Posts tagged ‘Latin America’

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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02/23/2012

Republican Debate in Arizona (2-22-12)

WAR: Paul correctly said a “pre-emptive war” is a “war of aggression.” We have been fighting offensive, not defensive wars. If we go to war against Iran, Paul said, it should be done properly, by first asking Congress for a Declaration of War. Gingrich foolishly said there are moments when you engage in pre-emptive war (also known as illegal aggression under international law).

DEFENSE: Paul predicted the Draft would be brought back, because we are in way over our heads. He said foreign aid ends up helping our enemies. Santorum thinks Defense Spending takes a smaller portion of the budget than in the past, and he would not cut it. Romney accused Obama of shrinking the Navy, Air Force, and active-duty personnel by 50,000 to 100,000. He would instead add ships, planes, and personnel by 100,000. He responded to Santorum’s problem with women in the military, saying they have the capacity to serve in responsible positions.

MIDEAST/SYRIA/PAKISTAN: Paul said Al Qaida is bankrupting us as they bogged us down in the Mideast, where we have spent 4 trillion in the last 10 years. We don’t have money for another war in Syria, he said. Santorum thinks Syria is a puppet of Iran. Romney said Syria shadows Lebanon, and threatens Israel. He wants the Alawites in Syria to abandon Assad. He is also concerned with Pakistan’s nuclear weapons.

IRAN: Paul said we don’t know if Iran has a nuclear weapon, but they cannot possibly attack anyone, because we have 45 bases, plus submarines, all around their country. All we are doing is making them feel threatened, and encouraging them to get a bomb. Sanctions are already backfiring, he said, because they cause Iranians to rally behind their leaders. We don’t have money for another war in Iran, Paul said. Gingrich accused Ahmadinejad of being a dictator, of denying the Holocaust, of wanting to push the U.S. out of the Mideast, and eliminate Israel from the face of the map. Romney wants crippling sanctions against Iran. He actually believes if Iran obtains fissile material, they will give it to Hezbollah and Hamas, who will take it into Latin America, where they will “potentially” bring it across the U.S. border, and then detonate “dirty bombs.” He thinks Obama told Israel not to take any action.

LATIN AMERICA: Romney thinks Hezbollah is operating in Latin America. He noted Northern Mexico is a problem.

IMMIGRATION: Paul wants us to forget about the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, and deal with our own. We need to reward legal immigration, he said. He thinks the welfare state causes immigrants to cross over for benefits. Romney enabled his state police to take them out by enforcing illegal immigration laws. He fought for English emersion classes in schools. He said since e-verify allows employers to know who is here legally, illegals have dropped by 14%. Santorum would create a loophole in e-verify, by not requiring homeowners to use it. Gingrich said the failure to control our border is a failure of will. He wants a President who works with governors, not sues them. He said the fence between San Diego and Tijuana worked, even though it is in a densely-populated area. The further the fence was extended, the fewer crossed into California. He would move half the Dept of Homeland Security to border states to get the fencing done. He voted for a employer-sanction law in 1986, signed by Reagan, which was to have solved the immigration problem. He said people who do business in Mexico, do not want the border closed.

ENERGY: Gingrich does not want American Presidents to have to bow to Saudi Kings over energy. He believes Iran is partly responsible for what is going on at the gas pump, as one of every five barrels of oil goes through the Straits of Hormuz. We should get into the position where we could say we do not care what the Mideast does. If we opened up federal lands and offshore areas for development, Gingrich said, and replaced the EPA, the government would realize 16 to 18 trillion in royalties, and gas prices would drop to $2.50 per gallon.

BANKS: Romney said: “I didn’t want to save Wall Street banks.” He was worried the entire currency system would go down.

AUTO: Paul said the government should not be in the business of supporting auto labor contracts. He reminded the audience Santorum opposed the auto bailout. Santorum said he helped the airline industry after 911, because the government shut them down. He said Romney is not principled, as he was for the Wall Street bailout, but against helping Detroit auto workers. Romney admitted he wanted the auto companies to go through a “managed” bankruptcy, like the airlines did, to shed excessive costs imposed by the UAW. He took a contradictory position however saying: “No way would we allow the auto industry in America to totally implode and disappear.” Gingrich agreed a managed bankruptcy would have been best for the auto industry.

