Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What Do We Get From the Stimulus Bill?

At this point, the Wall Street Journal quotes: "The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said government borrowing prompted by enactment of the plan would add another $347 billion, pushing the estimated cost of the stimulus plan to more than $1 trillion, including interest.

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.

Do You Want Obama to Succeed?

That question misses the mark and the point of the argument.

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!

Step Up to the Plate

I tried to take a break from writing, but events and encouragement have pulled me back in.

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

Fair Winds and Following Seas

Published around 3 Jan 09
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.

Shoe Thrower Highlights Left’s Disdain, Iraq’s Freedom

Published around 16 December 08

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.

Someone I Wish I’d Have Met

Published around 9 December 08

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.

Nelson’s Critique, Hagel’s Spat, No Change With Obama

Published around 1 December 2009

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.

Marine Corps Expansion Ahead of Schedule, At Risk

Published around 16 November 2009

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

Near and Long-Term Terrorism Threats

Written 9 November 08

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 Year Our National Media Died

Published circa Election Day 08

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.

Second Amendment Rights in More Danger

Written Pre-Election 08

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.

Iraq is Much more Than a Fight

Written 7 October 2008

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.

Iraq Elections, Tourism, and Fine Arts

Written 30 September 2008

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.

Honestly Supporting Strong Women

Written 23 September 2008

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.

Anbar, Georgia, Energy, and Palin

Written 1 September 2008

Security for the once troublesome Anbar Province was turned over to the Iraqi’s from our Marines this week. At one point an intelligence analysis of the province deemed it a lost cause. However, the counter-insurgency led by our Marines which opened the door to the Anbar Awakening and the Iraqi’s fighting back against Al Qaeda proved successful. Maybe it’s time to follow up on the Marines’ desire to head to Afghanistan?

We learned this week that 3500 terrorists were “taken off the streets of Baghdad” during the last 18 months by the British SAS. Most of the 3500 were members of Al Qaeda and involved in suicide bombings. What’s that argument from the left about Al Qaeda not being in Iraq?

The Georgia-Russia conflict continues to be tense, not only between those two countries, but between Russia and the west as well. Russia continues to threaten while the west scrambles for diplomacy. If this is the start of another cold war, we must be wary of an advantage the Russians have this time that they lacked before, a tremendous stream of income from petroleum exports. They are in a much better place financially than they were before, especially compared to our unwillingness to use our own energy resources.

On the energy front, T. Boone Pickens has been criss-crossing America sharing his plan for energy independence. Congratulations to him for having a plan, especially one that has a use for many available energy sources. We do need to be cautious of one part of his plan, using natural gas so heavily. Because our agricultural nitrogen fertilizers are based on natural gas, we need to know the impact such a dramatic increase in its demand would have on the agricultural economy and food prices before proceeding.

Does anyone else find it humorous during an election year that Presidential (and VP) candidates who are very far removed from our daily lives try so hard to relate to the struggles of jobs, family, and the economy? Although McCain’s ideas in these areas are much preferred to Obama’s, neither they nor Biden really have a clue what it’s like to try and make it as a middle class family. They’ve been pretty far removed from every day America for quite some time. Governor Sarah Palin being selected by John McCain as his running mate is an exciting turn of events though.

How many of us have often wondered at the possibilities of having someone in the White House who actually understood our lives and governed accordingly? Well, it looks like we have that with Palin. The hockey-mom who spends time hunting and fishing, has very recently lived a blue collar life (her husband still is), has some tough roots, and is working through many of the same family challenges you and I are doesn’t have to go through seven degrees of separation to relate to us, she’s living it.

McCain’s choice of Palin was an unconventional move and solidified his position as a maverick, which brings up a point for us to ponder about the left and his maverick status. They used to applaud his willingness to go against President Bush and other Republicans. The very public differences McCain had with his own party were praised by the left and earned him a maverick reputation and that title from them. I find it curious they are now trying so hard to say he’s the same as Bush, when not so long ago they hailed him as a hero for being very different.

What will be the far left’s next attack? McCain and Palin have taken away at least one of their assaults. A mantra from them was that neither Bush nor Cheney were volunteering their children to go fight the war against terrorists, how dare they ask anyone else to? McCain and Palin both have children serving in the military. What next lefties?

