Sunday, July 16, 2017

Foreign Digest: Iraq, Italy, Russia, Georgia, Venezuela and Turkey


Iraq’s defeat of the Islamic State
            Iraqi forces liberated Mosul last week from the so-called “Islamic State” Islamist terrorists.  The al-Qaeda splinter group had seized Iraq’s second largest city in 2014.  It was from there that IS, which is based in currently-besieged Raqqa, Syria, declared a caliphate.

Italy’s tougher law against organized crime and terrorism
            The Italian Parliament recently approved and the President signed a tougher law against organized crime and terrorism. Among its numerous provisions are longer prison sentences.

Update: more Russian incursions into Georgia
            There have been more Russian incursions into Georgia from the Russian-occupied puppet-state of South Ossetia, which, together with Abkhazia, the Russian Federation helped to break away from Georgia when it invaded the former Soviet Republic of Georgia in 2008.  The Russians have repeatedly shifted the poorly-defended border southward into Georgian territory.

Update: more pro-democracy protests in Russia
            There continue to be more protests in Russia against the tyranny and corruption of the Russian Federation regime and more arrests of peaceful protesters.

Update: Venezuelan protests and political developments
            There have been more demonstrations for liberty in Venezuela, where the death toll for peaceful protesters continues to climb.  Thugs acting last week on behalf of the Socialist regime even attacked the democratic opposition in Congress.  The Socialists are attempting to replace the constitution through a referendum which would grant the executive branch greater powers, unchecked by the legislative branch, which is currently controlled by the democratic opposition.  Despite winning a supermajority of seats in the Congress, the opposition has been thwarted by the tyrannical regime.  The opposition is boycotting the constitutional referendum, as it is not possible to conduct free and fair elections under authoritarianism and instead is conducting its own plebiscite on following the current constitution and respecting human rights.  Polling stations are even open today in locations in the United States for Venezuelans to voice their support for representative government and liberty.

Turkish protests 
           Several hundred thousand Turks took to the streets last week to protest the Islamist authoritarian government’s crackdown on opposition ahead of the anniversary of the failed military coup d’etat, which has been used as a justification for the crackdown and the seizure of more powers by the government.  A hundred thousand Turks have been fired and tens of thousands of people have been arrested because of the increasing Turkish oppression.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Foreign Digest: Syria, Hong Kong, Turkey


Syrian attack on anti-Islamic State forces
            The attack last week by Bashar Assad’s Syrian regime forces on the Syrian Democratic Forces, the non-Islamist rebel group backed by the United States, while the SDF were engaged in fighting the Islamic State Islamist terrorists, proves Assad and his Iranian and Russian allies are not anti-Islamic State.  The Syrian attack also disproves Syrian and Russian propaganda that the U.S. is pro-Islamic State, against which the U.S.-backed forces in Syria are making steady progress, as are the Iraqis, who are also supported by the Americans.  The tyrant Assad is desperately clinging to power.  He and the Russians have focused on U.S.-backed rebels, instead of against the Islamic State or al-Qaeda.  The U.S. responded to the Syrian attack by shooting down a Syrian fighter jet.  The Russian Federation, in response, put deconfliction at risk by cutting off communication with the U.S. and warning the Americans not to operate west of the Euphrates River

Hong Kong pro-democracy protests
            There were more pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong last week, this time at the swearing-in of the special administrative region’s Peking-appointed leader.  There were arrests of some protestors, as the Chinese Communists have not been keeping their promise they made when they took over the territory from the United Kingdom in 1997 to maintain Hong Kong’s self-rule and freedom. 

Update: Charges and arrests of Turkish presidential guard 
           The District of Columbia Capitol Police late last week charged more than a dozen members of the Islamist dictator of Turkey’s presidential guard with crimes, including felonies, for their beating of peaceful protestors on American soil in front of the Turkish Embassy to the United States.  Several Turkish presidential guardsmen were arrested.  Germany has declined an invitation to the Turkish dictator for a summit of economic powers because of the incident.

