Would Americans Put Up With This ?

Cliff May at Townhall.com posted an article today about Sderot, a town in Israel that has been under fire from Hamas for thirteen years.

This is a bomb shelter in a playground at Sderot.

The article reports:

The people of Sderot have been under intermittent attack for 13 years. More than 15,000 rockets have been fired from Gaza at Israeli targets – 12,000 of those since Israel withdrew from the territory in September 2005. Those Israelis who believed that giving up all claims to Gaza would bring peace — or at least contribute to the “peace process” — have been proven wrong.

Israelis are often advised by foreign friends not to “over-react” to the missile attacks. Imagine if Vancouver were lobbing missiles into Seattle. How might Russians respond if Poles were shooting rockets at Moscow suburbs?

The rockets can be categorized according to their markings:

More than twenty types of missiles have been identified. Hamas colors its missile red and green, which gives them an almost Christmassy look. The plain red ones are courtesy of Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Yellow and red indicate the Al Aksa Martyrs’ Brigades. The black ones are from al Qaeda which also maintains a presence in Gaza. These weapons are often called Qassams but that’s a generic name that can refer to any improvised missile.

If Sderot were El Paso, Texas, and rockets were coming from Mexico, how long would we put up with this? The ongoing rocket attacks in Sderot are a fact of life. That fact needs to be part of the equation when we deal with Israel and the so-called peace process. If the Palestinians truly wanted peace, would the rockets be flying?

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Confirmation Hearing For Chuck Hagel

This story is based on two articles–one posted by Paul Mirengoff at Power Line today and one posted at the Los Angeles Times today. Both articles were reporting on the Senate confirmation hearings of former Senator Chuck Hagel.

The headline on the Los Angeles Times article is “Chuck Hagel, an antiwar secretary of Defense.” That is an interesting statement.

The article at Power Line reports:

First, Cruz (Senator Ted Cruz) played excerpts from a tape of Hagel’s 2009 appearance on al Jazeera, in which a caller suggested that Israel had committed war crimes. In responding to the question, Hagel did not dispute the caller’’s statement. Cruz also pointed to statement by Hagel that Israel had engaged in “the sickening slaughter” of Hezbollah, which sounds a bit like war crimes.

The American friendship with Israel goes back to 1948 when Israel became a nation. To accuse Israel of slaughter when Hezbollah routinely lobs rockets into civilian Israeli population centers is simply not factual. Senator Hagel may represent the President’s views on Israel, but those views are not good for either America or Israel.

The Power Line article further reported:

Next, Cruz played an excerpt from the same interview in which the al Jazeera host read a reader e-mail claiming that the United States has served as the world’’s “bully.” This time Hagel not only failed to take exception and stick up for his country, he said on al Jazeera he found some merit in the claim, calling it “a good observation” (the Washington Post report linked to above fails to report this fact).

To me, this is the problem with the nomination. Traditionally America has acted as a policeman in the world–coming to the aid of people when democracy was in danger. We have not played that role under President Obama–we have supported a revolution in Egypt that has led to a government that is anything but democratic and we refused to help the green revolution in Iran.

I suspect Senator Hagel will be confirmed. Unless there is some major scandal associated with a President’s cabinet nominee, I believe the candidate should be confirmed. Elections have consequences. President Obama was legally elected. Unfortunately, I think the cabinet appointments of Senator Kerry as Secretary of State and Senator Hagel as Secretary of Defense will hurt America in the long run.

Israel’s Actions Ultimately Protect The Middle East

Yesterday the Washington Post reported on the Israeli air strike inside Syria. The strike was apparently aimed at a new SA-17 antiaircraft missile battery the Syrians had placed northwest of Damascus.

The article reports:

The Israeli attack on the SA-17 missiles was first reported Wednesday by the Associated Press. What’s intriguing is that the same area that was hit — the Jamraya research center in the suburb known as Dummar, northwest of Damascus — is also a center for chemical weapons research. This led some Syrian opposition sources to believe that the Israelis’ real target was the chemical weapons center.

