Archive for the ‘Defense’ Category

Obama to Stand Down On Military Pay and Benefits

Sunday, November 4th, 2012

Forgetting Them Again

My son-in-law is getting set for deployment to Afghanistan. His departure is imminent, and while I am proud of the young man’s continuing service to this country, this being his second deployment, I am startled by the manner in which the current administration treats all our soldiers.  The truth is that the Obama administration doesn’t even like the military, and except for instances in which they can be used as a campaign prop, they haven’t any regard for the men and women who volunteer to serve this nation.  One Obama-friendly group has come out with its proposal for trimming military pay and benefits, and it’s shocking to realize how little regard they have for our service-members based on what they’re advocating.  The Center for American Progress, a completely maniacal left-wing cohort of Obama’s, largely funded by George Soros, has actually suggested that our government should cut the pay and benefits of soldiers dramatically.  It’s disgusting.  It’s despicable.  It’s another example of how the left doesn’t understand or appreciate our military men and women, but if Obama is re-elected, it’s probably the blueprint for what will happen.  It’s time to consider the disastrous consequences of another presidential stand-down.

They’ve actually proposed cutting military retirement, and they’ve also proposed changing the rules for when one can begin drawing a military retirement.  Rather than commencing retirement benefits upon retirement, the madcaps at the Center for American Progress are pushing the notion that benefits shouldn’t commence until 60.  I want those of you who haven’t served in the military to think about this very carefully.  If a young man or woman serves twenty years in the military, on average, it’s not like working in the civilian world for two decades.  The abuses of one’s body, the toll it takes on one’s family, and the miserable conditions under which two decades of life are conducted is something for which there are no direct analogs in the civilian world.  One person I know, a police officer, who works hard and is dedicated to public safety, likened his profession to the military, and I stopped and corrected him.  There is a vast difference, and it comes down to this: Our service-members live under martial authority.  It’s not like being a cop, much as I respect so many in that profession.

Let’s be blunt about it: If you are a police officer, and you arrive at a scene, and your Sergeant or Lieutenant tells you to carry out some ludicrous order that puts you in danger, you can refuse.  The worst thing that can happen to you is that you will be fired.  In garrison, or on the battlefield, a soldier really has no such discretion, because failing to follow orders can get you dead.  You see, in the military, there really isn’t room for such discretion, and those who volunteer to serve have set aside the ordinary right to refuse all of us in the civilian world enjoy, in favor of the mission set forth by their commanders, but since they do not get to pick the term of their enlistments according to who is in command at the time, either nationally or locally, they simply must comply.

To get capable, smart, qualified people to do the jobs we ask our service-members to do in peacetime at their miserable rate of pay is hard enough, but multiplied and magnified by the rigors of war-fighting, and a simple existence under martial authority, we need to offer an enticement.  That’s why we offer at least somewhat enticing retirement benefits, but this is also why the left, despite all their previous anti-draft protesting, is very much pro-conscription:  They wish to be able to force people to serve in these conditions.  Imposing the pay and benefits cuts that CAP proposes would assure that the United States would either impose a draft to fulfill its defense needs, or simply cease to defend the nation.  Either is acceptable to leftists, but in truth, they’d like to have both.

Remember, if a young person 17-21 volunteers for military service, assuming they carry out a twenty year career, that means they will return to the civilian world in their late thirties or early forties, and despite the propaganda to the contrary, most will be effectively starting over.  You see, very few specialties in the military actually translate directly to civilian uses.  Working on artillery pieces doesn’t really translate to working on Fords.  Some of the underlying skill-sets may, but the truth is that it’s not a simple transition in most cases.  There aren’t really many positions for infantrymen in the civilian world.  Therefore, you have a group of people transitioning into a civilian workforce who may well have delayed their higher education, and otherwise set aside those developments in order to protect us.  Then, having completed two decades, they exit the military into a civilian workforce where they may be at significant disadvantage.  There is discrimination against veterans in many cases, and they step into this world precisely in what ought to have been their peak earning years.   The Center for American Progress thinks we should delay their retirement benefits until they’re sixty.  The truth is, we should pay them upon retirement because it’s the ethical thing to do in helping them catch up, and in order to thank them for their honorable service.

I’m not going to touch the part about active military pay, lest I launch into a stream of profanities over CAP’s proposals, but I think it’s time we understand, all of us, that when we ask young men and women to serve, we’re asking that they do so in our stead.  How much is that worth?  As my son-in-law prepares to fly to a distant and God-forsaken land, to help a people who may not want it, and to defend them against their own, knowing that most deaths in that country are the result of our alleged allies turning on our people, I can’t help but reflect on my own military service, and all the things I saw.  I wonder if the day will ever come when the American people will universally understand what it is we ask of these young people, and whether there will ever be a time when the left is willing to pay the costs of maintaining the defenses of the liberties they so blissfully enjoy in brutally indifferent ignorance.  If Barack Obama is re-elected, the undue suffering of our men and women in uniform will increase dramatically.  As I prepare to see my son-in-law depart on another deployment, we must take care of affairs here at home.  We must prevent this.

The Natural Right to Self-Defense

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

Stand for Liberty

Our founders had the wisdom to recognize that rights are a fact of man’s nature.  They held that rights come from a Divine Creator, and that these rights cannot be nullified by governments.  They fought a bloody revolution to sustain their noble argument, but they also assumed there would be those who would claim to know the mind of Divine authority, and inasmuch as they knew this, they sought even to place rights outside the realm of religion, lest another would-be king decide he spoke with Divine endorsement, or some ruler might arise who held no respect for the Divine.  Knowing this, the founders laid the basis for our constitutional, representative republic on the foundation of an underlying philosophy that had no need of a claim to the Divine, though they claimed it nonetheless.

Consider the full meaning our founders authored, and together through the able pen of Thomas Jefferson declared:

“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”-Declaration of Independence

These opening line in the Declaration of Independence set the stage for all that is to follow.  Here, the founders introduced many to the formalized concept of Natural Law.  Here, they laid the basis of our rights, and they pointed to the “…Laws of Nature, and of Nature’s God…” as the source.  Think about what they directly implied with this choice of terminology.  Whether or not you accept the existence of a Creator, the Laws of Nature dictate that mankind has rights that are a precondition of his existence.  They endorsed God as the author of Nature, but irrespective of whether you share that view, they were laying down a clear marker:  These rights exist, as a fact of Nature.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” -Declaration of Independence

They held these truths to be “self-evident” because every person is able to clearly discern the great natural law of cause and effect, action and reaction, and because every person can plainly see the necessary logic of the matter.

“That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.” -Declaration of Independence

Notice what government’s proper role is to be: “To secure these right…”  There is no rationalization for the basis of government to create these rights, or even to endorse these rights, but merely to secure them.  This is because the government cannot create what pre-exists government, and whether its agents endorse these rights, they must nevertheless secure them.  This was intended to show not only the failures of the King against whom their revolt had been levied, but also against tyrants who might rise in some remote future.

They made plain that if a government becomes destructive of these liberties, it is the “right of the people to alter or abolish it,” and this is the statement of their motive and cause in having declared their independence. For those who will refute statists of the left by saying that rights are a gift from God, they find that they are immediately subject to the retort: “God?  What God?”  This has been the left’s basic approach to this argument for generations, and over time, it explains their desire to secularize our culture.  After all, if some larger portion of the people come to believe there is no God, so much easier will it be to disclaim the entire matter of rights.  Our founders were brilliant men, and they were ready for this argument, so the opening lines of the Declaration of Independence were designed to clarify the matter for all times.

Who can dispute that the laws of nature exist, and that  they are immutable?  We have no capacity to amend the Laws of Nature, and if Nature is the source of our rights as people, then no man can abolish them.  They affirmed and endorsed in full the belief that a Divine Creator was the author of Nature, and therefore its law, but their construction was intended to make the argument over the existence of God irrelevant to the matter of the existence of rights.  These were brilliant men, so they understood fully what sort of monstrous concepts would be used to attack their declaration, and all to which it would give rise.  They were also offering an invitation of sorts:  You needn’t have accepted their particular belief in God to be the beneficiary of these rights.  The Laws of Nature are universal irrespective of one’s religious beliefs.

Consider that a right of the people to alter or abolish a government means that such a right  pre-exists governments.  Naturally, and in all logic, this is the self-evident truth, since individual men form a government, they can alter or abolish it at will, or even decide never to form it at all.  If this is the right of individual people, banded together in common cause, needing only their mutual consent to do so, there must be some means by which to carry out such a necessity.  If such a necessity were to arise that the people would decide to abolish a government, it would only be so because they could not simply alter it.  After all, when your car becomes inoperative, you do not take it immediately to the wrecking yard.  You will naturally try first to repair(alter) it, and even if it is operable, you might find it no longer complies with your needs.  You might try to alter it so that it better-suited your purposes.  Our founders and the framers of our Constitution recognized this inasmuch as they built in the means by which to amend(alter) our law or to scrap it altogether and start over(constitutional convention.)

They also recognized that a time might arise when a government might become so large and powerful as to prohibit the peaceful measures to alter or abolish it, and in such cases, they would ultimately write down yet another measure that would become our second amendment, providing a protection for the natural right of man to defend his life, liberty and property.  This is the right we find under assault even now, as in the wake of the fiendish shooting in Aurora Colorado, no shortage of would-be tyrants have risen to decry the right to keep and bear arms.

We must never, under any circumstance, and by any diversion or claim of exigency yield any more ground on these rights.  We have already given far too much ground, always in the name of a civil society, and yet with each step in the limitation of gun rights, our culture becomes more stricken with violence, and less safe for every person.  Our founders understood that just as every government is made up of men, and as every man possesses a vast capacity for evil, every other person must maintain the ability, both in fact and in law, to defend against any device or practice of man, be they individuals, hordes, or governments.

They viewed this through the lens of Natural Law, in the same way they viewed all other laws given rise through the clear example of nature.  You might make a law that prohibits in words the act of a lion to defend itself.  Your law might demand in reckless disregard of the facts that a lion ought to lie down and surrender upon the approach of any man, and were he to resist the man, to restrain himself from making use of his fangs,claws, and superior dexterity.  Assuming there could be a lion who could understand such a dictum, what would any suppose might be the reaction of the lion to such a farcical notion? Who suspects a lion would comply?

