Justus For All

None Sine Causa

Strong Horse

12:44 pm on Thursday, February 17, 2011

One after another, our nation’s enemies are moving to make an example of Americans abroad. Ostensibly it’s about the rule of law. But with trumped-up charges, these acts are provocations.

It may be because Obama’s “smart diplomacy” amounts to shunning friends, appeasing tyrants, deferring to international law and imagining America as no more special than any other nation. Fact is, Americans are being singled out because rogue regimes are confident that they have nothing to fear from us any longer.

via The Tyrants Lunge – Investors.com.

I don’t advocate ruthless quelling of anyone who annoys us, but at the end of the day, if you are not willing to demand respect, you won’t get it, especially in a “tooth and claw” environment that best characterized international diplomacy.

Game theory tells us that the only real way to ensure an opponent behaves in a reasonable manner is to punish unreasonable behavior.  Unwillingness or inability to do that encourages unreasonable behavior, with predictable results.  ”Smart Diplomacy” is preparing for (and often publicizing) how we will respond to behavior we don’t like, and making it clear that we will follow through.

It isn’t smart to assume that everyone will just be nice if we are nice to them.

House GOP Health Care Reform

1:08 pm on Friday, January 21, 2011

Everyone knows House Republicans (along with three Democrats) voted Wednesday to repeal Obamacare. But fewer people know what those same House Republicans — this time, with 14 Democrats — did Thursday.

By a vote of 253 to 175, the GOP directed key House committees to report on ways to lower health care premiums, allow patients to keep their current health plans, increase access to coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, and decrease the price of medical liability lawsuits. In other words, the committees are beginning work on replacing the House-repealed Obamacare with Republican health policies.

via Washington Examiner.

One thing that bothered be about the GOP last time they were in the majority is that they really didn’t seem very serious about dealing with tough issues.  Either they demagogued, ducked the issue or let the President do all the work.  Obviously with a President who is now of the other party that last one is easier to avoid, but still it should be Congress that takes the lead in crafting legislation.

Like a lot of people I am skeptical of the House GOP since they didn’t do a great job last time, but this is an encouraging sign.  They should be well aware though that people like we are paying attention.

The End of Excess?

9:25 pm on Monday, March 30, 2009

My brother sent me this article:  The End of Excess: Is This Crisis Good for America? – TIME.

It is worth reading.

The first page or so I didn’t like, the author seemed indecently glad that fat, stupid America had got its due, and I expected a pretty radical, out there set of solutions that didn’t have much to do with the economy, but rather simply were the authors vision of social justice.  In truth, there is some of that in the article, but less then I expected and it also was pretty clear in that those who think the future will represent some wholesale rejection of the past are wrong.

I don’t agree with everything the article says.  Actually I disagree with quite a lot, but it is worth reading for some of the positives that can come out of our current crisis.

For the record, I suspect that we are not at ‘The End of Excess’ any more then the 30s represented the end of excess.  From the perspective of the roaring 20s, the 50s were incredibly wealthy and our current standard of living unimaginable.  I strongly suspect that that trend will continue and we will be hugely richer ten years from now, and we can’t even guess was thirty or forty years from now will be like.  And I expect that more then anything, it will be the American spirit that leads the way.

Piracy attacks drop

1:19 pm on Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Associated Press

Two months into an international anti-piracy campaign off the Somalia coast, the number of attacks against cargo ships is down sharply, senior military and diplomatic officials said Thursday.

Good.  I happen to believe that maintaining order on the high seas is critical for our civilization.  Progress in this area is a very good sign.

Iranian Nukes

7:58 am on Friday, February 20, 2009

CNN.com
Iranian scientists have reached “nuclear weapons breakout capability,” according to a new report based on findings of the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency.

The Institute for Science and International Security report concludes Iran does not yet have a nuclear weapon but does have enough low-enriched uranium for a single nuclear weapon.

