Friday, August 07, 2009
As your administration requested, I need to report that everything coming out of your mouth is "fishy" with regard to healthcare reform. Given your positions from 2003 and 2007 and the inconsistencies with your statements now, it is readily apparent that you're trying to perpetrate a complete snow-job on the American people in order to implement socialized health care. I must therefore acquiesce to your request and report you to your own administration for lying to the American people and spreading "fishy" information.
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
But the dad’s cousin, who also lived with them, had been more encouraging. He told the kid the plan would work and the father to “be more supportive.” “You want him to succeed don’t you?” he asked of the father.
The father had disagreed, even taken the time to show his son all the YouTube videos of others who’d made their own wings and then crashed painfully, even mortally into the ground.
But the kid ignored the advice of his father. Instead he devised a plan to go ahead with his own wings. He’d even convinced his younger brother he could fly with him.
So the two boys, at the urging of the cousin, used dad’s best tools, some of dad’s new lumber and some of the old hard wood dad said wasn’t to be touched. Some of the screws were new and shiny, some were old and rusty, but the wings took shape.
Next he raided his mother’s closet and took her best bed sheets, wrapping the wood on both sides to convince his little brother it was safe. He then plundered her craft cabinet, took her fabric paints and painted the wings to look like eagle’s wings. Surely if they looked like eagle’s wings the plan would work.
Next he used mom’s Velcro and some of dad’s wire and string to tie the wings to his arms, and then the younger boy tied himself to big brother’s back. Strapped together they’d fly to glory.
Now they stood a few steps from the edge of the roof. It was a good thing dad worked so hard because they had the tallest, best house in town. As big as it was, it would be the best place to fly off of.
The father heard the commotion on the roof. He’d been in his office paying the bills and doing the extra work that had provided so much for his family. But a bad feeling came over him when he heard the shuffling up above. He knew what his son was up to.
He raced outside, along with his cousin who’d heard the same.
The father’s heart dropped when he saw the two boys perched a few feet from the edge of the high peak. He immediately shouted for the boys to stop and come down. He kept yelling. However, his cousin, whom he tolerated because he was family and he loved him, yelled good luck to the kids, “you can do it!”
In lock step, just as big brother had taught the younger, they took the three steps toward the edge of the roof to build up speed, and jumped.
For a brief moment in time it looked as if they would fly. And then reality and gravity kicked in and the boys plummeted to the ground.
The father stood bewildered, the horrific outcome flashing through his mind right before it actually happened. Everything that meant anything was about to be lost.
His cousin, now faced with the same reality instantly changed heart, but it was too late. What had he done?
Terror raced through the younger brother, but it was too late for him too. He’d tied himself to big brother and the doomed plan.
Now ask yourself, when it comes to Obama’s plans, “are you most like the little brother, the cousin, or the father?”
After Obama repeatedly bashed George Bush about the deficit Bush ran up, the Congressional Budget Office now says Obama’s budget will launch our deficit to 9.3 trillion dollars over the next ten years.
More disturbing than Obama’s hypocrisy on the subject are all of the negative consequences of his budget to our country. Those consequences often seem “far from home” for most people. Talking in trillions of dollars and getting our heads around the long-term implications of record deficits is hard to fathom.
But when the impact can be directly related to our lives, it puts a sense of perspective to the detrimental path Obama is pursuing.
Senator Johanns and his staff have been putting the direct affect of Obama’s budget in perspective. The Congressional Budget Office, much to the Administration’s chagrin, has been doing the same. Recent press releases and floor speeches have highlighted the very specific facts and figures about how the budget will affect each of us.
Although Obama promised to only raise taxes on those who make over $250,000 (or wherever that number ended up), it turns out his budget will impact everyone, including those of us who don’t make near that much.
Obama, like others who put the emotion of global warming ahead of common sense, wants to create a series of taxes for current energy sources that will cost everyone who use energy; pretty much all of us.
That alone will increase the tax burden on every family by about $2,300. So much for only raising taxes on those making over $250,000.
On top of that, it appears Obama’s plan will impose approximately 13% more in taxes on small and medium sized businesses. Because those businesses employ 74% of Nebraskans, it would be a far stretch to believe that his plan will not cost those of us who do business with them, or affect how many people they’re able to employ, or both.
I visited with two small business owners in central Nebraska before the budget plan was announced concerning their feelings about Obama’s fiscal philosophy and how it might affect them.
Both, one in the service sector and one in the retail sector, had seen this coming and were concerned. Rightfully so it turns out.
The retail business owner had actually started cutting back on expenses after the election, saving money, figuring that any Obama plan would cost him more in taxes. He cut back on his advertising budget, inventory on hand, and several other areas. The current economic times had not affected his business, but all pre-election indications were that Obama’s likely plans would be harmful. It now appears that the pre-election analysis was correct, and that he made a smart business decision.
Yes, we will all pay more taxes under the Obama plan. We will directly pay more for our own energy use. We will pay for the increased cost of everything we buy; all goods and services will be affected by the tax increases. It may cost more Nebraskans their jobs as small and medium size businesses cut back to cover the 13% greater tax burden.
Obama’s budget is estimated to increase taxes by $1.9 trillion. Every single one of us will get caught in that dragnet, not just the “rich.”
It was foreseen that Barack Obama’s lack of leadership experience and flaccid positions made him completely unprepared to be President. He now looks like a kindergartner thrown into a PhD program.
We fully expected him to jerk the steering wheel of America as hard and far to the left as humanly possible. We knew he would run to the tax and spend basket. We also knew he’d go after the 2nd Amendment, do a full frontal assault on the unborn, tear down national security protections, and generally pursue a socialist agenda. Well, almost half of us knew he would.
And we knew Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi would be his willing accomplices.
But what has been quite disappointing is the performance of Congress as a whole.
It should have been a safe assumption that at least enough fiscally responsible individuals and smart people inhabited both Houses that sensible policies would have been generated, but it wasn’t.
First they passed a nearly trillion dollar “stimulus” bill that was 2/3 pork, ignoring an option that spent half as much but produced twice as much. Instead, hundreds of billions of dollars for pet projects were forced through Congress and signed without even being read.
One of the things blindly shoved through with that stimulus, and a good example of our Keystone Congress, was the permission for AIG to provide those ridiculous bonuses.
First Congress gave AIG the money for the bonuses in the bank bailout, and then the green-light to pay the bonuses (at the urging of the White House) in the stimulus bill they didn’t read.
But even more outrageous than the bonuses is the hypocritical indignation of the Senators and Representatives who made the bonuses quite possible. While throwing tantrums they look as petty as the parent who gives his kids finger-paints, shows them how to use it on the walls, and then explodes in anger when he comes home to a rainbow mosaic on the walls. Give us a break!
Then a $400 billion “Omnibus” spending bill was rammed through. There was almost a glimmer of sanity as some members of the Senate tried to slow it down, but alas, it went through pork and all.
Now Obama’s trying to push a $3.5 trillion budget, and to use Ben Nelson’s term, it is a complete “fudget” that plays hide and seek with a record amount of our money.
The Congressional Budget Office is predicting trillions of dollars in deficits that are dangerously high for the next ten years with Obama’s plan. They obviously aren’t putting much stock in Obama’s so called reduction plan. They’re not fooled by his parlor tricks.
Running up record deficits in just the first sixty days and forcing our country to hemorrhage money at an exponential rate via Congress and the Fed, some economists and lawmakers are now flat-out predicting Obama will bankrupt our nation.
It’s time for Congressmen and Senators alike to change course, quit talking about being concerned about deficits and out of control spending, and actually do something about it. Start voting “no,” and start supporting those pieces of legislation that resemble the sane and responsible policies and actions individual Americans, successful businesses, and fiscally sound States live and succeed with.
Among the many things that Obama cleverly tried to disguise during his campaign was that he didn’t “get it” when it came to our military and veterans. However, he’s revealing his incompetence with his plan for veteran’s health care.
A recent press release from the American Legion described the National Commander of the Legion as being “deeply disappointed, concerned, and clearly angered” after meeting with Barack Obama.
The Obama Administration is moving forward with a plan to have the VA charge veterans for their service related VA provided care, if they happen to also have private health insurance. Veterans would have to submit these VA charges to their own insurance company (or have the VA bill their insurance company) for reimbursement of the costs back to the VA. This includes expenses related to treatment of service-related injuries, illnesses, and disabilities.
Under Obama’s plan, a vet with a disability comes home from war, and lands a good job which provides health insurance benefits. He then seeks treatment for his service-related disability at the VA. The VA treats the vet, but then charges the vet for the treatment because he has private insurance. The vet is forced to submit the charges to his private insurance so they can reimburse the VA. The vet bears the costs of co-pays and deductibles, incurs the hit against his lifetime maximum benefit, and the government shifts financial responsibility for veterans care from the VA to the insurance company.
According to the Legion Commander, Obama’s intention is to use this process as a revenue generating enterprise for the government, with a goal of raising $540 million by shifting the costs of veterans’ health care from the VA to private insurers.
And in true Obama fashion, he ignored the arguments against such a proposal. According to Commander Rehbein, Obama is “acting inconsistently with the mandate” to care for those who fought as ordered by their country. Additionally, Obama “refused to hear arguments about the moral and government-avowed obligations that would be compromised by it."
