Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Foreign Digest: Russia, Syria, Italy

Russian Un-Free Elections
            The parliamentary elections in the Russian Federation earlier this week were not democratic, as only the ruling party or its allies were effectively permitted to campaign.  Many opposition leaders have been imprisoned, driven into exile or killed.  The freedom of the press is severely restricted in Russia, as hundreds of journalists have been imprisoned or killed and independent media outlets have been shut down, while the Communist dictatorship promotes its propaganda mostly unchallenged.  The freedom of assembly is also curtailed.  Recently, even the last independent pollster was banned. 

Democracy in the Russian Federation’s is a farce, as its leader, Vladimir Putin, like a typical dictator, pretends to be strong, but is really too weak and cowardly to tolerate even the slightest legitimate criticism or dissent.  As a result, Russia will continue to suffer a worsening economy, corruption and violations of minority rights domestically and wars and international disgrace abroad, as the Russian people will continue not to be free and, therefore, will lack effective means to correct the erroneous policies of their government. 

Syrian Civil War
            The civil war continues, with the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism, Iran, aiding its ally, the Syrian Baathist dictatorship of Bashar Assad, which assists Iran in sponsoring terrorism.  Russia has been training the Iranian proxy, Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shi’ite terrorist organization, as well as intervening militarily in support of the terrorist Assad, under the excuse of opposing terrorists. 

Italy’s Tax Cuts  
           Led by the main center-left party, which governs in coalition with a small center-right party and some centrists, the Italian Government has been cutting taxes, which have been one of the factors that have stimulated the Italian economy, which has been recovering from recession, although weakly.  The Government, which has also made spending cuts to eliminate Italy’s public budget deficit and reduce its ratio of debt to gross domestic product, is proposing further tax cuts.  

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Foreign Digest: Venezuela, Ukraine, Turkey, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, the Falklands

There have been more demonstrations by the democratic opposition in Venezuela against the dictatorship, as the socialist state plunges ever deeper into economic ruin. 

Russian-speaking separatists continue their fight in Ukraine, backed by the Russian Federation.  Thousands of Ukrainians have been killed in their rebellion.  Russia’s latest imperialism in Ukraine has inspired more separatism in the Russian-speaking Transnistria region of Moldova

The purge of the opposition in Turkey has continued and even expanded, as the Islamist dictatorship uses the excuse of the attempted military coup to eliminate all opposition, in the style of Russia and Venezuela.  The Turkish government has also requested the extradition of an exiled Muslim cleric living in Pennsylvania, but the United States will not accept the request without adequate evidence of criminality.

            Bangladesh has been prosecuting and executing Islamists responsible for crimes against humanity in the 1971 war of independence from Pakistan.

There has been more active opposition lately to the Marxist autocracy of Robert Mugabe since the presidential election was rigged in 2009, which led to the elevation of the opposition leader to the office of prime minister.  The opposition is more widespread, too.

Falkland Islands
           Argentina and United Kingdom have initiated a rapprochement in regard to the Falkland Islands, which are a British colony, but claimed by Argentina.  Anglo-Argentine relations had been inflamed by the previous leftist Argentine government, but the new conservative president has won agreements with the U.K. on resources in the Falklands area and flights between Argentina and the British-owned islands.  The agreement is also a success for the U.K.’s new conservative Prime Minister.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

The Fifteenth Anniversary of the September 11 Terrorist Attacks

           Today is the fifteenth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attacks on New York, Washington and over Pennsylvania by Islamists. 

            As I do every year, I post on this day to recall the attacks and remember the dead.  As always, I express my gratitude to all those who serve in the global War on Terrorism in the armed services, as civilian government agents, and as first responders, as well as to the political leaders and those who supported them for the policies that have helped to prevent another massive terrorist attack like the one a decade and a half ago today. 

I note also how every American who pays taxes contributes to the war against terrorism and violent jihad (Islamic holy war) more generally and how every American who continues to engage in normal activities, such as using mass transit or attending a public event thereby resists terror. 

Although there have been many smaller-scale terrorist attacks on American soil and against Americans abroad, fifteen years ago, it seemed unlikely that such a period would pass without a major attack as September 11.  That such an attack has not occurred has not been by luck, but because of these collective anti-terrorism efforts.

Not only have Americans prevented another attack, but they have not rewarded terrorism by giving into the demands of the terrorists, as many would do, which would only encourage more of it against the United States or its allies. 

It is vital to understand that the determined terrorist enemy believes their faith obliges them to engage in violent jihad against those whom they regard as infidels who do not submit and not to fall for the militant Islamist lie that they attack their victims because of what they or their governments do.  There is never any justification or excuse for targeting innocent civilians with violence for any reason.  We must remember the main lesson of September 11 is that we ignore the threat of militant Islam anywhere in the world at our peril.  