…The real significance of Wednesday’s attack, to me, is that the Israelis have laid down a marker. This is the first time their jets are known to have staged combat operations inside Syria since a 2007 raid on a nuclear reactor, a preemptive strike which to this day Israel officially refuses to confirm. The Israelis have now shown that they are prepared to strike if they see evidence of weapons that might threaten them — such as the advanced SA-17 missiles or, down the road, chemical weapons that are on the move.

Israel just made every country in the area a little bit safer. There is no telling what will happen to Syria’s chemical weapons when the current regime fails. Hopefully the Israeli strike has made them less useful.Enhanced by Zemanta

The Latest War On Nature

2012-12-27_20-38-02_218This article is based on a story posted yesterday in the New York Times. I will admit that my reaction to the story is totally biased. I am the proud owner of two shelter cats. I fostered shelter cats for about a year and a half before I adopted these two. I also need to mention that my cats are strictly indoor cats. The shelter I worked with was a no-kill shelter that had a TNR (trap-neuter-return) program.

The article in the New York Times reports:

In a report that scaled up local surveys and pilot studies to national dimensions, scientists from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and the Fish and Wildlife Service estimated that domestic cats in the United States — both the pet Fluffies that spend part of the day outdoors and the unnamed strays and ferals that never leave it — kill a median of 2.4 billion birds and 12.3 billion mammals a year, most of them native mammals like shrews, chipmunks and voles rather than introduced pests like the Norway rat.

Cats do kill birds and mice and other animals. It’s what they do.

The article further reports:

The estimated kill rates are two to four times higher than mortality figures previously bandied about, and position the domestic cat as one of the single greatest human-linked threats to wildlife in the nation. More birds and mammals die at the mouths of cats, the report said, than from automobile strikes, pesticides and poisons, collisions with skyscrapers and windmills and other so-called anthropogenic causes.

The article reports on the TNR programs:

The Washington Humane Society and many other animal welfare organizations support the use of increasingly popular trap-neuter-return programs, in which unowned cats are caught, vaccinated, spayed and, if no home can be found for them, returned to the outdoor colony from which they came. Proponents see this approach as a humane alternative to large-scale euthanasia, and they insist that a colony of neutered cats can’t reproduce and thus will eventually disappear.

Conservationists say that, far from diminishing the population of unowned cats, trap and release programs may be making it worse, by encouraging people to abandon their pets to outdoor colonies that volunteers often keep lovingly fed.

The problem here is not the cats–it’s the irresponsibility of the people who abandon them. The feral colonies will die out because of the TNR program. Looking into the future, I see myself needing cat licenses for my pets. I truly think this is ridiculous.

Just a note. As I stated, I have two indoor cats. Since they were rescued, they have not been outside or expressed any desire to be outside (they are a little more than a year old). However, the average lifespan of a field mouse that manages to get into my house is about 5 seconds. Hunting is a feline instinct, and cats should not be condemned for it!

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The Economy Is Shrinking–Not Growing

The Washington Free Beacon reported today that in the fourth quarter of 2012, the U. S. Gross Domestic Product fell .1 percent. This is the first decline in three years.

The article reports:

“The number isn’t as bad as it looks,” said Paul Edelstein, director of financial economics at IHS Global Insight in Lexington, Massachusetts, whose team projected a 0.3 percent gain, the lowest in the Bloomberg survey. “This really was a story about a payback in national defense spending. Consumer spending growth picked up, fixed investment was fairly strong.” […]

Government outlays dropped at a 6.6 percent annual pace from October through December, subtracting 1.3 percentage points from GDP. The decrease was led by a 22.2 percent fall in defense that was the biggest since 1972, following the Vietnam War.

Meanwhile, everyone in Washington is blaming everyone else.

