Wednesday, December 31, 2014

American Forces End Active Combat Operations in Afghanistan

           United States forces are successfully completing the active combat operations phase of the Afghan War, but both that war and American involvement in it will continue.

            American forces and their Afghan allies, together with a broad international coalition, removed the Taliban, who had controlled most of Afghanistan, from power in 2001, thereby denying al-Qaeda, which was responsible for the September 11 Terrorist Attacks, and other Islamist terrorists the safe harbor the Islamist Taliban had provided.  U.S. troops have trained Afghan troops and continued to help them fight the Taliban, al-Qaeda and other Islamists to prevent the Taliban from returning to power in Afghanistan and turning it once again into a safe haven for Islamist terrorists.

            A residual American force will remain until the end of 2016, unlike after President Barack Obama withdrew American forces from Iraq after failing to obtain a status of forces agreement, which allowed Islamists to conquer vast swaths of Iraq and establish a quasi-state.  Other coalition partners are also remaining in Afghanistan until they complete a phased withdrawal.

            American involvement in the war in Afghanistan is still ongoing.  As the Afghan civil war is a battle subsumed by the War on Terrorism, U.S. drone strikes against al-Qaeda, the Taliban and other Islamist terrorists in the Afghanistan-Pakistan Theater of operations will continue.  American forces will continue to be involved directly or indirectly in the Afghan civil war.  In addition to training and providing other support to the Afghan government, American troops would back-up Afghan forces, if necessary, and, as always, defend themselves from any attacks by the enemy, just as they did recently in Iraq.

            The U.S. goal must be to prevent the Taliban from regaining control of Afghanistan and providing a safe haven for terrorists like al-Qaeda or other Islamists again.  Strategic decisions on the timetable of any withdrawal of the remaining American forces should be determined by professional military leaders, based upon the conditions in theater, not Obama’s political considerations.  The schedule of withdrawal, if any, ought not to be announced to the enemy in advance, lest it wait out the withdrawal of U.S. forces to attack the Afghan government, as in Iraq.  The strategy of the Islamists has obviously been to kill enough American soldiers to wear down public support for the war to force political leaders to withdraw military forces prematurely—a strategy that cannot be allowed to succeed.  

           American servicemen have accomplished their mission and have made the American people and all the people of the world safer, for which we must express our praise and gratitude.  May the U.S. and its allies have the fortitude and courage to see through victory to the end in Afghanistan and the War on Terrorism.   

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Presidential Elections in Tunisia Consummate Representative Government Based on Liberty

           Tunisia has conducted its first presidential election under its new constitution, after successfully conducting parliamentary elections earlier this year.  An official from the dictatorship that was overthrown in 2011 was elected over the Interim President, who was supported by the Islamist Party that had won interim elections, but whose government collapsed earlier this year because of ineffectiveness. 

Tunisians had elected moderates to form a government in parliamentary elections in October under a new constitution approved in January.  The Islamists respected the process and gave up power, as the Interim President, who has called for peace and respect for the democratic process, is expected to do.  The incoming President had invoked Tunisia’s founder, Habib Bourguiba, a moderate who had good relations with the United States.  He has offered to be considerate of the opposition’s concerns and to promote political reconciliation among Tunisians.  

Tunisia is the birthplace of the Arab Spring, the popular protests for more freedom and representative government throughout the Arab world.  The presidential elections and transition of power mark the consummation of Tunisia’s transition to representative government based upon liberty.  See also my posts, from January of this year, New Tunisian Constitution Is a Model of Liberty, and Elections in Ukraine and Tunisia Restore Liberty, from October,  I congratulate the people of Tunisia and wish them the blessings of liberty and peace.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The United States Imposes Additional Sanctions on Venezuelan Dictatorship Officials for Human Rights Abuses

           United States President Barack Obama yesterday signed into law a bipartisan bill approved by the Congress imposing asset freezes and travel restrictions on individual officials of the Venezuelan dictatorship who were responsible for abusing human rights in its recent crackdown on political dissent, such as suppressing peaceful anti-government protests and making political prisoners of opposition figures for exercising their freedom to engage in legitimate political activity.

