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Oct 5, 2014

Republican Senate Would End Democrats’ Free Ride

What would change if the Republicans take the Senate?  Democrats have gotten all of their obstruction on the sly up to this point. Harry Reid can just not vote on over 300 bills the House passed and the Pravda Press can ignore all of them.  That will change if the Republicans take the Senate. Filibuster votes are on the record. They become issues in subsequent elections. Also, remember the reconcilement bill rule that Democrats used to pass Obamacare with a simple majority. Budgetary savings can be passed easily. Then our Dear Leader will have to veto spending bills. Suddenly the optics of the "party of no" change a lot. Democrats are the obstructionists filibustering and vetoing everything. Republicans are trying to govern. The Pravda Press has to cover the issues involved in the filibusters and vetoes instead of ignoring them. Suddenly there's a big political climate change.

The problem for Republicans and Democrats is different.  Republicans brag about their obstruction of Obamacare because it's so unpopular with voters.  The split in the Republican Party is mainly over tactics, not substance.  Should we hold out for more and filibuster, or take the deal on the table?  I think the reason that the shutdown did no long term damage to Republicans was that it was about postponing Obamacare and subsequent events showed that Obamacare should have been postponed.  The Democrats, on the other hand, vote liberal in DC and talk "centrist" at home.  Votes on the record against Keystone Pipeline would be very unpopular with organized labor while pleasing environmentalists.  These votes would serve as wedge issues, splitting the Democrat's base.  Harry Reid has allowed the Democrats to have it both ways on Keystone and similar issues.  If there's Republican Senate, the free ride is over and the wedge issues begin to grab headlines.

Which Party is Racist?

The Pravda Press loves to call Republicans racist, based on some original sin Nixon committed in 1968 with his “Southern Strategy.”  I think the Democrats have a current history of racist results that they ignore in order to favor a special interest group.  The situation in predominately black inner city schools is horrifying. However the Democrats will fight any move towards vouchers, even to the point of Eric Holder’s Justice Department suing the state of Louisiana because too many black children are going to charter schools. Republicans want voucher programs so minority inner city children can be educated. Democrats want union public schools so union teachers will contribute to their campaigns and minority children will stay uneducated and dependent on the government. So who's racist?

If you think the quality of education in unionized inner city schools is worth what the teachers are paid, then you’re a deluded Democrat. I think that documentaries like "Waiting for Superman" show that so many inner city parents want alternatives for their children's education, they have to have a lottery to allocate the slots. If the public school education is not worth what union teachers are paid, what are they being paid for? It has to be political. There's no other possible reason.

Eric Holder sued the State of Louisiana to stop school choice because the high quality private schools had a higher percentage of minorities than the public schools. Why is choice great for abortions, but not allowed for education?

The 100% Reliable Syrian Rebels

There is one rebel group in Syria that is 100% reliable, the Kurds! They are fighting ISIS to a standstill with nothing but small arms and guts. With a little help they could really regain some ground. However, right now they are on a US State Department list of terrorist organizations because of their guerrilla war of independence against Turkey. At a minimum we should take all the Kurdish groups off the terrorist lists. While the Turks would be very unhappy with the US if we armed the Syrian Kurds, I don't think we have any reason to care about hurting their feelings. They won't let us use our own airbase at Incerlik to fight ISIS. If we promise the Kurds they can keep what they take, they might be willing to fight further away from their traditional turf. Longer term, I think a lot of people in the ethnic stew of the Middle East might actually like to be under Kurdish administration. They certainly do a better job in their provinces in Iraq than most of the other countries in the area. By Middle Eastern standards, they are religiously tolerant, democratic, pro-American and even pro-Israeli. The only drawback is that arming the Kurds could lead to an independent Kurdistan. The Kurds got screwed when the post World War I borders were drawn. There are 40 million Kurds, but no Kurdistan. Kurdish independence would require redrawing the sacred boundaries. Since we obviously don't care about the territorial integrity of the Ukraine, why should we care about the territorial integrity of Syria and Iraq?

Romney 2016? No Way!

Romney didn't attack Obamacare in 2012 because he backed a similar law in Massachusetts when he was governor. That's a big part of why he lost. Romney's speeches, debates and ads failed to communicate his line item vetoes of the final law to a political junkie like me, let alone the average low information voter. Democrats successfully argued that Obamacare was a federal adaptation of Romney's plan in Massachusetts. Romney never successfully rebutted this argument. I think this failure to communicate dooms any comeback.  Because of the optics of Romney's initial support for a law similar to Obamacare, Romney was not able to make the most effective argument against it. He could have said we tried this in my state and it didn't work out. I will work hard to repeal it when I'm president. If he had said that, Romney would be president today.

Romney can't convincingly argue that we need to limit government because he believes government can do the job if it's under better management. Romney in 2012 proved that he can't turn out the Republican base, even against Barack Obama, the most left wing and incompetent president ever. I don't see how any of this is going to be different in 2016 against Hillary the Inevitable or Elizabeth the Native American Princess. Jeb Bush is out of touch and has 100% bad name recognition. Scott Walker or Bobby Jindal or Mike Pence or even Chris Christie would be a much better choice.

The current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thinks he can rule by decree. If you believe that the president can decide not to collect taxes that are levied by law, as our Dear Leader did with the Employer Mandate taxes, then it makes sense you think I'm needlessly paranoid. Enjoy the unilateral legalization of all illegal immigrants complete with instant welfare eligibility, coming soon after the election without benefit of Congress. For the survival of the rule of law in this country, we really HAVE to win in 2016. Let's not recycle our losers.

