The strength of the American spirit was on display today during the Boston Marathon. The second-highest number of runners in Marathon history included some of those injured in last year’s bombing near the finish line and many who were unable to finish the race after the bombs exploded. City officials had vowed that incident would not stop the annual 26K race. Security was tight and no problems were reported.

For the first time in three decades, an American won the men’s race. On his race bib, Meb Keflezighi had written the names of the three people (Krystle Campbell, Lingzi Lu, Martin Richard) killed by the bombs and MIT security officer Sean Collier, who was shot by the suspects during the manhunt.

News outlets reported last week that General Motors will ask their bankruptcy judge to disallow any lawsuits connected to crashes of defective cars occurring before the company exited bankruptcy protection.

In the bankruptcy deal overseen by the Obama administration auto task force, GM was shielded from liability for incidents occurring prior to exiting bankruptcy. But GM agreed to assume liability coming from incidents after bankruptcy, even if the vehicles were manufactured prior to bankruptcy. So if you were seriously injured in an accident because your Chevy Cobalt ignition switch unexpectedly turned the car off the week before GM entered bankruptcy, you cannot receive any compensation. If I have a similar accident tomorrow in a 2007 Cobalt, I have legal standing to sue GM. Fair?

There is evidence that GM officials knew about this ignition defect in Cobalts and Ions 10 years ago. Some legal experts say this negates the liability protection. If GM knowingly sold cars with parts that were likely to fail, there shouldn’t be any limits on consumers seeking compensation. Maybe the compensation won’t be as much as might have been awarded a decade ago, but the ability to file a lawsuit should not be terminated.

Financial bankruptcy can be solved, moral bankruptcy is more difficult to overcome.

This afternoon President Obama issued a statement concerning the political crisis in Ukraine.

Some background for those who may not have been following this situation:

Some months ago, the Ukrainian government announced it wanted to form closer ties to the Russian government, rather than the European Union. This sparked protests in the capitol of Kiev. For the last several weeks there have been violent clashes between government and protesters. Protesters prevailed with the Ukrainian president fleeing to Russia.

Over the past week, a new Ukrainian government of sorts has been formed, with the parliament passing a large number of new laws. Those in the eastern part of the country, the majority of whom are ethnically Russian, have questioned the legality of this new government without elections or a new constitution.

Today there are reports that well-armed soldiers have moved into the Crimean region of Ukraine. These military forces are believed to be Russian. Crimea is a peninsula in southern Ukraine that juts into the Black Sea, a strategic area with the Russian shore not far across the water. Ukraine and Russia have a bilateral agreement allowing the Russian Navy Black Sea Fleet to maintain a base in Crimea.

So President Obama made a short statement, in which he said, “There will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine.” Back in the Cold War days, or even through about the year 2000, that might have been enough warning to make Russian leaders hesitate. But the US warned the President of Syria to stop killing his citizens without any real consequences when he did not comply. Our President has danced around Afghanistan’s President Karzai concerning our military presence in his country. Mr. Obama’s election and re-election campaigns had strong components concerning ending/having ended the Iraq war. Clearly the US leader does not want to be involved in international conflicts. I do not think Russian President Vladimir Putin is worried.

Putin is an ex-Soviet KGB agent who has said the break-up of the USSR was the worst occurrence of the 20th century. He has engineered elections in Russia. After his first terms as president were over, his hand-picked successor was elected and Putin moved into another high-level office. When the new president finished his term, Putin was elected again. He has essentially been in power for 15 years.

Ukrainians have one of the lowest annual income rates in Europe. Putin likely wants to keep Ukraine dependent on Russia, and linked politically, to maintain a physical buffer between Europe and Russia. Putin is still thinking in the Soviet style; US diplomats and President Obama need to recognize that.

Even without Russian intervention, Ukraine would remain unsettled. It seems to be going through independence growing pains, just like the southeastern European countries freed from Soviet domination. Ukraine is just 25 years slower in reaching that point. In the former Czechoslovakia (now Czech Republic and Slovakia) and Yugoslavia (now Macedonia, Serbia & Montenegro, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, and Kosovo), the break-up into smaller political units was driven largely by different ethnic groups all wanting to control the government to control their destiny in the post-Soviet era. It was certainly understandable, although the fighting, lives lost and United Nations intervention in some areas should have/could have been avoided.