The plan is “inconsistent with the mandate that VA treat service-connected injuries and disabilities given that the United States government sends members of the armed forces into harm's way.”
Charging for treatment of a service-related injury or illness through a private insurance company could “max out” the veteran’s insurance benefits. That would leave him or her uninsured for any other needs. It could also leave the vet’s family uninsured when the coverage reaches its maximum.
Additionally, veterans would now have to bear the costs of insurance deductibles, elevated costs for insurance premiums charged to those with a known illness or disability, and face reluctance to be hired by a company that may have trouble acquiring and funding health care for a veteran’s situation; all unprecedented moves against veterans by any administration.
(For the record, this wouldn’t affect me personally, but would certainly be detrimental to other vets.)
Of the very few things our government should have its hands in, caring for veterans who need it after fighting for our country is one of them. Obama’s plan is thus, outright unacceptable.
Ironically, this story is emerging at the same time as Obama’s plan to move toward socialized medicine with a down payment that alone costs $640 billion. While planning to absolve the government of its financial responsibility for veterans care, Obama is planning to burden taxpayers for provision of free health care to others who are uninsured.
Our veterans deserve better, and our elected representatives deserve a phone call on this one.
Though many of my Marine friends and I were rightfully skeptical of HBO’s original movie “Taking Chance” before it aired, (Hollywood’s not been friendly toward the military for many years now) after seeing it, we’ve all been quite impressed.
“Taking Chance” is based on the true story of Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel Mike Strobl’s journey while escorting home another Marine, Lance Corporal Chance Phelps, who was killed in Iraq during April of 2004.
The film doesn’t reveal an agenda, it only shares Strobl’s story, and Chance’s, and it does so superbly.
We’ve all reported cases of the television set becoming blurry while we watched.
HBO beautifully captures the story, the emotion, and the moment. The film reminds us of why war is so difficult, whether you’ve been there or not, even long after the fact.
In Lieutenant Colonel Strobl’s case, it shows the emotional struggle and guilt of many who don’t feel like they’ve done their part.
It shares a quite poignant moment with a Sergeant who was right there with Chance when he was killed; quite representative of the challenges faced by those who were there.
“Taking Chance” does more than share a piece of history and a story of sacrifice. It reveals the personal cost of war amongst those who fight them. And for all, the cost is different.
Though the story stays true to itself, it really does give important glimpses into how and why veterans and their families endure what they do.
As such, maybe it will help someone understand why their Marine or soldier “just had to go” over there.
There may be an answer about why their soldier who did go can’t seem to forgive him or herself for things that happened.
There are burdens that never seem to fall and can’t ever seem to be shared.
It can help us understand those who visit the grave of a buddy and cry until they can’t cry anymore. For some it’s therapeutic, not so much for others.
Even when you’ve been there, it helps you grasp why some you know crawl in a bottle afterward, while others try to hide from the memories. They make themselves scarce and the last citing is of them looking rather Bohemian before they’re simply gone.
Others bottle it all up and either cope or do not. Emotions on the extremes are not uncommon. Nor are sudden revelations years after the fact.
The movie may help others gain some empathy for the families of those who serve. They deal with the nightmare of the white buses taking their loved ones to war, the white car bringing Marines in dress uniforms with awful news, and everything in between.
It may help us understand why some soldiers have to keep going back into the battle, while others battle ghosts and sleeplessness at home.
We can also watch “Chance” and understand the infinite pride for our Marine Corps. It shows why the brotherhood established in war is a lifelong bond and commitment amongst those who’ve shared it.
And yet for others, it was all really no big deal, which is awesome for them, but keeps friends and family on edge as they “wait for the other shoe to drop.”
Yes, a well done HBO movie about a Marine and all the lives he touched can uncover that much, reveal that many answers, and inspire that much emotion. Well done, HBO.
While perpetually in the cross-hairs of those groups trying to destroy the Second Amendment, the right to keep and bear arms has recently come under direct attack from both the White House and Congress.
The attacks from both fronts weren’t unexpected though.
Last week the Attorney General announced he will seek a ban on “assault weapons,” which has always been the broad reaching term used by gun-ban advocates designating any semi-automatic weapon and/or weapon with a detachable magazine as an assault weapon. Their target usually includes most standard hunting rifles, shotguns, and handguns.
Those who studied Barack Obama’s legislative history understood long before the November election that he was a gun grabber from way back. His record of attacking the 2nd Amendment is atrocious.
The nomination of Eric Holder as Attorney General with his abysmal record of assaulting gun ownership and gun owner’s rights was congruent with Obama’s philosophy.
So the actions of this dynamic duo come as no surprise, and demonstrate why the two of them have been the best thing for ammunition and gun sales in a long time.
Record sales of arms and ammunition have been reported across the nation for several months now. An educated public, informed about Obama’s legislative record and true intent, didn’t buy his empty rhetoric. Despite his pleas to the contrary, Americans knew he stood against the 2nd Amendment and have been arming themselves anyway; and rightfully so.
Nor have freedom loving Americans been swayed by those who’ve criticized their purchases, belittling their gun and ammo buying decisions as unfounded hysteria. It’s now proven that their decisions were quite grounded in reality.
Supporters of the Second Amendment knew what was coming. Obama and Holder have proven them right.
The attack from Congress was also expected. It seems to be a yearly tradition.
Congressman Bobby Rush, Democrat-Illinois, has introduced HR 45, the Blair Holt’s Firearms Licensing and Record of Sales Act.
This piece of legislation requires mandatory written firearms testing, licenses for all gun owners, and government access to gun owners’ mental health records. It includes restrictions on who can own a firearm, and places restrictions on sales and storage of weapons. Additionally, it empowers the government to track the ownership and whereabouts of all guns (a sure path to widespread confiscation).
It requires background checks for purchases, forces an individual to submit to inspections of records, and empowers government authorities to inspect the manner in which weapons are stored in the home. It criminalizes gun owners moving without informing authorities or reporting loss or theft of a firearm. Not surprisingly, it places an intrusive, oppressive amount of power with the Attorney General to judge and enforce the legislation.
Though the attack itself is not a surprise, its wide-sweeping nature is. Typically attacks against the Second Amendment have come incrementally. A ban here and a restriction there on the way to the ultimate goal of tearing down our rights has been the modus operandi.
But this bill goes for the whole nine yards at once. Though it doesn’t request an all-out ban on guns, it throws nearly every obstacle imaginable in the way of gun ownership.
While many liberties are at risk with the current gluttonous rate of government growth and those risks are clouded by the fog of size and rapidity of said growth, make no mistake, this is one area where the risk to your liberties is crystal clear.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
It then follows that as we stand ready to witness a catastrophic explosion in the size of our government with this “spendulus” bill that we are also about to experience government taking more from us. And what does it take from us? Liberty.
Freedom dies at the same rate and in equal proportion to the expansion of government.
The more the federal government controls the purse strings of States, businesses, and individuals, the more compliance it can and will demand from them. When we allow the government to hold our purse strings, we find our selves as puppets controlled by those same strings.
With growth in the federal largess, Americans are increasingly encumbered with burdensome taxes, regulations, and nanny-state laws. The more government grows, the more it tells us exactly what we can and can not do.
And now with this President, Congress and stimulus bill, we’re about to exacerbate the infringements upon freedom with government growth at an unprecedented level. Just a few examples:
The legislation targets our freedom of religion by disqualifying educational institutions that allow any religious function to take place on its campus from receiving any stimulus funds, whether that function is school sponsored or not. By use of federal funds, liberals in Washington are trying to scare universities into banning all student participation in religious activities.
The stimulus bill provides additional funding to those government environmental agencies which already place ridiculous restrictions on the lives of individuals, producers, and businesses. It can be expected that the level of intrusion will increase proportionally to the level of their increased funding.
The bill provides heavy doses of funding to secondary schools. As history has proven, this will decrease the freedom we have to determine how our schools will operate and the curriculum that will be taught. The government will be more inclined and more empowered to dictate the terms of our children’s education.
We’re already seeing the federal government dictate to recipients of previous bailout funds how they will and will not conduct business. The precedent is set.
What’s additionally troubling is the manner in which this legislation is being forced upon us.
It was written in the House behind closed doors by a few leftists. It was rushed to the Senate and Obama demanded an immediate vote. He has chastised and belittled all who wanted a responsible review of the bill. He has demeaned everyone who has questioned the bill and his haste to have it passed.
Additionally, Obama trying to dictate who we should and should not listen to with regard to political commentary and Senator Stabenow’s recent comments that she’s sure the Fairness Doctrine will be imposed to squash dissenting viewpoints are both troubling events.
A triad of unprecedented government expansion and intervention, bullying demands by a few leaders, and silencing of dissent are not the foundational principles of this country. They are foundational principles of socialist and even communist governments. The similarities being seen in Washington right now are eerie.
For those who are cheering Obama and the leftists in Congress, be careful what you wish for. One morning you’ll wake up to find your liberties have also disappeared. The scythe of tyranny is not selective.
Analysis using the President's own financial model has shown that more tax cuts with less spending and a smaller price tag will yield more dividends, and sooner.
