Our Resignation From Save the Children

21 Nov
by John, posted in Israel/Palestine, Middle East, UK   |  No Comments

November 21, 2014

Ms. Janet Brady
Associate Director, Donor Services
Save the Children
501 Kings Highway East Suite 400
Fairfield, CT  06825

Re:  Val Howard, Donor ID:  XXXXXX

Dear Ms. Brady,

Val and I are in receipt of your note of November 10th.  We have given a lot of thought to Save the Children since the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip began sending rockets into Israel.  Both of us at times fail to understand Israeli policies, particularly in Jerusalem and the West Bank. We often find the issues throughout the Middle East difficult to reconcile with modern morality.

But we were appalled by Save the Children’s statements:

We demand a lasting ceasefire for children in #Gaza and #Israel. We don’t choose sides. We #ChooseChildren.

We have carefully reviewed your website and watched your video.  We can not give money to an organization that would make a relative comparison between Israel and Hamas.

The facts in Gaza are clear.  Hamas breached a ceasefire and began firing thousands of rockets into Israel.  It rebuffed multiple warnings that Israel intended to act in self-defense as recognized in the United Nations charter. Israel as a recognized member of the United Nations exercised its right to self-defense.  I am not sure we in the United States or Great Britain are in a position to pass judgement on whether that action was somehow disproportionate.  The bombing seems entirely consistent with the level of collateral casualties our countries inflicted in an effort to protect our citizens in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc.

But at any moment Hamas could have halted that collateral damage.  They could have halted the killing and wounding of Gaza’s children.  But they chose to reject multiple ceasefires and to continue firing rockets and sending suicide teams into Israel. They did this because they believe as stated in their charter in killing every last Jew, including children, in Israel.

Those are the facts.

What you should have done is unambiguously call upon Hamas to stop the root cause of the violence – the rocket attacks.  But I am sure because you want to serve the children of Gaza, you chose to knuckle under and engage in this despicable moral relativism.

There is good and evil in the world.  You chose to say there is not. We cannot support an organization whose moral judgement differs so much from our own.

Please accept this letter as final notice that we are terminating our twenty year relationship with Save the Children and remove us from your mailing lists.

Very truly yours,

John and Val Howard

Democratic Opportunity

18 Nov
by John, posted in election, leadership, Middle East, Policy, President   |  No Comments


I have written two very direct pieces on what mistakes Democrats made that drove the disaster in the recent midterm election.  It was not encouraging to see Elizabeth Warren nominated to Democratic Senate leadership, because that means the party in the Senate for the time being is going to double down on left wing ideology.  I actually find Senator Warren much more reasonable in person than she is often portrayed, but she has never run any major government agency, business, or unit in the military.  I think after President Obama we can conclude that is not the right type of person for the presidency.

But there is a liberal leftist policy change that President Obama can make that will arouse his base and a majority of the country.  He can pull American troops out of Iraq.  He can return to the winning formula for Democrats in 2006 and 2008.

The weight of evidence as I have written before is US involvement in the Sunni/Shia civil wars in Syria, Iraq, and much of the Persian Gulf is all participants learn to hate us.  Instead of busily killing each other, they tend to turn to also killing Americans.

There is no public evidence that ISIS/ISIL was going to attack the US prior to the US bombing campaign.  There are a variety of politicians claiming there is classified intelligence revealing that intent.  It is hard to understand a decade after Colin Powell’s presentation at the UN on Iraq, the secret torture memos, the secret surveillance, and all the other baggage of the security state erected after 9/11 that politicians think these “trust me” explanations have any validity.

In 2008 a big part of the McCain loss to the President was McCain’s tendency to see every overseas crisis as an opportunity to invade everywhere.  McCain’s odd obsession for absorbing into NATO every unstable undemocratic former Soviet state from Georgia to the Ukraine was genuinely frightening.  President Obama was the candidate of national interest, caution, and withdrawal.

But such a policy has its consequences.  It means that a lot of despots are going to kill a lot of people.  It is not a pain free policy to stand apart from a spreading civil war that has no vital US national interest.  And as the pain of watching beheadings was amplified in the press, he buckled and now we are busily sending US ground troops into Iraq and air power across Iraq and Syria.  Last week the Administration and its proxies floated the specter of sending US troops back into combat in Iraq.

We have some basis to believe that President Kennedy was preparing to declare Vietnam a lost cause and ordering the withdrawal of US advisors prior to his assassination.  President Obama should learn from that and exit Iraq and Syria.  Otherwise, what difference is there between Democrats and Republicans?

It is that clear distinction that is both the right policy and an electoral advantage.