Recent Attacks on Republican U.S. Congressmen and British Muslims Were Not “Terrorism”


           As I post from time to time, several recent acts of violence around the world have been called “terrorism,” which dilutes the term.  Terrorism is an especially evil war crime by which innocent civilians are targeted in order to intimidate the populace into supporting political or religious goals.

            One recent example of the misuse of the term was the attack last month on Republican members of Congress, which some Americans labeled “terrorism.”  Assassinations are not terrorism, as terrorism is targeted at innocent civilians to terrorize the people, who cannot be sufficiently intimidated if they do not feel targeted.

            Another example was the labeling by some of the attack last month on Muslims in the United Kingdom as “terrorism.”  Because of its similar methodology, the attack was obviously motivated by revenge for recent terrorist attacks.  It was also an act of genocide, meant to kill, not to terrorize.

            Both the attacks on Muslims and on Republican Congressmen were evil crimes, but not terrorism.  

           As usual, dictators, such as Syria’s and Venezuela’s, label all rebellious acts as “terrorism” to discredit the opposition, even when those acts are guerrilla activity legitimately targeting government forces, not innocent civilians.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Update on the Additional United States Sanctions on Iran and Russia Bill


Donald Trump, the pretender to the American presidency, is trying to block, delay or dilute the bill before the United States House of Representatives that the Republican-led Senate approved overwhelmingly three weeks ago that imposes additional economic sanctions on both Iran and on the Russian Federation and limits the President’s discretion in lifting sanctions against Russia.  The Republican leadership of the House still has not scheduled a vote on the Senate bill. 

The bipartisan Senate bill imposes targeted sanctions on Iran for sponsoring terrorism and on authoritarian Russian Federation leaders for human rights violations and for Russian support for the terrorist-sponsoring tyrannical Syrian regime of Bashar Assad.  Although it is not specifically meant to punish Russia for its interference in the American presidential election, the bill is widely perceived as such. 

The bill is also, therefore, a test of whether Trump will maintain American independence of Russia and whether he is providing a quo in exchange for the Russian quid of interfering in the presidential elections on his behalf, which might incriminate him of a constitutional high crime or misdemeanor and lead Congress to impeach and remove him from office.  Russian interference in the American elections, which included propaganda and disinformation, hacking and leaking, is under investigation by a Special Counsel and multiple congressional committees.  The question of whether Trump’s campaign accepted Russian help in exchange for financial benefits or the lifting of sanctions on Russia is among the subjects being probed.

Trump, who never criticizes Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, has reportedly been seeking to end sanctions on Russia that had been approved by the Republican majority Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama and to return diplomatic compounds in Maryland and Virginia to the Russians which they had used for espionage against the U.S. which Obama ordered them to evacuate.  The measures were imposed to punish Russia for aggression against Ukraine and for interference in the American elections, respectively.  Trump has proposed no punishments for Russian interference in the elections and denies any Russian culpability, despite the unanimous assessment of U.S. intelligence agencies, or for other Russian transgressions.  

Conservatives must urge the House of Representatives to approve the Senate bill to impose additional sanctions on Iran and Russia.

On This Independence Day, Let us again Declare Independence from Foreign Interference


           Today is the 241st anniversary of the independence of the United States of America.  On July 2, 1776, during the American Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress assembled in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania approved a resolution of independence from the United Kingdom.  The Congress then authorized the Declaration of Independence to explain their reasons for the separation because of “a decent respect for the opinions of mankind.”

            The Founding Fathers recognized independence as the right of self-determination and sovereignty and thus as a strong protection against violations of liberty from the mother country.  They were concerned about foreign interference in American affairs and continued to be long after the States won their independence from the British.  The Framers of the Constitution established the Electoral College, which elects the President of the United States, as, in part, a safeguard against foreign interference and the foreign Emoluments Clause to prevent personal interest from influencing judgment by federal officers of what was in the best interest of the U.S.  The Founders who were the first Presidents guarded against foreign interference or too much interest on behalf of foreign states, including states with which Americans traded or even had friendly relations with the U.S.  They were especially wary of the influence of hostile powers.