None would make such a fanciful law, because no lion would understand it, but more, none could be expected to comply in any way with it.  That is the nature of a lion, and this self-evident truth is all one needs to understand the basic premise underlying the entire construct of natural law, upon which our founders relied in the formulation of our Declaration of Independence, but also in their laying down of our guaranteed liberties in the Bill of Rights.

Some will believe that such laws are not made merely because the lion cannot understand them, and therefore could not be expected to comply.  The simpler truth is that a lion must not be expected to act contrary to his own nature.  What John Locke explained, being perhaps the greatest enlightened political philosopher upon whom our founders had relied, is that no law ought to be erected that supposes man can be compelled to live contrary to his nature as man.

“Thus the ‘Law of Nature’ stands as an eternal rule to all men, legislators as well as others. The rules that they make for other men’s actions, must, as well as their own and other men’s actions, be conformable to the ‘Law of Nature’, i.e. to the will of God, of which that is a declaration, and the fundamental law of nature being the preservation of mankind, no human sanction can be good, or valid against it.” – John Locke, “Second Treatise in Civil Government”, Chapter-11, Section 134

Here is the evidence of Locke’s influence on the founders, and it is once again exhibited within this statement, that while Locke believed firmly in a Divine Creator, he nevertheless points out that God is the source of the Law of Nature.  Were you to reject even the belief in God, you may not pretend that nature has no laws.  You can credit the Law of Nature to anything you like, but what Locke made plain is that the Laws of Nature are not to be ignored or suspended, and that in fact, no law erected against the Laws of Nature can stand as valid.

Man’s greatest natural gift is not a claw or a fang, or the dexterity to employ them, but an agile mind, able to remember, and to correlate, and to associate cause with effect; to understand the relationship between action and reaction.  Man furthers his life not through violent assault, even if such may on occasion be necessary, but by utilizing the best fruits of his mind. Just as one must not expect a lion to suspend the use of his claws or his gaping, fanged jaw, it is ridiculous on its face to expect man to suspend the use of his mind.

If it is foolishness to expect a man to suspend the use of his mind, it is equal foolishness to expect that he would abstain from the use of its products.  A gun is an instrument, but like any other, it is incapable of thought, and incapable of self-determined action.  It is a tool, and as such, having being created and reproduced by the minds of men, to expect men to abstain from using such a simple instrument is in every way as fundamentally bankrupt a notion as demanding a lion forgo the use of his claws.  Just as a lion has every natural right to fight for the defense of his existence by all the means with which he is equipped, so too is man entitled by nature to fight for his own defense to the same degree of effort.

When a governmental lunatic, or mindless politician approaches you to demand that you lay down the means of your own defense, though you had wronged nobody, and threatened no one, you are right to look at that person as quizzically as the lion would look at the author of a claw-control law.  What you are faced with is a person who has suspended reality to the degree that he no longer sees a toothed lion or an armed freeman before him, but instead a potential slave, and one who will subserviently yield the means of his own defense despite the warnings screaming in his brain that no good can come of yielding one’s rights.

Like the founders, conservatives respect the Laws of Nature, in part because most hold due reverence for their Author, but more fundamentally because they respect the self-evident truth the universe makes plain all about them. The right to self-defense is plainly a fundamental right that government may not abolish or suspend without consent of all those it governs.  Were I the last individual person on the Earth to retain arms, even would the whole of humanity demand I relinquish them, I would maintain my right to them, and I would sustain that right by the ferocity of my defense of it, even if it were to be my last, and I would abolish so much of the attacking throngs as I might be able before I would be overwhelmed.

My right to keep and bear arms is non-negotiable, and my right to self-defense is identically sacred.  So too is yours.  Any person who would yield it is either a fool or a knave, and I say this with all due respect to all the brilliant masterminds who believe otherwise, which is little, or none.  We who understand the implications of the founders must endeavor to see the full wisdom of their declaration, for it is our declaration too.  They have gifted to us this legacy of superior reasoning, and we must guard not only the document, but the meaning of the words upon it.  When dim-witted politicians descend upon every available microphone, and fill the frames of every available camera, all in a display of posturing for the sake of their fraudulent agenda the object of which is to protect themselves while enslaving you.  What other reason can there be for their delusion?  In what other purpose could their actions be intended? They wish only to urge the lions to de-fang and de-claw themselves.

This terrible tragedy must not be permitted to become the next excuse in pursuit of that end.  For once, let us see the wisdom of our founders and let the lions defend themselves from the rabid dogs.  The fools and knaves who mouth their slogans are accessories to such tragedies before-the-fact, having prohibited honest men and women from their own defense.  Our founders knew with the certitude provided by their combined experiences and lifetimes spent in study by candlelight and lantern that man is the possessor of unalienable rights, that are the product of the “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God,” and that none can make a rightful claim to nullify them among the innocent.  We, who were born to the electric light-bulb, now banned, and who read by the light even of the devices on which the text is itself imaged should think long and hard before we too easily yield these rights.  No other men before them had conceived of a country in which people might be guaranteed the full complement of their natural liberties, and if we let their light be extinguished, we may never see its kind again, instead condemned to languish in perpetual darkness.

 

The Change We Need Looks Nothing Like the Change We’ve Gotten

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

Change in Which Leftists Believe

Our Republic is suffering a slow death at the hands of statists of the left, but also the moderate Republicans.  We have a fiscal situation that most would label a crisis by any definition, in which the Federal government expends money fifty percent faster than it collects it, and it collects plenty.  Three years of Barack Obama’s reckless spending, and the willingness of Republican leadership to make deals has left us in a situation in which we are accruing debt faster than at any time in history.  Even if Barack Obama is defeated and sent packing in 2012, as he surely should be, we may not make it that far before the consequences explode in our faces.  The House of Representatives should not pass another bill that appropriates one dollar.   Yes, we need a government shutdown, but Barack Obama has other plans.  He intends to take over, and to ignore the Congress, and he intends to do so well in advance of the elections.  Obama is a man who has planned all his life for overthrowing the United States Constitution, and now, armed with the power of the executive branch, and with a supporting Senate, he is likely to make his play now while he still can.

Barack Obama isn’t a garden variety socialist.  He’s steeped in the tactics of Saul Alinsky, but more, he has an abiding desire to see the United States become a slave state.  People have wondered why he’s doing the things he is, but for many, the answer is clear: We may be on the verge of a second bloody revolution, and the proponents of this one are already in charge, and already using the levers of power to make ready for their moment.  I know this sounds so thoroughly outlandish to some people, that it’s difficult to say it seriously, except for the fact that it’s happening.

Consider Occupy Wall Street.  Here is an organization that exists to create unrest and violence in the streets, and in typical leftist fashion, it will be used to give government and excuse to step in.  Of course, it’s being directed by Obama friends and co-conspirators, including a healthy dose of funding from George Soros and his various affiliate pass-through organizations, but what make it more stunning than this is that Obama is putting in place the foundations for declaring vast new emergencies and taking on new Federal powers under the aegis of just such an emergency.  On Thursday, he signed a new executive order, that while updating older statutes, effectively gives the government the power to seize whatever it wants under whatever conditions it wants in response to a vague national emergency.  The Executive Order, titled: NATIONAL DEFENSE RESOURCES PREPAREDNESS, provides for adjustments to procedures to be carried out under 50 USC.

This order provides for the organization of the executive branch under such an emergency, and likewise provides directions on what may be delegated, to whom, and for what purposes.  It references a number of other executives orders, along with various sections of 50 USC.  The Obama administration will claim it is merely updating policies, but this is a bit more than that. We mustn’t be fooled into thinking this is all business-as-usual.  Nothing about the Obama administration is business-as-usual except for the outward appearance they wish to project.

Consider the implications of a President being tied to a civil unrest movement the likes of OWS, and then also setting up the legal basis for a government response to the sort of crisis OWS could be expected to generate, particularly if there is substantial financial difficulty arising out of the reckless policies of this administration.  On the one hand, he has OWS to terrorize you, and on the other, he is preparing to deal with them in response to your demands.  The truly stunning part is that the Occupiers don’t quite seem to grasp the danger, or that they’re being set up to take a mighty fall.

Now comes news that Obama has been groomed for this role for a long time, perhaps as far back as the mid-1980s, when it seems that Bill Ayers’ parents may have sponsored Obama or otherwise helped him through school, as WND reports.  A former mail carrier explained his contacts with the Ayers family and young black man he met who he now believes was Barack Obama.  WND interviewed him, and here is that video:


Whatever you may make of this, what’s certain is that Obama certainly had ties to some very radical people, and the problem with this man’s testimony is that he remembers Mrs. Ayers(Bill Ayers’ mother) saying that this was a foreign student.  What is certain is that the postal carrier remembers Obama’s features, his voice and manner of speaking.  He also had an interesting discussion with Ayers’ father, Tom, who seems to have been an ardent Marxist too.

I bring this to your attention because it’s an interesting aside to the general conversation about who Barack Obama really is, and what his intentions for this country really are.   I don’t believe he’s anything but a radical leftist, and as many now contend, he is not undertaking these policies lightly.  As Mark Levin mentioned on Monday evening, the Executive Order issued by Obama last week is bad in any president’s hands, but in the hands of this President particularly, that offers a potential prescription for the end of America as we have known it.

It reminds me of a famous piece of literature, Atlas Shrugged, wherein Ayn Rand constructs the devolution of the  United States, and one of the instruments the statists use is an analog to this latest executive order, called “Directive 10-289.”  It basically offered a takeover under the guise of an emergency in much the same form as this latest executive order would do:  Take over the means of production,distribution, transportation, and any and every other critical part of the American economy.  The longer the Obama administration goes on, the more I get the impression that we are living out the last chapters of Atlas Shrugged.

I think Obama is a good deal more malevolent than the shrinking coward who was the head of the country in that book.  I don’t believe any of this is or can be accidental.  He’s clearly intent upon changing America to his vision, whether or not Americans consent.   Any president who can so easily disregard the opinion of more than sixty percent of Americans in enacting a health-care reform bill isn’t acting in the best interests of the country.  Slowly but surely, he’s picking our constitution apart, and if he gets his way, it will be altogether meaningless as a restraint upon government.  2012 may be our last chance to stop the overthrow of our Republic by peaceful means. The fox is in the hen-house, and establishment Republicans still look at him expectantly, as though he ought to lay an egg.  If we do oust him, our next job will be to clean out that sorry gaggle of spur-less roosters who have been so ineffective at keeping the fox in check, in part because they golf with him and see him as one of their own.  He’s not, and the sooner our Republican leadership learns that, the sooner we can take back this country.

