Protectionism: When the government enacts a policy that “protects” an industry of the nation, either because it is unstable due to market trends, or suffering profit losses due to foreign competition. Typically, the government passes trade barriers to help the industry survive. These barriers can be tariffs, or taxes on foreign imports, so that way the foreign imports are more expensive than local goods. Sometimes, they can entirely ban the importing of a good, and other times, the government will force a supply limit on the foreign good so that way the supply is small and the local import will be bought due to being the only good in excess.
According to Wikipedia, the electronic cigarette is a battery powered device which simulates cigarette smoking. It was first patented in 1963, though it has become extremely popular and the target of a new wave of anti-smoking regulations. It uses a heating element that heats up a vapor and the smoker inhales the vapor, which contains nicotine, flavoring, and water. Some cigarettes do not contain the nicotine, which typically foments the addiction in consumers of cigarettes, electronic or otherwise. The World Health Organization has stated that because the reviews of electronic cigarettes have not been finished, and because the product is too new, stating a health benefit in the reduction of cigarette fatalities or nicotine addiction cannot be given. They encourage all possible consumers halt the usage of such products until further review. However, the American Association of Public Health Physicians has stated that those who suffer from chronic, or long-term smoking habits, may yield a reduction in their habit by using electronic cigarettes.
Polosa, Rodu, Caponnetto, Magila, and Raciti have authored the only controlled and randomized study of tobacco harm reduction that compares Nicotine patches, e-cigarettes with nicotine, and those without nicotine. They see E-cigarettes as a great way to reduce the harm of tobacco addictions, for several reasons. First, the traditional materials that make up chewing tobacco or cigarettes, and the materials necessary to use traditional cigarettes do not exist in the electronic cigarette. There is no exposure to ash, tar, and other hazardous chemicals that make up the traditional cigarette. They believe that the risks associated with smokeless tobacco will be similar to electronic cigarettes, and predict that that the mortality of these new products will be 1% of the mortality associated with traditional smoking. They also go on to say that a lot of the fear-mongering of the “smokeless E-cigarettes” comes from websites that lump the electronic cigarette unfairly with its smokeless cigarette counterpart and chewing tobacco. They credit the media for creating a fear campaign when there isn’t any strong medical or health based studies to say the tobacco-less electronic cigarette is just as harmful as the tobacco-based products.
The McKinney Opinion: I am no smoker, and my exposure to tobacco products is this; I smoked a tobacco pipe once, and have taken a hit on an electronic cigarette. I coughed less from the electronic cigarette, but I also suffered a migraine following the participation. Clearly nicotine is a highly addictive drug, but so is caffeine, and the consequences of cutting both off entirely can lead to harsh and violent reactions by one’s body. If Electronic cigarettes offer a way to slowly reduce the tobacco consumption for people, I don’t see the reason to particularly ban the product. I would argue that it still deserves all the taxation we give traditional tobacco products, and that should be in place for the foreseeable future, until conclusive evidence proves that electronic cigarettes reduces health risks in former smokers. I think banning the product, and banning the advertisement and publicity of the products is a rather “moral” thing to do, in the sense the government is deeming an action immoral. Sure TV ads convince kids to do things. So if we ban cigarette ads, the Dos Equis ads then have to go because they make booze “cool”. Victoria Secret ads shouldn’t be permitted either because they are educating young girls and young women to believe that “lingerie” will make you beautiful or win men over.
The entire pretense that banning a product from visual advertisement simply because someone might do it can only lead to the following reality. EVERYONE, you must stop consuming chocolate because you might tempt a diabetic to hurt themselves. EVERYONE, you must always obey the speed laws because failing to do so teaches children it is okay to break any law. EVERYONE, you must never discipline your child publicly, because you might scare other children and their parents with your harsh actions…its hypochondria in terms of society. The way we should approach this is to allow parents to dialogue with their children, schools to teach the various ill-effects and government programs associated with the products, and that like many things, when you remove the curiosity of the product, consumption goes down in the younger populations.