Can We Win Against ISIS Without Boots on the Ground?

If we were willing to inflict massive collateral damage, we could discourage ISIS and its imitators for a long time simply by bombing. This is the lesson of Hama, Syria. In 1982, Hafez al Assad put down a Sunni Muslim insurgency centered in the town by surrounding it and then shelling it for 3 weeks. The place was leveled. Between 10,000 and 25,000 people were killed in the fighting. Things got quiet for almost thirty years. The US Air Force has the physical power to do that kind of damage to ISIS' capital in a week. We don't have the capability to do it morally. That's why we need boots on the ground to completely defeat ISIS.

Without boots on the ground, we can "win" only in the way the Israelis win. They call their periodic wars against Hamas and Hezbollah "mowing the lawn." The weakness of Hamas, Hezbollah and ISIS is all the same. Once you claim and hold real estate, you become responsible for what happens to it. In Lebanon in 2006 and in Gaza this year, the Israeli Air Force was very, very destructive. The damage estimate for Gaza is $6 billion. The damage to Hezbollah assets, along with Lebanese infrastructure and Shiite owned or occupied buildings, was similarly massive. Hezbollah has not really attacked Israel since. I think it's because even though the Iranians paid for a lot of rebuilding, they can't afford to do it again. Hamas is finding that Gaza residents are equally unhappy with the massive damage that may take a decade or two to repair. ISIS is similarly vulnerable. They own territory with assets they value. If those assets vanish in a series of targeted explosions, leaving worthless rubble, they will lose the ability to buy support.

Our first strikes against ISIS in Syria were disappointing. It’s an indication of how much we want to avoid collateral damage that we blew the antenna array off of an ISIS building without blowing the building up. We only destroyed the antennas on the ISIS financial control center, leaving the building intact with all the computers and equipment used to manage ISIS' money. We should have destroyed everything to make it harder for ISIS to manage its funding. A 2,000 lbs. guided bomb would have taken the whole thing down. This smells like a civilian designed targeting order. It really seems like the White House is drawing up what the targets are and how hard we are going to hit them.  Do we want to "send a message" or do we want to destroy or at least degrade ISIS?

Shopping for a New Foreign Policy

Given the results of the current administration’s foreign policy, people are now asking what kind of foreign policy the US should implement.  The current administration seems to like to talk loudly and send in a few air strikes and some drones while announcing that we won’t put boots on the ground or stay longer than the next significant election.  The previous administration’s efforts at nation building ended up to be beyond what the country was willing to spend in both lives and money.  So what’s next?
For a start, I would like to suggest a few new rules of thumb to guide future foreign policy decisions.  I would recommend a foreign policy that arms our friends so they can defend themselves. There should be no reason that the Kurdish Peshmerga in Iraq should have to retreat because they are out of ammunition, leaving Yazidis running for the hills to escape ISIS. There should be no reason that the President of the Ukraine should have to come to Washington to beg for weapons after Russia seized pieces of his country. Even worse, the Ukraine still didn't get the weapons, even though the US guaranteed the territorial integrity of the Ukraine in exchange for their surrender of Soviet Era nuclear weapons. If the US guarantees your territorial integrity, it should mean we will give you weapons so at least you can fight for yourself. We should also decide that the borders drawn by colonial powers in Africa, Asia and the Middle East often contribute to instability because they group together tribal and religious groups who would be better off separated.  In particular, if arming the Kurds means that the Turks are nervous, that’s too bad.  It’s not like they let us use our own airbase in Incerlik, Turkey, for air strikes against ISIS.
If the US admits you to NATO, it should mean we are ready to help defend you, but you have to make a big boots on the ground contribution yourself. This might mean a small professional military with a large conscripted national guard. It should not mean that you get your defense for free at the expense of US taxpayers.
While we're talking about NATO, there is no reason that US forces should be stationed in Germany instead of Poland. The Russians have violated their side of the agreement that kept NATO forces out of former Warsaw Pact Countries. At the very least, there should combat aircraft stationed in Poland so they could slow down any Russian aggression against NATO members, like the Baltic States.
We need to get away from keeping our friends weak and dependent and then having to send US ground combat troops to bail them out. Being a friend of the US should mean you've got enough guns and ammo to make attacks against you very costly. It should also mean the US Special Forces have trained you how to use your weapons very effectively.

Article I was reacting to:

Why should we lift the US oil export ban?

Why should we lift the US oil export ban?  The short answer is that we have a mismatch between refineries in Louisiana and the crude from fracking shale.  The refineries are built to handle heavy crude from Latin America.  The crude from shale is very light crude, which means it has a very different chemical composition than heavy crude.  Heavy crude refineries can't refine light crude.  So why not modify our existing refineries to handle light crude?  It would be cheaper to build a new refinery. However, the environmental reviews required make building a new refinery prohibitively expensive. There's also the Jones Act, which requires all shipping from one US port to another be on US flag ships with US crews. This makes moving the light crude from Louisiana, where all the pipelines go, to New Jersey, where there are some light crude refineries, too expensive to be worth it. Global warming alarmists don't want more oil produced, so they will fight any change in any of these laws and regulations. Remember, the Keystone pipeline was fought because of its potential contribution to global warming. Speaking of Keystone, the Louisiana refineries would be able to refine the very heavy Canadian crude from the Keystone pipeline easily.