The Hill reported today:

Carney said economic observers were “rightly appalled” by the threat of sequestration or default to drive a debt deal, and charged that Republicans were harming the economy to the benefit of the wealthiest Americans.

“It can’t be we’ll let sequester kick in because we insist tax loopholes remain in place for corporate jet-owners,” Carney said.

Brendan Buck, a spokesman for Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), pointed the finger of blame for the still-looming sequester back at the White House

“These arbitrary, automatic cuts were a creation and demand of the White House in 2011,” said Buck. “Twice the House has passed legislation to replace them with common sense cuts and reforms. If there was any uncertainty late last year about the sequester, it was because the Democratic-controlled Senate, per usual, never lifted a finger to pass a plan to replace it.”

Let’s back up a minute. The Senate has been operating on continuing resolutions since 2009 because they have failed to pass a budget. These resolutions allow them to keep the spending at the 2009 levels. We are going into debt at the rate of more than $1 trillion dollars a year because of those continuing resolutions. Has anyone considered the impact of runaway spending on the financial health of the nation? Has anyone considered the fact that businesses are holding their breath waiting to see what the impact of Obamacare will be? Has anyone considered that Americans knew at the end of last year that their paychecks would be smaller after January 1st?

We are now more than four years into bad fiscal policy. At some point that fact will be recognized (even in Washington). The answer, unfortunately, will not come until the 2014 elections. At that point Americans will have to decide whether to continue on our present path or try something different. I strongly suggest we try something different–controlling spending and passing a budget would be a great start.


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Even Internationally Gun Laws Don’t Work

On Monday Reuters reported that a large weapons shipment was intercepted off Yemen. The shipment was from Iran and contained weapons for Yemeni insurgents. The shipment included surface-to-air missiles. It should be mentioned that surface-to-air missiles were the deciding factor in the war Afghanistan fought against the Russians–when America supplied the shoulder held weapons, the mujahideen began shooting down the Russian airplanes and eventually kicked the Russians out of the country.

The article reports:

Yemen’s government said in a statement the shipment was intercepted in Yemeni waters, close to the Arabian Sea. It said Yemeni Coast Guard officials boarded the vessel, which flew multiple flags and had eight Yemeni crew members on board.

“Authorities are continuing to investigate the vessel’s shipping route by analyzing navigation records found on board the ship,” the statement said.

Yemen is dealing with Al Qaeda in the north and insurgents sponsored by Iran in other areas. This is another instance where Iran is trying to increase Shi’ite influence where Sunni Muslims are in charge. Iran is not only a danger to Israel, it is a danger to all the Sunni Muslim countries in the area. It would not be a surprise to see some of those Sunni countries support Israel as it seeks to slow Iran’s progress in developing a nuclear bomb. It is also important to remember that one of the main supporters of Iranian nuclear activity is Russia. They are supplying technology, hardware and scientists,.

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Our Legal System Turned Upside Down

CBN News reported yesterday that 7th U.S. Circuit of Appeals in Chicago has struck down an Indiana law that bars sex offenders from using social networking websites.

The article reports:

The American Civil Liberties Union filed the suit on behalf of sex offenders, including a man who served three years for child exploitation.

Supporters of the law have stated that they will work to put together a new law that will get past the Court of Appeals. It should be noted that the law did not forbid sex offenders from using the Internet–the restriction was only only on the use of social networking websites. The question here is, “Are we willing to protect our children from people who have already shown that they prey on children?”

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What Difference Does It Make ?

On Monday, Investors.com posted an article about Hillary Clinton‘s testimony before Congress last week. The sound bite of the week seems to be Ms. Clinton’s rather heated statement, “We had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they’d go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make?”

Notice that she does not mention a planned attack in her list. The problem is not actually the motive behind the attack–the problem is that the Obama Administration lied about the motive even after it became obvious that they were lying.

The article concludes:

In a larger context, the Benghazi attack showed that you cannot unilaterally end the “war on terror” or the terrorists’ war on us, by declaring victory.