Hopefully, Ukraine will not need an outright civil war to solve its conflict. With the western area of the country wanting to align with Europe and the eastern region culturally tied to Russia, it will be a difficult task. In some ways it seems problematic for countries of the world to continue to break up into smaller and smaller nations because of ethnic/cultural differences. But if that can avoid armed conflict, it may be the best solution here. (The difficulty with all these small nations is that many do not have enough landmass to have the natural resources to take care of their people.)

Most conflict in the world comes from ethnic groups fighting over territory and power, or countries trying to annex the land of neighboring nations. It is interesting that the ethnic aspect has not really been an issue in North America (aside from some Latinos saying the southwest area of the US should be given to Mexico). I suppose that’s because all our ancestors, except the Native Americans (“First Nations” in Canada), came here from somewhere else. In the US, ethnic groups do organize politically seeking to gain advantages. (That’s o.k – that’s how our system works.) There are also many other groups organized around industry, causes or lifestyles that do the same. Many of these groups work with others when it is in their interests. Our democratic-republic form of government allows this way of working together without having to draw sharp lines between groups.

But US groups (whatever the basis for association) are becoming more selfish and demanding. If special interest groups become less inclusive, as the European and African ethnic groups are by biology, we may find ourselves with more conflicts in government. So far the US has been able to accommodate the rights of a large number of ethnic and special interest groups. But lawsuits demanding special consideration are tying up the federal courts. And the recent debate over Arizona legislation points out that we have reached a point where the rights of one group conflict with the rights of another. How we solve this dilemma will determine whether the US can continue to be a peaceful country or if we take many steps backwards and end up with periods of violence in various regions whenever some group does not like the actions of another group or the government.

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Posted by: SWL | February 27, 2014

Ski Halfpipe Gold Medalist Returns Home to Reno

Olympic gold medalist David Wise returned to Reno today. Wise won the ski halfpipe event at the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia last week. He was met at Reno-Tahoe International Airport by a large crowd which included Reno Mayor Bob Cashell and Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval. Sandoval declared that tomorrow would David Wise Day in Nevada.

(Sierra at Tahoe Resort in South Lake Tahoe will honor Olympic athletes from the area on March 15, including gold medalists Jamie Anderson and Maddie Bowman.)

Sochi Olympics logo

Joaquin Guzman, known as El Chapo and head of the world’s most powerful drug cartel, has been captured in Mexico. Guzman’s Sinaloa cartel has terrorized residents along the Mexican-US border for years. They are notorious for their brutal executions of anyone who does not obey their orders. Some people have been tortured and killed just so Guzman’s men could steal their vehicles.

Guzman was arrested once before, but was able to escape in 2001. So the US government wants him extradited here so he can be confined in a super-max prison until trial. But the Mexican government seems reluctant to do that.

Reports are that the cartel already has new leadership and continues smuggling drugs into the US.

Yesterday a television commentator said that if drugs were legalized there would not be cartels like Guzman’s. What a simplistic idea! Guzman is one of those people who are sometimes called “evil personified”. He does not act that way just because drugs are a source of income for him. Does this commentator think drug lords would just get legitimate jobs if drugs were legalized? There is evil in the world, some people are always trying to find ways to gain power, money and/or prestige, and seem to enjoy hurting others.

If drugs become legal, there are always other items that can bring big money on the black market. The world’s black market economy is not based just on items that are illegal. Scarce items or those that are hard to obtain because of government over-regulation are traded under the radar too. In the late 1970’s I lived in Arizona and lots of Americans were traveling into Mexico to obtain the then-popular drug laetrile, which is illegal in the US.

Guzman’s capture may bring a bit of relief for Mexicans along the border. But US Drug Enforcement cannot relax. The Sinaloa cartel is still at work.

Posted by: SWL | February 18, 2014

NBC Coverage of Sochi Olympics Disappointing

I am blessed to work from home, so for the most part, I have been able to arrange my schedule around television coverage of the Winter Olympics. Our small rural cable system does not carry NBC Sports Network, which has live coverage of most events, but that allows me to get some of my work done!

With the Olympics more than half over, I have to say that I am disappointed in NBC’s coverage of the events. We are able to see more coverage on the three NBC networks on our cable system than for previous Olympics, yet I feel like I am seeing less of the action. Some of that may be due to the half-a-day time difference between the US and Sochi, Russia. NBC has taken advantage of that to edit their coverage with surgical precision.

