Friday, March 07, 2014

Ex Special Forces Vet sees Opportunity in the Crimea to Make Putin’s life Difficult

While President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry wring their hands in frustration over Russia’s occupation of the Crimea, ex-special forces veteran Robert Tripp offers some suggestions on how we could raise the cost of Russia’s occupation at minimal risk to the United States.

“If I were a Ukrainian patriot, I know exactly what I would do if Russia carries out a full occupation of Ukraine,” says Robert Tripp who served in the 10th Special Forces Group in Germany in the 1960s.

“Russia's current economic health is dependent on the sale of the natural gas they ship to the Western European nations. All the Russian pipelines to Western Europe pass through Ukraine.”

In Tripp’s view, this makes Russia’s situation much weaker than our leadership seem to realize.

“ If I were a Ukrainian patriot and my nation was occupied by the Russians, I would feel no personal stake in seeing that those pipelines continue to fill Russian coffers with revenues from gas sales. I would destroy every one of them along with their ancillary facilities. Those are easy targets to hit and hard to defend.”

According to Robert Tripp, the United States could insert Special Forces teams into the Ukraine in order to train Ukrainians to become more effective in resisting Russian aggression.

“This type of mission is exactly what our SF teams train indigenous forces to carry out, “ says Tripp. “SOCOM should be readying detachments to send to Ukraine now to prepare for this eventuality.”

According to Tripp, this kind of situation is ready made for Special Forces.

“I see an opportunity for the ideal Special Forces mission here. Makes me wish I were back in the 10th again.”

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Convention of States - Risk of a Runaway Convention

I looked into the objections regarding the Convention of States idea, that it would turn into a run away convention that would become open ended.

To start with, I am well aware of the fears of a runaway convention I too was opposed for many years a so called Constitutional Convention. I remember reading about such an effort on the part of the left during the 90s.

I read Levine's book and to be frank, I found his arguments against the possibility of a runaway convention to be convincing.

And as I think about it, I am having a hard time seeing that as a real possibility. Let's take the Second Amendment as a proxy for a runway convention. The Second Amendment is not on Alaska's resolution for a Convention of States which means it's not on the Agenda. So it would be illegitamate from the outset. But suppose, the Convention did propose a repeal of the Second Amendment. That repeal would have to be ratified by 38 states which would be extremely unlikely.

So in order to pass a repeal of the Second Amendment, they would have to change the rules of ratification from what they were going into the Convention. That would be grounds for full on revolution.

There is no doubt the left will try. It's just I don't believe they can be successful.

Besides that, the Amendments that Levine proposes are not unreasonable. Giving the states the ability to veto actions by the Federal Government would be a very good thing. Right now, the Federal Government in all three branches refuses to rein itself in on anything. I think it is important to give an alternate means of overturning actions by the Federal Government. Congress will never propose such an amendment. The only way to get the ball rolling on such an amendment would be a Convention of the States.

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Hunger Games

I saw the first installment of the Hunger Games last year. I had no real notion of what the movie would be about. But the movie really struck a cord with me. Laura happened to have the whole series of books and I read through them in fairly short order.

When you think about how young people are for the most part trained to be good little slaves to the all powerful state, the Hunger Games series of books and movies is to me a very promising development in our pop culture. It takes the notion of revolution for the sake of liberty out of the realm of men in tricorne hats and powdered wigs and into the our modern world in a very compelling way.

What follows are what I see are the main themes of the Hunger Games.
Tyranny. From start to finish and throughout, probably the overarching theme of the Hunger Games is tyranny by an all powerful state. We see a dystopian future of the United States where empovrished districts are ruled with an iron fist by a decadent capital where the population seems pre-occupied with the latest fads and fashions.

Self-sacrifice. Again and again in the series, we see a willingness to give one's life for someone else. We see this most poignantly in the fight to the death Hunger Games where by the rules, out of an original 24 combatants, there will only be one survivor. We a very strong young man carry around an old woman whose has no chance of surviving the games. Yet as they flee and one from one place to another, we see him carry her on his back.
Revolution. The Hunger Games puts the concept of Revolution against a tyrannical government back into the popular culture.