Marines Disarmed for Panetta Visit: Why?

Friday, March 16th, 2012

Panetta Addresses Troops

On Wednesday, the story came out that Marines in Afghanistan had been disarmed for the visit of Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.  Many were puzzled or disgusted over this, for the implications about which it speaks volumes.  If the Secretary of Defense is that worried about our own troops, perhaps he should not be serving in that post.  Of course, I have a feeling I understand the real reason for this policy, and it may not be about our troops, or at least not all of them.  Could it be that Secretary Panetta doesn’t want to be scored as another victim of military “workplace violence,” should another Muslim soldier angry about recent events try to act out his or her anger? I offer this only half in jest, because the behavior of leadership in this case is perplexing. I don’t understand why the Marines were treated in this way, and it can hardly inspire confidence in our service-members if they are led to doubt whether they have the full trust of the chain of command.

As we know, the Obama administration has done its best to sweep Army Major Nidal Hasan’s act under the carpet by labeling it as “workplace violence” rather than as an act of terrorism, despite all of the evidence demonstrating the link between Hasan and militant Muslim extremists.  I was astonished to learn about the details of Panetta’s visit, and that our own Marines were disarmed allegedly because our Afghan allies who were in attendance were likewise disarmed.  As an Army veteran myself, I could see why the security details of dignitaries might have some concern, particularly in the aftermath of the incident last weekend with the soldier who went on a shooting rampage, killing sixteen Afghan civilians, but I also know that was an aberration and says nothing about the entire force.

Still, I find it incredible that the Secretary of Defense would take this view of his own military.  I wonder if he was worried about another act of “workplace violence.”  After all, isn’t that what the Obama administration calls it?  When a lone attacker plowed through a fence and into a ditch at the airbase where Panetta was about to arrive, I would have classified it as an act of terrorism, but with Panetta being part of the military hierarchy, wouldn’t this merely be classified by the Obama administration as another act of “workplace violence?”

I wonder if the Obama administration knows how much contempt it has wrought by that classification.  This sort of thing has ramifications not only for soldiers in the field, but the whole force structure’s confidence in the chain of command.  Perhaps that is part of the trouble here:  Being near a large military base, I’ve heard an unusual number of grumbles about the chain of command and its general temperament with respect to the military.   That’s never a healthy proposition for the military, and I know the lower end of the chain of command struggles to tamp down that sort of thing.  Still, I’m certain the Obama administration is conscious of the growing displeasure from some wider body of the military.  The budget cuts, the ridiculous rules of engagement, and all the over-tasking our service-members now endure are adding to the strain.

I wonder if this was the idea of Panetta, or his own staff, or whether it was the product of an abundance of caution on the part of local commanders.  Either way, it signifies a break-down in the long-established and traditional notion of trust between civilian leadership and the uniformed services, and I find it atrocious on all counts.  I remember being visited in the field as a young soldier by dignitaries including the Secretary of the Army, John Marsh, under Ronald Reagan, and we didn’t put our weapons away.  Of course, that was a different environment, or under different global conditions, but it was also a far different chain of command that viewed its fighting men and women with reverence.  Unless they had real and specific concerns, this will only serve to have widened the gulf in confidence between civilian leadership and our military, and that is never a happy development for the United States, or its Armed Services.

 

 

Panetta Testimony Prompts Resolution Threatening Impeachment

Monday, March 12th, 2012

A Bridge Too Far?

The Obama administration is signaling that it will overstep its bounds again, this time with respect to Syria.  Many in Congress were upset by President Obama’s use of military force against Libya without Congressional approval.  This issue again raises questions about when this nation goes to war, what constitutes the actual making of war, and what is an effective limitation on executive authority in this respect.  More pressing than this, however, may be an underlying notion put forward by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta on consultation with our allies and the international community before even talking to Congress.  A resolution is being offered that threatens an impeachment should President Obama step outside the bounds of his authority and fail to consult with Congress in order to gain their approval before engaging American forces.

Congressman Walter B. Jones Jr.(R-N.C.,) has introduced a resolution stating that should the president use offensive military force without prior authorization by an act of Congress, “it is the sense of Congress” that any such actions would constitute “an impeachable high crime and misdemeanor.” Of course, introducing such a resolution and actually passing it, and then subsequently acting upon it are very different things.  According to WND, former Congressman Tom Tancredo believes the bill was offered as a response to the following statement by Leon Panetta, now serving as Secretary of State:

“Our goal would be to seek international permission and we would … come to the Congress and inform you and determine how best to approach this, whether or not we would want to get permission from the Congress – I think those are issues we would have to discuss as we decide what to do here.”

This was Panetta’s response to Senator Jeff Session(R-Al,) during testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee.  There has long been a significant division between presidents and congresses on the use of military force, but this is an escalation of sorts, because what it admits is that the Obama administration is willing to seek permission from international bodies like the United Nations, but not willing to seek approval from Congress.  That’s an absurd reversal of precedent in many respect, because the Article I, Section 8 of the US Constitution provides that it shall be Congress that has the authority to declare war.

Here’s video of the exchange:

Of course, what Presidents have long asserted is that not all military actions constitute a war by traditional definition, and that various military incursions do not require approval of Congress.  For instance, the operational security of some strikes might be compromised if the President had to go to Congress for each relatively small action.  There is a certain truth to this, but at the same time, Congress has addressed this with the  War Powers Act, that virtually every President has ignored ever since it was passed.  There are vigorous debates over the constitutionality of that act, but what remains certain is that when it comes to declaring war, Congress is the proper authority.  Instead, the argument revolves around what constitutes a war requiring that declaration from Congress.

Congress has itself added to the confusion, by passing resolutions that “authorize the use of force” in various contexts, but they have not issued an “resolution of war” since 1941.  If Congress is going to assert its authority, it has a long line of precedents it established by its own intransigence or malingering in the last seventy or so years since it last summoned the will to declare war.  This has been part of the case that previous presidents have made with respect to Congressional objections in the last four or five decades.

On the other hand, if the Congress actually passes Congressman Jones’ resolution, this might signal the willingness of Congress to take a more fundamentally active role in the foreign and military affairs of the nation. While all presidents would prefer a Congress to act as rubber-stamps for their foreign and military affairs agenda, the fact is that President Obama has been governing wildly outside the norm as commander-in-chief, and his intransigence to long-standing American foreign policy interests is a sore spot in many quarters.  His willingness to abandon allies, or support former enemies is a troubling development, and this may be leading Congress to finally re-examine its largely inactive role in that part of the policy arena. Here is the complete wording of the resolution:

Expressing the sense of Congress that the use of offensive military force by a president without prior and clear authorization of an act of Congress constitutes an impeachable high crime and misdemeanor under Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution.

Whereas the cornerstone of the Republic is honoring Congress’s exclusive power to declare war under article I, section 8, clause 11 of the Constitution: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That it is the sense of Congress that, except in response to an actual or imminent attack against the territory of the United States, the use of offensive military force by a president without prior and clear authorization of an act of Congress violates Congress’s exclusive power to declare war under Article I, Section 8, clause 11 of the Constitution and therefore constitutes an impeachable high crime and misdemeanor under Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution.

Readers should bear in mind that any such resolution, to carry any force, would need to be approved by the  House and the Senate, but that would require the resolution being brought up for a vote.  That would effectively require Speaker John Boehner(R-OH) to be in favor of it, or at least willing to put it up for a vote, and I suspect this may not be the case.  Boehner has long avoided controversial maneuvers simply because he wants to avoid the possible political fall-out, meaning in too many cases, he has been unwilling to do that which is right in favor of that which he can do in relative political safety. More importantly, it would have to come to a vote in the Senate, and there’s virtually no chance of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid(D-NV) would ever permit that.  This strangely means that Boehner might be willing to bring it up for a vote, since he knows it would go nowhere in the Senate.  That would merely continue the trend of Congress doing nothing to sustain its own power in foreign and military affairs, and that’s what readers should expect.

 

What If Christians in America Reacted Like Muslims in Afghanistan?

Sunday, February 26th, 2012

One Thing Leads To Another

I can’t help but notice that the President and his friends in the leftist establishment press are offering a dangerous precedent for anybody who wants to notice it.  As Barack Obama apologizes to the Taliban, Afghans, and Muslims everywhere for the inadvertent burning of a few copies of the Qur’an, the reaction is even more strident and increasingly violent.  The more violent they become, the more Obama and his friends in the press grovel, to the extent that he’s now got the entire military chain of command making apologies and running around in panic that they have offended Islam.  Watching all of this, I had a sudden thought:  What would happen if American Christians reacted to the contraception mandate in precisely the same way?  Would Obama grovel before them too, or like his bowing all over the Middle East, is that reserved solely for the Muslim world?  To watch this president in action is to observe a slow-motion train-wreck, if you believe he’s incompetent, but I no longer hold that view.  No president could act so recklessly.  If Christians reacted in a more vociferous manner, would President Obama apologize and grovel for them too, or would he crack down on his own countrymen, as I suspect?

This display couldn’t be more disgusting, and yet, given the way Christians and others of faith(excepting Muslims) are treated by the current administration, maybe that’s the answer:  Americans of faith are simply too docile, and too willing to “turn the other cheek.”  Of course, as Americans of faith have long since discovered, when it comes to the Obama administration, and the mainstream media, turning the other cheek has begun to give the appearance of somebody watching a tennis match.  Christians particularly have taken a beating from this administration, and Obama’s willing accomplices in the media carry out shameless attacks on people of faith under the general auspices of “reporting the news.”

I realize Christians are not very likely to “go Taliban” as the Afghans have been doing this week, but the reaction of the Obama administration may offer a bit of a clue.  I’m not advocating violence, of course, but maybe it’s time to put together a “million Christian march” or some such thing to remind the administration Who is in charge.  Apparently, the administration is quite fearful of the mess now ongoing in Afghanistan, and at the rate things are going, I can see us evacuating via helicopter off the roof of our embassy there.  Not satisfied to turn the fight into Vietnam out in the field, the liberals are accomplishing the seemingly impossible: We’re going to wind up with video out of Afghanistan very much like we saw as the United States evacuated from Saigon, leaving people desperate to escape clamoring to be lifted out too. Leftists everywhere will celebrate.

