Saturday, March 29, 2014

Is This the Best Obama Can Do on Ukraine? State Dept. Spox Posts Self Pic #UnitedforUkraine

If this is what passes for concrete action and leadership then Ukraine, ALL OF IT, is screwed!

It's now been more than a month since Russia seized Crimea in Ukraine. The Russians continue to mass troops on the border of eastern Ukraine with the threat of invasion (1,2). The Ukrainians requested defensive weapons to help defend themselves against invasion. Obama promised only Meals Ready to Eat (MREs), military rations. At last report even these haven't been sent.

Instead, Obama has made more speeches and his State Department Spokesperson put a selfie picture on her Twittter account holding a sign saying "#UnitedforUkraine" with a thumbs up. The New York post contrasted that image with that of Russian troops in the following graphic. The Post's headline: "Russia sends troops, Obama administration sends a selfie."

Russia sends troops. Obama sends selfies. What an embarrassment these people are!
From the Post report:
“Presenting The Latest US Strategy to Counter ‘Russian Aggression,’ ” a snarky blogger posted on zerohedge.com. “#Selfies!” Critics said the photo from America’s chief diplomatic perch was embarrassing. “No wonder Putin covers his mouth when speaking to Obama, perhaps to hide his laugh?” wrote another blogger. “How flippin’ sad has the USA become?” wondered a third critic.
Meanwhile, Obama is in a hopeful mood after Putin called him on Friday. Yet, as the Washington Post notes, both the White House and the Kremlin have very different versions of what was actually discussed. To further cloud the issue and take away any impetus for more effective action by the West, the Russians have also said they have no intention of invading Ukraine. Of course the Russians also said they didn't invade Crimea so take that with a big grain of salt.

What the Russians are doing is an old game that goes back to how Hitler divided opponents in the run up to World War II. Promise peace while preparing for war. But apparently Obama thinks such attitudes are so 20th Century and he can't conceive anyone would behave that way now.

Weeks ago the Ukrainian Prime Minster personally requested defensive weapons in a meeting in the Oval Office with Obama. The time to send such weapons is BEFORE a larger invasion occurs not after. Yet Obama continues to grasp at straws seeking a way out that avoids actual leadership and even modest concrete action to help Ukraine!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Polls Show No Confidence in Obama's Foreign Policy. Plus, the latest on Ukraine, North Korea, Etc.

To paraphrase Obama's mentor Rev. Jeremiah Wright: Obama's chickens are coming home to roost!

So, I'm guessing that most readers didn't hear about North Korea's latest offensive missile launch on Wednesday. There are just SO MANY bad things going on that it's hard to keep up. What with Russia poised to slice off another part of Ukraine, Iran getting the bomb, Syria failing to destroy it's chemical weapons, Al Queda on a rampage in North Africa and on and on.

What's Obama got to say about all this? He did what he usually does and gave another speech. This time in Brussels, Belguim with an "Address to European Youth" in which he declared that wars which scarred so much of Europe are so 20th Century. It seems it's difficult, if not impossible, for Obama to realize that Putin isn't hip enough to understand that. In June of last year he stood before the Brandenburg Gate in Germany and declared that peace was at hand. He said:
OBAMA:Today, people often come together in places like this to remember history -- not to make it. After all, we face no concrete walls, no barbed wire. There are no tanks poised across a border. There are no visits to fallout shelters. Brandenburg Gate, June 19,2013
Today there are tanks "poised across the border" from Ukraine and Obama is talking about concern that a nuclear device might explode in New York City.

Is it any wonder that polls show approval for Obama generally remains low and approval for Obama's foreign policy has cratered? In Ukraine, a new CBS poll finds 46% disapprove, only 38% approve. Then there is this:

Obama has repeatedly bragged that his leadership has restored America's image around the world (1,2). Apparently the American people, and the rest of the world, have a different opinion.

While Obama gives another speech imploring Putin to join him in a 21st Century Kum ba yah moment Putin's agents are infiltrating eastern Ukraine and reinforcing military bases in Crimea.

Last week I showed you the map of Crimea at right (larger image here) and it's central position in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. This week, another map with a closer view of the region. Putin has already seized three of the areas in red: Crimea, Abkhazi and South Ossetia. He may have designs on the other two as outlined in this Washington Post story.

Crimea is a central strategic location from which Putin can dominate the entire region militarily. Empty words from Obama about war and military conflict being a thing of the past won't stop him. Sanctions which are not even a slap on the wrist won't deter Putin. What's called for isn't another speech but concrete action and real presidential leadership. The Western alliance is a weak one at the best of times but it's weaker still when the leader of the most powerful nation in that alliance can't seem to understand the nature of the problem or lead others to confront it.

Former Obama Defense Secretary Robert Gates writes:
No one wants a new Cold War, much less a military confrontation. We want Russia to be a partner, but that is now self-evidently not possible under Mr. Putin's leadership. He has thrown down a gauntlet that is not limited to Crimea or even Ukraine. His actions challenge the entire post-Cold War order including, above all, the right of independent states to align themselves and do business with whomever they choose.

Tacit acceptance of settling old revanchist scores by force is a formula for ongoing crises and potential armed conflict, whether in Europe, Asia or elsewhere. A China behaving with increasing aggressiveness in the East and South China seas, an Iran with nuclear aspirations and interventionist policies in the Middle East, and a volatile and unpredictable North Korea are all watching events in Europe. They have witnessed the fecklessness of the West in Syria. Similar division and weakness in responding to Russia's most recent aggression will, I fear, have dangerous consequences down the road.
A few months back Gates attained notoriety with a tell all book in which he described (my words)an Obama White House "corrupted by political considerations, hindered by inexperience and hampered by personality clashes!" Combine that with weak leadership and we see that Obama's chickens are coming home to roost!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Hopeful Sign for Improvements in GOP Voter Turnout

Florida special election a good rehearsal for November!

If you've read Mike's America over the years you'll know that I've warned time and again about the importance of improving GOP voter turnout methods (1,2,3). Two years before the 2012 presidential election I warned that "Democrats well funded permanent political infrastructure gives them huge advantage over GOP/Tea Party volunteers and ad hoc organization." I recommended that the GOP "fund an army of activists," and "put boots on the ground and build a permanent grass roots infrastructure." That warning wasn't heeded and Obama won in 2012 by micro targeting votes in a handful of key states he needed to win. I believe if the national GOP and Romney campaign had a better grass roots organization, instead of wasting money on television ads, we would have won the 2012 campaign.

I sounded the warning again on Monday after analyzing the Florida special congressional election. There were hopeful signs in that result and I'm glad to see two new reports, one in Politico and the other in the New York Times which indicates that the lesson may be applied to other key races this fall.

In Politico a labor union leader in North Carolina was whining about how unfair the Citizens United case was. If only Democrats could go back to a time where unlimited spending by Big Labor unions was unanswered by the right. But now, with new conservative and Republican political action committees the GOP is starting to mount a more permanent political organization. No more folding up the tent and going home after election day.

One big battlefield will be in North Carolina where Senator Kay Hagan(D)and ObamaCare supporter is up for re-election. From Politico:
Americans for Prosperity and other conservative groups like American Majority aren’t relying solely on ads to try to oust Hagan after her first term. They’re moving into a model more akin to liberals, with a more permanent operation set up in the key state.

