Obama Explains Autocratic Action in Libya was Necessary to Keep UN Legitimate

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 28th, 2011

Obama Explains the Libyan War

President Obama finally took to the television to explain what we’re doing in Libya.  He takes a dig at George W. Bush over the Iraq War.  Says this isn’t anything like the Iraq War.  And that the U.S. role will be short and sweet (see Obama: Libya Isn’t Iraq by Carol E. Lee posted 3/28/2011 on The Wall Street Journal).

During the 2008 presidential campaign,  Barack Obama became a hero of the left for his opposition to the Iraq war. Tonight, he used the eight-year-old conflict to explain how the U.N.-backed mission to protect rebels in Libya, not overthrow Col. Moammar Gadhafi, won’t result in a prolonged U.S. engagement.

“If we tried to overthrow Gadhafi by force, our coalition would splinter,” President Obama said. “We would likely have to put U.S. troops on the ground, or risk killing many civilians from the air. The dangers faced by our men and women in uniform would be far greater. So would the costs, and our share of the responsibility for what comes next.”

He added: “To be blunt, we went down that road in Iraq.”

“[R]egime change there took eight years, thousands of American and Iraqi lives, and nearly a trillion dollars,” Mr. Obama said. “That is not something we can afford to repeat in Libya.”

Yes, we’ve been down the ‘regime-change’ road before.  And we’ve also been down the ‘no-fly-zone’ road before.  In Iraq, for example.  After the Gulf War.  Some twelve years before the Iraq War.  You see, after we threw Iraq out of Kuwait we entered into a ceasefire.  But Saddam Hussein did not behave.  Or honor many of the terms of the armistice that ended the Gulf War.  Worse, he was violently oppressing Kurds in the north and Shiites in the south that were rising up against his Sunni government.  We were hoping for regime change.  We didn’t get it.  And we didn’t try to help the Kurds or the Shiites.  For the same reasons Obama cites in the Libyan War.  Of course, the Left brutally criticized George H.W. Bush for ending the war too soon.  For not toppling the Hussein regime.  And there we were.  Watching Hussein putting down those uprisings with extreme prejudice (i.e., deadly force).  Oh, it was bad.  Like in Libya. Only worse.

The atrocities got so bad that the international community finally did something.  They established no-fly zones in the north and the south.  And maintained them for some eleven years.  Did we end them after we’ve achieved success?  No.  They ended after the Iraq War toppled Hussein from power making them moot.  You see, here’s the ugly truth.  Unless you topple the bad guy from power, those no-fly zones can never go away.  Even Bill Clinton launched an attack against Hussein while president.  Because he kept attacking the Kurds.  Even with the no-fly zone in place.

What Obama says in effect is that we’re going into Libya half-assed.  We’re not going to do anything that will have a permanent affect.  Just like after 1991 in Iraq.  And we’re leaving ourselves with an open-ended commitment that won’t end until Qaddafi dies by natural causes.  Because he ain’t going anywhere.  He’s a marked man.  And even if he finds safe sanctuary, whoever takes him in may become another Jimmy Carter and see their embassy staff taken hostage (when Carter reluctantly allowed the deposed Shah of Iran into America for medical care).

So the question remains.  Why Libya?  There’s suffering all around the world.  But we help only Libya.  Some have suggested that it was to help the Europeans protect their Libyan oil as they fear another ‘Hugo Chavez‘ nationalization of their oil assets.  Being that they made those agreements with the Qaddafi regime, I’m not sure why they would want to help the rebels trying to topple him from power.  If the Muslim Brotherhood or al-Qaeda fills the power vacuum in a post-Qaddafi Libya, you can bet that their terms on the ‘revised’ contracts won’t be as favorable to any Western economy.  So I don’t know.  It’s a stretch.  But one thing for sure Obama isn’t telling us the whole story.  There has to be a reason why Libya.  Better than the weak arguments he’s making now.

We Attacked Libya so the UN can Save Face

In making his case President Obama inadvertently attacks the role of the UN.  And tries to ease our concerns about a third war with the nation mired in recession.  And buried under a rapidly growing debt (see Obama on Libya: ‘We have a responsibility to act’ by Ben Feller posted 3/28/2011 on The Associated Press).