For years, the Bush administration’s phrase “war on terror” was avoided like the plague by the Obama administration, even if that required the Fort Hood massacre to be classified as “workplace violence.”

But, no matter how clever the rhetoric, reality nevertheless rears its ugly head.

Once the Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi is seen for what it was — a highly coordinated and highly successful operation by terrorists who were said to have been vanquished — that calls into question the Obama administration’s Middle East foreign policy.

That is why it still matters.

The war on terror will continue whether or not we choose to fight it. Those who wish to do America harm will continue to train and arm themselves for the fight whether we are fighting or not.

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Private Property Rights Upheld

On Thursday the Institute for Justice website posted an article about the Motel Caswell, a family-run motel in Tewksbury. The government had attempted to take the motel away from the Caswell family, claiming that the motel facilitated drug crimes.

The article reports:

…But the court found that Mr. Caswell “did not know the guests involved in the drug crimes, did not know of their anticipated criminal behavior at the time they registered as guests, and did not know of the drug crimes while they were occurring.”

“This outrageous forfeiture action should never have been filed in the first place,” said Larry Salzman, an IJ attorney.  “What the government did amounted to little more than a grab for what they saw as quick cash under the guise of civil forfeiture.”

Caswell said, “I couldn’t have fought this fight without the help of the Institute for Justice.  It is hard to believe anything like this goes on in our country, but the government goes after people they think can’t afford to fight.  But with IJ’s help, we put up a heck of a fight and have won.  The public needs to stand up against these abuses of power.”

It is encouraging to see that the Caswells won their case and that there was an organization willing to stand with them to fight government overreach.

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About Those Stimulus Reports

Yesterday’s Weekly Standard reported that the required reports on the President’s $787,000,000,000 economic “stimulus” (now estimated to cost $831,000,000,000) have not been released.

The article reports:

In its last report, published in 2011, the president’s own Council of Economic Advisors released an estimate showing that, for every $317,000 in “stimulus” spending that had by then gone out the door, only one job had been created or saved.  Even in Washington, that’s not considered good bang for the buck.

Quarterly reports are required by law–the last on was posted in 2011. Where is the transparency the President keeps talking about?

The article concludes:

With only 58.6 percent of Americans currently employed — down 2.4 percent from the time of Obama’s first inauguration — it’s not surprising that the Obama administration doesn’t really want to fulfill it legal responsibilities and release subsequent reports on its failed “stimulus.”  However, it hardly seems fair — to use one of Obama’s favorite words — that the rich and (extremely) powerful think that they can choose whether or not to abide by the laws they spearhead and sign, while the rest of us are forced to obey them. 

Perhaps it’s time for the rich and powerful to do their fair share and obey the laws that they enforce against others.  And perhaps this is something that the House of Representatives might want to look into.

The only thing the stimulus did successfully was increase our indebtedness. It’s time to stop the excessive spending.

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This Should Be Interesting

Yesterday the Weekly Standard Blog posted an article on President Obama’s weekly address. The President stated:

“Here in America, we know the free market is the greatest force for economic progress the world has ever known.  But we also know the free market works best for everyone when we have smart, commonsense rules in place to prevent irresponsible behavior,”

That is an amazing statement. First of all, anyone who has children understands that putting rules in place to prevent irresponsible behavior does not always work–allowing people to suffer the consequences of their irresponsible behavior eventually works–sometimes it takes a while. Unfortunately our society has padded the floor too many times and has helped people avoid the consequences of their irresponsible behavior. Controlling the free market is not the answer–allowing the free market to work properly is.

Meanwhile, speaking of irresponsible behavior–what about irresponsible  behavior that was encouraged by the government?

In June of 2012, Free Republic reported the following:

Remember the outrage over the exposure of ACORN travesties including voter fraud and offering advice on tax evasion that led to Congress overwhelmingly voting to defund the scandal plagued organization (345-71 in the House, 85-11 in the Senate)?