HOUSING: Paul said the government should not bail out housing.

HEALTH: Gingrich said when the government becomes the central provider of services, they inevitably move towards tyranny, as they force people to do things. Santorum promised to target Medicare for budget cuts. He pledged to repeal Obamacare. He said he always opposed Title X funds, but pushed abstinence-based program spending under Title XX. He accused the Mass health law of being the model for Obamacare. Romney said states have the right under the 10th Amendment to do what he did in Mass. He would repeal Obamacare, because he doesn’t think the federal government should cut Medicare by 500 billion.

EDUCATION: Paul said the Constitution gives the federal government no power in education. He said Santorum is a fake, because he votes for No Child Left Behind, but now he wants to get rid of it. Santorum said he is a home schooling father of seven children. When he voted for No Child Left Behind, it was a mistake, and he now thinks the federal government should get out of education. Romney agreed children should be tested in math and English before they graduate. Gingrich would shrink the federal Dept of Education down to nothing but research. He thinks teachers unions only care about protecting bad teachers.

SOCIAL SECURITY: Santorum said we need to “deal with” Social Security. He said “all” the seniors in Pennsylvania rely on it, because the rich ones moved to Florida and Arizona.

WELFARE: Santorum said poverty in single-parent households is five times greater than two-parent homes. His solution is to go after food stamps (to make sure hungry people go without). Romney would block grant Medicare, housing vouchers, and food stamps to the states.

GOVERNMENT: Romney would link government pay to private sector pay. Gingrich would repeal 130-year-old civil service laws.

BUDGET/DEBT/TAXES: Santorum said he was rated most fiscally conservative in his 12 years in the Senate. He explained earmarking is abused, and would oppose their use as President. We cannot default on the Debt Ceiling, he added. He said Romney is now suggesting raising taxes on the top 1 percent. Romney said the earmark process is broken, and he would ban it, because it opens the door to excessive spending. He supports a line-item veto to deal with earmarks. He would ask if a program justifies borrowing from China to pay for it. He claimed he balanced his state budget all four years. Santorum said the only reason Romney balanced his budget was his state constitution required it. Gingrich wants a balanced budget. He would eliminate capital gains taxes on more than just those earning less than $200,000. Paul said he never voted for a budget deficit, or an increase the National Debt. He said we pay gas taxes into a trust fund, and should get our fair share, but they spend it overseas.

CONSTITUTION: Paul said he is the defender of the Constitution and liberty, and his platform is the road to peace and prosperity. The Constitution does not provide “women’s rights or men’s rights,” There are no group rights. He said we take an oath to our office, not to a political party to vote the way they want.

RELIGION: Romney alleged we have never seen attacks like these against religious conscience, freedom, and tolerance.

ABORTION/CONTRACEPTION: Paul said the government should not spend money on abstinence. Pills don’t cause immorality, people do. Romney alleged Obama was trying to require Catholics to provide birth control, sterilization, and morning-after pills. He said he stood on the side of life, when his legislature refused to define it as starting at conception. He vetoed a bill regarding embryo farming and cloning. He said liberals go crazy over teaching abstinence. He denied requiring Catholic hospitals to provide morning after pills. He said the Mass. health law did not require contraceptive coverage. He said Santorum opposed contraceptives, but voted for Title X. Gingrich claimed state senator Obama voted to protect doctors who killed babies who survived abortions. He wants Planned Parenthood to get nothing. Santorum said, if elected, he would talk about the “dangers of contraception.” He illogically added we have a problem of children born out of wedlock. He said this doesn’t mean he wants a government program to fix it.

ADOPTION: Romney sided with Catholic adoption agencies regarding their preference for placement in homes with a man and a woman. He wanted the Catholic Church to stay in the adoption business, as they were responsible for half of them in Mass.

