Friday, March 7, 2014
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Considering the alternatives to feckless and toothless in foreign and domestic and Colorado senate race politics
John McCain’s bluster and attacks at President Obama for not being hawkish enough and call him “feckless” has me yelling back at the TV when he appears…”ok; what would you have done?” Send troops into Syria just to show we are not wimps? Bring Georgia into NATO when 20% of it is already occupied by Russian troops? Surround Russia with nuclear missiles we never intend to use? Start a natural gas war that would only hurt western Europe that relies on Russian oil and gas? (It wouldn’t do much to us but raise our fossil fuel prices through the roof since world markets determine such prices). Threaten NATO military intervention in the Ukraine when even he has taken that off the table? Give me a break.
At least McCain deserves credit for coming up with some alternatives, but the alternatives he presents are those that we have no intention of following through….they are just toothless wonders, worse than even Obama’s drawing red line in Syria which had no realistic bite to them, especially as our allies there were hijacked by Al Qaeda affiliates. McCain’s alternatives are so full of potential backlashes, to swallow them without chewing on them is enough to make rational people choke.
This follows the pattern of other blustering critics of the Obama administration. Whatever he is for, they are against even though they have no alternatives. It is nearly always “repeal” but don’t replace. When some more moderates who agree there are indeed problems that need to be addressed do present alternatives, their proposals are so full of measures most cannot swallow or they believe they will not work.
At the suggestion of a leader of the Tea Party Express, a reader of my columns, I visited the Winston Group’s site which he claimed proved some points he was making…that the Tea Party still had the oomph and public support to be a power because it was a power in 2010. In examining the reasons the conservative Winston Group, a beltway lobbying and political consulting outfit, tried to explain away Gov. Romney’s loss to Obama in 2012, they concluded it was because the public did not buy the alternatives he put forth, even though most Americans were in tune with conservative objectives on budget, deficit, jobs and the economy.
The GOP may again be committing the same mistake in 2014. Sen Mark Udall in Colorado may be low enough in the polls to appear beatable now, or in danger of losing in the 2014 midterms, but the GOP is falling into the 2012 trap. Voters may not be happy campers with the Democrats, but they also are rational and they do consider alternatives when they learn about them. Nihilism is not a plan. Elections are not won on just anger. The question voters ask is “as compared to what or whom”.
Damning Obamacare may be the only GOP handle that unites their party and which, therefore they are putting forth their only strategy in the midterms, but either presenting an empty sack full of hot air or one that does not address the problems polls show voters understand begins to appear as a cure that is worse than the disease.
The only “replace” even getting honorable mention is the one put forth by three Republican Senators, which would either cost as much as Obamacare and tax those already insured by their employers to pay for it. At the recent retreat of the GOP congressional caucus, they could not even agree if they should advocate a replacement, much less what a replacement would be. Therefore, in unison, they are stuck in “repeal”mode.
It will become even more evident in the Colorado Senate race when voters outside GOP’s gerrymandered conservative bastions of north east Colorado and Colorado Springs look at the GOP’s candidates who are right of the right, supporting the personhood amendments (a sure fire turnoff of women voters) and still stuck calling Hispanic’s desire for eventual citizenship “amnesty”, or failing to support dream acts (another turnoff of potential Hispanic votes). Outside the very conservative Congressional districts, Colorado is a different, more liberal, demographically different state where the decisions will be based on “as compared with whom or what”.
Monday, March 3, 2014
Russia's invasion of the Ukraine revives Cold War emotions, but situations are different now. Russia and Putin have more at stake
In the afterglow of Sochi, Pres. Vladimir Putin’s drive to get respect from the world shifted into reverse as he invaded Ukraine’s attempt to leave his self defined orbit. Putin answered Western allies’ and Pres. Obama’s offering of a velvet hand with a spiked club, invading the Crimea. The US may not consider this reviving the Cold War, but I could not personally suppress some familiar emotions.
I remember vividly tanks rolling into Hungary in 1956 to crush a revolt. Dwight Eisenhower was president then and the US did not answer with force. They recognized the USSR ‘s sphere; the world had been divided up by negotiation at the end of World War II in Yalta. While the US had the military power, we did not act because we feared unleashing a nuclear World War III. I was angry with our government’s inaction . It took years for me to accept that President Eisenhower was correct.
If Russia invades the rest of the Ukraine, then we are in a somewhat similar kind of a dilemma with some differences. The US has made it clear military action is not on the West’s table (and nuclear war is certainly not), but there is understanding of Russia’s strategic interest in the Crimea. The Ukraine military is in no shape to take on Russia. In short, Russia is technically able to invade all of the Ukraine, but it would have to oversee a very oppressively brutal crackdown after a civil war and suffer repercussions unlike those in the USSR era.
Domestic politics are different than in 1956, too. Pres. Putin miscalculated in his attempt to bring the Ukraine further into his orbit and the revolution handed him a major defeat. He has supporters swelling with renewed national pride, his power depends on public support, and being aggressive offsets this loss . Pres. Obama would look like another Chamberlain or repeating a muddled Syria policy if he did not take off the gloves, though as a lame duck he has much less politically at stake.
Russia’s economic and diplomatic position in the world is different, too. Russia is much more entwined with the West economically . The West could threaten economic sanctions against trade , freeze assets deposited in Western banks, give economic aid to the new Ukraine government, and isolate Russia diplomatically, denying their ability to play a role in international leadership. Whether these measures outweigh Putin’s need to control the Ukraine is yet to be seen. NATO ministers Sunday proposed international monitors to ensure ethnic rights to allow all sides to cool off.
The new Ukraine government overplayed its hand. It overturned a law giving official recognition to Russian as a second language, a signal they were not going to respect the rights of the large number of Russian speakers . The Russian ethnics felt that their rights and security were endangered, giving the Russian military a reason to sneak into the Crimea. This should be a lesson for future “spring” movements anywhere else in the world where there are ethnic or religious divisions, such as Bosnia. Protection of minority and ethnic rights must be an enforceable and stated goal of any group aspiring to change a regime by force or by the ballot, or they lay the groundwork for a shaky future and meddling by outside forces.