“We know we did this right in 2012; there just wasn’t enough of it,” said American Majority’s Ned Ryun of the conservative ground game for the 2012 election. “We want to build out a fairly robust network of trained volunteers and obviously increase our data in preparation for 2016.”
“What we’re trying to do now is more permanent. It’s more strategic in nature,” Dudley said. The group is hiring an additional seven field coordinators throughout the state and reorganizing its Raleigh, N.C., office to have staff dedicated to policy, grass roots and communications.
The New York Times report echoes Politico:
Americans for Prosperity is also stepping up its ground game. The organization now has more than 200 full-time paid staff members in field offices in at least 32 states. The idea is to embed staff members in a community, giving conservative advocacy a permanent local voice through field workers who live in the neighborhood year-round and appreciate the nuances of the local issues. They can also serve as a ready-to-go field organization in future election years and on future issues — not dissimilar from the grass-roots, community-based approach Mr. Obama used successfully in 2008 and 2012.

“Too often our side will gear up for an individual issue battle or in some cases an election, but we don’t have a permanent infrastructure,” Mr. Phillips said. “What we took from studying it was that we have to have a bigger, more permanent infrastructure on the ground in these states, and this takes time.”
Despite GOP improvements Democrats retain a key advantage in political infrastructure, tactics and experience. Dems are not resting on their 2006, 2008 and 2012 laurels. While the GOP is still playing catch up, the Dems are finding new ways to bank more votes to counter any wave this fall.

Does it seem the GOP is learning it's lesson? I hope so. I'm getting tired of repeating the warning!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Russians Laugh at Obama's Weakness as Ukraine Crisis Enters More Dangerous Phase

Obama just does not understand that peace comes through strength and that any perceived weakness invites war!

It's three weeks now since Russia seized the Ukraine. During that time Obama has reacted with mostly ambiguous and symbolic statements and actions. He talks about "costs" to Russia yet the only concrete action he took were limited economic sanctions on just 11 Russian and former Ukrainian officials. On Thursday, he added 20 more names to the list following the lead of the European Union.

Russians laughed at Obama's weak response. One official said it must be the work of some "prankster" and pointed out that not all Russian officials have money deposited in western banks. Also, wives of officials were not included. It's possible that in a number of cases the family money might be in the wife's name to avoid just this sort of action.

Ukraine has requested immediate military aide in the form of ammunition and defensive weapons. Instead, Obama sent military rations or MREs (meals ready to eat). Quite a gesture to a country that lost seven million people to a famine caused by Josef Stalin in the 1930's where people had to resort to cannibalism of family members to survive.

Obama's Attempt at De-escalation Gives Putin the Green Light

Russians wasted no time taking the name of an
autonomous Crimea off the region's parliament building.
In the midst of Obama's typical dithering when it comes to foreign affairs a handful of observers asserted that he was actually trying to defuse the situation and give Putin a way out. But it's clear from Putin's actions that he saw Obama's sidestepping as weakness and stepped on the accelerator.

At the point of a gun Russians conducted a referendum on Crimean independence with the result that 97% of those voting wanted to join Russia. That's surprising since opinion polls taken over several years suggest only very narrow support for such a move.

Following the vote the Russians didn't waste any time and immediately began dismantling the name above the Crimea's formerly autonomous parliament. The same day Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an order officially annexing the Crimea and making it part of Russia. Below, a woman in Crimea watches Putin's speech while holding an image of her idol Josef Stalin. It looks like the good old days are back once more!

Russians in Crimea celebrate annexation with communist flags and images of Josef Stalin. Stalin, whose policies caused the deaths of 7 million native Ukrainians made it possible for Russians to dominate Crimea and parts of eastern Ukraine.
In his speech after signing the annexation order Putin said:
PUTIN: "Our Western partners headed by the United States prefer not to be guided by international law in their practical policies, but by the rule of the gun."
"They have come to believe in their exceptionalism and their sense of being the chosen ones. That they can decide the destinies of the world, that it is only them who can be right."
Those words might sound familiar to Obama. The left has been saying nearly the same thing for years and Obama might have said them himself when George W. Bush was President. The irony must be too much. But perhaps these words, and the Left's belief in them describes why Obama is so hesitant to act in foreign affairs.

First Crimea, Next, THE WORLD!

Following a similar formula to the seizure of Crimea, the Russian government is making noises about eastern Ukraine and also the Republic of Latvia.  Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Russian troops are massed on the Ukrainian border. Where will it all end? The Washington Post put together this "cheat sheet" graphically displaying reasons to be concerned about renewed Russian expansion:

This is not to suggest that Russians will invade or annex each of these countries of concern. If Obama, leading the West, (or not leading) continues to do little more than symbolic noises without even a wrist slap of real consequences for Moscow, the Russians won't have to invade. They will simply signal their displeasure and their targets will fall in line and do Russia's bidding.

Obama too busy with basketball to bother with Ukraine?
What Would Reagan Do?

Instead of leading Obama is busy declaring Happy Hour at Democrat fundraisers and working on March Madness basketball tournament predictions. The official White House web site even has a page dedicated to this activity. Real leadership on Ukraine appears to be absent.

Elected officials and former National Security personnel from both the Republican and Democrat side of the aisle have urged stronger measures and more visible leadership (1,2,3,4,5). Even Hillary Clinton says we need to do more. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, declared this crisis "a call to action." At some point that "action" must be more than words.

Actions speak louder than words and action is the only language Putin understands. Concrete steps Obama and the West might take include (1,2,3,4,5):
  • Obama threatened to "isolate" Russia in the world community if it seized Crimea. It's time to do just that and cut Putin off from international forums. Not just throw Russia out of the G-8 which treated Russia as an equal but end NATO and other links, like trade organizations, as well.
  • Give the Ukrainians the defensive weaponry they need.
  • Restore cuts to America's military. 
  • Do more than send John Kerry or Joe Biden to Poland and the Baltic States. Restore the missile defense treaty with Poland (and the Czech Republic) which Obama foolishly canceled because he believed the Russians were our friends. Send additional military aid to the region.
  • Provide massive financial support for Ukraine as that country attempts to transition away from reliance on Russia.
  • Russians closed down local news media in Crimea and replaced it with state propaganda. Beam Western news and information into Crimea and Ukraine.
Writing at Slate, Fred Kaplan suggests we discuss with Ukraine and allies over open phone lines Putin is most likely bugging the possibility of sending covert military aid and Delta Forces to disrupt and punish any Russian military expansion.

Oil and Gas: The Most Effective Weapon but One Obama is Loathe to Use

The suggestions above are short and near term proposals. What is needed is a long term plan that deprives Putin of the ability to engage in such lawless activities. The most effective tool to use is oil and gas. Putin's military and the Russian economy depend on oil and gas to survive. Reduce that revenue and Putin is impotent.

