that our budget will supply their defense everywhere in the world!

Tough choices have to be made, and the sooner the better for the future of our children and grandchildren!

The Mount Vernon Conservative Statement Of Principles

Leading conservatives gathered this past Wednesday, the day before the Conservative Political Action Conference meeting in Washington, DC, at the estate of George Washington in Mount Vernon, Virginia.

Their purpose was to sign and announce a new set of principles to unite conservatives on economics, social issues, and foreign policy, for the upcoming battle to regain control of the national government in 2010 and 2012.

The statement signed by 18 representatives of various conservative organizations emphasizes the principles of the Founding Fathers, including checks and balances, limited government, the rule of law, individual liberty, free enterprise, advancing freedom, opposing tyranny, and defense of famly, neighborhood, community and faith. Emphasis on the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution is part of the basic principles of this group statement.

This all sounds great on paper and in theory, but there are some major misconceptions in the document. The Founding Fathers did not all agree on the interpretation of what the national government should have the power to do. Thus, they put into the Constitution, Article 1, Section 8, the “Elastic Clause”, which states that Congress and the national government shall make all laws which are “necessary and proper” and for the “common defense and general welfare”.

Also, the debate about what level of government should have which powers erupted between Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson, and that debate, a legitimate one, remains alive and well today in political party differences, and in the Supreme Court and lower Federal court interpretations of the Constitution.

Additionally, the Founding Fathers did not want international involvement and intervention anywhere near the scale of what the United States is engaged in today, and even conservatives are bitterly divided about overseas engagements, including Ron Paul (who just won the CPAC presidential straw poll) and Pat Buchanan. Is it the job of our nation to spread democracy everywhere by force? Many Republicans historically have been isolationist, and some still are even today!

Also, while the Founding Fathers were believers in freedom of religion, the vast majority wanted to promote separation of church and state, and yet many conservatives and Republicans today want to advocate religion being intimately involved in decision making by government. And when many conservatives want government involved in promoting morality, that is often interfering with individual liberty!

The point is that this Mount Vernon statement contradicts the reality of what the Founding Fathers believed in, and fails to address the reality that it is now 234 years since the independence of the nation, and we are no longer living in the 18th century!

Is it not necessary to promote basic principles, but also recognize that we are in the 21st century, and the nation and the world are vastly different than it was in 1776 and 1787?

Is it not true that conservatives have often violated their own stated series of principles? Is there not hypocrisy and a self serving nature to this document, to perpetuate the advantages of certain privileged classes over the rest of the American population?

In reality, this Mount Vernon Conservative Statement of Principles is simply a clarion call to avoid change and reform, which are essential to promote a “government of the people, by the people, and for the people”!

Glenn Beck Rewrites American History: The Big Lie Technique!

Conservative Fox News talk show host Glenn Beck gave the keynote address last evening at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, DC, and in so doing, he rewrote American history, creating his own distorted, warped view of the past.

Anyone who teaches or is a scholar of American history needs to condemn what he has done, as the use of lies and deception and false statistics to mislead the American people!

What did Glenn Beck have to say? Well, according to him, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Herbert Hoover, and Franklin D. Roosevelt were villains, while Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and Ronald Reagan were heroes! The recession of 1920 was worse than the Great Depression of 1929 in the sense of economic statistics, but Harding and Coolidge saved the day, while Herbert Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt destroyed the economy and made things worse!

US involvement in World War I and World War II was wrong, as international involvement was not necessary, as we could retreat from the world and stop caring what other nations think and do!

The real culprit is Progressivism and Liberalism according to Beck. It all began with Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, who decided that “big government” and “international cooperation” were essential. It continued under Herbert Hoover, who was a Progressive according to Hoover, and made worse by the ultimate Progressive and Liberal, Franklin D. Roosevelt!

Under Warren G. Harding and particularly Calvin Coolidge, the middle class became the largest in history it has ever been, according to Beck. Ronald Reagan knew his history, Beck declares, when he said Coolidge was his favorite President in the sense of economic success!

