Friday, March 18, 2016

Regime Change: Bush, Obama and our Next President

Hillary Clinton and George Bush have taken turns championing the concept of Regime Change, as a reason to commit the United States to overseas wars.  Bill Clinton and Barck Obama have also endorsed this principle.  

The US is entrenched in its belief that we have the right of "Regime Change."  Briefly, that is the right of the US to use military force to depose military dictators such as Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi and other despotic rulers, especially in the Middle East.  

Regime Change was codified in 1998 in the Clinton administration, with the Iraq Liberation Act, which stated that the US would encourage the removal of bad boy Saddam Hussein.   It also bears mention that the US bombed the former Yugoslavia, Serbia, Bosnia and Kosovo, and attempting to aid Muslim rebels in the name of Human Rights.  The Serbs--allies of Russia, in part due to their mutual Slavic heritage--were the target. 

Regime Change was put in force in the George W. Bush administration. Initially the second Iraq War was seen as necessitated to put down the nuclear weapons ambitions of Saddam Hussein.  When it was finally realized that Saddam had no significant capability for nuclear war, it was decided that Regime Change was an adequate justification for removing Saddam from power, especially since it had been passed during the previous Democratic administration.   Opponents of the Second Iraq War were few.  The resolution that authorized President Bush to use force in Iraq passed the Senate by a vote of 77 to 23, and the House by 296 to 133.  Hence both Democrats and Republicans were thoroughly on board.  There is no sense in blaming any one individual, as the great majority supported war.  However, it is worth noting that Senator Hillary Clinton was a strong supporter, while junior Senator Barack Obama was against it.  
The eurphoria surrounding the American invasion eventually wore thin as it was realized that conflict in Iraq was not coming to an end.  Barack Obama narrowly defeated the more hawkish John McCain in 2008.    

However, with Hillary Clinton becoming Secretary of State, the new Administration had an advocate for Regime Change. Indeed, President Obama came eventually to embrace Regime Change not only in Afghanistan and Iraq, but also  in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, and Syria with different forms of American support including military aid.   

The total expense of these operations is difficult to estimate, but estimates in Time Magazine (Mark Thompson) peg the range at between 4 and 6 Trillion Dollars.  Remarkably, Americans feel that the American military is weak, and many are willing to support additional spending. According to Gallup, 37% of Americans feel that not enough money is being spent on the military, with another 27% believing that military spending is "about right."  

It seems, then, that Americans are pretty much okay with spending hundreds of billions of dollars each year supporting persons and groups in the Middle East that we know nothing about.  So who are we are supporting with billions or even trillions of American dollars?  Can you name a single person in Syria that commands such respect that we need to invest billions in them?  Do we need to really cause the death of thousands of people to support these unknown revolutionaries?  Is it a good idea to train 100,000 young men to use weapons, in the hope that they will create a peace loving society?    

Most Americans enthusiastically embrace the Regime Change doctrine, and its supporters.  The torch has been passed from Bill Clinton to George Bush, to Barack Obama, and presumably next year it may  go to Hillary Clinton, one of the original proponents of Regime Change and wars of liberation.  

Perhaps there is some movement out there that is so just, so pure and so wonderful that a compelling argument can be made to support it.  However, I'm not aware of it, and I doubt whether you are either, dear Reader.   

My belief is that we simply support our leaders and tacitly endorse the Regime Change principle.  Likely we will simply nod and give our consent to our smiling leaders who need our permission to commit billions of dollars on behalf of unknown persons and groups in the Middle East, hoping that a Pro-American government will somehow emerge in Syria and other countries that we don't like.     
"Regime Change"  will likely be regarded by future historians as one of the most stupid ideas in American history.  Yet is an idea which enjoys great popularity from Republicans and Democrats alike.  


Sunday, March 13, 2016

Manufactured Cheers, Jeers, Boos and Heckles in Corrupt Campaign 2016

    OK I'm calling it.  Earlier in this primary season in facebook rants I called attention to fake sounding cheers for the Republican establishment and fake boos for Donald Trump.  The debate of February 13 was particularly surreal as the audience wildly cheered for innocuous statements by several candidates and especially Jeb Bush.  To me, it sounded like American Idol type cheering rather than political applause, a kind of "WOOO!" signifying a brilliant artistic triumph rather than a well made political point.  Meanwhile they booed Donald Trump lustily.   Both were completely manufactured, as is all the more evident realizing by now that few voters actually supported Mr. Bush, while support for Mr. Trump ran much deeper than anyone believed. 