Citing a failure to act in Libya, he said: “The democratic impulses that are dawning across the region would be eclipsed by the darkest form of dictatorship, as repressive leaders concluded that violence is the best strategy to cling to power. The writ of the U.N. Security Council would have been shown to be little more than empty words, crippling its future credibility to uphold global peace and security.”

 Well, isn’t that a fact?  That that “writ of the UN Security Council” is pretty worthless unless backed by the wealth and military might of the United States?  The UN has no military.  Article 43 of Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter tried to build a UN military but no nation contributed any forces.  So the UN has no teeth.  Oh, sure, you can say NATO can fill that role.  But the bulk of NATO’s assets are whose?  That’s right.  Ours.  However you want to slice it doesn’t change this fundamental truth.  Any UN or NATO operation is only as strong and as effective as the size of the U.S. role in that operation.

Domestic politics got a nod, too, in a nation saddled in debt and embroiled over how to cut spending.

“The risk and cost of this operation – to our military and to American taxpayers – will be reduced significantly” Obama said.

The president said transferring the mission to NATO would leave the United States in a supporting role, providing intelligence, logistical support and search and rescue assistance. He said the U.S. would also use its capabilities to jam Gadhafi’s means of communication.

The U.S. in a supporting role?  Whenever has the U.S. played that part before?  We’re the John Wayne of international peace-keeping and humanitarian efforts.  We don’t get supporting roles.  Even if that’s all we want.  And the sop to the taxpayers?  This from the guy that is running trillion dollar deficits?  That’s ‘trillion’ with a ‘t’.  Not the ‘billion’ dollar deficits of Ronald Reagan that were irresponsible and bankrupting the country.  He has shown little regard to the American taxpayer.  Why should we believe him now?  He likes to spend tax dollars.  And he likes to tax. 

Fighting Illegal Wars and Cozying up to Big Corporations just isn’t for Republicans Anymore

And tax he does.  He and his progressive Democrats.  They go after rich people.  And big corporations.  Well, some of the big corporations (see 15 Tax Escape Artists by The Daily Beast posted 3/28/2011 on The Daily Beast).

As reported Friday, General Electric concluded 2010 with $14.2 billion in profits, for which the Internal Revenue Service is paying them a tax benefit of $3.2 billion, thanks to a shrewd use of U.S. tax loopholes, aggressive lobbying and favorable international tax provisions. They’re far from alone.

“Companies are becoming much more sophisticated in the way they arbitrage the U.S. tax system,” says Howard Gleckman, a resident fellow at The Urban Institute, which analyzes economic issues in the U.S. “GE is not the only one, there are many other companies doing the same thing.”

Did you catch that?  GE earned $14.2 billion in profits and did not pay any taxes.  In fact, the IRS paid them a tax benefit of $3.2 billion.    How does that make you feel about a ‘green’ corporation in tight with the Obama administration?  GE is a heavy Democrat donor.  And crony.  A big proponent of green energy.  Because they want to sell compact fluorescent lamps and windmills.  They’re so committed to Obama in going green that Jeffrey Immelt, GE CEO, leads Obama’s economic advisory board.  And yet it’s always the Republicans that are criticized for being in the pocket of the big corporations.  But when it’s Democrats, we don’t call it crony capitalism.  Go figure.

Is GE getting favorable treatment?  Perhaps. 

Critics argue that the avoidance of corporate income tax hurts the economy and hampers domestic investment and job creation, but defenders of the practices argue it’s the only way their companies can stay competitive on a global scale as the American corporate tax rate of 35 percent is one the highest in the world…

“GE is a symptom of a much bigger problem and GE management uses the tax code for their benefit,” says Gleckman. “I’m not offended by GE, I’m offended by a tax system that allows this to go on. They have an obligation to their shareholders and their workers to maximize after-tax profits.”

Of course, the irony is that GE Chief Executive Jeffrey Immelt is the same person Barack Obama appointed to head the panel of external economic advisers created in 2009 to help steer the U.S. out of the economic crisis. Says Willens, “when [Immelt] was appointed to that position, people who had familiarity with GE’s tax practices had a good laugh, which are rare for tax professionals.”

