Trump and Iran

 

US_Steps_up_Pressure_on_Iran

 

By Paul Davis and Chiman Zebari

Today the world is holding its breath to see the response of the United State to an anemic attack by Iran on Iraqi bases housing Americans. The Islamic Republic launched around 15 missiles at targets in Iraq, some of which were shot down most of which missed the target. The attack was in response to the killing by the US of an Iranian terrorist and commander of an Iranian terrorist group.
Some say the Iranians missed their targets on purpose in order to avoid a major retaliation by the US. The Iranian FARS news network at one point said up to 80 Americans had been killed. The US is saying no casualties. While there may have been no US casualties there were Iraqis injured. So, what is next.
This is also being called a face-saving device so that the Iranian leadership, playing to a domestic audience, can show that they took decisive action to retaliate for the US actions. The operation was called the “Martyr Soleimani.”
The fact is that the death of Soleimani was a major blow to the Iranian ability to continue to export the Islamic revolution. The technical capabilities of Iran have increased in the last few years but the war fighting capabilities are far short of what they need to engage in any protracted war. This however will not fully deter the actions of Iran since there war model has been to use proxy forces to carry out limited attacks on selected targets.
The belief that this is a one-off operation does not track. The anger in the Islamic Republics leadership is very strong and revenge in their history. The President in his statement announced additional sanctions on Iran and justified the strike that took out Soleimani. The foreign minister of Iran told the world that this missile strike was proportional and served it purpose. This is difficult to believe since Iran has been attacking anyone or any country it sees as an enemy for 40 years. What may be considered is that Iran may not launch attacks by its forces from Iranian soil again. The standard Iranian tactic is to use proxy forces which gives them deniability.
The President also said that it appears that Iran is standing down, not sure what that means, in fact the next day there was an attack on the Green Zone in Baghdad. I expect to see a lull, which means back to normal, and then a spike in attacks in Syria and Lebanon as well as a potential Hamas or Hizballah attack on Israel. The Iranian dominated Iraqi militias will continue to act independently of the Iraqi government and under the control of Iran.
It should also be pointed out that the missile attacks were aimed at bases in Sunni and Kurdish areas. This tracks from past IRGC controlled attacks by the PMF militias. Soleimani’s main objective has been to spread the Islamic revolution, increase Iranian hegemony and remove the US (west) from the region. This last is important to understand, Iran sees little to no difference between the US and other western nations yet will continue to manipulate those western nations for trade.
Short of all out war with Iran the US needs to adjust it position in the region in order to continue a US presence as well as be prepared to defend US interests and allies. Based on the resolution of the Iraqi Parliament to seek to have all US forces leave one solution would be to move the US embassy from Baghdad to Erbil and ask the Kurds to hold another referendum on independence, and this time back them up fully. Kurds as we have mentioned previously are the only true allies the Americans have in the region. A truly free and independent Kurdistan would be a game changer. Removing US forces from Iraq would be a financial blow to Iraq and a political blow to Iran and Turkey.
With Soleimani out of the way Iran does not have a replacement of his caliper. Much of the control and personal contacts may begin to weaken and allow for the different actors to operate on their own. Beside the Kurds, the Sunni in Iraq have been victims of the Iranian control of Iraq. It is within their power to vote for autonomy and break away from Baghdad. What has stopped this in the past was not Iran but the US which maintains a one Iraq doctrine.
While so many are saying this is going to lead to World War III I would reiterate that the Iranian are in no condition to wage an actual war. As for terrorist attacks Iran and the IRGC are the leading exporter and planners of terrorism already. The Iranian government is facing a dilemma with a shift in the way the American government is reacting, holding Tehran accountable for the actions of its proxies, and the widespread protest in Iran and Iraq. This is in fact the perfect time to apply maximum pressure. The only thing that is working in Iran’s favor is the US House pushing a new War Powers Act exclusively to stop any action by the US in the event it is needed.
We need to build a strong coalition that will truly isolate Iran and end the regimes reign of terror. It is time for the majority of the government to understand that to do nothing now will result in a greater loss of national security then what they can understand in their current state.