            Venezuela’s socialist regime has compiled a poor human rights record, according to the leading international human rights organizations and is rated as “Not Free” by Freedom House, the leading organization that rates states around the world on their levels of freedom.  Venezuela is an ally of various anti-American tyrannical regimes and state sponsors of terrorism, including Iran, North Korea, Cuba and RussiaVenezuela aids the Marxist narco-terrorist rebels in Colombia, allows pro-Iranian Islamist terrorist organizations access to its banks and supports Cuba, which is designated by the U.S. State Department as a state sponsor of terrorism that harbors and provides financial support to various terrorists, including some of the Colombian terrorists.  Venezuela’s dictatorship spreads socialism and anti-Americanism throughout Latin America

           I have posted several times over the years to call attention to the lack of liberty in Venezuela, its support of terrorism and its hostile foreign policy.  The additional sanctions imposed by the U.S. on Venezuela’s regime are helpful, but more must be done for freedom.  I again call for the designation of Venezuela’s dictatorship as a state sponsor of terrorism and for further measures to promote liberty and representative government for the Venezuelan people.  

Friday, December 19, 2014

The United States Department of State’s Designation of Cuba as a State Sponsor of Terrorism and Freedom House’s Listing of Cuba as “Not Free”

The United States Department of State’s Listing of Cuba as a State Sponsor of Terrorism
Cuba’s Communist Castro dictatorship has been designated as a state sponsor of terrorism since 1982:  In its designation from 2013, the latest year available, the State Department cites Cuba as long having provided safe haven to terrorists, including from ETA (the Socialist Basque separatists) and the FARC (Marxist narco-terrorists of Colombia).  The State Department also notes that Cuba harbors and provides economic support to fugitives from the U.S. 

Freedom House’s Listing of Cuba as “Not Free”
Freedom House, the leading organization in the world that ranks states around the world on levels of freedom lists Cuba as “Not Free,” with a 6.5 ranking out of 7, the lowest possible score, for 2013, the latest year available:

Freedom House observes that Cuba is a “one-party system, in which the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) controls all government and most civil institutions.”  The system is dominated by brothers Fidel and Raul Castro.  As Freedom House explains, “All political organizing outside the PCC is illegal.  Political dissent, whether spoken or written, is a punishable offense, and dissidents are systematically harassed, detained, physically assaulted, and frequently sentenced to years of imprisonment for seemingly minor infractions.”  The Castro dictatorship held over 100 Cubans by the end of 2013 as political prisoners after its most recent crackdown on dissent, according to Freedom House. 

News media in Cuba is “owned and controlled by the state” while “the independent press is considered illegal.”  Internet access is limited and heavily censored, according to Freedom House’s ranking.  Freedom House notes restrictions on religious and academic freedom and a lack of freedom of assembly or even association in terms of political parties, independent associations or even labor unions, as workers may not even bargain collectively, let alone strike.  The judiciary is not independent of the state and racial discrimination against blacks continues to be practiced unofficially by elements of the regime, according to the freedom-ranking organization.  “Freedom of movement and the right to chose one’s residence and place of employment are restricted,” particularly for those who wish to work abroad, Freedom House observes.

The continued lack of economic freedom, despite minimal economic liberalization by the regime, is also noted by Freedom House.  For example, Freedom House found a lack of “expansion of the private sector beyond survival-oriented microenterprises.”

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Update on the 2014 Congressional Elections: Republicans Win an Additional House Seat

           After a recount, a Republican was certified as elected to the United States of Representatives from Arizona over the Democratic incumbent, giving the GOP a total of 247 seats in the lower chamber of the incoming Congress, their largest majority since 1933.  Republicans gained a net of 13 members in their caucus in the House.  The Democrats will hold only 188 seats.

