Posts tagged ‘Iraq’

11/04/2012

Undecided Voters: Foreign Policy Issues

The better choice on each issue is in the left column, indicated by a (D) for Democrat, (R) for Republican, or (N) for neither.

(D) TRADE WITH CHINA: Although Romney called China a currency manipulator and promised to prosecute them in the World Trade Organization (WTO) for the right to impose tariffs (10-11-11) (11-9-11) (11-12-11) (1-7-12) (1-19-12), since the Great Depression, both parties have worked together to eliminate tariffs, and in recent years, the Republicans have been the loudest advocate of free trade. It is highly unlikely Romney will seek or impose protective tariffs, or interfere with free trade.

(D) TRADE WITH CUBA: Although Romney said he would not open trade with Cuba, until Fidel Castro is dead (1-23-12) (1-26-12), there is actually no reason to treat Cuba any different than the People’s Republic of China, Vietnam, or any other country we now trade with, who was once our enemy. Open the door now.

(D) EURO CRISIS: If the banks and economies around the world were collapsing, Romney said he would act to prevent contagion. (10-11-11). He also said Europe should take care of their own problems (11-9-11), and if Europe had a financial crisis, he wouldn’t give them a blank check, or save their banks (1-16-12). He was critical of the European for using IMF Funds (11-9-11). It appears, as usual, Romney wants to cover both sides of the issue.

(D) IMMIGRATION: Romney promised to crack down on immigration. (8-11-11). He said employers who hire illegal aliens are magnets. (9-7-11) (9-22-11). He would make businesses check the E-Verify data base. (10-18-11) (12-15-11) (1-19-12) (1-26-11). He thinks illegal aliens without jobs will self-deport (1-26-12). He said amnesty for illegal immigrants is another magnet that only encourages more. (12-10-11). He would not give aliens tuition assistance. (9-12-11) (9-22-11) (10-18-11). He would not give them Driver’s licenses. (9-12-11). He wants people with math and science degrees (11-22-11), and English language emersion for immigrants. (1-23-12) (1-26-12). He opposes special routes to citizenship (1-16-12). Although many Republicans favor what Romney has said, business owners in his own party wish to continue hiring illegal aliens, so they can keep paying cash under the table, to avoid payroll taxes and other legal obligations.

(D) MILITARY SERVICE: Romney, who received several deferments during the Vietnam War, found it extraordinary that only a few families were paying the price for freedom (1-7-12)

(D) IRAQ: Obama carried out his campaign pledge to end the misguided War in Iraq. Romney said he thought we had to go to war against Iraq. (1-16-12). Why is that even remotely true?

(D) BIN LADEN: President Obama was the Commander-in-Chief over the raid that eliminated Osama bin Laden. If a Republican had been President when the mission was accomplished, they would be carving his face into Mt. Rushmore. On the assumption Bin Laden was responsible for 911, it was a job well done, and Obama should be credited.

(D) ASSASSINATION: Romney said he thinks the President has a right to order the death of any “American citizens” suspected of terrorism (11-12-11) Sorry, Mitt, no such right.

(D) LIBYA: President Obama waged an almost flawless campaign to help the Libyan freedom fighters remove Gaddafi, their long-time dictator. He refused to put U.S. troops on the ground, but supplied aid to the rebels, and succeeded in bringing change to Libya. Republicans, who spend time on the recent incident in Bengazi, can’t see the forest for the trees.

(D) AFGHANISTAN: We should withdraw from Afghanistan as soon as possible, so our troops can come home, and we can save billions. Romney was vague about Afghanistan during the Republican debates. He said he would defer to generals and conditions on the ground. (6-13-11) (8-11-11) He thinks our commanders in the field don’t want to withdraw. He wouldn’t cut and run. He thinks Obama’s announcement of a withdrawal weakened us (1-16-12) He accused Obama of withdrawing early, but then he also said he would stay until 2014. (11-12-11) (11-22-11) He gave no reasons for wanting to stay until 2014. (1-7-12). He wouldn’t negotiate with the Taliban, since he said they’re terrorists. He incorrectly said they declared war on us. (1-16-12). Romney wants to win in Afghanistan by defeating the Taliban (1-23-12) He also said he wants a gradual transfer to Afghan Security Forces. Frankly, I think Romney wants to be President and will say just about anything, depending on who’s listening.

(D) LAWS OF WAR: Romney said the rights that apply to criminal law are different than those applicable in war (11-22-11)

(D) GUANTANAMO: As to the Guantanamo Prison, Romney thinks we have a right to deny al Qaeda due process. (1-16-12).

(D) PAKISTAN: Romney is concerned about the fact Pakistan has nuclear weapons (2-22-12) He believes they are a fragile nation close to a failed state. He wants to bring Pakistan into the 21st Century (11-22-11) He wants them to let us go after the Taliban and Haqqani Network inside Pakistan (11-12-11). We need to stay out of Pakistan, Mitt. You’re playing with fire there.

(D) SYRIA: Romney said Syria is a threat to Israel (1-26-12), and an ally of Iran. He would use covert means to end Assad’s dictatorship (11-12-11) He would not however impose a no-fly zone over Syria. He would use sanctions and covert means (11-22-11) I say let’s stay out of their war altogether.

(D) ISRAEL: Although Republicans accuse Obama of sticking a thumb in Israel’s eye (8-11-11), the American problem is not too little support for Israel, it’s too much. Our bipartisan American foreign-policy has been controlled by Israeli special interests for a long time. Romney is frightening, because he sounds like a weak leader, who would allow outsiders to control our foreign policy. Romney said it was wrong for Obama to criticize Israel for illegally constructing settlements in occupied Palestine (9-22-11) Weak Republicans like Romney would abandon our long-standing objection to Israel’s illegal taking of the Palestinian territories in 1967. (8-11-11) Since Obama courageously followed international law, we need him to keep Israel from taking the U.S. even deeper into their conflict. Romney pandered to the Jewish community while in Florida (1-26-12), and it’s not surprising his first foreign policy trip would be to Israel (11-22-11) We need a leader much stronger than Romney, one who would stand up to Israel.

(D) IRAN: Romney has a desire to impose crippling sanctions against Iran to keep them from developing nuclear weapons, which he called unacceptable (9-22-11) He falsely accused Obama of not putting crippling sanctions against Iran (1-7-12) He supports Iranian dissidents. He favors regime change and would take military action to keep Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons (11-12-11) He called Obama weak on Iran (12-15-11) Romney said if Iran shut down the Straits of Hormuz, it would be an act of war (1-23-12). He thinks they will sneak dirty bombs into the U.S. through Latin America (2-22-12) Romney would indict Ahmadinejad for violating the Genocide Convention (11-22-11)

(D) LATIN AMERICA: Romney actually thinks the Hezbollah is working in Latin America (11-22-11) (2-22-12) Get real Mitt.

(D) RUSSIA: In one debate, Romney sounded like he didn’t know the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991. He was still talking as though Russia was an enemy, as he accused Obama of giving them what they wanted. (11-12-11). Romney worries me.

(D) FOREIGN AID: Romney thinks the U.S. spends more on foreign aid than we should (10-18-11). We are still the richest nation on earth, and if we want allies, we need to give some aid.

(D) HOMELAND SECURITY: Romney would let people who are a “lower risk” go through TSA screening quickly. (11-22-11). Sounds like he wants to set up a fast track for his friends like Donald Trump, while the rest of us wait in line.

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01/25/2012

Obama: 2012 State of Union Speech

IRAQ: For the first time in 9 years, President Obama said, no Americans are fighting in Iraq. He welcomed home the last troops in Dec. 2011, but made the highly questionable comment they made the U.S. safer and more respected around the world.