            The Russian Federation has been increasing its efforts over the last few years to influence affairs, including the outcome of elections, in Europe and the U.S.  Russian interference has become increasingly noticeable, even in the U.S., since the 2014 Russian invasion of Ukraine.  Through overt propaganda from state media to anonymously disseminating disinformation, especially through the Internet, to the covert stealing and leaking of government or party documents, mixed together with a few forgeries and then disseminated through the media and Internet, through the creation of human-curated or automated social media accounts.  The Russians will exploit divisions and manipulate opinion by appealing to preconceived beliefs of those on the left or the right or wherever to advance Russia’s foreign policy of dividing the West and undermining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.  Their insidious methods often influence opinion without the targeted audience ever realizing it has been deceived or manipulated.  Sometimes, Soviet-style active measures of political interference employed by ex-KGB Russian autocrat Vladimir Putin include violence, such as the attempted coup d’etat in Montenegro last year. 

Russian interference was evident in the American presidential election campaign last year, to a degree that altered the outcome of both the Republican Party nomination and the presidential elections, in violation of American self-determination and sovereignty.  The Russians were successful in opposing a candidate they believed would be more opposed to their policies and favored a candidate who was not and who is even favorable to certain Russian interests.  Alas, the constitutional safeguards the Framers established of the Electoral College and the Emoluments Clause have been ignored by the leaders of the majority party of the President.  The danger the Founders feared of foreign influence, especially of a hostile power, is now most clear and present.  Putin is more brutal a tyrant than King George III of the United Kingdom and a craftier menace. 

It is still not too late to regain American independence from foreign influence once again and to use the various constitutional safeguards to face the threat of a hostile Russian authoritarian regime.  The Congress, the Courts, the States and the People all must demonstrate their patriotism and defend America through constitutional means by supporting independence, self-determination and sovereignty and by upholding federalism, the separation of powers, representative government and liberty.  The extent of the threat from Russia must be analyzed through adequate investigation of Russian interference in American politics in order to ascertain vulnerabilities to further interference by Russia, other state actors or non-government entities, such as criminals and terrorists, and to develop appropriate defenses.  The leaders of the Russian Federation must be punished, as well as any Americans who collaborated with them to deter further interference and the few punishments already imposed upon Russian leaders should certainly not be eliminated.  In my next post, I shall discuss a particular punishment of Russia approved by the Senate and being considered by the House of Representatives that the pro-Russian President opposes.  

I call upon all American patriots today to declare American independence from Russia by supporting effective measures to oppose foreign interference and to exercise more fully the legacy of self-determination and sovereignty the Founding Fathers bequeathed to posterity.

Pennsylvania’s 2017 Budget Is Approved


           The Republican-led General Assembly passed and liberal Democratic Governor Tom Wolf signed into law the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s fiscal 2017 budget before the end of the fiscal year June 30. 

            The budget permits $32 billion in spending, an increase of 3% over last fiscal year.  The fiscal blueprint achieves this level through a combination of spending increases and cuts.  Like last year, Wolf had wanted more spending increases for education.  He and the legislature did agree on some consolidations of gubernatorial administration offices and there are savings from decreased corrections costs.  There are extra funds in the budget for pensions, but no significant reform, even though the lack of it is the largest cause of fiscal distress for Pennsylvania, as well as its counties, municipalities and school districts.  The Commonwealth faces a two or three-billion dollar budget shortfall.           

            The legislature still has approved no revenue bill to fund the new budget.  As usual, the Governor and the Democratic minority in the legislature are looking to increase taxes.  They are again singling out one industry, the natural gas extraction industry, for additional taxes, on top of the extra taxes gas drillers already pay.  The Republicans are seeking to raise additional funds from wine and liquor privatization and are even looking to borrow.  Many legislators have become addicted to gambling expansion for revenue increases. 

           The General Assembly should continue to be fiscally responsible by resisting tax increases, especially those that single out one industry, while avoiding the temptation to borrow or expand gambling even further, and instead privatize wine and spirits, while approving more prudent spending decreases, especially through pension reform.