Of course, the way this country is being led into the ground, Christians may not have to do much.  If the Occupiers have their way, they’ll create a similar scene at the White House, and Barack Obama will fly out in Marine One, leaving the likes of Biden and Carney to fend for themselves among the restless natives.  This is the state of our rudderless nation as Barack Obama takes one victory after the other and converts them into complete disasters.  His apologies have done nothing but to encourage the mobs of angry Afghans, and it’s a disturbing picture when you realize they are merely acting out on the basis of that which they believe.  Call it irrational if you want, and yes, they’re barbaric murderers who have killed Americans in their blood-lust, but consider this:  Barack Obama is begging their forgiveness for a “wrong” that has been shown to be an accidental insult, and not the act of malice.

What are we then to make of a president who acts with malice toward the people of faith in his own country? He insults Catholics, demeans Christians, and tells them their faith must be subservient to his government, while the government he leads and administers bows in surrender and supplication before the rioters in Afghanistan.  How is an American Christian or Jew to take this, realizing that he does the same at home, since we cannot say “Islamic Terrorism” with respect to Major Nidal Hasan, but instead call it “workplace violence?”  Is it not stunning to see an American president who evinces respect for foreign savages who practice a religion he does respect, while he ignores the consciences of Americans who practice a religion he apparently holds in contempt?

This is abominable, sickening behavior, not only by the murderous thugs in Afghanistan, but also by the irresponsible administration in Washington DC.  Where a decent President would have ignored the incident in his official capacity, knowing that to acknowledge it would give it more gravity and not less, and in a situation in which a responsible president would have loosed the dogs of war in their own defense, Barack Obama not only has harmed us, and especially the troops under his command, but he has ignored the chance to deliver a lesson to the Afghans who now rise up in open rebellion against us over a mistake.

Any decent respect for our country and its position in this world would have led him to treat this entire incident differently, but he has no respect, neither for the country nor for the office he occupies.  Just once, I would like to see him react in a similar fashion when Americans of faith were rightly offended, rather than working to offend them more thoroughly in the next instance.  Until Barack Obama leaves that office, our nation will suffer one disaster after the next, and all of his making, and as I wrote this past week, I no longer believe the line that it’s all due to incompetence.  He’s intentionally paying respect to those who have none for us, and he’s one of them in spirit, if not in open worship.  While he reaches out to offended Muslims the world over, he turns his backside to us, and the moon you’re being shown isn’t the crescent common to Islam.

 

Fox in the Henhouse: Obama’s Undermining of US Defenses Escalates

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

"I...Am So In Love With You..."

Barack Obama’s defense policies appear to be the most foolish, irresponsible, and negligent in modern American history.  This president is cutting our defenses to the bone, and he knows it.  Not satisfied with wreaking havoc with our conventional forces, he’s now examining the elimination of our strategic nuclear arsenal to as few as three hundred warheads.  That’s fewer than China, and many fewer than Russia.  If the United States gives up this deterrence to attack, we are effectively naked to such designs as other nations may have on our country.  Three hundred nuclear warheads?  While it sounds like tremendous destructive capacity, and it is, it does not offer the sort of strategic deterrent that our current nuclear arsenal comprises, and against a nuclear giant like Russia, it’s wholly insufficient to prohibit them from nuclear blackmail or outright nuclear attack if the relationship with them sours further.  This policy proposal is a national suicide pact, and Barack Obama knows it.  Let it be stated forthrightly: He is destroying the United States.

We are already at our lowest levels in decades, and the problem is that while most of us think of nuclear weapons and warfare in a global apocalyptic vision, the facts are much different.  A nuclear warhead in the range of one megaton is a terribly destructive device, but it is enough to wipe out one large city.  Across the vastness of the Russia, or China, it is a small impact.  More, since priority targets are generally opposing nuclear weapons sites, it is impossible to cover all targets even at our current level if it came to that.  I am not here making light of nuclear weaponry, except to say that such diminished levels as three hundred warheads means we would then have a force insufficient to deter a nuclear-armed Iran, if they can be deterred at all.  From the article linked above:

John Bolton, former U.N. ambassador and undersecretary of state for international security during the George W. Bush administration, said in an interview that the administration’s plan to cut nuclear force to as low as 300 “alone is sufficient to vote against Obama in November.”

“Congress should urgently adopt a resolution rejecting the idea that any of these levels is consistent with American national security,” Bolton said. “Let’s just see who is prepared to support Obama.”

This is only the start. Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney went even further:

“No sane military leader would condone 300 to 400 warheads for an effective nuclear deterrent strategy,” McInerney told the Washington Free Beacon.

“Going down to 1000 to 1,100 is risky enough and frankly in today’s world, very risky. The purpose of our nuclear force structure is to deter any adversary from even thinking that they could minimize our attack options. Such thinking is very dangerous and will only encourage our adversaries to make bold decisions.”

This is an intentional attack on our strategic defense infrastructure, and President Obama must be held accountable even for suggesting it.  I am much beyond the polite discussions of policy in bureaucratic terminology here.  These cuts are a disaster that may ultimately cost millions upon millions of Americans their lives, never mind the future of the Republic itself, as a viable political body.  The fox is in the hen-house, and many Americans still see him as an off-kilter hen.  Let us not pretend that Barack Obama is here exercising the best interests of the United States, or the oath of his office to defend and protect the constitution.  Recent actions by this president demonstrate he has no love of our constitutional system, and this is an egregious abandonment of his duties as commander in chief. Also from the article:

Kenneth deGraffenreid, a former Reagan administration National Security Council official, said in an interview that the plans for sharp nuclear cuts are “part of the administration’s purposeful decline of American military power.”(emphasis added)

Some people wonder why I become frustrated as they watch their football games, or their reality TV shows, but otherwise check out on the whole question of our nation’s affairs.  Ladies and gentlemen, this cannot be permitted, and John Boehner had better get off of his whining duff, and step up to the plate.  Mitch McConnell had better be all over the TV, and he’d better stop using weasel-words, if he remembers how to speak plainly any longer, because our nation is under attack from within.  It’s time we stop mincing words to disguise this fact from our people and from ourselves.  President Obama is no friend to this country, never mind its allies, and this strategic proposal for what is essentially unilateral nuclear disarmament makes of our nation a sitting duck.  This is not simple incompetence.  This is not mistaken thinking.  This is not a case of good intentions leading to unintended consequences.  This is a monstrous betrayal of the American people by a leftist ideologue who hates the country he is sworn to lead, defend, and protect.

House Republicans Now Regret Debt Ceiling Deal

Monday, February 13th, 2012

Now The Claim They Didn't Know

What a bunch of liars!  Everybody with the discerning capacity of a gnat knew that the Debt Deal was a loser, and that the triggers and targets and sequestrations would all result in only one thing:  Massive defense cuts while the Obama spending machine chugs along.   Now that it has come to pass, some House Republicans are now expressing “buyers’ remorse.”  My suggestion to these simpering would-be Republican leaders is that if they think they now feel badly about the way this has turned out, just imagine their poor voters.  These members of Congress who were elected precisely to stand firm on this issue should understand something more:  If they think they’re feeling buyers’ remorse, they should see how their voters feel about having elected them. They feel badly?  Not badly enough!

This foolishness is their way of trying to repair bridges to voters, particularly the Tea Party, but I think it’s pathetic and will not work.  I think the voters who elected these members, all of them, should remember that these are the people who sold us out to Barack Obama on the basis that they needed to do so in order to save their own electoral skin.  As I discussed at the time of the “deal,” the entire episode was a display of sickening surrender by House Republicans, whipped into submission by a weak Republican leadership that is more willing to discipline its own members than to fight the leftist front.

Cowardice was the approach of the time, and it was all about their unwillingness to do the hard work of leadership.  It is this same troop of alleged “stalwarts” who shafted Newt Gingrich in 1995 over the government shutdown, as they went with Dole rather than Gingrich.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that is who the whiners in our House leadership is comprised of today.  Nobody on the conservative side of this argument should forget that these folks had a chance to stand up to the Republican leadership, and to stand against Obama and the Senate, in order to stave off this growing disaster.

Our military is now bearing the vast majority of the cuts under the auspices of this programmed sequestration and now we see Congressmen from defense-heavy districts complaining, after having voted for this pig in a poke.  They took what they thought was the easy way out politically, to try to safeguard their own necks, all because they were unwilling to fight.  To suggest that we need new leadership in the House of Representatives is to undersell the point:  We need new leadership everywhere among the Republicans, in the House, the Senate, and in committees.

Consider the case of Buck McKeon(R-CA), Chairman of the Armed Services Committee.  He backed the deal, and helped round up the freshmen members, and pushed them to support this plan, yet now he complains bitterly that the deal is no damned good.  Interviewed for The Hill article, he said:

“I voted for it because I was told the supercommittee couldn’t fail, because sequestration was so bad that they would have to come together on that,” McKeon said. “Well, obviously it didn’t work, so now we find ourselves in a very difficult situation.

“Can I go back knowing what I know now, and change my vote then? We don’t get that luxury around here.”

This is the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee complaining that if he knew then what he knows now, he’d have changed his vote.   If Buck McKeon were in easy shouting distance of me, I’d point out to this bonehead that THE ENTIRE CONSERVATIVE BASE OF THE PARTY KNEW, and was telling he and the Speaker, and the Majority leader all of this in no uncertain terms.  What sort of dismally bankrupt logic permits this man to now pretend that he didn’t know. He’s lying!  He did know!  They ALL knew!  The rare few members whose arms they could not twist certainly knew.  The members who they cajoled and prodded into joining them in surrender knew.

What then is this business about not knowing then what he knows now?  Somebody who lives in Chairman McKeon’s district should please let him know I’m calling him out on all of this. I may be nobody, but even this nobody knew!  Obviously, the Tea Party in his home district must be making a fuss, otherwise this useless whiner wouldn’t be out in the media whining about not having known how this would go.  How can any serious leader in the GOP claim not to have known?  The answer is that there are not now many serious leaders in the GOP in the House, so if the truth would be told, every last one of them who has been there over three terms should be bounced out of town on their asses at the next possible electoral opportunity.