BIN LADEN: Obama noted Osama bin Laden is dead, and no longer a threat to the U.S. He said most al Qaeda’s top lieutenants are defeated, and those who remain are scrambling.

QADDAFI: Obama reminded us that Libya’s Col. Qaddafi, a long-time dictator, who had U.S. blood on his hands, is also dead.

AFGHANISTAN: Obama said the Taliban’s momentum has been broken. We are winding down the War in Afghanistan, as 10,000 troops already came home, and 23,000 will return this summer.

IRAN: Obama said a world that was once divided on how to deal with Iran’s nuclear program is now united as one, through diplomacy. Iran now faces crippling sanctions and the pressure will not relent. We are determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. He said he took “no options off the table to achieve that goal.” A peaceful solution is still possible, he noted.

ISRAEL: Obama said we have an ironclad commitment to Israel’s security–the closest military cooperation in our history.

VETERANS: Obama said he increased annual VA spending every year as President.

TRADE: Obama said it is now getting more expensive to do business in China. Master Lock’s unionized plant in Milwaukee is now running at full capacity and they brought jobs home. He signed trade agreements that gave U.S. firms new customers in Panama, Colombia and South Korea. He filed twice as many trade lawsuits against China, as Bush did. He said it is unfair when subsidies are given to foreign manufacturers, and created a Trade Enforcement Unit to investigate unfair trade by China.

IMMIGRATION: Obama said we have more boots on the ground than ever before and fewer illegal crossings. We should take on illegal immigration, he said, but believes we need comprehensive immigration reform. We should not expel young illegal aliens, he said, who staff our labs, start new businesses, and defend this country. We should give them a chance to earn citizenship.

JOBS: Obama reminded us 4 million lost their jobs in 2008, in the six months before he took office, and another 4 million were laid off before his policies took effect. Businesses have created more than 3 million jobs in the last 22 months and 600,000 will come from the natural gas industry, by the end of the decade.

MANUFACTURING: Obama wants a new generation of high-tech manufacturing. Long before this recession, he said, jobs started leaving our shores. Manufacturing is now creating jobs for the first time since the late 1990s. Our blueprint for jobs includes manufacturing and we should not return to outsourcing.

AUTO: The auto industry, Obama inherited, was on the verge of bankruptcy, but he refused to let it die. Now, GM is once again the world’s number one automaker, Chrysler has grown, and Ford is investing billions in U.S. plants. The industry has now added 160,000 jobs, and we will soon be selling U.S. cars in Korea.

TRANSPORTATION: Obama noted we have crumbling roads and bridges. He noted we built the Golden Gate Bridge during the Great Depression and the Interstate highway system after WWII.

ENERGY: Obama wants us to control our own energy, so we need not depend on the world. During the past 3 years, he said, millions of new acres, including 75% of offshore oil and gas reserves, have opened for oil and gas exploration. Obama noted the development of natural gas from shale rock. Our oil production, he said, is now at its highest production level in 8 years, and we now rely less on foreign oil than at any time in the past 16 years. He said we cannot cede wind, solar, or battery industries to China or Germany. We are poised to become a leading manufacturer of high-tech batteries. Our century-long subsidization and taxpayer giveaway to oil should be ended. He instead wants clean energy tax credits. We should also help manufacturers eliminate energy waste by upgrading buildings.

FINANCE: Obama said he imposed new rules to hold Wall Street accountable, and will not return to the days when they governed themselves. He announced financial institutions are not going to be bailed out ever again. He told mortgage lenders, payday lenders, and credit card companies, the days of deceptive practices are over, and he asked Congress for greater penalties for fraud.

HOUSING: Obama reminded us the housing market collapsed in 2008, because regulators looked the other way, as mortgages were sold to people who could not afford them, by lenders who knew it. This is why we need regulations to prevent financial fraud. We should not wait for the housing market to bottom out before providing relief, but homeowners should be allowed to save on their mortgages now, through refinancing at lower rates.

HEALTH: Obama will not return to the days when health insurance companies could deny coverage or cancel policies. He reminded Republicans that his new health care law relies on the private insurance market, not a government program.

EDUCATION: Obama wants to lead the world in education. Although states have already raised standards for teaching and learning, he asked them to require students remain in high school until they graduate, or turn 18. We should reward the best teachers and should stop teaching to a test. To help 2 million Americans who need new job skills, businesses should work with community colleges to design courses. He said every family should be able to afford college, and universities have to keep their costs under control. He warned them: “If you can’t stop tuition from going up, the funding you get from taxpayers will go down.” Obama wants to stop interest rates on student loans from doubling in July. He would extend tuition tax credits, and double the number of work-study jobs. He asked Congress not to gut federally financed university labs, researching cancer and computer chips.

DEFICIT: Obama said together we cut 2 trillion from the deficit.

TAXES: Obama wants everyone to pay their fair share of taxes. The tax code must be changed so wealthy persons like Congressional members pay their fair share in taxes. 98% of all Americans make under $250,000 per year. 25% of all millionaires pay taxes at a lower rate than millions of middle class households. Warren Buffett pays a lower rate than his secretary. If a person makes more than 1 million a year, you should pay no less than 30%. Folks at the top, he said, have seen their incomes rise like never before, but for most workers, paychecks have not been growing, and their debts are piling up. He asked Congress to extend the payroll tax cut for working Americans.

CORPORATE TAXES: Every multinational corporation should pay a basic minimum tax. Companies should not get tax breaks for moving jobs overseas or be allowed a “moving expense” for outsourcing. We need to change a tax law that hits U.S. corporations with one of the highest tax rates in the world. Manufacturers in America should receive a tax cut. He noted we now provide tax credits to companies that hire veterans, and suggested tax relief for small businesses that raise wages and create good jobs. We need incentives so they relocate in communities that have been hit hard by factories that left town.

WOMEN: Although there is already a federal law that requires equal pay for equal work, Obama said “women should earn equal pay for equal work.”

CAMPAIGN FINANCE: Obama would do something about the corrosive influence of money in politics and called for an end to perpetual campaigns of mutual destruction.

APPOINTMENTS: Obama wants up or down votes on judicial and public service nominations held within 90 days.

AGENCIES: Obama ordered every federal agency to eliminate rules that make no sense.

01/19/2012

Republican Debate: S. Carolina (1-16-12)

DEFENSE SPENDING: When Ron Paul was asked if his policies would eliminate military jobs in South Carolina, he said he wants to cut spending overseas. Spending 1 billion on an embassy in Iraq, he said, is not defense, it is waste. He would follow Eisenhower’s admonition about the military-industrial complex, as he said, we don’t need 900 bases in 130 countries. Romney wants a military so strong no one would test it. He apparently believes our navy is now smaller than it was in 1917, and our air force is smaller than it was in 1947. (Does he really think this?)

FOREIGN POLICY: We should declare war before getting into one, Paul lectured. We no longer declare war. We now use the doctrine of “pre-emptive war” to start them. We don’ t even have enemies. We bomb countries and then wonder why they get upset with us. Paul was booed as he said we wouldn’t like it if other countries did to us, what we do to them. Paul was also booed when he said we should follow the Golden Rule in foreign policy.

AFGHAN: Paul wants to bring our troops home. His support is from military personnel, sick and tired of war. We are not leaving Afghanistan, even though 80% of America wants out. When Paul was in the Air Force (1962-68), he served in the Afghan-Pakistan region, and remembers the Taliban were our allies, when we opposed the Russian intervention. He warned us not to mix the Taliban, who oppose foreign intervention, with al Qaeda, who seek to kill us. Romney would not negotiate with the Taliban, because he thinks they declared war on us. He said Obama’s announcement of a withdrawal, weakened our ability to negotiate.

IRAQ: Paul said we are still in Iraq. Romney believes incorrectly we “had to” go to war “in the case of Iraq.”