The radical, kooky far left did answer that question in one way this week with their smear against Governor Palin’s family, her infant son, and pregnant daughter via the radical Daily Kos website. That attack had to be about as low as politics have ever gotten.

Speaking of the Daily Kos, after that despicable attack on the Palin family, is U.S. Senate Candidate Scott Kleeb regretting his associations with them?

Lastly, based on the response to hurricane Gustav, it appears that many lessons were learned with Katrina. Initial indications are that individuals and government at all levels responded much better this time, “kudos” to all.

Obama Sees America Wrong

Written 26 August 2008

Without the lines of his teleprompter, we often get to see the real Barack Obama. We get insight into the guy who usually finds some way slip in a negative comment about America. Sometimes it even happens with the teleprompter, but there is a pattern of skewed condemnation from him.

At one campaign stop, in response to a seven year old girl’s question about our nation, he replied, “America’s no longer what it could be, what it once was.”

Interesting perspective since it’s the very same liberal mentality and policies he espouses which have and continue to try and pull America away from the founding principles and beliefs which made it great.

If America is less than it once was, it’s because of the policies of his liberal predecessors which act as a political meat axe, cleaving away at the conservative Constitutional principles that ushered America to greatness.

If this country isn’t what it once was, it’s because of those who believe themselves to be “progressives,” progressively trying to drag America down.

In a way though, I agree with Barack Obama. This nation isn’t what it once was.

We used to value life in this country.

Americans used to actually care about the unborn and newborn infants. There was a time when we would have found reprehensible the practice of allowing them to die slowly in a cold, stainless steel surgical pan after being born as a result of a botched partial birth abortion. At the Saddleback Forum Obama said that America’s greatest moral failure was caring “for the least of these.” If a newborn baby struggling for life after being tossed aside isn’t “the least of these,” then who among us is? If he really lamented how America used to be, why does he support the death of infants in such a manner?

We used to value hard work in this country.

Weren’t we a better nation when it was okay to pursue the American dream, instead of demonizing those who have? Political rhetoric and public condemnation of those who have been successful coupled with a punishing progressive tax system that confiscates the fruits of ones labor are quite contrary to the American dream. If Obama really lamented how America used to be, why does he not only engage in this type of rhetoric, why does he also support punishing anyone who succeeds?

We used to want our troops engaged in a foreign conflict to win.

Remember World Wars I and II? America supported the troops by supporting the cause to which they had been committed. Whether we were driven by patriotism, nationalism, national security, or the cause, Americans rallied to victory. Now we have a group of people on the left who have advocated for America’s defeat through two major conflicts. If Obama really cared how America used to be, why did he vote for defeat and why does he belong to the crowd who believes it’s now okay to want our troops and our nation to lose?

It used to be okay to be religious in America.

Freedom of religion is one of the foundational principles of our nation. Judeo-Christian beliefs were woven into the very fabric of our society and done so in a skillful manner that also encouraged and protected the freedom of everyone to worship as they chose. It had been the glue that held us together and the moral compass that pointed us toward doing what’s right. But the liberal mentality has systematically attacked and condemned religion, pushing it out of people’s lives and certainly out of any public place. If Obama really cared about what made America great, why does he believe that Americans only “cling” to religion out of economic frustration?

There are pages that could be written with specific examples of the founding principles that made America great, where we’ve “progressed” to, and how Obama possesses the liberal position which is contrary to those founding principles.

At the end of those pages one would easily see where Obama is doubly wrong.

First, he is wrong with his policies. What he advocates are the very things which take away from America’s greatness.

Second, he is wrong about our country. It is still the greatest nation on earth, and most of us don’t need a teleprompter to say so.

Russian Conflict Highlights Our Need for Energy Independence

Written 19 August 2008

Russia’s invasion of Georgia highlights the strategic importance of energy independence. Their aggression demonstrates several areas of weakness where other forces can easily influence and affect our energy situation and national security.

First, an antagonist can directly limit or impair the supply and movement of oil in the world. In the case of Russia and Georgia, a major oil pipeline runs through Georgia. By their actions, the Russians could have taken control of that line. They still could.