Ideas to investigate corrupt Russian oil and gas executives and freeze their holdings in the West do not go far enough. Drive down the price of oil/gas and provide new sources of supply to Europe and Putin's options dry up. With the stroke of that pen Obama is always talking about he could order the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to speed up applications for new liquefied gas exports. He could also open up the process for exploring for oil and gas on federal lands that has been largely shut down since he became President. In a few years massive new supplies of energy would drive down world prices and force the Russians to retreat. Reagan did it in the 1980's. But would Obama?

As of now, not even the Meals Ready to Eat (MREs)Obama promised earlier have left their storage locations in the United States let alone been delivered. Putin surely knows this and takes it as yet another sign of Obama's weakness and indifference. Five years into his presidency and Obama appears incapable of providing strong leadership. Unless that changes nations like Russia, Iran, Syria, North Korea will continue to threaten world peace. The best hope for peace is a strong America and that's one job Obama doesn't seem to understand!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Don't Get Too Giddy About 2014 Election. Turnout and Early Voting Mechanics Still Rule. Has GOP Learned the Lesson?

Despite the wave of anti-Obama voters, Dems still outperform GOP in critical vote getting tactics!

I was as excited as the next Republican at David Jolly's big win in Florida's special congressional election last week. I said then, and maintain now, that it is a sign of good things to come for the GOP in November's midterm election. It's quite possible that we are building to another "wave" election equal to the one in 2010. Certainly Democrats are in an absolute panic over the prospect.

But panic or no panic Dems still hold a tactical advantage that could blunt the wave this November, just as they blunted it in 2010. Had the GOP done a better job of candidate selection and adapting to Dem tactics we might have taken control of the Senate two years ago. I believe we will take control of the Senate this time around but I also believe we need to take as many seats as possible so we have the strongest team to counter Obama in his last years in office.

There are two key factors in maximizing our advantage in 2014. Both are being addressed to varying degrees overall and in the key states where gains are most likely to be found. But, and it's a BIG BUT, I don't believe the GOP has gone far enough and unfortunately we still find ourselves handicapped by Democrat generated media narratives which tell the GOP the only way to win is to pander to minorities and avoid nominating true conservatives.

Tea Party vs. Establishment GOP: Finding the Balance

In 2010 the Tea Party helped to nominate conservatives like Christine O'Donnell in Delaware. She had no chance to win in Delaware and instead a Democrat who was far more liberal than Mike Castle, O'Donnell's establishment GOP challenger, won the seat. If Castle had been nominated instead the GOP would have won the seat and we would be one more vote closer to unseating Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The lesson for the Tea Party in 2014 has to be that we return to the "Buckley Rule" and nominate the most conservative candidate who can win in a particular state or district. In 2012 both Todd Akin in Missouri and Richard Mourdock in Indiana lost Senate races that would otherwise have gone GOP had the nominee been less flawed and more moderate in their conservative views.

The Establishment GOP doesn't always pick the winner either. Do you remember when the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee (NRSC) backed Charlie Crist in Florida over Marco Rubio, the Tea Party favorite? Crist was a poor candidate who later changed parties and is now running for governor of Florida again as a Democrat. Let's not forget that the NRSC threw away $8 million in California in a vain attempt to support Carly Fiorina's attempt to unseat Sen. Barbara Boxer. Establishment GOP committees have every right to promote candidates they think will do best, but they should avoid picking fights with qualified Tea Party candidates and need to be better at sharing resources with ALL candidates.

Mechanics of Turnout Key to Winning Close Races

There were a handful of races in 2010 that the GOP could have won even with imperfect Tea Party candidates (is there ever a perfect candidate?). Most especially in Nevada where Sharon Angle and Colorado where Ken Buck had narrow leads in most polls before election day. Democrats used a well developed network of progressive and union activists to overcome that advantage and win (1,2). Obama, who was in big trouble in 2011, developed the same ground game in 2012 spending a great deal more than Romney did in field operations in the key states he needed to win.

Banking early votes and absentee ballots are critical to Dem's success.  In the Florida special election Democrat Alex Sink beat Jolly in absentee votes. What handed Jolly the win was the turnout on election day. That was the wave effect and it worked in this case. However, Democrats will double down on their early voting efforts and in races where the GOP wave is not so pronounced, they may prevail.

With the Florida win Republican operatives are bragging about the GOP's new high tech turnout tools. I hope they are right. Since 2006 the GOP has been at a technological disadvantage and been forced to rely on the hope and prayer that the base will come out on election day. Sometimes the base does. Sometimes it doesn't. Adapting to the new reality of banking early and absentee votes improves GOP chances. A cautionary note. As the GOP plays catchup, the Dems are working on even better turnout tools.

Maximizing the effects of any 2014 GOP wave will require new techniques to capture the GOP vote which may not make it to the polls on election day. I hope the GOP has finally learned it's lesson and is working overtime to implement more effective ground game strategies!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Fascist Professor of Pornography and Prostitution Violently Attacks Free Speech Rights of Pro Life Protesters

Another defender of tolerance and diversity who denies free speech rights to others!

I recently sent a Letter to the Editor to my local newspaper which they were kind enough to print:
Have you noticed how often those on the left assume an air of smug intellectual superiority? They believe themselves to be so smart and feel those on the right are not just wrong, but dumb, or worse. If they are confident of their arguments, why do they want to shut down or shout down opposing views?

This habit is brazenly prevalent at what used to be called institutions of higher learning. One student at Harvard went so far as to say that "academic justice," as defined by her, was more important than academic freedom and that certain research or speech not in line with her definition should be discouraged. There are other numerous examples where conservative speech at universities has been shouted down by those who feel it is not just their right, but duty, to deny free speech to those with whom they disagree.

Charles Krauthammer wrote a column for the Washington Post in which he pointed out the obvious inconsistencies between global warming theory and 30 years of climate records. Believers demanded that the Post not print the article. They say the "science is settled" and "the debate is over" despite the fact that their predictions have all gone bust. If their case really was rock solid, what are they afraid of?

The above are examples of a conscious effort to de-legitimize political dissent. There's a name for such efforts, it's called fascism. Our Founding Fathers would be appalled, as should all persons of goodwill.
Had space permitted I could have gone on and on with other examples such as the one provided by Mireille Miller-Young. Ms. Miller-Young is an Associate Professor in the Feminist Studies Department (and you wondered why today's college graduates can't get a job) at the University of California Santa Barbara. According to her official UCSB web page, the professors area of study includes "pornography and sex work." She makes a good living at taxpayer expense promoting pornography and prostitution. No doubt she considers her free speech rights paramount in enabling her to follow this career path.

Apparently, she has less respect for the free speech rights of those with whom she disagrees. On March 4, Ms. Miller-Young encountered a group of young Pro-Life protesters. The women, mostly teenage and early 20's, were passing out literature in a designated "free speech zone" at UCSB and had signs showing what happens to a fetus that is aborted. The Professor began arguing with the women and urged others not to listen and to shut the Pro-life group down.

21 year old Joan Short, who was passing out flyers with her sister Thrin, age 16, describes what happened:
As the woman's shouts of “millions of children in Africa,” “my body,” “foster-care system,” etc. got louder and louder, a crowd of students gathered around. I could tell that Thrin wasn't getting on very well with the woman, but I still didn't want to interrupt because she is probably just as experienced as I am. If the students could hear what Thrin was saying, then they would be able to judge who was speaking rationally. I walked along the outer fringes of the crowd, asking what they thought. One girl said, "I'm just listening; that's my professor."