01/29/2012

Republican Debate: Florida (1-26-12)

ROMNEY’S TAXES: Gingrich said Romney owns shares of Goldman Sachs and lives in a world of Swiss and Cayman Island bank accounts. He said he did not “know of any American president who had had a Swiss bank account.” Romney, who all along has said he is a great money manager, said “my investments are not made by me.” They have “for the last 10 years have been in a blind trust, managed by a trustee.” His trustee invests in mutual funds and bonds, he said, and not in stocks. When Gingrich said Romney made a million dollars off of stock in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Romney denied it. He said his trustee loaned money to Freddie and Fannie and received interest, like from U.S. savings bonds. His trustee diversified investments and reported the money held in Swiss accounts to the U.S. and he paid U.S. taxes on it. Romney repeated he did not inherit money and claimed to have earned it. He said his taxes and charitable contributions took about 40% of his income.

ROMNEY’S PARTY: Gingrich claims Romney voted for Democrat Paul Tsongas in 1992, and when he ran against Kennedy in 1994, he said he was an “independent” who did not want to go back to the Reagan-Bush era. Romney said he never voted for a Democrat when there was a Republican on the ballot.

FOREIGN POLICY: Paul rejects a foreign policy that says we must be the policeman of the world. He opposes nation-building.

PUERTO RICO: Santorum was asked whether Puerto Rico should become a state. He said he believes in “self-determinism” and Puerto Ricans should decide for themselves.

CUBA: Paul said the sanctions against Cuba backfired and caused the Cuban people to rally behind Castro. The Cold War is over, and they are not going to invade us, he said. Romney said he will help the people of Cuba enjoy freedom when Fidel Castro is dead. He thinks Obama has ignored Cuba and Venezuela, and wants more trade with Colombia and Panama. Santorum opposes liberalizing trade or travel with Cuba.

LATIN AMERICA: Paul opposes dictating to Latin Americans what governments they should have. He said Santorum’s definition of standing up for Latin America means supporting dictators and undermining governments through the use of money. Santorum thinks Iran and the jihadists want to set up training camps in Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. He opposes Latin American leaders Chavez, Noreiga, and Morales. He accused Obama of hanging our friends out to dry for 3 years in Colombia, and of standing with Chavez and Castro, instead of the people of Honduras. He denied wanting to use force in Latin America.

PALESTINE: All of the Republicans pandered to the Jewish vote in Florida. There is no peace between Israel and Palestine, Romney said, because he believes all Hamas wants to do is eliminate Israel and teach people to kill Jews. He incorrectly believes Palestinians do not want a two-state solution. He found fault with Obama for rightfully castigating Israel for illegally building settlements in Palestine in violation of international law. He showed ignorance on this subject by faulting Obama for suggesting a return to the 1967 borders. In an incredible statement, he said thought it was Obama who “disrespected” Netanyahu, when in fact it was Netanyahu who ungratefully and inappropriately lectured our U.S. President. Gingrich continued to defend his prior ignorant statement that Palestinians are an “invented people,” as he stated a belief that they are Syrian, Lebanese, Egyptian or Jordanian, but not Palestinian. He thinks Obama undermined Israel. He would provoke greater tensions by moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem.

MILITARY: Gingrich promised to make Jacksonville, Florida the home of a nuclear aircraft carrier battle group.

SPACE: Gingrich wants six or seven space launches a day. He reminded us when Kennedy said in May 1961: “We will go to the moon in this decade,” no American had even orbited the earth, and the technology didn’t even exist. He wants to give out prizes like the $25,000 Lindbergh received for flying to Paris. He asked: Does the Washington NASA office just sit around and think about space? 90% of those employed under his space plan would come from the private sector. He would get NASA out of the rocket business. Santorum wants young people involved in math and science, but said promising new space programs, when we are borrowing 40 cents on the dollar, is not responsible. Romney accused Gingrich of pandering, by telling NASA workers what they want to hear. He believes in a vibrant and strong space program, but described Gingrich’s plan to put a permanent colony on the moon, as an “enormous expense.” He would fire someone who wanted to spend a few billion dollars on it. He wants a space program related to commercial products. Paul would vote for only that part of the space program that supports national defense. The only things he would send to the moon are “some politicians.”

TRADE: Paul supports free trade in Latin America, including Cuba. Gingrich said the Jacksonville seaport has to be expanded, because the Panama Canal is being widened.