Similar risks to the free movement of petroleum exist in the Straits of Hormuz where Iran threatens to disrupt the movement of oil if “provoked.” It’s a point of leverage they have, and would willingly use.

Second, when nations are beholden to others for energy needs, the suppliers hold great sway. In this case, much of Europe depends very heavily on the Russians for their petroleum energy needs.

This puts Russia in the driver’s seat for negotiations about their involvement in the conflict. Europe must tip-toe gingerly around Russia with their disapproval, and is limited in how much and what it can say because of their dependence upon Russia for fossil fuels. If angered or offended, the Russians have simply to close the spigot in order to affect a change in attitude amongst the Europeans.

We run into the same potential problems with the many nations who supply us petroleum. Although we have fairly friendly relationships with Canada and Mexico, we understand the limits of friendship with some nations who send us oil from the Middle East and South America. Billions of dollars go to Middle Eastern nations who tolerate Islamic terrorists. Hugo Chavez is constantly threatening to cut off the supply of oil to our country from Venezuela.

Third, is the direct ability to supply our own energy needs during a time of crisis. Beyond the strategic petroleum reserve (which will only last a relatively short duration in an extended conflict) our unwillingness to use domestic petroleum resources puts us in a weak strategic position because it fuels our military and runs the infrastructure that feeds our nation.

By contrast, Russia’s willingness to utilize her own energy sources has created a strong national security position.

Lastly, not as direct a threat but none the less a consideration in being dependent upon other nations for energy, is the fact that international diplomacy and influence are either enhanced or limited, depending upon a nation’s place on the spectrum of energy dependence.

Beyond affecting outcomes of direct conflict as seen with Russia and Europe, is the capacity to persuade actions elsewhere in the world.

For example, Iran is unquestionably a troublesome child on the world’s playground. We, along with Europe, depend heavily upon Russian influence to diplomatically reach solutions and win over the Iranians to a less disastrous course.

In this international diplomatic arena, Russia has most certainly gained a very powerful seat at the table. She can use her own energy sources, as shown above, to dictate to both east and west the terms of negotiations. She can allow Iran’s threats in the Straits to affect the negotiations or not, without any potential harm to herself.

Russia can simply choose to affect the situation or not, because it holds so many of the cards, based on its domestic and international energy position.

Once financially broke and searching for direction after the collapse of the U.S.S.R., Russia now enjoys a multi-faceted position of strategic power because she was willing to use all of the resources available to her.

Returning to the thuggish ways of the old socialist/communist mentality is not admirable, but we do have to acknowledge the powerful position they’ve craftily obtained.

By contrast, our unwillingness to use our own petroleum and other energy assets hurts our financial security and is a strategic vulnerability.

The situation in Russia should be a wake up call to all of our elected officials, especially those many Democrats who won’t even discuss the energy issue and are out on vacation. Necessity dictates that it be addressed sooner rather than later. Necessity also dictates we pursue all sources of energy to the maximum extent including fossil fuels everywhere and in every form available, unless and until our entire nation is realigned away from them

Continued Progress in Iraq

Written 11 August 08

Although the improvements in Iraq have caused the war to slip from news prominence right past news worthy to downright ignored, it’s still necessary to remind ourselves of the progress being made by our troops and the Iraqi’s.

The Brookings Institute recently provided a good source of information on the long-term trends in Iraq.

July saw the lowest number of civilian fatalities since May of ’03 and the lowest number of attacks since the spring of ’04.

Multiple fatality bombings have dropped from about 69 with 1600 killed or injured in January, 2007 to 18 last month with about 600 killed or injured.

Indicative of the trend we’ve seen with Iraqi’s of all backgrounds stepping to the plate to take charge of their own future, 103,000 Sons of Iraq and Concerned Local Citizens are currently active in the sanctioned protection of their neighborhoods.

The uncovering of weapons caches typically depends upon the sense of security civilians feel and their willingness to then report suspicious activity and associated caches. The number of weapons caches we’ve exploited increased from 1,711 in 2004 to 6,969 in 2007, and is already at 5,667 for 2008.

U.S. casualties which were more than 80 in January of ’07 were down to 12 last month; wounded in action dropped from 700 to 140 in that same time.