Less salacious, but far more economically disastrous was the “starring role” that ACORN played in precipitating the financial meltdown of 2008 initiated by the sub-prime mortgage market meltdown. According to acclaimed investigative journalist Matthew Vadum, ACORN’s “wanton disregard for the economic wellbeing of America” through the very direct involvement for decades in federal housing policy and programs at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, perpetually weakening underwriting standards, and ignoring or even falsifying loan documentation put ACORN squarely at the center of the collapse of the sub-prime mortgage house of cards.

Huge numbers of loans that eventually became the problem trace to ACORN originations. Vadum discovered that ACORN housing brochures openly bragged about how they undermined mortgage loan underwriting standards.

Joe McGavin used to be the director of counseling for ACORN housing in Chicago and operations manager for an ACORN offshoot, Affordable Housing Centers of America (ACHOA). After the scandal-ridden collapse of ACORN, McGavin resurfaced in 2011 as the new director of the Illinois Hardest Hit Program. The Hardest Hit Fund (HHF) is one of many programs established by the Obama Administration to “assist homeowners who have experienced an income reduction due to unemployment or substantial underemployment” during the economic recession.

Mr. President, clean your own house first.

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A Wise Decision By A Court

The Daily Caller is reporting today that the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency cannot force refiners to use cellulosic biofuels, which aren’t commercially available.

The article reports:

The court sided with the country’s chief oil and gas lobby, the American Petroleum Institute, in striking down the 2012 EPA mandate that would have forced refineries to purchase more than $8 million in credits for 8.65 million of gallons of the cellulosic biofuel. However, none of the biofuel is commercially available.

The decision applies to the cellulosic biofuel which is currently not commercially available–it does not apply to  EPA regulations regarding other renewable fuels, like ethanol and biodiesel.

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The Trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Has Been Put At Risk

Today’s U. K. Telegraph posted a story about a legal problem the trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has encountered that may put the entire trial at risk.

The article reports:

…However, Brig Gen Mark Martins, the chief prosecutor, said the charge of conspiracy should be dropped because it was no longer “legally viable” following a court ruling that conspiracy – a charge that seeks to punish suspects for association with al-Qaeda – was not a recognised war crime under international law. This meant it could not legitimately be brought before a war-crimes tribunal such as Guantánamo.

The ruling by an appeals court in Washington DC overturned the conviction against Osama bin Laden‘s driver, Salim Hamdan, and has also undermined the conviction of Ali Hamza al-Bahlul, who made al-Qaeda propaganda films.

This is what happens when civilian courts get involved in military matters. The decision opens the door for  appeals of all the charges being faced by the September 11 co-conspirators and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who was convicted in Yemen over the bombing of USS Cole.

Hopefully someone with some common sense will get involved in this situation.

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Reza Kahlili (google him if you don’t know his story!) posted an article at World Net Daily today about an explosion deep within Iran’s Fordow nuclear facility.

The article reports:

The regime’s uranium enrichment process takes place at two known sites: the Natanz facility with more than 10,000 centrifuges and Fordow with more than 2,700. The regime currently has enough low-grade (3.5 percent) uranium stockpiled for six nuclear bombs if further enriched.

Israel has been working quietly (and sometimes not so quietly) to sabotage Iran’s nuclear program, so it is quite possible they might have some connection to this explosion. In the past, Israel and America worked on the Stuxnet computer virus, but since President Obama bragged about being part of that program, I suspect there has been less cooperation between the two countries.

The article at World Net Daily (WND) concludes:

Sources in the Islamic regime previously have revealed exclusively to WND the existence of:

It’s going to be interesting to see if anyone takes credit for causing this explosion.

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If This Decision Stands, What Happens Next ?