United States President Barack Obama Legitimizes, Rewards and Props Up the Cuban Castro Communist Dictatorship

           The Cuban Communist dictatorship of Fidel and Raul Castro has been legitimatized and will be propped up by United States President Barack Obama after policy changes Obama announced yesterday after a deal to free an American who was imprisoned by Cuba in exchanged for three Cuban spies.

            The Obama Administration secretly negotiated with terrorists to secure the release of the American.  The Cuban Communist regime is listed by the State Department as a state sponsor of terrorism.  Cuba harbors Puerto Rican terrorists.  An additional reason Cuba should be listed as a terrorism sponsor is that it aids Venezuela’s Marxist anti-American dictatorship, which, in turn, aids Marxist narco-terrorist rebels in Colombia.  Indeed, Cuba is a part of the Axis of Rogues, through which Venezuela, Russia, North Korea, Iran, Syria and other terrorist-sponsoring regimes states operate against the interests of the U.S. and the free world.  Obama  seeks to remove Cuba from the State Department’s list of states that sponsor terrorism, despite a lack of change in Cuban policy, as required by U.S. law.

            The American who was released was an aid worker who was a subcontractor of the United States Agency for International Development, a federal agency, providing computers to Jewish Cubans in order for them to obtain Internet access, as a way to avoid the censorship of the totalitarian Cuban regime.  The Cuban Communists arrested and convicted him of trumped up charges of espionage.  In the deal with the Obama Administration, the aid worker was released by Cuba on “humanitarian grounds.”  Dictatorships typically release political prisoners or hostages on such grounds as to appear magnanimous instead of ever admitting the confinement was unjustified or appearing to have released the prisoner out of weakness.  Prisoners are used as bargaining chips by dictators.  By exchanging the innocent aid worker for Cuban spies, the Obama Administration tacitly implies the aid worker’s deeds were the equivalent of those of the spies, one of whom was convicted of murder charges because he tipped off the Cuban dictatorship about the plans of a Cuban-American dissident organization’s flights to drop leaflets in Cuba; their plane was shot down over international waters by the Cuban Communists, killing four American citizens.  Thus, by rewarding Cuba’s dictatorship for imprisoning an innocent American, the trading of a hostage for spies incentivizes dictatorships around the world to kidnap more Americans for the release of agents of their regimes or to extract concessions from the U.S.

            Obama announced the easing of financial and travel restrictions on Cuba, despite having dubious legal authority.  These moves will prop up the Cuban economy at its weakest point and, therefore, the Castro regime that promised “Socialist paradise,” but, like every other Communist state, has left its people impoverished while the Party leaders enjoy wealth.  The Communist dictatorship has blamed the embargo for its economic failures.

            Obama also announced the normalization of relations with Cuba through diplomatic recognition of the Castro dictatorship as the legitimate government of Cuba and by seeking to end the American embargo on the Cuban socialist state. The Castros seized power in a revolution in 1959 against a dictatorship under the pretense of liberating Cuba and of not making it into a Marxist-Leninist state.  Instead, they established a brutal Communist dictatorship with a human rights record worse than the regime they replaced.  The Castro regime has slaughtered tens of thousands of innocent Cubans, tortured and imprisoned countless others and keeps 11 million people in bondage.  In addition to legitimatizing the Castro regime through its negotiations, the Obama Administration’s normalization of relations with Cuba grants the Communist dictatorship diplomatic recognition as the legitimate government of Cuba, which provides a public relations bonanza for the tyrannical regime, as well as undermines the morale of freedom-loving Cuban dissidents.  The totalitarian Castro regime has made no structural liberalization to allow any freedoms or opposition political parties or free and fair elections whatsoever in exchange for the concessions from the Obama Administration.  Obama’s Cuban policy change is part of a pattern in his negotiation with anti-American terrorist dictatorships.  As I have posted previously, he similarly granted concessions to Iran before the Iranian regime has given up its nuclear weapons program.