The Houses Treatment of the Impeachment process

 

 

I have watched the impeachment hearings and seen President Trumps tweets and am embarrassed for my country. We have lost sight of the core values of America, those values that have made us the envy of the world. Chief among those values was and should be a sense of fair play. Everyone should have the right to speak their mind and if accused of wrongdoing be able to defend themselves. The president is wrong when he comes out and attacks his critics and accusers. If you do not like the president, then you have the right to say so. There was a time when this was done without invective, but no longer. Today we attack any and all personal habits and traits. The president makes up names and insults the integrity of his opponents. The democrats attack the president with insults and name calling. The worst part of all of this is the current impeachment hearings, begun with little to no evidence of an impeachable crime. They have concluded without the presentation of any hard evidence, only rumor and hearsay. The next step was the House Judiciary Committee review of the results of the hearings and writing articles of impeachment. The house will then get the articles and will almost certainly vote to impeach. Unlike past impeachments such as Richard Nixon or Bill Clinton, there is no hard evidence to support the commission of a crime that is impeachable.
Most of what we have seen, and likely will see, is hearsay and opinion. The Ukrainians themselves have said there was no demand and they felt no pressure. We are not currently talking facts or evidence but opinion and spin. We followed this up with the House Judiciary committee, chaired by Congressman Jerry Nadler of NY, a man who has been an adversary of Donald Trump for years. The committee heard from four so called experts on the constitution and impeachment. Of the four, three were acknowledged opponents of the President and the fourth was a token republican because the chair would not allow any other republican picks.
One of the things that bothers me is that there is not even a pretense at any form of judicial fairness. The Intelligence Committee first meet in secret then had a couple of open hearings. According to those with access at the beginning and then on live TV the Democrats ran the hearing as a Star Chamber, controlling the questions and the witness’ while going for a predetermined conclusion. Then onto the Judiciary Committee which began by bringing on four law professors three of whom have been on record as avid Trump haters. One of the witness’, Pamela Karlan, a law professor from Stanford was quoted from a video last year as saying “ “I came in from the airport yesterday and I got off the bus from Dulles [Airport] down at L’Enfant Plaza and I walked up to the hotel, I was walking past what used to be the Old Post Office Building and is now the Trump Hotel, I had to cross the street of course.” Noah Feldman of Harvard once spoke of the high standard of proof needed in Sharia law. In 2008 wrote in the New York Times, “Today, when we invoke the harsh punishments prescribed by Shariah for a handful of offenses, we rarely acknowledge the high standards of proof necessary for their implementation. Before an adultery conviction can typically be obtained, for example, the accused must confess four times, or four adult male witnesses of good character must testify that they directly observed the sex act.” This of course is what is written but rarely is this standard kept. Feldman and three of the four are hardy keeping to a high standard of evidence since none has been forthcoming. Michael Gerhardt of UNC has written a number of books on the presidency and impeachment said the founding fathers would impeach Trump. Only Jonathan Turley of George Washington University pointed out that the evidence so far does not hold to the high standard of Impeachment.
All of this goes to the main problem, there is no way to shift through the noise to determine the facts. The only fact we actually know is that a phone call happened between President Trump and President Zelensky of Ukraine in which, amongst a number of topics Trump used the phrase “.. do me a favor.” This was followed by request to see what was known about the DNC server and a group known as crowd source. Later on Hunter Biden was mentioned as well as a request by VP Biden to fire a prosecutor. This last is also considered a fact since Biden himself admitted it.
After all of this we are left with the question, what was the intent of the president? Some who listened to the phone call did not hear anything that they construed as wrong. Others said it was an improper request. None have said it was a violation of law. The house is moving forward with the impeachment proceedings. Speaker Pelosi told Nadler to move forward with articles of impeachment, even though the hearings were only in their second day.
After a very raucous session the Judiciary Committee passed two articles of impeachment, abuse of power and contempt of congress. It will now go to the full house and pass at which point it will go to the Senate for trial. In support of the articles the committee issued a 169-page assessment of the case. In the 169-page report the committee brought up the constitution 259 times. Never citing evidence but saying the evidence was irrefutable in showing the President violated his constitutional oath. They pounded on the fact that the president obstructed the congressional probe by refusing to allow his staff to appear under order of subpoena by the House. While it is not clear how many subpoenas are active the ones that were issued are being reviewed in the courts. While the house has insisted that the president is not above the law, agreed, neither is the House. Stating that the House has the sole authority to impeach and that they are co-equal to the president, then so is the judiciary. Let the courts decide the limit of Presidential power to resist the House. Yet while the courts decide many of the democrats are saying it is not up to the courts that the house has the sole power to decide, therefore ignoring the co-equal branch of the Judiciary.
The case of abuse of power hinges on an interpretation of the July 25th phone call. The democrats say it showed an attempt to interfere with the 2020 elections by a foreign power. The republicans say it was a request to investigate a potential crime by Hunter Biden and perhaps his father, then the VP. The true motive can neither be proved or disproved. This brings us to another legal term, reasonable doubt. If a charge cannot be proved beyond a reasonable doubt, there must be an acquittal. In the 169-page assessment the Judiciary Committee contends the president committed multiple federal crimes including criminal bribery and wire fraud. Why then not include these charges in the articles of impeachment. Likely because they are criminal charges that need to be proved. Abuse of power is a catchall phrase that lacks specificity or the stringent standards of a criminal charge.
The President has not helped his cause with a constant stream of tweets that for the most part attack the opposition with child like invective. Calling people names and insulting them in other ways does not bode well in Washington or the rest of the country. The concept of inocencent until proven guilty should be the way to go. Put out the facts and let the other side try and prove guilt. The release of the transcripts and the denial of the Ukrainian government vs. the opinions and hear say of the witnesses against him should stand on there own. The president did send Speaker Pelosi a 6 page letter detailing the political nature of the House actions and laying out the defense that was denied him.
The question to resolve is whether or not the President broke the law in a way that justifies his removal from office. The democrats have said that he does not need to actually break the law to be removed that his actions alone demonstrate that he is unsuited for office. They have called him dangerous to the constitution and the country. They have called “witnesses” that have witnessed nothing and have been shown to be prejudicial to the president. During hearings in the house the presidents’ side was not allowed to make a concerted defense and when they questioned the witnesses they were, in many cases, gaveled to silence.
None of the actions mentioned prove the President innocent, but that is not what drives American justice. You do not have to prove your innocence, the other side needs to prove guilt, which they have not done. The actions of the House are not about constitutional power or a need to save the country but about a political campaign begun November 9th, 2016. The people need to understand the reality of what is going on and understand the danger the country faces if we reduce the process of impeachment to a political activity.
This entire process is driven by politics, not a concern of law or constitutional fidelity. I am concerned that it may work, not that Trump will be removed but that he will be damaged enough to loss in 2020. We will need to see how the Senate handles the trial and what kind of coverage it gets.

