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Seeds of Destruction
Seeds of Destruction

Free Speech Double Whammy

Blog From
January 12th, 2015

LFU_SeedsDestruction_Blasts_vFMuch of the analysis of the Paris massacres perpetrated by Islamic extremists focuses on the chilling effect of the murderous rampage on free speech. If your life will end violently because your utterances or writings offend the sensibilities of barbaric cowards, you’re apt to keep your ideas to yourself. It’s an Orwellian nightmare come to life.

 

Among other things, the analysis recognizes the fact that the crudity of the Charlie Hebdo comics is also distasteful in polite society. Nevertheless, offending finer feelings is feather-light in the balance scale when free speech is the counterweight. Freedom of expression is a necessary ingredient in the life of democracies.

 

As horrific as the loss of life is, free speech was hit by another, equally sinister, force in the aftermath of the Paris bloodbath. The refusal of many world leaders, including President Obama, to identify the terrorists as Islamic Jihadists is a dishonesty also meant to strangle free speech.

 

The willful choice to ignore the source of the violence is done to avoid the possibility of offending nonviolent practitioners of the Muslim religion. Obama and others are going out of their way to make sure peaceful Islamists are not insulted by a truth they must already know.

 

This political correctness is chillingly similar to the Paris slaughter. The former seeks to avoid offending by killing the truth while the latter kills because the truth offends. They’re both the death of a free society.

 

Posted in Seeds of Destruction

 

 

Seeds of Destruction

Obama’s War On ISIS: Death By A Thousand Buts

Blog From
September 13th, 2014

LFU_SeedsDestruction_Blasts_vFIn 2008, Senate neophyte and first time Presidential candidate Barack Obama had very definite ideas on how American foreign policy should be restructured. The unqualified Commander-in-Chief-wanna-be viewed our international presence as heavy handed and counterproductive. He promised to fix all of that first by undoing his predecessor’s military incursions into Afghanistan and Iraq. Beyond that, what he had in mind was anyone’s guess.

 

We don’t have to guess any more. For the past six years, the theories of the inexperienced candidate Obama have been the policies of President Obama. That’s shocking, really. Capable people who begin out of their depth usually grow in their jobs. But rather than being witness to a productive maturation process with Obama, we are observers of the opposite. Ideas grounded in ignorance have successfully resisted challenge despite repeated failures.

 

Last Wednesday, the President tried to make up for some of his recent fiascos with a speech on his new ISIS strategy. But speeches are difficult to read in general. Obama’s, in particular, are almost indecipherable. Without a doubt, his rhetoric sounds good to the listening ear. But, when the text is examined too much is left to the imagination and too much is simply wrong.

 

A forthright speech would have taken a clarifying form:

 

“I state as certainties things that sound good in the moment, but some of them are untruths, others are exaggerations and too many are unknowns. For example, I declare that Iraq now has an inclusive government, but it is impossible, at this early juncture, to know whether it truly is.

 

I claim that my actions in Yemen and Somalia are legitimate successes on which the new ISIS policy is based. But, in reality, my efforts in those two countries are, at best, pointless and, at worst, have strengthened Al Qaeda in the regions.

 

I state that American leadership is the one constant in an uncertain world, but I constantly turn my back on promises and people. I’m sure you all remember how I looked the other way when the Syrian government crossed my red line. Russia is slowly crushing the Ukraine to death, but I’ve declared victory and gone on to other distractions.

 

I ignored the ISIS threat for years as the Al Qaeda successor grew larger and more capable and became a greater terrorist force than its predecessor. But bin Laden is dead and I’ll remind you of that as often as I can since it makes me look strong.

 

I agree that ISIS is a terrorist group, but I have to insist that it isn’t even radical Islam. It has conquered an area about the size of Belgium. But I need to make ISIS seem smaller than it is so I deny that it a state.

 

In conclusion, I do admit that ISIS, left unchecked, is a threat to the American homeland. But, I insist that the lives of our citizens be placed in the hands of highly questionable local troops and unwilling partners. You may recall that I dismissed thousands of Syrian rebels as civilians unworthy of my aid, but now they will get it. Britain is our biggest ally, but it is uncertain about airstrikes over Syria. The Germans will say no to any airstrikes after this speech, but, I never actually asked them anyway.”