Obama says our role in Libya will be limited to help the American taxpayer.  Does having the highest corporate tax rates in the world that stifle economic growth and sends jobs overseas help, too?  These tax rates are so high that it forces poor corporations to manipulate the tax code to stay competitive.  Which is okay as long as you are pouring money into Democrat coffers apparently.  Even if you outsource jobs to countries with lower tax rates.

And having the fox guard the chicken house?  In the world of Obama, there’s no conflict there.  Of course, if George W. Bush selected an oilman to lead such a board I suspect there would have been some protestation.  But Obama can do no wrong.  Although the Libyan War is now straining some of his strongest supporters.  Which should make for an interesting 2012 election.  If we have one, that is.

Going Rogue or Just in over his Head?

Special tax deals and policy influence for cronies?  Wars launched without Congressional authority or any clear idea of what exactly our national security interests are?  High taxation?  Huge deficits?  You know, there is a name for this kind of leader.  Autocrat.  Someone who does whatever he wants.  This reminds me of another leader.  You might have heard of him in the news lately.  He’s Libyan.  Goes by the name of Qaddafi.

Of course, Obama is no Qaddafi.  He’s much more conservative in dress.  And he doesn’t murder his own people.  But apart from these two things, you have to admit there are some similarities.  Both are cults of personality (before you object remember that Obama got the Nobel Peace Prize before he had a chance to do anything as president).  Friends of both get special treatment (the stimulus bill didn’t hire anyone – it went to the public sector unions and other supporters).  Both feel they’re above the law (take Obamacare, for example.  Ruled unconstitutional yet the Obama administration is still proceeding in defiance of the court’s ruling).  And they both attack their enemies (the Obama machinery bussed protesters to Wisconsin to try to prevent the elected Wisconsin Assembly from voting on the bill to restrict collective bargaining rights to public sector workers).  Oh, and even though he defied one judge (in the Obamacare ruling) he used another judge in Wisconsin to stop a law he didn’t personally like (restricting collective bargaining rights of public sector unions).

So this leaves all scratching our collective head.  Why Libya?  When you get right down to it, he must like a lot about Qaddafi.  He’s doing a lot of the same.  Only without the blood and fancy dress.  And while we’re asking questions, here’s another.  Will there be an election in 2012?  That may depend on how far his poll numbers drop.  Because there’s a limit to the number of dead people that can vote without drawing suspicion.  I’m joking, of course.  There will be an election.  Obama hasn’t gone rogue.  He’s just young, inexperienced and in over his head.  At least based on his incomprehensible actions.

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Unemployment, High Taxes, Obamacare, Uncertainty, Public Sectors and a Snow Crisis

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 3rd, 2011

Obama Saves our Economy with 10% Unemployment and Job Killing Obamacare

The departing White House economist, Larry Summers, says that if it wasn’t for President Obama, the economy would be in a mess.  Unlike the near 10% unemployment stagnant cesspool it currently is.  Others say he may have stabilized the economy, but he is smothering the recovery because of the patent anti-business policies of the Obama Administration (see Judging Obama’s economics by Robert J. Samuelson posted 1/3/2011 on The Washington Post).

The trouble is that Obama, having stabilized the economy, weakened the recovery. What’s missing from Summers’s valedictory is any sense of contradiction between the administration’s ambitious social and regulatory agenda and the business confidence necessary for hiring and investing. Of course, the connections existed. The health-care law raises hiring costs by requiring in 2014 that all firms with more than 50 employees provide health insurance or be fined. The law brims with complexities and uncertainties that make it hard to estimate the ultimate costs. Will firms with, say, 47 workers eagerly expand beyond 50 if that imposes all the extra costs? It seems doubtful.

Woe to the business owner after 2 years of President Obama.  Obamacare.  It’s going to cost business big.  But how big no one knows.  Even the people who wrote that monstrosity.  As Dave Barry so eloquently wrote (see Dave Barry’s 2010 Year in Review posted 1/3/2011 in the Miami Herald).

