Ukraine Sanctions With Teeth Instead of Gums Are Still Possible

Putin-laughing-at-serious-steps-memeFor a very brief moment it looked like the White House and I were finally going to be in agreement on the topic of misrule in the United States. Obama’s White House Press Office released a statement with harsh criticism of government actions that threaten “peace, security, stability, sovereignty, and territorial integrity; and contribute to the misappropriation of its assets.”

It appeared the president had seen the light and was finally going to stop his abuse of office and his promiscuous use of executive orders. But then I read further and saw he was talking about Vladimir Putin and his beachfront trespassing in the Crimea. I thought Obama likes trespassers. Could it be that Putin rejected his offer of in–state tuition?

Of course there are differences between the strongman’s approach and that of the girlyman. Putin’s misrule is designed to advance the interests of Russian nationalism, while Obama appears content to undermine US standing and interests in the world.

With the result that Russian oligarchs will soon have prime sites for expansive vacation homes within the border of a newly expanded Russia. While our leaders launch deadly cutting remarks that include “wrong side of history” and “19th century thinking” mimicking Harvard faculty lounge habitués criticizing the NFL 1st round draft choice that gets the millions and the girl.

I know this criticism is not entirely fair. The Obama administration has decided to impose sanctions on Russia. Out of a current population of 141,924,000, the Obama administration has singled out seven (that’s right, seven) for punishment. The original intent of White House strategists was to just single out a certain percentage of cells in each of the seven individual’s body for pinpoint sanctions — gas pains, lumbago, toenail fungus, impotence — but the surgeon general informed the White House that either those maladies took to long to manifest or present technology didn’t support the goal.

Instead the administration opted for financial sanctions that make it harder for the Moscow 7 to gain access to any funds they have deposited in Western banks. The Washington Post described the strategy as an attempt “to see whether a symbolic first gesture would be sufficient to give Putin pause….” sorta like the famous “red line” in Syria.

Like much of Obama’s strategy, whether in health care or the economy, this gambit backfired. The Russian stock market went up after the announcement, instead of going down.

But that doesn’t mean the great minds in this administration are going to give up. Much like Robert McNamara carefully calibrating just the right amount of ordinance necessary to bring North Vietnam to its knees, Obama’s financial calibrations have room for expansion.

An administration insider has leaked a plan that will escalate the impact of the next round of sanctions to an almost superhuman level of intensity, while expanding the reach of inconvenience for the Russian Revanchists beyond just the financial realm.

None of the Seven are now allowed to make wire transfers withdrawing their funds from Western banks, but after the sanctions are escalated, they will be limited to a maximum ATM withdrawal of $40 per day AND the Coinstar machine will be completely off limits.

If any of the sanctioned try to travel to the US it’s also No More Mr. Nice Guy. The TSA’s expedited ‘Pre’ lane will be off limits. The Crimean Criminals will be assigned to the rubber gloves and high–school–field trips line for the foreseeable future and they will always be relegated to the last boarding group regardless of their frequent flyer status.

Assuming the Seven can’t take a hint and come to DC in spite of Obama’s disdain, anytime they attempt to use the Uber app to arrange transportation it will result in a fast busy signal, forcing them to use DC taxis. Even worse their lodgings will be in hotels built by Sochi Olympics construction firms.

Since unrepentant aggressors like these will no doubt try to bypass this sanction, even if they rent a car both the GPS device and their E–ZPass transponder will be jammed by NSA, meaning that even if they can find a toll road, they will be forced to use the exact change booth.

And finally, to show Obama really means business, if any of these Russian Reprobates have more than 15 items in their cart when shopping, they will be ejected from the express lane.

There’s also a role in this for Vice President ‘Uncle Joe’ Biden — a nickname freighted with meaning for Russians. Proving irony isn’t dead in this administration, Biden will be visiting many of the Western nations were Obama earlier canceled plans to install anti–missile batteries after Putin objected.