The House Investigation

190123155747-pelosi-trump-split-0123-exlarge-169

So now we have an open and pubic vote on beginning an official impeachment investigation. All republicans voted against, no surprise, but two democrats also voted against, a little surprise. It will be interesting to see how the various committees handle themselves when the hearings are open. Will they call back witnesses who had testified behind closed doors or not? Will they truly allow the republicans to call witnesses or will they throw up roadblocks? How will they handle cross examinations? It is interesting to also note that unlike the Nixon and Clinton impeachment investigations different committees will hold hearings instead of just the judiciary committee.
There is no doubt the house will impeach since all the democratic members of the committees as well as most of the house have already declared Trump guilty. I am sorry, regardless of guilt or innocence of the president there is no way to take these investigations seriously. This has devolved into what the president has called a witch hunt. The hope here is that open and fair hearings can right this ship and show the president broke the law beyond a shadow of a doubt or that there is not enough actual evidence to move forward giving the dems plausible reason to end this.
We can only wait and see.

Trump Impeachment, Round 3, Ukraine

innocence

Foreign policy is the purview of the President. Congress has an advice and consent role in some cases. If the president of the United States asked for information on a political rival who may have broken the law that is his right. If the request was conditioned on the US providing aid that is unethical. The Democratic leadership in the House has called this an abuse of power and an impeachable offence. My take.
To begin I believe in the concept of innocent until proven guilty. In criminal procedures guilt must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. The question then becomes is acting unethically an impeachable offence or just a political problem. Did the president abuse his power, I do not know?
What bothers me most is that there has been an unending attempt to prove Trump did something wrong. The call for his impeachment started even before he took office.
In December 2016, Democratic senators Elizabeth Warren, Dick Durbin, Chris Coons, Ben Cardin, and Jeff Merkley introduced a bill that would require the president of the United States to divest any assets that could raise a conflict of interest, including a statement that failure to divest such assets would constitute high crimes and misdemeanors “under the impeachment clause of the U.S. Constitution”
In their book “Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign’ Jonathan Allen and Arnie Parnes, two journalists with access to the Clinton campaign discuss the meeting within 24 hours of the loss on how to spin it, in part, to Russian collusion. The FBI also did their part by opening a counterintelligence investigation on some of Trumps campaign officials. All of this came to nothing after the Mueller report found while there was Russian interference there was no collusion. The next thing we hear about is the potential of obstruction of justice by Trump. While this is still out there it also appears to have hit a dead end. Now we have abuse of power.
If you were accused of murder you would be allowed to mount a defense and question potential jurors to see if they were impartial. How is Trump to get a fair hearing when those in charge of the investigation are also the prosecution and the jury? Had the Democrats waited until they had a solid case then maybe this would be considered a legitimate impeachment process, but its not. On the other side Trump is not doing himself any favors by making ridiculous and petty statements and lashing out at anyone he does not like.
With all the emotion surrounding the case I am reminded of the George Zimmerman-Travon Martin case in Florida in 2012. If you recall Zimmerman, a security guard shot and killed Martin and was accused of second-degree murder. He was acquitted because he was overcharged amidst a politically charged atmosphere and high emotions. Had he been charged with first-degree manslaughter he likely would have been found guilty.
I don’t know what the truth is in this regard. I know that there is too much emotion and political intrigue for the truth to come out until historians get a look at it in the future. I just hope the country is not torn apart while the politician’s fiddle.
I hope we can all Pleasethink about what we are doing and get back to normal lives.