There has been a steady trend for several months of just one attack per month against Iraq’s oil and gas infrastructure and personnel, down from more than a dozen per month through much of the preceding years.

There are now 496,000 Iraqi Security Forces. As of March, 112 of the 171 battalions were taking the lead in security operations, requiring little or no assistance, as we saw in Basra and Mosul.

There were also 8,500 Iraqi Security Forces casualties from June, 2003 to July, 2008; noted for those who don’t think the Iraqi’s are sacrificing.

The Institute has rated Iraq ahead of all but 3 other Middle East nations on their Index of Political Freedoms, for those who see no political progress.

Crude oil production is back at pre-war levels with revenue increasing by 5 billion dollars since then. Electrical output has increased from pre-war levels of 3,958 megawatts to 4,570 now. Megawatt hours increased from 95,000 to 109,000 with the nation-wide average of available electricity improving from 4-8 hours pre-war to 11.3 hours per day now.

Iraq’s Gross Domestic Product has increased from $20.5 billion (USD) in 2002 to $48.5 billion in 2006, and is projected at $60.9 billion for 2008. Yes, they should pay more of their own way.

There were 175 trained judges in Iraq in June, 2004. As of this June there were 1,180. Harry Reid could take a lesson from them.

There were an estimated 833,000 pre-war phone and 4,500 internet subscribers. There are now 9.8 million with phones and 261,000 hooked to the web.

There were no commercial TV or radio stations under Saddam, nor were there any independent newspapers or magazines. As of March, 2006 there were already 54 TV stations, 114 radio stations, and 268 independent newspapers and magazines.

Apart from the Brookings report, which only discussed 11 benchmarks, we know the Iraqi’s are up to satisfactory progress or success with 15 of 18 benchmarks, and see political progress from the lowest to highest levels. They’re still finalizing this fall’s election processes and the hydrocarbon laws. But who are we to point the finger, given that all but a very few Democrats in our own country are willing to even debate hydrocarbons as part of our own energy policy?

We’re in the process of a large offensive against Al Qaeda remnants in the Diyala province, and Muqtada al Sadr’s influence continues to dwindle. He’s lost much popular support. His militia became as ferocious against civilians as Al Qaeda and thus became as hated. He and his Mahdi Army have suffered defeat after defeat at the hands of the coalition, putting him in a very weak position. So he continues to capitulate. Sorry, Nancy and Barack, we’re not buying your version of history which credits Sadr for the progress noted above.

Conditions in Iraq have now improved so much that the Administration has been in discussions with the Maliki government about a time horizon for our departure.

Of course though, these time horizons are conditions based, meaning we’re planning to win and as such, negotiating from the position of strength gained by the Surge as measured by some of the metrics noted above. These are conditions based time horizons, not the unconditional surrender liberals continue to advocate for, in spite of these same successes.

ACLU Takes Aim at USNA

Written 5 August 08

The American Civil Liberties Union is at it again, trying to deny a group of Americans their freedom of religion.

This time they’ve targeted the United States Naval Academy, specifically their noon-time prayer, claiming it violates the First Amendment.

The prayer, a tradition, since 1845, is completely voluntary and non-sectarian, usually led by chaplains from all denominations. Academy Midshipmen can choose not to pray if they like.

But ironically, the ACLU is trying to deny the very men and women who will one day fight for the First Amendment the right to exercise that Amendment themselves.

Because nine current and former agnostic/atheist Midshipmen complained that the prayer made them uncomfortable, the ACLU has threatened a lawsuit against the Academy.

So here we are again with the ACLU and a handful of people ready to strip freedom of religion from thousands of others. They will claim to do so in the name of defending the rights of the nine, denying the same right to the thousands.

That in itself exposes the mission of the ACLU, to abolish religion from America. Their aim is not freedom of religion, it is freedom from religion.

So what’s next? No crosses, crescents, or stars as headstones at military cemeteries? Those are religious symbols on federal ground, that’s not separation of church and state. No praying during funerals at national cemeteries? That’s practicing religion on federal ground. No chaplains in the military? How can we use federal funds to pay a religious man?