The professor was really working the crowd, letting any student ask a question, but not letting Thrin answer anything thoroughly. The professor shouted, "We don't need to listen to these people. They don't have our permission to be here. Should we tear down their sign?" She rallied the crowd of about fifteen to chant, "Tear down this sign! Tear down this sign!"
Next, Miller-Young pulled the sign away from one of the women, handed it to two other students and they walked away. Several of the girls followed in an attempt to get their sign back and were physically assaulted by Miller-Young. The video is on You Tube. Police were called to investigate and found the sign had been destroyed. 16 year old Thrin was left with bruises and scratches on her arm.

Miller-Young told the pro-life women and girls that she had a "moral right" to deny their free speech. Ironic that she would be the first to vociferously defend her own free speech rights to teach pornography and prostitution which others might find morally offensive. Welcome to the world of left wing fascists!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Florida Winning Message the GOP Can Run Nationwide

It's simple and gets to the point!

In the end, Democrats, no matter how much they pretend to be moderates, will all vote to support Obama, ObamaCare and higher taxes.

Here's the campaign ad from David Jolly who won the special election in Florida Tuesday:


Run a variation of this ad in every swing state and district this fall!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Democrats Lose Special Congressional Election in Florida that Was Referendum on ObamaCare & Global Warming

A Portent for November!

Democrats pulled out all the stops to win a special election for the 13th Congressional District in Florida. They selected a candidate, Alex Sink, who had won statewide office in Florida and very nearly won the governor's race in 2010. She raised twice what her Republican counterpart David Jolly did and outspent him 4 to 1 on television ads. Top Democrats like Bill Clinton and Joe Biden helped Sink's campaign. The district is one which Obama won in both 2008 and 2012 and one in which registered Democrats outnumber Republicans. For Democrats, this was a "must win" and as Stuart Rothenberg said, it's "the race Democrats can't afford to lose." Political Analyst Larry Sabato rated it as one which leaned Democrat.

On Tuesday night, the Republican, David Jolly won by a narrow margin. The central issue of the campaign was ObamaCare. Jolly is for repeal and replace of the unpopular law and Sink defended it. Democrats who had hoped to win were all set to declare this as a sign of good things to come in November. Now, they're pretending that it never mattered. In a leaked Democrat strategy memo, Dems claimed that they are " now on offense over the Affordable Care Act, putting Republicans on their heels over the costs of their plan to repeal the law altogether.” Dems also claimed that the "political landscape … has shifted in Democrats’ favor" because of ObamaCare. They might want to rethink their strategy!

It is a sign of good things to come for Republicans when a little known underfunded challenger beats a well financed Democrat with statewide name recognition in a swing district that trended Democrat. It's a bad sign for Democrats, including incumbent Senators, in swing states or those which favor Republicans in presidential election. The forecast now is for a Republican takeover of the Senate and gains in the House. All thanks to ObamaCare!

UPDATE: Jolly survived the global warming attack machine!

Reports that extreme environmentalists, allies to Democrats and candidate Alex Sink pulled out all the stops to paint David Jolly as an "irresponsible" climate denier who lobbied for oil companies to... wait for it... DRILL for oil in the senstive offshore surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay. Non stop attack ads and damning editorials weren't enough to scare people into voting for Sink.

Do the Democrats not know that climate change, particularly the global warming hoax, ranks at the bottom of voter's concerns?

This election was a referendum on ObamaCare AND global warming. Democrats lost on both issues. Bring it on for November!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

With Dems War on Education, is It Any Wonder Students Don't Know History?

But you can bet each of these public school victims could tell you all about the fraud that is global warming!

A recent Pew Poll showed that 55% of younger respondents under 35 were opposed to sanctions applied to Russia for their seizure of Crimea. It's an odd result considering that overall, 59% support sanctions.

I guess we shouldn't be surprised that younger Americans have such an out of step view towards Russia. It's doubtful most of them could even locate that nation on a map. Earlier, I posted on the 78th anniversary of Hitler's invasion of the Rhineland and the 68th anniversary of Winston Churchill's
"Iron Curtain" speech.  With the poor quality of public education and particularly the failure to teach the importance of history I doubt many younger Americans have any clue what this history means or have any way to put the Crimean crisis into an historical context.

It's no secret that today's public schools are an abysmal failure when it comes to teaching history. This is backed up by dozens of surveys, studies and polls. So many anedotal examples highlight the problem. Students outside the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC didn't know why he was a great man. Others were unaware that George Washington was the Father of our country. Many couldn't tell you why we fought the Second World War or who Hitler was. Others thought that John F. Kennedy was President during World War II and that Winston Churchill was one of his generals. (1,2,3,4). If you prefer some video documentation of the problem check out The "Lunch Scholars" where students are interviewed on history and civics questions in the lunchroom. Also, "94 Maidens - The Mandate Video" reveals the not surprising news that today's college students don't know about the Holocaust or World War II. How can they be expected to care about Crimea?

Of course if you were to go around to those same students and ask them about global warming they'd cheerfully parrot back the lies they had been taught in the classroom and pretend to be experts!

How Did We Get in This Mess? Ask the Democrats and Their Union Allies

It's no secret that the Teacher's unions give over 95% of their political contributions to support Democrats. In return Democrats do what the unions tell them to do. In his first few months in office Obama blocked funding for school choice programs in Washington, DC where some of the nation's worst schools (1,2) trap poor and minority students in schools that don't teach but do breed violence. For Obama, serving the entrenched special interests of the Teacher's unions appears to be more important than helping poor children.

Ditto for New York City where excited leftists elected uber liberal Bill DeBlasio is trying to shut down Charter Schools which are not handicapped by the Teacher's unions and provide superior education for poor and minority students compared to NYC public schools. Mona Charen takes up the story:
Just try to envision the scene: A newly elected Republican mayor of a large American city takes steps to close down some of the best schools serving an almost exclusively minority population. You know how it would go. We’d be hearing that Republicans “hate” the poor. The words “cruel,” “vicious,” and “racist” would circle the new mayor like sharks. News organizations would examine where the mayor sent his own children, and his hypocrisy would be fiercely denounced.

It is, of course, the new Democratic mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, who is shutting down a number of highly successful public charter schools (his son attends a magnet school). Charters are public schools run by parents or others and are not constrained by the usual public-school rules, hours, or curricula. Charters currently educate about 20 percent of the students in Harlem and the Bronx, boroughs known for a) poverty, b) unemployment, and c) abysmal public schools.