Forgive me please, ladies and gentlemen, for becoming a bit hacked-off about all of this.  It’s unconscionable that the leadership of the Republican party in the House of Representatives would tell us with a straight face, and plenty of simpering, that they hadn’t known.  Boehner needs to go. Cantor needs to go.  McKeon and every other one like him needs to go.  I think we should question the sincerity of any member of the House, never mind the leadership, who claims that he or she hadn’t known.  In fact, I’m certain of it.  We told them.  We demanded Cut, Cap and Balance, and while it passed the House, it was already being undercut by the Speaker’s own negotiations.  No sir, they all knew.  All of them.

 

Dereliction or Treason?

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

What's He Doing?

Ladies and gentlemen, I am going to offer you a number of facts to consider and then I’m going to ask you to consider them as a complete set.  At present, our military is falling into a disgraceful condition under the maladministration of Barack Obama. In fact, the condition of the country at large is one of unsustainable weakness, but every day, Obama undertakes more bad ideas that hamper or harm our nation.  Most assign this to a reckless incompetence, and while I can understand the desire to not think the worse of a US President for his intentions, I am questioning them now as far too many things seem to be aligning disturbing synchronicity.  It seems as though something is wrong with this President, and it may be far worse than misguided intentions. His actions as President have severely undermined our defenses, and may make us essentially naked to aggressors. When one observes such a trend, it must be called to the attention of his fellows, because if this is intentional, then the only name for this is not “dereliction” but instead “treason.”

We are now slashing the defense budget to make room in the Federal budget for entitlements, including Obamacare’s implementation, and all those other programs previously in existence.  We are now grounding our Air Force’s fighters at a phenomenal rate.  We are nearly 20% weaker in this vital area than we had been a short decade ago, and cancellations of projects like the F-35 guarantee this will only become worse.

We have handicapped our naval capacity by insisting they use a certain percentage of bio-fuels in their combat aircraft at an outrageous expense to tax-payers, and an as-yet unknown cost to the defense of the nation.  We are nearing the point where we will effectively scrap two entire aircraft carrier battle groups, further limiting our ability to respond to threats around the globe, or protect our own air-space here at home.

We have given most of our critical missile defense secrets to the Russians, allegedly to ease their worries about them, but in truth, what we’ve done is to give them to a potential adversary that has contractual relationships with Iran and other nations with which conflicts may be inevitable.  At the same time, Iran continues to threaten us and our allies with missiles against which these systems were designed to act.

Iran now flagrantly sails its fleets not merely through the Suez Canal, but also threatens to shut down shipping through the Straits of Hormuz, and between these two passages, nearly 50% of the world’s oil supply is transported.  We do not challenge them there, except to waggle our finger, but it’s worse because their ships now sail openly along the edge of our territorial waters in an intentionally provocative way.

Petroleum and its distillates are soaring in price, even though President Obama has killed off the Keystone XL pipeline that would have brought fuel to our energy-starved nation within a short time.  Our current oil production is dipping, but more than this, the taps at the Strategic Petroleum Reserves remain open, as Obama uses this to hold down the price of oil only slightly.

The Iranians are developing nuclear weapons and they already have mid-range missiles on which to deliver them, but more than this, they are developing long range rocketry that will reach to the North American continent.  Iran continues to fund terrorists who attack us globally, and yet, when there was an uprising in Iran, Obama did not back it until well after it had been quelled, but he did so only half-heartedly.

Soros is raising an army of rabble that you know as the Occupiers.  What these will be are the useful idiots to be led into slaughter when the time comes, and Obama needs an excuse to clamp down. At the same time, Obama’s department of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement(ICE) is being directed to permit illegals to go without arrest whenever possible.

Our financial system has been directly tied to the banking systems of the failing Euro currency, and it’s no secret that if they collapse, as seems likely, we will almost surely accompany them over the precipice and into the abyss.  Your purchasing power is being eroded away, and soon you will begin to see a more distinctly inflationary trend that they will not be able to mostly hide from you as has been true over the last few months.  Instead, we’re going like gang-busters to worsen our troubles.  The government rigs the unemployment statistics, and we’re told “things are improving.”

None of these things are likely to have been unknown to you,  because as readers of this site, you’ve seen most of them covered here.  You might look at any of these in isolation, and conclude that they are the results of colossal incompetence or even dereliction, but as yet, you may not have noticed the common thread running through them.  You might be satisfied with that notion, but for the fact that you know nothing exists in a vacuum, and that you cannot separate the out from the whole if you’re to understand them in context.

What all of these things have in common is that each of them substantially harms America’s economic and physical security.  Each and every one of these things also have in common is the fact that they are directed by a single authority, and the person who wields it is none other than Barack Obama.

Barack Obama maintains two separate cabinets, one consisting of his official cabinet secretaries, and the other composed of his shadowy system of czars and advisers.  The latter group wins every argument, and it shows in the decisions this president takes.

If not dereliction, could this really be treason?  If we didn’t suspect otherwise, I’d think he was getting us ready for a take-down on all fronts.  What’s worse is that his chief opponent in November is likely to be the candidate of his preference.  Still, one can hardly miss the fact that what all of these things leave in play is the fact that we are being set up, and it is we Americans who stand to lose everything.  His sympathies for Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood are telling relations, and the fact that his favorite pen-pal is the radical, Islamist President of Turkey, and what you realize that there’s almost no hope.

Is Barack Obama intentionally leading us to the banquet of the enemies at which we are to be the main course?  Consider what might happen if an electromagnetic pulse(EMP)  bomb was detonated by Iran over US territory:  You will not see television again, perhaps for a generation. Your vehicles will not function.  Every electronic device, and indeed the whole electrical grid may be down for years.  You will have no oil with which even to do battle to reopen the Straits of Hormuz or the Suez Canal, because we have been bleeding our Strategic Petroleum Reserves into the ground at their behest.  No oil?  No Navy or Air Force, meaning no response from us.  At that point, fuel-less, and with nothing in which to place it  if we had it, the country would almost immediately grind to a stop.

Spend a little time to think about everything Barack Obama is doing, and ask yourself if these are the actions of an honest man concerned with his country but inept in application, or instead the mere organizing of a man who is committed to its destruction.  The worst-case scenarios are too awful to imagine, but that we must stop him is also clear.  If it isn’t treason, it sure looks like it, and if the net effect is the same, it won’t make a difference either way.  Does it matter?  In this context, is negligence distinguishable from treason?  I don’t think so, but we must begin to assess the threats against our country, and if we should survive through election 2012, we must unseat this president, though I do not know now how we can beat him.

Flash: TSA Detains Rand Paul at Airport in Nashville

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

What the ???

I believe this is one more reason we need to seriously consider sun-setting the TSA in its current form, if not altogether.  Sure, we absolutely need security on the airlines and in the airports, but I think TSA has begun to get out of hand.  Monday morning, TSA detained US Senator Rand Paul(R-KY,)  after he refused a pat-down when the full body scanner revealed an “anomaly.”  Upon hearing this, one friend remarked, “Yes, they were probably shocked to see a politician with a pair.”  Jokes aside, the situation is typical of what travelers face daily as they contend with full-body scanners and pat-downs, and long lines. There’s nothing wrong with making our airlines secure, but are we to believe detaining somebody’s grandmother or a US Senator is actually helping the situation?

When President George W. Bush signed into law the bill that created the TSA in the aftermath of 9/11, it was an understandable but still wrong-headed response to the situation.  Too many security audits have shown that the TSA really provides no substantial improvement over the security that had been in place prior to 9/11, but what the TSA has accomplished is to make travel more difficult and frustrating.  I think it’s time to revisit all of this, and consider the reasons why we believe we need this new federal bureaucracy.  This case merely points out how self-defeating this approach has been.

Hooah: Allen West Responds to Marine Urination Incident: War is Hell

Friday, January 13th, 2012

Allen West (R-FL)

The Weekly Standard is reporting on a statement via email from Congressman Allen West(R-FL) on the incident involving Marines who urinated on three Taliban Corpses.  West is known particularly for his own service, having retired from the Army  as a Lt. Colonel.  His statement reflects the view of a military realist, who understands the real nature of war, and the things that sometimes happen on the battlefield.  I think the hand-wringers would do well to listen to West on this one, as his statement comports well with my own statement on the matter.   I wish all of our veterans in government were willing to be this blunt:

“I have sat back and assessed the incident with the video of our Marines urinating on Taliban corpses. I do not recall any self-righteous indignation when our Delta snipers Shugart and Gordon had their bodies dragged through Mogadishu. Neither do I recall media outrage and condemnation of our Blackwater security contractors being killed, their bodies burned, and hung from a bridge in Fallujah.

“All these over-emotional pundits and armchair quarterbacks need to chill. Does anyone remember the two Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division who were beheaded and gutted in Iraq?

“The Marines were wrong. Give them a maximum punishment under field grade level Article 15 (non-judicial punishment), place a General Officer level letter of reprimand in their personnel file, and have them in full dress uniform stand before their Battalion, each personally apologize to God, Country, and Corps videotaped and conclude by singing the full US Marine Corps Hymn without a teleprompter.

“As for everyone else, unless you have been shot at by the Taliban, shut your mouth, war is hell.”

I have but one thing to say to this: “Hooah!

Hand-Wringers Whine About Marines Urinating on Corpses of Taliban Fighters

Friday, January 13th, 2012

Who's "Deplorable?"

There are those who simply cannot avoid rushing in front of a camera, expressing their outrage at the behavior of the Marines in this video that surfaced, showing graphic footage of four Marines in Afghanistan urinating on the corpses of three dead Taliban fighters.  Defense Secretary Leon Panetta called the incident “deplorable” and “inappropriate,” but I think the administration’s outrage is inappropriate.  These Marines, when captured, are subjected to far worse at the hands of the Taliban fighters, and frankly, it’s time to stop being a bunch of whiners about this. War is Hell, and while we shouldn’t encourage this, it is a natural result of the stresses of combat, but some of us clearly need to harden up.

