WHEN IS ENOUGH ENOUGH?

Although the liberal media has done its best to ignore the evidence, it is apparent to any objective observer that Billy Bob and Hilly Clinton have used speaking fees for the ex-pres and their Clinton Foundation to skirt the law and engage in blatant influence peddling. And polls reflect that most Americans are aware of and believe it. Ironically, however, most Dems still would vote for Hilly to be our next Prexy. As one liberal columnist, whom I otherwise admire, indicated she would put aside the obvious dishonesty and corruption engaged in by Hilly because she agrees with Hilly’s positions on primarily social issues. While I can understand that argument, I can’t accept it. Putting aside the fact that Hilly is constantly changing her positions on just about every issue and currently refuses to even indicate whether she supports or rejects the so-called free trade agreement and won’t even talk to the press, there is a more fundamental problem here. We have elected corrupt, dishonest Presidents before. Tricky Dick Nixon comes readily to mind. The difference is that we didn’t know Nixon was going to turn out to be a crook when we elected him. In Hilly’s case, there can be no doubt that if you vote for her, you do so with the realization that she is corrupt, dishonest and immoral. Period. I still believe that we cannot reach the completely cynical stage when we put aside basic decency to elect someone we know is immoral and dishonest. Rand Paul may be misguided when it comes to his extreme position on foreign policy, Ted Cruz misguided in his Tea Party conservatism, Jeb Bush misguided on the defense of his brother and so on with respect to the current candidates in the other party. Some of those candidates may turn out to be corrupt and dishonest if elected but at least there is no indication of that now. In Hilly’s case there can be no doubt. As a voter for prexy in the next election, you will have to decide whether one social issue or another is more important than the candidate’s track record of being honest on those issues and trustworthy enough to be given the most important office in the world. I hope we’ll make the right decision and err on the side of at least trying to put aside our cynicism long enough to elect someone in whom we can reside some degree of trust in their commitment to honesty and integrity. Absent that, I am afraid we will sink further into the abyss of electing self serving politicians whose only goal is self aggrandizement.

FIGHTING OURSELVES

FIGHTING OURSELVES

In a story that is too ironic not to be true, apparently, because our current Prexy believes that ISIS is not an A team, we’ve decided that the only worthwhile enemy that we can legitimately fight in Iraq is…well…us! This came about because we gave millions, probably billions, of dollars in weapons to the Iraq army who proceeded to lose all these military goodies to ISIS when the Iraq army runs away every time they are confronted by the terrorists, leaving all their weaponry, tanks, armored vehicles and guns behind. Now, we have air strikes primarily concentrating on obliterating all the hardware, our own weaponry, being used by the junior varsity. So, unlike past wars when we fought foreign nationals like the Germans and the Japanese or the North Koreans and the Chinese, we have a new form of warfare in which we supply the enemy with our weapons and then try to destroy those weapons. But, of course, this is part of the Obomba strategy that is “working” in Iraq. At this rate, we will soon be claiming, at least in official circles, that there is really no war in Iraq at all and that we are just engaging in military maneuvers where our pilots are practicing destroying obsolete equipment so they can maintain their frosty edge in case we ever become involved in a real war. If they made a movie that included this insanity, no one would believe the plot line. Yes, truth is stranger than fiction.

MIDEAST CRISIS Part Two

If radical Islam represents a threat to not only countries like Israel, Jordan and others, how do we deal with that threat? That is the question for the moment and for the future. Our future. If the middle east explodes in war, it is obvious that we will be drawn into any conflict that arises there.

The current administration has adopted a strategy of negotiating with Iran to prevent that nation from acquiring nuclear weapons. That strategy is based on several arguments.