The centerpiece of this effort is a historic bill that will either (a) guarantee everybody excellent free health care, or (b) permit federal bureaucrats to club old people to death. Nobody knows which, because nobody has read the bill, which in printed form has the same mass as a UPS truck.

In a word, uncertainty.  It’s anyone’s guess.  And that’s a pretty big variable to put into a business plan.  Better to circle the wagons and wait and see.  And by wait and see I mean don’t expand.  Don’t build.  Don’t hire.

But just think how worse things would be if it wasn’t for Obama.

High Unemployment and High Taxes – They Usually go Together

And this on top of some of the highest corporate tax rates in the world (see Pat Toomey says U.S. has highest corporate tax rates in the world posted 1/3/2011 on The St. Petersburg Times’ Politifact).

On the Jan. 2, 2011, edition of NBC’s Meet the Press, Sen.-elect Pat Toomey, R-Pa., cited a striking statistic in urging the United States to lower its corporate tax rates.

That striking statistic?

“We should be lowering corporate tax rates because we have the highest in the world right now.”

They fact checked.  There are different taxes to look at (statutory, effective, excise, payroll, etc.).  Their conclusion?

Still, if you rate Toomey on his specific wording by looking at “corporate tax rates,” he’s right that the U.S. does now have the highest corporate tax rates on the books, at least among the biggest industrialized democracies, which is most economists’ typical yardstick. So we rate his statement Mostly True.

Uncertainty.  High taxes.  And they wonder why unemployment hovers at 10%.

Tax and Spend Creates Business Uncertainty

And taxes won’t be coming down any time soon with the Obama administration.  The national debt has never been higher (see National Debt Tops $14 Trillion by Mark Knoller posted 1/3/2011 on CBS News).  And the Obama administration wants to raise the debt ceiling.  Because they want to keep on spending. 

You need to pay for spending.  With debt, printing or taxes.  All of which will add cost to business.  More debt increases interest rates.  Printing money causes price inflation.  Taxes just plain add costs.  And they pass all those costs on to you.  The consumer.

But it’s the uncertainty that plagues business. Yes, it’s bad.  But will it get worse?  Probably.  So business hunkers down.  They don’t expand.  They don’t build.  And they don’t hire.    Not for the indefinite future.  Until they have some sense of what’s to come. 

To Save Obamacare Obama Tries to Hide the Facts

Even the Obama administration know they’re not helping the economy.  And they know that Obamacare is a train wreck.  So they’re doing everything they can to lie to the people.  To get their propaganda front and center.  How?  They’re paying Google with our tax dollars to alter ‘Obamacare’ search results (see HHS is Paying Google with Taxpayer Money to Alter ‘Obamacare’ Search Results by Jeffrey H. Anderson posted 1/3/2011 on the Weekly Standard).

Obamacare is bad.  Even they know it.  So they’re trying to control Internet content.  Scary, isn’t it?  Censorship can’t be far behind.

A Snow Crisis is a Terrible Thing to Waste

FDR exploded the size of Big Government.  He gave birth to the nanny state.  But one thing he didn’t do was to neuter private business.  And empower the public sector employees.  He knew if you were going to partner with Big Labor you needed big taxes.  You get big taxes from businesses.  And from their employees.  In other words, it all trickles down from business.  If you shut down business, you shut down everything.

Today, though, it’s all different.  They don’t just take from business. They eviscerate business.  To feed the public sector.  Who produce nothing.  They just consume tax dollars.  And live a far better life than you or I.  Case in point, the NYC blizzard (see Sanitation Department’s slow snow cleanup was a budget protest by Sally Goldenberg, Larry Celona and Josh Margolin posted 12/30/2010 on the New York Post).

Selfish Sanitation Department bosses from the snow-slammed outer boroughs ordered their drivers to snarl the blizzard cleanup to protest budget cuts — a disastrous move that turned streets into a minefield for emergency-services vehicles, The Post has learned.

That’s your public sector.  When the mayor forces them to live like the rest of us they protest vehemently.  Taking advantage of a crisis, they paralyze a city.  Prevent emergency services from using the streets.  Because they’re not happy with wage and benefit packages similar to the private sector.  So they protest.  And ask for our support in their struggle against unfair labor practices the mayor is using against them.

