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Monday, March 21, 2011

Ruminations From the Void

Double standards - noun - any code or set of principles containing different provisions for one group of people than for another...

Hypocrisy - noun - the practice of professing standards, beliefs, etc, contrary to one's real character or actual behaviour

Double standards exist when two groups are held to differing standards due to an inherent difference between the groups.  People often have different standards for men and women given the many differences between the groups.  It is somewhat less acceptable to regard groups of different ethnic or religious cultures differently, but it happens.  With the exception of a few fringe groups, the standards for humans and animals are wisely very different.

Hypocrisy on the other hand is when a person exhibits a standard for others and refuses to hold themselves to that same standard.

double standard says "some for this one, but not for that one" and hypocrisy says "some for me, but none for thee".  Got it?  Of course there is always a situation where one simply has no guiding principles and improvises standards all willy-nilly

Beyond that, some use an immutable guiding principle for their words and actions.  See if you can spot which approach is being used in each story of today's Ruminations.  Don't be afraid to call me out too.

#1 - Here is President Obama in remarks made Friday, March 18th 2011,
Now, here's why this matters to us. Left unchecked, we have every reason to believe that Qadhafi would commit atrocities against his people. Many thousands could die. A humanitarian crisis would ensue.  The entire region could be destabilized, endangering many of our allies and partners.  The calls of the Libyan people for help would go unanswered. The democratic values that we stand for would be overrun.  Moreover, the words of the international community would be rendered hollow.

And that's why the United States has worked with our allies and partners to shape a strong international response at he United Nations. Our focus has been clear: protecting innocent civilians within Libya and holding the Qadhafi regime accountable.

Our decisions have been driven by Qadhafi's refusal to respect the rights of his people and the potential for mass murder of innocent civilians.
In 2007, an interview with Senator Obama began with this lede,
Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama said Thursday the United States cannot use its military to solve humanitarian problems and that preventing a potential genocide in Iraq isn't a good enough reason to keep U.S. forces there.

#2 - Last week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said,
“Let me just underscore the key point. This is a broad international effort. The world will not sit idly by while more innocent civilians are killed…. We are standing with the people of Libya, and we will not waver in our efforts to protect them.
But in a 2007 interview with the NY Times, Senator Hillary Clinton is on the record saying,
“No one wants to sit by and see mass killing,” she added. “It’s going on every day! Thousands of people are dying every month in Iraq. Our presence there is not stopping it. And there is no potential opportunity I can imagine where it could. This is an Iraqi problem — we cannot save the Iraqis from themselves."

“If we in Congress don’t end this war before January 2009, as president, I will,” she has said.
#3 - UN Ambassador seemed to contradict herself regarding the Libyan mission during a single press briefing according to Allahpundit at Hotair.com,
Here’s Susan Rice on CNN this afternoon clarifying a point left ambiguous in Obama’s speech. Yes, she says, Qaddafi must go (and hints that we may be willing to arm the rebels to make that happen). But when Blitzer presses her on whether that means we’ll launch attacks aimed at dislodging him, she says … no. The resolution authorizes protecting civilians, not bombing Qaddafi to get rid of him. And when he follows up and asks what happens if Qaddafi suddenly backs off and decides to respect the terms of the UN’s ultimatum, she won’t say what we’ll do. Again, what could go wrong?
#4 - Two Democrats held a news conference on job creation this week,
Rep. Rob Andrews (D-N.J.) said that increasing oil drilling “off the coast” is “a problem, not a solution” to creating jobs in the United States. Andrews recommended that House Republicans bring legislation to the floor if they think more drilling will create jobs.
Appearing at a press conference with Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) on job creation, Rep. Andrews said, “I agree with my colleague and friend that drilling for oil off the coast is a problem, not a solution, but let’s get back to the main point here that if the Republicans really believe that was really a job-creating idea, why don’t they put it on the floor?”
In a Wall Street Journal article,  Ben Casselman and Daniel Gilbert  write,
The Obama administration in September estimated that 8,000 to 12,000 workers could lose their jobs temporarily as a result of the moratorium; some independent estimates have been much higher.
The Energy Information Administration, the research arm of the Department of Energy, last month predicted that domestic offshore oil production will fall 13% this year from 2010 due to the moratorium and the slow return to drilling; a year ago, the agency predicted offshore production would rise 6% in 2011. The difference: a loss of about 220,000 barrels of oil a day.
#5 - President Obama is now in South America to promote exports in order to create jobs.  In 2009, finalization of a Free Trade Agreement with Colombia seemed imminent after this was reported,
Obama then seemed to realize that the long-stalled Colombia free trade agreement should have been passed yesterday.
The president announced that his team must find a way to pass the agreement. With world trade down 80%, the pact opens new markets to the U.S. He demanded immediate action, asking Colombia’s trade minister to fly to Washington this week.
During his current South American tour, an IBD Editorial notes,
But the obvious, guaranteed no-brainer to achieve those goals isn't in Brazil. It sits in the president's desk drawer back home in two completed free-trade treaties with Latin American nations he's done nothing about.  The still-unpassed Colombia deal will add tens of thousands of jobs to the U.S. economy, expand the current $10 billion in two-way trade and boost U.S. companies' access to South America's second-largest market.
It will also preserve U.S. market share as Colombia signs deals with other countries. The picture is similar with the languishing Panama trade pact.
And sadly, neither of these deep longtime allies merited so much as a visit.
#6 - In USA today the President writes,
Every $1 billion we export supports more than 5,000 jobs here at home. That’s why last year, I set a goal for this country: to double our exports of goods and services by 2014. And we are on track to meet this goal: exports were up 17% in 2010.
This was reported in Reuters,
The agreements were signed on the first day of U.S. President Barack Obama’s two-day visit to Brazil, where he met with Brazilian counterpart Dilma Rousseff and a host of local and U.S. business executives.
Following is a summary of the agreements that were signed:
The United States seeks to be “a strategic energy partner” to Brazil, which recently discovered major new offshore oil reserves. Obama said the United States wants to be one of Brazil’s “best customers” when the oil starts flowing.

