The Milwaukee Post

March 14, 2014

Milwaukee Post

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By OWEN ROBINSON The progression of headlines recently was a testimony to the shrinking of American power and prestige on the world stage: "Hagel proposes downsizing Army to smallest size in decades" – Associated Press, Feb. 24 "Hagel: Dominance of US military 'can no longer be taken for granted'" – The Daily Caller, Feb. 24 "In Crimean capital Simferopol, pro- Russian gunmen seize key buildings" – BBC, Feb. 27. "Obama to Russia: Stay out of Ukraine" – Politico, Feb. 28. "Ukraine erupts as Russian troops take over Crimea" – New York Post, March 1. As American President Barack Obama scolds, Russian President Vladimir Putin acts. Putin acts without fear of American might because Obama has proven time and time again that his words have noth- ing behind them. Russia's invasion of Ukraine has been coming for some time. Ever since Putin assumed power, all of his actions have pointed to his passionate desire to expand Russia's borders, influence and power, and return it to the glory days of the Soviet Union. Indeed, since the time of Peter the Great, the Russian lust for expansion and empire has never ebbed. While Russia has many neighbors, Ukraine is of special importance for a variety of reasons. It is resplendent with resources. Its dark soil had been the breadbasket of Europe for generations. Ukraine is rich in coal, iron ore, uranium, sulfur, mercury ore, nickel, manganese and many other useful natural resources. Geographically, Ukraine sits at a strate- gic crossroads between Asia and Europe. It shares borders with Romania, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Poland, Moldova and Russia. Ukraine also has the strategically important Crimean Peninsula, command of the northern shore of the Black Sea, and the warm-water port of Odessa (the Russian fleet already uses Sevastopol). With all of Ukraine's assets, it is no won- der that Putin decided to flex Russia's muscle to take it over. At this point, there are only three pos- sible outcomes. Ukrainians fend off the Russians and regain their freedom. Russians annex the whole of Ukraine and it ceases to exist. Or Ukraine remains a theoretical entity, but is merely a vassal of Russia. My money is on the third outcome. Ukraine will retain a fig leaf of sovereign- ty as Putin pulls the strings in Moscow. Regardless of the eventual outcome, it is evident that the West is powerless to stop it. Putin is engaging in realpolitik as America and the rest of the West issue stern warnings and threatens to pull out of the upcoming G-8 conference. I'm sure Putin is shaking in his boots at the thought of another gravely delivered, con- tent-free oration from Obama. Events do happen in the world that have nothing to do with America or our foreign policy, but this is not one of them. The fact is that Obama's foreign policy has been an utter failure. He came into office apologetic of America's might and influence on the world stage. In five years of his administration, we have seen a steady decline in our ability or willing- ness to influence events around the world. And now we see the fruit of our presi- dent's intentional neutering of American power in the world. Russia will almost cer- tainly succeed in taking over Ukraine – one way or another. America will stand by and watch with crossed brows and impo- tent arms. And the downsizing of our mil- itary will continue based on fantastical world visions of unicorns and rainbows and glitter emanating from the White House. When the eagle sleeps, the bear rises. (Owen Robinson is a West Bend resident. His column runs frequently in The Post.) March 14, 2014 • Milwaukee Post • 9 It is such an obvious whopper of a lie that Mary Burke knew she would be caught, yet the Democrat candidate for governor feels the need to keep telling the lie in her first major TV ad. This is the definition of desperation. Burke lacks any compelling reason to throw Gov. Scott Walker out of office so she is reduced to making stuff up. The lie told by Burke in her ad is that unemployment in Wisconsin under Walker has gone up. The graphic on the screen shows the rate increasing from 4.8 to 6.3 percent. It's utterly untrue. Unemployment is lower now than when Walker took over in January of 2011. The rate for that month was 7.7 percent. It is now 6.3 percent. Those facts are about as easily verifiable as any government sta- tistic. Yet Burke either thought she could get away with the fraudu- lent numbers in her ad or felt she had no choice to lie even if she knew she'd be flagged for lying. While despicable, it sure is an interesting political strategy. Burke and her han- dlers evidently think that if they spend $10 million of Burke's family money on dishonest ads, more peo- ple will hear the lies than find out else- where what the truth is. Still, the ele- phant in the room is that Burke feels she has to lie about unemployment because the truth is on Walker's side. From Burke's perspective, she probably thinks she has no choice. Walker has all of the facts in his corner. His Act 10 reforms have been a resounding success. Property taxes are down and income taxes are being cut again and again. The enormous deficit Walker inherited has turned into a surplus so large that Walker is able to repeatedly return the money to the people by lowering taxes. And, as the numbers clearly establish, unemployment is down significantly. With all the num- bers on Walker's side, Burke has evident- ly decided that lying is her only possible way of winning. What next? Will she claim Walker has raised taxes? Will she say we still have a deficit? What lie is the next one from Madison Mary? The one issue Walker is vulnerable on is that Walker's vow to oversee the cre- ation of 250,000 new jobs is falling short. Instead of hammering on that, Burke is inventing numbers to misrepresent the jobs picture. The danger for Burke is that if she actually reverts to telling the truth, nobody will believe her. She's established a default position as a liar. Given that Burke's campaign is being run by a bunch of recycled Obama hacks, it's a cinch her campaign will also focus on two other absurd issues. As they have in every other state, these handlers will allege the Republicans have a "war on women." The other tactic will be to hype the endless John Doe investigations into government under Walker and claim the governor is corrupt. Given Walker's obvi- ous human decency, it is hard to see either of these things sticking. So, Wisconsin, get used to a lot of Mary Burke lying. It's only March. She's got eight months' worth of whoppers coming. * * * State Assembly Republicans did the right thing in publicly humiliating Waukesha Republican Bill Kramer by unanimously dumping him as majority leader. Kramer gave them no choice. When you fondle an aide to the Assembly speaker and do it at a public event, you're either reckless and out of control or a sociopath. Bawdy behavior like this was once tolerated in our society but those days are gone, unless your name is Bill Clinton. Numerous sources tell me that Kramer's behavior has been on the edge before. He apparently talks raunchy and his public posture is that of something of a "lech." Conduct like this is tolerated so long as the person on the receiving end knows you're kidding and has a thick skin. But when physical contact is involved and the other person doesn't want it, a civil society doesn't tolerate it. It's all rather sad because Kramer is an otherwise very sharp guy who has a deep understanding of government and whose political principles are conservative. Expect the Democrats to try to make hay of all of this, which is comical given that they still worship the charter man of the Sleazeball Hall of Fame in Clinton. Gary Condit, Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer quickly come to mind. When Kramer finally went too far, his own col- leagues publicly ended his career. It had to be done and it's more than the Democrats do when one of their own is caught in crude behavior. (Mark Belling is the host of a daily WISN radio talk show. His column appears weekly in the Milwaukee Post.) MARK BELLING STANDING UP for MILWAUKEE OPINION Mary Burke's job lie falls flat Republicans did right thing in booting Kramer Putin moves into Ukraine without fear of Obama Robinson Burke

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