First, Iran can be persuaded to join the league of “reasonable nations.” This argument is wishful thinking with no basis in reality. In fact, Iran has been correctly labeled as the foremost sponsor of terrorism in the world. Second, we need Iran to stop ISIS. No, we need bombing with limited “boots on the ground” to defeat ISIS. Iran is going after ISIS simply to prevent ISIS from becoming the dominant terrorist organization, a designation Iran wishes to keep for itself. Third, if we don’t negotiate with Iran, the only alternative is an all out war. If we give Iran the bomb, that will do more to hasten the threat of war then doing a bad deal. It doesn’t take a professional expert on middle eastern affairs to realize that giving Iran the bomb will set off an arms race not seen since we took on the Soviet Union after WWII. Sanctions should be increased to destroy Iran’s economy. We defeated the commies by destroying their economy. It can certainly work again with a piss ant state like Iran. Finally, Israel, so the argument goes is “overreacting” to the threat posed by Iran having the bomb. As Netty said, we are concerned with our security, Israel is concerned with its survival.

The administration, according to public info, wants a deal with Iran that would maintain Iran’s nuclear apparatus and give them a green light to have the bomb in a decade. Thus, critics, including Israel, are correct when they label this as a bad deal. Iran, then, as we have seen with North Korea, will have the ability to use war heads to strike our own country with nuclear weapons.

Perhaps the final straw is the specious argument by liberals and libertarians that if Iran has the bomb, they won’t use it. This reminds me of the “head in the sand” approach taken with Hitler and the Japanese war lords.

In both cases, we sat falsely relying on two oceans to protect us with the thought that if Hitler could be appeased by giving him a few minor European countries (like giving Iran the bomb), he would stop his terrorism or that Japan would never have the gall to attack us. Let us not fall prey to letting history repeat itself. Hopefully, Congress will have more sense than the current administration when it comes to dealing with Iran and the threat of militant Islam.

MIDEAST CRISIS (Part One)

As some of you know who follow this column on a regular basis, I am not particularly religious in any formal sense and certainly not Jewish. But I have always had great sympathy for the Jewish people, having been exposed, unlike Mel Gibson, to the horrors of the holocaust in my study of history.

For that reason, I also admire Israel, the Jewish state. Since their beginnings, Israel has been what statesmen might call “a ray of hope” for democracy in the middle east.

Since my daughter had the good sense to marry a Jewish man whom I am honored to call “son” and even more honored when he calls me “dad,” and they have given me the loves of my life, three wonderful grandchildren, my exposure to the Jewish religion has of course grown as I have insisted, though without opposition from my children, that my grandchildren be exposed to all things Jewish as it will be part of their heritage, a heritage, like the heritage from their mother’s side of the family, they should always be proud of.

Recently, visiting the fam in La La land, I had the pleasure of going to my granddaughter’s pre-school to witness a special Jewish celebration in which she was singled out as the school celebrated her fourth birthday. As I stood watching the teachers dancing with their charges, I was reminded that the last time I had been in a church setting where people joyously sang and danced was when I attended a Black Southern Baptist church many years ago.  It brought home to me that while we worship in our own way, we have much in common in how we celebrate what we believe.

As we exited the celebration, returning to our cars, I was also reminded, however, at how religion also divides us as I saw the armed security guards patrolling the parking lot, looking around like secret service men for an antisemitic threat. It brought back my constant fear that my grandchildren being half Jewish will have to spend the rest of their lives recognizing that part of their heritage will also include even the threat to their lives simply because they are Jewish.

We live as human beings with a dark side, George Lucas had it right,  which infests so many with reasons to hate based on nothing more than tribal differences. I’m sure there is a sociological basis, a psychological basis for this but what is important is that it exists and no contestant in a beauty contest who wishes for “world peace” will change that dynamic.

Politicians and pundits talk today of “existential threats.” The overriding such threat is the threat posed by our own self destructiveness in the name of this religion or that religion.  It seems axiomatic that as humans, we have the unending ability to pervert even the most well intentioned ideas embodied in religions initiated with the best aims in mind.

And therein lies the problem we face today with radical Islam.

ISIS

A foreign policy exercised by a state which eschews other cultures and their religions and which seeks to dominate world affairs and is willing to use war to achieve that purpose. Fanatical, no other religions will be allowed to contradict the belief in the one true deity this state worships and the members of such religions will be killed or enslaved. If a member of this state dies in the ensuing struggle for domination, that is the mark of total allegiance to their God and they will be rewarded for their sacrifice in the after life.