While looking due East, Uncle Joe will advise these buffer states to buy shotguns and if they see any Russian troops playing footsie with their borders, go out on the balcony, point the muzzle skyward and fire a couple of rounds to scare the bear away.

How CPAC Stacked the Deck on the Amnesty Panel

illegal-aliens-obamacatchreleasevoteHere’s a handy rule of thumb: If two of the four members of an immigration panel have Hispanic surnames you can bet it’s an amnesty panel in disguise. That was certainly the case at CPAC’s ‘Can There Be Meaningful Immigration Reform Without Citizenship?’

(This phenomenon is evidently peculiar to Hispanics. If two people named Schmidt and Kruger were on a panel it would be unfair to assume they enthusiastically support bomb damage reparations from WWII.)

Alfonso Aguilar and the Rev. Luis Cortes were joined by moderator Mercy Schlapp — a veteran of the Bush White House that was pushing amnesty until 9/11. The anti–amnesty speaker was Derrick Morgan of the Heritage Foundation and the afternoon’s advocate for the feudal system was Helen Krieble.

Schlapp set the tone when she remarked on the favor illegals were doing the economy by being here. Much like burglars boost an area’s GDP when they make the rounds of pawn shops.

She was followed by Kreible, president of the Vernon K. Kreible Foundation, who said the debate should be about American principles: Equal treatment under the law, individual freedom and personal responsibility. So far so good, but then she reduced our choices to a false binary: Grant amnesty or do nothing.

The realistic option is removing the job incentive for illegals. But that is not a choice Kreible will ever entertain, because that would mean business can’t import serfs. She claims it’s wrong to set “artificial” limits on the number of workers you can hire. It’s Kreible’s belief that borders are a government matter, but workers are a business matter. In practice this means the federal government can keep Mohamed Atta out, unless he plans to mow your lawn.

What Kreible objects to is that ‘citizen’ word. She wants to implement a “red card” program that puts citizens in the penalty box. She would import workers without conveying citizenship or the right to remain after the job is over. This is similar to the wildly successful Turkish guest worker program the Germans had. Only problem is the Turks are still in Germany.

And while individuals should be “responsible,” American business is exempt. Right now if a US business thinks US workers want too much money, the business is free to open a subsidiary in Mexico and hire all the Mexicans it wants. But that’s a problem for agribusiness corporations, because shipping Alabama to Chihuahua would be a logistical nightmare. What’s more, sometimes the Mexican government seizes private business, you can’t trust the cops, ‘mordida’ cuts into profit margins and there’s always that decapitation problem.

So for Kreible the business solution is to flood the labor market by bringing Mexico here and let taxpayers deal with social costs.

Unfortunately for her there is no moral, ethical or conservative justification for bringing in foreign labor when unemployment in the US is over 7 percent and labor participation rates are at an all time low.

Alfonso Aguilar, director of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, evidently believes the word ‘conservative’ is a verbal spice you sprinkle on leftist policies to make them more palatable for genuine conservatives. He wants conservatives to “own” the immigration issue by out–pandering the Democrats.

Aguilar contends the entire illegal problem is a result of “big government” setting quotas and holding the quaint notion that US jobs should go to US citizens. He recycles every lame, reverse racist amnesty cliché he could find, beginning with illegals are doing the jobs Americans won’t do.

After that howler he became incoherent. Aguilar says illegals taking jobs here “creates jobs for working class Americans.” He claims that illegals did not disregard the rule of law because they didn’t come here voluntarily. Instead business brought them here. This was genuine news to me. Who would have thought coyotes were members of the Chamber of Commerce?

Aguilar also introduced the concept of “circular immigration.” Letting illegals come here and return to their home country as many times as they and Greyhound wished. Although something tells me the circle would stop abruptly in the US when it came time to collect Social Security.

He was followed by the Rev. Luis Cortes who is the president of Esperanza. The organization’s website motto is: “Strengthening our Hispanic community” meaning it’s La Raza with a Bible. Cortes’ solution is to make citizens of anyone who ranks Cinco de Mayo ahead of the 4th of July. Otherwise, “it gives Democrats an issue.” And afterwards Democrats won’t need an issue because with 9 million or so new voters they’ll never lose another presidential election.