IRAN: Paul said regarding Iran, they are building up for another war we don’t need.

PAKISTAN: Paul believes we have a flawed Pakistan policy.

SYRIA: Santorum said Syria is a threat to Israel. He wants to bring about the removal of Assad, but opposes U.S. intervention.

TURKEY: Perry, who lived in Turkey while in the Air Force in the 1970s, made the ridiculous and stupid argument they have been taken over by Islamic terrorists. He said their membership in NATO should be re-evaluated, and their foreign aid should go to zero. He lumped Turkey in the same category with Iran and Syria, even though these countries are vastly different.

RULE OF LAW: Paul denied he opposed the operation that killed Osama bin Laden. He in fact voted for the authority to go after him, following 911. He asked: What is so bad about capturing people? We captured Saddam Hussein, tried him, and hung him. Adolf Eichmann was also captured, given a trial, and executed. Why didn’t we try to get information from bin Laden? Gingrich said we need to just kill America’s enemies, not capture them. Romney also said the right thing for Osama bin Laden was a bullet in the head. He said we have a right to detain al Qaeda in prison, as enemy combatants, and deny them due process of law. Paul said the Patriot Act eliminated the 4th Amendment. The Defense Appropriation Act allows us to take citizens under suspicion, and hold them indefinitely, without a lawyer, or the right of habeas corpus. 260 al Qaeda have been tried and convicted Paul said, and we don’t need to give up on the judicial system. Perry said terrorists who cut off heads and hang contractors from bridges, commit despicable acts, not the Marines who urinated on corpses.

IMMIGRATION: Romney opposes favoritism or special routes to citizenship. We have to stop the flood of illegal immigration, he said. Perry would secure the borders.

JOBS: Gingrich claims he and Reagan created 16 million jobs and he and Bill Clinton added another 11 million. He wants to find ways to help the poor learn how to get a job and someday own it.

UNEMPLOYMENT: Santorum thinks it’s wrong for the federal government to uproot state unemployment programs by extending benefits. Gingrich would connect UC to job training.

LABOR: Santorum admitted voting against a right-to-work law, saying he is from a non-right-to-work state. Perry claimed the NLRB is telling South Carolina, a right to work state, what to do.

FINANCE: Perry advocates repealing the Dodd-Frank financial regulations. Romney vowed if Europe has a financial crisis, he won’t give a blank check or go over there to save their banks.

VULTURE CAPITALISM: Gingrich asked Romney to respond to questions about taking money out of companies, walking off with profits, and letting them go bankrupt. Bain invested in over 100 companies, Romney said. Four created 120,000 jobs, while others lost jobs. He said Staples, Bright Horizons, the Sports Authority and a steel company in Indiana added 120,000 jobs. He was asked about American Pad and Paper, which after being purchased for 5 million, borrowed money, took 100 million in profit, and then went bankrupt. Romney said people who lost jobs were offered new ones in other plants. Perry accused Romney of picking a company apart in Georgetown, SC and causing people to lose jobs. Romney said the SC steel mill closed down, because of dumping from abroad.

ENERGY: Romney would take advantage of our natural resources and would use oil, coal, gas, and nuclear.

HOUSING: Perry thinks the federal government via Freddie and Fannie should get out of the housing market.

SOCIAL SECURITY: Romney would make no changes for those 55 or older, but he would add a year or two to the retirement age. Gingrich said Chile has a system that yields 2 to 3 times the government payment. He would make all Americans investors.

HEALTH: Romney wants a premium support program for Medicare. He would send Medicaid back to the states. He would repeal Obamacare.

BUDGET: Romney claimed to have balanced the Mass. budget every year. Perry wants a Balanced Budget Amendment.

TAXES: Romney claimed to have reduced taxes 19 times in Mass. He said tax rates are too high. He would reduce the top rate from 35% to 25% and eliminate taxes on interest, dividends and capital gains. When asked if he would release his tax returns, he said he had not planned on it, but maybe in April, if he becomes the nominee. Perry said the highest federal income tax rate should be 7%. He would have a flat tax of 20%, but would allow home mortgage, local taxes, and charitable deductions. He would get rid of capital gains taxes. Santorum wants just a 10% and a 28% rate. He would cut corporate taxes from 35% to 17.5%. Manufacturing would be treated differently, because they are in competition with the rest of the world. Gingrich wants a flat tax rate of 15%. Paul would reduce income taxes to zero.

DISCRIMINATION IN LEGAL SYSTEM: Paul said blacks are imprisoned at a rate four times greater than whites for victimless drug-related offenses.

VOTING RIGHTS: Santorum asked Romney if X-felons who have done their time should be allowed to vote. When Romney said he didn’t think former felons should be allowed to vote, Santorum reminded him that Mass allowed even those who still on probation or parole to vote, and asked Romeny why he did not try to change that law. Perry said South Carolina is at war with the federal government over their voter ID law.

CAMPAIGN ADS: Romney hoped super-PACs would run accurate ads. He favors getting rid of campaign finance laws. He wants campaigns to run their own ads, and take responsibility for them. He said he could not talk to Super-PACs running his ads.

EDUCATION: Gingrich said No Child Left Behind is a failure, as teachers teach to the test. He would eliminate Dept. of Education

ENTITLEMENTS: Romney thinks Obama is making the U.S. an entitlement society, another European social welfare state.

POVERTY/FOOD STAMPS: Santorum believes three things are need to avoid poverty: a job, high school diploma, and marriage before having children. He claims Obama no longer promotes marriage as a way of avoiding poverty. Gingrich claims 185 different federal bureaucracies deal with low income Americans. He thinks Obama wants to maximize dependency. He called him “the best food stamp president in American history.” When he was asked if it was insulting to suggest black kids should work as school janitors, and blacks should demand jobs, not food stamps, he said no, to wild applause from a white audience of prejudiced South Carolina Republicans. He believes NY pays their janitors an absurd amount of money. The crowd booed Juan Williams as he asked Gingrich if he was belittling racial minorities about a lack of a work ethic, and by saying Obama was a food stamp president. Gingrich said more people than ever went on food stamps during the past three years of the Obama administration.

RELIGION: Perry thinks Obama is at war against organized religion. He claimed the Catholic Church cannot receive federal funds, because of their position on abortion.

GAYS: Romney said he supports equal rights regardless of sexual orientation, but he has always opposed gay marriage.

GUNS: Gingrich accused Romney of signing a ban on assault weapons and of increasing fees on gun owners by 400%.  Romney said the Mass law was supported by both sides. Santorum said his support for trigger locks and background checks was backed by the NRA. He banned lawsuits against gun manufacturers, where injuries were sustained despite proper use of a firearm. Paul said we should not have national tort law, since these issues should be dealt with by the states. Santorum said lawsuits would have gone forward in liberal states, if there was not a national ban.

ABORTION: Gingrich opposes abortion and China’s one-child policy.

01/12/2012

Ron Paul: Why Voters Support Him

While the inside the beltway crowd cannot understand why Ron Paul finished a close third in Iowa, and now second in New Hampshire, if they had been listening, they would have heard his anti-war, anti-torture message, his willingness to cut military spending, his pledge to withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan, his promise to avoid conflict with Iran, his hostility towards corporate welfare, deficit spending, his defense of liberty, and personal freedom, and scorn for wasteful projects, like the war on drugs.

FOREIGN POLICY: Paul clearly receives his popularity from his foreign policy. He said: we need to stop our wars. It angers foreigners when we occupy their lands. We were attacked on 911, he explained, because we had troops in Saudi Arabia. We are disliked because we have done nothing to stop the abuse against the Palestinians. We have 900 bases around the globe in 150 nations. Paul asked why we keep troops in Korea, Japan, or Germany. We have more weapons than all other nations combined–enough to blow up the world 20 to 25 times. He said we have to stop trying to be the policeman of the world.