Sound familiar? You may think I’m referring to ISIS but you would be wrong. As I have often said, history is worth studying if for no other reason it confirms the old cliche that “history repeats itself.”

In fact, I am referring to the Empire of Japan as it existed before and during World War II. The emperor of Japan was considered a God. The militarists who controlled the government sought to take over a wide swath of the Pacific, including China. They ruthlessly eliminated their opponents with beheadings and torture. If you surrendered in combat, you were a coward and committing hari kari (suicide) was preferable to surrender.

In December of 1941, the Japanese Empire attacked the United States. During the early months of the war, the Japanese ranged across the western Pacific taking territory and winning every battle. It took the U.S. nearly a year to get in the fight and the war was not won until 1945.

If there is any lesson to be learned from our experience in winning WWII, it revolves around two issues: why were we unprepared for war and what kind of commitment did it take to win the war?

If we look for the lessons that answer those questions, it may suggest the policies we will need to adopt to defeat ISIS.

Today, it is the Democrats who are reluctant to put “boots on the ground” in recognition that most Americans are war weary after over a decade of war in the middle east. Those on the far left, such as Michael Moore and other so-called Hollywood celebrities even go so far as to criticize our soldiers calling their sacrifices for their country cowardice and worse.

In 1941, however, it was the Republicans who largely opposed taking part in international affairs that might lead to open conflict and war. The

America First movement argued that WWI had accomplished nothing (a parallel to those now arguing nothing was gained in our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan) and that with our isolation between two oceans, we shouldn’t be drawn into foreign conflicts.

Had the Japanese not attacked Pearl Harbor, it might have been a different outcome, since many in our country in 1941 were perfectly happy ignoring the spread of totalitarianism by Nazi Germany and Japan, hoping that diplomacy and a superior attitude about our own invulnerability would carry the day.

Pearl Harbor exploded that myth and a remarkable turnaround occurred unleashing the most powerful industrial machine on earth and giving our President unheard of powers to fight and defeat the enemy. Opposition to the war disappeared overnight and Americans went to war with a vengeance.

People on the west coast watched our ships being sunk by Japanese submarines as they waited for invasion. Our territories in the Pacific were under attack and falling like dominoes to the Japanese. It was a scary time but Americans pulled together.

There was no doubt in American’s minds that we would win the war. It was decided upon early in the war that we and our allies would wage total war until the enemy was defeated. There was no worry about civilian casualties, there was no reluctance to bomb our enemies out of existence. We would fight and die to preserve our nation, our way of life. And we did.

When it was estimated that we would lose between 500,000 and a million American lives to invade Japan, we wiped three of their cities off the map with atomic bombs to end the war.  We had guts, determination, know how and the will to win to save our country. We succeeded.  But what of today? Do we still have a will to win? Or will it take another 911 to wake us up once again to the realities of who we face in the enemy of ISIS?

Diplomacy does not deter nor win victories against fanatics. Just as it failed before WWII, it is failing now, despite this Administration’s claims to the contrary. ISIS continues to gain converts and territory. They have expanded their terror attacks to Europe and promise to slay our own President and his family.

There is only one way to defeat ISIS: kill them. In order to do that.  However, we will have to recognize their threat. We cannot do so, as many in our military argue, by refusing to call them what they are: Islamic Terrorists. We cannot do so by trying to maintain the false “politically correct” narrative that criticizing these terrorists is the same as condemning all of Islam. We cannot do so by telling them what we are not prepared to do to defeat them.

It took us a year to get in the fight in 1942 because we were wholly unprepared, militarily, to fight a war. It is interesting to note that under this Administration, we now have the lowest military force since 1940 and we all know what happened a year later.

We need to tell our enemies that we will continue to be a peaceful nation but that if we are attacked, our allies attacked or threatened, we will stand ready to defend ourselves and other nations with the same kind of commitment we had in winning WWII: a total commitment to wage the level of war necessary to win, period, by what ever means and with whatever force is required and that we have the military might to do so.