May Americans continue to resist terrorism and violent jihad.  May God bless America.  May God foil the evil plots of the enemy and keep Americans safe.  

Saturday, September 10, 2016

A Compilation of Anti-Trump Posts from Before the 2016 Republican Convention

           I usually eschew posting to this blog about specific Republican primary candidates and campaigns.  However, because of the major ideological differences that emerged, I posted several times before the Republican Convention, either wholly or partially, in response to the arguments of presidential candidate Donald J. Trump or his supporters.

I did not name him or refer specifically to his supporters.  I hardly discussed any other candidate or even always placed my posts into the context of the Republican nomination, except in regard to process matters, and endorsed none of the candidates because of my preference for avoiding divisiveness in primaries and focusing instead on defeating liberalism.  Nevertheless, I engaged in the ideological debate to defend conservatism through my posts by specifically opposing certain populist non-conservative views of Trump and his supporters.  Some of those specific posts I would have posted even absent Trump’s candidacy, but they were made more relevant by it.  Because of his arguments or those of his supporters, I sometimes took advantage of such opportunities and added relevant implicit refutations into those posts.    

            Now that I posted last month about my resignation from the Berks County Republican Committee because of Trump’s nomination by the Republican Party for President of the United States and even published excerpts of my letter of resignation, which included some of my efforts within my local Party to oppose him before the GOP Convention, I thought it might be informative to compile the links to the relevant posts into one post and to place them more specifically into the clearer context of Trump’s candidacy: 

            In post in February, The 105th Anniversary of Ronald Reagan's Birth,, I recalled Ronald Reagan’ cheerful optimism about America, in contrast to Trump’s negativism, and the conservative leader’s belief in accepting those who agreed at least 80% with conservatism into the movement, in contrast the insistence by some today to demand total ideological purity and dismiss potential allies who are not in 100% agreement (and yet many of these same people are accepting of a big-government liberal who was recently a Democrat as their champion).  I noted Reagan’s admonition against speaking ill of fellow Republicans during primary elections—a rule entirely ignored from the outset by Trump and his supporters, as celebrity businessman based his campaign not on serious ideological debate, but personal insults of anyone who disagreed with him in the slightest.  I cited President Reagan’s ability to compromise to achieve his conservative goals, in contrast to the disdain today for any such give and take as “losing,” “caving” or “surrendering” and the unrealistic desire instead for totally vanquishing powerful political opponents, such as liberal Democratic President Barack Obama, who are committed to their beliefs.

          Along those lines, I cited in a pair of posts, Accomplishments of the Current Republican Congressional Majority, and Recent Conservative Republican Successes in Congress, in April and July, respectively, the many fruits of such compromises won by conservative Republicans in Congress to debunk the myth that they have accomplished little to nothing and the cynical view that Republican leaders should be deposed and the Party taken over by more uncompromising and “pure” conservatives from outside the “establishment,” and thus lacking in supposed self-interest for power or money, who, led by a stronger leader, could only then accomplish what the current leadership could not.

            In March, in direct response to the defense made by some conservatives and Republicans of Trump because he had only recently been a Democrat and holds many non-conservative views that Reagan had also been a liberal Democrat, I posted Ronald Reagan Was Conservative Long Before He Was Elected President of the United States,  I noted Reagan’s service as a federal informant about Communist infiltration of Hollywood during his presidency of the Screen Actors Guild in the 1950s, when he was in his forties, his campaigning for conservative candidates since 1964 and his principled championing of conservative causes before he was elected President.  I observed how he became the leader of the conservative movement during the height of the Cold War, in contrast to Trump’s claimed conversion after that existential struggle and much later in his own life.  I challenged anyone claiming to have converted to conservative to prove it.

            In the meantime, I took the opportunity of another anniversary in February in my post, The 25th Anniversary of the Liberation of Kuwait, to observe the accomplishments of that war in defeating aggression and placed the war in context of the American post-Second World War strategy of opposition to aggression, such as committed in recent years by Russia, of which Trump approves, and supporting the principles of self-determination, independence sovereignty that isolationists like Trump and his supporters claim to support, but only when the threat is obvious and immediate, if at all, because when these principles are threatened anywhere, they are threatened everywhere.  In March, I posted three times in direct response to some of these isolationist arguments.  In Hussein, Qaddafi and Assad Were Bad for the United States and the World,, I refuted the dismissal by Trump and his supporters of the threats to America and its interests by these terrorist leaders, noted Russian complicity in terrorism in Syrian Civil War Update: 250,000 Dead,, and refuted isolationist opposition to recent United States policies in The Syrian Example Suggests Non-Intervention Would Not Have Been Better for Libya,  As the Republican Convention was about to begin in July, because of Trump’s authoritarian proclivities and defense of dictators, I posted a warning about how a democratically-elected leader could become a dictator in America, as elsewhere in Turkey Is the Latest Example of Liberal Democratic Support of Democratically-Elected Dictators,