If we know everything (always a doubtful prospect) Iran still has a ways to go before they have a deployable device, and this doesn’t provide anything new as to their intentions.  It has always been quite obvious to me that Iran has been seeking weapons capability, but certainly there are many who don’t believe that and this bit of news doesn’t provide anything to convince them otherwise.

Obviously though the window in which we can act to influence them on this issue is closing.

Freedom of the Press

11:33 am on Friday, January 30, 2009

International Herald Tribune
Under former leader Saddam Hussein, printing presses needed government permission for anything they put out, said Abdul Mahdi al-Aamiri, manager of Basras Alghadeer printing company.

“The huge difference democracy has made to our business – you cant even compare to how we were before,” he said.

This makes me smile.

(via Dean’s World)

Stimulus Package

11:05 am on Friday, January 30, 2009

National Journal Magazine
In normal times, Congress might never enlarge so many programs at once. But, as with Reagans tax cut, the crisis-induced demand for action may suspend the normal laws of political gravity — and allow Democrats to redirect federal priorities as boldly as Reagan did. “This is a once-in-a-25-year opportunity to [implement] a lot of our agenda,” a top House Democratic aide says. Largely for that reason, most congressional Republicans are likely to resist the plan, no matter how many more tax cuts Obama offers them.

The article in its entirity talks about how the stimulus package is a chance for Democrats to redefine how government action relates to the economy.  I think that is a pretty good assessment, and one that will probably have some pretty long term reprecussions.

It is a pretty big departure from how we have looked at this sort of problem for almost 30 years.  Many Democrats see this as a huge assett, since they feel that the last 30 years have resulted in very uneven economic gains, with the rich getting the lions share of the benefits.

I am doubtful that this new approach, even if it is as effective in general economic terms will actually succeed in any way in reducing the income gap.  I expect that the opposite will occur, as this government transfer of wealth will disproportionately transfer wealth from people without economic (and hence political) power to those who have it.  The intentions in many cases are good, but the problem of focused special interests remains.

That said, I’m not entirely oppossed to this.  My basic read on the economy is that we do need to increase government spending (or reduce taxes) to increase the money supply.  Inflation remains low, indeed deflation seems more  of a risk right now and that needs to be avoided.  The how we spend it is probably less important then the spending itself.

I’m not positive how much though.  The 700 billion bank saving bill hasn’t had a chance to work its way through the economy at all yet, and passing another 900 billion this soon seems to me to risk pretty signifigant inflation.  High inflation though is probably not as risky as deflation, so I’m on the fence on that.  Different economists are saying differnt things, of course, but there does seem to me a majority that think we need more then what has already been passed.

I also am favorably inclined to increased funding for scientific research, education, and some of the infrastructure they are propossing.  Long term investment of this sort probably makes sense, even with the inevitable inefficiencies of government tied onto them.

France’s love for Obama

7:25 am on Thursday, January 22, 2009

FT.com / Europe
France’s defence minister on Wednesday appeared to rule out any immediate reinforcement of French troops in Afghanistan if requested by Barack Obama, the new US president.

Hervé Morin said deploying additional French forces to the war-torn country was “not a question for now”

I’m  not surprised by this.  While it is certainly true that President Obama is more popular in many parts of Europe then President Bush, at the end of the day being well loved (or very much hated) doesn’t make much difference when it comes to nation states determining their interests and choosing how to support them.

This isn’t intended as a dig against Obama, I expect he will be able to do about as well as anyone in getting European support, but it is a little bit of a dig at all those who were sure it was just Bush’s fault and that Obama would work miracles in this area.

Diplomacy is carrots and sticks, not a love fest.

Happy Obama Day

9:25 am on Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Barack Obama is now President of the Unitied States.  I ernestly wish him well and hope that he will meet the coming tests well.

It will be interesting.

The Virtues of Sweatshops

9:37 am on Thursday, January 15, 2009

NYTimes.com
“It’s dirty, hot and smelly here,” she said wistfully. “A factory is better.”

Take a minute and read the whole thing.

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