Monday, April 22, 2013

Mr. Kerry, Who'll Be Wearing Your Suit?

Mr. Kerry, despite your busy schedule, which has taken you to Israel to go through the motions of creating the illusion that the United States is interested in finding a solution that will please both the Palestinians and the Israelis. Although being such a powerful broker which can easily set terms by which Israel would likely have to accept, leading to a true negotiation and also having the ability to make demands of the aggressive  nation to stop with the stealing of land which has made a two state solution less probable.

Also, you've been busy explaining to your former colleagues in the Senate about our "backyard" which is not only offensive and arrogant, but an imaginary scenario believed by some sold out politicians working on a hill named "Capital" in Washington DC.

In the suit that you dress yourself up in every morning, is there anything left of that John Kerry who long ago spoke so eloquently of the abuses committed by our government against the Vietnamese people?  Kind of like the twisted buffoons who you campaigned against for the presidency in 2004, can I ask you if you are a flip flopper?  Did you stand against the abuses of our government before you helped perpetuate them?

Soon you'll send a recommendation to President Obama whether or not to include Cuba on your department's list of nations that support terror.  In case you've been to steeped in politics to be aware of the first line about the subject on the State Department's website, I'll repeat them for you here: " In order to designate a country as a State Sponsor of Terrorism, the Secretary of State must determine that the government of such country has repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism."

 Let's review last years report.  As you'll notice, it quite frankly defies logic as to why Cuba remains on such a short list.

"Cuba was designated as a State Sponsor of Terrorism in 1982. Current and former members of Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) continue to reside in Cuba. Three suspected ETA members were arrested in Venezuela and deported back to Cuba in September 2011 after sailing from Cuba. One of them, Jose Ignacio Echarte, is a fugitive from Spanish law and was also believed to have ties to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Reports suggested that the Cuban government was trying to distance itself from ETA members living on the island by employing tactics such as not providing services including travel documents to some of them. Press reporting indicated that the Cuban government provided medical care and political assistance to the FARC. There was no indication that the Cuban government provided weapons or paramilitary training for either ETA or the FARC.

The Cuban government continued to permit fugitives wanted in the United States to reside in Cuba and also provided support such as housing, food ration books, and medical care for these individuals.

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has identified Cuba as having strategic AML/CFT deficiencies.  Despite sustained and consistent overtures, Cuba has refused to substantively engage directly with the FATF.  It has not committed to FATF standards and it is not a member of a FATF-style regional body, although in 2011 it did attend a Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering in South America meeting as a guest and prepared an informal document describing its anti-money laundering/counterterrorist financing system."

For a nation of such prominence like the United States, after a report like this, it should be embarrassing to have continued making the claim that Cuba is a state sponsor of terrorism.

But the past is the past and as much as people may wish it were different, all we can do is deal with the present so that the future can be better.  An intelligent decision from you on this issue is what many people hope for.

Having your own department's report seeming to admit that Cuba has distanced itself from the handful of members of ETA should be enough to conclude that the requisite that a country can be shown to repeatedly provide support for ETA's acts of international terrorism.  Forget the fact that the report never claimed that Cuba was supporting terrorism by ETA anyhow.

The connections between Cuba and the FARC are a bit more interesting this year to say the least.  It turns out that not only isn't Cuba sponsoring FARC terror, Cuba is actually sponsoring peace talks between that group and the government of Colombia!  Isn't that a gem?!  (If you do decide to keep Cuba on the list, I'm certain that the report will be a bit shorter this time!)  Obama himself said that he supports the peace talks, although I'm certain that the whereabouts of the talks has caused him to wince.  The Colombian president has also stated his appreciation for Cuba's help in making the talks possible.  How do you feel, Mr. Kerry?

As for the FATF and it's claim of "strategic deficiencies" on the part of Cuba, things are also quite different than a year ago.  Although it was brushed off earlier this year by the State Department, the FATF stated publicly last October that since June 2011 "Cuba has significantly enhanced its engagement and co-operation with the FATF and made a request to join GAFISUD. However, the FATF urges Cuba to continue its engagement with the FATF and to work with the FATF to develop and agree on an action plan in order to address its AML/CFT deficiencies."  There words, not mine.  Straight from the group your department decided to rely heavily on in it's determination last year to keep Cuba on that list.

I've watched our government's impotence when it comes to standing up to powerful lobbies in Washington and I'm aware of how disproportionately strong the anti-Cuba lobby is so I really have no idea which John Kerry will be showing up to work on the day that your recommendation is made.  For the sake of honesty, credibility, and justice, I do hope that John Kerry who stood for those things will be the one wearing your suit.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Representatives

Thr Senate has opposed logic. The Senate has opposed the majority os the people.  The Senate represents someone, but not us. 