Who are the Kurds Without Googling? By Chiman Zebari and Paul Davis

688d674c860842bc85f9ac2819089d4c_6[1].png

The current crises in Washington is the decision by the president to pull US forces out of Syria and thereby ending the protection we have afforded to our Kurdish allies. In the middle of the arguments the president daughter in law, Lara Trump, made a statement in support of the president that said the average American had to Google the Kurds to find out who they were. This set off a firestorm of criticism justified or not. The main problem with the statement for many is that it is basically true. Even those who know the Kurds do not fully understand who or what they are. In order to educate we think it time to produce a Kurdish primer, or at least one about the current Kurds.
To begin the Kurds are an ethnic group not a race and have occupied the area commonly referred to as Kurdistan for over a millennium. They share no common history or culture with those surrounding them other than through interactions with their neighbors. As the region was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire, they became subjects of the Caliph but, like most throughout the empire, maintained their identity. Like many groups there were fissures and differences which can be seen today most glaringly in the different dialects of spoken Kurdish, some argue different languages. Throughout this time Kurdish culture remained intact. Following the end of the First World War the Kurds were divided up amongst three separate countries, Turkey, Iraq and Syria, while a portion remained in Persia or todays Iran. The Kurds have fought for a separate country ever since. As the Kurds became more independent, they began to develop separate political philosophies and parties.
To put into context the Kurds are not a monolithic group but like all other people in the world hold different political views and opinions. They have shown however they are different then their neighbors by allowing for different philosophies and different ethnicities to coexist in the Kurdish region.
The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) is the oldest of the modern Kurdish political movements. Founded in 1946 as a Pan-Kurdish party in Iran it was instrumental in the creation of an independent but short-lived Kurdistan known as the Mahabad Republic. When the Soviet Union removed its backing the tow leaders Qazi Muhammad and Mustafa Barzani had a final falling out and Barzani established the Iraqi brand of the KDP.
The KDP was mostly operated as a tribal entity and existed by the strong will and stronger hand of Barzani. The back and forth relationship between the KDP and the various governments in Baghdad led to a revolt in 1974 in which the Kurds did not fare well. Results of the revolt on the Kurds led to the establishment of a second party in 1975, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). Despite personal difference between Barzani and the leader of the PUK, Jalal Talabani, another difference was philosophical. The KDP was more tribal and center right while the PUK held a more socialist left drift. This split was so severe that it led to a brief but violent civil war between the two parties with the KDP looking to Baghdad for help and the PUK turning to Iran.
While the KDP and PUK never fully reconciled the actions of Saddam Hussain in his attacks of the Kurds killing hundreds of thousands did push the two sides together in the face of a common enemy. The Persian Gulf war allowed for a greater sense of autonomy until once again Saddam launched attacks on the Kurds as well as Sunni Arabs. After the US led invasion in which the Kurds play an important role an autonomous Kurdish region was set up and then enshrined into the Iraqi constitution.
The newly established Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) now sits in its capitol Erbil and is the acknowledge government for the Kurdish Region of Iraq. There are a dozen different political parties represented in the Kurdish parliament for the KDP and PUK to Gorran (Change), New Generation, as well as the Communist party and the Kurdistan Islamic Group as well as others.
We have spent some time on the Iraqi Kurds since they are the best known to the American audience. We now turn to the Turkish Kurds who as a population represent the largest group of Kurds in the Region.
