Friday, November 28, 2008

What Would Jefferson Do?

Today the world is faced with piracy on the high seas. Sea-borne Somali brigands are capturing ships not only off the coast of Somalia, but in the Gulf of Aden and in the open waters of the Indian Ocean, holding the ships and crews for ransom. At least one major shipping firm is avoiding the area altogether, choosing to take the longer (and more expensive) route around the southern tip of Africa. Currently, the navies of several nations are patrolling the seas off East Africa, but the area is large and hard to police effectively.

What would U.S. President Thomas Jefferson do if he were in office today? What did he do two hundred years ago? Pirates from the north coast of Africa (the Barbary States) held maritime commerce in the Mediterranean hostage. They seized ships, claiming the ships and their cargo, holding the crew for ransom or selling them into slavery. Several European nations paid tribute to the Barbary States to exempt their ships from pillage. Even the United States paid tribute for a time. But after a while, Americans said, "That is enough." The cry arose, "Millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute."

Thomas Jefferson was president at the time. He and the U.S. Congress declared war on the Barbary states. We fought two wars in the Mediterranean. Port cities of North Africa were captured, including Tripoli, and the piracy was brought to an end.

I believe that if Jefferson were in office today, he would take decisive action. He would take the battle to the home ports of the pirates. One proposal for today would be to work together with the other nations patrolling the waters off Somalia to neutralize the home ports of the pirates. One way would be to divide the targets. Have the U.S. Navy take one, the Russian Navy another, the Indian Navy a third, and so on until all are covered.

Why not do this unilaterally? This is an international problem. The pirates are indiscriminate as to the nationalities of the crew members and the ships’ ownership, registration, cargo, origin and destination. It needs to be made clear that the world as a whole is taking action. The accounts of the Barbary Coast piracy point out that the pirate regimes played off the European powers against each other. Dividing up target pirate ports is preferred for three reasons:
-(1) It reduces friction and difficulties in coordination among the allies.
-(2) It reduces the time needed to execute the plan, also facilitating the element of surprise. The assembling of multinational squadrons would tend to give away the intent.
-(3) Each power is responsible for its own objective, and can therefore take credit for it.

What about the hostage crews? Just pay ransom for all and get them back. As soon as they are safely out of the way, move in. If done quickly enough, most of the ransom money can be recovered.

What do you think?

PS: A "Crisco" version of this was published in the Times-Reporter of Dover/New Philadelphia, OH, on 12/02/2008 <>.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Birthplace Issues: John McCain and Barack Obama

An issue was made this year of the "Natural-born citizen" status of the two major party candidates, John McCain and Barack Obama. John McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone in 1936 and Obama's live birth location was questioned.

First, John McCain. This is the easiest to deal with. At the time of his birth, the Panama Canal Zone was a United States Territory. His parents were both US citizens and he was born on a US Navy base. So on all accounts, there should have beeen no question that John S. McCain III is a natural-born citizen of the United States of America.

Next, Barack H. Obama. Somehow, someway, several persons publicized doubt that Sen. Obama was born in Hawaii. There have even been lawsuits brought in federal court to delay the election or otherwise force Obama to produce his vault original certificate of live birth. The Obam campaign has released the image of a certified copy of the original certificate. It is available on the following website:

Some people posting comments on this have questioned its authenticity on basically two counts: (1) no crease from folding and mailing, and (2) no embossure of the seal of the Hawaiian dept. of vital statistics. I downloaded this image and zoomed in on it. I saw the folding crease, which goes through the center of the state seal. Persons who have Hawaiian birth certificates say that they are signed and embossed on the back side. Near the bottom of the image, the date stamp of the copy is seen bleeding thorugh from the back. Just above it, under magnification, the embossing can be detected by distortions in the background pattern in a circular pattern. It is not as distinct as it would be on the side which was embossed. Just check out any embossed heavy paper document you have to see what I mean.

The birth certificate notwithstanding, his mother was a US citizen. And although at the time of Barack's birth she was only 18 (not yet five years past age 16), since she had been a citizen and resident of the US all her life, her citizenship still applies, since the five-year clause should apply only to those who are 21 years of age or older (which I believe to be the original intent of the law).

As one who supported and voted for John McCain, and as one who has serious questions about the direction Pres. Obama with Speaker Pelosi and Sen. Maj. Leader Reid will take this nation, it could be a relief to have BHO disqualified from being President. But also being a person of reason, I say (barring future discovey of evidence of fraud and forgery) that Barack Hussein Obama, Jr, is a natural-born citizen of the United States, thereby meeting that qualification for President of the United States of America.

The raising of this issue regarding both candidates in this year's election demonstrates the fact that in any campaign or controversy red herring issues will arise. (A "red herring" is a bogus or irrelevant issue brought up which detracts from the core issues.)