Around 90% of the people support more background checks for gun purchases, but despite this the Senate has decided not to support them.  The Senate has represented the lobbyists.

For how long will this charade of democracy be accepted?  It's gone on far to long.  Are democratic institutions enough?  Or should we demand more?

I'm tired of the excuses.  Commentators speak about protecting the minority.  When it's convenient, some people say that we don't have a democracy, but a representative republic.  When it's time to change the filibuster, they don't.  Obviously the "representatives" are representing someone. 

It's not only the gun control issue.  We have a Democrat president offering to cut social security.  He has the nerve to ask "Who are we here to represent?" 

Mr. President, we know who you are there to represent.  Haven't you bargained a tax hike for on many middle class people?  Aren't you offering to cut social security?  Aren't you proposing a cut to heating oil subsidies for the poorest among us?  Have you proposed anything to fix our tax system which allows some of the largest corporations to not pay one cent of taxes?  Come on Mr. President, who are you guys there to represent?  I think you know the answer to that.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Dot 1, Dot 2...Connected

Two big stories occupying a lot of space in the press.  Let's call them "dots" and connect them because our press seems unable to do it.

Dot #1:  Gun control debate.

Dot #2:  Serious tensions with North Korea.

(As we run through this dot connecting exercise, we'll notice the low quality of our policy makers in Washington, and the low quality intellect of some press agencies.)

Dot #1 contains the debate over what the Second Amendment actually means and how to try and reduce the amount of gun crimes that are committed in the country.  During the back and forth, our vice-president, Joe Biden trying to show the lack of necessity of using assault weapons for personal defense, told a story.  "[I said to Jill] if there's ever a problem here, just walk out on the balcony, here, walk out, put that double barrel shotgun and just fire two blasts outside the house.  You don't need an [assault rifle]."

Thanks for the advice Joe.

Dot #2 is the situation in which the United States and South Korea, in their infinite wisdom, has decided to play war games off the coast of North Korea.  These two countries are technically at war having failed to sign a peace treaty since 1953.  (Talk about lack of initiative!)  Expectedly, North Korea has decided to get itself on war footing since a mock war will be going on off it's coast by it's enemies.   Of course, the U.S. is offended by the "provocative" nature of North Korea's decision, and our press has hyped the story as if an insane North Korea is acting improperly.  Does anyone question that it may be irresponsible or provocative to carry out this show of force on the part of the U.S. and South Korea?

Now let's connect the two dots....

What if North Korea thinks like Vice-President Biden?  What if North Korea, from within it's house, notices a problem outside?  What if North Korea decided to cock it's shotgun as a warning?  They haven't fired two blasts like Biden advised his wife to in a similar event.  If Biden's wife actually fired the blasts she would actually be violating the laws according to the police in her neighborhood.

To me, it all seems like a lot of ignorant chest thumping.  Blasting off shots and playing war games.  What's good for the goose is good for the gander.  Of course, Washington thinks of itself a a special goose so nobody is willing to connect those dots.  

Friday, April 5, 2013

On Opposing Logic

In the discourse involving gun control, something to me seems illogical.  People who oppose any more gun laws often make the claim that we should just enforce existing laws. Yeah, we should.

But what doesn't make sense to me at all is that given the fact that a person can avoid a background check by purchasing a fire arm at a gun show or from another individual, existing law doesn't seem to prevent someone who shouldn't be able to purchase a gun from doing so. Call it a loophole if you'd like, but it's a damn big one.

The opponents to new laws, or better laws, make the argument that a criminal will break the law anyway and buy one and law abiding citizens, well aren't breaking the law so we shouldn't burden them.

By making it law that every gun purchase must require a background check on the purchaser, at least every legitimate gun sale would prevent someone not eligible to buy one from doing so. It's pretty solid logic. The burden wouldn't be on the buyer, but the seller. And if someone is selling a lethal weapon, let them be a bit more burdened. It's not as if we would be preventing them from selling it.  They would just be prevented from selling it to someone who shouldn't be buying it.

No, this kind of law wouldn't prevent illegal gun sales, but it would ensure that all legal sales are legitimate.  Can we consider a sale legitimate now if a person unable to purchase a gun in a gun shop does buy one from a gun show? Come on, that's not logical nor intelligent.  Leaving this kind of "grey area" in the business of selling arms is just plain irresponsible.

If our politicians can't even take obvious steps to minimally address the situation then they really don't deserve to receive a salary paid by us.  They can go work for an industry that they do the bidding for and stay the hell away from public business.