            Obama declared the longstanding American policy toward Cuba as “outdated,” but the only thing outdated is the historical anachronism of the Communist Castro regime, as people around the world have rejected Communism.  The argument that the embargo “has not worked” and that trade and other concessions will expose the Cuban people to other ideas and increase their demand for liberty ignores the fact that the rest of the world’s policy of trading with Cuban for many years has not worked in the least to liberalize politically the Communist dictatorship, just as trade by the U.S. and many foreign states with Communist China and Vietnam have not liberalized those two tyrannical regimes politically to any degree.  Moreover, the American policy on Cuba is not only intended to be efficacious in weakening the Castro regime, but in making a clear moral and political stand against tyranny and in support of the Cuban people’s aspirations for liberty.  In this respect, the old American policy has clearly worked and the new policy of the Obama Administration has demonstrably failed. 

           The Castro regime has long been admired by the Left for its anti-American vitriol and its unabashed socialism.  The Leftists and certain selfish business interests often dismiss Cuban-American dissidents as a kind of biased special interest that is preventing normal relations between the U.S. and Cuba through their political influence.  However, the Cuban-Americans are victims and witnesses to the tyranny of the Castro regime.  

           Much of the world would like to turn a blind eye to Castros’ tyranny of the Cuban people, and to excuse its worldly ulterior motivations, but the United States of America must never forget the eleven million oppressed people ninety miles from its shores.  I call upon Congress to block the end of the embargo and the funding of diplomatic relations with the Castro Communist dictatorship.  Cuba libre!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Conservative Analysis of the United States Federal Spending Authorizations

           United States President Barack Obama signed into law the bill approved by the lame duck Congress that authorizes federal spending for about $1.1 trillion.  The House of Representatives is controlled by Republicans while the Senate is controlled by Obama’s fellow liberal Democrats.  Most federal spending is authorized by the law through the end of September, except for the Department of Homeland Security, which is funded only until the end of February because of objections by conservative Republican Congressmen to Obama’s border control policy changes.  

           All federal spending authority would have terminated by the end of the year.  The legislation mostly leaves the status quo unchanged, and thus funds Obama’s federalization of health insurance (“Obamacare”) and other policies, but with several additional minor conservative victories, some of which were particularly upsetting to the Left. 

The spending authorizations continue the budget sequestration cuts that have reduced federal spending by tens of billions of dollars.  The U.S. has been spending at a pace of a trillion dollars a year since the GOP won the 2010 Congressional Elections and subsequently regained control of the House, but the pace would have been even higher without Republicans in Congress forcing Obama to compromise and cut spending.  The authorizations do not rely on any tax increases, while a separate bill also signed into law by the President extends several business and personal tax breaks that would have expired. 

The new Congress, both chambers of which will be led by Republicans, will be sworn in to office in January and have the opportunity to propose more spending restraint for the rest of the budget year and other conservative reforms within the legislation that authorizes spending.  In addition, the Congress may make use of the legislative option of spending rescissions. 

The authorizations relax a number of environmental, health and banking regulations.  On the environment, the law bars federal money to force the phase-out of incandescent light bulbs while prohibiting the listing on the Endangered Species list of an animal that would have created an impediment to industry.  In regard to health, the regulations that would have reduced the salt content of the federal funding of school lunches were weakened.  Banking regulations were eased by not requiring separate accounts for reserves for certain types of derivatives, which were a small percentage of those regulated under the onerous Sarbanes-Oxley regulation.  The authorizations also bar federal money for marijuana legalization in the District of Columbia and increase certain contribution limits for political donors.