Fatalities associated with:
As Rush Limbaugh quoted yesterday on his program, the New York Times has an article up about Electronic cigarettes, in which they smear campaign the product by making it out to be a “Dangerous Poison on the LOOSE”. While they claim there is a 300% increase in the number of child poisonings due to consumption of the liquids for e-cigarettes, the cases are at 1,351. The American population is 310 Million, meaning that the amount of accidental poisoning of children is equal to less than 1/1000th of 1%. Even better, only one person has died from the “TOXIC” formula. The death was due to injection, and was the result of a suicide. MEANING, the person took a syringe, pump the liquid into the syringe, and put it straight into their blood. It wasn’t by consumption or spilling it on themselves, it was by intentionally hurting themselves. You could do the same with air or water. * Le GASP* EVEN WORSE, there hasn’t been a single reported child fatality due to E-cigarettes! *Le GASP GASP*
Food For thought: So the New York Times wants me to pre-emptively protect the Smoking industry by eliminating a product that has not killed anyone, and could possibly reduce all health associated risks with tobacco for its users? Even better, the New York Times wants us to believe that children consuming the liquid and getting medically treated for being poisoned is a solely e-cigarette issue. Did we forget about rat poison, ant traps, cat and dog food, and the list continues of things children eat or drink that can hurt them. Yet no one has died except for someone who shot the stuff straight into their blood. Which, death by injection seems to be a really excruciating way to die.
Police State: A type of domestic governance in which a country puts regulations upon citizens and their formal rights to prevent them from committing violence, endangering the lives of others, and the lives of themselves. Seatbelt laws, and CCTV cameras at traffic stops are typically considered to be part of the “police state” mentality. However, this can also be the use non-lethal weapons, like tasers and batons, and removing all firearms from public society. Police States usually see citizens become dependent on the police force for all safety concerns, regulations, and crime. They also typically see the militarization of the police, and is sometimes attributed with escalations of violence, like terrorism and open revolt, in police state regimes. The state of Guatamala can be considered a Police State, and is also a dictatorship.
SURVEILLANCE STATE: MY OWN OPINION
I should preface this by saying this article is going to be completely biased. You’ll find out several things from this article, most dealing with my fierce opposition to my 1st and 4th amendments being violated. In the first amendment, the government is banned from limiting our rights to speech, press, petitioning, assembling, and expressing ourselves. A typical argument of libertarians like me is that the right to assemble allows for the formation of Private Organizations with the ability to discriminate on membership and be a closed group. Thus following, it is the right of a group or an individual to their closed status and privacy from public scrutiny. AND because the government is banned from infringing on it, privacy advocates see the right to assemble a key component of preventing government surveillance and unwarranted searches into our private files.
The 4th amendment is that the government is banned from completing unwarranted searches and seizures. It requires all organizations of law enforcement to provide proper documentation, probable cause, and a judiciary sanctioning of the act. The main problem with some of the surveillance options the federal government chooses lies in the fact that in order to search lawfully someone’s possessions, one must lawfully present a warrant at the time of searching. The secret collection and content viewing by the government infringes the 4th amendment by allowing law enforcement to no longer be required to show the warrant upon seizure of evidence. I say this because at any time in the last 10 years, none of the millions of Americans being spied on have received a notice of being searched or having the NSA present them with documentation to seize their data.
So now you know, I am a privacy advocate. At the same time, I don’t actively oppose the intelligence agencies operations, but I do highlight the immorality of their actions. Government is a tool for the people by the people and of the people. As such, it is on us to determine the morality of an action by the government and to support it when it maintains the moral high ground and scold it when it falls from grace. The NSA and CIA spying on US citizens could be legal and moral in many situations, but currently in its scope recently, it has been unlawful and illegal. It has violated the integrity of the Constitution by sanctioning spying on US citizens. It has committed immorality in terms of society’s views by judging all Americans the same and creating a system of mistrust and fear of the government. Most libertarians oppose and fear government, in large scale and in central authority. I admit that I am rather fond of the Federal system our Founders chose, and I don’t oppose scale of action, but I still do oppose centralizing authority.
These are all important facts in reading my article. On this issue, you’ll see my two sides: on one side, there’s a part of me that loves my civil liberties, including writing and pressing these articles, and contributing to the liberty and freedom expressed by our Constitution. ON THE OTHER HAND, there is a part of me that loves my country so fervently, that I can tap into the mindset and understand the Police State mentality. I said mistrust and fear because none of the recent information put out about the NSA or CIA has encouraged anyone that they are doing a good job. If nothing else, they are being used to once again strip the power of the US government from being capable, to being vulnerable. I cannot highlight how much the unity in mind gets sickened with this current regime’s policies (I call it a regime because I do not support this government).