While Iraq treated its Kurdish population as second class citizens the Turks refused to even admit that the Kurds were a separate ethnic group. Denying the use of the Kurdish language or celebration of Kurdish culture the Turk went so far as to rename them Mountain Turks. While the Iraqi Kurds evolved the Turkish Kurds responded to their oppression by the formation of the Kurdistan Workers Party or PKK. The PKK grow from the revolutionary youth movement begun in the 1960 and was organized in 1974 as a Marxist-Leninist student movement. Moving through clashes with both police and right-wing organization it became a full-blown armed insurrection based on Kurdish nationalism and desiring a Pan-Kurdish nation. The PKK has gone through some evolutionary changes but remains basically an armed revolutionary group based in the Qandil Mountains of Iraq moving between attacking Turkish outpost and working for a peace agreement. This has been on going for 30 years. On the political side there have been a number of parties that have been associated with the PKK. The current party is the Peoples Democratic Party (HDP). HDP has had success in elections even winning a large number of seats in the Parliament in the 2015 general election. The ruling party under the current President Erdogan canceled the results and held new elections which reduced the win. Following which leaders of HDP in parliament were striped of their seats and some imprisoned under the claim of being or supporting terrorist. Most recently several mayors of towns in the Kurdish region were removed and replaced with Turks.
The PKK was chased around the region and at one time were in Syria until Turkey forced the Syrian government to get them to leave. Before leaving they establish a Syrian branch of the PKK which became the Democratic Union Party or PYD. This has allowed Turkey to claim the PYD as a terrorist organization and part of the PKK. While calling for autonomy of the Kurdish regions in Syria the PYD has learned the Lesions of the PKK and have mostly cooperated with the Syrian government until the time of the Syrian civil war. The PYD used the disarray in Syria to establish an autonomous government but did not engage in the war against the Assad regime itself. It has rejected Kurdish nationalism and maintains a Kurdish-Syrian identity. Like many parties in the region it maintains an armed force called the Peoples Protection Unit of YPG and an affiliated Women’s Protection Unit or YPJ. Today the Turkish government is unable to separate the PYD from the PKK in its operations which has led to the current violence. It is difficult also for some in the west to make the distinction because of a similar socialist ideology.
Another which Turkey claim’s is affiliated with PKK, is the Iranian Kurdish group the Kurdistan Free Life Party or PJAK. PJAK started out as a civil rights movement in the Kurdish region of Iran and moved to a violence when attacked by Iranian forces. Pushed out of Iran they set up in the Qandil mountains in Iraq and came under the influence there of the PKK. While adopting socialist ideology it is not known has much the PKK can influence PJAK away from its desire to maintain Persian roots.
Most Kurdish parties in Iran are outright communist or very left. Also, most are breakaways form other parties with the oldest being the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran.
Not all parties are mentioned is this article and much of the history has been severely modified, but as Lara Trump said it can be Googled. This brought us to a conclusion that the average is not up to date on geography, or the Middle East. We can point out so many television shows interviews where the average American on the street when asked about the past and present US presidents are clueless so we are not shocked about Lara’s statement as so many Kurds are. Education plays a big part in this case. The only thing that unites most Kurds is a call for a homeland. We are speaking of upwards of 40 million people without a nation. To dismiss any attempt to achieve autonomy is to ignore history. Regardless of what happens the Kurds, will continue to fight for independence within their respective regions. While it is unlikely that a united Kurdistan can be achieved it is possible to create separate Kurdish states that can work in confederation with each other. Giving in to Turkey will not stop the desire of the Kurds to be free. It is time that the United State, Unite Kingdom and other countries stand up for Kurds, those who claimed Kurds are their allies, those who used Kurds to push the Islamic State (ISIS) out of Iraq, and defeated them in Syria. Kurds shed blood for the world, it is time for everyone to step in and support the establishment of an Independent Kurdistan. President Trump made many harsh statements in the past a few days about the Kurds, first he mentioned that they are no angels, and then he said they got paid a lot of money. This angered Kurds tremendously. As president Masud Barzani replied to his statment, “Kurdish Blood is more valuable than money and weapons.