All of the above is totally whacko! The vast number of historians and scholars accept, of course, that ALL presidents have their definite shortcomings, blunders, and weaknesses, and a true historical assessment always balances pro and con. Certainly, this author accepts that one must understand the complexity of Presidential personalities and deeds and statements.

But, it is a fact that Theodore Roosevelt is rated in most polls Number 4 among Presidents; Woodrow Wilson is rated a little lower down in the top ten of Presidents; Franklin D. Roosevelt is rated Number 2 or 3 among all Presidents; and Herbert Hoover is rated as being a Conservative, not a Progressive, and as either a failure, or certainly below average in his time in the Presidency.

Warren G. Harding is rated a failure in the White House, in the bottom five; Calvin Coolidge is rated at best as below average, sometimes below Hoover and sometimes just above Hoover, as he is blamed for the economic policies that caused the Great Depression, while Hoover is primarily blamed for slow reaction to the reality of the Depression.

Wilson and FDR had to take us into World Wars I and II, as Germany in both wars and Japan in the Second World War were real threats to our national security. Certainly, however, neither one rushed to take us to war, but events forced the issue.

To say that the Recession of 1920 was worse in many ways than the early days of the Great Depression is a mind boggling statement that has never been enunciated by any serious economist or historian!

Ronald Reagan is rated as above average by historians, usually the bottom of the top ten or just below that. But one must remember that his economic policies harmed the middle class, made for a new growth of poverty, and his tripling of the national debt was the beginning of the debt crisis we now face. Remember, our national debt was one trillion dollars when he came in, and three trillion when he left, and a good part of our present problem is due to him and another “conservative” President named George W. Bush!

Also, realize that the national debt grew far less under Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, than under Ronald Reagan and both Presidents Bush!

So Glenn Beck is promoting what was once called the Big Lie technique. If you are creative enough in lying, and know how to deliver a speech and impress your listeners, as Glenn Beck has the talent to do, you are indeed dangerous!

Oh, by the way, in conclusion, who is famous for utilizing the Big Lie? A man named ADOLF HITLER! 🙁

The CPAC Straw Poll Results: Totally Preposterous! :(

The Conservative Political Action Conference finished its convention yesterday evening with the announcement of the results of its straw poll on who should be the GOP Presidential nominee in the Presidential Election of 2012.

Eleven people were on the ballot, including: Governors Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, Haley Barbour, Tim Pawlenty, and Mitch Daniels; Senators John Thune and Rick Santorum; and House members Newt Gingrich, Mike Pence, and Ron Paul.

I wish to point out that Romney, Huckabee, Palin, Santorum, and Gingrich are all out of office. Also, realize that the odds of a member of the House of Representatives becoming President are next to nil, as only one, James Garfield, was ever elected, and unfortunately he was assassinated, dying within six months of his taking the oath.

Only about 25 percent of the people who attended the conference participated in the straw poll, which was won for the past three years by Mitt Romney. Romney certainly is a legitimate contender and has the qualities needed to be a serious Presidential candidate, but this year he did not win the straw poll.

Instead, Romney ended up in second place, behind, of all people, Congressman Ron Paul of Texas! This is a shocking and preposterous result, and is totally lacking in reality within Republican ranks!

Paul winning is more the reaction of young conservatives, including college students, who find him appealing because he is against overseas involvement and is a major advocate of small government and low taxes.

But Ron Paul’s chances of being the GOP nominee are less than zero in reality. The Republican party is not going to nominate the only possible candidate who wants to withdraw from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, a man who was basically ridiculed in GOP debates in the 2008 primary campaign by John McCain, Rudy Guiliani, and basically, all the other GOP candidates.

Also, and not meant to be a statement of age discrimination, but face the facts: Ron Paul will be 77 in 2012, and therefore would be 81 to 85 at the end of a first and second term in the White House! Are we likely to elect someone who would be almost the age of Ronald Reagan at the end of his second term when he first takes the oath? Let’s get real!

Also, while there are those who enthuse about Ron Paul, he does not come across well in debate or on television, so it is safe to say that he may have beaten out his ten rivals in this silly CPAC poll, but any of the others are more likely to be nominated than the Texas Congressman, including the controversial Sarah Palin.