Solidarity, Brother?  Or are you Giving me the Finger?

Even their union brethren have had enough.  And that says a lot (see Labor’s Coming Class War by William McGurn posted 1/4/2011 on The Wall Street Journal).

In theory, of course, organized labor is all about fraternal solidarity. For many years, it is true, private-sector unions supported collective-bargaining rights and better benefits for government workers, while public-employee unions supported the private-sector unions in their opposition to legislation such as the North American Free Trade Agreement in the 1990s.

Suddenly, it’s a different world. In this recession, for example, construction workers are suffering from unemployment levels roughly double the national rate, according to a recent analysis of federal jobs data by the Associated General Contractors of America. They are relearning, the hard way, that without a growing economy, all the labor-friendly laws and regulations in the world won’t keep them working.

The union trades are among the biggest group of laid off workers.  And while they sit unemployed waiting to pick up a call, the public sector goes on.  Living extremely well.  And the high taxes to pay those fat wage and benefit packages are killing business.  The very business they need to build stuff.

What’s more, “blue-collar union workers are beginning to appreciate that the generous pensions and health benefits going to their counterparts in state and local government are coming out of their pockets,” says Steven Malanga, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. “Not only that, they are beginning to understand the dysfunctional relationship between collective bargaining for government employees and their own job prospects.”

And while the public sector bitches about pay cuts in their jobs, unemployment soars among the union trades.  I once complained about my wage and benefits until I met the man who had none.  So don’t go looking for the solidarity on the picket lines.

Over in New York, meanwhile, newly inaugurated Gov. Andrew Cuomo faces a similar battle. Mr. Cuomo campaigned on a cap on property taxes and a freeze on state salaries, both anathema to the powerful state-employee unions. As the New York Times reported last month, however, in this showdown Mr. Cuomo may have found a surprising ally in the 100,000- member Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York. Maybe not so surprising: The Times says unemployment for these workers is running at 20%.

These union employees at least provide value.  They build things.  And build them very well.  Sure, you can say some are overpaid.  And maybe some are.  But one thing you can’t say is that they haven’t been sharing any of the sacrifice during these down times.  Unlike their public sector brethren. 

In some ways, this new appreciation for the private sector is simply back to the future. FDR, for example, warned in 1937 that collective bargaining “cannot be transplanted into the public service.” In the old days, unions understood economic growth. Mr. Malanga points to AFL-CIO President George Meany’s strong support for the JFK tax cuts as an example.

These days the two types of worker inhabit two very different worlds. In the private sector, union workers increasingly pay for more of their own health care, and they have defined contribution pension plans such as 401(k)s. In this they have something fundamental in common even with the fat cats on Wall Street: Both need their companies to succeed.

By contrast, government unions use their political clout to elect those who set their pay: the politicians. In exchange, these unions are rewarded with contracts whose pension and health-care provisions now threaten many municipalities and states with bankruptcy. In response to the crisis, government unions demand more and higher taxes. Which of course makes people who have money less inclined to look to those states to make the investments that create jobs for, say, iron workers, electricians and construction workers.

Big Government and the Public Sector can’t Exist without Business

To tax and spend you need big piles of tax money.  Which anti-business policies won’t give you.  And raising tax rates will hurt business and consumers alike.  Which also won’t give you big piles of tax money.  Ditto for excessive government debt and printing money.  They all kill economic activity.  And we’re killing our economy.  Which is shrinking that pile of tax money.  And this is causing cities and states budget problems.  Requiring a reckoning with their public sector employees.  Which is going so badly that the public sector unions are now finding themselves an island unto themselves.  No one is feeling pity for these pampered prima donnas.  Even their fellow union workers in the building trades are abandoning them.

Things are bad.  But they can get worse.  If we try to bail out the public sector.  We do that and we’ll end up like Greece.  The only difference being that there won’t be anyone to bail us out.  So that’s not an option.  We have to cut spending.  Before we end up like Greece. 

We need to repeal Obamacare.  Cut taxes.  And stop attacking business.  If we want jobs.  And prosperity.  For one fundamental truth in life is that business can exist without the public sector.  But the public sector can’t exist without business.  Someone has to pay all those taxes.

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