All sarcasm aside, these become quite plausible if the attack on a meal-time prayer becomes the legal precedent by which all other assaults against religious freedom can be furthered. After all, given the ACLU’s reasoning and their goal, religion can not happen among government workers or aboard government property of any kind for any reason, as it intertwines the two. Thus, any presence or practice of religion involving the military will likely be targeted.

Taken to its ultimate, logical conclusion, the ACLU would probably prefer to ban all military personnel from practicing religion at all.

Undoubtedly, the time was coming for us to draw the line in the sand and collectively tell the ACLU, “No More!” This is the time and place where we need to make that stand.

Prayer is far too important for those of all religions to have it stripped away. It is a cornerstone of one’s faith. It’s particularly significant for those who choose to stand and fight for our country.

From experience, I know it can lead their daily lives, provide guidance and protection, help them find solace in loss, and peace in troubled times.

Especially necessary is prayer for dealing with death and being in the business of performing deadly acts.

Prayer can be the only thing that gets one through the rigors of military training (especially at some place as strenuous as the Naval Academy).

Prayer is what carries you through the arduous days of stress, grief, intensity, and danger of a combat zone. As someone once said, “There are no fox-hole atheists.”

It’s too important to let prayer be taken from us, even when taken in small pieces, and to let the rights of so many be eroded as they are.

Along with any action we can take against the ACLU in support of our rights (praying, calling elected officials, public commentary, letting the Academy know you support their decision to ignore the ACLU, etc) there is also a legal group taking up the fight against the ACLU and defending the First Amendment this time.

The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) is working to counter the ACLU. They were critical to the case in which a cross was allowed to stand as part of the Veteran’s Memorial at Mount Soledad near San Diego. Now they’re mobilizing to defend the right of our future military leaders to pray.

The ACLU’s attacks against the Naval Academy have crossed the line, and maybe the ACLJ will be successful in turning the tide of the ACLU’s onslaughts. But the most power for preserving freedom will come from the prayers and actions of those to whom freedom has been given.

Questions for the Left

Written 28 July 08

There are many things those of you on the far left need to clarify, questions that need answered.

One of your most vicious attacks on George Bush is that you believe he’s a liar. Well we know that Barack Obama has lied to you about his position on FISA. Additionally, he now says that he’s consistently claimed more troops in Iraq would reduce the violence. However, his recorded statements in opposition of The Surge prove he insisted it would increase violence, not reduce it. By your criteria, he’s lying. Why aren’t you mercilessly attacking him, consistent with your attacks on the President?

You’ve been quite critical of the President for being bullheaded, “in a bubble,” and controlling the information flow in and the message out. The last couple weeks have revealed some journalists quite frustrated with the Obama camp for doing the exact same thing. Why aren’t you criticizing him?

Aside from all the problems with wanting to federalize healthcare, why should we trust the government, as you ask of us, to control a mandated national healthcare system when the same government has failed so miserably at managing Social Security?

You showed neither the wisdom nor the courage to fight Al Qaeda in Iraq. Why should we believe you’ll demonstrate either attribute in a tough fight against them in Afghanistan? Shouldn’t we expect the same white flag parade?

My heart goes out to those who’ve fallen on hard times and are having mortgage difficulties because of it. I have sympathy for those taken by less than reputable mortgage companies. I refinanced my house several years ago, avoided the pitfalls, but saw where their tricks could lie. But tell all of us again why we, out of our own pockets via your tax and spend policies, need to bail out the others who made poor choices and got in over their own heads.

You always claimed to “support the troops” by demanding they come home. Why are you so quiet now that Obama wants to send more of them to Afghanistan? Why aren’t you “supporting the troops” now?

One of your most vile, and incredibly petty, attacks against the President is his struggling to put words together at times. Relentless personal attacks on his intelligence have followed. But we’ve learned over the last couple months that listening to Barack Obama without his teleprompter can be as riveting as listening to Mel Tillis teach sentence structure to a remedial English class. To be consistent, shouldn’t you be insulting Obama for the same thing?

Why do you demand action against genocide in Darfur, but were so willing to accept genocide in Iraq?