The Daily Caller (along with many other news sources) is reporting today that the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has ruled that President Obama’s appointments to the National Labor Relations Board made during the time that the President declared that the Senate was in recess are unconstitutional. The President does not have the power to declare whether or not the Senate is in recess–that is up to the Senate.

The article reports:

The Jan. 25 ruling came after Republican senators filed a case arguing that Obama did not have the power to appoint top-level officials via a “recess appointment” if the Senate says it is in session.

Obama made that claim when he announced the appointment of two people to the National Labor Relations Board in January 2012.

The appointments allowed the board to subsequently issue a series of pro-labor, anti-business decisions. Following the court’s ruling, the board’s decisions are now vulnerable to a series of lawsuits.

Obama used the same claim to appoint Democratic lawyer Richard Cordray to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in January 2012.

The Landmark Legal Foundation further explains:

…three appointments to the five-member NLRB by President Obama made on January 4, 2012, under the Constitution’s Recess Appointments Clause (Article II, Section 2, Clause 3), were not valid  because the Senate was not in recess at the time the appointments were announced. 

There have been a number of rulings by the NLRB and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau since these recess appointments. Theoretically all those actions will be nullified because the people making the decisions were not legally entitled to make them.

The specific case that was ruled on was Noel Canning v. National Labor Relations Board. I am sure that we have not heard the end of this.

This Is Not The Path I Think We Should Be On

The statement “There are no atheists in foxholes” came out of World War II. Its origin is uncertain–it is sometimes credited to U. S. Military Chaplain William T. Cummings during the Battle of Bataan and sometimes credited to Ernie Pyle. That information is from Wikipedia, so keep that in mind.

At any rate, it seems that at the present time Christians may not be allowed in foxholes. Fox News reported yesterday that the Christian symbols have been removed from the chapel at Forward Operating Base Orgun-E in Afghanistan.

The article quotes a letter that American Atheists president David Silverman sent to the Pentagon:

“Soldiers with minority religious beliefs and atheists often feel like second-class citizens when Christianity is seemingly officially endorsed by their own base,” Silverman told Fox News. “We are very happy the Pentagon and the Army decided to do the right thing.”

I thought religious freedom was one of the things our military was defending. The military takes an oath to defend the U. S. Constitution which supports freedom of religion. I am sorry if a soldier was offended by the cross, but the Constitution does not tell him that he has the right not to be offended. Is he also offended by the Star of David or the Crescent Moon? Guess what? I really don’t care. Christianity is a part of the heritage of our country and of our military. There is no reason to strip our bases of that heritage.

The article posted one reaction to the move:

The Christian cleansing brought condemnation from religious liberty advocates like Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.

“Under this Administration, the military has become a Christianity-free zone,” Perkins told Fox News. “As a veteran, there’s an irony here. You put on the uniform to defend freedom — chief among them is freedom of religion. And yet, you are stripped of your own freedom to practice your faith.”

“This is not about imposing religion on a people we’ve freed from oppression,” Perkins said. “This is about American soldiers having the ability to practice their own faith.”

The article concludes:

“My personal feeling is that it is a direct attack against Christianity and Judaism,” one soldier told Fox News. “When you look at the regulation and you notice the four items directly quoted are crosses, crucifixes, the Star of David and the Menorah.”

The Army regulation makes no specific mention of the wheel of Dharma, Pentagram, Pentacle, Star and Crescent or the Yin and Yang symbol, he noted.

And while Christian symbols are being removed from chapels, there has been at least one instance of a gay pride flag being raised at a base in Afghanistan. Click here to read our original story.

Photographs purporting to show the rainbow flag flying over the base stirred widespread debate after it was posted on Facebook.

This is not a good path for America to be traveling.


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Leading The Way In Spite Of Washington

It doesn’t take a genius to predict that the Obama Administration will shut down fracking (hydraulic fracturing) on government land and attempt to shut down fracking on private land sometime in the next few months. However, in the meantime the increase in fracking in the United States has had unexpected consequences around the world.

