The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Posts tagged ‘Vladimir Putin’

GREEN ENERGY AND THE ATTROCITY IN UKRAINE

Yesterday President Obama took a break from fund raising (although he will resume his schedule for that purpose later in the week) to offer a statement on the downing of Malaysia Flight 17 over the Ukraine and wag his finger at those who are impeding the effort to provide the 298 victims and their families the dignity of closure.  The “speech” seemed perfunctory, devoid of either passion or real outrage which we all should feel about this act of terrorism. Of course, there wasn’t much outrage when President Putin acquired Crimea.

The president of the United States has not been alone in providing a muted response to what most believe was a tragedy that either was directly attributable to Vladimir Putin or at the least one in which he was a willing partner.  The leaders of Europe have been similarly silent.  It took a former head of state, Tony Blair of the UK to make a statement which accurately reflects the outrage that we all should feel.

It is neither surprising nor difficult to understand why Obama generally avoided facing the issue head on.  That is clearly his method of “non-operation.”  If he doesn’t acknowledge something he must believe either that it doesn’t exist, it’s someone else’s problem to deal with or it simply will go away.  If he doesn’t give much of a hoot about how black children are being murdered regularly in his home town of Chicago, why worry about a few hundred Europeans who were blown out of the sky somewhere in Europe?  But why the silence in Europe?  The simple answer is energy – and much of the European Union’s dependence on gas which flows abundantly from Russia and through Ukraine.

The Maastricht Treaty was signed by the members of the European Union in 1992.  The goal was to reduce dependency on carbon based fuels and to replace them with “green” fuels, purportedly to the benefit of the world’s ecology.  In the twenty-two years since its enactment, some progress has been made by the EU members to replace oil and gas with alternate fuel sources as the following chart shows:

 

The information contained in this chart is for the year ending in 2012.  The total estimated population of EU countries for that same period was approximately 505,000,000 – and the four largest countries by population, Germany, France, UK and Italy housed more than fifty-five percent of those people.  The four countries which achieved the best records of finding alternative sources of energy, Sweden, Latvia, Finland and Austria had approximately 26 million residents, representing a little more than five percent of the total population of EU countries.

Not surprisingly, the four most populated EU countries had average or below average rates of replacing carbon based fuels with alternate energy sources – suggesting that while developing renewable clean energy may be an admirable goal, this technology is still in its infancy and is unable to provide a sufficient replacement for our traditional fuels to large numbers of people.  That lesson is clearly lost on President Obama – but it is abundantly clear to Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and the leaders of other countries which are dependent on petroleum products from Russia.  It’s difficult to negotiate with the loan shark who is holding your family hostage, threatening them with death, if you fail to make a payment.

In some respect, the seizure of Crimea and the murders of 298 plane passengers is partly the fault of the Obama administration’s focus on green energy – whatever the price in terms of increased energy costs to be passed along to consumers, the loss of jobs in the coal industry, the failure to enable the creation of new jobs with the Keystone Pipeline, the refusal to permit LNG processing plants by the EPA which could provide at least some replacement for Soviet fuels that could be shipped to Europe to reduce that continent’s dependence on Russian energy – well, the list goes on.

The president’s recent photo-op (which he has publicly said he hates doing) eating at a local restaurant, somehow brings an image of Wimpy to mind.

wimpy

 

“Where there is no vision, the people perish.” —Proverbs 29:18

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DISPUTIN’ PUTIN

Vladimir Putin isn’t a very nice guy.  There’s a lot of that going around among world leaders.  For one thing he has a low opinion of President Obama.  There’s a lot of that going around as well.  And he’s not all that favorably inclined to Secretary of State John Kerry – calling him a liar.  Obama’s meeting with Putin and the other G-20 heads has got to be creating a lot of angst for our president.

Putin disputes the reliability of the evidence that the Assad regime is responsible for the gassing of its citizens.  A reasonable person would take that denunciation with a grain of salt.  After all, Putin and the Russian government are supporting the current Syrian administration and Assad.

But a reasonable person also has to question the reliability – or more important, the believability of what is coming out from Obama and his administration.  This is an administration that has bald-faced lied about virtually everything since it found itself first empowered.  Yesterday in Stockholm, the president said, “It was not his red line that was crossed – it was the world’s red line.”  If that isn’t a bald-faced lie, what is?  I know because I’ve seen the tape about twenty times.

With the debate currently raging in Congress over whether to support a military initiative in Syria, the focus has now switched from humanitarian concerns to whether we should pass this resolution to allow the president – and by extension the nation – save face.  That is hardly an adequate reason for going to war – in Syria or anywhere else.

By now it should be obvious that we have managed to put together a national team which consists of a lot of scrubs.  That is not restricted to the executive branch.  The leadership and a fair amount of the membership of the Congress fall into that same unfortunate category.  While legally, they do represent America – they certainly don’t exemplify the American ideal.  And any thinking person either in this country or elsewhere realizes that.  There is no face to save for these people.

Speaking of legality – there are two sets of laws which we need to consider.  The first are those of the United States and the second of the international community (the PC way of speaking of the UN).

With the constant disregard for the laws of the United States that Obama has demonstrated by violating acts of Congress through executive fiat, I suppose the question of U. S. law is more or less irrelevant.  The law, as it is viewed by this administration, is something that should be enforced when it meets their objectives and ignored when it doesn’t.  So as U. S. law has essentially been minimalized by Obama and company, let’s not waste time on the academic exercise of debating whether the president can commit us to a military action in Syria or whether he needs Congressional consent.

So that leaves us with the question of international law.

As I understand it, there are specific conditions under which an outside party can involve itself in the affairs of another, sovereign nation.

The United States can engage in a war if we are threatened or believe that we are about to be attacked by another nation.  That is not the case in Syria.