Alright, now that you know my bias and opinion, here are the summary of recent events in the surveillance issues.
Most recently, Edward Snowden, espionage man, double agent, traitor, patriot, un-American-American, and all around anti-government informant, gave us some interesting news about a program at the NSA. In the details, thanks to the efforts of the NSA, they can fully track conversations of foreign leaders around the globe, and due to the power of technology, they can rewind and play back conversations that happened prior to a month before their tapping of the phones. It is now viable for the NSA to use what you said in the past against you and against the Obama administration’s enemies and friends. Luckily, the President released a statement telling the American people some of the things the NSA is looking for in its bulk data search.
Most recently, IBM became another corporation to claim to have not complied with a national order allowing the NSA to tap their data, but due to Edward Snowden, IBM is on the list of corporations that were hacked to take bulk data. IBM now joins Google, Yahoo, and other internet and computer companies that Edward Snowden has tied to PRISM either by voluntary submission or by unlawful seizing of information. In reference to these PRISM accusations, at SXSW, Snowden discussed with attendees how to maintain privacy and security of your own data online.
So Senator Feinstein, who deserves much the mockery she has recently received, has recently come out after months of supporting the surveillance round up as being against it. From having the CIA grant computers to her staff and her fellow Democrats and then stealing the data and deleting it off those computers. To a toy helicopter driving her mad about drones, Feinstein has been on a roll recently walking back everything she ever lauded about this regime’s spying programs.
In regards to the CIA computers, the Senate Intelligence Committee had recently been investigating the detention and interrogation techniques used by the CIA and under Director Brennan’s supervision. They requested computers from the agency which would allow them to view the usually secret information, and the CIA complied. After granting the computers, the CIA is accused of using the computers to hack the Committee’s networks and then begin systematic deletion of data the Committee had been collecting during its investigation. Due to this struggle of power between the Committee and the CIA, it has seen the CIA’s general counsel be forced to resign and has him being referenced 1600 times in the investigation of torture in the CIA.
Russian Times has an article out today in which Feinstein explains her recent shift from supporting drone programs to now being against them. She was in her home Sunday night when she looked out the window and saw a machine hovering near her window and watching her. When she got up to examine the machine more closely it crashed into the ground while flying away. This was during a demonstration happening outside her home, and the demonstrators were members of Code Pink, who say the machine was a toy helicopter. But thanks to their efforts, now Senator Feinstein questions the scope and powers of drone usage and the organization that will control their domestic powers, the Federal Aviation Association.
Following this moment of realization, Feinstein now seeks to regulate the size of the drones being used, and how they will be used by civilians. She personally would like to have a certification process put in place for those who would operate the drones, and see regulations that properly define the law enforcement role they would serve.
In summary, the basic considerations of privacy versus surveillance breaks down to this simple question.
Do we, the American people, feel safer and more protected now?
Today if you didn’t know, President Obama granted 24 Medals of Honor to veterans who had been previously overlooked for the award. These veterans were from the Korean War and the Vietnam War, as well as the 1st and 2nd World Wars and were men of Hispanic, Black, or Jewish origin. I am mentioning this because it’s a moving ceremony, and it is always good to see true Americans, men of valor and bravery, men of courage and resolve, who came home or never will, be rewarded and given the honor they deserve, and at least for a moment, be remembered as heroes.
Its important to remember these veterans, living and deceased, who bravely fought for this country. Regardless of who you support or your political affiliation, everyone can be a proud patriot. If you know someone who served in the armed forces, you shouldn’t just thank them today, but you should show daily the appreciation for your rights you have due to their sacrifices.
Political Fact of the Day: A flat tax means that despite your earnings, everyone pays the same percentage, though typically a minimum amount of income is necessary to pay the tax. In a progressive tax system, the more you earn, the more you pay in taxes, and the percentage of your income that is taxed. However, the percentage has a maximum value that can never go higher, and once again, there is a minimum income necessary to begin paying the tax. Flat taxes favor anyone who earns middle-class or higher wages, while Progressive taxes typically favor poor income families and those living in poverty. Flat Taxes are called flat because the rates are flat, or equal; Progressive taxes because the rates progressively increase, significantly increase.