The evening broadcasts especially, are very choppy. For some events (figure skating, bobsleigh, halfpipe, freestyle), the only athletes featured are most (but not all) of the top finishers and any American athletes. On the other hand, the alpine skiing events receive a great deal of time, and athletes qualifying for the finals are shown.

I would understand if time was more limited. But NBC has the ability to broadcast as many hours of coverage as they want. Weekend coverage on their main network could begin at noon instead of 3 pm. And they could cut some of the non-competition stories. I enjoy hearing about the local culture, but virtually all the pieces have been about famous landmarks or institutions in Moscow or St. Petersburg, which are hundreds of miles from the Olympic venues. Tonight there was a story about the 80 cats living in St. Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum! There have been very few minutes given to life around Sochi. I learned more about the widlife of the area from an Animal Planet show about the region’s Caucasus Mountains.

I like to watch everything except hockey. Considering that footage on all NBC networks except NBCSN is tape delayed, I find it frustrating that they show different sports on different networks at the same time. I have been passing up the fast-paced sports on NBC in the late afternoon for the precise, strategic curling matches on CNBC. Then I get my daily dose of speed during the evening broadcast. But I would prefer to watch everything.

Speaking of speed, what do you think of the new halfpipe skiing event? It looks a bit strange to see skis in the halfpipe instead of snowboards. I did not think the skiers would have as much mobility and flexibility as the snowboarders. That presumption was proven false with moves similar to those seen in the halfpipe snowboard event. The first Olympic gold medal for halfpipe skiing went to a Nevadan, David Wise of Reno.

Unfortunately, Julia Mancuso of Squaw Valley (an hour from Reno) fell in the final runs of the Giant Slalom. And Nate Holland of Truckee, CA (half an hour from Reno) was not able to qualify for the finals in Snowboardcross. That’s a sport where you can’t take your eyes off the action for a second without missing something!

Posted by: SWL | February 16, 2014

2014 Olympics: Russians Shamelessly Promote Themselves

I have been spending my spare time (and probably some time I really can’t spare) watching the Winter Olympics from Sochi, Russia. Watching the Games has left little time to blog about them. At just over the half way point, I thought I should find some time to comment. I will begin with the host country.

It is clear that Russia sees this event as a way to improve the world’s opinion of the country. In the three or four days before the Opening Ceremony, that did not seem likely. As the news media arrived, reports poured out about hotel rooms without doors or light bulbs, no water or yellow water, “security” people opening guests’ doors in the middle of the night. I’m not sure if those problems were resolved or just pushed aside for better stories about the athletes.

The Opening Ceremony was an extravaganza, as they all are. But for anyone over about 40 or those who have studied history, it was hard to miss that the Russian history presented had been sanitized. The Soviet era was characterized only as a time of industrialization, ignoring gulags and executions.

This cauldron for the Olympic flame is one of the most elegant ever, surrounded by a pool with a fountain. Had I been attending the Opening Ceremony, I would have been disappointed that I couldn’t see the flame

2010 Winter Olympics Cauldron at Vancouver waterfront

2010 Olympics Cauldron at Vancouver waterfront

ignited. Even for Winter Olympics, opening ceremonies were held in outdoor stadiums through the Torino Games in 2006, allowing Opening Ceremony guests to see the lighting of the Olympic flame atop the stadium. For the 2010 Vancouver Games, with the first indoor Opening Ceremony, the organizing committee solved the flame issue by lighting a cauldron inside the stadium and then another outdoors. Something similar might have been nice for Sochi.

In Vancouver, and previous Olympics, there was a symbol or logo for the specific edition of the Games. In the early part of the last century, they often included a landmark (e.g. a notable mountain) or famous building in/near the host city. Later logos became more stylized. The logos are seen at all the venues: in the ice of the curling sheets or the figure skating arena; on signs, posters, tickets and official souvenir trading pins. Sochi Olympics logoBut the Russian’s logo is a fancy version of the Sochi Games website with the Olympic rings in the corner! There is some precedent – Mexico City (1968) had it’s name and the date intertwined with the Olympic rings and Montreal (1976) had only an all-red version of the rings above the city name and date. But the inclusion of the web address suffix for Sochi is clearly a publicity move.

And what’s with the slogan “Hot. Cool. Yours.”? Maybe it sounds special in Russian. To me, it seems more like a slogan for a tourist promotion than an athletic event.

To the Russians credit, they are doing a good job of maintaining outdoor venues despite warm temperatures. Athletes have been complaining about the condition of the snow on the downhill ski and snowboard runs, but at least there is snow on the hills. For the Vancouver Games, snow had to be trucked in from other areas, and even then some events on Cypress Mountain (not very far above sea level) had to be rescheduled, mostly because of rain.