IMMIGRATION: Santorum wants to enforce the immigration laws we have. We need legal immigration he said, to keep our population growing. The first act of responsible immigrants is to obey our laws, and then continue respecting them. He would use the employer E-verify system to enforce immigration. He speculated illegals steal Social Security numbers (who says they are not paid cash under the table, and use no SS number at all). Gingrich pledged to control the border by Jan. 1, 2014. He would fix the visa system to make it easier to come and go. He wants to make deportation easier. He doubts grandmothers would self-deport and would not enter church sanctuaries to deport those who sought shelter. He said Miami has 94 languages, and wants English as the official one, adding everyone should learn it to get jobs. He denied calling Spanish a ghetto language. Romney said the problem with illegals is they take jobs legal residents would like, put their kids in school districts that can’t afford them, and get free health care, because emergency rooms must provide it. He favors work permits and identification cards, an E-verify system, and severe sanctions against employers who hire illegals, so those unable to find work will self-deport. He would not round up people or deport the 11 million illegally in this country. He said his father was born in Mexico. (Since the Constitution limits the Presidency to “natural born” citizens, how was his father able to run for President in 1967?) Romney wants English as the official language and schools to provide English immersion classes. Paul said resentment towards illegals goes up when the economy is down. Businesses are now looking for workers, but can’t find them. We worry about the Afghan and Pakistan borders too much, Paul said, and not enough about our own.

JOBS: Romney said there is 9.9% unemployment in Florida, but it is really 18%. Lowering corporate taxes would get people back to work, he said.

FINANCE: Paul said the Middle Class is losing their jobs and houses, but Wall Street got bailouts. He wants to bring back the gold standard, since it is mentioned in the Constitution.

HOUSING: Paul said, after the crash, the bad paper should have been auctioned off and sold, and it would have been cleansed by now. The problem was caused by excessive credit and interest rates that were too low for too long. The Community Reinvestment Act is affirmative action, he said, which tells banks to make risky loans. The line of credit from the Fed to Freddie and Fannie should have been cut. Romney said Fannie and Freddie are a big part of the housing crisis. They caused a housing bubble that collapsed, and are still offering mortgages to people who can’t afford them. Santorum wrote a letter in 2006 with 24 Senators warning of a meltdown as they requested reforms of Freddie and Fannie. He said we need to decrease the amount of mortgage that can be financed by Freddie. Gingrich said he told Republicans in July 2008 to deny money to Freddie and Fannie.

ENVIRONMENT: Gingrich said the Everglades Restoration Project must be completed.

HEALTH CARE: Santorum said medical savings accounts would get consumers involved in the cost of health care. He reminded voters that Romney and Gingrich supported the individual mandate, and if they are nominated, the issue will be forfeited to Obama. He claims people in Mass are now opting to be fined, because the cost of health insurance is too high. Paul said health care is a greater priority than going to the moon. Health insurance should be affordable for individuals, he said, so employed or not, they can have it. He claims the cost of medicine went up, because the government distorted that sector of the economy, and pumped money into it. He repeated his unfounded belief that before Medicare and Medicaid, nobody was on the streets without health care. Gingrich said the system that existed in the early 1960s was fundamentally less expensive. Romney said it doesn’t make sense to lose your health insurance if you lose your job. He insisted on personal responsibility in Mass to end free riders. He distinguished his plan from Obama’s, saying the President’s cuts Medicare 500 billion, and raises taxes 500 billion.

BUDGET: After Gingrich repeated his claim he balanced budgets four times in the 1990s, Paul pointed out the National Debt actually went up by a trillion dollars in those years, because money was taken from the Social Security Trust Fund. He said neither Reagan nor Gingrich had balanced budgets, as the National Debt went up. Santorum said we must get our financial house in order.

TAXES: Santorum opposes a 0% capital gains tax, saying guys like Romney wouldn’t pay much at all. He theorized when tax rates increase, the rate of return decreases, leading to investments in non-taxable instruments. He said a 28% top bracket was good enough for Reagan, and is good enough for him. His lower bracket would be 10%. Gingrich was asked why under his tax plan he would let someone like Romney pay nothing, and Gingrich said he wants everyone to pay 15%. Paul favors getting rid of the 16th Amendment, which allows income taxes, and said we also would have to get rid of the warfare and welfare systems.