The most insulting aspect of the panel was how the pro–amnesty participants evidently believed using the word ‘conservative’ to describe leftist policies would somehow convince a gullible audience.

A conservative immigration reform would be built on trying something new: Enhancing the law we have now. Make it a felony to hire an employee that failed an E–Verify check or hire an employee without checking E–Verify. And strictly enforce the prohibition against illegals enrolling in any welfare or social programs.

Drying up the job market will accomplish two goals. First many of the illegals will self–deport. Second it will raise wages for US workers and lower the unemployment rate. Right now many jobs go unfilled by citizens because they aren’t willing to accept the prevailing wage scale in Juarez because they don’t live in Juarez. If employers were forced to pay wages high enough to attract US citizens, more citizens would work.

That’s a conservative, free market solution that’s good for the country and preserves the rule of law. Unfortunately the ‘C’ in CPAC now appears to stand for ‘capitulation.’

Perry, Paul & Huckabee at CPAC 2014

Gen. John Bell Hood, another Texan that could get a crowd moving.

Gen. John Bell Hood, another Texan that could get a crowd moving.

Gen. Robert E. Lee used Texas infantry as his reliable shock troops during the Civil War. If Hood’s division couldn’t drive the Yankees from a position, then no troops could.

Evidently CPAC schedulers are of the same opinion.

On both of the first two days of the conservative conference Texas speakers were used to soften up the crowd for all the speakers that followed.

On Thursday it was Sen. Ted Cruz (R–TX) and on Friday it was Gov. Rick Perry (R–TX).

Perry hit the stage cold to the tune of AC/DC’s ‘Back in Black’ and did so without anyone to introduce him. Perry is now sporting black nerd glasses that make him look more intellectual without softening him up so much that he looks like pajama boy in the Obamacare ad.

The governor began by stating that on the battlefield of ideas “a little rebellion now and then is a good thing.” Then there was a long pause, which started to produce debate flashbacks for me, but it proved to be just a slow Internet connection.

Besides being another step on the stairway to political redemption, the speech was a rousing defense of federalism. Perry says for the solution to the problems facing the country we should not look to Washington, but instead we should look to the states that “are laboratories of innovation.”

And the states provide a contrast between two visions. In the blue vision the state “plays an increasing roll in the lives of citizens.” Taxes are high, public employee pensions are out of control and jobs are leaving.

Perry contrasted that smothering philosophy with the red state vision where “freedom of the individual comes first and the reach of government is limited.” There taxes are low, spending is low and opportunity is high.

Then Perry did something surprising. On Friday when Chris Christie spoke the examples were mostly about him and about New Jersey. But that’s not what Perry did. He started off by giving other Republican governors credit for their good ideas and successful records.

He mentioned Nikki Haley in South Carolina, Bobby Jindal in Louisiana, Scott Walker in Wisconsin and Rick Scott in Florida. Then Perry proceeded to list accomplishments particular to each.

Perry was halfway through his speech before he even mentioned Texas. He spoke first of the common denominator among all red state leaders, “Conservative governors who know freedom of the individual must come before the power of the state…the contrast is crystal clear.” He then used an example from the world of transportation. “If you rent a U–Haul to move your company it costs twice as much to go from San Francisco to Austin as it does the other way around, because you can’t find enough trucks to flee the Golden State.”

Only then did Perry say, “Let’s pick a large red state, shoot let’s pick Texas” as he began listing his accomplishments. This is one of the reasons Perry is so likable: He doesn’t appear to take himself too seriously. He, in contrast to Obama, is not The Great I Am.

His speech was full of humor, substance and energy. Perry has been on the comeback trail now for two years and he’s making progress. His demeanor and energy level is in marked contrast to that of the disastrous 2012 presidential campaign.