We must recognize that just being who we are, as Americans, we will have enemies, both nations and groups who will hate who we are to the point they are willing to kill us. It is an unpleasant fact of life. We all wish it were not so but that is not reality. Nor is it reality to pursue a foreign policy that fails to recognize that fundamental truth.

When congratulated by his minions on the successful attack on Pearl Harbor, its architect, Admiral Yamamoto, famously said, “I am afraid that all we have done is awake a sleeping giant.”

Lets wake up before we lose more American lives. This time.

THE MINIMUM WAGE

The purpose of the minimum wage is to ensure that anyone working receives at least some basic amount for the work they perform. According to liberal philosophy, this is necessary because we cannot trust the private sector to pay workers a fair wage. There is historical precedent for this argument, dating back to the days of the “robber barons” who shamelessly exploited workers, paying them next to nothing and providing in some cases such horrible working conditions that the workers’ very lives and health were threatened. That was then, this is now. Since we have a multitude of alphabet government agencies that protect workers, the argument has now morphed into the often unmentioned agenda by the left in support of its “redistribution of wealth.” This is nothing more than an attempt to penalize what the left sees as the evils of corporate America. Putting aside the hypocrisy by the left (in 2008 and 2012, corporate America gave millions to the President’s campaign), their argument is that we should not only increase the minimum wage to give workers more money, which would supposedly be put back into circulation and lead to more spending and by implication more jobs but we should also be playing Robin Hood by taking from the rich and giving to the poor. Both the stated goal and the unstated agenda are deeply flawed. In the first instance, the non partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that by raising the minimum wage to the level now being advocated by the current administration, 400,000 jobs would be lost. Why? Because most of the businesses being operated in this country are defined as small businesses and they simply cannot afford to pay artificially established wages that have no relation to the reality of what they can earn manufacturing their widgets. From every gross dollar earned, the business pays federal taxes, including withholding for social security, corporate taxes which most small businesses get no tax breaks on, not to mention, state and local taxes. The business pays licensing fees, property taxes or rental, interest on business loans and lines of credit and bears the cost of providing extra benefits to employees including paid vacation, sick time and, of course, health care, now being mandated by the feds. After all of this, the business owner then has to pay personal taxes on whatever income is left to them. The redistribution of wealth penalizes incentive. At some point, people are not going to pursue opening businesses if they cannot look forward to making a decent profit. We now have 46 million people receiving food stamps. We have a real unemployment rate, including those who no longer even try to look for work, in double digits. Government exists from receiving its operating funds from a combination of three sources: one, it can print money; two, it can borrow money; three, it can tax the private sector. Obviously, although lost on many in government, you can only print so much currency before it becomes worthless. We already borrow 40 cents on every dollar at the federal level and a large part of that comes from China, arguably our worst enemy. And finally, as France found out after their citizens rebelled when the government announced a proposed 75% tax, you can only raise taxes to a certain point. With a current deficit of over 17 trillion dollars, the result of Bush and Obama spending, most reputable economists indicate it will take generations to pay it off. In this climate, we need to strengthen the private sector not take steps to further erode its productivity. In the final analysis, the minimum wage should be intended to provide an entry level wage while people pursue the traditional American goal of increased wealth earned in the traditional way: by dedication and hard work not through unearned entitlements leaving them dependent on the whims of largess provided by politicians. Otherwise, we will eventually end up like the Greeks, burning ourselves to death in the streets when the largess runs out.

Benghazi: An Update

Most historians, writing about a particular historical event, seek to place that event in the largest context possible in order to fully explain its implications.  In order to understand the tragedy of Benghazi, the political background operating in the presidential year of 2012 cannot be ignored.

In 2008, we elected a president who had a vision for our country rooted in a progressive domestic agenda which a majority of voters embraced. Little was said regarding his inexperience particularly on matters of foreign policy. It can be safely argued that he was lucky during the next four years since little happened internationally to reveal any weaknesses he may have had in conducting his administration’s foreign affairs.