Shallow superficial pop-culture. The capital in the Hunger Games is completely taken with pop culture and the latest fad. The Hunger Games is a big annual event on par with say our own Super Bowl. The movie makes you ask if this is where we are headed and to what extent we are there already.
The Risk of Revolutions. There is a bit of a warning at the end of the last book. Not all revolutions end in liberty. Often, the result of a revolution is the exchange of one tyrant for another.

Background. The Hunger Games is an American dystopia set perhaps 75 years in the future. The country is divided into 12 districts each recognizable as some American region. And there is the Capital district which rules the other districts with an iron fist. This division of the country is the result of a rebellion which occurred 75 years in the past.

As a consequence of their having lost in the Rebellion 75 years previously, the Districts must each year send two teenagers to participate in what are called the Hunger Games. The Hunger Games is an annual fight to death contest that is a big deal in the Capital.

The Hunger Games exist for two reasons: the keep the Districts subjugated and to show them who is boss and also to keep the population of the Capital entertained, to fill their empty shallow lives.

The whole Hunger Games thing makes you think of say our Super Bowl. The participants, who are called tributes, are selected with lots of fanfare in a lottery that is televised back to the capital, in fact throughout the country. Of course, to be chosen a tribute is essentially a death sentence because only one out of the 24 tributes survives. But the Capital takes no notice of this. The Hunger Games is a media event and the tributes are celebrated with interviews, sponsors and breath-taking speculation.

The movie is not a Christian movie. But it does cause one to think and and ask good questions of oneself and on where our society is headed. It takes good Christian virtues and puts them on display in a very compelling way.
Selflessness for example. Katniss, the main character, is a young woman of about 16 or 17 who is very capable with a bow. In the opening scene we see shoot birds on the wing with her bow. When she gets back to the town of her District 12, there is the public televised lottery selection of this year’s tributes to the Hunger Games. To Katniss’s horror, her 13 year old sister is chosen as the female from District 12. Katniss, steps forward and says she will go in her place. She knows it is a death sentence.

The people chosen to be tributes cover a broad range of teenager types which is perhaps one reason it appeals to teenagers. Almost any teenager will see someone in the games that he identifies with. That what's I think is so power about this series of books of movies. The teenager is drawn in and identifies with at least one person up ther on the screen. They ask, what would I do in tha situation?

For example. we see jocks which in the Hunger Games are kids from certain districts where actually train and volunteer to participate in the games. They are strong, athletic and deadly. And then there are kids who have seemingly no skills whatsoever. In Lord of the Flies like fashion, the jocks band together and seek out to destroy the lessor skilled kids. It's not unlike what happens in school!

But Katniss is not going along with the program. It is clear she does not want to do this. Katniss takes a girl named Rue under her wing and tries to protect her. Rue is a sweet thing and her real skills are ability to climb trees and to be a somewhat fast quick runner. They work together. It is clear that should Katniss and Rue become the last two survivors there is no way that Katniss is going to kill Rue. At one point Rue is killed. Katniss is hearbroken and lays Rue's body in a bed of flowers in the forest and mourns Rue. All this is televised and it sets off a chain reaction in the districts.

The first movie ends when the survivors are down to the 2 tributes from District 12, Katniss and Peeta who earlier onn nationwide t.v. had declared his love for Katniss. They refuse to kill each other. Instead they choose to simulateously eat poison berries together and deprive the Games of their victor. Instead, they are declared joint victors and it is on this note that the first movie ends.

The second movie takes these themes further. We see more self examples of self sacrifice.

As a bit of background. At the beginning of the second movie, we are almost a year later. Katniss has become a bit of a problem for the President who is a very evil cruel man. Katniss is become something of a symbol for a growing rebellion in the districts. But the President can't kill her outright without causing problems to himself. It is tradition that the victors be spared from further risk and become the equivalent of rock stars. They go on tour and give speeches and become part of the unbelievably shallow pop-culture of the Capital.

So the President comes to Katniss's home and warns her to shape up or that those closest to her will suffer. Katniss and her co-victor, Peeta from District 12 go on tour and it is obvious that the other districts are in a high state of agititation.

And Katniss can't help herself. In spite of the President's warning, when she is in the District that Rue came from, she ignores the script given to her and gives a speech that praises Rue and she talks about how much she loved Rue. In response, the crowd give a left handed three finger salute (this came out during the games of a year earlier and had become something of a gesture of defiance of the regime). The response of the police was immediate. They single out the person who first raised his hand for extreme retribution even as they are dragging Katniss away.