I have no way of knowing if he’s a terror to his staff or if he kicks the family dog, but you certainly can’t tell it from his personal appearances. If it wasn’t for his squishiness on illegals, I’d almost be ready to vote for Perry today.

I can’t say that for former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

Politically Huckabee is simply George Bush who can tell a joke. There are many things I admire about Huckabee: His faith, his conservative social values and his sense of humor in particular. But as president he would be spending at least as much as Bush and I see no indication that he’s ever seriously considered putting Uncle Sam on a diet.

And speaking of diets, Huckabee’s is evidently not going too well. In stark contrast to his former fit self, now if the occasion arose Huckabee could fill in quite nicely as Chris Christie’s body double.

Huckabee’s speech began on a discordant note. He was given the same 10 minutes as Rick Perry, but he wasted some of the time complaining about only getting 10 minutes. In contrast to Perry’s upbeat and dynamic address, Huckabee came off as slightly petulant.

His speech was structured around a series of “I knows” that included, “I know the IRS is a criminal organization. I know that life begins at conception. I know there’s a God and this nation would not exist if He had not been the midwife of its birth.”

He even obliquely addressed homosexual marriage when he quoted Mrs. Billy Graham who said, “If God does not bring fiery judgment on America, God will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.”

Huckabee concluded with a final “I know” that brought back memories of his rocky beginning when he said, “I know my time is up and I must go.”

Diet jokes aside, he simply wasn’t a heavyweight on Day Two and if Huckabee is indeed running for president in 2016 this speech didn’t help his case.

Sen. Rand Paul (R–KY) was the other major league presidential candidate speech of the day. He had double the time allotted to Perry, yet I don’t think his speech had the same impact. They are two entirely different personalities. Paul comes off as somewhat remote and clinical when he speaks. He certainly says the right things and delivers a polished speech, but he doesn’t have the infectious enthusiasm of Rick Perry.

Personally I wonder how many of the reporters who pronounced Chris Christie as rehabilitated after the response to his speech the day before were around for Paul’s. The packed room was on its feet and cheering before the senator could say a word. Christie on the other hand had a much smaller crowd and response was polite until very late in his performance.

Paul’s speech was about liberty but it was also about sending a message to the Mitch McConnells, John McCains, Lindsey Grahams and other establishment RINOs. Paul asked the audience to “Imagine a time when our great country is governed by the Constitution. You may think I’m talking about electing Republicans, but I’m not. I’m talking about electing lovers of liberty.”

“It isn’t good enough to pick the lesser of two equals,” Paul explained. “We must elect men and women of principle and conviction and action who will lead us back to greatness. There is a great and tumultuous battle underway not for the Republican Party but for the entire country.

Then in a challenge to elected leaders and party supporters alike, Paul asked, “The question is will we be bold and proclaim our message with passion or will we be sunshine patriots retreating when we come under fire?”

Paul then focused on the NSA, data mining and the entire security mindset of the government, which he believes is dangerous. He referenced the Sons of Liberty from the Revolution who stood up to King George and predicted, “The Sons of Liberty would today call out to the president. ‘We will not submit. We will not trade our liberty for security. Not now. Not ever.’”

Getting down to cases with an audience that skewed toward youth and tech savvy, Paul explained, “If you have a cell phone, you are under surveillance. I believe what you do on your cell phone is none of their damn business.”

His other examples of government overreach in the name of security included detention without a trial, individual warrants applied to a class of people, credit card data collection, cell phone metadata and other violations of the 4th Amendment.

The senator stated flatly “Government unrestrained by law becomes nothing short of tyranny.” Then he used Daniel Webster to show the fight for liberty has been an ongoing struggle that must be continued today. “Daniel Webster anticipated our modern day saviors who wish to save us from too much freedom. He wrote: ‘Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It’s hardly too strong to say the Con was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions.’”

Paul wasn’t giving so much a speech, as he was Peter the Hermit asking the young people to join in a crusade. He has passionate ideas and beliefs, but Paul’s delivery is simply not as winning as that of Perry. One can be serious without being sepulchral.