Was it dignified?  No.  But to entertain the complaints of people like Afghan President Hamid Karzai as though his chief concerns about the inhumane nature of this act is in any way relevant is a sham.   The Department of Defense is investigating, and it is now being reported that the Marines have been identified as part of an ongoing Marine Corps investigation. You can view the video below, but as the still frame indicates, it is graphic:

[vodpod id=ExternalVideo.1010216&w=425&h=350&fv=allowfullscreen%3D]

I cannot believe Senator John McCain came before cameras today to condemn this.  As those of you who follow this blog will know, I’m not given to fits of profanity and I don’t generally resort to such things, but to the senior Senator from Arizona, Campaign Suspender and Self-Saboteur of 2008,  RINO-endorser, and perpetual Republican thorn in the side, let me say this: STFU!  And Senator, if you don’t know what this means, ask your delightful daughter who regaled the MSNBC studio with an odd statement about an “emoticon of privacy.”  I’m sure she can tell you.  As an unrelated sidebar, for those who don’t understand, watch Mehgan McCain’s brilliance.  Apparently, like father, like daughter in this case:

Meanwhile, I have only one remaining question: How is Obama going to handle this?  When he issues a statement, will he say that the Marine “Corpse” is investigating?

If you want to know why we’re losing in Afghanistan, you need only consider that we’re more interested in prosecuting Marines who used poor judgment in directing their streams of urine than we are in prosecuting our war.  If this is to be considered some sort of “atrocity,” then I think we all need to consider who’s really taking the piss, and at whose expense.

Allen West Says Election 2012 Will Be “Bloodbath”

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

 

Congressman Allen West

NewsMax.TV conducted an interview with Allen West(R-FL) in which West questions Mitt Romney’s credentials as a true conservative, and he points out several of Newt Gingrich’s best accomplishments, referring to Gingrich as “the smartest person” among those now in the contest.   West wasn’t willing to endorse any candidate yet, but he sees the race coming down to Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, and Newt Gingrich.  He also described at length why it remains important for the GOP to battle against Obama’s illegal “recess appointments” that weren’t, but he wouldn’t commit to the notion of impeachment.  Representative West also pointed out the need to take great care in any cuts to our national defense.

While he said he likes Ron Paul’s views on economic liberty, he expressed serious concerns about Paul’s foreign policy positions.  He went on to severely criticize Barack Obama’s lack of leadership, and he made several excellent observations about the reckless behavior of the Obama administration.  West remains a very popular Congressman nationally.  You can watch the entire video at NewsMax.

 

Homeland Security to Monitor Journalists, Bloggers, Social Media

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

Guess Who Is Watching

As if we didn’t know that this was already under way, it’s being reported that the Department of Homeland Security has moved to monitor media, particularly those who use “traditional and/or social media in real time to keep their audience situationally aware and informed.”  Congratulations! This blog is being monitored. The monitoring will be under the auspices of the Nation Operations Center’s Media Monitoring Initiative, defined last November at DHS. For those who aren’t worried, you should consider that it will collect personal identifiable information, permitting DHS to directly or indirectly learn about individuals.  This is another example of government gone wild, and while I can understand the security imperatives with which that agency must contend, I also know that this will wind up being used as a tool of political oppression.

Of course, we learned last month that DHS would be monitoring Twitter and Facebook for words like “collapse,” “drill,” “recovery,” “trojan,” and “illegal immigrant,”  among others, so to now learn that “Big Sis” will be watching those in the blogosphere and social media is really not a surprise.  The more ridiculous aspect of all of this is how it will be used, and one can only imagine what will happen to a hypothetical blogger who might write something like this:

“DHS is conducting a drill to practice for the collapse of the Euro, and while they’re using the pretense that we’re in an economic recovery, they’re using an outbreak of crime by illegal immigrants to bolster security measures by DHS, which is serving as the Trojan horse for stricter measures against the people.”

A line like that would probably set off every warning bell in Washington DC, and the fact that it appeared on a blog or in social media that is used to keep readers up to date with real-time information would make it especially noteworthy to security monitors at DHS.  Apparently, this will be the new wave of the future, in which government monitors everything for our safety and security.  What this means for Americans is that we’re lurching ever more rapidly toward some form of police state in which nobody is free from government snooping under any circumstances.

Ron Paul: Soros Puppet?

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

Dynamic Duo?

I don’t know how seriously to take this, but there are certain facts that seem unavoidable.  FrontPage Magazine is carrying a story alleging that Ron Paul may effectively have permitted himself to become a tool for George Soros’ agenda.  This all goes back to a July 2010 effort in which Ron Paul and Barney Frank jointly rolled out their Sustainable Defense Task Force.  This plan promised to cut more than $1 trillion in defense spending, scrapping carriers, and all sorts of current assets in our combined defense.  The panel was stacked with Soros-affiliated members, 9 of 14 members having direct links.  That Ron Paul actually took part in this, lending his name to this “bi-partisan effort” should tell you a bit about how he’s willing to lend his name to certain causes, but the troubling part is that he doesn’t seem to have noticed, or didn’t care that the panel was rigged with members of Soros-funded groups.

This wasn’t Paul’s only joint effort with Barney Frank, teaming up with the disgraced(and now retiring) Massachusetts Congressman in an effort to legalize pot.  Whatever else you may think of Ron Paul, I doubt he’s the sort that would knowingly lend himself to what many would consider a treasonous effort to reduce the United States’ defense capabilities, if he knew that was in fact what he had been doing.  The problem is that on the matters of foreign policy, Dr. Paul has seemed incredibly naive, and his fervor for reducing defense expenditures may occasionally lead him onto very shaky ground in the alliances he forges in the political realm.  I will not go as far as Daniel Greenfield in concluding that he might be knowingly involved in what clearly seems to be a Soros plot, but even if he didn’t know, didn’t he have a responsibility to find out?

In this sense, it’s one of the troubling aspects of Dr. Paul’s career that he will occasionally forge alliances in pursuit of an end without consideration of the character or motives of those with whom he is forging those alliances.  As the article points out, a Soros-funded organization, AAEI(Americans Against Escalation in Iraq) ran an ad in the last election cycle praising Ron Paul.  That Paul didn’t disclaim association with that group doesn’t speak well of him.  By now, somebody who’s been in Washington DC as long as Dr. Paul should be able to recognize a set-up of this sort fairly readily, and the fact that he lent his name to the effort is troubling, because he either did so without knowing it was a set-up, or because he didn’t care.  Either way, it’s one more reason Ron Paul probably shouldn’t be considered as presidential material:  We can’t afford a president who will lend his name to efforts that are effectively Soros-driven operations to undermine the defensive posture of the United States.

Note: Page 2 of the linked article by Daniel Greenfield at FrontPageMag.com contains some of the more damning allegations.

Establishment Hack Colin Powell Criticizes Tea Party

Monday, November 28th, 2011

Generally Wrong

Sunday, in an interview by Christiane Amanpour on ABC’s This Week, Colin Powell was led into answering questions by Amanpour, and these were the sort of puff questions that suggest the interviewer knew the interviewee’s answer, and was merely a propaganda attack on the Tea Party.  Powell has always been a DC insider since being a National Security Adviser in the Reagan Administration, and his elevation to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was seen by many as a cynical bit of affirmative action by George H.W. Bush.  In his service as Secretary of State under George W. Bush, Powell repeatedly demonstrated his elitist tendencies but also his commitment to the progressive movement.  His endorsement of Barack Obama in the eleventh hour of the 2008 campaign season was simply the straw that broke the camel’s back in terms of his relationship with conservatives.  This statement suggests the antipathy runs both ways:

“They compromised — the Founding Fathers compromised on slavery. They had to in order to create a country. They compromised on the composition of the Senate, of the House, of the Supreme Court, of a president — what are the president’s powers? Can you imagine more difficult compromises today?”

“Compromise is how this country was founded, and unless two people in disagreement with each other don’t find a way to reach out to one another and make compromises, you don’t get a consensus that allows you to move forward.”

“But the Tea Party point of view of no compromise whatsoever is not a point of view that will eventually produce a presidential candidate who will win.”

This is nonsense.  The founders compromised on the issue of slavery, and we are still dealing with the blow-back.  This nation engaged in its deadliest war because they compromised on that issue.  Abraham Lincoln did not compromise on the issue.  The founders may have compromised in formulating the structures of our government, but they did not compromise in whether we should have our own country, or Colin Powell would never have been Secretary of State, or Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the United States, since it wouldn’t exist.  This is the sort of half-witted, dishonest argument I have come to expect from Powell.  He’s an establishment hack who serves himself, and official Washington DC, but not the nation at large.

The other thing concealed by Powell’s attack on the Tea Party is the question: If the Tea Party is supposed to compromise, with whom is that compromise to be made?  It’s not surprising that Powell doesn’t indicate who that might be.  Compromises are made between entities.  If Tea Party is one entity, who is the other? This is typical Washington-speak, because if Powell was really interested in seeing the Tea Party compromise on an issue, he’d tell you which issues, and with whom.  Instead, he’s simply hurling insults.  Sadly, instead of providing something constructive, Powell simply laments the uncompromising nature of the Tea Party.

With whom has Powell compromised?  He’s not willing to compromise with anybody, having secured his lifestyle as part of the establishment.  He’s not willing to see the DC establishment give any ground to the American people.  I might have been willing to accept his arguments if he’d shown even the first indication of honesty in his arguments, but as is all too clear, Powell simply wanted to smear the Tea Party.  Amanpour was only too happy to give him the opportunity.  If, as Douglas MacAurthur reminds us, “old soldiers never die, they just fade away,” I think conservative Americans will be just as happy if Powell begins to fade sooner rather than later.  Until he learns to speak honestly on politics, he’s not performing a service for the American people, a thought that prompts me to wonder: Other than vanity, whose interests is he serving?

Will National Defense Authorization Lead to Indefinite Imprisonment of Americans?

Monday, November 28th, 2011

Telling the Truth About NDAA?

There’s a story circulating on the Internet that was posted last Wednesday at ACLU.org by Chris Anders, in which it was put forth that the latest NDAA includes provisions that would allegedly make “the battlefield” your back yard, and make American Citizens subject to indefinite imprisonment and subject to military authorities.  Of course, with the state of things in this country, it’s not entirely out of character for the folks in Washington DC to view Americans as an enemy, but I also know that the ACLU has its own axes to grind, and part of the trouble with Mr. Anders’ article is that it contains references but no links to the specific provisions of law he says are problematic.  Worse, in publishing the article, rather than provide links to the actual legislative language, or links to the proposed [Udall]amendment Mr. Anders seems to be advocating, the links for the Amendment take readers to an activism page aiming to lobby Congress.