Students are chosen for charter schools by lottery, and if you’ve seen Waiting for Superman or The Cartel, you’ve seen the excruciating drama. The Harlem Success Academy is typical. It received 2,665 applications for 125 spots last year, making it more selective than the Ivy League. When the results are announced, a lucky few are jubilant. The faces of the remainder of the children are tear-stained and devastated. Those tears are haunting — unworthy of a great nation. We cannot wish away the problems of centuries (the legacy of slavery and discrimination), nor quickly solve the problems of crime and family disintegration that blight the lives of so many inner-city kids. But we can give them a shot at a good education — the indispensable (if not completely sufficient) ticket to success.
Even the very liberal New Yorker magazine acknowledges the remarkable results achieved by the Harlem Success Academy. “Last year, 64 percent of Harlem’s 3rd graders passed the state English exam and 88 percent passed the state math exam. At P.S. 123 . . . which is located in the same school building . . . only 18 percent of students passed the English test and only 5 percent passed the math test.”
Mayor de Blasio bulldozed into office swearing to take aim at the privileged and defend the powerless. If you know anything about leftists, you won’t be surprised that he is actually training his fire on the poorest and most vulnerable.
Reminds me of the Democrat claim that they want to help those without insurance get medical care but end up causing millions who had insurance to lose it!

Democrat Teacher's unions stand up for the needs of their members, NOT students. Two recent examples are a case in point:

First, in Michigan a teacher was convicted for raping a student. His union demanded he receive severance pay. Only after a huge public outcry was that demand withdrawn.

Next, at an elementary school in Fallsburg, NY heroin and needles were found in the teacher's bathroom. Teachers, led by their union, are refusing to submit to drug tests. The school, a "drug free zone" where a student would likely be suspended for possessing an aspirin but apparently the teachers union doesn't expect teachers to live up to the same standard.

We could go on and on with horror stories about public schools that don't teach and Democrat unions that don't care. Sadly, the biggest loser in this mess are the children. Democrats are waging a war on children!

Saturday, March 08, 2014

78 Years Ago This Week History Taught Us a Lesson. But Does Anyone Care?

The West is shrugging off the seizure of Crimea in Ukraine the same way we ignored the Rhineland invasion!

Is it just me or is anyone else bothered by the seeming lack of focus on Russia's seizure of Crimea? I know public schools today teach only touchy-feely tree hugging and the only history taught is how bad the White Man was, but surely there must be more than a relative handful of us who remember the important lessons history taught us?

One such important lesson, and it's a BIG ONE, was taught on March 7, 1936. On that day the German Army, directed by Aldolf Hitler, invaded the Rhineland and violated the Treaty of Versailles, the peace treaty that ultimately sealed the end of World War One. The Rhineland, which was part of Germany, was declared by Versailles and later the Locarno Treaty to be demilitarized. Hitler's violation of those treaties and military occupation of the Rhineland was the first of Hitler's many armed territorial conquests.

Had France, backed by Great Britain, stood up to Hitler they could have expelled Germany from the Rhineland, perhaps without firing a shot. Such a humiliation might very well have caused German generals to remove Hitler from power  (1,2) and spare the world the horror that would follow in the years to come.

No one seems to care that Putin has seized Crimea. It was after all, a former Russian province. But so was Alaska. Also, would we stand by while Mexico reclaims the southwestern United States? If Putin gets away with this first bite of the apple he'll be back for more. That's the lesson from history. Unless he is opposed and the cost is more than Obama wagging a finger and making symbolic moves Putin will conclude the prizes to be had are worth the negligible risk.

In a previous post, I observed the 68th anniversary of Winston Churchill's "Iron Curtain" speech in Fulton Missiouri. In the 1930's Churchill warned about the dangers of neglecting Hitler's ambitions and later he warned about the dangers of neglecting Russia's. History has proven Churchill to be right. So why aren't we listening when the cost of avoiding war is low and the rewards great?

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

68 Years Ago Today: Churchill Warns About Soviet Expansion. Today, Who Listens as the Lesson is Repeated?

Would Obama, who banished the bust of Sir Winston, listen?

On March 5, 1946 former Prime Minister Winston Churchill was escorted to Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri by President Harry S. Truman. In Fulton, Churchill delivered the now famous "Iron Curtain" speech which served as a warning call to check Soviet expansion following the end of World War II.

Churchill, famous for being the one politician of any stature to warn time and again of the dangers of Nazi expansion prior to World War II, warned a complacent and war weary American public of the danger coming from Moscow. He didn't fail to mention that had his warnings been heeded in the 1930's there might never have been a war and millions of lives would have been saved.

Think about his words today in the context of renewed Russian expansion and consider the warning that we should not wait to block Russian aggression until once again it is too late to avoid war.

Winston Churchill speaks as President Harry Truman, seated to Churchill's right, smiles.

Full audio of the Fulton speech is here. The text, originally titled "The Sinews of Peace" is here. A five minute film excerpt (poor quality) is here. Learn more about Winston Churchill at the Churchill Centre.

An excerpt from Churchill's speech 68 years ago should read like an instruction manual for handling today's crisis with Russia:
I repulse the idea that a new war is inevitable; still more that it is imminent. It is because I am sure that our fortunes are still in our own hands and that we hold the power to save the future, that I feel the duty to speak out now that I have the occasion and the opportunity to do so. I do not believe that Soviet Russia desires war. What they desire is the fruits of war and the indefinite expansion of their power and doctrines. But what we have to consider here to-day while time remains, is the permanent prevention of war and the establishment of conditions of freedom and democracy as rapidly as possible in all countries. Our difficulties and dangers will not be removed by closing our eyes to them. They will not be removed by mere waiting to see what happens; nor will they be removed by a policy of appeasement.

What is needed is a settlement, and the longer this is delayed, the more difficult it will be and the greater our dangers will become.

From what I have seen of our Russian friends and Allies during the war, I am convinced that there is nothing they admire so much as strength, and there is nothing for which they have less respect than for weakness, especially military weakness. For that reason the old doctrine of a balance of power is unsound. We cannot afford, if we can help it, to work on narrow margins, offering temptations to a trial of strength. If the Western Democracies stand together in strict adherence to the principles of the United Nations Charter, their influence for furthering those principles will be immense and no one is likely to molest them. If however they become divided or falter in their duty and if these all-important years are allowed to slip away then indeed catastrophe may overwhelm us all.

Last time I saw it all coming and cried aloud to my own fellow-countrymen and to the world, but no one paid any attention. Up till the year 1933 or even 1935, Germany might have been saved from the awful fate which has overtaken her and we might all have been spared the miseries Hitler let loose upon mankind. There never was a war in all history easier to prevent by timely action than the one which has just desolated such great areas of the globe. It could have been prevented in my belief without the firing of a single shot, and Germany might be powerful, prosperous and honoured to-day; but no one would listen and one by one we were all sucked into the awful whirlpool. We surely must not let that happen again.
 Churchill formed a world view based on the unpleasant reality of the history he witnessed firsthand. He didn't develop his thinking based on distortions he was taught in a college classroom or a left wing political party. History proved he was on the right side and had he been listened to the world would have been spared great horror on a scale never before seen.

Today, we have a leader in the White House whose world view is based solely on a corrupt left wing ideology which seeks to blame the United States and rejects Churchill and Reagan's "peace through strength" prescription. Obama was inculcated with those views at Columbia University and eagerly parroted them in a student publication. There is no indication he's grown out of those warped views. Quite the contrary.

Churchill gave us the road map for preserving peace. It's not an easy road but the cost is certainly much less than a shooting war. Most of all it requires strong and clear headed leadership and a willingness to back up that leadership with unequaled military, economic and diplomatic muscle. What a shame we don't have such leadership or muscle today and our evident weakness only invites war!