RELIGION: Romney thinks our nation is based on Judeo-Christian ethics. He would seek the guidance of providence in making critical decisions. When the Founders drafted the Declaration of Independence, he said, they referred to being endowed with certain inalienable rights. Gingrich would seek guidance from God. He thinks there is an aggressive war being fought by secular elites in the news media and in the judiciary, against the Christian religion. Santorum actually believes the Constitution exists “to do one thing: protect God-given rights” and said our rights are “god-given rights and not government-given rights”

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.

11/25/2011

Republican Debate Defense (11-22-11)

The Republicans debated National Security issues on Nov. 22, 2011.

PATRIOT ACT: The Patriot Act undermines liberties, said Ron Paul. We can have security without sacrificing rights. He would protect the rule of law. Our Founders warned not to sacrifice liberty for security, something our government is now too willing to do. If we give up freedom and become a police state, the government will commit the crime. We would throw out much of what our revolution stood for. Huntsman said we need to balance individual liberties and security. We have to share intelligence, and work with governors. Romney said there is criminal law with constitutional rights, and a different body of law applicable to war. Perry said we must collect intelligence to keep the next attack from happening. Santorum said the last time we had a threat like this was in the Civil War when Abe Lincoln ran all over civil rights. Gingrich said there is a distinction between National Security and Criminal Law. We need to preserve criminal law rights, but strengthen the Patriot Act, so we can gather intelligence. He does not want to find terrorists after we lose a major American city. He wants to stop them from trying. Bachmann said technology changed and we must change the way we investigate. She said the attempted Detroit bomber was given Miranda warnings, even though he was not a citizen.

PROFILING: Paul asked what if a person looked like Timothy McVeigh? Romney said people, who are a lower risk, should be allowed to go through TSA screening more quickly. Perry proposed a law to criminalize TSA pat-downs, privatize the agency, and get rid of their union. Santorum would profile those most likely to commit crime, such as Muslims and younger males. We should look for the bomber, not the bomb. He favors privatizing the TSA. Cain called profiling targeted identification. Since terrorists want to kill us, we should kill them first said Cain.

INTERROGATION: Bachmann made the ridiculous statement Obama turned over the interrogation of terrorists to the ACLU. She also believes the CIA can no longer interrogate terrorists.

FOREIGN AID: Ron Paul said all foreign aid is worthless. We take money from poor people in the U.S. and give it to rich people in poor countries. We have endless war and foreign aid, but nobody cares about the budget. The biggest threat to our national security is our financial condition.  Santorum incorrectly said “Africa” was a “country” on the brink. The work we are doing, such as the Millennium Challenge, is essential for national security. It would be absolutely wrong to zero out foreign aid. We are the shining city on the hill that comes to the aid of those in trouble. We have saved military deployments by wisely spending not on our enemies, but on our friends in Africa. Cain said foreign aid should depend on results. Perry said if you are not going to be an ally of the U.S., do not expect a dime of our money.

WAR: Ron Paul said our needless and unnecessary wars have undermined our prosperity and liberties, and added to our deficits. We are too careless in the use of the word war. We did not declare war. We are against terrorism, which is only a tactic. Santorum agreed we are not fighting a war on terrorism, since it is only a tactic. We are at war against radical Islam, he said.

AFGHANISTAN: Huntsman said we need an honest conversation about our sacrifices over the past 10 years in Afghanistan. We ran the Taliban out of Kabul, upended al-Qaeda, held elections in 2004, and killed Osama bin Laden. We still need intelligence gathering, Special Forces, drones, and ongoing Afghan National Army training, but we don’t need 100,000 troops doing nation-building. 10,000 to 15,000 troops would due. The American people are very tired of where we find ourselves. He said we listened to generals in 1967, and that did not serve our interests very well. At the end of the day, the President must act as Commander-in-Chief. Romney said we cannot write off a major part of the world. We don’t want to literally pull up stakes and run out of town. We need a gradual transition responsibility over to the Afghan Security Forces. He thinks a withdrawal before 2014 would put at risk the sacrifices we made. We have been there for 10 years, and we are winding down, but it is not time for America to “cut and run,” a phrase borrowed from Nixon.  Of course the Commander-in-Chief makes the final decision. Romney actually thinks there is a very good prospect the Afghans are securing their sovereignty from the Taliban. If we pull out precipitously, as Gov. Huntsman suggests, we could see Afghanistan and Pakistan pulled into terror, and become another launching pad for going after America. Cain thinks if we pull out of Afghanistan “too soon,” there will be a power vacuum that Iran will fill.