Chiman Zebari is a Kurdish American author, and human rights activist. She was an analyst for the US Intelligence Community. She has also worked for the US government in other capacities and was a broadcaster for Voice of America.
Paul Davis is a retired Military-Political analyst for the US Army as well as a civilian analyst in the US Intelligence Community with a concentration on the middle east with an emphasis on the Kurds. He is currently an Adjunct Professor at the Institute of World Politics in Washington DC.

Needed, Real Solutions for Real Problems

President Donald Trump is not a great communicator, nor is he a racist, Nazi or wannabe dictator. The tragedies of the last week call on us all to come together as a country and face up to the problems that have led us to the point we find ourselves. When the president of the United States calls for unity and a rejection of hate and bigotry the opposition, regardless of politics, should get behind him. The incessant chatter from the news media and Trump opposition, calling him a racist repeatedly for anything he says or does, does not make it true. When used for political gain I understand, to a point, but when a national tragedy strikes it is time, even for a moment to come together as one people.
Something has happened and continues to happen to our country and society that goes beyond the normal. Is the prevalence of guns to blame on mass shootings or is it mental illness, video games or whatever? The answer is a little bit of all. But a broad look at the country and its past must show that we have had guns and mental illness and racism etc. since the beginning. What has changed? Is the prevalence of violent video games making our youth insensitive to mass killing?
It has been 20 years since Columbine, what have we learned? Apparently, nothing, as we have a hard time learning. Violence against immigrants is also nothing new. In Louisville Kentucky 22 people were killed in religious and race induced rioting, 164 years ago. On Bloody Monday Protestant mobs rioted and attacked German and Irish Catholic neighborhoods causing a migration of citizens out of the city. The Protestant Democrats were bitter rivals of the Know-Nothing Party with a large German and Irish support base.
Did Trumps tweets in the last two and a half years suddenly increase race hatred in the country, of course not. The constant misquotes and opinions passing as news stories have not help but are also not totally to blame for the increase in violence and mass shootings.
We have a societal problem that returns every now and again, but this time we have social media platforms and mass media bias fanning the flames. Increased gun control laws are not the answer since a very tiny fraction of legally owned guns are used in the reported gun violence in the country. Will increased background checks or “red-flag” laws help, maybe. But until we look to the underlying cause we will continue to suffer the consequences. Pointing fingers and backing feel-good laws that will accomplish nothing will not replace taking a long hard HONEST look at the problem.

Because History Tells Us So

marx.engels.lenin_.stalin.mao_-300x225

 

