Don’t buy into Cruz

I just finished reading in The Hill the Aug. 9 article “Cruz: Americans have reason for optimism” concerning Texas Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOvernight Finance: GOP criticism of tax bill grows, but few no votes | Highlights from day two of markup | House votes to overturn joint-employer rule | Senate panel approves North Korean banking sanctions GOP criticism of tax bill grows, but few ready to vote against it Anti-gay marriage county clerk Kim Davis to seek reelection in Kentucky MORE’s recent speech in Iowa — clearly in preparation for his upcoming campaign for the presidency in the 2016 elections.

I know that many Americans are now enamored by a few “rogue Republicans” like Cruz and Kentucky Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulGOP senator asks to be taken off Moore fundraising appeals Red state lawmakers find blue state piggy bank Prosecutors tell Paul to expect federal charges against attacker: report MORE, who promise to “restore our nation’s greatness” and similar clichés. I am old enough to have heard the same nonsense spewed by many politicians, both Republicans and Democrats, over the years and have always been amazed that most Americans still “buy into it,” even though few positive changes ever occur that actually benefit the average American.

The fact is that politicians on the federal level are “owned” by the multinational corporations and the large banking institutions — that is how these politicians got into office in the first place.

After all, are people not aware that Cruz’s wife, Heidi Nelson Cruz, is employed by Goldman-Sachs? That fact alone makes me wary of Ted Cruz. Do people truly believe that Goldman-Sachs, JP Morgan, CitiCorp or the Federal Reserve will be restrained in any way by the election of Cruz as president? Neither he, nor any Republican or Democrat candidate, will change anything of significance.

I am reminded of the quote by Mark Twain. “If voting made any difference, they wouldn’t let us do it.”

The case for ‘boots on the ground’

For the past several weeks, ISIS has swept through northern and central Iraq, beheading defenseless women and children and crucifying their family members. But rest easy; the leaders of Europe and the United States are now engaged in high-minded debates considering whether it is appropriate to offer lethal aid to the endangered Kurds or to bypass the Iraqi government or the United Nations to stop the mass murder of Iraqi citizens.

The question is not whether we have the right to stop mass murder — the question is whether we will live up to our human responsibility to stop mass murder. This president is extremely cautious, wondering if there is a political price to be paid for overreacting to genocide. Although the inhabitants of the Capitol may disagree, there are matters of such grave moral significance and the political considerations are secondary, if not irrelevant.

Many Republicans have given us a not terribly reassuring peek into their own hearts. If they can’t muster the courage to take a stand for the moral right here, will they be brave on entitlement reform, deficit reduction, anything?

It is fashionable today to think we have progressed beyond moral absolutes, thinking that any dilemma can be resolved simply by our willingness to agree. Let me clear this up. If we cannot commit the full force of U.S. military power to this situation, we’re barely civilized.

Think back to the faux concern of anti-war activists for the Iraqi civilians during the recent war. In the years preceding that war, Saddam Hussein murdered close to 310,000 of his own citizens without fueling any significant outrage from the very same Americans. Once again, we are secure in our tolerance for mass murder in Iraq. It is only the American involvement that makes us queasy.

We seem destined to do the minimum (yet again), not ruffling the feathers of our international “partners” and giving deference to political considerations at home. We will rely on the United Nations and the al-Maliki government and reassure ourselves that we did our best under trying circumstances.

The “measured” response to genocide is not merely inadequate; it is indefensible. If we do not do, all that is necessary to stop ISIS, we will have only excuses, not reasons. 

From Michael Cronin, Milwaukee, Wis.

Obama wrong on coastline drilling

I never thought I would read the words “Obama considers offshore oil drilling in the Pacific” (“Obama opens rift with greens,” Aug. 11).

The last time I heard something similar coming out of Washington, back in 1985, I was defending four southern California cities (San Clemente, Laguna Beach, Newport Beach and Huntington Beach) and the Orange County Board of Supervisors from a Reagan administration plan to do just that.

Thankfully, after numerous local GOP business titans quietly expressed their displeasure directly to the White House, and 22 Republican mayors emphatically opposed the idea during a public hearing in Newport, Interior Secretary Donald Hodel gave up the notion of opening Orange County’s coastline to massive oil drilling.

As I understand it, the Obama strategy calls for drilling in the Atlantic first, then the Arctic, and finally in the Pacific. The good news is if any of this actually happens, it won’t begin until 2017.

Energy development and consumption is very different today than it was 30 years ago. The U.S. is now allowing companies to export crude oil for the first time in four decades. My hope is this trend will continue without the need for new oil drilling along California’s coastline.

From Denny Freidenrich, Laguna Beach, Calif.