 

While the true meaning of rhetoric becomes apparent with time, on Wednesday it seemed more like Obama was simply buying time. He did not define victory or provide even the tiniest glimpse of what success may look like. He merely said “it will take time” to eradicate a cancer like ISIS and the effort will be “steady and relentless”.

 

The problem with dragging out these campaigns interminably is that people inevitably lose sight of their critical purpose. Weariness sets in. Eventually, politicians will declare victory where none exists and the effort will end having accomplished only delays.

 

Will failure be the outcome of this war, too? It certainly sounds like death by a thousand buts.

Posted in Seeds of Destruction

 

 

Seeds of Destruction

With Putin In The Driver’s Seat, Where Will We End Up?

Blog From
March 9th, 2014

LFU_SeedsDestruction_Blasts_vFIf there ever were any doubt, developments this week made it clear that Vladimir Putin is driving the international bus in the Ukraine. The United States has few options and those depend on the long-term cooperation of EU countries, something that isn’t likely to happen. Where will the U.S. end up when Putin decides to put the brakes on the current ride?

 

Our present predicament results from the confluence of several factors. First is Putin’s determination to protect Russian interests as he defines them. Russia, like the Soviet Union before it, does not have world domination goals. But over the last few centuries, that part of the world has been the target of other countries with global domination in mind. France under Napoleon and Germany under Hitler are two examples.

 

Perhaps too captive to its history, Russia desires a wide hedge of protection around its borders, a role filled by the former Eastern Bloc countries. Putin wants to put as many of those blocks back in place as possible. He also wants to protect Russia’s only military outlet to Europe for the same reason. Not coincidentally, the outlet, the Navy base leased from the Ukraine, lies in the Crimea.

 

Second is the Obama Administration’s misunderstanding of both Russian intentions and their will to carry them out. Both Secretary of State John Kerry and National Security Advisor Susan Rice insisted that Russia could not possibly succeed in what it was doing. The reason? Invading the Ukraine was out of step with 21st century thinking.

 

The too-smug duo sounded like academics ensconced in their ivory towers far above the plains where real life happens. Their condescending pronouncements made not one bit of difference except to make them look foolish.

 

Third is our miscalculation of the interests of those we call allies in the West. Their support of our position is essential to any meaningful action against Russian aggression. While those countries do object to the Ukraine invasion, they also have strong economic ties with Putin’s country. Any significant response is most likely to be restrained and short-termed.

 

Fourth is the White House’s general inability to function successfully in the international setting. U.S. participation is limited by Obama’s view of what should be rather than what is. Not surprisingly, this restraint has led to failures of various magnitudes over the past five years. While Obama’s wishful thinking may have temporarily spun an illusory existence in the U.S., it cannot impact the harsh reality of global life even fleetingly.

 

As former Defense Secretary Robert Gates noted today, our immediate options are limited. They consist mainly of isolating Russia from the succor of the international community. Even if this succeeds, it will be short-lived since European countries have too many economic interdependencies with Russia.

 

We do have strategic economic options of our own, but they require long-term planning. We’ve never been good at seeing very far down the foreign relations road. Our short sightedness is probably because military power has been our stalk in trade, an option that has been off the table for some time.

 

Regardless, in Russia’s case, even the usually crystal ball-less Sarah Palin foresaw the Ukraine incursion. It was equally obvious that exporting natural gas to Russia’s closest neighbors, including the Ukraine, was our best option in keeping Putin in check.

 

But under the Obama Administration, the Energy Department has prevented the exportation of natural gas in any meaningful quantities. The effort has been so slow rolled that the first U.S. company cannot begin the exportation process until the end of 2015.  This doesn’t even rise to the level of too little too late for the current crisis.

 

How will the Ukraine crisis impact the U.S.? Will it further damage our international standing? Or will it be seen as just another act of Russian overreach that couldn’t be stopped without a military intervention that none countenanced?

 

The Russians predict that any U.S. action will “boomerang”. It seems that they are right, at least in a manner of speaking. Obama’s international reputation will be further damaged by this latest episode making him even less effective in that arena.

 

The unfolding of the Ukraine invasion showed the U.S., not the Russians, as out of step with reality in this century. It put the lie to wishful thinking and outsized, empty rhetoric as viable foreign relations strategies. It was more evidence that badly misjudging both opponents and allies gets you less than what you had.