Is it partisanship that is ignoring the Republican plan that does that? I don't think Republicans are worked against this bill because of partisanship. They're working against this bill because most of it doesn't match the intended outcome and their alternative using the same economic models showed they'd yield better results, faster, and with less money.
If given the choice between two options, why not choose the one predicted to work better and for less money?
The CBO has shown that the long term effects of this legislation will be detrimental. It seems to me that we still ended up with way too much spending and not enough tax cuts.
I also noticed in reading through the elements of the bill that so much of it is spread out over 10 years. While many of those items (spending and tax cuts) are noble causes, does a 10 year plan actually belong in a bill that is intended to stimulate the economy now? Though I'll take tax cuts of any kind at any time, why not do things that truly make some immediate impacts like reductions to payroll taxes?
I still have trouble understanding why my tax dollars should go to propping up states who've been irresponsible with their finances. Maybe they should all be required to take lessons from Nebraska?
Also, much of the bill falls under the classic definition of "welfare." Is there a cease and desist date for this welfare? One thing we learned during the 90's from welfare reform that programs with a deadline get people working again and the economy churning much faster than an endless supply of welfare.
Through all of this, no one has yet answered, or asked that I'm aware of, how are we going to pay for this?
And what about the impact of the inflation that's sure to follow?
Lastly, I think the vote on any conference agreement should be delayed so that we all have time to comb through the bill and find the hidden little agenda items, such as the one which denied funding to educational institutions if they allowed any religious organization use of facilities. What others may lie in the bill?
I've had several calls from those concerned that there's some item that will limit conservative or religious talk radio, though I can't find it. Page 164 has been mentioned as the source???? Either way, I think that we should have the time to scrutinize all the devils in the details instead of having this rushed through.
Senator Nelson's Office: (202) 224-6551
Senator Johanns' Office: (202) 224-4224
Hidden Health Care Provisions
If you're a senior citizen, concerned about health care, or in the medical profession, this legislation will be devasating.
"If the Obama administration’s economic stimulus bill passes the Senate in its current form, seniors in the U.S. will face similar rationing. Defenders of the system say that individuals benefit in younger years and sacrifice later. The stimulus bill will affect every part of health care, from medical and nursing education, to how patients are treated and how much hospitals get paid. The bill allocates more funding for this bureaucracy than for the Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force combined (90-92, 174-177, 181)."
Stimulus is Anti-Religion
If you're concerned about provisions in the stimulus which are clearly targeted at forcing religion out of our lives and society, check out Mike Huckabee's column here:http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0209/18668.html
And call our Senators and tell them to stop this.
Stimulus Reverses Gains Made in 1996 Welfare Reform
Through expansion of welfare programs, the Reform from 1996, which reduced welfare rolls and was so successful will be turned back. A permanent expense for all taxpayers. Read the Minority Leader's report here:
This report by The Heritage Foundation lays out nicely the expense of welfare for us in the coming years. The dollars are staggering.
Find the Pork in the Stimulus
Fox News has posted a link on their website and sent out a challenge to the nation to find the waste in the stimulus bills, both House and Senate versions. In less than 1 minute I found $3 million for studying the effect of the minimum wage in American Samoa in the Senate bill. What can you find?
Saturday, February 07, 2009
The Congressional Budget Office has cast serious doubts on the original legislation from the House. At this time, the compromise doesn't appear to be much different (just a slightly smaller price tag) and should raise similar concerns.
Too much of this (spending and tax cuts) is still spread over too long a period of time to be considered stimulus. There are plenty of sacred cows, pork, and fat, remaining that need cleaved.
"The tax provisions included in 'The American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan' will provide $275 billion of tax relief for individuals, businesses, and State and local governments" according to the Senate Finance Committee website.
Spending and a couple tax cut highlights From Senator Ben Nelson's website:
Some highlights of the Nelson-Collins agreement include:
$7 billion in rural broadband infrastructure
$1.87 billion for Community Health Center infrastructure
$64.4 billion for our nation’s K-12 educational system
$19 billion for a 10% non-refundable tax credit (capped at $15,000) for any home purchase
$6.4 billion for a down payment on the Energy Superhighway and a Smart Grid
$9.6 billion renewable energy investments
$250 million in rural renewable energy Investments
$42 billion in transportation infrastructure investments
$6.4 billion for environmental infrastructure including water and sewer infrastructure
$87 billion in temporary and targeted Medicaid relief to states
$70 billion for a one year fix for the Alternative Minimum Tax
$13.9 billion more for Pell Grants to help thousands of college students pay for increases in college costs.
$13 billion more for Special Education/IDEA to improve education for disabled children
$3.5 billion for law enforcement, including $1.2 billion for popular Byrne grants for drug task forces.
From Glenn Thrushes blog at the Politico, a list of what was reduced, not necessarily cut:
$40 billion State Fiscal Stabilization
$16 billion School Construction
$1.25 billion project-based rental
$2.25 Neighborhood Stabilization (Eliminate)
$1.2 billion in Retrofiting Project 8 Housing
$7.5 billion of State Incentive Grants $3.5 billion Higher Ed Construction
(Eliminated)$100 million FSA modernization
$50 million CSERES Research
$65 million Watershed Rehab
$30 million SD Salaries
$100 million Distance Learning
$98 million School Nutrition
$50 million aquaculture
$2 billion broadband
$1 billion Head Start/Early Start
$5.8 billion Health Prevention Activity
.$2 billion HIT Grants
$1 billion Energy Loan Guarantees
$4.5 billion GSA
$3.5 billion Federal Bldgs Greening
He has more.
Tuesday, February 03, 2009
These last couple weeks have been a wonderful illustration of what real change looks like, but it hasn’t happened here at home. It’s happened in Iraq. Here at home it’s been the same old thing with a lot of flowery rhetoric dressing it up.
The Iraqi’s have once again defied all the critics and ignored all the skeptics by participating in another round of voting. They held provincial elections with national implications and pursued freedom’s promise and democracies future, again.
(FOX NEWS picture Jan. 28: Iraqi policewoman Hoda Salam holds up an ink-stained finger after casting her vote in the country's provincial elections in Baghdad.)
For now, the people of Iraq have a hopeful future. They have done what so many around the world and so very many in this country said could not be done. While Harry Reid was telling the world that the war was lost, and by default so was Iraq’s future, they were doing the hard work necessary for real change. They have proven that a Middle Eastern, Islamic nation could actually function as a democracy.
They broke free from the shackles of radical fundamentalists. They learned to cooperate and work together at local and eventually higher and higher levels. Though all may not yet be fully invested in others outside their sect, they are at least functionally tolerant of one another. They have learned to work together at all levels to make real change.
While here at home, we got the same old thing with a lot of fancy words. I’m beginning to think that the only qualification for President is excellent reviews in the local Toastmasters club.
The Democrats in the House unleashed 8 years of pent up spending frustration on the American people with over a trillion dollar “stimulus” bill written behind closed doors by three of the most liberal members of Congress, ever. Believing that government spending is the answer to the worlds woes, is not change, it’s the liberal status quo.
Barack Obama endorsed the bill, went to the Hill, and tried to strong-arm House Republicans into voting for a bill they had no input on and contained very little they could believe in. Republicans walked away with the bi-partisan vote, but lost to a partisan group of Democrats, and in so doing were chastised for being the partisans. This obtuse perspective on reality by liberals and their cohorts in the national media is not change.
Obama, when confronted before the vote by Republicans who objected to the bill and demanded he fulfill a campaign promise to be inclusive, responded that it would be done his way, “he won.” That’s not change. In fact, it’s exactly what the Dems complained Bush did. The status quo has been maintained.
Not until now, after being confronted by Senators in his own party (led by a Nebraskan) and others who followed suit is he reconsidering his position.
Barack Obama has not filled his administration with those who inspire change. Many are Clinton-era retreads. One tax cheat has been approved and Obama’s trying to push a second one through.
His attorney general is weak on national security, a solid advocate for terrorist’s rights, but stands for denying citizens the Constitutional right to keep and bear arms; typical for a liberal administration.
If that weren’t same old same old enough, Obama campaigned vigorously against lobbyists, created a rule to ban lobbyists from his administration, and in nearly the same breath broke his own rule to bring two lobbyists into his administration. That’s change?
In the middle of November I predicted the military’s budget would be in danger with a liberal Congress and administration. I was right. This week Obama told the Pentagon chiefs to cut their budget by 10% for 2010. That weak national security position is normal for the left and certainly isn’t a change we can believe in while we’re trying to fight a war.
Obama’s rhetoric does not match his actions, and his actions do not reflect any change to American politics.
While the Iraqi people have shown the world the paradigm shift and the hard work necessary to implement real change, Obama and friends have shown us what a dusty old play book looks like.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
So what do we get for over a trillion dollars?
According to NewsMax, possibly up to $5.2 billion for ACORN and ACORN-like groups.
The International Herald Tribune is reporting that illegal immigrants will be eligible for the $500 and $1000 rebate checks; I guess we're going to have to include them on the list of people who get a check from the government but don't pay taxes. Please quit insulting us and calling that a tax cut.