WAR ON TERROR: He said the war on terror is like the war on drugs. It’s a pretend war. No formal declaration of war was ever made. Terrorism is only a tactic, he said. Others may want to bomb us, because we bomb them, not because of what we believe.

LIBERTY: As to profiling, Paul asked what if a person looked like the white Oklahoma City bomber, Timothy McVeigh? As to the Patriot Act, our Founders warned not to sacrifice liberty for security, Paul said, something our government now does too willingly. We should not give up freedom for a police state.

TORTURE: Paul correctly argued torture is illegal under U.S. and international law. Water-boarding is torture, he said in no uncertain terms. It’s uncivilized and immoral. We should not give up so easily on the rule of law, he said, as he pointed out over 300 terrorists were convicted in civilian courts and sent to prison.

MILITARY BUDGET: Paul said there is a lot of waste in the military and we can no longer afford to be the world’s policeman. Our new embassy in Baghdad alone is costing 1 billion. He courageously said the military budget must be on the table and offered to cut billions from their overseas spending. He accused others of just talking about reducing proposed increases.

FOREIGN AID: Paul would also cut all foreign assistance, including aid for Israel, since the Constitution does not authorize it. We gave military aid to an Egyptian dictator and got nothing.

AFGHANISTAN: He would clearly withdraw from Afghanistan now, and would save billions. He said the U.S. should withdraw from Afghanistan, because that’s where the Soviet Union was brought down. He predicted the same may happen to us.

IRAN: Paul does not pander or say things he thinks the audience wants to hear. He explained Iran wants to build nuclear weapons, because they have well-armed neighbors who already have the bomb, and for them, it is a matter of self-defense. He was not afraid to say Iran is no credible threat to the U.S. He warned the imposition of sanctions against Iran would provoke yet another war. He said it is not worth going to war against Iran to prevent them from gaining nuclear weapons. What is going on right now with Iran is the same propaganda used in the build-up to the Iraq War. He would not support an unprovoked unilateral attack by Israel upon Iran. He asked: why are we flying drones over Iran? While we don’t want to see Iran with nuclear weapons, he said it’s dangerous to declare war on 1.2 billion Muslims.

SYRIA: Paul would stay out of Syria. The Syrians need to deal with Syria, he said. We would only get in trouble if we got involved. We should simply support self-determination.

IRAQ: He would complete the withdrawal from Iraq, reminding us we still have 17,000 contractors on the ground over there.

ISRAEL: Paul asked: why should we commit our kids and our money to endlessly aid Israel?

CORPORATE WELFARE: Paul accused both parties of bailing out big corporations and Wall Street speculators, who ripped off regular people in the derivatives market. He would deny government aid to private enterprise.

HOUSING: Paul said Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae caused overbuilding and distortions, and government needs to get out of housing. Easy credit built too many houses and caused a bubble, he argues, which eventually burst, and now we are going through a correction, that is costing Middle Class people their homes. If money was to be given out, Paul said, it should have gone to those who lost their mortgages, not the banks. He said government sponsored enterprises received excessive credit from the Fed under the Community Reinvestment Act, and the housing debt must now be liquidated, as we are just prolonging the agony.

BUDGET/DEBT: Paul said nobody cares about the national debt, but it is a burden on the economy. Our financial condition is actually the biggest single threat to national security, he said.  Unnecessary wars have added to our deficits, and yet we are not cutting anything; it’s just talk. They only nibble away at baseline budgeting. They get hysterical on the Hill, because their budgets are not going up as rapidly as they want. The budget is out of control, because of earmarks. Paul said he would eliminate five departments and cut 1 billion in spending from the federal budget in his first year.

SOCIAL SECURITY: Paul said the Social Security Trust Fund should not have been used to fight wars.

DRUG WAR: Paul argued the war on drugs is a total failure, which should be handled like alcohol.

THE FED: Paul does not believe the Fed Reserve should set interest rates or decide how much money should be in circulation. He would return the gold standard. He said the Fed set interest rates well below market levels and keeping them low only distorts the economy. He does not believe they stimulate economic activity. He said Greenspan kept them too low for too long. He criticized the ability of banks get loans at zero percent, a practice which cheats the elderly of interest income they could earn from CDs. He was concerned the Fed sent five billion overseas to bail out foreign banks, and wants the Fed audited.

HEALTH CARE: Paul correctly said the insurance and drug companies will love the individual mandate. He wants more market competition in medicine. He supports medical savings accounts and would let people opt out of the health care plan.

 

12/22/2011

Republican Debate in Iowa (12-15-11)

PAUL ON IRAN: What is happening regarding Iran, Paul said, is no different than the 2003 propaganda as to Iraq. There is no proof Iran has nuclear weapons. There is no UN or IAEA report with evidence. Why do we have 900 bases in 130 countries? Why are we flying drones over Iran? Why do we bomb so many countries? They may want to harm us, because we bomb them, not because of what we believe. They would not attack Switzerland or Sweden for what they believe. Sanctions are an act of war. They could lead to economic calamity, if oil is kept from Europe. The greatest danger is Presidential overreaction and a bombing of Iran. Even Israel’s Head of Security said it wouldn’t make sense to bomb Iran. While we don’t want to see Iran with nuclear weapons, it’s dangerous to declare war on 1.2 billion Muslims. Paul said when he was drafted in 1962, the world was dangerous, but as nuclear missiles were sited in Cuba, Kennedy talked Khrushchev down, and we avoided a nuclear exchange. We lived through the Cold War with 30,000 missiles pointed at us, and we shouldn’t jump the gun now. We just don’t need another war, Paul said.

OTHERS ON IRAN: Romney called Obama weak regarding the spy drone incident. Perry would have destroyed or retrieved the drone, but Obama did neither. Bachmann believes Iran will use nuclear weapons to wipe out Israel and attack the U.S. She believes an IAEA report says Iran is just months away from obtaining the bomb. Santorum thinks Iran has been at war with us since 1979. They tried to assassinate a Saudi Ambassador, and they make IEDs that kill our soldiers. He called them a radical theocracy. If they had nuclear weapons, it wouldn’t be like the Cold War, since they believe in martyrdom. He made the ridiculous argument: “they don’t hate us because of what we do, or the policies we have, they hate us because of who we are, and what we believe in.” He said we should work with Israel ro plan strikes against their facilities. Gingrich said the Iranians plan to close the Straits of Hormuz.

FOREIGN POLICY: Paul would adopt a pro-American foreign policy, which is the opposite of policing the world. Huntsman wants a policy driven by economics, which leaves the Cold War behind. Perry said we should assert the Monroe Doctrine as to Iran, Venezuela, and Mexico, like we did in the 60s with Cuba.

CHINA: Huntsman was questioned about a 22% tariff China imposed on U.S. sport utility vehicles, but he sidestepped it saying we need shared democracy, human rights, and religious toleration.

IRAQ: Bachmann said Obama intentionally chose to lose the peace, and Iran will now become a dominant influence in Iraq.

LATIN AMERICA: Santorum said Obama embraced Chavez and Ortega, and thinks jihadist training camps are working with drug cartels in Latin America, planning assaults on the U.S.

MILITARY: Romney wants to increase the number of Navy ships built each year from 9 to 15. He said we need another 100,000 military troops, but he did not explain how he would get them.

SYRIA: When Perry was asked if the U.S. should intervene in Syria, he said he supports a No-Fly-Zone, because he says they are attached at the hip to Iran, and we need to stand with Israel.

ISRAEL: Gingrich said 200 missiles were fired at Israel this year. He neglected to say how many strikes Israel made against others.