My impression is that while there may be lots of discontent toward President Obama, the Republicans cannot win an election for President based on that alone. They have to have a LEGITIMATE candidate as the alternative to the President, and that is going to be very hard to do.

Facing this reality, if the GOP was smart, they would nominate Mitt Romney as easily the best qualified to run, but with the religious influence of evangelical Christians and the basic distaste of Republicans for the Northeast, will they be willing to nominate a former Massachusetts governor who happens to be a Mormon, a group which most evangelicals think of as a cult? Stay tuned! 🙂

Arnold Schwarzenegger, The Economic Stimulus, And The Tea Party Movement

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was on This Week this morning, and he took a very different stand than congressional Republicans on the economic stimulus and the Tea Party Movement.

Saying that the gain or saving of 150,000 jobs in his state, many of them teachers, police officer and firefighters was a major plus, he repudiated the idea that the economic stimulus had failed to have any effect.

He also said that the Tea Party Movement was not going to go anywhere politically, as he perfectly understood the frustration of millions of people regarding the terrible economic downturn, but that it was simply a world wide reality of discontent in difficult times for families and individuals. He endorsed the Obama approach to the economy, which will, of course, only further separate him from his Republican party colleagues who continue to oppose everything the President does or says.

Of course, Schwarzenegger is a moderate Republican, a dying breed, sadly, in the GOP! 🙁

Republicans In Office Versus Republicans Out Of Office

A very interesting contrast can be made between Republicans in Congress, and former Republican leaders and presidential advisers under past Republican presidents.

While Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio and other Republican leaders, and really just about all the Republicans in Congress, act totally obstructionist on health care, climate control and every other issue, including foreign policy and national security, those former Republican stalwarts from past times are in many cases disagreeing with their party and being at least somewhat supportive of President Obama.

Among those who are acting statesmanlike are Bob Dole of Kansas, former GOP Presidential nominee and Senate Majority Leader; Howard Baker of Tennessee, former White House Chief of Staff and Senate Majority Leader; Alan Simpson, former Wyoming Senator and Minority Whip, who has agreed to serve on Obama’s Deficit Commission to deal with the national debt; Colin Powell, former Secretary of State; and James Baker, former White House Chief of Staff, Secretary of State and Secretary of the Treasury.

While certainly responsibility for the gridlock and stalemate in Congress is something both parties have to share, it is clear to open minded observers that it is the Republicans who bear the major share of the blame!

General David Petraeus: Interesting Views In Midst Of Security Debate

General David Petraeus, the head of US Central Command, formerly in charge of the war in Iraq, was on Meet The Press this morning, and what he had to say was very telling.

He was asked his view of whether the abandonment of the Army Manual tactics on questioning prisoners of war was the proper thing to do during the Bush Administration. Translated, this means whether he believed the use of torture and the tactics used at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq were useful and productive, and he said a clear No to that. Instead, such methods led to us being bitten on the behind, as he expressed it.

Petraeus was also asked if keeping prisoners of the war on terror at Guantanamo Naval Base in Cuba was a good policy in the long run. He made clear that while we have to work on this in a judicious way, that ultimately it would be better to close that prison at some point.

He was also asked about his view on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, and while refusing to make a final statement, he said he supported the stand and activities of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen, to investigate the validity of eventual abandonment of the ban on gays in the military.

These views are very significant, as they are generally supportive of the Obama Administration, while Petraeus stands clear of direct political involvement.

It is also revealing that just as Petraeus makes his statements disparaging the policy of torture, that the Justice Department is recommending no prosecution of the lawyers in the Bush Administration who wrote legal defenses of just that policy, which is still endorsed by former Vice President Dick Cheney.

The decision not to prosecute John Yoo and the other “torture memo” attorneys is becoming a highly controversial issue, as many wonder why Eric Holder has decided not to pursue them, since the Obama Administration has totally repudiated those tactics.

Overall, General Petraeus’s statements contradict the political stands of the Republican party, despite the fact that most observers perceive him as basically a Republican in his views, although he is not actively partisan in any fashion and never has been.

Again, the Republicans seem to have more and more people often associated with them, but outside the Congress and the party leadership today, as against their strategy, tactics and actual stated beliefs!