One interesting thing the Sochi Organizing Committee planned was a special gold medal for tomorrow, which is the one-year anniversary of the meteor that exploded over Siberia. Athletes winning gold in the 10 event finals scheduled will get a specially designed medal with a small piece of the meteor in the center. Something never done before, and probably never to occur again.

Fortunately, anti-terrorism measures are keeping everyone in Sochi safe. That makes it a little easier to ignore the obvious self-promotion by the Russians.

Posted by: SWL | February 11, 2014

Reno-Tahoe Area Athletes Do Well at Sochi Olympics

With Lake Tahoe and Sierra ski resorts so close to Reno (Heavenly Valley actually spans the border with California), Reno media treat athletes from the region as “locals”. Most of us in rural northern Nevada get our television signal from Reno, so we adopt those athletes as our own too. There are a lot of “local” athletes at the Sochi Olympics, and they have acquitted themselves pretty well four days into the Games.

Jamie Anderson from South Lake Tahoe won the gold medal in the inaugural women’s Snowboard Slopestyle event. Karly Shorr of Truckee finished the qualifying round high enough to automatically move to the finals, where she finished sixth. Unfortunately, in the men’s event, Reno’s Chas Guldemond and Truckee’s Ryan Stassel failed to make the final round. They finished 15th and 14th respectively.

Men’s Downhill skiing was held over the weekend. Trevor Ganong from Squaw Valley (home of the 1960 Olympics) had a great run on the longest-ever Olympic downhill course, finishing fifth. Marco Sullivan, whose home is also in Squaw Valley, finished a distant 30th.

Women’s Super Combined began with the downhill race on Sunday and the slalom portion Monday. Stacey Cook of Mammoth Mountain (this is getting a bit far from Reno, but the Reno Gazette-Journal labels it “local”) did not finish the downhill. Squaw Valley’s Julia Mancuso came away with the bronze medal after both sections of the event.

Men’s Snowboard Halfpipe begins on Tuesday. “Locals” Greg Bretz and Danny Davis will compete.

In last week’s State of the Union Speech, President Obama threw in a number of ideas, “to see which ones stick”, as the saying goes. One of those was the MyRA retirement savings plan.

Hopefully this idea will be like many of the others that Mr. Obama has proposed but not delivered on, because MyRA is not worth the time it took the President to mention it.

* Mr. Obama said these savings plans would be for those who do not have a 401K plan available through work. But anyone can go to a bank or other financial institution and open a traditional IRA or Roth IRA.
* Money put into a MyRA account would be invested in government bonds. The good part of that is you couldn’t lose your principle as you might in an IRA or 401K, and you would earn more interest than a bank savings account. The bad news is that these investments in government bonds will earn less than regular IRAs and 401Ks which often invest in the private sector.
* This is just another way for the federal government to get more revenue and more control over our money. Since there are already a variety of retirement savings plans available to most everyone, the government does not need to get involved.

Mr. Obama seems desperate to raise his public approval numbers, but the MyRA plan will not accomplish that goal, nor provide any benefits to citizens that they could not obtain elsewhere.

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Football season is over. Most years that means there’s no longer any reason to turn on the television after church – no scores to check or game starting. But this year there will be two more weeks of great sports to watch – the XXII Winter Olympics begin Thursday!

I remember watching the Olympics with my parents. Unfortunately, my earliest memories are from the 1972 Summer Games, when terrorists killed Israeli athletes. I was young enough that I understood little about the sports and even less why anyone would kill Olympians. I have been something of an Olympic addict since the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The Winter Olympics are definitely my favorites.

My spouse and I were privileged to be volunteers at the Games in Salt Lake City in 2002 and in Vancouver in 2010. There was a bit of concern in SLC, so soon after the terrorist attacks of 9-11, but I would be far more concerned if I were going to Sochi, Russia for this Olympics.

Sochi House at 2010 Vancouver Olympics

Sochi House at 2010 Vancouver Olympics


2010 Winter Olympics Cauldron at Vancouver waterfront

2010 Winter Olympics Cauldron at Vancouver waterfront

We met a lot of interesting people, got hooked on pin trading and managed to attend an event on each trip. We had to coordinate attending events with our work schedules, so we basically went to whatever was available. In SLC, it was curling, which was very interesting once I figured out the rules and strategy of the game. In 2010, we were quite fortunate that on the day we went up to Whistler, the women’s bobsled final was held.
Women's Bobsled final-2010 Winter Olympics

Women’s Bobsled final-2010 Winter Olympics

Unfortunately, our small rural cable system does not carry all the NBC networks on which Olympic events will be shown. But I will adjust my schedule as much as possible to watch as many events as I can.