UN: Gingrich called the UN a corrupt institution that beats up on our allies. He would not fund it and would dramatically reduce our reliance on it. He claimed UN camps are training grounds for terrorism, and their textbooks are funded by the UN. Huntsman said the UN serves useful peacekeeping-humanitarian purposes, but noted they have anti-American and anti-Israel sentiments.

IMMIGRATION: Romney promised an ID card for legal aliens to use when applying for jobs, along with E-verify checks. If employers hire without the card, serious sanctions would apply. He would send illegals to the back of the line. Perry said the El Paso border is not safe. Gingrich suggested a loss of tax deductions for those who hire illegally. He would drop the lawsuits against AZ, SC and Alabama. Huntsman would not pander to Hispanics, adding illegals are down due to the economy. He reminded us legal immigration is a growth engine.

JOBS: Romney said 25 million Americans are out of work, but the government doesn’t create jobs, the private sector does.

MANUFACTURING: Romney said manufacturing will come back to the U.S., but he did not explain how. Santorum thinks manufacturing is not competitive and tax rates should be lowered to zero and regulations should be repealed.

VULTURE CAPITALISM: Romney claimed he successfully ran Staples, Bright Horizons Children’s Centers, and an Indiana steel mill. Some of the 100 different businesses he was involved with laid people off, but they also added tens of thousands of jobs. When Obama took over GM, he said, dealerships were closed, and he had the same experience. Gingrich accused Romney of making millions by laying off people and bankrupting companies. He appeared confused when he suggested electric coops and credits unions are government sponsored institutions.

HOUSING: Bachmann accused Gingrich of taking 1.6 million from Freddie Mac to influence Republicans into keeping the scam going. Gingrich did not deny earning 1.6 million and he said he liked “government sponsored enterprises” like Freddy Mac, because they made home ownership more affordable. He thinks it’s a conservative principle to help families buy homes. He now would break up Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Paul said government sponsored enterprises received excessive credit from the Fed under the Community Reinvestment Act. Money comes from taxpayers, and when they go broke, we bail them out. Huntsman complained of banks that are too big to fail.

ENERGY: Romney said we have energy resources and should give out permits to drill for natural gas and oil. Gingrich said the Keystone Pipeline from Canada to Houston will bring oil to the U.S. and create 20,000 American jobs. If not, the Canadians will send it to Vancouver, where it will be shipped to China. Huntsman wants to use natural gas to get rid of our heroin-like addiction to imported oil. Bachmann criticized Obama’s moratorium on Gulf drilling and supports Keystone. She thinks Obama opposes it, because he would lose the support of radical environmentalists.

HEALTH: Huntsman said he delivered on health care reform in his state, without a mandate.

BUDGET & TAXES: Paul said the budget is out of control because of earmarks, which he never voted for. He said there are two factions; the warfare group that wants cuts in welfare; and the welfare group wants to cut warfare. He would eliminate 1 billion in spending from the federal budget in the first year. Romney said the debt is now 15 trillion, and the President racked up as much as all others combined. Huntsman as governor delivered on a flat-tax, and refused to sign a no-tax-hike pledge. Perry supports a Balanced Budget Amendment and wants tax policies that help business become competitive. Bachmann pledged no new taxes, because we’ve been taxed enough. We cannot spend more than we take in.  Gingrich claimed to have balanced the federal budget and paid off 405 billion in debt.

JUDICIARY: Gingrich would subpoena judges before Congress as to controversial decisions and would impeach them. He said the courts have become dictatorial, too powerful, and arrogant. Jefferson abolished 18 of 35 federal judges in 1802. He thought it absurd to view the Supreme Court as supreme. Lincoln repudiated Dred Scott in 1861. Bachmann said the Founders wanted courts to be the least powerful branch. They do not have power to make law. She would appoint only judges who believe in the original intent of the Constitution. Paul said Congress can get rid of courts, but he questioned Congressional authority to subpoena judges, as this would violate the Separation of Powers. When Romney was accused of appointing Democrats to be judges in Mass., he said a 7-member council made the appointments. He promised to appoint prosecutors. He said Congress should not oversee judges, because they have less credibility. Perry’s favorite justices were Alito, Roberts, and Thomas. Romney added Scalia. Gingrich and Bachmann liked all four. Huntsman limited himself to Roberts and Alito. Paul said all of them have good and bad features. Perry called for a part-time Congress and a 50% cut in their salaries.

GAYS: Romney opposed discrimination against people based on sexual orientation. He also opposed same-sex marriage. Santorum said Romney issued gay marriage licenses, but Romney explained the Mass Constitution required him to do so.

GUNS: Romney signed an assault weapons ban, but is now pro-gun.

ABORTION: Romney changed his mind on abortion, saying he was a pro-choice governor, but realized he was wrong when he vetoed an embryo bill. He is now pro-life. Santorum, who is 100% pro-life from conception to death, said Gingrich could have defunded Planned Parenthood, but he chose not to. Gingrich insisted he has a 98.5% pro-life record. He said life begins at conception, when embryos are conceived. They should be regarded as life and not experimented with. He opposes partial-birth abortion.

RELIGION: Gingrich complained of a 9th Circuit ruling that said “one nation under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional. He called the judges anti-American.

12/20/2011

Iraq: Bush’s War Was A Total Waste

After nearly nine years, the War in Iraq ended, with the names of 92 Wisconsinites who died there, printed in the Wis. State Journal. While 89 returned in body bags under President Bush: 9 (2003); 23 (2004); 18 (2005); 16 (2006); 15 (2007); and 8 (2008); three died while Obama was President: 2 (2009) and 1 (2010).

The War in Iraq (2003-11) actually started with the Gulf War (1991) surrender document, which required the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction. UN Weapons Inspector Scott Ritter, a former Marine Corps Major, and his team, searched for, and destroyed weapons, over a seven year period (1991-98). When Ritter resigned in 1998, he announced Iraq had been disarmed.

Despite the disarmament, Don Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Pearle, and 15 others wrote a letter to President Clinton in 1998 saying the removal of Saddam Hussein through a pre-emptive strike “needs to become the aim of American foreign policy.” In response, Clinton announced the U.S. cannot allow Iraq to acquire nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons, as he declared a regime change policy, and started bombing suspected Iraqi sites.

Under President Bush, a Defense Dept. strategy for pre-emptive War in Iraq was approved in Aug. 2002. Despite a National Intelligence Estimate, dated Oct. 2002, which reported: “Iraq does not yet have a nuclear weapon, or sufficient material to make one,” Bush declared at a State of the Union in Jan. 2003: Iraq tried to acquire uranium for nuclear weapons from Niger. He said: “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”

Although Bush conceded on March 12, 2003, there was no evidence to link 911 to Iraq, officials constantly implied there was a connection, leading the NY Times to report 42% of Americans believed Saddam Hussein was personally responsible for 911.

Bush’s team scared many uninformed Americans in March 2003 by conjuring up images of a “mushroom cloud,” and by spreading the ridiculous notion Saddam Hussein had rockets capable of delivering chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons to the U.S.

The disciples of Bush whipped up crazy ideas, like Iraq could be defeated in one week. Richard Pearle, chair of the Pentagon Defense Policy Board, said in 2002: “Support for Saddam will collapse with the first whiff of gunpowder.” Less optimistic Defense officials predicted the war may last for “months.”

The Bush Administration argued Americans would be welcomed. Vice President Chaney said on Meet the Press on March 16, 2003: “We will in fact be greeted as liberators.” Military planners said the occupation will result in “flag-waving crowds hugging British and American soldiers.” Rush Limbaugh repeated the propaganda.

Bush’s people believed a large ground force would not be needed, as Rumsfeld said we could invade with relatively few troops, supported by air support. Rumsfeld rejected advice from senior military officials, who said a larger army would be required.