The Opinion Journal notes:
$1 billion for AMTRAK
$2 billion for childcare subsidies
$50 million for the National Endowment of the Arts
$400 million for global-warming research
$2.4 billion for carbon-capture demonstration projects
$650 million for digital TV conversion
$8 billion for renewable energy funding
$6 billion for mass transit
$600 million for the government to purchase new cars, because $3 billion a year just isn't enough $7 billion to modernize federal buildings
$252 billion in income-transfer payments ( including: Medicaid $81B, $36B unemployment, $20B food stamps, $83B earned income credit to those who don't even pay taxes)
$54 billion will go to federal programs that the Office of Management and Budget or the Government Accountability Office have already criticized as "ineffective" or unable to pass basic financial audits
$66 billion toward "education" including $6 billion toward university building projects with the caveat that "No recipient . . . shall use such funds to provide financial assistance to students to attend private elementary or secondary schools."
And Drudge is breaking
$335 million for STD prevention and education
This from House Republicans, POC Congressman Mike Pence
$87 billion for Medicaid spending for states and $79 billion for the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund. According to the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the total budget deficit for the states collectively for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2009 is $43 billion. Given that the federal government’s Fiscal Year 2009 deficit is already projected at $1.2 trillion—or 27.5 times greater than the total State shortfall—it is hard to understand why the Democrats would choose to further exacerbate the federal deficit, especially since most states are subject to balanced budget requirements whereas the federal government is not.
$80 billion for refundable tax-credits. Unlike across the board tax cuts, these temporary tax credits send refund payments directly to individuals, even if they pay no taxes. These refunds do little to spur growth, create more jobs, or stimulate the economy and are more similar to new spending through tax policy than actual tax cuts.
$30 billion—only 3.6% of the total spending—for highway construction. Despite calls by Democrats for increased infrastructure spending to create jobs, a relatively small share of the total $816 billion package is devoted to highway and transportation infrastructure.
$13 billion in spending that could be construed as corporate welfare, which distorts the free market as private firms attempt to align their business models with the availability of government subsidies.
$50 million in new funds for the Student Aid Administration to increase staff.
$50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts to fund projects and activities which preserve jobs in the non-profit arts sector.
$350 million to identify and track the availability and adoption of broadband services.
$1 billion for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
$1 billion for expenses in conjunction to the 2010 decennial census.
$200 million for Americorps and other paid volunteerism programs.
$800 million for Amtrak—the federal subsidized rail carrier which consistently losses money—for the purpose of reducing Amtrak’s $10 billion capital backlog.
$200 million for turf replacements and other construction projects on the National Mall.
$400 million for NASA climate change research.
$150 million for building repairs at the Smithsonian.
$10 million for the Self-Help and Assisted Homeownership and Opportunity Program, which provides funds for non-profits like ACORN, an organization that has been accused of practicing unlawful voter registration and intimidation techniques in the past.
$253 million for repairing Department of Agriculture (USDA) facilities.
$650 million for Digital-to-Analog Converter Box Coupons and related activities surrounding the ongoing transition to digital television.
$300 million to construct research science buildings at colleges and universities, many of which have billion dollar endowments.
$1 billion to conduct "comparative effectiveness research" to evaluate the effectiveness of different preventative healthcare interventions.
$88 million for the cost of leasing a new facility and moving the headquarters of the Public Health Service, which houses 2,500 federal employees.
$245 million to modernize the computer systems at the Farm Service Agency.
$150 million for the Coast Guard to alter or remove 12 obstructive bridges across the country.
According to CBO, under current law, the federal deficit will rise to a record $1.2 trillion, or 8.3% of GDP, in 2009. Even without this massive spending bill, the deficit will be by far the highest on record nominally and as a percentage of GDP during peacetime, easily exceeding the previous record of 6% in 1983 and the highest New Deal level of 5.9% in 1934.
CBO estimates that H.R. 1 would cost $816 billion, which does not include debt service for the interest created by the legislation over the 2009-2019 period. When the $347 billion in debt service is included, the total ten year cost of the bill increases to $1.16 trillion.
The cost of the stimulus, combined with the current deficit estimates, would raise the staggering 2009 deficit to roughly $1.36 trillion.
CBO reports that $526 billion (65%) of the bill will be spent by 2011. However, the vast majority of that money ($382 billion) would be spent on expanded federal assistance programs and tax credit refunds. Only $144 billion would be spent on infrastructure spending to create jobs and stimulate the economy in 2009 and 2010.
If my 8 year old son is on the roof with wings he's made out of 2x2s and bed sheets, the question isn't whether or not I want him to succeed, it's how fast can I get on the roof and stop him?
I know he's not going to succeed, so I have to act. I'm not going to stand in the yard and cheer for him. I'm screaming for him to stop. I'm headed to the roof.
So it goes with Obama. The plan he's embarking upon won't succeed. His plan heads us toward the same disaster my 8 year old would encounter. Any success would come at the expense of why our country was established, what makes us great, and our freedoms. And still eventually leads us to failure, as we've seen with so many other nations that have pursued such a leftist path.
They all fail, as would my son, as will Obama's plan.
So when asked the question, "do you want Obama to succeed?" Simply reply, "he won't."
It's time to act!
I was overwhelmed by so many of you who asked me to keep going; even more so by those who told me it was necessary. The paradigm shift came from the person who told me it’s my responsibility. I couldn’t find a way to disagree.
Many, many people over the last couple months, especially when I tried to stop writing, most of them older than I, have all shared the same story with me. They couldn’t believe they were living to see the day that our country was going to “heck in a hand-basket.” Not because of where we’re at, but because of the direction we’re heading.
Their stories have all been the same. They’ve lived long enough to know what works and doesn’t work. They lived through Johnson and Carter. They’ve watched socialist and communist states rise and fall. They’ve seen liberal ideas and populist plans not work and even cause great hardship despite the noblest of intentions. They know what works and doesn’t work from a lifetime of lessons learned. But they see us heading straight down those failed paths at break-neck speed.
They understand the prosperity of America ebbs and flows, they’ve seen it. They knew that some day it might suffer greatly. But they never thought they’d see a catastrophe in their lifetime. But they see us racing toward that condition now, and they ask who is willing to act?
Well I am.
So let’s start by addressing the most pressing of issues, the economy and this “stimulus” plan, or better termed, the liberal grand scheme.
Let’s face it. This whole trillion dollar venture is nothing but one big pork barrel project. The more we find out about it, the more we realize it’s nothing but a spending spree on the many projects and ideological fantasies of liberals.
At the end of the day, most all of this money will go to those the government picks just the same as if it were ear-marked like so many pork barrel projects. The contraception’s out, but insulating houses, putting turf on the national mall, and bailing out irresponsible state governments is just the tip of the iceberg. No wonder Nancy Pelosi wrote this thing behind closed doors and Obama wants to shove it through without interruption, trying to bully opposition under the guise of bipartisanship.
It’s a plan that won’t work and analysis by the Congressional Budget Office is beginning to show us why, as if common sense and intelligence weren’t already screaming the reasons why it won’t work.
But what will?
Dramatically cut corporate and business tax rates right now. Businesses have a credit crisis, but letting them keep their own cash pulls them away from as much dependency on credit, and it lets them keep their workers on staff, stopping the slide of unemployment.
Make big cuts in payroll taxes immediately. If we get to keep more of our own money, we’re going to save some which props up banks that might be suffering, but mostly we’re going to spend our money on goods and services. This puts the people who manufacture, retail, and provide those goods and services back to work. It also increases local tax revenues which props up suffering states and municipalities.
Cut our social security tax in half, now. We will invest that money as we see fit, infusing it back into a struggling economy, helping small and large companies, and even municipalities (via bond investments) with their cash flow and credit problems.
I trust people to do what’s right. I trust that we ourselves can decide much better how to spend over a trillion dollars of our own money than the government could ever do for us. Barack Obama’s wrong. The federal government isn’t the only entity that can fix this. In fact, government’s the only entity that’s sure to screw this up. But we, we can get it right.
The very same people who so boisterously and viciously attacked President Bush and opposed every Republican idea tooth and nail for the last 6 and 8 years now demand that everyone else act in a bipartisan and cooperative spirit. Well too bad! Their version of bipartisanship means that we’re supposed to be quiet and eat the crud they’re dishing out. Well I refuse to!
So now is the time, more than ever, to step up and fight against this nonsense!
We all have to work at this, so I strongly encourage you to get on the phone and demand our elected officials in D.C. stop this nonsense, demand some common sense, and demand that the trust and answers be placed with us, not the government.
I’m willing to step up to the plate. Are you?
Monday, January 26, 2009
This didn't mean I was out of the game!!!!!
Three years ago my first column supporting victory in Iraq and the reasons success was attainable appeared in one of Nebraska’s newspapers. Now that our troops have forged the way, the Iraqi people (as I knew they could) have acted on the desires for freedom they shared with me in 2004, and Al Qaeda is in its death throes there, it’s time to move on. Family, time demands of a new job, graduate school, and a host of other reasons are prodding me to set down the pen, at least for now.
I started writing to share news and a perspective that was obviously not being given here at home when I returned from Iraq. Although there were plenty of the other stories to be told, they were not making the news. Explanations of the complexities on the ground were absent.
