Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Navalny and Putin's Russia

My latest piece for The Daily Caller.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Mitt Romney in London

Mitt Romney is in London. Sadly, as a student, my budget is about $2,400 below what I would need to meet him. Maybe next time.

Why I support the right to bear arms.

Amidst the horrific news from Aurora, Colorado last week, I was reluctant to engage on this issue earlier. My thinking on gun rights is threefold. 1) Guns are important as a preserver of the national ideology of individual freedom that sustains American society. 2) Guns are an important part of individual protection, allowing families to provide safety for themselves. 3) Guns are important as a cultural tool in American society - hunting, sport shooting and in some cases decoration. I currently live in the UK (gun possession is highly restricted here) and while I obviously respect UK laws, I wish more Europeans would respect that the US takes a different view.

1) On the first point, the original intent of the 2nd amendment was to provide for an armed citizenry who could in a timeless sense, provide for the defense of democracy. The founders sought to ensure that however powerful government might become, government would ultimately always find its power in the people via an understanding that the people have the power to "throw off" a tyrannical government and "to provide new Guards for their future security." In a society in which a substantial portion of the citizenry are armed, the opportunities for state oppression are inherently limited. 

2) On the second point, guns provide a physical and mental protection against threat. As a physical tool, firearms can provide a trained individual with the ability to counter threats that would in a purely body-body fight be insurmountable. Example - an elderly citizen living in a high crime neighborhood who is ambushed by three gang members. The positive psychological impact of this capability can be profound. I often tell friends in the UK that they need to analyze the fear that some vulnerable Britons feel living in high crime neighborhoods without any adequate means of protection. It was noticeable that during the London riots last year, many business owners lost everything because in the absence of police resources, those business owners had no means for protecting their property. Anyone who doubts that guns have a serious physical impact on crime should search for "self-defense" on google news every so often.

3) On the third point, many Americans enjoy utilizing the vast outdoors for the purposes of hunting, sport shooting and decoration (go to rural Texas). These events are far more than simple games. Instead, for many Americans, these activities are a celebration of American frontier history and of individual freedom. The freedom to lawfully pursue actions that provide deep, personal satisfaction.

Gun opponents often point to the level of violent crime in the United States as a reason why guns should be further restricted. I disagree. Aside from the above three points, the loosening of gun restrictions over the past thirty years has not lead to an increase in violent crime- the opposite in fact. I believe that violent crime is best countered by aggressive enforcement of existing laws - RICO, felon possession firearm etc. Further, gun opponents often fail to reconcile their anger about events like that last week in Colorado, with the fact that similar situations occur all over the world. Including in states that have highly restrictive gun laws. My personal opinion is that gun laws should largely be local. If New Yorkers want to restrict the right to bear arms to the home, then that is their choice. If Texans want to be able to walk around with AK-47s, that is also their choice. I support the finding of the Supreme Court that there is an incorporated right for all Americans to possess hand guns in their own homes. Beyond this, in my opinion state democracy should triumph.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Terrorist Attacks in Iraq

Today's terrorist attacks against the people of Iraq are a reminder that the fight for stability in that country is not over. The attacks also illustrate the degree to which the Islamist insurgency (who are responsible for these attacks) has always (at least in strategic terms) been divorced from the nationalist rooted insurgency (which sought the withdrawal of Coalition forces from Iraq). Much of the post-war violence in Iraq in the 2006- period onwards was due to the Islamist groups rather than Nationalist.

From my perspective, the current terrorist attacks are indicative of a resurgent Islamic State of Iraq (Sunni terrorist alliance). The group has a central two-fold focus- 1) To re-instigate a civil war between Iraqi Sunnis and Shia. 2) To use the ensuing chaos in order to form a Sunni caliphate in at least part of Iraq.

While Iraqi security forces have improved dramatically over the past few years, they still require extensive support in terms of logistics and intelligence. The United States must stand ready to provide this assistance where more is needed. We must also continue to pressure Iraqi Parliamentarians to find compromise with each other wherever possible. In addition, Prime Minister Maliki (Dawa) still retains far too much executive control over elite security units and too little interest in reconciliation with the Iraqiya block. The United States must work hard to address this problem.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Radio -- (+ Sports Video)

I will be on LBC 97.3 tomorrow morning to discuss the Aurora shooting.

On a happier note- today's sports video features the top 10 in sport one liners (courtesy of ESPN)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Friday, July 20, 2012

Aurora, Colorado Shooting

The shooting incident in Aurora, Colorado is very sad news. Aurora is a tough neighborhood but this is a terrible loss.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Latest Daily Caller op/ed

Sport Video of the Day

I'm an Everton fan but this was a great moment in Football history.