Congressman James Moran of Virginia, one of the few to speak the truth as to why the U.S. was about to go to war, said on March 13, 2003: “If it were not for the strong support of the Jewish community for war with Iraq, we would not be doing this.”

Bush tried to obtain UN Sec. Council Resolution to make his war look legitimate, but the level-headed Jacques Chirac of France wisely threatened a veto, as others also voiced opposition. Bush finally abandoned his attempt to gain UN approval on March 17, 2003.

Cowboy Bush nevertheless went it alone, and issued an ultimatum on March 19, giving Saddam and his sons 48 hours to leave Iraq, or face war. He amassed 210,000 U.S. troops: including 150,000 in Kuwait, 10,000 in Saudi Arabia, and 50,000 at sea. American teams studied plans to find hidden weapons of mass destruction (WMD), as Halliburton, a company run by Cheney from 1995 to 2000, looked forward to making billions on post-war contracts.

Once the war started, the search for WMD became a top priority. Gen Tommy Franks said there were 2,000 to 3,000 possible weapons sites. When no hidden stockpiles were found, the military initially said some areas were not yet accessible. Gen. Myers reassured us on March 31: “there is no doubt they have chemical weapon loaded in artillery shells.” Chief Warrant Officer Gonzales, a member of a weapons team, said on April 16: “we’re not going to find just a smoking gun, but a smoking canon; it’s just a matter of time.” “It’s going to take time,” Rumsfeld repeated, on April 19, fabricating a story “they buried things,” and “used underground tunnels.” Later, Rumsfeld admitted Iraqis will have to find them, because “the inspectors didn’t find anything, and I doubt we will.” Bush nevertheless reassured Americans on June 10 he was convinced Iraq had WMD, and proof would be found. Press Sec. Fleisher advanced the ridiculous argument those who say Iraq does not have WMD have the burden of proof.

Meanwhile, Scott Ritter re-appeared in April 2003 to say I told you so: “I don’t see how these weapons could exist,” because the unconventional arms Iraq possessed were destroyed or degraded. Joe Wilson, a former Ambassador, came forward in July 2003, to say for 8 days in 2002, he was in Niger investigating reports of an attempted weapons sale, and found nothing but forged documents and fraudulent intelligence. British Prime Minister Tony Blair finally admitted on July 11, he no longer believed WMD would be uncovered, causing Bush on July 12 to shift blame to others, suggesting CIA Director Tenet approved the Jan. 2003 reference to obtaining nuclear weapons materials from Niger.

David Kay, the man who headed the U.S. weapons search, told Congress on Sep. 29, no WMD were found and we were all wrong. Ritter wrote a piece on Feb. 6, 2004 entitled, “Not Everyone Got it Wrong on Iraq’s Weapons,” challenging Kay’s assertion “we were all wrong.” Rolf Ekeus, another weapons inspector, declared Iraq was fundamentally disarmed as early as 1996. Hans Blix, the UN weapons inspector just before March 2003, said his team found no evidence of WMD. By 2004, it was clear Bush had relied rumor, speculation, exaggeration, and falsification to lead the U.S. into war. Florida Sen. Bob Graham said Bush knowingly did it.

If U.S. troops had vacated Iraq after the Statue of Saddam Hussein was knocked down in Baghdad on April 10, 2003, or when Bush declared an end to hostilities on May 1, or when he landed on the Aircraft Carrier Lincoln near San Diego on May 2, or as soon as Hussein was captured on Dec. 15, 2003, perhaps the war would have been easy, but Bush made the additional mistake of occupying Iraq.

When 10,000 Shiites and Sunni Muslims joined hands through the streets of Baghdad on May 20, 2003, to oppose the U.S. occupation, fair warning was given. U.S. officers soon reported unexpected resistance, while Americans were bing lied to and told Iraq would not become another long 8-year struggle, like the one in Vietnam.

It did not take long before the brass changed their story as to how long the war would take. Gen. Myers said:  “Nobody ever promised a short war.” Deputy Defense Sec. Wolfowitz said it would take at least 6 months to create a new government. Ari Fleisher said they were a year away from turning over control.

Paul Bremer, the U.S. administrator in Iraq, then triggered a guerilla war by issuing a decree on May 20 banning all Baath Party members from public sector jobs. Rumsfeld had to admit in July 2003 “we are still at war,” as he predicted attacks against U.S. forces would grow more vicious. Not enough troops were available to maintain order, or to guard supply lines, and once again Rumsfeld had to admit he might need more than 147,000 troops.

Instead, tours for enlisted men were extended indefinitely. Our troops became tired of patrolling hostile Iraqi streets in the extreme heat in search of an invisible enemy. It became unsafe for them to venture off post. Many accused the Pentagon of dishonesty with regard to their length of stay and mission. Finally, Rumsfeld adjusted the duration of the war saying: “We will be there as long as it takes.”

Well, we stayed nearly 9 years. We lost a lot of lives, and took a lot more. We destroyed a lot of property. We spent billions. After 9 years, it is really not a stretch at all to say, Bush’s war was a total waste.

12/09/2011

Ron Paul: Still Best Foreign Policy

Since Texas Congressman Ron Paul has by far the best foreign policy of any candidate, including President Obama, as he consistently opposed our military adventurism around the globe, those who agree, regardless of political affiliation, should pull his lever in states with “open primaries,” (where party identification is not required) knowing full well the Democrats will nominate Obama anyway, and even if Paul won the general election, a very unlikely scenario, Congress will block his domestic agenda.

MILITARY: Paul correctly sees our financial condition as the greatest threat to National Security. He rightly pointed out there is a lot of waste in the military budget. We should not have an empire with 900 bases in 150 countries, he argued, adding we would actually be safer if we weren’t in so many places. He asked why we have troops in Korea, Japan, and Germany, 66 years after WWII, and 58 years after the Korean Armistice. It angers foreigners, he said, when we occupy their lands. He asked why we need more weapons than all other nations combined, enough to destroy the world 25 times over. He said America’s wars have cost trillions, and we have to stop spending so much. If budget cuts are going to be made, the military must be on the table.

DECLARATION OF WAR: The Constitution, Paul noted, requires Congress to pass a Declaration of War. Since they have not done it, we are not legally at war. He said our unconstitutional interventions abroad have done nothing but undermine our prosperity, curtail our liberties, and add to budget deficits.

TERRORISM: Paul criticized the so-called “War on Terrorism,” warning against a careless use of the word “war.” We pretend we are at war, he said, but terrorism is nothing but a tactic. He explained we were attacked on 911, because we had troops in Saudi Arabia, and we side with Israel, even when they violate international law. We should negotiate with terrorists, he said, noting even Reagan talked to Iranian militants regarding hostages.

CIVILIAN COURTS: Paul said we should not give up so easily on the rule of law. If the hijackers who committed 911 had lived, they could have been convicted in criminal court. Over 300 individuals charged with terrorism have been convicted in civilian courts. The system has worked, as they have been sent to prison.

TORTURE: Paul correctly pointed out torture is illegal under our laws and international law. He doesn’t attempt to sugar coat water-boarding, by attempting to label it anything but torture. He said its use is an uncivilized violation of the Geneva Conventions.

PATRIOT ACT: Paul reminded us we can have security, without sacrificing rights. Our Founders, he explained, would not have sacrificed liberty. He warned surrendering freedoms may lead to a police state. Timothy McVeigh, the white Oklahoma City bomber, is an example of why profiling will never work, he said.

AFGHANISTAN: Paul favors an immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan, criticizing weaker politicians who duck the issue by deferring to the generals. A withdrawal would save billions. He reminded us the Soviets were brought down by their intervention in Afghanistan, and if we stay, the same will happen to us.

IRAQ: Paul explained it has already cost us 1 billion to build one U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, adding we are wasting money overseas. He would pull our remaining troops out of Iraq, now.