Illinois Citizens Should Know: The current state Minimum Wage is $8.25 per hour with proposals for this to increase over the next ten years. Currently all states bordering Illinois have Minimum wages at $7.25 (Missouri has theirs at 7.50). It should also be noted that Illinois’ law only applies to businesses with four or more employees, excluding family member staff, while most of the bordering states have no exclusion or have the exclusion for number of employees being lower, and without the family exemption.
Illinois, 2014 Governor’s Race, THE GOP CANDIDATES
There are some ‘scandals’ associated with him. In 2008, his daughter failed to be given admission through regular processes at Walter Payton Prep School in Chicago. Later on, his daughter was admitted to the school through a principal picks process, in which the principal gives special dispensation for a student to be admitted into the school. The CEO of Chicago Public Schools, Arne Duncan claims to have told him about the process, of which Rauner claims he never had the conversation. He then proceeded to donate $250,000 to the school in its next academic year.
This time last year, Rauner had been improperly claiming homestead exemptions. He had done this for several years on two of his homes, and when an article from the Daily Herald reported the information, he responded immediately. He immediately paid back the $1,616 he owed in savings for misfiling and distributed through his own press that he had made a mistake and he had gone about correcting it. These improper exemptions occurred from 2008 to 2011.
Bruce Rauner’s current campaign issues are Jobs, Spending, Taxes, Pension Reform, Government Reform, and Education.
On Jobs & Taxes, he wants to remove the Quinn-Madigan tax increases, and try to “fair” out the tax code entirely, this typically means aiming for a flatter tax on citizens, rather than the current progressive one.
He wants to institute Right-To-Work zones, and allow workers to decide if they have to join a union to receive employment.
He wants to enact tort reform and reduce lawsuit abuse.
Finally he wants to make the Illinois’ minimum wage laws competitive with other states, meaning he would reduce the state minimum wage.
Bill Brady, “The Social Conservative”
State Senator Brady has been on this track twice before. Brady graduated from Illinois Wesleyan University, and after graduation began to work in the family real-estate developing industry. Brady currently co-owns Brady Homes, which is one of the largest Home Builders in Central Illinois, and he runs it with his father. He has been representing the 44th Legislative District since being appointed to it in May 2002. He served previously in the Illinois House of Representatives, representing the 88th district from 1993 to 2000. In 2006 he ran for Governor of Illinois the first time, and lost in the primaries. In 2010, Bill Brady won the primaries, but failed to beat Incumbent Pat Quinn by 32,000 votes.
The only scandal to Bill Brady’s name currently is the fact that as of 2014, Brady Homes, whom he shares ownership in with his father, has been sued twice for defaulting on their loans.
In the State Legislatures, Brady has made several attempts to enact a “dime cut from every dollar spent” reform to the budget and its deficit. Currently, Illinois’ budget deficit is $13 Billion, with the overall economy of Illinois recently being rated worst in the nation.
On Education, Bill Brady seeks to replace the State Board of Education with a smaller agency that would receive half the funding it has now. He believes that Intelligent Design has a place in academia, while he believes the Bible should be advocated as part of a child’s curriculum, he has stated that the children should have access to the Bible and to other books, such as the Qur’an. He believes that local school boards should be able to decide their stances on intelligent design in the schools, and should be able to dictate whether they want to participate in a school prayer. Brady additionally believes that there should be incentives in place for private schools where the tuitions are funded in equal part to public and private schools by the state.
On Employment, Bill Brady has established he would like to reduce the Minimum wage law to the 7.25 per hour amount that bordering states have. Bill Brady has stated that he would freeze the state minimum wage law and then have the state maintain its rate at the same level as the federal minimum wage. He doesn’t believe that government heavy-handedness in the market is long-term effective.
Bill Brady has previously sought to have the suspension of the death penalty lifted.
On Abortion issues, Bill Brady pronounces himself pro-life. He seeks to abolition all forms of abortion, including accounts of rape and incest. He does allow an exception for when the mother’s life is put in danger. Brady has supported legislation in the past that would allow pharmacists to not sell contraceptives from their stores.