You oppose nuclear energy, clean coal, oil shale, ethanol, hydro, wind, and solar power for a variety of reasons. You also oppose drilling for more oil, primarily because of your claims that new drilling won’t bring results for 1 to 10 years. This stand against all sources of energy begs a couple questions. First, if you oppose every available energy source, what is your solution? Second, why does it make any sense for us to sit around going broke waiting for a fantasy renewable energy source that hasn’t been invented or brought to fruition, and isn’t capable of affecting our lives for an infinite amount of time when we can be utilizing more of a sure thing in the next few years?

You criticize the President for what you believe is his “go it alone” attitude in the world, yet you attack international agreements like NAFTA, wanted him to thumb his nose at China, kill joint ventures like the Columbia free trade agreement, threaten to invade Pakistan unilaterally, and insist on unilateral talks with Iran. You’re definitely not practicing what you preach here. At every turn you demand internationalism, but advocate and practice individualism and isolationism. Given such a schizophrenic stand on world affairs, why should anyone trust you to be any better at international relations?

One last thing for this short list which only scratches the surface of your hypocrisy: when trying to win a Congressional majority in 2006 you made a whole lot of promises about how much better all of our lives would be. Now you’re running a national campaign about the need to change because all of our lives are so miserable. Shouldn’t that mean we need to change away from you, those who have been in power over the last two years during which our lives, according to your measurements, have become so miserable?

Recent Examples of the Terrorist Mentality, Obama’s Trip

Written 15 July 08

Several recent events have illustrated the difference in the Islamic terrorist mindset and that of civilized society.

Last week, Israel conducted a prisoner swap with Hezbollah. In exchange for two of their soldiers who had been kidnapped, sparking the 2006 war with Hezbollah, Israel agreed to release several Hezbollah militants who had been tried and jailed for crimes against the Israeli’s.

Symbolic of the differences between civilized societies and Islamic terrorists is the fact that the terrorists were returned alive by the Israeli’s to Hezbollah, while the remains of the Israeli’s were returned in coffins.

One group exhibits human decency in the treatment of prisoners, one does not.

Another difference was revealed in the reception of the terrorists at home, especially the most despicable among them, Samir Kuntar.

Kuntar had been tried and convicted of infiltrating Israel in 1979 and killing several people, including a 4 year old girl. He killed her by bashing her head against a rock, and then with the butt of his rifle.

Kuntar received a red carpet hero’s welcome upon his return.

Compare that with the treatment of our own Marines who were simply suspected of criminal wrongdoing at Haditha, including the deaths of children.

The Marines were tried and convicted in the court of public opinion by our national news media, many liberals, and at least one Congressman long before actual charges were brought against them, simply for being suspected of offenses.

The terrorists celebrate the murder of small children, recognizing those who are guilty of such crimes as heroes. By comparison, we publicly humiliate, imprison, and send to trial those among us who are even suspected of such. We would rightly punish those who are guilty of murdering children, not treat them as heroes.

Yet another comparison comes with the discovery and identification of remains of the last two American soldiers captured in a May 2007 ambush in an Al Qaeda infested area of Iraq, while this week we started the war crimes trial of an Al Qaeda member.

When captured, our soldiers are summarily killed by terrorists, while we wrestle with the question of how to best and fairly proceed with the trials of suspected terrorists.

There is clearly a discrepancy between the value placed on human life by terrorists and the civilized world. Distinctions about basic human dignity and decency also exist. The disparities should remind us all of the mentality we face among those we oppose in this war against terrorism.

The vast divergence is also central to the left’s inability to grasp any meaningful way to combat the threat, which leads us to Barack Obama finally traveling to Iraq.

Since he had already proclaimed his plan for retreat regardless of conditions on the ground even before departing, the outing was purely symbolic in nature.

This was reaffirmed by the very little time he spent in country and the fact that he took Senator Hagel with him, both moves that were not going to open his eyes to a realistic assessment of the situation.

What’s ironic is the fact that had we followed Obama’s advice on the Surge, he would not have been able to go to Iraq or meet with its leaders.

Had we believed his arguments that the Surge wouldn’t work, proclamations that it wasn’t working when it clearly was, and continuing to deny the facts on the ground when it has, it’s quite likely that Al Qaeda would control much of the country, and Iran the rest.

Even the Washington Post editorial board (not known for its conservative nature) recently called him on the carpet for his inaccurate view of the present situation.