PAKISTAN: Huntsman said Pakistan is a concern, because they have 100 nuclear weapons, and 160 million people. They have a Midrasha Movement, troubles along their border, and are at risk of becoming a failed state. He said an expanded drone program would serve our interests. Romney said only 12% of Pakistanis approve of us, we are not doing a good job. We need to bring Pakistan into the 21st Century. Perry said since Pakistan cannot be trusted, he would not send them one penny, or give them a blank check, until they showed they had our best interests in mind. Gingrich thinks we should be able to change the rules of engagement so we have a right of hot pursuit to enter sanctuaries in Pakistan from Afghanistan. Pakistan should not complain, if we kill people who are being protected on their land, and they are not willing to go after them. Bachmann said Pakistan is the epicenter of terrorism, where al-Qaeda and the Haqqani Network train. We have to take seriously their 15 nuclear sites. She would continue aiding Pakistan, because they are too nuclear to fail, but she would demand more from them. She called Perry naïve for not being willing to maintain an American presence in Pakistan.

IRAN: Ron Paul wisely said he would not support an unprovoked unilateral attack by Israel upon Iran. When Israel bombed the Iraqi missile site in 1981, he was one of the few Congressmen to say it was none of our business. Israel has 200 to 300 nuclear missiles, and they can take care of themselves. If they want to bomb something, it is their business, and they can suffer the consequences. We don’t even have a treaty with them. Why should we commit to send our kids and money endlessly to Israel? Why would they need American help? Huntsman said Iran is certainly going to make a nuclear weapon, but sanctions are not going to work, because Russia and China are not going to play ball. Romney said Ahmadinejad should be indicted for violating the Genocide Convention. Perry said we should sanction the Iranian National Bank. We need to use every sanction before a military strike. Gingrich would not want to see Israel use multiple nuclear weapons in Iran, because that would bring a future none of us would want to live through. He said we need a strategy of defeating and replacing the current Iranian regime with a minimal use of force. We need to defeat radical Islam wherever it may exist. We need to sabotage the only refinery they have. Putting sanctions on them is better than a war. He said a bombing campaign that left the regime in power would accomplish very little. We have to replace the regime, not just attack them. Bachmann said Iran is a real threat, because they would use nuclear weapons to wipe out Israel and the U.S. She thinks Obama appeased Iran. We are talking about Israel making a strike against Iran, she said, because Iran announced a plan to strike Israel. Ahmadinejad wants to eradicate Israel from the face of the earth. Can was asked: If Israel attacked Iran to prevent Tehran from getting nuclear weapons, would you help Israel? Cain said Iran may have 40 different weapon sites, and if Israel had a credible plan for success, he would support their attack, and would in some instances join Israel in violating international law.

ISRAEL: Romney said his first foreign policy trip would be to Israel to show the world we care about them. Huntsman said our foreign policy interests in the Middle East are Israel, and to insure Iran does not go nuclear.

PERSIAN GULF: Huntsman (apparently referring to Bahrain) said Obama missed the Persian Spring, and failed on that front.

LIBYA: Huntsman: We had no definable U.S. interest in Libya.

SYRIA: Huntsman said we have an American interest in Syria called Israel. We need to remind the world what it means to be a U.S. friend and ally. Romney would not impose a no-fly zone over Syria. He would instead use sanctions and covert actions. We should support the rebels. Perry supports a no-fly zone over Syria, because it would help dissidents. Cain opposes a no-fly zone and would instead pressure allies to stop buying their oil.