On Same-Sex Marriage, Bill Brady on February 10, 2010 introduced a state constitutional amendment that would have defined marriage as being between “one man and one woman”. It would have also denied same-sex couples to seek other forms of legal unions by denying validity or recognition of any same sex civil union, domestic partnership, or any such relationship. Brady feels opposed to any institution being adopted that would grant legal status in any shape or form to same-sex couples.
On Medicaid, Brady seeks to reduce funding for the state program. He has offered to institute a Welfare Fraud Department, which would help clean up claims in the system. He has also voiced support for a transition from the current Medicaid system to a HMO-style approach for Medicaid recipients, so that costs in the healthcare system could be reduced.
Bill Brady on other issues has voted close to what his label of him would be, Social Conservative. He has voted against Stem Cell Research, Marijuana Legalization, and forcing Private Insurers to offer contraception drug coverage. He has supported concealed carry legalization, the institution of term limits in both State Legislatures, a reduction in Sales Taxes, Mass Euthanasia of cats and dogs, and Capping Campaign Donations.
Kirk W. Dillard, “Old-School Establishment”
State Senator Dillard is another of the 4 major contenders in this year’s Republican Primary. Prior to His time as State Senator, Dillard was Chairman of the DuPage County Republican Party. Dillard currently is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council, serving as the Illinois state leader. He took office as Senator of the 24th district of Illinois back in 1994, and has since been their Senator. Senator Dillard graduated from Western Illinois University, and then attained his Juris Doctor from DePaul University College of Law. He also serves at the University of Chicago as a Public Policy mentor.
In his tenure as State Senator, he served as a Republican Party Whip and was Assistant Minority Leader. In 2007, he appeared in advertisement that gave an endorsement to then Democrat candidate hopeful, Barack Obama. Dillard is active in a handful of Senate committees and currently chairs the Judiciary Committee and the High Technology Task Force.
On Campaign Financing, he sponsored the bill that would become Illinois’ first donations reform in 25 years. This was his platform in 2010, and is the issue discussed by him in his 2014 campaign.
On the Budget, Dillard seeks to establish a constitutional amendment that would force legislators to pass a balanced, zeroed budget at the expense of their paychecks covering the deficit.
On Gun Rights, Dillard admits that his family is filled with hunters and sportsmen and that gun rights are a necessary part of Illinois as they are part of the Constitution. He also states he was the first to sponsor concealed-carry legislation and received the NRA’s endorsement during the 2010 gubernatorial primary race.
Dan Rutherford serves as Treasurer of Illinois, having taken the office when then Treasurer Giannoulias stepped down from office. Until then, Rutherford had served as Senator for the 53rd district of Illinois from 2003 to 2011; prior to that he was the Representative for the 87th district in the Illinois House from 1993 to 2003. Rutherford attended Illinois State University and in 1980 became a legislative assistant in Springfield, Illinois. Because he helped coordinate a congressional district for the Governor’s campaign, Rutherford was brought on the Reagan-Bush 1980 campaign as the Executive Director.
Following his time in the campaign, Rutherford began to travel, and in Japan in 1984, became acquainted with the ServiceMaster Company. The next year, he joined Downers Grove as an executive and eventually became responsible for the company’s international expansion into other businesses. His international business dealings were primarily in licensing services. Downers Grove was a part of the ServiceMaster Company, and today companies such as Terminix, Tru-Green, Merry Maids, American Home Shield, and Rescue Rooter are all part of the ServiceMaster Company.
As a side note, he is currently supportive of adding Poland to the Visa Waivers list that contains other countries that America gives preferential entry into the US.
So who is the best candidate for your ideals?
When examining these four guys, and considering the policies that each of them suggest or have previously fought for, it is not easy to say there is one clearly superior candidate. Clearly if you feel really strongly against gay marriage and abortion rights, you’ll support Bill Brady, and or maybe Kirk Dillard. However of these two individuals, Bill Brady has more ideas on how to effectively handle the economics of Illinois. That being said, he is the more conservative of the two candidates. That’s just simple fact and despite all negative ads Dillard can use, he’ll always be that Moderate Conservative to Bill Brady’s Social Conservative. Especially with that attractive ad endorsing future Democrat candidate Barack Obama. Anyone who claims to be a friend and agree with the values of President Obama either is lying to themselves about being Republican, or they are con man.