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Obama: The 1970's are Calling and they Want Jimmy Carter Back

We should have learned in the 70's that weakness invites war!

I can't get over this video clip from the 2012 presidential debates:

OBAMA: Governor Romney, I'm glad that you recognize that Al Qaida is a threat, because a few months ago when you were asked what's the biggest geopolitical threat facing America, you said Russia, not Al Qaida; you said Russia, in the 1980s, they're now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because, you know, the Cold War's been over for 20 years.
Odd that Obama would describe Al Queda as a threat since he spent most of the campaign saying he had beaten them. But let's move on. The clip above is ne indication that Obama refuses to see Russia as a threat to peace. After all, he had bragged about the "reset" that his administration had achieved with Russia in 2009. Some reset hunh?

Shortly after Obama's "reset" with Russia brag, Paul Mirengoff wrote:
It probably never occurred to the Russians that a U.S. president would come to power hoping to “reset” relations with Russia on some basis other than the hard bargain and the “trust but verify” mentality. Yet this is precisely what has fallen into the Kremlin’s lap. From what I’ve heard, the Russian elites can neither believe their good fortune nor hide their amusement.
Remembering that more recently Mirengoff declares: "what’s Russian for “I told you so”?"

I'm reminded of the old saying "Those who fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them." Obama's big mistake is that he thought he could change the past with empty speeches that sounded good but were devoid of any substance or follow up. Time after time the actions he has taken, or failed to take, have signaled weakness to bad guys all over the globe. And it's not just Mike's America saying it.

The following is a sampler of opinion in the wake of this predictable and preventable foreign policy disaster:

Washington Post Editorial Board: "President Obama’s foreign policy is based on fantasy:"
FOR FIVE YEARS, President Obama has led a foreign policy based more on how he thinks the world should operate than on reality. It was a world in which “the tide of war is receding” and the United States could, without much risk, radically reduce the size of its armed forces. Other leaders, in this vision, would behave rationally and in the interest of their people and the world. Invasions, brute force, great-power games and shifting alliances — these were things of the past. Secretary of State John F. Kerry displayed this mindset on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday when he said, of Russia’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine, “It’s a 19th century act in the 21st century.”
Unfortunately, Russian President Vladimir Putin has not received the memo on 21st-century behavior. Neither has China’s president, Xi Jinping, who is engaging in gunboat diplomacy against Japan and the weaker nations of Southeast Asia. Syrian president Bashar al-Assad is waging a very 20th-century war against his own people, sending helicopters to drop exploding barrels full of screws, nails and other shrapnel onto apartment buildings where families cower in basements. These men will not be deterred by the disapproval of their peers, the weight of world opinion or even disinvestment by Silicon Valley companies. They are concerned primarily with maintaining their holds on power.
as long as some leaders play by what Mr. Kerry dismisses as 19th-century rules, the United States can’t pretend that the only game is in another arena altogether. Military strength, trustworthiness as an ally, staying power in difficult corners of the world such as Afghanistan — these still matter, much as we might wish they did not. While the United States has been retrenching, the tide of democracy in the world, which once seemed inexorable, has been receding. In the long run, that’s harmful to U.S. national security, too.

As Mr. Putin ponders whether to advance further — into eastern Ukraine, say — he will measure the seriousness of U.S. and allied actions, not their statements. China, pondering its next steps in the East China Sea, will do the same. Sadly, that’s the nature of the century we’re living in.
The New York Post Editorial Board titles it's editorial "Jimmy Obama:"
Vladimir Putin has taken the measure of Barack Obama. He’s found Jimmy Carter. Like Jimmy Carter, who boasted he was free of any “inordinate fear of communism,” Obama began his term as president vowing to “reset” relations with Russia. Like Jimmy Carter, who conveyed weakness when Iran took our embassy staff hostage, Obama confirmed his own weakness when he drew a red line in Syria and then backed down from enforcing it. Like Jimmy Carter, who was rewarded by Leonid Brezhnev with a Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Putin has returned Obama’s favor with a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

And just like Carter, who responded with what his staff called “a strong public statement,” Obama responded with his own statement saying he is “deeply concerned” by Russia’s military movement in Ukraine.
In a memo to Jimmy Carter three days after that Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, his national security adviser summed up well the problem of words bereft of action: “Since we have not always followed these verbal protests up with tangible responses, [the Russians] may be getting into the habit of disregarding our concern.”

Memo to President Obama: Putin is disregarding you in Crimea for the same reason.
The Washington Times Editorial Board:
Mr. Putin, America’s foes in the Middle East, and the leaders in China know exactly what they want and think they can get it. Mr. Putin wants to keep his warm water port in the Crimea, and like Russian rulers of yore, wants subject nations on his periphery to protect Mother Russia from east and west.
China wants to dominate the region around her; she wants islands she claims the Japanese have no right to, and she wants Taiwan. Iran wants the bomb to give her the influence and reach she needs to dominate her neighbors and eliminate her enemies.

They have concluded they can get what they want. They have taken Mr. Obama’s measure and are persuaded that the leader of the free world has no idea of what he wants or how to deal with those eager to cross every red line.
Dithering and weakness lead to war that could have been avoided.
Mark Thiessen in the Washington Post:
Kerry fumed on CBS’s “Face the Nation” this weekend: “Russia is in violation of its obligations under the U.N. charter, under the Helsinki Final Act. It’s in violation of its obligations under the 1994 Budapest agreement.” But KGB thugs like Putin are not deterred by pieces of parchment. They are deterred when the United States projects strength and resolve.

Today, America is projecting weakness. Obama’s failure to enforce his red line in Syria projected weakness. His constant talk of withdrawal and ending wars so we can focus on “nation-building here at home” projects weakness. His decision to gut the U.S. defense budget and reduce the Army to pre-World War II levels projects weakness.

When your adversaries believe you are weak, they are emboldened to act — and prone to miscalculate. Putin believes there will be no real costs for his intervention in Ukraine because there were no costs in Syria. He knows the Obama Doctrine is to do just enough “not to get mocked.” If he is proved right, it will have consequences far beyond the Crimean Peninsula. A failure to impose costs on Russia will further embolden adversaries from Beijng to Pyongyang to Tehran — all of whom are measuring Obama’s resolve in Ukraine, just as Putin measured Obama’s resolve in Syria and found it lacking.

The lesson of history is clear: Weakness is provocative. And symbolic gestures and strongly worded statements are not going to get Russian troops out of Ukraine.
Walter Russell Mead writing in American Interest:
Washington’s flat-footed, deer-in-the-headlights incomprehension about Russia’s Crimean adventure undermines President Obama’s broader credibility in a deeply damaging way. If he could be this blind and misguided about Vladimir Putin, how smart is he about the Ayatollah Khameni, a much more difficult figure to read?
Ron Fournier in National Journal:
President Obama speaks of a world in which "the tide of war is receding." Secretary of State John Kerry dismisses the invasion of Ukraine as "a 19th-century act in a 21st-century world." They're like new guys at a dangerous bar admiring the drapes while their wallets walk out the door.
Andrew Peek at the Fiscal Times:
More even than usual, the administration looks like a group of highly intellectual graduate students challenged to a fistfight by a jerk. They’ve got lots of interesting hypotheses on the situation, some fairly articulate footnotes, and one frankly devastating satirical preface, but nobody who can actually fight, because it’s scary. And so they’re being humiliated.