     This is not necessarily illegal, just packing the house with supporters of a savvy candidate in attempt to sway TV viewers with booing and cheering in the places that they picked.   

     Any number of commentators, including this one, noticed that the cheers and boos sounded manufactured.  

      Now, just days before the Ohio, Missouri, North Carolina, and Florida primaries, there is an upsurge in violent protest, mainly at Trump primaries.  Am I wrong to think that it looks manufactured?  

      Any PAC with an interest in a brokered convention might seek to tip Ohio to Governor John Kasich's favor by making Trump look bad.  It would be easy to do, by funding left-wing PACs with an interest in disrupting Trump rallies, perhaps with a few helpful suggestions via anonymous helpers. It's very corrupt, but possibly not illegal if done properly.    

    Who would do such a thing?  Despite the obviousness of Bernie Sanders, he probably has other things to worry about, especially since last I heard he is running against Hillary Clinton and not Donald Trump.  I would think that PACs supporting potential "brokered convention candidates" for the Republicans might smile upon such an idea, with a lower probability that someone still in the race might do it.   Let's not mention any names, since this is conjecture. 

      My suspicions are further heightened by ads I have heard in the past 24 hours that are anti-Trump, telling horror stories of his supposedly sordid past, but not advocating some other candidate.  What's the point of that?  
    But we've already had fake boos and cheers in the debates.  It's not much of a leap to imagine that someone is paying for fake heckling as well.  It may not be illegal, but it stinks.  

Is Bernie Sanders paying his followers to attend Trump Rallies and protest?  I doubt it, but someone with an interest in tipping Tuesday's elections might give money to groups interested in heckling.  

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Has Mitt Romney Lost His Mind?

      What next?   Mitt Romney goes on national TV to blast the Republican candidate--not the Democrat--and propose that the candidates conspire to deny votes from Donald Trump: 

Say what?   Everyone is supposed to vote to stop Trump instead of voting their consciences?

"Given the current delegate selection process, this means that I would vote for Marco Rubio in Florida, for John Kasich in Ohio and for Ted Cruz or whichever one of the other two contenders has the best chance of beating Mr. Trump in a given state,"  (Source:  Associated Press).   

The idea is that they can deny Trump the nomination, and then come up with a compromise candidate at the convention (Romney?).   

I can't imagine that this wild scheme can possibly work.  I don't see why Republicans are crying, as Trump has recruited more newcomers to the Party than ever before.  

The Republican hierarchy can just not accept that voters are fed up with their failed policies of supporting the super rich with more tax cuts and obstructing all legislation.  I think the average voter is disappointed to see Republican Senators literally quaking in fear of President Obama, unwilling to even hold hearings for a Supreme Court Justice nominee.  They can't pass any major legislation, can't offer any constructive modifications to Obamacare, can't negotiate anything with the President.  They cry over their powerlessness to rectifiy a 400 billion dollar deficit, while boldly talking of new tax cuts aimed at the wealthiest Americans.   

Is it just me, or do the Republics appear to be terrified to engage the Democrats on issues like selecting a Supreme Court Justice?

      The party insiders thought the candidate would be Jeb Bush.   But who wants to return to an era with a mistaken war against Iraq, ballooning federal debt, collapse and bailout of the banking system and major economic recession?  Gosh, I just couldn't wait to vote for more of that!

      Romney made himself look very foolish indeed, taking blind swings at Trump while hoping for a deadlocked convention.   It looks like he is desperate to not let go of his own thwarted dreams for the presidency. Dude, you are looking ridiculous.  

    The successful candidates this year have been outsiders, including Trump, Ben Carson, and Tea Partiers Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.  I don't think the people want to go back to the traditional agenda.  

     The attraction of Trump is that he knows how to communicate and to win, especially given the "reality TV" format encouraged by the networks. He's not scared to negotiate with Democrats and can not be cowed into inaction. He may be the most erratic candidate in history, but perhaps voters believe that that is better than electing an establishment candidate.