Tuesday, September 17, 2013

On Obama and Debt Ceiling

This week, President Obama outlined a call to action, in which he urged Congress to pass a budget, while asserting his intention to not talk to Congress about raising the debt ceiling. While many in government might see this as typical partisan positioning and blame, I'm willing, in this case, and for no reason other than rhetorical exposition, to give Obama the benefit of the doubt, and take his statements somewhat literally. That being done, I find myself in surprising agreement with the president and his bold plan to get the country back on the right track.

For far too long, the country has hobbled along with continuing resolutions, while continuing to spend far more money than it collects, incurring ever-increasing debts on the backs of future generations. Obama, however, is now drawing a line. Over the last couple of months, he has managed to put a temporary stop to the bleeding, by ordering the Treasury Department to keep the national debt constant for over three months now, through various accounting and temporary measures. Sure, some of these measures could be considered ridiculous, quasi-legal distortions of reality, but it's really all the president can do without affecting the day-to-day gigantic waste which is the federal government.

But Obama wants more, and he seems determined to get it. By refusing to discuss raising the debt ceiling with Congress, Obama is implicitly saying he doesn't want to debt to rise above the current level, ever. What he wants, then, is for Congress to pass a budget which actually limits spending to income, and dispenses with the need for the various accounting trickery which has put us in our current position. What he's asking for, neigh demanding, is a real limit on government spending right now, through whatever means necessary.

I wholeheartedly support this concept. I would urge the president to do whatever he can, in real terms (not just accounting terms), to help with this effort, while Republicans and the scant few other adults in Congress work on a more permanent solution. Things like furloughs, forced reductions in spending, severe cutbacks on obscene violations of the Constitution such as the TSA... all of these things should be on the table, as the president considers how to implement the hard limit he himself is strongly advocating and steadfastly pushing. Lead the way, Mr President; show the Congress that you are not afraid to cut huge swaths out of government spending, to make real progress toward your goal and self-imposed necessity of not raising the debt ceiling again while you are president. If you have the power to unilaterally start wars, as you claim, certainly you have the power to stop at least some of the Constitutional abuses you have created and/or presided over.

In the meantime, I would also urge Congress to heed your call, and pass a balanced budget. Yes, it may strip out some of the additional costs necessary to implement Obamacare, but those costs were unnecessary anyway; after all, it was Obama himself that said Obamacare would save money, not be another enormous unfunded government handout cluster-fuck. Yes, it might require some sacrifices in government "services", such as the $50,000,000,000+ we spend annually to violate the American people's Constitutional rights, in the intelligence services alone. Yes, we might have to chop out the entire Constitutionally repugnant shit-pile that is the TSA... such are the noble sacrifices necessary to not continue to pile $1,500,000,000,000 of additional debt on our children's backs every single year of Obama's miserable colossal failure of a presidential tenure.

Together, though, you can do it. You, the incompetent, malicious, and downright evil government, can band together and pass a budget which rises to the level of a grade school child learning to spend within their allowance. President Obama has laid out the vision... if you can just get your heads out of your collective asses long enough to see it. I have faith (metaphorically, not literally).

Monday, September 2, 2013

On Syria, and Chemical Weapons

“The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat.”- Barack Obama, 2007
Barack Obama has never been a particularly honest person, either with the public in general or with himself. If he were a mentally challenged grade school student, we'd probably just feel bad that he'd be receiving a low grade in social studies. Given that he's a law school educated Constitutional scholar and the sitting President of the United States, though, it's hard to believe his actions are anything other than representative of a total disregard for the actual laws of the land. Again, though... nothing new here.

Obama wants to use the US military to strike Syria in retaliation for the use of chemical weapons on its own people, as part of the ongoing civil war in the country. Oddly, perhaps, I find myself in the position of agreeing with the sentiment. There would be some fairly substantial downsides to doing so, such as spending our resources to involve ourselves in a foreign conflict, possibly aiding forces aligned with al-qaeda, causing collateral damage in Syria, harming foreign relations, etc. On balance, however, I think it would benefit the US to do something.

A deterrent is only really effective if the people who might be deterred [from some action] believe that there would be negative consequences. In the case of using WMD's, the nominal deterrent is the threat of action from the UN, or its member nations, under the principle agreement which forms the basis of the UN (that is, to prevent proliferation and use of WMD's). However, time and again member nations put their own political interests ahead of the ideals embodied in the UN treaties and accords, and thus that body is rendered largely impotent in achieving its goals. This has happened again here, with Russia and China both opposing action, due to political alliances.

Regardless, I personally think the US should still act, alone if need be. We should make it clear that we, independent of the rest of the world, have an interest in providing a deterrent to the proliferation and use of WMD's, and that while we are able to do so, we will act, even if others choose politics over principles. We should strike any facilities and persons who can be conclusively linked to the manufacture and use of chemical weapons in Syria, from the smallest military outpost to the largest production and storage facility. We should do so from afar, without putting boots on the ground, and with no other targets or goals.

Yes, it will cost us resources. Yes, this would have repercussions and cause collateral damage, and innocent lives would be lost. Yes, it's a complicated situation with no good answers, and we may end up aiding our enemies. Yes, it would be unpopular, and we would face condemnation in public forums such as the UN. But it would be the right thing to do, in the long run, for the world as a whole. Such a strike would convey, in unequivocal terms, that if you use WND's, we will kill you, no matter if you're far away, no matter what political cover you have, no matter if you were just following orders, and even if it might aid our enemies. That's a really important message to get across, in clear terms, not just for Syria but for the rest of the world as well.

Now all that said, were I in the Congress, would I vote for such action? No... but not because I don't think it's the right course of action. I'd vote against because it's clear that Obama doesn't respect the rule of law, and any affirmation by Congress of his illegal actions and intents runs counter to supporting and defending the Constitution. Nor would I support Obama's desire to take action without Congressional action allowing such; again, subverting the Constitution is worse than achieving end goals which might be noble. However, I do think that taking military action in Syria, assuming we were following our own laws, would be the best thing for the US in general, as well as the rest of the world. My 2c.