It’s ironic that for all the talk about how tough Chicago politics are, and what hardball they train into their politicians, Obama is absurdly soft in the face of menace. Sure, he’s tough on certain things – House Republicans, debt ceiling limits, Bibi Netanyahu – but give him someone who doesn’t have to kowtow and he shrivels. Let the mullahs have Syria, Putin have Ukraine, street gangs have Libya, and China most of the habitable islands in the Pacific Rim. They’re willing to scrap for them.
William McGurn in the New York Post describes "Obama's Foreign Policy Mush":
For all the talk about George W. Bush as a cowboy, military force was only one component of a much more robust foreign policy. This included, for example, opening the White House to dissidents rather than sneaking the Dalai Lama out the back door. It also included negotiating key trade deals with the struggling democracies of, say, Central America and Colombia.
Above all, it was about letting people know something President Bush liked to say: In the contest between liberty and oppression, the United States is not neutral.

Which brings us to the moral point. Plainly President Obama is uncomfortable with the idea of mixing morals and foreign policy. What he does not recognize is that the moral case rests on a hard reality: Evil unchecked expands.
To show he was serious Putin sent 16,000 troops to Ukraine. To show he was serious, Obama sent John Kerry.

Andrew Malcolm at Investor's Business Daily writes "Obama vs Putin: How soft is this U.S. leader?":
Of course, it would be ridiculous to suggest Obama's passivity toward Putin is connected to the American's overheard promise of post-election "flexibility" to Putin's predecessor back in 2012. So, we won't.

Here's how Col. Putin responded to Obama's words of warning: He sent more Russian troops into Crimea. Then, to show how really serious he is, Obama dispatched Secy. of State John Kerry to Kiev to offer cheap symbolic support for the reformers attempting to organize a new, but bankrupt Ukraine government.

Here's how Kerry quaintly characterized the Russian invasion: "That is not the act of somebody who is strong. That is the act of somebody who is acting out of weakness."

Kerry is reporting for duty after a series of diplomatic triumphs including alienating Egypt's new military-backed government, negotiating a Syrian chemical weapons accord that country is now ignoring and agreeing to give Iran six more months to maybe possibly agree to stop its nuclear weapons program, which everyone knows is not going to happen.

Kerry has also failed to reach agreement with Afghanistan's Hamid Karzai on a residual U.S. troop presence after December.
Recently, Kerry announced that global warming is “perhaps the world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction.” Just so we -- and Russia -- know where this administration's true priorities lie.
Obama's misconceptions about Russia stem from his student days and misconceptions about America. Johah Goldberg writing in USA Today:
Student Obama

In 1983, then-Columbia University student Obama penned a lengthy article for the school magazine placing the blame for U.S.-Soviet tensions largely on America's "war mentality" and the "twisted logic" of the Cold War. President Reagan's defense buildup, according to Obama, contributed to the "silent spread of militarism" and reflected our "distorted national priorities" rather than what should be our goal: a "nuclear free world."

Of course, it's unfair to put too much weight on anyone's youthful writings. Except there's precious little evidence his views have changed over the years.

In his first term, President Obama's biggest priority with Russia was to get the two countries on the path to that "nuclear free world." One of his — and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's — first actions in office was to betray our commitments to Poland and the Czech Republic on missile defense.

Indeed, across a wide range of areas, it has been Obama who has been, in the words of The Washington Post's Jackson Diehl, in a 1980s-soaked "foreign policy time warp."

Two weeks ago, in response to tensions in Ukraine, the president explained that "our approach ... is not to see (events in Ukraine) as some Cold War chessboard in which we're in competition with Russia." This is a horrible way to talk about the Cold War because it starts from the premise that it was all just a game conducted between two morally equivalent competitors.
Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee: Putin is playing chess, Obama is playing marbles.

What Would Reagan Do?

Robert Tracinski writing in The Federalist:
The Reagan Doctrine: a commitment to counter the Soviets and roll back their influence worldwide, point for point. This came from the president whose strategy for the Cold War was: “We win, they lose.”

If President Reagan could see what Russia is doing today, he would cock his head and say, “Well, there they go again.” And then he would deploy the whole panoply of resistance we used against Moscow in his day. He might start with the fact that Poland has strong ties to Ukraine’s pro-European majority and a direct interest in opposing Russia, making the Poles an obvious conduit for support to the new government in Kiev—both open and covert, and both economic and military. The Baltic states are also freaking out, given their own vulnerability to Russian aggression, and they can be counted on for extensive support. The urgent priority is to rapidly convert Western Ukraine into a “porcupine state”—one that may not be able to win a war with Russia outright, but can make such a war too painful to be appealing.

Instead, we get President Obama’s totally ineffectual response, in which he spends 90 minutes on the phone to warn Vladimir Putin that invading Ukraine would “negatively impact Russia’s standing in the international community.” As Julia Ioffe replies: “as if there’s much left or as if Putin really cares.”
Finally this:

OBAMA: “On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved, but it’s important for him to give me space...This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility.” Russian President MEDVEDEV: "I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir." 

Obama has signaled weakness at every turn. It's doubtful he can change course now. To paraphrase Winston Churchill and later Ronald Reagan: peace comes through strength. Obama displays weakness at every turn. Expect more trouble, and worse, ahead!

UPDATE: Russia Test Fires Intercontinental Ballistic Missile. Like a giant middle finger to the West it sends a signal. Meanwhile, Obama proposes to slash the U.S. military to pre World War II levels. What signal does that send?

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Explaining Russia to Obama and His Minions: Obviously He Hasn't Got a Clue

A Western leader cannot look at Russia the same way he would a Western country. It's a huge mistake and Obama is making it!

The lack of any real foreign policy expertise around Obama is really shocking. The White House staff is mostly populated with Obama cronies, National Security Advisor Susan Rice, known for lying about the Benghazi attack, is just a hack. Things are little better at the State Department. What did Hillary Clinton know about foreign policy? At least Sen. John Kerry had many years on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee but he's jetting around the world telling anyone who will listen that the biggest problem we face is global warming.

To paraphrase Sir Hew Strachan, historian and advisor to the British Military, Obama doesn't have any idea what he is doing. His policies are totally reactionary and there appears to be no hint of any larger design or purpose. But worse than that is Obama's naivete about realpolitik. He seems to think that leaders like Putin are like himself and can be won over by a chat or scared off by some tough talk. These assumptions are not only wrong, but dangerously so as they can lead  to the kinds of miscalculations that bring war as a consequence.