This is by itself a dishonest tactic, and I have some serious concerns with somebody at the ACLU using the occasion of this bill to promote fear-mongering notions about what this bill actually provides.   Apparently, I’m not the only one who has noticed that the ACLU’s Chris Anders seems to be jumping the shark with his claims.  The first thing that made me suspicious about the article is that Anders never quotes the actual legislative language in question.  Why not let readers see the text and decide for themselves?  Instead, what you get from Mr. Anders is a string of claims about the effects of the law, rather than any specific legal language to support his assertions.  For instance, Anders writes:

“The Senate is going to vote on whether Congress will give this president—and every future president — the power to order the military to pick up and imprison without charge or trial civilians anywhere in the world.”

Notice that Anders includes a link on the words “the power” but rather than taking you to the text of the bill, or some description of “the power,” instead, the link directs you to an advocacy page where you can fill out a form and petition on behalf of the Udall Amendment.   There are eleven hyperlinks in the body of the article, and of these eleven, nine take you to this same destination.  In fact, rather than pointing you to the specific language of the Udall Amendment, the words “Udall Amendment” are linked three times to the ACLU petition page.  That’s simply dishonest.  Readers have an expectation that when they see a word or name that includes a hyperlink, it will take them to some source or related information relevant to the linked text.  Anders certainly didn’t seem to want you to see the actual Udall Amendment, which now leads me to wonder why.  Naturally, I went out and found the Udall Amendment,  and have linked it as Anders should have done.

The real problem with Anders’ article is that it does a lot of huffing and puffing, and in breathless terms describes provisions in a bill that by his characterization will lead to American citizens being arrested by US military forces in the back yards and leading to indefinite incarceration without charges, bail, or due process of law.  That would be a terrible and astonishing thing for the Congress to do under any circumstance, and I would loudly oppose it if that were the case here.  In point of fact, I’d be calling for Americans to join me in opposition, but that’s not what I’m finding.  Instead, what I’m finding actually conflicts with Anders’ characterization, and suggest dishonesty on his part.  Again, rather than try to characterize the provisions of Senate Bill 1867, I went out and found it for you so that you can make your own decisions based on its actual text.  The allegedly tyrannical provisions are sections 1031 and 1032.

The text of these provisions is as follows:

SEC. 1031. AFFIRMATION OF AUTHORITY OF THE ARMED FORCES OF THE UNITED STATES TO DETAIN COVERED PERSONS PURSUANT TO THE AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF MILITARY FORCE.

    (a) In General- Congress affirms that the authority of the President to use all necessary and appropriate force pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40) includes the authority for the Armed Forces of the United States to detain covered persons (as defined in subsection (b)) pending disposition under the law of war.
    (b) Covered Persons- A covered person under this section is any person as follows:
      (1) A person who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored those responsible for those attacks.
      (2) A person who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces.
    (c) Disposition Under Law of War- The disposition of a person under the law of war as described in subsection (a) may include the following:
      (1) Detention under the law of war without trial until the end of the hostilities authorized by the Authorization for Use of Military Force.
      (2) Trial under chapter 47A of title 10, United States Code (as amended by the Military Commissions Act of 2009 (title XVIII of Public Law 111-84)).
      (3) Transfer for trial by an alternative court or competent tribunal having lawful jurisdiction.
      (4) Transfer to the custody or control of the person’s country of origin, any other foreign country, or any other foreign entity.
    (d) Construction- Nothing in this section is intended to limit or expand the authority of the President or the scope of the Authorization for Use of Military Force.
    (e) Requirement for Briefings of Congress- The Secretary of Defense shall regularly brief Congress regarding the application of the authority described in this section, including the organizations, entities, and individuals considered to be `covered persons’ for purposes of subsection (b)(2).

SEC. 1032. REQUIREMENT FOR MILITARY CUSTODY.

    (a) Custody Pending Disposition Under Law of War-
      (1) IN GENERAL- Except as provided in paragraph (4), the Armed Forces of the United States shall hold a person described in paragraph (2) who is captured in the course of hostilities authorized by the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40) in military custody pending disposition under the law of war.
      (2) COVERED PERSONS- The requirement in paragraph (1) shall apply to any person whose detention is authorized under section 1031 who is determined–
        (A) to be a member of, or part of, al-Qaeda or an associated force that acts in coordination with or pursuant to the direction of al-Qaeda; and
        (B) to have participated in the course of planning or carrying out an attack or attempted attack against the United States or its coalition partners.
      (3) DISPOSITION UNDER LAW OF WAR- For purposes of this subsection, the disposition of a person under the law of war has the meaning given in section 1031(c), except that no transfer otherwise described in paragraph (4) of that section shall be made unless consistent with the requirements of section 1033.
      (4) WAIVER FOR NATIONAL SECURITY- The Secretary of Defense may, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence, waive the requirement of paragraph (1) if the Secretary submits to Congress a certification in writing that such a waiver is in the national security interests of the United States.
    (b) Applicability to United States Citizens and Lawful Resident Aliens-
      (1) UNITED STATES CITIZENS- The requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to citizens of the United States.
      (2) LAWFUL RESIDENT ALIENS- The requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to a lawful resident alien of the United States on the basis of conduct taking place within the United States, except to the extent permitted by the Constitution of the United States.
    (c) Implementation Procedures-
      (1) IN GENERAL- Not later than 60 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the President shall issue, and submit to Congress, procedures for implementing this section.
      (2) ELEMENTS- The procedures for implementing this section shall include, but not be limited to, procedures as follows:
        (A) Procedures designating the persons authorized to make determinations under subsection (a)(2) and the process by which such determinations are to be made.
        (B) Procedures providing that the requirement for military custody under subsection (a)(1) does not require the interruption of ongoing surveillance or intelligence gathering with regard to persons not already in the custody or control of the United States.
        (C) Procedures providing that a determination under subsection (a)(2) is not required to be implemented until after the conclusion of an interrogation session which is ongoing at the time the determination is made and does not require the interruption of any such ongoing session.
        (D) Procedures providing that the requirement for military custody under subsection (a)(1) does not apply when intelligence, law enforcement, or other government officials of the United States are granted access to an individual who remains in the custody of a third country.
        (E) Procedures providing that a certification of national security interests under subsection (a)(4) may be granted for the purpose of transferring a covered person from a third country if such a transfer is in the interest of the United States and could not otherwise be accomplished.
      (d) Effective Date- This section shall take effect on the date that is 60 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, and shall apply with respect to persons described in subsection (a)(2) who are taken into the custody or brought under the control of the United States on or after that effective date.

A fair reading of these sections highlights a couple of things to which we should pay close attention in examination of Mr. Anders’ claims about the bill.  First, the language included seems to specifically exempt US Citizens and lawful Resident Aliens from application of this provision.  Second, contrary to his claims in his introductory paragraph, it is hard to see how this bill would directly or even indirectly violate the constitutional civil liberties of American citizens and resident aliens here in the United States.  Mr. Anders claimed:

“The Senate will be voting on a bill that will direct American military resources not at an enemy shooting at our military in a war zone, but at American citizens and other civilians far from any battlefield — even people in the United States itself.”

I think this is disingenuous at best, and outright dishonest and inflammatory at worst.  He’s clearly trying to incite a fearful response based on suppositions I don’t think a fair reading of these provisions explicitly or implicitly would enact.  Of course, I knew that this might well be the case when I saw that PrisonPlanet.com was covering this story, because that site is largely authored by real conspiracy kooks.  Sure, they find some interesting material, but as in this case, I think their willingness to stretch the meaning and clear intent of things leads to a sort of self-destructive, self-defeating exaggeration and an atmosphere of bombastic claims most of which turn out to be overblown or entirely bogus.  Frankly, once Alex Jones is involved, a story loses much of the credibility to which we might otherwise attach, because Jones has a long history of turning loosely connected events and circumstances together in some of the most convoluted conspiratorial garbage on the Internet.  To each his own, but really, once this loon went down the whole “controlled demolition” rabbit-hole with the so-called “9/11 Truthers,” that was the end of his credibility, and with him, the credibility of anything posted on his sites.

The Senate’s bill may have some problems, but Anders’ characterization is dubious at best.  I think it’s clear that he and the ACLU are trying to create a lot of smoke where there is no fire, and I think the Udall Amendment is intended to place mandates on executive branch actions that may or may not be in the best interests of the United States, but could be understood to hamper this or any future President in acting as the Commander in Chief.  Whether the Udall Amendment is worthwhile is itself a matter of some controversy, but what is clear to me is that the ACLU is misusing this article to drum up a political issue without providing any substantive arguments.  I’ve yet to see how any of Anders’ claims are substantiated in the text of sections 1031 or 1032, as posted above, and these provisions certainly don’t match the claims.  If this is the best case the ACLU can make against these provisions, it’s time to admit that the ACLU has other motives with Anders’ article.  The method of presentation, the lack of citations, and the disingenuous appraisal suggests strongly that the ACLU is grasping at straws.

As much as anybody, I don’t trust our government, particularly where the liberties of the American people are concerned, but this story seems designed to mislead the American people, or to incite fear among them.  This could be a serious issue, but the version of the bill now posted indicates none of the dangers that Anders implies.  It’s dangerous to lead the American people astray, and in this case, I think it’s clear that Anders is doing just that.

Veteran’s Day: Our Service Does Not End

Friday, November 11th, 2011

What Veterans Should Remember

Occasionally, when people find out that I’m an Army veteran, they will thank me for my service.  I always thank people for their kindness, but assure them that at least for me, no thanks are necessary.  Many people view military service as a sacrifice, but I do not.  There were hardships, and I underwent all of the same difficulties as most everyone else, but I have always considered that I got much more than I gave.  In the long march of history from our nation’s founding until now, my own role was insignificant, but I took from that service many lessons that have served me in all the years since, and one of those lessons has been that it had been my privilege to serve.  Rather than you thanking me, I should be thanking you.  The opportunity to wear my nation’s uniform in defending her against our enemies was the most important experience in my life.  Despite hardships, I wouldn’t trade it for the world, and for that, I would like to thank you, the American people.