Democratic Delusion II – Gun Control

13 Nov
by John, posted in election, gun violence, Policy   |  No Comments


In traditional Democratic media and particularly today’s New York Times you can find a raft of misleading statements about the success of gun control in the mid-term elections.  The Times tries to somehow paint the near defeat of Colorado’s centrist governor, the loss of the Colorado Senate to Republicans, the narrowing of the Democrats margin of control in the Colorado House, the embarrassing drubbing of Andrew Romanoff to Mike Coffman in what was thought to be a big Democratic opportunity, and the defeat of almost every contested statewide Democrat as no big deal.  It does so by narrowly focusing on the replacement of two Republicans in traditional Democratic seats where Republicans had previously recalled two pro-gun control candidates last year.  It ignores the third recall seat  effort which forced the resignation of Colorado’s principal gun control advocate in the State Senate, Evie Hudak. That swing-seat in the Denver suburbs so crucial to Democrats in any election also went Republican two weeks ago.

Gun control hurt Democrats in Colorado.  Denying it is a delusion that helps ensure further losses for the party in two years.  The election returned an overwhelming tide of Republican governors and state legislators nationally.  Gun control is a loser for Democrats outside Democratic strongholds.

Activists are trumpeting the Washington State initiative that imposed a background check on gun buyers at gun shows, in private sales, and over the Internet.  As followers of this issue know, gun control advocates have harangued the nation that 92% of Americans support this type of gun control.  Yet in Washington State this initiative passed by 59%.  As with so much polling prior to the election, support for the Democratic position was overstated for what should be the easiest gun control measure to pass into legislation.

If you can only get a 59% vote in a deeply blue state such as Washington, how can you ever win in the South?  If you can only get a 59% vote in a deeply blue state, how do you ever win in the Rocky Mountain West?

Gun control is an albatross for Democrats in red and purple states – that was the unambiguous message of the election.

And on a final note, gun control advocates need to stop with the silly marketing attempt to call gun control “gun safety”.  If your organization does not offer gun safety courses, if it seeks to shut down every public shooting range necessary to teach gun safety to the general public, and if your organization’s only offer to prevent suicide and accidents is a background check you are not about gun safety.  You are about making guns harder to acquire.  That is certainly a reasonable policy position, but do not try and claim the mantle of gun safety.

What matters is not national polls with carefully choreographed polling questions on the heels of a great tragedy.  What matters is the poll on election day.  And gun control along with anti-capitalism returned a resounding defeat for the party.


The Democratic Way Back

10 Nov
by John, posted in Colorado Politics, competitiveness, election, leadership, Policy   |  No Comments


As a Democrat who loyally voted 95% for Democrats, I had a weird reaction to last week’s midterm election.  While I was not happy, I had the sense of watching a close friend struggling with addiction finally bottoming out because life had brought my friend to the precipe.  Rehab is now in order for the Democratic Party.

If the Republicans are better at governing the US House and Senate in the next two years, the Democrats will be the ghosts of Jimmy Carter in 1980.  They must return to the economic center before the Republicans.

The Progressive wing of the party is the conscience of the party that should remind us of the plight of the workingman and his family and to some lesser extent the plight of the middle class.  But it has never successfully delivered a strong economy, because it is fundamentally anti-capitalist.  After President Carter and President Obama it is obvious Progressives are ideologically incapable of economic leadership other than in the immediate moments of crisis.

Markets work because they self correct. Or said another way, when the economy booms not only the rich but the rest of society accumulates relative wealth.  When the economy stagnates markets force companies to shed workers and capital spending until the market can expand again on increased demand.  And while in a crisis all Democrats heading the tutelage of FDR favor intervention, it is the centrist wing of the party that traditionally seeks to end that intervention as the market recovers.

The recession ended in late 2009 and early 2010. What has all the Progressive intervention of the last 4 years years with Senator Warren’s and her compatriots relentless anti-capitalist rhetoric yielded?  More wealth for the rich who can always find their way.  And a drab grey world of stagnation for the working men and women of this country.

Governor Hickenlooper here in Colorado was re-elected in a year in which he should have lost because he believes in markets, smiles when he talks about business people, and is a relentlessly positive campaigner.  He was an entrepreneur that understands the long term power of the economy comes from innovation not government intervention.

And that’s why Democrats were drubbed last week.  Working people are not stupid.  The do not need an elitist from Harvard or Yale explaining to them the evils of capitalism, then droning on about abortion and climate change.  They understand it viscerally just as they understand the merits of capitalism.

I remember listening to a report of a shop steward explaining to the union members in one of our plants why we had to automate and reconfigure a manufacturing line.  He knew the numbers in the plant and the numbers in the plants of our competitors.  We either innovated which would cost some jobs or the plant would go out of business and the government could not change that.