Why have we ignored Santayana’s warning that “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. To covet truth is a very distinguished passion.” We have seen repeatedly the effect of not learning from the past, ignoring obvious lesions. There is a book I would recommend for all its “Thinking in Time – the uses of history for decision makers.” Using history as business schools use case studies this book tries to show decision makers the how and why of past decisions and their consequences.
These historic studies are relevant and necessary to keep us from falling into known traps, but even with this knowledge we have failed to avoid them. Keeping to recent problems that could have been avoided we will discuss only two, one specific and one broad based.
The affordable care act, known as Obama care is a case in point. While accepting that there is a need to help those who cannot afford reliable healthcare there are much better ways to do it. One of the best ways was to incentivize the private insurance industry through tax breaks. Instead the government decided to simply tax the people that could least afford it and set up a system that did nothing more then look like they were doing something, and in fact set up a system that most who needed it could not afford. The biggest problem that should have been seen is the individual mandate and the assumption that young healthy people will be paying into the system, thereby funding the system for those that are older and sicker. Had the government looked back at the assumptions made in the ‘30s, during the Roosevelt administration, when they started social security. While the concept of Social Security was admirable, a safety net and secondary pension, the reality has shown that it is unstainable. In the beginning there were enough workers paying into the system to cover the costs of the fewer who had retired and were drawing. The system paid out to those collecting, with the tax collected from those working. Today the problem is that we are seeing more demands on the system then can be covered by those paying into it. This in effect is what will happen to Obamacare in the future, especially when the economy is better, as it is now, and less and less people need Obamacare as their employer supplied insurance is better and cheaper. The caveat to this is if it becomes a standard then the employer supplied insurance will go away, as have company paid retirement and pension plans. This we see with the concept of Medicare-for-all. Just as Social Security eventually replaced employer funded pension funds and retirement programs Medicare-for-all is designed to replace private insurance. Just as Social Security has reduced the ability for millions to retire in some comfort, Medicare-for-all will bring down health care for most. How do I know this, history tells us so.
Now for the broader look at history forgotten, socialism. The recent rise of calls for socialist government or turning more toward socialist style programs is, paradoxically, the result of socialisms failure. Let’s define what we mean by socialism, Communism, Nazi, Fascist or whatever the name is socialism. It is the government taking control of all or most of society, personal and economic control of the individual. All means of production is in the hands of the government. It is an economic theory that cannot be applied to government or society as a whole.
Despite the failure of socialist governments such as the Soviet Union, North Korea, Venezuela and others, we lack understanding of why the older ones failed and what is happening to those that still try to exist. Following the Second World War the west was exposed to realities of socialism because of our new-found eyes, television, and the steady stream of information leaking out of the USSR and the eastern block, and the new threat of the North Korean and the Chinese. What happened to all that knowledge? Without a steady stream of information and first hand accounts the truth went to sleep and then the academics took over.
People will usually go for the answer that sounds the best. Socialism sounds great but has always failed to deliver on its promise. Pointing to the wests failures the socialists will say that in a socialist society all people are equal, all have jobs/guarantied income, free housing, free medical and free education. In the west they claim the rich control everything and the rest of society is poor and barely hanging on. Racism is rampant and minorities are held down by a lack of education and a violent police state that denies justice to the poor. To be fair some of these claims have a kernel of truth but rehash historic moments that are not relevant to the current situation. While many of the problems still exist, they are not large or impactful as the socialist tend to shout about. The problem with income inequality shows up as the discrepancy between the wealth of the richest to the wealth of the poorest. The implication is that the rich sit in their mansions and eat all the food available while the rest of the 99% of the country lives in cardboard boxes and eats scraps that are left over from the millionaire’s parties. While poverty exists in the US it effects around 13% of the population, which means 87% of us are above the poverty line. People will struggle and many live paycheck to paycheck but the standard of living is not what the socialist make it out to be.
To listen to the left all black Americans live in poverty and are discriminated against on a daily basis. Does racism and bigotry exist in our country, of course it does. It exists within every country and society in the world, the question is, does it control us as a people and the answer is no. As for poverty 20% of the black population of America lives in poverty as compared to 8% of the white population. This of course is much too high, but it also means 80% of the black population does not live in poverty. According to recent studies while about 52% of whites in America qualify as middle class so do 45% of blacks and 48% of Hispanics. By the way there are non-white millionaires in the US. This of course goes against the current narrative and must be ignored if socialism is to win.
We can go on and on about the facts versus the narrative, but we will stop here. What we do know at this point is that the US has advanced from what it had been, and must continue to move forward. We also accept the fact that there are still problems that must be addressed and dealt with. Socialism does not however hold any answers to solving most of the remaining problems and in fact socialism exasperates these problems.
In the old Soviet Union, there was a large economic disparity, without a middle class. In order to show equality all but the political elites were poor. Crime was cured by lack of a justice system in which accusation equaled conviction. Everyone did however have a job and a place to live regardless of personnel choose. As we move forward in time, we find the same conditions in almost all of the socialist systems to some degree, with the exception of China which adapted a modified capitalist system.
With past and current examples of the abject failure of socialism how are we looking more and more at political leader who want to move us closer to that system and the continued bashing of the capitalist system that has brought the US and other countries so much. Simple by refusing to not learn from the past or to teach the past, as well as having so many distort the past as well as outright lie about the present. Ignoring the pasts failures, we are told to look at present successes such as Sweden. The problem is that Sweden is not a socialist nation but a free market capitalist state. Its experiment into socialism failed and they reversed course. Sweden does have a higher tax rate and many social programs but not like we think of socialism. The government does not control any of the businesses in the country and while they have an excellent education system, they also allow for school vouchers which means private schools. What has helped Sweden and other countries is an open, competitive free market society
Let us stop the ridiculous fantasy of the left and constantly question everyone of their claims and force the truth to shine through. While we are at it lets do something about our schools and make them teach history.