Looking at Dan Rutherford versus Bruce Rauner on the “Fiscal Conservative” side of arguments, well, I just cannot take Mr. Rauner as a serious Republican. Rauner has a lot of political clout in Chicago, and to his defense, he’s done a lot of good there in Chicago. BUT, once a Chicago politician, always a Chicago politician. Rauner is a wealthy man, but he’s not a “traditional” business man, he is a Wall Street guy, and if you find yourself irritated with wealthy, moderate Republicans dictating policy, I don’t think you’ll find solace in him. Mr. Rutherford, well, I guess it really depends on how you feel about the men he’s established as being tied to. If you liked James Thompson and Jim Edgar, former Governors of Illinois, then I am sure you can expect similar policies. Some things to note though: Rutherford has a history of being acceptable of gay marriage and associating with folks who are lobby for the right to marriage. He also believes in some exclusions on gay marriage, at least in part on how he has voted in the General Asssembly of Illinois.
At that point, it’s Bill Brady versus Dan Rutherford as the legitimate candidates representing sincere Republican values, not Chicago values or wishy-washy moderate values. So choose for yourselves this day, for whom you shall stand! Shall you be a Fiscal Conservative and bet on Dan Rutherford to turn the economy around? Or shall you be a Social Conservative and bet on Bill Brady to restore the moral fabric of Illinois?
As a voter in this primary election, I can honestly say that Bill Brady is a genuine man who can easily be portrayed as a hatemonger because of his beliefs, but he honestly tries to do a good job for his district. But I find myself liking Rutherford, despite the “scandal of harassment” because anyone that requires being taken down by a Chicago-style scandal must truly be of worth. Oh and, I don’t mind offering Equal Protection Under The Law that has been given to us, the American people, by the Highest Law of the Land, the American Constitution. I find candidates who campaign on moral woes rather than solving problems that can be solved to be frustrating.
But hey, I am a Libertarian, and this is just my ideas.
The Republican Primary ballot vote is March 18, 2014. Please remember to vote. One vote won’t decide the election, but a choir of votes joined together in ideals can swing the election around. Convince your neighbors, your friends, and family in Illinois to vote. 1 person can’t change much, 10 can do little, but 100, or even 1000 can swing the election from one candidate to another. It only took 32,000 for Quinn to win in 2010, and in that same election cycle, Bill Brady beat Kirk Dillard last primary by 200 VOTES.
Ukraine: Why the hour has passed for Western Military Showmanship
Last week I put together a timeline displaying the transformation of protests into violent actions in Ukraine. This week has ended with reports that the Russian Black Sea Fleet had landed in Crimea. The article is an account given by a professor who wrote papers on the Russian military in the post-Soviet era. The real major concern in moving forward for Ukraine lies in its political functioning.
Unlike the Syrian conflict or the possibility of a Venezuelan one, the protesters have theoretically beaten back the government forces. They have established an interim government, which is looking to enact austerity measures and put Ukraine back on the path to fixing its economy, so that way it can receive financial aid from the European Union, the International Monetary Fund, and other Western outlets. By far, the best statesman quote of this lifetime, “To be in this government is to commit political suicide and we need to be very frank and open.”
So why the title then? Because all the financial support in the world does very little good when the Russia’s Man of the Hour, Vladimir Putin had promised a $15 billion bailout in exchange for decreased relations with the West. This is even more pronounced in that deposed leader Viktor Yakunovych is still free and is rallying his pro-Russian followers. And having been reported in the last few hours, the Russian Parliament has granted Putin the right to use military force in Ukraine.
How should the West respond to militarization by Putin and Russia?
Opinion of Michael McKinney: Okay, so KGB Putin, President and Sexiest Man Alive in Russia, wants to rebuild the Russian Empire. That’s not surprising, he’s simply collecting all the pieces of the former USSR states that have Russian populations in them. I think at this point it would be better to plebiscite the individual territories of Ukraine. Plebiscite is a 20s-50s term where the popular sovereignty of the province determines what to do with the state. Have each of the provinces of Ukraine vote on whether they want to integrate with Russia, or remain with the Ukraine. Then peacefully let the ones who decide to join Russia, secede and integrate with Russia. THEN, after the concessions made, place a guarantee of protection on Ukraine, like we should do with Georgia, Poland, Estonia, Livonia, and Lithuania. I would purchase a sum of land from each of the states for a small military base, mostly for training these nations’ military forces in national defense. The money would be under $10 billion to each state, and with the ending of most operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, the budget should be able to handle such small, limited-scope missions. It’s more about ensuring that these nations can adequately defend themselves from Russian Imperialism than outright American Imperialism.