IMMIGRATION: Paul said if we give an easy road to citizenship, we will get more illegals. We should not require border states to provide free education and medical care. Romney said amnesty is a magnet as it only encourages more people to come illegally. He would allow those with degrees in math or science. He would cancel in-state tuition for illegal aliens, because people respond to incentives. Perry said we have to secure the border first. Gingrich, who voted for the Simpson-Mazzoli Act in the 1980s, created a pathway to citizenship for illegal aliens, which some called amnesty. He though 300,000 would get amnesty, but it was granted to 3 million. This time we have to control the border. Those who just got here should go home. Those here 25 years who have families, paid taxes, and obeyed the law, should not be kicked out. He said we need visas for people with advanced degrees in science and engineering. He likes the part of the Dream Act that allows aliens to serve in the military to acquire citizenship. He would not separate families that have been together for 25 years. We are the party of the family, and we cannot destroy them. Bachmann opposed making 11 million workers legal. Steve Jobs moved operations to China, because he could not find 30,000 engineers. We need highly-skilled people.

MEXICO: Paul said the war on drugs is a total failure. We should handle drugs like we handle alcohol. Perry said we need border security with Mexico, because he thinks Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran are at work there with plans to come to the U.S. He promised that within 12 months of taking office, the border would be shut down. Cain thinks terrorists have entered the U.S. via Mexico. He would secure the border, enforce the laws, and promote a path to citizenship. Let people through the front door, not the side door.

LATIN AMERICA: Romney said Hezbollah is working in Latin America. Perry said Iran has one of the largest embassies in the world in Venezuela. Santorum also worries about Latin America.

CHINA: Perry said again Communist China is destined to the ash heap of history.

BUDGET: Paul said they are not cutting anything out of anything. It’s all just talk. They are nibbling away at baseline budgeting. There is nothing cut in the military. On the Hill, they are hysterical, because the budget is not going up as rapidly as they want. It’s a road to disaster, and we better wake up. Huntsman said a 70% debt-to-GDP ratio in the U.S. is a national security problem, because when it gets too high, we will stop growing. Japan is in their third decade of no-growth. We have to have an honest conversation about debt and sacred cows. Everything has to be on the table, including the 650 billion dollar Defense budget. Romney said they cut 350 million for the F-22. They delayed aircraft carriers. They stopped the Navy cruiser system. They are not going to build Air Force bombers. They are trying to cut troops by 50,000. Perry said Obama has been a failure in terms of budget leadership. He would impose a flat tax of 20% on corporations, and would cut spending. Santorum said he would compromise and give on some things. Gingrich would reform Social Security by using the Chilean model, which he believes would not hurt anyone. He said there is something wrong with a system where it takes 15 to 20 years to build weapons, but Apple can change technology in just nine months. Bachmann said four years ago we were 8 trillion in debt, now we are 15 trillion in debt. We are sending interest money and our power over to China.

11/15/2011

Peace Corps: Real Home of the Brave

We often see government TV ads promoting the Marines, as the place for strong men and women, but not often enough do we hear about the Peace Corps, that overlooked army of mentally tough young Americans, who physically survive each and every day in cultural settings totally foreign to the comforts of American life.

While the military is sometimes sent abroad to engage in armed combat, the Peace Corps is always overseas on the front lines in challenging foreign environments that present risks of the sort most Americans would not endure for very long, if at all.

Unlike the Armed Services, where individuals serve with Bands of Brothers, who vigilantly guard their backsides, Peace Corps volunteers go it alone, (think about that for a moment), and they go unarmed, in a world where they win over hearts and minds with nothing more than words and deeds.

The 8,655 volunteers of the Peace Corps, now living in 76 countries throughout Asia, Africa, Latin America, and elsewhere, are brave people, often assigned to villages where no one looks like them, or where no one speaks their language. Their single greatest hardship is the disconnection from the people back home.

But every day they also go without many conveniences we in the U.S. take for granted. A simple drink from the kitchen sink in the U.S. can for a volunteer require a trip to buy bottled water. A warm shower for most volunteers is a dream of something they once experienced back in the states, as water heaters are a luxury. If running water exists, poor pressure often reduces it to nothing more than a cold dribble. While they may have a toilet, toilet paper cannot be used as it only plugs up their outdated systems. The volunteers deal with these hardships, and a multitude of others. They adjust to conditions on the ground, and they survive.

If you ever thought service in the Peace Corps was a piece of cake, try it for a two-year hitch, or at least visit a volunteer, as I did these past 10 days in West Africa, where my son is serving. You will quickly realize how tough these young people are. All Americans should tip their hats to the Peace Corps volunteers, the finest group of unpaid Ambassadors the U.S. has ever had.