By the time of his reelection bid, his most notable accomplishment, at least according to his vice president was that “General Motors was alive and Osama Bin Laden was dead.” Putting aside the fact that General Motors may be on life support, it is now painfully obvious that the implied conclusion in the vice president’s words that with the death of the then leader of Al Queda, the war on terror had been won was grossly erroneous.

The liberal perspective as currently practiced and cited by numerous writers of that ilk is that our country is reaping what it has sowed historically as a jingoistic nation and that if we would simply mind our own business as we seek to try to convince the world that by doing so we are the “good guys,” we can avoid foreign entanglements and other nations will leave us alone.

This philosophy was aided and abetted by the war in Iraq and the war (still being fought) in Afghanistan which appealed to a large segment of voters who had grown war weary, particularly after revelations that the basis for at least the war in Iraq was false which made the liberal argument all the more seemingly convincing.

Unfortunately, we have a bad habit of violating the old cliche about repeating the mistakes we ought to avoid by reference to historical precedents. In the 1930’s, a large segment of our population believed that surrounded by oceans, we could hide our head in the sand dunes along their shores and thus avoid involvement in unsettling events in Europe and the Pacific where bad people were bent on destroying our way of life. The  European democracies believed, since they didn’t have the protection of vast distances between themselves and their potential enemies that if they could just give the bad guys what they wanted, they would be left alone. The now infamous refrain from the British prime minister in 1938 that by sacrificing a nation on the continent, he had “achieved peace in our time” came back to haunt both he and the free world when the chief bad guy, Herr Hitler, plunged the world into war barely a year later.

By the time Pearl Harbor added our nation to that war, we were ill prepared to fight and it took us a year to get back in the game during which time we got our lunch handed to us, to borrow a metaphor.  Isolation and appeasement. Flawed and very dangerous policies.  It is ironic that we now have a military about the same size as we did in 1940.

In pursuing a domestic agenda, our president ignored and adopted a purely reactionary posture on foreign matters, a policy that has now come back to haunt both he and the American people. Thus, we find ourselves confronting an even greater threat from terrorism, the increasingly growing specter of a new cold war with Russia, new aggression from China, saber rattling from the likes of North Korea and so on all leading to a crisis of confidence from our allies culminating in thrashing our closest ally in the middle east, Israel and worst of all, the apparent appeasement of Iran as it marches onward in its drive to develop a nuclear weapon.

In seeking reelection, as noted above, our president and his followers sought to put a lid on foreign affairs to keep any problems in that arena from putting a damper on his campaign for a second term. Thus, when a crazy army officer slaughtered his fellow soldiers at an army base in Oklahoma, ranting militant Islamic oaths, the administration called his act, “work place violence.”

Against this backdrop, the “head in the sand dunes” philosophy was clearly evident in the events leading up to the Benghazi attack on the American compound on the anniversary of 911 in 2012.

Whatever may yet be discovered about the attack in Benghazi, it is inescapable that there were inadequate preparations to protect embassy personnel at the compound in Benghazi.  In the summer of 2012, there were no fewer than six terrorist attacks in Libya, including an attempted assassination attempt on the British  ambassador and a bomb blast which blew a hole in the wall of the Benghazi compound for which a pro-al-Qaeda outfit took credit. Although the State Department had Libya at the highest risk level, when Ambassador Stevens sent a request for more security saying, “The security condition in Libya is unpredictable, volatile and violent,” his request was denied, the reason given that there were inadequate resources to do so and “for other reasons.”  Other State Department personnel also requested enhanced security. They received no response to their requests.

In the days leading up to September 11, 2012, an intell bulletin posted at the CIA annex in Benghazi warned, “Be advised…reports from locals that a Western facility or U.S. embassy/consulate/government target will be attacked in the next week.”

When ambassador Stevens traveled to Benghazi, his security detail was minimal and included no professional soldiers. Ex seals and at least one former Marine sniper were at the CIA annex as private contracted security. Their story is brilliantly told in 13 Days, What Really Happened in Benghazi.

Unless one is prepared to question their veracity, their account gives a blow by blow description of the events leading up to the attacks on the compound and the annex and their heroic response to those attacks in which two of them were killed.