Clearly, Katniss isn't doing what she is supposed to do. So the President comes up with a plan to get rid of her. In this year's Hunger Games, the contestants will be drawn out of the victors from previous games. And since Katniss is the only living female victor from District 12, this means she is going back to the games and she knows there is no way the President will allow her to survive this time around.

That's the background that sets the stage for the next rounds of acts of mercy. From one of the other district, there is an old woman who is a victor from a games many many years previous. She volunteers to take the place of a much younger female victor from that district. But the mercy doesn't end there. The guy victor from that district has a strong love and affection for the old woman. In fact, during the games, he carries the old woman around on his back as they flee from one danger to the other. Even though she doesn't have a chance to survive the games he is determined to do what he can to keep her alive.

All in all the Hunger Games is an intriguing series of books and movies. It seems to be big hit among young people. One of my hopes is that it gets young people to think outside of the 'be good little slaves' proproganda they usually get and to perhaps looks at the governments big promises with a little more suspicion

Saturday, June 22, 2013

NSA Surveillance a Ready-Made Threat ofTyranny

Just got finished reading an interesting piece in National Review Online on the legal basis sor justification for the NSA's wholesale surveillance of communications came into being.

Below is what I left as a comment:

A very interesting read. I have been very interested in what the legal basis is for what the Government is doing.

Bottom line is this is a very dangerous capability that we have given to the Federal Government. The can but doesn't capability to look at the communications of U.S. Persons can easily become 'we just do.' It is a ready made institution that can be used to establish a tyranny, where the faction in power uses the resources of the government to suppress the political opposition. All an administration has to do is put the right people in charge of the right ready made institutions and they can consolidate power for the long-term.

We are getting a small taste of this with respect to the IRS. There is no doubt that the direction for the IRS to target Tea Party groups came from the White House, not necessarily in memos or emails but in the choice of Lois Lerner to head it up. The intimidation of opponents was on her resume (see this piece by George Will from about 10 days ago:

This thing needs to be ended. When the sunset comes up in two years, this needs to be targeted for destruction. We managed to survive a civil war, two world wars, and a cold war without it and it is ripe for abuse.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, February 15, 2013

Universal Background Check will lead to registration

Universal background checks are unworkable unenforceable without registration. Background checks work on retail sales because there is a paper trail from manufacturer to retailer at which point the paper trail ends. There is no way to enforce these background checks if you don't first know who has what: registration.

These folks need to look beyond their utopian fantasies and consider what will actually happen if they pass Universal Background Checks. There will be widespread non-compliance. People will continue to buy and sell privately. Then will come the call for registration. Expect more non-compliance. This will be a total waste of time, no upside, big downside.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Things were different in the 1890s

How Different were the Unites States circa 1890!

On my twitter page profile I say that I like to do thought experiments and ask for example who would the United States circa 1890 deal with a given situation.

I like that kind of thought experiment because the United States was so different from what it is today in many interesting ways. Here is a short list of how things were different in 1890:

The Federal Government was ever so much smaller and it regulated so little in comparison today. Day by day our present government grows ever more powerful and pervasive with each new expansion being deemed essential.

In 1890, the total amount of government spending was 7% of GDP with 4% of that being spent by local governments. Today, government spending exceeds 40% of GDP with 24% being spent by the Federal Goverment. And yet to listen to Democrats and sadly many Republicans, to cut one red cent of Government expenditures is to risk economic collapse. I exaggerate. They never actually propose to cut anything. It's always a reduction in the growth of spending. Reduce the rate of growth of spending and you risk economic collapse. And anyone who proposes so much as a 1 cent real reduction in spending is at best tolerated as a nut.

And yet in 1890, total government spending was only 7% of GDP. How did we survive as a nation with so little government spending?

Well, in 1890, the United States was doing very well thank you very much. It had grown into an industrial colossus and world power. In the 1890s, one American company, Carnegie Steel produced more steel than Great Britain.

In 1890 we were on a Gold Standard as was much of the world. Much has been said on the gold standard. The United States grew to become a great nation under the gold standard. We could do a lot worse than return to it.

There was no Federal Reserve. The United States grew to become a great nation without a central bank. In 1890, we had system of National Banks which were each able to issue bank notes redeemable in gold coin.