The defense authorization requires equal treatment of victims of any past or future act of violence in the American homeland that is inspired by certain foreign terrorist organizations eligible for Purple Hearts or veterans benefits for servicemen and Medals of Freedom for civilian federal government employees with the victims of any similar acts committed abroad.  The intent was to include the acts of violent jihad on the military recruitment center in Arkansas that killed one American soldier and the Ft. Hood Massacre in Texas that killed U.S. 13 soldiers and civilian contractors, both of which occurred in 2009.  See my post last post on this subject in September of 2013, Now Is the Time for Congress to Declare the Ft. Hood Shooting an Act of War, In it, I cite my earlier posts about the Obama Administration’s failure to identify the enemy in the War on Terrorism as Islamists and the Arkansas and Ft. Hood attacks on the American homeland in particular as acts of violent jihad and thus battles of that war and the unequal treatment of the victims of violent jihad in the American homeland, even though the enemy has made the entire world, including the American homeland, its battlefield.  It is disappointing that Obama had to be forced to sign the provision through the defense authorization bill.  Conservatives should call upon the Administration to carry out the provision and award the medals and grant the benefits to the victims.

Another provision of the defense spending law authorizes the sale by the U.S. of lethal arms to the government of Ukraine.  The Obama Administration has only been providing the Ukrainian military non-lethal materiel in the face of invasion by Russia, a superpower.  

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Pro-Westerners Win Parliamentary Elections in Moldova

           Like Ukrainians, Moldovans recently chose pro-Western parties over pro-Russian ones in parliamentary elections.  Moldova had ratified a trade deal several months ago with the European Union that Russia opposed, preferring Moldova remain in the Russian orbit. 

           The former Soviet Republic of Moldova has been concerned about the Russian Federation’s irredentism towards Transnistria, a breakaway Russian-speaking region, like Eastern Ukraine that Russia invaded, part of which (Crimea) it annexed.   

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Republicans Sweep the Congressional Runoff Elections in Louisiana

           Republican Congressional candidates for United States Senate and member of the House of Representatives were all elected in runoff elections in Louisiana today. 

           The Republican Party adds two Representatives to its caucus in the House, for a total of 246, while the pickup of a seat in the upper chamber gives the GOP a total of 54.  The Democrats have 189 in the House and 46 in the Senate, respectively.  Including the results from the Louisiana runoffs, Republicans gained a net of 12 House and 9 Senate seats in the 2014 General Election.  With the defeat of Louisiana’s incumbent Democratic Senator, no member of the party of Andrew Jackson holds any statewide federal or state office in the deep South.  Republicans also control every state legislative chamber.  The region was once known as the “Solid South” for its support of the Democratic Party.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Obama Administration’s Increases its Reward for Irresponsible Borrowers

           The Obama Administration is extending an unfair program to help those borrowers who were dishonest about their creditworthiness for obtaining a mortgage or who got in over their heads by purchasing homes far larger than they could afford to maintain.  

           The Administration is doubling the amount of the mortgage principle reduction for borrowers at risk of foreclosure for failure to pay their mortgages from $5,000 to $10,000. The welfare program is funded at the expense of taxpayers who were responsible and yet who lost value in their homes as a result of the mortgage defaults that burst the housing bubble, which exacerbated significantly the recession and caused the Panic of 2008.  Such policies thus reward irresponsibility while punishing responsibility with taxation.  Furthermore, there has been no federal aid for responsible homeowners to make up for the loss of their home equity. 

            See also my post from April of 2012, on a related story in which I expound on the issue of federal aid for mortgage holders in greater detail, Outrageous Mortgage Foreclosure Settlement Rewards Irresponsible Homeowners,  In it, I also explain the complicity of liberal federal policies in causing the problem by promoting lending to irresponsible borrowers in the first place. 

           It was outrage over the Obama Administration welfare program for irresponsible homeowners that it is now extending that sparked the tea party movement in 2009.  I hope that outrage over the Administration’s reward for irresponsible borrowers will renew the movement for fiscal responsibility.