 

But the biggest problem created by Obama’s incompetence is the encouragement it gives to those with belligerent intentions on a global scale. The U.S. has been the only country that consistently kept international discord from reaching the boiling point. There are plenty of countries and organizations that will take advantage of our retreat.

 

In weakening its international presence, the U.S. is sowing the seeds of destruction around the planet.

Posted in Seeds of Destruction

 

 

Seeds of Destruction

Hawking Healthcare: Shades of Orwellian Freakishness

Blog From
December 21st, 2013

LFU_SeedsDestruction_Blasts_vFOnce it became law, the White House spent little effort selling the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to the American public. Until this year, of course. There was a big marketing push before the law was passed. Most memorable are the President’s promises that we can keep our policies and doctors. There were others as well. They were focused mainly on the fairness of extending healthcare coverage to those without it.

But as politicians know, fairness is rarely a big seller if it means less money in voters’ pockets. That’s why the President’s false promises were so necessary. According to Mr. Obama, extended coverage came – not just with the same policies and  doctors – but with lower premiums, too.

The pre-passage marketing claims were irrational on their face. Expanding coverage at a lower price point can only be accomplished if the coverage is significantly reduced or costs are drastically cut. The latter was extremely unlikely and the former was contrary to the promises. Still, there is something very alluring about the prospect of free stuff. So, the public got behind the Act with enough enthusiasm to permit the passage of the partisan law.

And then reality began to intrude. The first crack in the facade of the happy face plastered around Obamacare came in October 2011. The White House announced that the long-term care provision of the law was permanently scrapped. The reason given was cost – too much of it to absorb. But, who needs long-term care anyway? We still had our regular policies and doctors and were looking forward to lower premiums.

Until 2013. This year, the happy face has suffered so many cracks that the facade has finally fallen off completely. The employer mandate was delayed as was the multiple policy choices promised to small business employees. Small businesses were also delayed in using the Obamacare website to buy insurance for their employees for another year.

Worst of all were the policy cancellations, the loss of doctors and the premium hikes. Six million insured people saw their policies cancelled as “substandard”, a bar set only by the Federal regulation itself. Forcing people to buy unneeded coverage at higher rates produced the lowest approval ratings of Obama’s presidency. As of this writing, his ratings continue to fall.

To stem the negative tidal wave engulfing the President, the Administration launched a full-court marketing press. The effort has produced a surreal collage of Orwellian freakishness that merely serves to underscore the law’s intractable problems.  After all, if Obamacare made sense, the sales pitch would not need to be so very bizarre.

And it is bizarre. We are treated to the spectacle of the President and First Lady, among others, entreating segments of society to become hucksters of Obamacare. The primary goal is to enroll young, healthy adults whose premium dollars are needed to pay for the costs of treating older, sick people. It would be a tough sell for expert marketeers – spending more money than you need to help someone else cope – and the would-be sales people are no experts.

But, they are a diverse lot. Mothers – first Latinas and then all moms – urged to speak to their adult children, to folks at the grocery store, to whoever will listen. Bartenders at frat parties, young adults in plaid pajamascelebrities and families around holiday tables all chatting up the benefits of paying too much for healthcare. All ignoring the increasingly public problems with a product originally sold through deception. 

Some, like moms and bartenders, are left to their own imaginations on how best to pitch Obamacare. But, there are focused campaigns like “Tell A Friend – Get Covered”, “Health Care For The Holidays” for the family dinner crowd and the “21 Days of Christmas”. O.k., I did name that last one, but it is a focused campaign as well. The Administration is touting a different Obamacare benefit on each of the 21 days between December 3 and December 23, inclusive.

The whole scene has an Orwellian eeriness about it. Big Brother peering out from behind the mothers, bartenders, young adults, celebrities and families around dinner tables. It’s a lot like the multitude of giant visages, suspended from skyways and scrapers, hawking wares in dystopian sci-fi films like Blade Runner. Little wonder that the effort has had scant positive effect on Obamacare enrollment. Too many cracks in the facade. Too many cancelled policies. Too much freakishness.

Mark Twain once observed, “It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.” Obama has managed to do both.

Posted in Seeds of Destruction