We didn't have Federal Deposit Insurance. "Is that a good thing?" some would ask. I think Federal Deposit Insurance creates more problems than it solves. It is one of the big underlying causes of the financial crisis. In 1890, you had to be careful where you put your money. You didn't want to put your money in a shaky bank because if you did you might not get it back! This segways into next difference:

In 1890 bad banks did not get bailed out. They went out of business. Now people don't care what state the bank is in where they put their money. Who cares if the bank pisses it away? The FDIC will pay them back. Classic moral hazard. Banks get to play with other people's money. They keep the profits if they make money, the FDIC pays if they lose. The United States became a great nation without bailing out bad banks.

There was no 'War on Drugs.' We became a great nation in spite of the fact we had no war on drugs. In fact there were opium dens in many large cities. Note: I am not for drugs, at all. But the fact is the United States became a great nation long before the Federal Government began trying to solve every problem in society.

The Federal Government did not regulate guns in any way whatsoever. Today's gun banners often ask: well, should people be able to own tanks and artillery pieces? Isn't that taking things a little too far! The fact is in 1890 you could own an artillery piece. The only limit on what you could buy or make was the size of your pocket-book. The Federal Government did not begin to regulate such things until the National Firearms Act of 1934 and even then only under the guise of taxation. Yet somehow, in such circumstances, the United States became a great nation.

Today the Federal Government has grown into an all regulating all seeing all powerful surveillance state. It regulates every area of our life. I doubt anyone in our country could survive any serious investigation into our personal lives without being subject to charges. Our emails and our text messages are monitored. A couple of months ago I read of listening systems being installed on San Francisco city buses under a grant by the Department of Homeland Security. The systems work in conjunction with the already installed video surveillance systems. (Google news stories under Audio Surveillance Systems for the latest stores in this area).

Isn't it a wonderful world we live in where even conversations on buses can listened to? They didn't do that in the 1890s. How on earth did we survive as a nation without the Federal Government listening in?

Whenever we hear new proposals for further expansion of government power, we need to ask ourselves: Did they do that in 1890? If not, why do we need to do it now?

That is the perspective we need when we hear cries for a Federal law requiring background checks on the private sales of firearms. What is the real purpose of this further expansion of government power?

Will it really give us more safety?

Is that even the real goal?

Friday, January 11, 2013

Powers not Granted

To listen to Paul Krugman, this whole debt ceiling thing is a farce and Congress MUST raise the debt ceiling because the increase in debt is nothing more than the consequences of previous decisions by Congress with regard to spending decisions and taxes.

This is total BS. It sounds good on the surface but when you scratch below the surface it is total BS. The problem is entitlements. Entitlements are expenditures based on law. Follow the law and certain expenditures necessairly ensue. But law can only be changed when the President signs legislation that has passed both houses of Congress. This elevates greatly threshold for Congress to control entitlement related expenditures. To control entitlement related expenditures, Congress needs the approval of the President or be able to over-ride a veto.

This is not what the Constitution intended. The Constitution intended that the Congress, specifically the House of Representatives, have the strongest of controls over spending. As it now, given the nature of entitlements, this control has been lost because the hands of today's Congress are tied by the decisions of previous Congresses, something that was not intended by the Constitution.

Enter the Debt Ceiling. The Congress also has to authority to issue debt. This is the mechanism by which Congress can regain control over spending. Congress can say: this is out of control, we will not grant additional debt authority unless all concerned agree to appropriate revisions to entitlement law.

End of Story.

Except it is not. We have the entire leftwing conspiracy conspiring to come up with mechanisms, schemes, to by-pass Congress's authority in regards to the purse. Some call for Obama ignore Congress and issue new debt anyway based on an impossible reading of the 14th Amendment. Others are urging the Treasury to mint a $1T platinum coin, a proposal that is beyond rediculous.

It just shows how far this great republic has fallen that these proposals are gaining any traction at all!

Make no mistake. What these morons are proposing is not only fiscal irresponsibility but a huge concentration of power in the hands of the Executive Branch. This is by many order of magnitude beyond what the Constitution ever intended.

These morons are throwing away 200 plus years of Constitutional governance for nothing more than the ability to spend more. It's a gigantic equivalent of Esau selling his birthright for a bowl of soup!