It will be very interesting to follow the arc of both campaigns as I see Perry being a bigger threat to Paul than the other Texan, Ted Cruz.

CPAC 2014 Day 1 Part 2

Chris Christie dolls were not for sale at CPAC.

Chris Christie dolls were not for sale at CPAC.

The Curious Case of the Leaf Blower that Didn’t Roar

Sen. Marco Rubio walked on stage and contrary to rumor, he wasn’t wearing a sombrero. In fact he gave what could be called a surgical speech, because he completely buried any reference to his amnesty mistake late last year.

In fact he talked about almost everyone’s border but that of the US. Rubio is for protecting Japan’s border. Ukraine’s border. Even Israel’s border, but not a peep about the border violations Mexico encourages. We’ve being invaded, too but no one but the taxpayers seems to care.

Rubio’s new focus is obviously on foreign policy, since amnesty policy was disastrous for him. He goes East and Easter, touching no points South. He touched on the tax code, regulations and energy. And he still has that problem with words–per–gallon. In a speech that was only 15 minutes long, Rubio still had to stop to take a drink.

Verdict: Nice young man, but not ready.

In a very fitting bit of scheduling, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie spoke just before lunch.

The bully governor used his bully pulpit to talk about his fight against public employee unions and the struggle to reform their pensions. Christie told the audience how he faced union members in their den as he went to the firefighter’s convention and walked through the crowd to get to the podium. But Christie misses the point. No one questions his courage. Conservatives question his convictions.

At the end of his firefighter’s speech he said two–thirds of the audience was cheering him. I don’t know if two–thirds of the conservative base will be cheering for a candidate who also favors amnesty. A topic Christie also failed to bring up.

Christie wants the party to start talking “about what we are for and not what we are against.” He contends that government is about “getting things done.” But that’s what intrusive Democrats say, too.

It was obvious from his speech that all the Sandy storm money is now in the bank, because the governor felt liberated to criticize his new best friend Obama, “What the hell are we paying him for, if he won’t lead?”

Christie summarized by saying under his administration there are fewer state employees, less spending and teacher tenure reforms. He added he’s pro–life but did so in the third person. But there was not a word about smaller government or less intrusive government. I get the feeling he’s Teddy Roosevelt with bariatric surgery. Activism got us in the mess we’re in today.

Christie got a standing ovation, but it was as he was leaving.

CPAC 2014 AS IT HAPPENS!

Sen. Mitch McConnell with an item from the CPAC Lost & found.

Sen. Mitch McConnell with an item from the CPAC Lost & found.

CPAC begins in less than an hour. I’ll be covering the speeches that matter (as least to me) and the panels that are relevant (see previous).

Since I’m a one–man news team, I can’t make everything, but I’ll do my best to be your eyes & ears.

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SEN. TED CRUZ

This is my first time for an in–person Cruz speech. Not sure he needs a microphone, Cruz really projects.

He began by pointing out the obvious under an Obama administration. Liberty is under assault. But the question is how do we win?

Cruz wants to mobilize the country starting with the young who have the most to risk. He explained the two Republicans that appealed most to younger voters were two of the oldest candidates: Ronald Reagan and Ron Paul.

According to the senator, They didn’t do it because they were young, too. Their appeal was based on a strong and principled stand on the issues. Their vision appealed to younger voters, not their chronology.

Cruz wants to follow in their footsteps and to do it he outlined a 10–point program designed to “tell the truth.”

1. Defend the Constitution
2. Abolish the IRS: Simple,flat tax
3. Expand energy in this country & create high–paying jobs all over America.
4. Expand school choice
5. Repeal Dodd–Frank
6. Audit the Federal Reserve
7. Pass strong balanced budget amendment
8. Repeal every single word of Obamacare
9. Stop the lawlessness in the White House
10. End the corruption

The tenth item is where Cruz earns his reputation for not playing nice in Washington. “Ending the corruption” offends all the insiders, starting with the GOP. He wants to “eliminate corporate welfare and crony capitalism.” Which offends the Chamber of Commerce. Then Cruz proposes a lifetime ban on lobbying for anyone that has ever served in Congress, which includes past and current colleagues.