One of the best summations that I've read describing what is really going on in Russia comes from Julia Ioffe, a Russian born journalist who now writes for The New Republic. Her latest column "Putin's War in Crimea Could Soon Spread to Eastern Ukraine And nobody—not the U.S., not NATO—can stop him," if you want to understand what is really going on. I'll just summarize with bullet points:

  • Why is Putin doing this? Because he can. That's it, that's all you need to know.
  • Western analysis of Russia. It is often predicated on wholly Western logic. Putin, sees the world according to his own logic, and the logic goes like this: it is better to be feared than loved, it is better to be overly strong than to risk appearing weak.
  • You know why being a pessimist is the best way to predict outcomes in Russia? Because Putin and those around him are, fundamentally, terminal pessimists.
  • The U.N. is just a convenient mechanism for keeping nay-sayers with large armies at bay.
  • Speaking of America...this was an opportunity for Russia not just to take back some land it's long considered its rightful own, but to settle all scores and to tie up all loose ends. You know, while they're at it.
  • Double standards. When it comes to Syria, to take a most recent example, the fight between Assad and the rebels is something only the Syrians can sort out. Ditto every other country in the world—unless it's in Russia's backyard...The internal issues of former Soviet republics, you see, are not truly internal issues of sovereign nations.
  • In other, blunter words, Russian ethnicity and citizenship trump national sovereignty. At the very least, they provide a convenient pretext for territorial expansion, as they did in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, where Russia was also ostensibly protecting Russian citizens—also newly minted for the occasion.
  • Russia manufactured this crisis to create a pretext for a land-grab. There are now protests swinging Russian flags and hailing Russia's glory not just in Crimea but all over the Russian-speaking east of Ukraine.
  • Russia's next target is eastern Ukraine. Because pessimism conquers all, don't bet that Putin is going to stop once he wrests Crimea from Kiev's orbit. Eastern, Russian-speaking Ukraine—and all its heavy industry—is looking pretty good right now.
It's a shame that neither Obama nor anyone around him seems to understand these basic points which are on evident display as we watch the dismemberment of Ukraine. But then, I guess everyone around Obama really does believe that global warming is a bigger threat to mankind!

Saturday, March 01, 2014

With Invasion of Crimea Putin Shows Obama What a "Red Line" Really Means

Is this what Obama meant when he said he wanted to improve relations with Russia?

As news continues to pour in, one thing is clear: The Russians have seized the Crimea, a part of the sovereign nation of Ukraine. Thousands of heavily armed troops wearing uniforms without any identification but in vehicles with Russian license plates have surrounded key buildings and facilities. The Crimea is just several hundred miles from Sochi, site of the recently concluded Winter Olympics.

Despite the autonomous region's long held insistence on remaining part of Ukraine, the Russian's took advantage of the overthrow of Ukraine's government last weekend to move in. The gameplan for the invasion is slightly modified from that which saw Russia seize South Ossetia from the Republic of Georgia in 2008. Create a disturbance then send in troops to assure safety of Russians. How convenient.

Following the Russian snatch in 2008 the Bush Administration acted swiftly to forge closer ties with Poland as a bulwark against further Russian expansion. Secretary of State Rice signed a defense cooperation agreement with Poland, similar to an earlier agreement with the Czech Republic. A key component was the siting of missile defense systems in the two countries.

Obama's Weakness Invites Russian Aggression. Again.

The invasion of Georgia occurred during the final months of the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign. McCain issued a strong statement which urged action to counter the Russian aggression. Obama said:"now is the time for Georgia and Russia to show restraint, and to avoid an escalation to full scale war." It was the first sign of many that Obama would be a weak and indecisive leader.

At the time of the Georgia invasion many of us understood the necessity of taking strong action and not simply issuing vague statements. At Mike's America I concluded that the world should care about this aggression because:
MIKE's AMERICA: "If Russia knows, as it clearly does, that a divided NATO and a worthless U.N. will not stand up to such naked aggression, than they can and will do the same and worse again. If you don't care about that now. You will when a larger war breaks out!"
Sarah Palin was even more prescient. In 2008 she warned:
SARAH PALIN: After the Russian Army invaded the nation of Georgia, Senator Obama's reaction was one of indecision and moral equivalence, the kind of response that would only encourage Russia's Putin to invade Ukraine next.
Palin was ridiculed by the so-called smart people in the foreign policy establishment. Who's laughing now? On her Facebook page Palin was happy to say "Yes, I could see this one from Alaska," a reference to the Tina Fey sketch on Saturday Night Live where Fey's Palin said "I can see Russia from my house." Too bad we don't have a leader in the White House who understands these situations as well as Palin.

Recall also that upon taking office Obama canceled the missile defense treaties with Poland and the Czech Republic giving both countries grave concern about Obama's understanding of the gravity of issues at stake. During the 2012 presidential debates Obama mocked Romney for suggesting Russia was a threat:

OBAMA: "the Cold War has been over for 20 years."

Obama scrapped the treaty with Poland and the Czechs and sought to "reset" relations with Russia which had strained after the Russian invasion of Georgia. The famous gaffe in which Sec. of State Hillary Clinton presented her Russian counterpart with a button that said "overcharge" in Russian is just one example of the kind of empty symbolic gestures for which the Obama Administration is famous. Hillary might as well have presented the Russians with a green light to do whatever they want. 

We got no help from the Russians on other important issues like Iran in exchange for tossing our friends the Czechs and Poles overboard. The Russians simply took Obama's actions as a sign of weakness and went on to the next confrontation such as Syria where the Russians continue to shield Syria which is not destroying it's chemical weapons as required. Remember that was Obama's last "red line" and nothing happened!

In a lame attempt to show seriousness on the invasion of Crimea Obama made a statement on Friday:
OBAMA: [W]e are now deeply concerned by reports of military movements taken by the Russian Federation inside of Ukraine. Russia has a historic relationship with Ukraine, including cultural and economic ties, and a military facility in Crimea, but any violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity would be deeply destabilizing, which is not in the interest of Ukraine, Russia, or Europe.

It would represent a profound interference in matters that must be determined by the Ukrainian people. It would be a clear violation of Russia’s commitment to respect the independence and sovereignty and borders of Ukraine, and of international laws. And just days after the world came to Russia for the Olympic Games, it would invite the condemnation of nations around the world. And indeed, the United States will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine.
Oh gee. That's got to scare Putin straight right? No recalling our Ambassador. No freezing of assets in U.S. banks. No sending the Navy to patrol the Black Sea. Not even a call for the U.N. Security Council to condemn the action. Basically nothing but empty words. Obama's speciality.

And just to show how seriously Obama takes the matter he immediately left the White House following the delivery of his statement and headed over to a Democrat National Committee for a campaign fundraiser where he declared it's "officially happy hour."

"This is now officially happy hour with the Democratic party.
“I can do that. It is an executive action. I have the authority.”

You can bet Russia's Putin saw the above clip too. Imagine the media outcry if George W. Bush had done anything similar. But this is Obama and no one seems to care.

The people of Ukraine DO care. Take a moment to watch this video of a young Ukrainian woman telling her story. It's gone viral on You Tube with over seven million views:

"We want to be free."

If the United States stands by and does nothing but issue meaningless statements then the world will do nothing. If nothing is done the signal will go out again that aggression is an acceptable means to achieve national goals. Thank Obama for that!

UPDATE: Obama skips National Security meeting. No word on whether he went golfing or played basketball. But if he wanted to demonstrate how serious this situation is he would have attended. Obviously he doesn't care and Putin and bad guys around the world know it!
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