Washington will provide $1 billion in financing for infrastructure projects in Brazil's oil sector...
The following information can be found on the Energy Tomorrow website,
The U.S. oil and natural gas industry supports millions of jobs throughout the economy, directly employing more than 2.1 million people.
  • In total, the oil and gas industry supports 9.2 million jobs and adds more than $1 trillion to our national economy.
  • The number of direct industry employees is larger than the populations of 15 states.
  • Employment supported by the oil and gas industry rose by nearly 2 million jobs between 2004 and 2007.
  • Expansion and upgrade projects at domestic refineries, pipelines and storage tanks account for about 98,000 construction jobs and an additional 500 permanent refinery positions.
For those who want to make sure I include some Republican statements from then and now regarding President Obama's action in Libya, I am more than happy to offer this.

#7 -  Lindsey Graham was one of President Bush's staunchest supporters during the Iraq War.  The Senator had this to say during a 2007 PBS debate on the troop surge in Iraq,
Before we act in Congress condemning a new strategy designed to secure victory -- not in what I think is a Vietnam, but a battlefront in World War III of extremism versus moderation -- I'd just ask the Congress to listen to the general who's been assigned the mission, who believes in the mission, who's the architect of the new strategy, and give him a chance to articulate why he thinks he could be successful, what he needs, and ask him the hard questions before we act.
The one thing I would say, in conclusion, is that, whatever problems we have with this new strategy, the one thing that should unite this country is, if we fail in Iraq and we have a failed state, we will be at war for years and years and years as the consequences thereof with many different people.
Senator Graham had this to say in 2010 regarding Iran,
Graham, a military lawyer and a senior Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, became the first senator to support direct U.S. military intervention in Iran, saying it should not involve ground troops but be launched by U.S. warplanes and ships.
"If you use military force against Iran, you've opened up Pandora's box," Graham told the American Enterprise Institute in Washington. "If you allow Iran to get a nuclear weapon, you've emptied Pandora's box. I'd rather open up Pandora's box than empty it."
Graham's unusual public support for overturning Ahmadinejad and the ruling council of Shiite Muslim clerics that he nominally heads recalled President George W. Bush's controversial policy of regime change to invade Iraq in 2003 and overthrow dictator Saddam Hussein.
Last week on March 16th, Graham said,
Allowing Qaddafi to regain control over Libya through force — without any meaningful effort to support the Libyan people — will create grave consequences for our own national security,” Graham continues. “The biggest winner of an indecisive America refusing to stand up to dictators who kill their own people will be the Iranian regime. The Iranian regime has already used force against their own people when they demanded freedom. If we allow Qaddafi to regain power through force of arms, it is inconceivable to me that the Iranians will ever take our efforts to control their nuclear desires seriously.”
“[The Obama administration’s] refusal to act will go down as one of the great mistakes in American foreign-policy history, and will have dire consequences for our own national security in the years to come,
Following Obama's decision to intervene militarily, Graham appeared on Fox News Sunday,
“Isolate, strangle, and replace this man,” he said. “That should be our goal.” Obama, he worries, has inserted too many “caveats” into our policy. “It’s almost like this is a nuisance [for the president] . . . We should talk about replacing [Qaddafi], not about how limited we will be."
Contrasted to the statements of others, Senator Graham has not changed his tune one bit.  He has continued to push a particular foreign policy regardless of who is President and which party is in power.  He has been unfailingly consistent, because his principles haven't changed.

The  majority of the conservatives and Republicans that I have spoken with support the President's decision to act.  They may disagree on the scope of the action - most see regime change as a necessary feature for our involvement - and speak of the need for Obama to seek Congressional authorization for this military action.  But their positions have been consistent, whether the issue is Iran, Iraq or Libya.

I will note that the far left has been similarly consistent in its position too.  But the nonsensical rantings of Michael Moore and his ilk during Bush's Presidency seem even more foolish today as he now tries to lampoon President Obama.  Trapped by their poorly formed rationale in opposing the Iraq War, with their antics they have sacrificed any future relevance for their message.

As Republicans now push for regime change, they seek to avoid repeating a past blunder.  When Saddam's troops were pushed out of Kuwait in the first Gulf War, Bush I made the decision not to finish off the Iraqi dictator.  All the loss of life and casualties, both civilian and troops in Iraq since then can be traced back to that fateful decision.  Many don't want to see a similar future for Libya result from today's actions.

If the humanitarian cause is worth putting our military in harm's way today, then we need to do this the right way (which involves Congress & the Constitution -  not the UN).  Go to Congress and receive authorization for military action, then take out the madman.  In what way are we protecting our American interest or the Libyan people if we allow this man to remain in power?  If Congress should decide we don't have a national interest in this situation, then we stop.  But the President must make his argument there - not the UN.

In politics, double standards and hypocrisy are often the norm, not the exception.  That will change when we expect differently from our leaders.  Be informed - find guiding principles to your own political beliefs.  Find candidates with similar beliefs to support.  Then hold them accountable to holding to those principles. 

I don't know about you, but I don't want our elected leaders attempting to enforce any unconscionable set of double standards, governing by hypocrisy or even worse, taking the willy-nilly approach to the vital issues that affect you and me.  Sure, I might have less to write about then, but hey, I could use the break.  Between the budget, health care, job creation, stimulus and foreign policy, I am getting wore out trying to keep up with the ever changing stances of President Obama.

God Bless.

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