He completes the trifecta of tribulation for the political class by calling for a Constitutional amendment establishing term limits for Congress. Serve in Congress? Win a lifetime ban on lobbying. Which includes most of those the first two items left out.

Cruz says the DC consultant’s choice of stand up for principles and lose versus keep your head down and let the Democrats defeat themselves is false.

Cruz intends to win by taking strong stands and making a “clear distinction” between the two parties. He hopes the CPAC conservatives are with him.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

PAUL RYAN

Ryan speaking after Cruz is unfortunate scheduling for Rep. Paul ’The Compromiser’ Ryan, because his speech embodied “the DC consultant’s choice” Cruz was warning against: Keeping your head down and letting the Democrats defeat themselves, instead of giving voters a clear and distinct choice.

Ryan’s speech was more about the Obama failings in the news everyday and much less about what Republicans should stand for to win. He was more for broadcasting Obama failings rather than giving voters a clear choice. The Ryan option: Vote for us, because we aren’t charge of this disaster.

His speech was also a chance for the audience to catch their breath after the Cruz address. No standing ovations until Ryan left and his jokes only received polite chuckles.

The congressman admitted “we have our internal disagreements, but I prefer to think of it as creative tension.” He called it a dispute over tactics and not principles. The problem with that is the election is only eight months away and it’s time to make a decision.

As Cruz pointed out 30 minutes earlier, playing it safe has been beating Republicans for decades.

Ryan is optimistic. Ironically, he used his budget work as an example of conservative progress. “In 2008 my budget only had eight co–sponsors.” Now he’s passed three budgets in a row, but what he failed to mention was his latest budget “compromise” that reversed the sequester cuts and increased spending and the deficit.

Ryan said the “left offers a full stomach and an empty soul.” His speech filled the time allotted him but left the audience empty of inspiration.

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Mitch McConnell

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell comes on stage brandishing a flintlock rifle. I wouldn’t have been more surprised if he’d come out dressed in a loincloth.

My first thought was isn’t it a little early in the program to be announcing items left in the Lost & Found? Shouldn’t Mitch just send the rifle to the Charlton Heston estate? Besides, in Maryland – site of CPAC this year – that rifle might qualify as an assault weapon since men in uniform have fired it at the enemy.

McConnell is a back room operator, a legislative technician. I could see him proudly sporting a quill pen, that’s in character. McConnell is not Ronald Reagan. Heck, Mitch isn’t even Clint Eastwood’s chair. His persona doesn’t lend itself to dramatic symbolic gestures. He says something to Sen. Tom Coburn as the senator from Oklahoma leaves the stage. Maybe the transcript, if it ever appears, will clear up this firearms mystery.

McConnell starts praising Coburn, who is leaving the Senate even before his self–imposed term limit takes effect. It seems each morning when he arrives at the office, Coburn empties his pockets and goes through the metal detector like every other regular taxpayer who visits the Hill, rather than flashing his Senate I–don’t–have–to–endure–petty–annoyances card. McConnell likes this common touch and says Coburn is the only senator that does this.

Evidently he doesn’t realize the contrast between him and Tom Coburn does not work to his advantage. On the previous panel Coburn had stressed the importance of term limits to restoring the Republic, while McConnell personifies the time servers who help grow big government.

McConnell, still tone deaf, then tells the audience how much time he’s spent filing briefs at the Supreme Court trying to thwart Obama. Which is one of the problems of his ‘leadership.’ Separation of Powers means co–equal branches of government, which means in turn that McConnell and Boehner shouldn’t be running to daddy supreme every time that bully Barack takes his lunch money.

McConnell then assures us he won’t let us down. But he already has. Mitch likes Coburn’s example. He just won’t follow it.