Opinion of Michael Tagan: I take your military project and take it one step forward. Let’s make some military grants out to these states so they can buy missile defense systems and better war materials. Maybe offer inclusion in NATO if they don’t already have it. It’s not about outright opposing Russia, so much as showing that we will not tolerate the former oppressions of Communism and Russian Imperialism that occurred. If they want to Empire, They’ll have to consider the strong defensive coalition of NATO as opposed to that.
Though I admit, that in this day and age, good old American Warrior philosophy is typically looked down upon. But I cannot see the current leadership actually having enough of a spine to do anything. It literally would take the Showmanship of Theodore Roosevelt’s White Fleet to deter the Russians and maybe that’s still not strong enough. How can you adequate threaten a nuclear nation bent on rebuilding the Empire when you’ve set precedent you’ll sell democracy for flimsy UN observation missions?
Syria: Why a Crackdown Must be Fierce for a Dictatorship to Survive
So protests have been occurring in Syria since 2011. It all began with the waves of peaceful protests induced by the “Jade Spring” or the “Arab Spring”. These wave of pro-political freedoms protests began in Hama in May 2011, and the initial reaction by Bashar al-Assad was to send in the military and crackdown slightly on the protesters. In that same time period, protests occurred in the cities of Homs and Baniyas. HOWEVER, violence had already begun in the battleground of the city of Deraa. In the period of the Siege of Deraa, at least 120 people were initially killed in the first days of battle and by the end of the battle, 4th Armored Corps of the Syrian Army had taken the city.
So what has happened since the beginning? On July 29, 2011, officers of the Syrian Army defected, forming the Free Syrian Army and began defending and taking grounds in the names of the protesters after weeks of participating in violent killings of the protesters in various cities. By October of 2012, the violence had finally reached Damascus and Aleppo, both significant cities of historical and governmental importance to the Syrian state. By April of 2013, rebels were bombarding Damascus, and due to the military leadership of the Free Syrian Army had seized several military bases, commandeering tanks, heavy weapons, and large supplies of munitions.
At the point when the rebels looked strongest, Islamist forces, Hezbollah, began offensives into Syria from the Lebanon border to aid the Syrian government. Through the training by Iranian military advisors and terrorist Hezbollah camps, the Syrian army started forming pro-government militias as they took towns back from the rebels. These militias would commit most of the human rights violations, as they would use knives to commit a massacre in the rebel-controlled town of Bayda, and leaving at least 100 dead.
Wikipedia has a live and updating map with the progress by government, Hezbollah and rebel forces here.
What should the United States do, if anything in Syria?
Opinion of Michael Tagan & Michael McKinney: Back in 2011, the first thing I thought we should do during the Arab Spring was advocate in each of these protests was 1 year, $5 billion deal for each state that would allow foreign observers and limiting voter intimidation in parliamentary elections. Many of the states had dictatorships or dynastic powers, but the establishment of some Upper and Lower House of legislative power would have been enough of a reform for most. Instead, Tunis is the only surviving democracy of the spring states. Algeria is murky, as it always has been; Libya is another quagmire; Egypt is better off with a military controlled interim government for enacting reforms to rebuild itself; Bahrain cracked down on its protests and kept power; Iranians did similar things; finally Assad also tried to crackdown. The problem was Bashar al-Assad is slightly incompetent on handling domestic issues.
Thus Assad was weak and exposed to a successful revolution, rather than the minor democratic reform I would typically offer. Protests formed, and violence began, but the minute those military officials switched sides, my America would have stepped in. We would have sent through the CIA heavy weapons and munitions for the Syrians to fight against the Assad tyranny. We would have been sending through the military into Turkey, Israel, and Jordan supplies to build adequate refugee camps and providing resources and aid to those states in order to keep order in those camps. We would have urged the United Nations to establish a peace-keeping zone in Damascus, where neutral location talks could occur between Free Syrian Army Forces and Assad supporting forces. And the minute that Hezbollah intervened, a terrorist group, I would have given carte blanche to Israel to strike out on an assault on Hezbollah along the Lebanon-Israeli border. That would have kept the extremist taint out of the conflict longer. And the minute Al-Qaeda showed up on the insurgency side, I would have established that military aid would end for the protesters if they didn’t purge the extremism as well.