I tried to fill that void best I could, although 750 words once per week seemed like working against the tide at times.
But through it all, enough of you encouraged our lawmakers to stand strong in the face of terrorists, especially when it became clear that Al Qaeda had made Iraq their central front and standing for victory here at home became unpopular. Thank you for your perseverance.
Many Nebraskans and other patriots like you across the nation were resolute in the face of terror, even when many of our elected officials flagged. On behalf of those of us who fought in Iraq, who believe in the mission, who understand the danger of what we face in the world and the complexities of the situation, “Thank You” for your resolve. You succeeded.
Your insistence upon doing the right thing and pursuing victory for America, regardless of political popularity, is a reminder that strength in America lies with the people, not in those we send to Washington.
During the last 3 years I felt compelled to also cover other aspects of politics in America.
Through daily research on the war and all the issues that surrounded it, it became apparent that while there were many fighting for America, there were also many fighting to reshape America to fit their flagellating desires. Within the cabal against victory over terrorists I found those groups who also had other agendas. It was necessary to opine against groups like the ACLU, MoveOn, and politicians who subscribe to those liberal ideologies because either their purpose or the outcome of their actions would undermine the foundations of this country.
Sharing the good news, rallying for victory, and railing against these groups garnered me some interesting mail, most of it anonymous regurgitated liberal rants, all of it circular filed with a short prayer for the condition of those consuming the Kool-Aid. However, I did appreciate those who disagreed and took the time to make well written, thoughtful, intelligent arguments. Thank you. Your comments were truly welcomed and considered.
My heart-felt thanks go out to those of you who have supported me over the last three years. All of your kind words and correspondence have meant so much and been quite motivating. They’ve also been a source of firepower when the staff’s of politicians with whom I disagreed called to blast me for critiquing their bosses. You provided the ammunition to shoot right back because I knew my opinions were shared by so many of you.
Please continue to stay strong in the war against terrorists and be active citizens. Let our elected officials know what you think and where you stand. All appreciate it. Some need reminded why they were elected. Others need reminded that we’re watching and holding them accountable.
In closing, I must say that my hope for the New Year and the future of America does not lie with a politician who emerged from a Chicago cesspool. To do so defies reason and reality.
No, my hope for the future and America lays with you, those of you who understand the value of individual hard work and responsibility; those who choose to care for yourselves and each other instead of looking to government for the answers. My hope lies with what our nation’s founders intended for America. It lies with our Constitution and those who support it, not those who want to reshape it. My hope lies with those who are willing to sacrifice everything to defend it.
Most importantly, my hope lies with Jesus. Pursuing Him is pursuing hope.
Semper Fidelis. Major Brian, out.
Not surprisingly, the Iraqi shoe thrower is being hailed as a hero by some on the left in this country. Their hatred of George Bush submerses them in ignorance to the reality of the shoe tosser’s background, prevents clarity of a bigger perspective on the subject other than their own juvenile giddiness, and blinds them to the truth.
Lost to the left and the mainstream media’s coverage of the event is the fact that we now know the shoe thrower was rabidly anti-American, very much pro-Saddam, and worked for an organization that was pro-Saddam. That puts things in perspective.
We’ve also learned from his peers and colleagues that he “detested George Bush,” but that he also “detested the U.S. soldiers” and “detested America.” There you go leftists, he also detests you, if you consider yourselves Americans. He wasn’t just throwing his shoes at a man you hate he was throwing his shoes at the leader of our country, your country, the nation he hates very much. The reality is that he hates you as much as he hates George Bush.
But because of George Bush, and in spite of you, he and other Iraqi journalists now have the freedom to publish what they will.
And that’s the bigger picture some in Iraq, the Arab world, and here in America forget: that reporter now has the right to express himself without fear of death for doing so.
Ironically, under Saddam Hussein, if this reporter, or any other Iraqi, had committed this type of offense, he would have probably spent the first 48 hours of his captivity enduring some of the most unimaginable torture (real physical torture not Guantanamo discomfort), been decapitated or slaughtered as my Iraqi friends described it, and may have had his corpse just disappear. If his family were lucky they would have found his mutilated body laying in a field or street with his head resting nicely on his torso.
I realize that’s a graphic trip down memory lane, but that’s the sad reality of life under Saddam, and sadly, that history is sometimes forgotten.
But try as they may, those who hate Bush and the Iraq war won’t make all of us forget what life was like under Saddam and what it’s like now. They aren’t Houdini and can’t make the truthful annals of history disappear. Iraq, the middle-East and the world are much better off without that demon.
Don’t forget that freedom of the press did not exist under Saddam. Only the state run and controlled media was allowed.
Lost in this story are the thousands and thousands of grateful Iraqi’s who no longer have to live in fear or oppression simply because of their ethnicity or religion.
We won’t forget Saddam’s use of chemical weapons on whole cities of Kurds which killed thousands, or the Kurds who were forced out of their homes and relocated to squalid refugee camps.
We won’t forget the Shiites who were oppressed, abused, and killed by the thousands. Four years of recovering Shiite remains from mass graves should be burned into the collective memory of the world, but sadly some have already forgotten. I won’t forget. I still have the pictures.
I won’t forget my impression of how terrible life under Saddam must have been talking to one of our interpreters. He was Shia. His punishment for being Shia and unwillingly serving in the army was having every other tooth tortuously pulled from his mouth.
I won’t forget my impression of how terrible life under Saddam must have been the first time we tried to detain someone for questioning. The women of his family screamed, wailed, pulled out their own hair, and beat themselves in the face with rocks. Their paradigm was that when someone was detained under Saddam, they were never seen or heard from again.
We won’t forget that Saddam Hussein used to jail children for years and years as the means to force their fathers into military service.
We won’t forget about all the rape rooms and torture chambers filled with electrocution beds, meat hooks, and blood covered floors and walls.
Think what you will of George Bush, but by him, Saddam’s reign of terror ended. Though it’s been a long, hard, costly fight, the Iraqi people now possess more freedom than they’ve had for a generation, and more freedom than almost all others in the middle-East. Their democracy is functioning. Throw shoes if you want, but freedom has come to Iraq because of George Bush, who also happens to be pretty good at ducking the insults.
As I sat there before his funeral service, watching the pictures of Captain Robert Yllescas’ life roll through the presentation in the auditorium and then listened to the words shared about him from those who served with him, I couldn’t help but wish that I would have met him.
His service and sacrifice to our nation are enough to set him apart for all of us. On a personal level, his interests in the outdoors, Husker football, or agronomy might have captured the attention of others. So would his love of life and family.
There were a few comments and one picture that stood out amongst all; the ones that spoke volumes to me.
Rob was described by his commander as “a force to be reckoned with.” That’s not a phrase that gets used often and is not thrown around much as a descriptor of a soldier’s capabilities. I don’t know if you’ve ever met someone you considered “a force to be reckoned with,” but I’ve met, literally, just a few.
They are exceptional individuals who stand out amongst all. They command, not by dictating but by earning, the respect of subordinates, peers, and superiors. They make things happen. They get things done. They are the difference makers.
From all I could gather, Rob made a huge difference in his short life.
His commander went on to describe Rob’s abilities in the arena of counter-insurgency warfare. Balancing the variables of this type of warfare is by far one of the most challenging endeavors we ask our soldiers to embark upon. But Rob’s commander let us know that he was executing the elements of security operations, developing local relationships, and providing the community stability necessary to winning a difficult conflict.
He was praised for his excellence in one of the most demanding types of warfare. Yes, that’s a guy anyone who’s interested in military operations should like to have met.
Captain Yllescas’ ferocity in battle and skill level to which he had trained his soldiers were exemplified in the fact that his troop was not engaged by the enemy for a full 60 days after Rob defeated them so soundly in one particular engagement. Not only did the enemy think twice about attacking them, knowing full well the consequences, for two months they simply wouldn’t think of it at all.
I couldn’t help but believe that Rob Yllescas could have easily worn General Mattis’ motto of “No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy” right on his shirt sleeve.
A story shared from a superior went to the heart of what kind of leader Captain Yllescas was. Given the opportunity to choose between a command or Ranger School first, Rob chose Ranger school, knowing that doing so would delay his opportunity to command. Along the military path to career advancement, having a command or multiple commands is the ticket puncher, but Rob chose to become a better warrior and leader over having his ticket punched early.
The man who chooses to perfect his skills as a combat leader (as Ranger school most certainly does) ahead of personal advancement is exactly the kind of selfless man we need to have leading our sons and daughters into combat.
Lastly, and maybe most importantly, in addition to the descriptions of Rob’s love for life and his devotion as a husband and father, one picture that stood out amongst all was a picture of him hula-hooping in front of what I assume was his house.
It portrayed a fun loving guy who I suspect was humbling himself for the entertainment of family. Somehow I could see his wife and older daughter laughing as Rob attempted the hula-hoop, especially if he was as unskilled and painful to watch as the average male when doing so. There’s a saying that “real men aren’t afraid to wear pink,” but it should be “a real man isn’t afraid to hula-hoop for his family.”
Pictures are worth a thousand words and that picture may have well described the family man Rob must have been: fun, humble, loving, and yes, even self-deprecating. Selfless we know for sure.