The United States can engage in a war if we are asked to assist one of our allies who are being assaulted by another nation.  That is not the case in Syria.

The United States can engage in a war if we are asked to do so through a resolution passed by the United Nations.  That is not the case in Syria.

There is no legal justification under international law for us to be involved in Syria which is engaged in an internal struggle – a civil war.  We might take a lesson from England in this matter.  Queen Victoria was reputedly tempted to get involved in the American Civil War but was convinced by her husband Prince Albert not to get Great Britain into the fray.  I can only imagine how President Lincoln would have reacted if English war ships suddenly showed up on the shores of the east coast.

So there they are in St. Petersburg – President Putin and President Obama.  One straightforward tyrant and one wannabe I’m not sure what.  I guess the biggest difference between the two is that one shoots from the hip – the other from the lip.  And that lip smacking is precisely what has gotten us to where we are today.

NOSTROVIA (На здоровье)

A long time ago it was grapes.  And then it was lettuce.  Back in the 70’s we consumers knew how to make our voices heard.  So we boycotted those commodities to bring pressure on the growers to improve the wages and conditions of the migrant farm workers.

Whether it was withholding our purchases from these products which ultimately caused the growers to increase the wages they paid their workers or some other factor I’m not sure.  But at least we believed that we had helped make a difference.

if you’ve read this blog for any length of time you certainly realize that I view life through a relatively conservative set of glasses.  So saying that I participated actively in the grape and lettuce boycotts might surprise you.  Let me set the record straight.

No, I did not have some major catharsis which switched me from a liberal view of life to one that was more conservative in nature.  Unfortunately, largely due to an extremely biased media, we have come to equate the terms conservative and uncaring as being interchangeable.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

I believe that it is every person’s moral responsibility to help our fellow man out as best we can.  That applies across both sexes and irrespective of race or creed.  I believe and always have that we are supposed to “Do unto others…” and that we are each others’ keepers.  I believe that is the message of true conservatism – however it may have been corrupted in practice or mis-stated on television.

For years I boycotted the products of Canada.  Not that I have anything against our friends to the north.  But I could never in my mind, after seeing several videos and the activity once in person (and that was enough) justify the slaughter of harp seal pups in front of their helpless mothers – all for the sake of human vanity.  That personal encounter left me sleepless for weeks afterward.

As a conservative (and a capitalist) I thoroughly endorse the concept of consumer boycotts.  If the basis of capitalism is making money, then withholding the lifeblood that sustains a company whose products we abjure, for whatever reason, seems a reasonable way to make our demands known and to instigate change on the part of the entity whom we consider an offender.

If you think about it, if we really wanted to force our lawmakers to implement a simplified and equitable tax code instead of spending generations talking about it, there is a simple way to achieve this.  This next April 15, if twenty million people simply refused to file their returns it would make a statement that would awaken even the most hard of hearing in the halls of Congress.  There is something to the concept of strength in numbers.

And that brings us to the topic of a boycott which is currently underway.  The target is Stolichnaya which we all know is a Russian vodka.  Actually, most of it that is produced for export is manufactured in Latvia (Premium Vodka) as opposed to the bottles which are produced in Russia and bear the labels (Russian Vodka).

The boycott began in gay bars in New York but have spread around the world to other such establishments because of the extremely oppressive stance that Vladimir Putin has taken regarding gays in mother Russia.  It is hard for me to comprehend Comrade Putin’s position.

This is not a matter of gay marriage (that is not anywhere near being on the table in Москва).  No this is simply a matter of human rights – and I would hope that people, whatever their sexual orientation, would come together solidly on the side of supporting those for everyone – including our LGBT brothers and sisters.

Perhaps the most difficult to convince in this struggle are those who self-identify as “conservatives”.  I can imagine what a member of the Westboro Baptist Church might do if they were to hear someone preach a sermon on the subject.  The result might be no different than the fate a gay man would expect in most of the Muslim world – death at the hands of an angry, righteous mob.

In St. Thomas Aquinas’ “Summa Contra Gentiles” he offers the following about God and His creation:

“For the virtue of a being is that by which he operates well. Now every operation of God is an operation of virtue, since His virtue is His essence, as was shown above. Therefore, God cannot will evil.”

If God cannot will evil, then certain other conclusions follow.

“[1] From this it appears that the hatred of something does not befit God.
[2] For as love is to the good, so hatred is to evil; for to those we love we will good, and to those we hate, evil. If, then, the will of God cannot be inclined to evil, as has been shown, it is impossible that He should hate anything.”

Well, the Stoli boycott has uncovered a worm in the Tequila (pardon the mixed metaphor).  The Latvian gay community has appealed to their brothers and sisters to stop it – for fear that their this might upset their tenuous position in their home country.  We always should be cognizant of unintended consequences when we embark on something like this.  Whether their words are heeded by their brothers and sisters in the U.S., UK and Canada remains to be seen.

Let me close with a small consumer tip.  I used to drink Stoli.  It is good vodka.  But if you want to have some excellent vodka at a fraction of the price all you need to do is the following:

Buy a charcoal-based water filter (such as a Brita).  Use this filter solely for the purpose of filtering vodka – unless you want your kids walking around all day half smashed.

Instead of purchasing a premium vodka, (Stoli or Grey Goose or such), buy your vodka in the 1.75 liter size (usually around ten dollars).  Gilbey’s and Gordon’s both offer a good product – among others.  Run it through the filter twice, then store it in glass bottles and put it in your freezer for later consumption.  You’ll be amazed at how this improves the flavor and resembles the taste of the premium vodkas that are on the market.

I know that those of you who are vodka drinkers out there will be thanking me for this advice later.  But until then На здоровье!  (And “chin chin” to boot).

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