Had we followed his lead, we would probably be sitting around wondering what to do about the genocide and humanitarian crisis in Iraq, and doing so with all the ineptitude of our Democrat led Congress and its 9% approval rating.

The pronouncements and plans made for Iraq before getting any facts, the unwillingness to fight a tough fight, and inability to see a winning strategy when it’s staring him in the face are revelations not to be taken lightly about someone seeking to be our Commander in Chief.

Couple those attributes with the revelations this week about his immediate post 9/11 view of Islamic terrorists acting out because of ignorance and poverty, rather than religious zealotry and hatred (completely contrary to the true terrorist mindset as briefly illustrated above) show a complete lack of aptitude for the office.

Defeating Al Qaeda Everywhere

It is critical to defeat Al Qaeda, wherever they may be.

Not just in Afghanistan. Not just in Iraq. Not just in southeast Asia. Not just in Somalia. Not just here at home, but everywhere.

To allow them safe haven is dangerous. To let them operate freely is foolish. To allow them an attack without rebuttal or to engage and then shrink from them is both.

History has shown time and again that those who possess the jihadist mentality will gather, train, plot, and attack when allowed to do so. She has also shown that success begets their success, increases recruiting into their ranks, and emboldens them for future actions.

The benefits they reaped from our weak or even lack of response to past attacks prove as much. Whether allowing them safe haven in Afghanistan through the 90’s, or responding poorly to attacks such as those against the embassies in Africa, not being equal to the threat has cost us.

The current battles in Iraq and Afghanistan further illustrate the point.

After the fall of Hussein, an opening was made for Al Qaeda to enter Iraq, cause instability, and try to create a safe haven of their own from which they would spread. It had worked for them in Afghanistan and it is well documented they saw an opportunity to do so again in Iraq.

An inadequate counterinsurgency plan on our part allowed Al Qaeda some success. When other jihadists from around the world saw this, they became emboldened to fight and flocked to Iraq. Any small victory encouraged them to attack further, as did the defeatist rhetoric coming from liberals within the U.S.

That piece of history is critical to understanding why defeating them at every turn is important. Even the perceived success they were having was enough to encourage others of a like-mind to join the fray, increasing the difficulties in Iraq. The same would be (and has been) true wherever they may be found.

The Surge proves what happens when you target and crush them.

We’ve been relentless against them for a year and a half. The word is out; Iraq is a losing fight for the Jihadists. As a result, the influx of jihadists is minimal, even negligible. The cycle has been broken. They have lost the edge, and with it the courage to fight.

However, freedom to operate in the Afghan-Pakistan border region has allowed them a safe haven to gather, train, and attack from. At one point we most certainly had them on the run. But as they do, Al Qaeda found and exploited a niche in the unmonitored areas of the border.

We’ve followed reports for some time of their gaining numbers in that lawless, inaccessible area. Once again, allowing them to operate unchecked has enticed others to join.

The Pentagon has been right in planning additional troops for Afghanistan. Remember the stories starting last October about the Marines shifting focus from Iraq to Afghanistan? The additional Marines sent in earlier this summer have shown the effectiveness of reinvigorating the fight on our behalf.

More troops are needed, but what’s needed more is a solution to the safe haven Al Qaeda has just inside the Pakistani border. Without it, they will be bolstered because they can act with impunity.

Here again is the critical point. Allowing them to operate freely and fight without responding adequately (as perceived by Al Qaeda because we can’t fully pursue) builds their confidence and has created a recruiting opportunity.

Now here’s where liberals get it wrong, including their poster boy, Obama.

They clamor for more troops in Afghanistan, but they do so only to disguise the call for defeat in Iraq, not necessarily to fight Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.

It is likely they lack both the intestinal fortitude and wherewithal for this kind of fight in either place, because if defeating Al Qaeda in Iraq isn’t important, why is it important in Afghanistan, or anywhere else in the world for that matter? It’s not, nor can it be under their partisan, political logic.

Shrinking from a fight against Al Qaeda anywhere will only repeat history and embolden them for more attacks. Liberals can try to ignore them in selected places where it’s politically expedient to do so, but that won’t make Al Qaeda go away.

Reality lies with defeating Al Qaeda wherever they may be, not just where it’s politically correct to act like you want to.