He gave his life for his country. And he also hula-hooped for his family.
Yes, it would have been nice to have known Rob.
God bless you Yllescas family. Godspeed Captain Yllescas.
Senator Nelson has recently taken exception with President Bush’s use of “Signing Statements” which allow the President to sign but ignore certain parts of legislation as deemed necessary for national security. Nelson has argued these statements override the will of Congress and the checks and balances of power among three equal branches of government.
While I agree with Senator Nelson that Iraq should be paying the way for their security (the subject of the Signing Statement that prompted his outcry) I find it interesting that we haven’t heard the same concern from him about a balance of power with a liberal led Congress, a leftist President, and a Supreme Court that usually breaks left. More over, it will be interesting to watch if Nelson turns the same critical eye to Obama’s judicial nominees which are all but guaranteed to be liberal activist judges who make up laws from the bench, usurp the Constitution, and override the will of Congress, the people, and the States. Will he be as concerned then? We’ll be watching.
What of that Hagel-Limbaugh spat? Was that someone masquerading as a conservative trying to pick a fight over ideology with someone who is a conservative? Hagel’s provocation reminded me of a kid who’s excellent at the Guitar Hero video game challenging Eddie Van Halen to a real guitar playing contest.
I thought the world was going to be in harmony and at peace now that Obama was elected President. Wasn’t his election going to save America and the world? It seems that someone forgot to tell the Islamic terrorists who conducted the attacks in India targeting Americans, other westerners, and Jews.
The reality is that Islamic militants don’t give a rip who the President is or is going to be. Their agenda and ideology of hatred for everyone who’s not like them remains the same. Convert or die is still the rule, even when Obama’s President.
But again, given the impression that Obama was going to save us and that all would be right with the world, I’m struggling to understand Iran, Russia, Venezuela, and Al Qaeda.
Russia is now threatening to aim missiles at Europe (or worse) and they’re conducting show-of-force military exercises with Venezuela specifically aimed at us. Chavez is talking as tough as ever. Iran has increased their centrifuges to 5000 en route to making nuclear bomb fuel and is testing new long range missiles. Al Qaeda’s number two man is personally insulting Obama with old racial slurs, running with the same “burn America burn” mentality he’s always had. Maybe Al Qaeda didn’t get the memo about Obama being the savior? So much for world peace and love under Obama.
With the exception of National Security Advisor and SECDEF, Obama has been recycling many old Clinton club members and some of the most liberal and partisan Democrats he can find to fill his Administration, including Rahm Emanuel, Tom Daschle, Eric Holder, and Hillary herself. So much for “change.”
He has nominated retired General Jim Jones to be his National Security Advisor. Jones is more than qualified, but why would Obama choose him? Obama’s already said he doesn’t plan to listen to those with knowledge of how to provide security, even someone as successful as General Petraeus, when they hold contradictory views. There’s no reason to believe he’ll listen to Jones. As with the entirety of his campaign, this move looks to be symbolic, not substantive. He won’t listen to Jones, but it looks good to have him there.
He’s also nominated Robert Gates to stay on as SECDEF. He’s proven he can lead the Pentagon to win a war under Bush, but can he prove to lose one when forced to do so under Obama? Is Gates’ retention simply symbolic, like with Jones, or a venue to continue blaming things on Bush? After all, if Obama’s policies fail and Iraq erupts into a cauldron of Islamic militants, Obama can simply blame it on “Bush’s guy.”
The Iraqi’s have given us through 2011 to help them rebuild, but Obama is set to throw in the towel in 16 months. But does it really matter what happens in Iraq when Obama raises the white flag? Have our troops and the Iraqi people built a solid enough foundation for the country to stand on, despite the detrimental Obama factor? I’ve previously argued that the Surge has gone so well and Iraq appears more and more solid, that it may not matter what the liberals force upon them. That may still be the case.
The San Diego Union-Tribune reported this week that the Marine Corps is on pace to expand to its new authorized strength of 202,000 Marines from 175,000 two years ahead of time. It looks as if the growth will be completed in September or sooner. The Corps is already at 198,000.
The Marine Corps was able to accomplish the rapid rate of increase through 500 additional recruiters meeting goals, higher than expected rates of reenlistment among combat veterans, and first-termers reenlisting at the highest rates ever.
The Corps’ expansion has all been accomplished with recruiting and reenlistment bonuses that are dwarfed by those given from other services. There has been no increase in waivers among new recruits for prior records that might otherwise preclude enlistment. Standards have not been lowered.
Military experts and analysts see another reason for the Marine Corps pushing the pace of growth.
The Corps was betting on a change in Presidency less friendly to the military and, more importantly, one less apt to fight. Under an Obama Presidency the Corps calculated that an immediate pull out of Iraq would come. The expansion was contingent upon having to fight terrorists everywhere including Iraq. Without that fight, the Corps knew that the growth would be cancelled.
There are several points to glean from this news.
One of the biggest lessons of the war on terrorists has been the revelation that we simply don’t have a military large enough to fight a war on multiple fronts and we certainly don’t have the troops and equipment to fight anything more than a couple counter-insurgencies.
Should a larger conflict erupt in the world, we would find ourselves woefully undermanned and under-equipped for such a situation.
With or without an open front in Iraq, national security demands the expansion of the military.
That’s a tough position against a soon to be expanded liberal House and Senate which has members of the Democratic Party already calling for a 25% reduction in the military.
Reality and liberalism are once again at odds.
Second, we’ve heard for the last 5 years that we’re crushing our military by using them.
Has anyone else ever understood this anorexic argument that by using our troops for what they signed on for (to fight) and what America expects them to do (fight) we crush our military? That’s up there with the illogical “support our troops, bring them home” slogan of the Code Pinkers.
Someone please explain to the left that no matter how hard they try to make it, the military is not, nor was it, or will it ever be a social and welfare program whose participants need or want our pity. They have a job to do, and they do it well.
Those who serve us honorably deserve to be used in honorable service to our nation. The numbers bear out the truth of what those fighting the war against terrorists believe; regardless of the front, they believe it is honorable service worthy of their sacrifice. The left needs to quit casting disgrace upon the service of those who are fighting the war against terrorists simply because they themselves don’t have the stomach or heart for the fight.
Reenlistments of combat veterans at much higher than expected rates and similar numbers with reenlistments of first-termers pretty well kicks the chair out from underneath the debate on the left about the war driving everyone out of the military. If their view of the world were reality, there wouldn’t be a single sole left in the Corps.
Fighting a war so many of our troops believe in is not crushing our military.
Lastly, the Corps learns its lessons, and they learned a good one in the ‘90’s. When a Democrat is in charge there are more important things than national defense, prepare to slash and burn your budget.
The Clinton years crippled our military, forced out plenty of good Marines, and cut back equipment and supplies. Nothing like sending good Marines out the door with their walking papers in the morning, and then running around the woods in the afternoon shouting “bang, bang” making machine gun noises; true story. The Administration cut us to bare bones.
As the analysts put it, the Corps was expecting the same if Obama gained power and is trying to stay ahead of the decimation curve. We’ll see if they succeed, though they have a tougher fight on their hands with a Democrat controlled Hill which is decidedly much, much farther to the left than was experienced in the ‘90’s.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
There is much talk of a terrorist attack during the transition time from the Bush Presidency to Obama’s. An attack during that time would make sense. Such transition times or areas whether administrative, procedural or physical in nature are considered “gaps” by militarily astute minds who understand that success comes with exploiting gaps.
Al Qaeda and other terrorist networks are not made up of dummies. They recognize and understand the opportunities available with gaps. They exploited gaps in our system to pull off the attacks of 9/11.
If they’re as patient as they claim to be, and as they’ve previously demonstrated, yet another likely time for a major attack would be in about a year and a half when new and reopened gaps in our system and momentum for them (another militarily critical variable) may likely converge.
Gaps are likely to appear in our intelligence systems, homeland security, and military.
The Patriot Act covered the many gaps we discovered following 9/11. Those gaps were exploited by Al Qaeda and allowed them the terrible success they achieved, but liberals have repeatedly tried to kill The Patriot Act.
The Act tore down walls between intelligence and law enforcement agencies that prevented the sharing of information. It allowed us to listen to terrorists calling into and out of the country. It enacted protections that had previously not existed. It filled in the gaps.
But persistent liberal disdain for such measures will place the Acts death near the top of their legislative agenda. More Democrats in the Senate led by Harry Reid (who bragged when he thought he’d previously killed the Patriot Act) and a liberal President are likely do away with those protections and reopen the door for another attack along proven pathways.
It will take part of 2009 for those measures to be done away with, and then another amount of time for Islamofascists to exploit the gaps, but once the obstacles are removed, an attack simply makes sense.
President-elect Obama has stated his desire to create an internal national security force. Enactment of such a force would undoubtedly create gaps in the current security processes and protections between existing law enforcement agencies and this new force as it comes into being.
Liberals have always held our military in low regard, despite their flowery rhetoric, some for its very existence and others for it as a budget item.
They, led by Barnie Frank, have already stated a desire to reduce the size of the military by 25%. Because they’ve demonstrated through both the Cold War and now the War on Terrorism they don’t understand the threat or significance of that which we face, they will likely endeavor to and probably succeed in dismantling parts of our military, much as they did during the Clinton years. That will open up gaps in our defenses.