Two new sports will debut Thursday evening: team figure skating and slopestyle snowboard. The official Opening Ceremonies will be broadcast Friday night. Expect quite a show since Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to impress the world. From what I have been hearing about spectator and journalists’ poor accommodations, the Opening Ceremonies will need to be out of this world to overcome those impressions.

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The day after the Super Bowl, Nevada’s Gaming Control Board reported that a record $119 million was bet on the game at Nevada casinos. That blew away the $98.9 million wagered on the previous Super Bowl.

With the Denver Broncos favored to beat the Seattle Seahawks, bets that picked Seattle (whether proposition bets or overall score) would pay out the most. So when the Seahawks scored a safety on the Broncos’ first offensive play (50 to 1 odds – $1 wins $50), the casino sports books were a bit worried.

But apparently Bronco fans wagered the most money. Denver’s loss gave Nevada casinos a profit of $19.7 million, which was millions more than they earned from the past three Super Bowls combined.

I don’t gamble, so I don’t know a lot about betting odds. (Gambling is a dangerous habit to acquire when the casino is just blocks away.) But a lot of Super Bowl fans obviously don’t understand either. It’s obvious that if the team you pick to win actually loses, you lose too. But if you bet on the team that is favored to win, and they do win, you get back less than you wagered. It seems silly to waste your money, even for your favorite team.

If you must bet, better to find some proposition bets where you can support your team and maybe still win some money. You can wager on kick-off temperature, first interception, who is named MVP, even the halftime show. But remember, casinos are in business to make money; overall odds always favor the house.

During the recent State of the Union speech, President Obama almost casually mentioned that “we” will keep working to clear the backlog of applications for veterans’ benefits and be sure they receive mental health care. After doing some research on the backlog and comparing that situation to something else the President said in his speech, I am quite angry.

The backlog of applications for veterans’ benefits reached a peak of about 600,000 pending applications in March of 2013. In April, 67 Senators sent a letter to President Obama, asking him to become personally involved in efforts to shorten the time required to process veterans’ applications for benefits. At that time, the average waiting time was 316-327 days.

As reported in November 2013:
“Fortunately, the VA has made significant progress reducing the backlog since Memorial Day. The VA’s “strategic plan” to end the backlog seems to be working so far. Currently, the number of backlogged claims is 382,000 – a 37% reduction since its peak in March. . . .
. . . As of writing there are still some very alarming figures to report:
– 245,000 claims have been processing for over a year.
– The average wait time for benefits filing their first claim is 318 days

While the number of pending applications has gone down, the average waiting time remains the same. We should all be angry at such slow progress. Our veterans deserve better. But what made me really upset was comparing the veterans’ situation to the President’s executive order to raise the wages of government contractors.

Contractors have been doing work for the government at the current wage and they get their paychecks on time. The President wants to give them more money. On the other hand, our veterans have done their work, but cannot get the benefits they have earned in a timely manner.

In theory I am not against workers earning more money. Maybe government contractors need higher wages (but Congress should decide that). But there are older veterans who have died before they received their disability benefits. Younger vets with physical challenges from service in Iraq or Afghanistan cannot afford to buy a home modified for their physical needs.

Maybe Mr. Obama should use his presidential powers to demand that the Veterans Administration dedicate more resources to the benefits backlog. Maybe the government funds that will go to raising contractors’ wages should go instead to hire more VA staff dedicated exclusively to working on the backlog. It is shameful that the President is more worried about able-bodied workers than disabled veterans.

If the delay in processing veterans’ benefit applications bothers you too, contact your Congressional representatives and demand action.

Posted by: SWL | January 31, 2014

Why I Won’t Watch Super Bowl XLVIII

As much as I enjoy watching football, I need a team to cheer for or I lose interest in the game. Obviously, it’s easy if one of our family favorites is playing. If not, I might root for a team one of my daughters or sons-in-law like, or the team in a place I’ve lived. But none of that works for Sunday’s Super Bowl.