When I entered service, I was first a “No-Go.” That’s what they called we National Guardsmen who went to Basic Training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.  Less than two years into that service, I decided to go on active duty, and enlisted in the Army.  I had an opportunity to pick up a new MOS(Military Occupational Specialty) with that enlistment, and so I stayed in the same general field, but switched to something a little different and a bit more specialized.  As it turned out, in the units to which I would be assigned with my new MOS, the older secondary would always be complementary and useful. This permitted me to develop my skills in a broader range of uses, and this aided my ability to move up, lead, and direct people from the earliest time in my active duty service.

My service also resulted in my being packed off to Germany.  I had a great opportunity to see Europe, and learn about the  cultures there.  As many of you now know, my wife is German, and our child was born there.  On the morning I arrived in Germany, a car-bomb exploded as I exited the terminal at Rhein-Main Air Base.  We lost more of our brothers that day.  I spent my first night in Germany on guard duty around the perimeter of the scene.  The incident delayed every low-ranking person’s processing into theater by one day, and it re-shuffled assignments.  Rather than going to Augsburg, I would go to Ansbach.  Since this was the town in which I would ultimately meet my wife, it turned out that even an act of terror by leftist thugs, punctuating my arrival in Germany, helped to establish the course of my life.  This taught me that even when the best-laid plans are scrapped due to circumstance, still you can exercise initiative in the eventual outcome, and that sometimes, you just happen to get lucky if you’re prepared to notice it.

I served with amazing people.  There were people from the country, suburbia, and the inner cities.  They came from rich, poor, and middle-class families.  They were as diverse as our nation, but when we were in the field, we were unified in purpose.  It really was amazing to see that people arriving from every possible subset of Americana could be so thoroughly assimilated into one culture, with singular focus, and it was this lesson that has always provided me hope for the future of our nation: When engaged in a shared mission, each exercising his own efforts within his particular specialty, all of our superficial differences faded from view, irrelevant to that purpose for which we had been assembled.

One of the worries I’ve had in the last decade or so is coming to pass, and it’s this:  Our nation loses track of our history because we fail to teach it.  I entered service when Ronald Reagan was the Commander-in-Chief, and the Soviet Union was the biggest, baddest bully on the block.  How many of you would be shocked to learn that in the history texts of your schools, the entirety of the so-called “Cold War” is barely more than a foot-note, and that the Soviet Union is barely mentioned, it’s crimes against humanity ignored, and that the pervasive stench of communist evil has been sanitized out of existence?  Sure, people like me would have taught their own children, but even at that, how much have they retained?  We wonder how it is that we can be marching our nation toward that statist cliff, having defeated such a foe less than two decades ago. I’ll tell you:  As a nation, we have forgotten what it was against which we had been fighting.  Worse, too many of us have failed to teach subsequent generations what our purpose had been.

If you wish to thank a veteran, one ought to know the context of his service, but for so many these days, that context seems lost.  To my fellow veterans, I would urge you to remind them, not as a rebuke, but as a lesson born of your love for the country you had served, and still serve.  There shouldn’t be a child born in America who doesn’t learn the history of despotism that we have risen to combat, defeat, and oppose, and it isn’t merely the tyrants we should remember, but also their philosophies and how they came to be.  If we veterans won’t teach these lessons, it seems that nobody else will, so I urge my fellow veterans to reach out in their communities, particularly to the young, that all we had learned in our various conflicts, hot or cold, is never forgotten.  Our military service may have ended, but our oath does not conclude with the issuance of a DD214.  What our service should have taught us is that the oath we first uttered as young men and women extends from that moment to the last moments of our lives.  The fraternal fellowship we have shared is honored best when we remember that solemn promise in all our days, thankful that we had been permitted to serve the nation we so dearly love.

Many good men and women have given far more in their service than had I, and naturally, I witnessed some of this.  It’s why I shy from the thanks that so many gracious people offer for my service, because in truth, I was of small consequence to the matter at hand, yet there were those who gave so much more, and in so many sad cases, all they had.  Let us remember their purpose, and the missions for which they served.  Let us teach our children and their children the meaning of their deeds, and the extent to which our nation’s prosperity has been built upon their honorable service. Let us lead the way in remembering them.  It is in their honored memory that we should all give thanks.  It is in their names that we must accept thanks, and it is to them that we owe the duty to remember always that oath and teach our young of their deeds.

National Defense Faces Severe Cuts

Monday, November 7th, 2011

A Scalpel or a Sword?

As you will may remember from the Debt Ceiling debacle in early August, the deal then worked out has some automatic triggers.  If the Super Committee created by the legislation fails to produce sufficient spending cuts, those triggers will kick in and cuts will be forced upon Congress.  The biggest target of these cuts is the defense budget, and as the New York Times is reporting,  it’s Leon Panetta who is now considering what those cuts will be.  This is one of the most despicable parts of our current budget morass, and it’s astonishing that nobody much seems to notice:  One of the few legitimate functions of government is the national defense, and yet among all the things to be cut, defense will be hit the most deeply.  I have no problem with an examination of the necessities of our defense spending, but I’m also aware that while government spends money on all sorts of things for which it has no actual constitutional authority, defense is clearly one of the budget categories for which the federal government exists.  In part, this is the result of the can-kicking in which Boehner and House Republicans joined by making their deal with the devil in August, but it’s also the built-in result of generations of governmental growth in other areas of expenditure.

Defense spending now stands at approximately $700 billion.   That’s an astonishing number that is as large as the entire federal budget just thirty years ago.  Part of that number owes to our engagements in Afghanistan and Iraq, with the actual baseline spending for defense being $530 billion.  That’s still an incredible amount of money, but it is only $130 billion(yes, “only”) more than the defense budget at the height of the Reagan administration, but in inflation-adjusted dollars, it’s actually less.  Defense constitutes the largest single line-item in the discretionary portion of the budget, but the entitlements, in the non-discretionary budget, have begun to dwarf the spending on defense.  Social Security is a larger program, and Medicare and Medicaid together exceed the total defense spending.  It should seem odd to Americans that programs for which there is no clear constitutional authorization are considered “non-discretionary,” while programs that are most definitely among the legitimate roles of our federal government are considered “discretionary.”

What this means is that we don’t have a choice on a year-to-year basis about those items in the non-discretionary budget.  We are going to spend to support them, because previous legislation has mandated it.  Discretionary budget items are those that are adjusted on an annual basis, and not necessarily tied to previous legislation.  You can look at it this way for simplicity’s sake:  Non-discretionary spending is comprised of entitlement programs.  Discretionary spending is comprised of everything else.  In our federal budget, non-discretionary spending is roughly twice the size of discretionary spending.

I am certain defense can be trimmed without hampering the nation’s immediate defenses, but I am less certain that over the long run, we can maintain a force capable of deterring and repelling enemies around the globe.  Even in the midst of a deep recession, we are having difficulties with recruiting and retention of military personnel.  This is because just like any other large organization, most of the defense budget is actually spent on salaries and benefits for our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines. In precisely the same way that the CEO of a large corporation will make cuts to employees first, mainly because it’s the biggest single operational cost, the Defense Department suffers from the same basic problem: Service-members cost a great deal, and a good deal more than their already pathetic pay and benefits represent.  Training costs are phenomenal, and the costs of supporting units in the field are huge.

Many will suggest, naively, that we simply “buy a few less $400 toilet seats.”  While that makes for a good laugh line, the reality is that the defense budget has finally managed to clean up most of those sorts of egregious expenditures over the last decade or so, largely because the Defense Department has had no choice.  Still, there are matters that should be examined, like the billions of dollars simply missing, and other problems with big-ticket line items.  Nevertheless, in our dangerous world, there is an ever-escalating competition between us and our would-be and real enemies, where high technology will be contribute directly to reducing the number of flag-draped caskets that arrive at Andrews AFB during each future engagement.  This sobering recognition is among the reasons that any such spending cuts in the military budget must be accomplished as some might say, “not with a machete, but with a scalpel.”  We must be certain that whatever cuts we make do not leave us naked to attacks, and that when we do engage in warfare,  our troops are given every advantage we can provide to win with minimal losses.

One of the areas in which Secretary Panetta is looking for cuts to defense is in the area of medical and other benefits, in addition to gross payroll.   That’s a mistake.  We already have difficulties attracting people to serve in the military, and this too can have a dramatic affect on morale, and readiness.  In truth, to make the level of cuts they’re intending, nearly $200 billion annually, we’re going to be forced to withdraw from virtually all overseas engagements and forward locations.  This poses another danger, inasmuch as we may be slower to respond to crises around the globe, and we may be less able to react when things go awry in one theater of operations or another.  We can ill-afford to be caught short again, because the direction of global terrorism is marching toward weapons of mass destruction.  The 9/11 attacks of 2001 were just a sample of the sort of mayhem the terrorists around the globe are going to be able to create, and this says nothing of our strategic adversaries such as Russia, China, and several others.

This impending doom for the DoD makes plain the problem with our current budgetary priorities.  We are spending far too heavily on entitlement programs of every description, and it will no begin to affect our nation’s defenses.  There are those who argue that the military should be cut, but they don’t think in terms of scalpels or even machetes, but guillotines.  This short-sighted approach is surely destined to create a situation in which we will face increased vulnerabilities on some fronts, and escalating troubles with recruitment and retention.  Our fighting forces deserve the best equipment and training we can afford, but now the question is:  What can we afford?  The answer to this question is likely to be unsatisfactory, because too many politicians derive too much support by virtue of entitlement spending, and while the argument could be made that there is a certain element of the same thing with the defense budget where it comes down to large bases and projects, it’s also true that they aren’t so concerned about the costs in morale and readiness for ordinary soldiers.  What the American people must begin to recognize is that we’ve blown our budget not so much by virtue of military spending, but because we’ve over-extended our social spending to such a degree that it is now squeezing out defense.  There’s something terribly wrong in our thinking when we look at military spending as “discretionary” but Medicaid as “non-discretionary.”  What is our government here to do, after all?  Now we’ve been reduced to the near inevitability that a big-government liberal, Leon Panetta, is going to be hacking away at our nation’s defenses.  We should all be worried at this prospect.