ISRAEL Paul would not support an unprovoked unilateral and illegal attack by Israel upon Iran. He noted Israel has 200 to 300 nuclear missiles, and they can defend themselves. If they want to bomb Iran, it’s their business, and they can suffer the consequences. He asked: why we should endlessly commit our kids and money to support Israel? Paul would cut their aid.

IRAN: Paul explained Iran’s neighbors, such as Israel, Pakistan, and Russia, already have the bomb, and it is only natural that Iran would want to join the club for defensive reasons. He correctly pointed out Iran, half way around the globe, is no threat to the U.S. What is going on right now, he said, is the same type propaganda used in the build-up to the Iraq War. He warned sanctions didn’t work in the past against states like Cuba, and they will only increase the risk of war. It would not be worth it, he said, to go to war to try to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons.

SYRIA: Paul said the Syrians need to deal with Syria. While it is a tragedy many rebels died, we would only get in trouble if we got involved in their dispute. Just support self-determination, he said.

CUBA: Paul said it is time to end our 50-year old trade embargo against the island-nation, since it never worked against Castro.

WAR ON DRUGS: The war on drugs, Paul argued, has been a total failure. He suggested drugs should be controlled like alcohol.

FOREIGN AID: Paul argues the Constitution does not authorize Congress to provide foreign aid. With regards to military aid, he correctly said we spent billions pumping up dictators, which makes their peoples hostile to us. Paul goes too far when he says all foreign aid is worthless, and when he says all we do is take money from our poor, and give it to the rich in poor countries.

IMMIGRATION: We need to bring our National Guard units home, Paul argued, so they can man our borders. The Texas House member said our government should not provide benefits to illegals. If amnesty is made easy, we will get more illegals.

10/22/2011

Turkey Takes Iraqi-Kurds Out of Way

Turkey’s Army crossed the border into Iraq on Oct. 19, 2011 to fight Iraqi-Kurds, because they had attacked and killed 24 Turkish soldiers in a raid staged on behalf of the Turkish-Kurd minority.

Although we hear about Kurds and a place called Kurdistan, the UN has no country by that name, and very few of us are aware of who the Kurds are, where they come from, or what they want.

Turks, Arabs, Persians, and Kurds are ethnic groups in the Middle East, who share a common Islamic religion, though some are in the Sunni Muslim branch, and others belong to the Shiite school.

The ethnic Kurds live in an area that spreads across Eastern Turkey, Northern Iraq, Western Iran, and Northeastern Syria. Kurdistan was ruled by the Turkish Ottoman Empire (1453-1918), until Britain seized it in WWI, and drew new borders that severed the Kurdish people into four countries. The Kurds resisted, as they fought for autonomy (1919-23), but the British Empire prevailed.

In Turkey, Turkish-Kurds made an early attempt to secede, but failed (1925). In Iraq, the Kurds fell under the control of the majority Arabs of the Sunni and Shiite Islamic faith. Since Britain created Iraq, the Arabs have refused to allow a separate Kurdistan, because the Kurds occupy the lands that have most of the oil.

After Iraq overthrew their king, a new 1958 constitution made the Kurds and Arabs equal partners, under a law that was to allow for an autonomous Kurdistan, but the dominant Arab Baath Party failed to deliver, causing the Kurds to launch a full-scale revolt (1962-64). The uprising ended with another pledge to create a separate Kurdistan, but yet another broken promise.

The Iraqi-Kurds used mortar attacks against the City of Kirkuk in 1969 to renew their struggle, until an amended constitution (1970) once more promised autonomy, but no change came. Iran, which had its own Kurdish minority, then started a surrogate war against Iraq, by feeding an Iraqi-Kurd insurrection (1971-74), which escalated into an Iraqi-Kurdish War (1974-75). The Iraqi Army shelled mountainous Kurdish towns, causing the Shah of Iran to open his borders to 250,000 fleeing Iraqi-Kurds. That war ended when Iraq cleverly convinced Iran to sign a treaty in which they jointly agreed to oppose their respective Kurd minorities (1975).

When Saddam Hussein seized power in Iraq in 1979, he kept control over the oil fields of Kirkuk, by subduing the Iraqi-Kurds. As his fragile peace with Iran frayed, however, Iran encouraged Iraqi-Kurds to revolt, prompting the Iran-Iraq War (1980-88). During this conflict, 60,000 Iraqi-Kurd served as guerillas in the fight against Iraq, while demanding a separate state. Hussein once and for all decided to demolish 1,276 Kurd villages, and to exterminate the Kurds with poisonous gases (1987-88). Although most of those asphyxiated were non-combatants, Hussein claimed a right to kill any insurgents who had been allied with Iran.

Following the Gulf War (1991), when Iraq was pushed back out of Kuwait, the Kurds seized another opportunity to revolt. But 700,000 of them ended up fleeing into the mountains, where American aircraft were needed to drop relief, under Operation Provide Comfort (1991). The U.S. also protected the Kurds by imposing a No-Fly Zone against Iraq, north of the 36th parallel.

Turkey subsequently launched an offensive against the Kurds, and helped Iraq, in the Iraqi-Kurdish Civil War (1994-97), by keeping the beleaguered Iraqi-Kurds from crossing the Turkish border.

When President Bush invaded Iraq in the Iraq War (2003), the Iraqi-Kurd minority finally thought the day had come for an independent Kurdistan, but Bush did nothing to create a new state, since the Shiite-Sunni Iraqi Arab majority and Turkey objected.

So today, it appears the Kurds will never have an independent Kurdistan in Iraq, Turkey, Iran, or anywhere else, since the neighboring states will not agree, and the world will not intervene on the side of the Kurdish minorities. The best hope for the Kurds is for the Turks of Turkey, Arabs of Iraq, and Persians of Iran, to grant equality to their respective Kurdish minorities, so attacks by and against Kurds may finally come to an end.

10/19/2011

Republican Debate: Nevada (10-18-11)

The Republican Presidential candidates debated in Nevada.

DEFENSE SPENDING: Ron Paul said there is a lot of money in the military budget that does no good. We have an empire with 900 bases in 150 countries, and would be safer if we were not in so many places. Why keep troops in Korea, Japan, or Germany? We have more weapons than all other nations combined, Paul said, enough to blow up the world 20 to 25 times. Bachmann said defense spending should be on the table, but not 500 million. Gingrich would determine our threats, and calculate the cost of a response. Santorum would not cut a penny of military spending.

AFGHANISTAN: Ron Paul said the U.S. should withdraw from Afghanistan, because the Soviet Union was brought down by entering that country, and the same thing will happen to us.

FOREIGN AID: Romney said we spend more on foreign aid than we should, and we should let China do it, because it makes no sense to borrow from China to give aid to others. Paul would cut all foreign aid, including aid to Israel, saying the Constitution does not authorize it. Aid to Israel does not help, but only teaches dependency. We take from the poor, Paul said, and give to the rich in poor states. He said look at the aid we gave to Egypt. We spent billions pumping up a dictator, and yet they are hostile to us. Cain would give foreign aid to friends, like Israel, but not enemies. Bachmann opposed cutting foreign aid to Israel, since she believes they are our greatest ally.

ISRAEL: Bachmann incorrectly accused Obama of being the first president since Israeli independence to put daylight between our nations. (She never studied Eisenhower’s stand at Suez in 1956)

UN & PALESTINE: Perry thought it was a travesty for the Palestinian Authority to go to the UN to seek statehood. He asked why the U.S. is contributing to the UN. He would defund it.

LIBYA & IRAQ: Bachmann wants Libya and Iraq to reimburse us for the cost of bombing their countries. She wants our troops to have immunity for any and all wrongdoing committed in Iraq.