Under different circumstances I might cheer for Seattle since they are in the same conference as my favorite San Francisco 49ers. But since the Seahawks just beat my team 2 weeks ago for the conference championship, I cannot bring myself to do that.

I felt bad for Peyton Manning having to leave Indianapolis after playing for them his entire career up until then. That would have led me to cheer for him, if he hadn’t become a Denver Bronco. I have never liked that team and especially did not like John Elway when he was their QB. That dislike increased dramatically because of how badly the Broncos treated Tim Tebow after he almost single-handedly led them to one game from the conference championship two seasons ago. (Elway owns 10% of the team and is the front office executive who does much of the team hiring.)

I thought I might watch the game for the commercials. But most of this year’s have been shown on news programs and CBS’s “Super Bowl’s Greatest Commercials” Wednesday evening. And, of course, they can be seen on the Internet. (Personally, I think releasing them prior to the Super Bowl is a marketing mistake.)

There doesn’t seem to be any motivation to watch the big game this year. My spouse has expressed some interest in watching, so it may be on at our house. But I think I’ll find something else to do. I won’t be the only one skipping the game – San Francisco QB Colin Kaepernick says he won’t be watching the game either.

(My less than technical analysis leads me to predict that the Broncos will win.)

Tonight President Obama gave his fifth State of the Union address to Congress. He spoke for a bit over an hour on a variety of issues for which he believes government action is necessary. Mr. Obama said that the US is better positioned than any other nation to move forward economically. He asked the assembled Congress if government would help or hinder that process. That is my question too, but I think the President and I might answer it differently.

I would like to comment on a number of the points about which Mr. Obama spoke. Some need further thought and/or research. So tonight I will share some thoughts on the military/foreign policy section of the speech, and take on other issues in the next few days.

President Obama began this topic by citing the number of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan when he took office and how many are currently in Afghanistan in support roles as the Afghan military has taken over the security of their country. Mr. Obama pointed out that we no longer have troops in Iraq and he spoke about continuing to help Afghanistan if they will sign the status of forces agreement currently being negotiated.

The truth is that Afghan President Karzai has already said that he will not sign such an agreement. In President Obama’s comparisons of where we were and where we are now, he also forgot to mention that since the withdrawal of US troops, Iraq has gone from barely managed chaos to total chaos punctuated by extremist bombings. As Mr. Obama enthusiastically embraces the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, does the likely possibility of similar chaos even cross his mind?

The President again called for the closure of the detainee camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He has been calling for that since his 2008 campaign for president, but has not taken any action.

US leadership is the reason Syria’s chemical weapons will be destroyed, according to Mr. Obama. Actually, the US was late to that party, with other nations leading the initial calls for action in Syria. The President also said the US had the lead in working to keep Iran from making a nuclear weapon. It’s a bit hard to know much about this issue, since the American public, and even some Congressmen, have not been allowed to see the entire text for the agreement made with Iran. (The International Atomic Energy Agency reportedly did not want technical data released.) Columnist Charles Krauthammer brought up an interesting point: Iran is turning its uranium into an oxide – and that process is reversible. So this only puts another obstacle in Iran’s path; it doesn’t totally prevent the eventual manufacture of a weapon.

The one moment of the speech that united virtually everyone was when the President introduced Army Ranger Cory Remsburg, who was severely wounded in Afghanistan. Mr. Obama pledged help for returning veterans. I hope he follows through on that long-term committment.

In his weekly address today, President Obama called for the federal government to take a role in preventing sexual assaults on college campuses. The end goal is admirable, but this is absolutely not the job of the federal government! Mr. Obama seems to think that everything that might be wrong in the US needs federal intervention. But preventing sexual assault – on campus or anywhere else – is the task of local law enforcement and education groups.

There are usually groups on college campuses that hold educational campaigns about assault. Most campuses have campus escorts or shuttle service that can take students from place to place in a safe manner. The information may or may not get into people’s minds and hearts, and students may or may not avail themselves of the safety programs. But federal money (with all its accompanying regulations and red tape) is not going to change that.

The President needs to focus on things where the federal government can actually help or bring change. (A few suggestions: eliminate duplicate government programs [GAO has identified many] to bring spending under control, urge the Federal Reserve to change the monetary policy that is keeping Americans’ savings stagnant, curb the federal deficit so other nations will continue to invest in the US dollar.) Each community can judge the specific circumstances that need changing to address sexual assault in their midst. And the US Constitution clearly says the federal government should stay out of matters that can be dealt with by the states (and by extension, local governments).

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