By Rich Sena
KCRP Legislation Chairman
Whether it be in the business world, sports, or politics, in order to be effective it is essential for leaders to earn and receive respect.
As a world leader, the USA must be a force for freedom and respected by her allies. Conversely, it is advantageous to our interests for our enemies to fear us. This doesn’t mean that we should constantly be at war. Rather, those who wish us harm should understand the consequences of their actions, be it economic or diplomatic sanctions, or as a last resort military action in conjunction with our allies.
One element of respect is to have earned the trust of those you work with. Sadly, many of our allies increasingly find that they cannot trust the USA anymore, and that the actions of the Obama administration cater more to pleasing our enemies than supporting our friends.
Polls of Israeli citizens reveal they feel that the USA has turned its back on them. Middle East allies that we have worked with effectively in the past such as Jordan and Egypt, cannot count on our word while questioning our resolve. Other nations with whom we’ve had a more pragmatic relationship, such as Saudi Arabia, also sense a drifting world leader that seems to want to abandon its historic role as a force for stability and progress. Unlike the presidencies of Reagan and both Bushes, freedom loving people see absolutely no emphasis or support for their aspirations from Obama.
Fear seems to be non-existent amongst our enemies, which includes (whether or not the Obama administration is willing to admit it) the Islamic state of Iran. In both October and November 2015, Iran tested medium range ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons. This was a brazen violation of Security Council resolutions prohibiting such launches. Obama, a self-proclaimed “citizen of the world,” should view such actions with alarm. He chose to do nothing, failing to protest or even make some insincere comment about “drawing red lines in the sand.”
Obama claims victory in this week’s return of some of our American hostages held in Iran, but the truth is that any civilized nation never would have captured these innocent people in the first place. To get their release, Obama released Iranian terrorists. This is similar to his release of Al Qaeda terrorists from Guantanamo in exchange for the return of Bowe Bergdahl, who faces court martial and whom many view as a traitor for abandoning his unit. Obama’s announcement of Bergdahl’s return received wide news coverage in an ostentatious Rose Garden ceremony. Such a display of sympathy and support for the families of Americans killed in battle would have been more appropriate of a Commander in Chief.
The Middle East is indeed a complex region that has perplexed world powers seeking hegemony there for many centuries. The USA has not always made the best decisions regarding the region. None the less, it should be clear to all that the one regime seeking to upset the apple cart is Iran, whose former President Mahmoud Amhadinejad vowed to wipe Israel off the face of the earth.
Obama’s other Iranian buddy, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, reveled in leading chants of “Death to America” just several days after Obama and Kerry caved and signed off on the nuclear “deal.” And Obama expects us to trust these crazy people? This so called peace deal will give Iran access to $150 billion in unfrozen assets that they can then use to continue supporting terrorism. Yet, Obama continues to make excuses for these jihadists while blasting anyone who dares to question his thought process.
Conservative Republicans have no great desire for war. It is worth noting that during the twelve years of the Reagan and Bush 41 presidencies, we were at war for little more than a month’s time. Rather, those leaders rebuilt the military, promoted world freedom, and successfully defeated Communism to win the Cold War.
Conversely, the military is one part of the government that Obama is more than willing to cut. He has proposed budgets that will eviscerate our navy to levels not seen since 1920, and reduce the size of our army to pre-World War II levels. This will not promote world peace, but rather foment enemy aggression and violence.
I think that Obama’s actions are based on his world view. Many on the far left view the USA as an arrogant force that creates world problems instead of seeing us as a beacon of hope for mankind. Obama was raised in a far left environment that did not instill pride in or love for America, but rather skepticism and doubt.
Many Americans increasingly do not trust his judgement, worldview, or motives. Yet, it is our nation that will pay the price for a president who seeks to abandon America’s role as world leader and promoter of freedom. How sad; January 20, 2017 can’t come soon enough.
By Rich Sena
KCRP Legislation Chairman
By now we should have learned if there were any winners in this week’s $1.3 billion “Powerball” jackpot that captivated much of America.
I myself got caught up in the act, as I waited behind ten people in line at a local convenience store, with most shoppers not purchasing gas, milk, or a newspaper, but opting only for a chance at winning the large bonanza.
This got me thinking as to why exactly Texas, or any other state for that matter, is in the gambling business. The reasoning goes back many years, as states were looking for new ways to fund government programs. Quite often states would promise that all net proceeds would go to education, a worthwhile cause, but somehow those lines of dedicated funds have often become blurred and the money just ends up funding overall government growth.
Another rationale was that government run gambling was preferable to that controlled by organized crime, long the dominant player in games of chance. I guess states decided that if you can’t beat them, join them.
As we know, both illegal and legal gambling existed long before state lotteries began. In my hometown, most folks seemed to know where to go if you wanted to place a bet on the “daily number;” such locations included stationary or tobacco stores, delicatessens, and even barber shops. Gamblers liked the fact that any money they won was paid in cash, with no paper trail, thus avoiding income taxes. Later in life, I found out that the gentleman who cut my hair for many years had a side business of selling bets for the “daily number.” The “numbers runners” would visit him daily to collect the money; his remuneration came from a modest “administrative fee.” He told me that this paid for his annual family vacation to Florida, and mentioned that this side business didn’t seem to bother his customers, which included both the city’s longtime mayor and police commissioner!
Still, I have to question whether it sets a good example for a state to be in the gambling business. After all, quite often it is people who can least afford to lose money that spend a disproportionate amount of their hard earned income on lotteries and games of chance.
One day I parked next to a woman who was driving a rather old, beat up car. Its muffler was belching out air polluting fumes, had many dings and dents, and had several cracked windows. I could only assume that she did not have the money to purchase a newer vehicle. She went into the convenience store to buy cigarettes and spent $20 on lotto games. I did some quick calculating to figure that if she spends $25/week on cigarettes and $20 on lotto, this totals about $2300/year. Imagine if she invested that $2300/year and averaged a 5% annual return. Over a forty-year career, she could accumulate over $278,000, which translates to a $1200/month annuity, which is roughly what the average American retiree receives from Social Security.
Making better lifestyle choices would solve both many of our nations and its families’ financial challenges. I’m no advocate of telling people how to live their lives; I simply question whether the state ought to be promoting vices that could be a detriment to its citizens’ futures. State sponsored lotteries and gambling is one such vice.
That there are occasional big lottery winners does not eliminate the losses to the overwhelming majority of people. Remember, in gambling, the house rigs the deck to win. So does the state. As a youth I could never imagine the state becoming the biggest bookie of them all. I find this troubling.
Also troubling is the impacted lives of many lottery winners. A December 18, 2013 article in Forbes Magazine shares many stories of both happy and unhappy endings to lottery winners; some made good choices and investments, including philanthropy, while many others were dead broke within a few years.
I’m not trying to kill anyone’s joy over placing the occasional bet. I’ve been to Las Vegas myself several times, but always plan and limit what I am willing to lose, writing it off as entertainment. If I win, so much the better. But counting on gambling to provide for a secure future is not a wise move. Seeing the state profit from promoting such lifestyles is not government at its best.