Obama’s intention to differentiate himself from Bush by not listening to military commanders will also open gaps in our national security posture.
Al Qaeda, other Islamic terrorist groups, their nation and non-government supporters will likely gain a huge propaganda win in about a year and a half which will contribute greatly to their momentum.
Obama has demonstrated neither the courage nor the wisdom necessary for a tough fight, promising to set a date certain for withdrawal from Iraq regardless of conditions on the ground. When he does, Islamic terror groups will rightly claim victory and experience the valuable influx of manpower and funding that comes with such victories, adding to their momentum.
Though Al Qaeda will have very limited in power in Iraq because of Coalition and Iraqi efforts via the Surge, there is still a possibility, as our commanders have stated, that Iraq could fall into chaos and allow them a base of operations. That would also create momentum.
Al Qaeda will most probably still be operating in the tribal areas of Pakistan, maybe even Afghanistan by then, enabling them to better train for attacks. President-elect Obama will find that Afghanistan is as difficult a fight as Iraq but for different reasons, and then reminiscent of his lack of tenacity for Iraq not have the perseverance for a similarly difficult fight in Afghanistan either and begin to back peddle, generating momentum for Al Qaeda.
Yes, a threat does exist in the near term during the administrative transition, but a threat most certainly exists in the near long-term as liberal national security policies are enacted, gaps are created in our defenses, and momentum is generated for the enemy.
The sun rises on Election Day ’08, this column is written, and the Lord only knows what the day will bring.
One thing is for certain though on the morning of November 4, 2008, this is the year our national media died.
The reporting of this election cycle by our national media has been atrociously biased and partisan, completely outside the intent of the First Amendment.
Our Founding Fathers gave great power to the press in the First Amendment. With this mandate came much responsibility for the media to the people of this nation.
That responsibility was based on objective reporting about the world around us with particular emphasis and importance given to service as the overseer of our government. Though they had constructed a government of, by, and for the people, our Founders knew that weaknesses lay within its architecture. Granting freedom to the press could stand as a “fourth pillar” to the three designated branches of government, keeping the three in check, and preventing them from usurping the rights and freedoms they believed were bestowed upon every American.
Whether simply recapping an event or investigating the actions of government our press was given authority to operate freely and independently for the betterment of America’s citizens.
But now, we have a national media dominated by a political ideology and no longer responsible or concerned with the mandate given them to protect the people from government.
Because we elect those who represent and govern us, our national press should investigate the history, positions, plans, and intentions of anyone and everyone who seeks those offices.
However, they failed to do so in 2008, because they clearly chose a side.
This isn’t a “don’t like the message so shoot the messenger” scenario, because in this case, the messenger has grossly failed and should be fired.
They ignored Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers as long as they could, but immediately descended upon Alaska in droves and crawled through dumpsters to dig up dirt on Sarah Palin.
They ignored Obama’s relationships with Marxists and PLO terrorists, and even protected his involvement with them, yet crawled up “Joe the Plumber’s” life with a microscope for simply asking a question and stating opinions.
Plans for a socialist style redistribution of wealth, a dubious tax scheme, plans to “necessarily” sky-rocket electricity costs, and bankrupt the coal industry all went untouched, barely received mention, or waited until the last minute so as to give the impression that investigative journalism was taking place.
All the while they attacked John McCain incessantly.
The lopsided coverage showed in the Pew Research study of McCain receiving 3:1 unfavorable to favorable coverage while Obama had slightly more favorable coverage than not (not withstanding all the potentially damaging stories that were ignored).
Nearly 6 in 10 stories about McCain were decidedly negative with less than 2 in 10 being positive.
The Center for Media and Public Affairs shows that Obama received 65% positive press, while McCain only received 31%.
Our press failed to objectively investigate and accurately report on those who sought power, thus they have failed the American people.
Because our national media is not held to account, they have become unaccountable, and as such have violated the trust granted to them.
Without a dependable, unbiased federal government watchdog, who do Americans now turn to for the information and investigations to keep their government responsible?
Some one or some group is needed to step in and fill that role. Somebody must fill this void of power given by our Constitution. But from who or where will that void be filled?
Our national media must be rebuilt from local journalists, small town and small city reporters who are still held to account for their reporting, those who still understand the role and duty of the press. They work in markets too small to be biased. Too many others know the same facts and any deviations from objectivity spark an outcry and a sacking. Journalistic integrity still exists within this group.
Our national media may have died this year, but journalism has not. It still exists in our home towns, and from them we can rebuild a national media which is grounded in the original commission of the First Amendment and can serve as an unbiased news source and a check upon our federal government.
We must, because our representative democracy can not stand without a strong fourth pillar.
Of the rights I fought for as a Marine, the freedom granted by the Second Amendment of our Constitution, the right to keep and bear arms holds special meaning. However, this right, the one intended to preserve all others, is itself in danger.
Although it’s often thought of as a means for self-defense or the foundation of States’ Guard forces, our Founding Fathers knew it to be much more powerful than the preservation of one American or one State alone. That amendment was indeed meant for those critical defenses, but our Founding Fathers’ intentions for the Second Amendment went much deeper than that.
They knew the right to keep and bear arms possessed the power necessary to safeguard Americans against threats from within.
Executed and drawn out to its logical and ultimate conclusion, the right to keep and bear arms was foreseen as necessary to dissuading and preventing a run away government from usurping all rights.
They foresaw that it alone might some day have to stand as the cornerstone of defense against a government which no longer respected the freedom of its citizens; a government which no longer felt compelled to follow the tenets of The Constitution over which they had so carefully labored.
Because of the fallibility of man, it was possible the day might come, either by ignorance or design, when the government no longer granted its citizens the rights our Founders believed to be endowed upon us by the Creator. At that point the Second Amendment would have to serve as the bulwark against the onslaught of a tyrannical government.
Yet such an important right has been under assault for some years. By ignorance or design, precisely as the Founders predicted, rights they enumerated, the freedoms granted by the Second Amendment, have been slowly chipped away by those who pursue its destruction.
Liberal/progressive individuals who typically seek more government power, more intrusions upon our lives, and thus less personal freedom for others somehow believe that this perspicuous right, the only one that was specifically delineated as to “not be infringed” upon, should and could be.
Though these same individuals clamor and protest with much gnashing of teeth following perceived assaults on the First Amendment when child pornographers are arrested, religion is openly practiced, or demands for objectivity by our media are made, they vivaciously attack the Second Amendment.
They do so again this election cycle with more verve than ever, led by a Presidential candidate who only views the Second Amendment as a refuge for hicks displeased with their current economic situation.
Barack Obama has voted, acted, and spoken out against the Second Amendment as much or more than anyone in my lifetime. Though he says he “won’t take folks guns away,” his record clearly proves that our right to keep and bear arms is one he chooses to infringe upon.
According to a well documented history of Obama’s statements, votes, and positions chronicled and referenced by the National Rifle Association, he supports bans on hundreds of shotguns and rifles often used for sport shooting and hunting, lawsuits intended to put gun manufacturers out of business, and increasing taxes on ammunition and firearms to unaffordable levels. He has voted to prosecute those who use a firearm in their own home for self defense and voted to ban nearly all rifle ammunition used in hunting and sport shooting.
He has supported a complete ban on handguns, opposes right-to-carry laws, supported local and state gun bans, supports bans on standard capacity magazines, and has served on the board of directors of The Joyce Foundation, one of the most rabid anti-gun organizations in America.
In a day and age when, for some reason, we increasingly but incorrectly and dangerously turn to the judicial system to determine laws, Obama has voted against Supreme Court Justices who would strictly interpret the Constitution, including the Second Amendment.
This record of attacking our Second Amendment rights is consistent with his other positions, as chronicled in this column, which would increase the influence of government in our lives, thus eroding our rights.
Given the current political climate and our country poised to step off the precipice of reason in November, we must marvel at the foresight of our Founders. They knew the possibility existed that some day their fantastic experiment could be damaged to the point of incompetence led by equally deficient men. A failing government and inept men would endanger and seek to limit or eliminate our inalienable rights, including that right which is meant to protect us from such a government.
The other day someone asked me about Iraq, about my experiences, so I shared a little. I received a surprised look in return.
They then asked if I had kept track of friends I served with. I replied that I had and told them what a couple friends had done on return tours.
Again came the surprised look, and then a very matter of fact, “I had no idea we were doing all of that over there.”
Their lack of knowledge about what’s been taking place did not surprise me. Not many are fully aware of the road we’ve travelled toward success in Iraq.
Our success has not come via the stereotypical high intensity combat many people think of when it comes to war. We haven’t succeeded because we’ve had an endless string of Marines and soldiers shooting it up day in and day out, or planes and tanks turning every house into a pile of rubble.
That’s what some would like you to believe. That’s the only picture they’ve painted for you. It makes it easier for them to cry “foul” and scream for the dogs of war to be chained if they make you believe the dogs are on an endless killing spree.
Actually, that picture is exactly the opposite of what it takes to win a counter-insurgency like in Iraq, exactly the opposite of what most of our actions have been.