Of critical import in their story is a twenty minute delay in which they sat in armored cars waiting for an order to proceed the one mile from the annex to the compound to aid the ambassador while a CIA station chief repeatedly told them to “stand down” as he talked to some unidentified source or sources and ended up telling the operatives, he wanted or someone up the line wanted the response to the attack on the compound to be handled by local militia.

At the risk of their jobs, they finally ignored “Bob” and proceeded to the compound anyway. During the twenty minute delay, the building in which Ambassador Stevens and two other men took refuge was torched by the attackers and Stevens and another man died from smoke inhalation.

The operatives indicate that had they received the “go order” when first notified of the attack on the compound, they could have saved the ambassador. Their conclusion is more than credible based on the time line they outline.

The second issue which has been widely discussed is whether help  could have been sent in time to at least save the men who died in the later attack on the annex. Although an unmanned drone made it to the air over the annex, the DOD received no orders to send in other planes or rapid response teams, apparently because those making the decisions in the White House were unaware that such response teams were even available. The larger question, however, relates to not only why adequate security was not provided on the ground but also why if, as claimed by the administration, military resources were not in a position to respond in a timely manner, why they weren’t available given the continuing threat level in Libya.

If State had requested those resources to be in place, then it is logical to assume DOD would have provided them. But, of course, there is no evidence that State made any such request of the military.

The most controversial question is whether the administration misled the American public by claiming for at least two weeks after the event that the attack in Benghazi was the result of some U Tube video. On the night of the attack, Washington, including the White House received info on the attack at 4 p.m. Washington time. This infor clearly indicated the compound was being attacked by terrorists. The President instructed his staff to take all appropriate steps to respond to the attack before he apparently went to bed so he would be well rested for his jet trip the next day to Las Vegas for a fund raiser.

Here is what we now know. First, on the morning before the attack, a suspicious character was noted taking pictures of the compound from an adjacent building. Second, there was no mob in the streets leading up to the attack as would normally be expected as a spontaneous attack unfolded. Third, in the attack on the compound, the militants were armed with AK 47’s and grenade launchers. It strains credibility to believe that demonstrators angry over some video would grab their grenade launchers laying around in their kitchens before spontaneously storming the compound. Fourth, the two Americans killed in the annex attack were killed by mortar fire. Fifth, the attacks were carried out in at least para military fashion. The mortar fire marched across the compound until it found its targets and two men were later captured who were probably spotters for the mortar rounds.

No one on the ground had any warning of the impending attack in the hours or minutes before it happened and each of the participants on the ground believed it was a coordinated and planned assault using the element  of surprise, a standard military tactic.

Despite or probably because this evidence could not be ignored, the  President claimed in his foreign policy debate with his presidential opponent that he had labeled the Benghazi attack as a terrorist attack. In watching that debate and the prior speech in which he claimed he had said that, it is obvious that in that speech his reference to terrorism was generic and he made no mention of Benghazi. If he intended that, he didn’t say it and if he had meant to refer to Benghazi, why did his administration, including his then U.N. representative and his Secretary of State continue to maintain the false narrative that the attack was a result of some video after he made his speech in the rose garden.

Given the impending election and his argument that his greatest accomplishment in foreign affairs was that he had won the war on terror, it is incredible to believe that there is any other explanation than the obvious conclusion that admitting the attack had been the result of terrorism would have put a large hole in that narrative just at the very moment when the American people were about to vote on his reelection.  Likewise, that narrative also explains why security was not adequately provided.

The only other rational explanation is incompetence, pure and simple. To accept this conclusion, you would have to believe that senior State Department officials were totally incompetent and worse, criminally negligent. If that was the case, then no one was held accountable. A few people in the State Department were reassigned and the matter was seemingly forgotten.

In her testimony before Congress, the ex Secretary of State, being badgered by the opposition party, angrily said, “What does it matter?”

It matters, ma’am because four Americans died and you were in charge when it happened. In the real world, people who make mistakes at this level are held accountable.