Citizens United continuing news

Last night Justice Scalia gave an interview to CNN's Piers Morgan. During the interview he noted that while Citizens United was in his view absolutely properly decided (I agree), there is a clear case for strong public disclosure regulations in terms of letting the public know who is funding speech. This is a noteworthy and important point that most of the media seems to have missed. Groups like that affiliated with Karl Rove have come under fire for using effective loopholes in the law to protect their donors from publicity. I agree with Justice Scalia - there is nothing inherently unconstitutional about preventing advocacy groups from hiding their  donor lists. From a political point of view, I believe it is essential that the public are able to understand the agenda that fuels a particular radio, tv or web advert campaign. If you spend money to enter the public domain, you should not be protected from the scrutiny that the effective political system requires. On a side note, Matt Bai's excellent piece in the NYTimes Magazine illustrates how the Democratic scare tactics over the Citizens United case have been shown to be totally overblown and devoid of factual truth. The President should be ashamed of himself for games like this. And this. And this. And this. And this.

On the first Obama link - Notice Schumer leaning over the Supreme Court justices clapping like an ass hole.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Bulgaria bus explosion

The attack on Israelis visiting Bulgaria is probably the work of Hizballah or Iran's intelligence services. UPDATED-Hezbollah confirmed. Or both. The Iranians have been especially active in attempting to strike Israeli targets over the past few months. These actions have included incidents in Bangkok, Georgia and India. Israel's priority at the moment is to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear capability. As I argued several months ago, for each Western/Israeli action in the region, Iran prepares a counter-response. Israel will now encourage the international community to increase pressure on Iran.

Also - Although not engaged in an actual attack - Israel claims that Hizballah operatives were detained in Kenya and Cyprus over the past few days.

Sports Video of the Day

In the run up to the Olympics here in London, each day until the games begin I am going to post a video of epic sports moments from the last decade.

Today= J-Mac

Syria Explosion

The attack today on Syria's governing elite represents another step towards the fall of the Assad regime. As increasing numbers of the Syrian ruling elite and their families come to understand that Assad is finished, they will abandon him for their own safety. This trend has been accelerating in recent days. To add to his troubles, Assad is running out of money and simultaneously is loosing trust in the loyalty of his armed forces. As I have previously argued, the US should seek to provide more support to Syrian rebel groups while building sustained diplomatic pressure on China and Russia. While I believe that it is ultimately inevitable that Assad's regime will collapse, I also believe that there are still substantial risks in the near future. Primarily, if Assad decides to go "all out" against the rebels, he may consider the use of chemical weapons against Syrian urban centers. He also might dramatically increase his use of conventional force against Syrian civilians in a much more indiscriminate way (sadly this is still possible). In each of these two scenarios the US must be ready to provide direct intervention capabilities to prevent huge loss of life. The consequences of Assad using chemical weapons against his own people or allowing those weapons to fall into the hands of hostile entities would be catastrophic.


The Israelis are pressuring the US Govt. to release Pollard. Earlier this week, Hillary Clinton re-affirmed that it was never going to happen. I agree with her sentiment. Pollard is a traitor who betrayed our country. From my perspective it takes a lot of nerve for those Israelis who support Pollard to so openly call for his release. The US provides for Israel's security umbrella. That umbrella did not deserve an Israeli espionage operation against the US intelligence establishment. Pollard must stay in jail until he dies.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Election - 2012

Romney will begin a tour through Pennsylvania today. It is important that he moved the emphasis back onto the President's economic record. The Obama campaign's disingenuous attacks on Romney's Bain record have distracted attention away from the central issue. Romney needs to attack Obama on the issues where Obama is vulnerable. If Romney allows the President to set the narrative for the campaign then Romney will lose. It also seems likely that Romney will pick his VP running mate in the next few days. I expect it will be Tim Pawlenty or Marco Rubio.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Mitt Romney and Obama

Mitt Romney was right to respond aggressively to President Obama's attacks. All that Romney needs to do is to continue rebutting Obama's desperate insults with pure facts.
If I was on the Romney team I would suggest he use the following lines-

"We have a sad state of affairs at the moment. The President is willing to accuse me of just about anything his campaign team can dream up each day. Facts aren't important for the President. Perhaps the reason they aren't important is because facts speak for themselves. I'm not going to stand here and question the President's integrity. Instead, I'm going to give you a few facts and ask you one simple question. First the facts - As of today, we now have had 41 straight months with unemployment above 8 percent. What is the President proposing? He says he is going to raise taxes on people. He is trying to gut welfare reform as we know it. Now the question - Is that a record of hope and change you can believe in?"

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Monday, July 9, 2012

Obama tax announcement

Obama is about to start another pointless fight today. He will call for a one year renewal of the Bush tax cuts for those making $250,000 or less. He is doing so for political reasons - IE - To pursue his campaign narrative that Romney is the candidate for the rich and that conversely, Obama is the honest servant of middle-low income Americans (Obama isn't). There is one central problem with the President's plan. In calling for a $250,000 cap, Obama is again illustrating the absurdity of his debt reduction platform. The longer America's debt crisis remains unresolved, the more likely it is that the markets will force a solution. In this event, low and middle income americans would bear the brunt of the negative fall out (higher income americans would be able to shelter their assets more effectively). By claiming that his tax plan balances debt reduction with economic necessity, Obama is behaving disingenuously. His plan offers no chance of substantive debt reduction. As such, if enacted, today's announcement would simply add a further tax burden in the context of an already confused tax system that is helping maintain a stagnant, rudderless economy.

I still believe the Ryan plan (which Romney has endorsed) offers a far better (and far more honest) approach to address our economic needs.