IRAN: Bachmann accused Iran of an attempted assassination on U.S. soil. The number one global issue, she said, is Iran and nuclear weapons. She called their leader a genocidal maniac, but offered no proof to back up her claim. Santorum also said our central threat is Iran. Neither candidate explained how or why they see Iran as a credible threat to the U.S.

TERROR: Paul said Reagan negotiated with Iranian terrorists for a return of hostages. Gingrich said Reagan made a mistake. Bachmann would not release anyone at Guantanamo. Can would not negotiate. Santorum would never negotiate, period.

WALL STREET: Cain had said: “Don’t blame Wall Street, don’t blame the big banks. If you don’t have a job, and you are not rich, blame yourself.” He said Wall Street did nothing wrong; they did not spend a trillion for no good. Protesters should be in front of the White House, Cain said. Ron Paul accused Cain of blaming victims. He would protest in front of the Federal Reserve and in Washington. The bailout was supported by both parties, Paul said. They bailed out big corporations, who ripped off people in the derivatives market. They thought the world would end if we did not bail banks out. The middle class got stuck. Paul said if money was given out, it should have gone to people who lost their mortgages, not the banks. Romney called the protests dangerous class warfare, and said Obama is to blame over the past three years, as he says he has no idea how the private sector works.

HOUSING: Santorum said Romney, Perry, and Cain supported TARP. Cain said people on the top who took risks got bailed out in 2008, but the market should have been allowed to work. Perry wanted Congress to act, but did not want TARP. Santorum said Perry supported the particular TARP plan on the House floor. Romney said government should not give a couple thousand dollars to buy a new home, or to keep banks from foreclosing.

JOBS: Perry wants to focus on the 9% unemployed. Santorum said no more products “Made in America” hurts the middle class. Gingrinch wants America off food stamps and on paychecks. Romney said half the jobs created in Texas were filled by illegals.

IMMIGRATION: Texan Ron Paul said a fence is not the answer to illegal immigration. We worry more about the Afghan and Pakistan borders than our own, Paul said, and need to bring our National Guards home so they can guard our borders. Perry blamed the federal government for failing to secure the 1,200 mile Texas border, and for the huge number of illegals looking for jobs. Businesses who hire illegals ought to be penalized, Perry said. He does not want to repeal the 14th Amendment as to citizenship by birth. A fence could be built, Perry said, but it would take 15 years and 30 billion. He instead recommended strategic fencing where it matters, and predator drones to direct boots on the ground. Perry accused Romney of hiring illegals to work on his property, but Romney denied it, saying it’s hard to know if lawn care contractors employ illegals. When he learned they hired illegals, they were let go. Perry also accused Romney of offering amnesty to aliens. Romney said Perry was the one open to amnesty, and accused him of creating a magnet by giving aliens a $100,000 tuition credit, a practice that must end. We must stop employer magnets by enforcing E-Verify. Romney also said 4.5 million want to come here legally in an orderly way. He said Perry’s Texas had a 60% increase in illegal immigration, while California and Florida had none. Cain would build a fence and have it electrified. He would promote a path to citizenship, and shut the back door, so people could come in the front door. He wants to empower states. Bachmann accused Obama’s aunt and uncle of being illegal aliens. She took a pledge to build a wall, saying illegals cost 113 billion a year. She would also enforce English as the official language. She said they cross the border to have anchor babies and the welfare that come with it. Gingrich said to 50 million Latinos, not all of whom are illegal, that America is the most open nation to immigration in history.

ENERGY: Paul said it’s wrong for 49 states to dump nuclear garbage in Nevada. Romney said Nevadans should have the final say and not have it jammed down their throats.  He wants energy independence, using our own natural resources. France gets 70% of their energy from nuclear power, Perry said. He wants 1.2 million people working on energy. We shouldn’t rely on OPEC, saying we should be energy independent. We need not subsidize energy. Gingrich wants a safe way of take care of nuclear waste.

HEALTH CARE: Paul said we need more medical competition. Americans should be allowed to opt out of Obama’s health care. Bachmann said even the Obama Administration realized they cannot afford Long Term Care. Santorum said Obama failed to focus on the cost of health care, which is the real problem. He said Romney has no credibility, since Obama’s plan was basically his. Romney called Obama’s plan unconstitutional, which should be repealed, as it is a huge burden on the economy. He would turn Medicare over to the states. He said his plan for Mass. was not for the entire nation. The idea of the individual mandate came from Gingrich, Romney said. His state relied on private insurers. The uninsured got private not government insurance. When it comes to knowledge about health care, Romney said I am the doctor. Gingrich admitted supporting the individual mandate in opposition to Hillarycare, but the Heritage Foundation came up with the idea. He said a small business is Mass. is being ordered to pay a fine of $3,000 for not paying $750 month in premiums.

TAXES: Cain tried to defend his 999 tax plan, which would impose a 9% federal sales tax and repeal all tax breaks. He argued it would remove all hidden income taxes in goods and services, and was not a value-added tax, but a single tax, which was revenue neutral. He failed to convince anyone it would not raise taxes on those making the least. Bachmann, a tax lawyer, also wants to abolish the tax code, but said Cain’s 999 plan would destroy the economy. She warned if Congress was given a new sales tax, it would never go away. She argued it would be applied against products at every stage of production. Everyone should pay taxes, she said, even if it is only $1. Santorum said 84% of Americans would pay more under Cain’s plan, which eliminates all deductions and exemptions. Getting rid of deductions would mean those with home mortgages would pay more, and people with three children would pay the same tax as a single man. He favored cutting the tax rate for manufacturing to zero. Perry, whose state already has a 6.25% sales tax, said Nevada’s is 8%, and New Hampshire’s is 0%, but no state wanted a 9% federal sales tax; they want flatter and fairer taxes. Romney said to a cheering crowd, Nevada does not want a 9% federal sales tax on top of an 8% state sales tax.  Paul opposes Cain’s plan, because it is regressive and increase taxes. He would replace income taxes with nothing. Gingrich wants to reduce capital gains taxes to zero.

RELIGION: Perry disagreed with the pastor who said Mormonism is a cult. Romney said the Founders appreciated the Freedom of Religion. The Founders went to great length to create a nation with a Constitution that respected all.

09/12/2011

911: Are We Still Missing The Boat?

On the 10th Anniversary of Sept. 11, while the broadcast media repeatedly showed videos of planes crashing into buildings, along with survivor interviews and memorials, they failed once again to seriously examine why 911 happened in the first place.

Americans have no trouble recalling 911. They are painfully aware of the airport and government security measures implemented since then, and know international communications and finance are now under surveillance.

What they still do not know, however, because no one has explained it to them, is why 20, mostly Saudi Arabians, hijacked four airplanes on Sep. 11, 2001, and set out to crash them into buildings, for the purpose of killing as many us as possible.

Until we learn what motivated the attackers, we will never understand the enemy, or eliminate the threat they pose. While the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) may take some small security measures at home, they will never make us completely safe, since they do not address the root causes of the problem.

So what was it that bothered the 911 attackers so much that they were willing to become kamikaze pilots? The answer begins with our one-sided bi-partisan U.S. foreign policy that blindly supports Israel, and angers many Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims.

Americans would be safer at home if we stopped supplying Israel with weapons that end up killing Palestinians. We would be safer if our Navy abandoned the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf. We would be safer if we withdrew all of our ground forces from Iraq, Afghanistan, and other locations in the Mideast and Persian Gulf.

Since the special interests that finance our political campaigns are not going to support candidates willing to withdraw from the Mideast, the U.S. is not going to stop angering the nations of Islam. Consequently, more enemies will unintentionally be recruited, and more will eventually succeed in doing harm to us.

Once we understand every event has a cause, and know why Sep. 11 occurred, we can eliminate the factors that led to it, and only then return to a secure environment, free of the fear of another 911.