Democrats must:

  1. Promote business and stop speaking evil of business people;
  2. Republicans won Hispanics in Texas statewide or lost narrowly, because Texas Hispanics are often more conservative or moderate than Democratic propaganda.  The entire premise that Democrats will eventually win Texas and other states in the South because of Hispanics is mildly racist.  Instead promote the economy so Hispanics have jobs that generate the tax base for better schools;
  3. Climate change is real.  But dramatic change can occur only after dealing with the vast worker displacement that comes from the Progressive gentry’s desire to shut down coal and associated industries. Stop ignoring the UN IPCC’s call for re-invigorating the nuclear industry to blunt climate change.  Stop cherry picking the science and policy to suit billionaire donors at the expense of working men and women.

You get my point.  Democrats must become the party of pro-capitalism not anti-capitalism.  They must never press a policy position that harms working class jobs without a pro-capitalist solution for the working class.

There are two models in the Democratic Party.  Governor Hickenlooper’s or Senator Warren’s Progressive fantasy.  One works well in a law school classroom and one works in the real world.  And only one will reverse the Democratic Party’s downward spiral into a gloomy Carteresque hole of anti-capitalist electoral defeats.

The Wrong Foreign Policy (Again)

07 Oct
by John, posted in Middle East, Policy, President, Roosevelt   |  No Comments


The Middle East interventionists are once again ascendant in US foreign policy.  President Obama has ordered both the air force and army helicopters into active combat. It is hard to believe Special Forces are not also in combat as air controllers and advisors.  At this point there is very little difference between President Obama and President Bush II on the Middle East.

Bush’s biggest mistake was one of geography.  He somehow decided that to avenge 9/11 we we had to attack in the Middle East from where Bin Laden recruited many of the worker bee jihadis of 9/11. But the 9/11 attack originated in Asia, in Afghanistan, not the Middle East.  It makes no sense now anymore than it did then.

We are told the reason we must turn away from Russian aggression that could lead to nuclear war in Europe and China expanding aggressively in the South China Sea is because ISIS/ISIL will attack the “homeland”.  Is there a more loathsome Orwellian term than “homeland”?

The President and Senator McCain are now reading from the same script that defined their differences in 2008 in one of recent history’s ironies.  They assure us that jihadis will now attack us if we leave Sunnis and Shiites to stew in their millennia and half civil war.

But of course that has been the case since 9/11.  Nothing has changed.  Of what use is the giant security apparatus constructed after 9/11 under the same loathsome “homeland” title if it cannot protect us? What use is it if once again the American military is the only solution?

What has changed is the FACT that intervention in the Middle East makes everything worse.  It stokes the image of crusaders invading Muslim lands furthering jihadi recruiting and financing. It once again demonstrates that the US is incapable of winning an asymmetric war in support of an unworthy people.

To paraphrase Churchill, by intervening we have sustained an unmitigated defeat.  It is the act of intervention in the wrong place that is defeat.

Foreign policy is often defined as interventionist vs. isolationist.  John McCain is an interventionist.  Rand Paul is an isolationist. But in reality the greatest foreign policy is one not of ideology, but of carefully considered choices.

Reagan chose to focus on the Soviet Union.  He chose in very real ways to provoke it at a moment of Soviet weakness that very few others perceived.  President Clinton ignored the approbation of journalists and hawks to avoid intervention in the Balkans.  Then with a successful Croatian offensive in Bosnia rolling back the Serbs, Clinton introduced the formidable presence of Ambassador Holbrooke, US air power, and heavy American infantry and armored divisions.

It is the act of choosing what conflicts matter.  It is the act of asking can we be effective NOW?  It is the understanding that some contagions must be quarantined to burn themselves out.  That it is heroic sometimes to stand aside even as it may seem dithering and harsh.  FDR spent five years dithering until the Japanese attack and Nazi declaration of war. But when Fascism attacked the US,  the entire country was behind FDR and the war effort. Because of FDR’s decision not to become involved until the moment of maximum US advantage, tens of millions of Europeans and Asians suffered under Fascism.

But it is about American interests, not the mirage of establishing world peace.

The fight is in the Eastern Ukraine and in the South China Sea.  That is where authoritarianism threatens free men and women. It is not in the ideological slave markets of the Middle East.  And it is where free people are actively fighting and dying for democracy not the right to slaughter different sects of their own religion.

There is no easy or safe answer.  Foreign policy is not poll driven.  It is about making the right decisions at the right moments.  And for the second presidency in a row we have an incompetent making the wrong decisions at the wrong times.