Sure, we’ve removed a good number of terrorists from the face of the earth, but we are succeeding not because we’re the best at killing people, but because with The Surge we became the best at providing the first key to counter-insurgency: protecting the people.
Many believed The Surge was simply adding more troops to the mix. Senator Hagel and so many others came up with dry holes on their predictions of The Surge because we didn’t “escalate” as they lamented we were. We truly did change tactics and strategy, moved troops into neighborhoods to live and provided security for the people.
Additionally, we established over time, even before The Surge, that we were willing to help people rebuild their lives.
Although progress was slow through ’06 because we weren’t getting the “security for the people” right, we were still building relationships and demonstrating we offered much more for the average Iraqi than the alternatives Al Qaeda or the Mahdi Army were offering.
Those relationship building activities are the ones that really surprise people when they learn of them.
We have had agricultural experts in the military and other government organizations working with Iraqi farmers. Yield improvements, fertilizers, crop breeding, soil sampling and laboratory facilities, irrigation management, and crop protection are all areas we have labored in.
Engineers of various backgrounds, both in and outside of the military, have been working endlessly with them on their infrastructure. The electrical grid, water and sewer systems, roads, and garbage collection have all been areas of focus and transformed entire neighborhoods from terrorist strongholds to coalition partners. It’s amazing how clean streets can change the attitudes of people.
We have had major efforts for at least three years training the Iraqi army and police forces. The army came around first, and the police have slowly followed after much of the country calmed. Team after team of American soldiers, Marines, and government contractors have been working with Iraqi recruits, army, and police units to improve their capabilities.
For a while, defeatists were trying to paint a picture that we weren’t doing this; just another of their tactics. In reality we had many boots on the ground working to train the Iraqi forces. It takes time to make good troops, and our perseverance, not our impatience and partisanship, has paid off.
We’ve had folks helping them learn how to run a government of the people, the art of compromise in a democracy (as shown in the latest election bill), start and run small businesses, communications and oil industries, and so many other areas. At local levels our troops have been awesome facilitators of neighborhood watch programs and councils which helped Iraqi’s of all backgrounds reconcile differences and find ways to move forward together, often long before it was occurring at higher levels, forcing those above them to act with the same maturity.
We’re protecting, teaching, helping, training, building relationships and rebuilding lives with success being built upon the wonderful Iraqi people’s desire for a better life. Yes, much more than shooting and fighting is taking place in Iraq, and that’s why we’re succeeding.
Although the progress in Iraq continues to be blacked-out by the national media, and Barack Obama would like all of us to think it’s still a lost cause, (he is proving to be locked in the stubborn bubble of denial liberals always believed President Bush lived in) normal life continues to return to Iraq.
This month the Iraqi parliament passed updated election laws. The many different groups within Iraq once again demonstrated their ability to reconcile differences and find compromise in legislation, as they’ve been doing from the lowest to the highest levels of government for the last two years. They will hold elections early this winter. One quarter of the seats have been reserved for women, strong election laws to prevent voting fraud were enacted, and an electoral set up was established which allows strong voices for most of the minority groups, including the Sunni’s.
Dexter Filkins of the New York Times recently provided us with a detailed look at the peaceful streets of Iraq. His report about the conditions in Iraq was stunning, not only because it was positive news from a New York Times columnist, but because of the turn-around he’s seen since his last visit in 2006 and the depth of surprise captured in his column.
Restaurants and wine shops had not only been repaired and reopened, but were crammed with customers. Many places he’d seen before that had been “shuttered, shattered, broken, and dead” were now alive and active. On several occasions he didn’t recognize places he’d been before because their transformation was so dramatic. A two mile long riverside park in Baghdad that had been a no-man’s land was filled with thousands of people enjoying themselves, even after sundown.
Violence is down by as much as 90%. Wanted posters, or even whole billboards, encouraging citizens to turn in Mahdi Army and Al Qaeda militants or warning those same terrorists they have nowhere to hide have become part of the landscape. Civil infrastructure projects including sewer systems in once filthy ghettos have turned life on its head, for the better. The Iraqi Army is clearly taking the lead and American forces have moved into the background. Although he did speak to the fragility of the peace, there are still occasional suicide bombings; it is clearly a country prospering, as reflected in the tens of billions of excess dollars being generated by Iraq’s economy.
The conditions in Iraq have become so peaceful that it is once again open for tourism. Amir Taheri reported on companies which are making Iraq a tourist destination. Tours through Iraq’s holy sites, Christmas pilgrimages through historic Biblical locations, and a tour titled “Forgotten History” which visits places relevant to Iraq’s role in the development of civilization the last 2000 years are garnering more and more customers. Tours through Iraq’s ecological jewel, the marshes of the southeast, are also in play now that 60% of the marshes have been restored after Saddam Hussein tried to drain them while attempting to rid Iraq of the Shiites living there.
Arabs, Turks, and Iranians are now heading to Iraq for holidays and Europeans are just starting to make the country a tourist destination. Iraq is also reemerging as a cultural center with a recent festival featuring new Iraqi films, poetry, plays, concerts, paintings, comedy, and lectures drawing hundreds of artists from across the Arab world, including one poet who read some of his latest work to a full hall and “was surprised by the contrast between the reality in Iraq and images broadcast in the West.”
For those who refused to stick their head in the sands of defeat, those who continue to throw off the cloak of deceit placed on Iraq by liberal politicians and national media types, none of this comes as a surprise.
Those of us who have had the privilege of getting to know the Iraqi’s aren’t surprised by this either. We know them to be wonderful people determined to have a normal life. Mr. Filkins captured that sentiment simply but beautifully in his column when he quoted an Iraqi man who told him, “We are normal people, ordinary people, like people everywhere. We want what everyone else wants in this world.”
What everyone else in this world wants is freedom, something that must be fought for and nurtured at times, like in Iraq, but a force strong and motivating enough to drive an entire people to a new way of life; we should know.
Even though she’s nearly the epitome of what they’ve always said women should be, Sarah Palin has learned that she can’t count on feminists to have her back in this election.
She is a woman of strong character and possesses a force of will that is well balanced with astute leadership skills. She is confident in herself and in her decisions. By all accounts, she tolerates no nonsense and demonstrates the courage to take on tough problems.
Strength, force, leadership, confidence, courage; all qualities feminists advocate for women.
These are also the same qualities I try to instill and develop in my own daughter. I’m always reminding her that she can be whatever she wants to be. The only limits she encounters will be those she places on herself.
Not only do I try to nurture these characteristics in her, she also participates in a program called Girls on the Run. Completely apolitical, Girls on the Run teaches young girls many of these same things at an age when they can be quite vulnerable to the negative messages society sends about “a girl’s place” in the world.
As the name implies, Girls on the Run coaches physical health (the girls work up to a 5K run), but it also does much more. Through several months of a structured course, it trains young girls to be confident in themselves, to be happy with themselves, and most importantly to not let the world pigeon-hole or stereotype them.
The program is designed to help them resist the attempts by others to shove them into the small box of physical appearances and “acceptable” behavior of girls when they’re in the 3rd through the 5th grades. They learn to define and choose who they are and who they will become, not letting societal influences dictate who they should be.
It’s an incredible program that has garnered much confidence and an unexpected, but wonderful growth of personality in my daughter.
Guiding my daughter and watching her mature, it makes sense that someone like Sarah Palin, someone who has succeeded in becoming her own woman, would be a role model for my daughter.
And, having successfully utilized all these skills feminists admire, I thought Palin would garner at least some support among leading feminists. There were probably going to be some who disagreed with her political views and others who might simply ignore her; both fair positions. But some would surely support her, right?
Wrong. I misunderstood feminism. I thought feminists were for women. Turns out they’re not for women, they’re just for liberalism.
Not only have they not supported Palin, they have been the most vicious in the attacks against her. They have tried harder than most to push Sarah back into the little box the world likely tried to squeeze her into when she was 10. Suddenly, a woman’s place was not in a position of power or utilizing all of her God-given talents as they’ve espoused and as I’ve taught my daughter.
They have questioned whether or not she could be a mother and Vice President. Quite hypocritical since they’ve always been admirable proponents of women being able to work and be mothers.
They have attacked her ability to lead because she’s a woman. Could she actually handle the job? Suddenly they were the chauvinists asking whether or not a woman could handle any job.
They have attacked her mercilessly on a personal level because of her political views.
Their overall attitudes were captured in a New York Sun story reporting feminists who describe themselves as “flipping out, in fits of rage, experiencing all consuming panic, beside themselves with terror, freaking out, and feeling violent murderous rage, visceral hostility, incandescent anger boiling in the skull, wanting to vomit with rage, and surprised by the depths of their own anger” about Palin.
Their problem with her is she refuses to toe their line. She is pro-life, evidently a mortal sin among feminists. She is an advocate of gun ownership, another sacrilege. She is a practicing Christian, how dare she? And she has succeeded without them.
Ironically, a group that claims to have fought so hard against society’s attempts to stereotype women is now attacking a woman who has become almost everything they advocate because she refuses to fall in line with their stereotype of a woman.
If they won’t support her, plenty of us who truly believe a woman can become whatever she wants will support her, especially since she’s a conservative, a Christian, and a role model for young girls.