           In regard to the process of the Republican nomination, I posted Political Party Convention Delegates Are Supposed to Exercise Their Good Judgment, in April, and The 2016 Pennsylvania Primary Election,, later that month.  In these, I explained the representative role of convention delegates, in keeping with the representative beliefs of the Republican Party, as opposed to the democratic beliefs of the Democratic Party, in nominating a candidate for president who is qualified, fit, believes in the Party’s conservative platform, and who could unite the party and lead its slate of candidates to victory in the election, as well as the process in Pennsylvania of electing delegates directly who were uncommitted to any particular candidate in order to fulfill this role as a safeguard against nominating a populist demagogue with authoritarian proclivities, like Trump.  The following month, I posted Conservative Analysis of the 2016 Primary Election,, in which I observed the increased turnout from the first contested GOP primary in forty years and party-switching by Democrats to Republican to vote for the nativist/protectionist/isolationist big-government liberal Trump, with whom they agreed.  

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Foreign Digest: Spain, Brazil, Venezuela, Hong Kong

Update on the Spanish Parliamentary Elections
            After nine months of being governed by a caretaker government, Spain remains without a government, as the ruling center-right party fell short last week of winning a required parliamentary vote of confidence.  The third-place business-friendly centrist party agreed to support the conservatives, in exchange for the latter’s approval of a comprehensive reform package, but the effort to form Spain’s first coalition government in its history came up only five seats short.  The conservatives had won the most votes in parliamentary elections in December and gained seats in a second vote in June.  Unless a coalition can be formed, Spanish voters will have to return to the polls—possibly on Christmas Day, as the second-place Socialists refuse to form a grand coalition.  King Felipe VI is urging the parties to compromise. 

The Removal of Brazil’s Liberal President
            Brazil’s liberal president was impeached and removed from office last week on corruption charges, marking the official end of rule by the center-left in South America’s largest country, as a center-right parliamentary leader has taken her place.  The unpopular president had been suspended for several months during the investigation.  Brazil suffers from corruption that is widespread among its national leadership, which, together with its political turmoil, threatens its economic growth.

            Since late last year, there have been major setbacks to the Latin American socialist revolution inspired by Venezuela’s dictatorial government.  As I have been posting, in addition to being removed from national power in Brazil and replaced by the center-right, the Left has lost presidential elections in Argentina and Peru to conservatives, while the center-right opposition won a supermajority in Venezuela’s congressional elections and Bolivians rejected a referendum to amend the constitution to allow their leftist leader to serve another term in office.

The Popular Efforts to Remove Venezuela’s Socialist Dictator 
            The largest protests against Venezuela’s dictatorship in many years took place last week against the ruling Socialists, with hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans taking to the streets in opposition to the authoritarian government, as Venezuela plunges ever deeper into economic abyss, in addition to their suffering from oppression, corruption and violent crime.  The democratic opposition is organizing a presidential recall referendum, which has already obtained enough valid signatures to advance to the next step, as the dictatorship has thwarted democratic reforms approved by the Venezuelan Congress, led by a two-thirds supermajority of the opposition.  The dictatorship’s electoral commission has been delaying the vote to run out the clock on eligibility for an election to be held to replace the government when there are more than two years remaining in its term, as would be the case until mid-January.  The delays would push the timeline for certifying the results of a referendum and the taking of office of a new government past that point to prevent an interim presidential election and thereby allow the Socialists to continue their authoritarian rule.  The size of the street protests is a sign that the presidential recall referendum would likely gain the required number of signatures and the Socialists could lose the referendum.

The Democratic Opposition Gains Seats in the Hong Kong Legislative Elections
            The democratic opposition gained seats in Hong Kong’s legislative elections earlier this week.  Communist China appoints the city-state’s ruler and reserves 30 of the 70 local council seats for various constituencies; it appoints its allies to those seats.  As in the last elections in 2012, the opposition won a majority of the elective seats, which gives them more than the required one-third to veto constitutional changes.  Pro-democracy activists, including several leaders of the 2014 uprising I had posted about at the time against Peking’s interference in Hong Kong’s elections, won several seats in the city-state’s local elections yesterday on the promise of greater autonomy or even independence for the Chinese-owned territory.  The other democratic opposition candidates favor the current arrangement between Peking and Hong Kong, but oppose China’s violations of it.  There was a record turnout of over two million voters.  

           The former British colony reverted to Chinese rule in 1997, after China promised Hong Kong could maintain its free market, its representative government and a degree of autonomy.  However, the Chinese Communists limited the city state’s autonomy in 2014 with a law that placed further restrictions on candidacies for those local council seats that are elective, thereby blocking some opposition leaders from eligibility for election.