Holiday Week Quick Takes

An idea worth implementing from a socialist member of Congress, an update on progress of the Paris Climate Agreement and other news of note on this week between Christmas and New Year.

Socialist in Favor of Not Paying Congress

Newly elected socialist Representative from New York, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had an idea that should be worth considering, if only Congress didn’t make its own rules.

Ocasio-Cortez said that Congress should not get paid when the Federal government is shut down. Well, that goes without saying to anyone but members of Congress. When the government shuts down because a spending bill is not passed, only essential government personnel continue to work and get paid. So, the obvious question is “why is Congress considered essential?” Frankly, they are the reason that the government shut down and, in any case, one can’t help but wonder if we all wouldn’t be a little better off if they just weren’t working anyway. But surely, they shouldn’t be paid when others aren’t, when they are the cause. But then again, Congress determines their own pay, so they aren’t ever going to cut it, even when they deserve it.

Paris Climate Agreement Signatories Don’t Follow Through

There has been much controversy about climate change and the US pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement, which set standards (albeit different ones for different countries) for carbon emissions.

Though it caused much controversy, there has been a dearth of reporting in the progress that the Paris Agreement was supposed to come from the agreement hailed as the most important step of environmental action ever undertaken. We would be surprised at the findings to date.

The United States has reduced its carbon emissions by .5%, “the most of all major countries.” Yet, the countries most critical of the US withdrawal have fallen short of the country they criticize.  According to the Climate Action Network Europe, “all EU countries are failing to increase their climate action in line with the Paris Agreement goal.”

How can that be, one could ask? According to economists, the shale oil and gas explosion in the United States has increased the use of cheaper and cleaner oil and natural gas for electric power generation.

Funny, actual results sometimes turn out to be much different than words.

SecDef Resigns

This week, Secretary of Defense James Mattis announced his resignation after President Trump abruptly announced withdrawal of all armed forces fighting in Syria. Mattis had been a general in the Marine Corps, had previously been the commander of US forces in the Middle East and commander of NATO, and had provided stability in the Trump Administration and in the re-building of the US military.

In resigning, Mattis expressed irreconcilable differences with the President. In his resignation letter. Mattis touted the importance of US alliances and being “unambiguous” in opposition to adversaries such as Russia and China.

“One core belief I have always held is that our strength as a nation is inextricably linked to the strength of our unique and comprehensive system of alliances and partnerships. While the US remains the indispensable nation in the free world, we cannot protect our interests or serve that role effectively without maintaining strong alliances and showing respect to those allies,” Mattis wrote in his resignation letter.

Leaders on both sides of the political aisle expressed disappointment at is departure. Mattis’ resignation will be a loss to the country. He provided stability where it was needed most—in our national defense.  Our allies will miss his voice, as well.

North Korea Being North Korea

North Korea announced this week that they will not denuclearize, after all.

In past ‘agreements’ such as the one with President Clinton, the US gave North Korea what it wanted upfront on the hope that North Korea would follow through. It never did. This time, the US kept sanctions in place until North Korea followed through, which we now know as many had predicted, that they won’t.

Lesson well learned

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