But hey, I’m your American Imperialist, and I see that the stability of the Middle East hangs on Syria, as all of its neighbors but Israel are in poor positions themselves. I don’t want the dominos to fall the wrong way, and Syria and its neighbors to being back to proxies of Iran. I don’t personally care if the future governments distance themselves from America afterwards, I might even encourage it.
However, at this stage…there’s no possible American solution that can effectively seize the momentum back. It would be more like trying to fight the Korean War at this point. The best anyone could hope for is a permanent truce, much like the unofficial one between Syria and Israel. And after some time, perhaps party talks could be done to implement minor reforms to reintegrate Syria with its other half.
But what do we do at this point, Michael? We wait, that’s what we’ve done for 3 years and that’s all we can do. We as Americans and humans failed to act in good conscious when an evil man began to commit human rights violations upon his citizens. We failed in good conscious to ensure religious freedom in the region, when the protestors began to kill Christians and Jews located in the region. But if we admit these failures, there is something we can do. Start over, and establish a UN neutral zone where Opposition and Government forces can have peace talks. Establish a cease-fire, and in that time profile the opposition. To the forces that are still moderate, and secular in seeking democracy for Syria, we arm in that time and grant food, building materials, and munitions. And should the Russians do the same with the Syrians, as they are already doing, then the moderate forces will have a chance to fight back effectively in the region.
Since President Maduro took power, protesters have been in the streets, and the Venezuelan government has tried to crackdown effectively. There have been five reported fatalities, but scores of arrests and injuries have occurred in the student-based protest.
The demands of the Venezuelan protest are these so far: Maduro resigns from office, ending of political suppression, and a government focused on providing a stable economic environment for the students to eventually enter.
Tachira, a city in Venezuela and the base for most of the protests, has been officially closed down in terms of the government and businesses in the most recent months, but Maduro has stated “he will not let the students make Tachira into war-torn Benghazi.”
In an attempt to rally the people to his cause, Maduro has used the old South American tactic of “CIA-funded conspiracy” against the protesters and anything President Barack Obama has stated. He’s gone so far to label the protesters as “fascist groups” seeking to overthrow his peaceful and democratic government. He has labelled President Obama’s most recent statements as a “gross interference.”
The “face of the opposition”, Leopoldo Lopez, has been officially arrested by the Venezuelan government, after the 5 deaths. He gave himself up to the police, and since that arrest was made, protests have increased and agitation versus the government seems unlikely to decrease any time soon.
The impacts on Venezuela from all this are the following: The have a poor economy as it is and the protest in various cities have led to several days of goods shortages, part induced by the Maduro regime and part induced by the inability to safely conduct business.
Should we seek to act in some manner in Venezuela, or are verbal statements of support for protesters enough?
Opinion of Michael McKinney & Michael Tagan: Interactions in Venezuela are still at the beginning of a protest. Should at some point, human rights begin to massively violated, then we can consider actions. However, I might be willing to point out to President Maduro that the FARC operate in Columbia and Venezuela and the United States does not recognize the FARC as a source of legitimate power, and they are true fascists. We Americans have a proud internal tradition of political expression, something which directly violates the tenants of Fascism and Communism. And any time Maduro is willing to align himself with the a similar set of reforms laid down by Senators in the 60s for Cuba, America would be more than willing to financially aid and rebuild Venezuela. And I might be even willing to throw a larger bone, saying that if you have elections right now, and you allow for 3rd party observers of the elections from Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay, Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay, then we’ll offer an initial stimulus bailout to your state right now. Regardless of who wins the elections, if you consent to regional observation and limiting of voter intimidation, we’ll show our support for your attempts to democratize your state.
“Transition isn’t easy, President Maduro, and we know ourselves that compromise is even harder. But sometimes we all must walk through a political hell so that way our great nations can thrive. I’m sure that if Venezuela embraces its people’s desires, it too can experience a rise in economy and power.”