Yesterday the Washington Times reported that other countries are attempting to copy the process of fracking to produce shale gas.

The article reports:

…More than 100 exploration concessions to more than two dozen companies have been awarded, and the Polish State Geological Institute estimates that the country’s shale gas deposits may secure domestic production for at least 25 years. Britain has lifted a moratorium on fracking that was imposed after a previous operation was blamed for sparking an earth tremor.

Argentina, the largest producer of natural gas in South America, is eyeing the practice on a significant scale to better exploit its supply.

Needless to say, the environmentalists do not approve. Think about that for a minute. Fracking provides a path to energy independence for a number of nations around the world. It reduces worldwide dependence on Arab oil and the funding of terrorism. There is no proof that fracking harms the environment; in fact, studies so far have shown that it does not. Cheaper energy provides prosperity for more people and freedom for more people. Why would the environmentalists object to that? Maybe it’s time to examine the agenda behind their agenda.

The article concludes:

Some already are warning that Europe may miss out on a global energy revolution if the green forces on the Continent prevail.

“Some European countries already made the decision not to go into shale gas, so naturally when they do that there will not be development,” Mohamed al-Mady, chief executive of Saudi petrochemical giant Sabic, told the Financial Times newspaper. “I think the trend you will see [is] more investors going to North America, China and the Middle East.”

As in the U.S., Mr. Medlock said, it comes down to “political geography” more than anything else. A ban on fracking in Vermont was relatively easy to achieve because the state is thought to have little in the way of recoverable natural gas.

The same holds true in a country such as France, Mr. Medlock said. For Poland and others, where fracking likely will lead to tangible energy benefits, critics will continue to have a tougher time mounting serious opposition.

This is going to be an interesting fight between those who want freedom and prosperity wherever possible and those who want only control of the population.

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Another Cost Of Runaway Spending

CNS News is reporting today that the amount of the U. S. Government debt held by the Federal Reserve has increased by 257 percent since President Barack Obama was first inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2009, and the Fed is currently the single largest holder of U.S. government debt.

The article reports:

Since Obama has been president, the publicly held portion of the U.S. government debt (as opposed to the “intragovernmental” debt the government has borrowed from federal trust funds such as the Social Security Trust Fund) has increased by  $5,264,245,866,257.40. The $.221369 in additional U.S. government debt the Fed has purchased during Obama’s presidency equals 23 percent of all the new publicly held debt the Treasury has issued during that time.

Please read that again. That paragraph refers to the fact that the government has borrowed from federal trust funds such as the Social Security Trust Fund. Remember, this is the government that is referring to Social Security as an entitlement. I don’t think I am too far off base when I say that the way the government has handled the Social Security Trust Fund should convince us that we should give the government as little of our money as possible–they did not handle money well.

Unless we elect people who are willing to curb Washington’s runaway spending, our nation will be bankrupt by the time the next president takes office.

A Word From Someone Who Understands The Issue

Ky Hunter served in the Marine Corps. She was a Cobra pilot during the Iraq War. When I first met her a number of years ago, I asked her how that was possible since as far as I knew women were not in combat. She answered, “I wasn’t in combat, I was a few hundred feet up and a few hundred feet back.” I loved her answer, and I respect her views on the subject. She posted the following on her blog, welcometokylandblogspot.com yesterday:

Those Who Should, Will

Secretary Panetta lifted the ban on women on combat roles.  The Washington Post calls this a “watershed policy change that was informed by women’s valor in Iraq and Afghanistan and that removes the remaining barrier to a fully inclusive military.”
Given my time spent as an AH-1W pilot in the Marine Corps, my phone, email, Facebook, twitter, etc has been bombarded with questions about how I feel about this.  So rather than answer everyone individually, below, I wrap up all question and give my response. 
First, a disclaimer.  I am no longer in the Marine Corps.  The views, idea, feeling, rants, offensive comments, off color remarks, or general pissyness are mine and mine alone.  They do not reflect the the views of the Corps, or University of Denver.  So, with that aside, here I go. 
Historically, the central question of the women in combat debate has been “are women physically capable of performing the duties required for combat?” This question is quickly and easily answered.  Objectively, women are increasingly proving themselves as physically capable as men.  In both endurance events and tests of strength-to-weight, women are evening the playing field and living up to what has been thought of as “mens standards.”  Women have also proven themselves tactically as capable as men in all objectively measurable fields. 
If these objective standards – how fast one can run, how much one can lift, how well one can shoot – were the only indicators of success in combat there would be no argument or debate; those meeting the standard would be inarguably successful.  However, success in combat units is determined by more than just objective abilities, and thus the debate deepens. It is universally accepted that the safety and success of our military units is paramount.  It is for this reason that I believe the debate needs to shift away from “are women capable” of serving to “are women a value added”.   This changes the argument from “can or cannot” to “should or should not”; a question that needs to be addressed top-down rather than bottom-up. 
Throughout the last decade-plus of the United States’ involvement in the conflicts encompassing the Global War on Terror, there is no arguing that women have found themselves “in combat situations.”  In these situations, women have shown valor, strength, leadership, fortitude, and upheld the values of honor, courage and commitment.  Many have given the ultimate sacrifice, and each and every one of them deserves a place in history and our hearts as a true hero. 
But being “in combat situations” is not the same as being a “combatant.”  Combatants are offensive.  Their mission is to close with and destroy the enemy.  They seek engagement.  Their primary purpose is to assert superiority over an enemy force. 
Having the technical and tactical skill to react properly when coming under fire during the performance of primary duties – whether it be an ambushed logistics patrol, FET team patrol, or MP checkpoint attack – provides a foundation of knowledge and experience necessary for the argument supporting a woman’s ability to be in combat.  However, mastery of this baseline alone does not necessarily equate to success of a woman in the role of a combatant. 
Successful combat units are a product of the intangible – the fabled esprit de corps – as much as technical and tactical proficiency.  This elusive intangible cannot be “trained in” to a recruit.  It cannot be taught in infantry school.  No amount of extra pushups, remedial weapons training or nights in the field ensure that it exists. 
Women are just as capable as men of developing the necessary esprit de corps.  But it cannot be forced.  I hope that in implementing these changes, no arbitrary timelines are put in place.  If it takes 2 weeks, 2 months, 2 years or 2 decades for the right women to come into combat roles, so be it.  The US military is an all-volunteer force, and to respect that tradition, combat roles must be volunteer.  Quota systems will only set the work of every woman who has served back, by making light of the sacrifices involved in paving the paths they did.
I have the upmost trust that the DoD will set standards appropriately.  And I sincerely hope that the civilian oversight and general population will let this change grow organically and fruitfully, while respecting the grave responsibility for life given to each member of the US military. 

I can say from experience that the road for these women will not be easy.  I have chronicled much of my coming to grips with what my experience and service mean.  But I know that I, and all my sisters in arms, are more than capable to serve in all roles necessary for defense of this great nation.  Yet it will not be easy.  And hopefully the public will understand that in such a situation we all must be patient for the women who should emerge to lead our sons and daughters in arms, and not force them in their time.     

Ky, thank you for your service, and thank you for your words of wisdom.

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An Intentional Lie Or A Lack Of Knowledge ?

Fox News posted a story today about one aspect of Secretary of State Clinton’s testimony before Congress yesterday. I am sure there will be many stories about her testimony to come, but there was one aspect that was very telling.

As I listened to Secretary Clinton, it became very obvious that although she ‘accepted responsibility’ for the deaths at Benghazi, she placed part of the blame for the attack on budget cuts–indirectly blaming Republicans because Democrats only do budget cuts in the defense budget.

When you examine the State Department budget numbers for the past several years, blaming budget cuts does not hold water.

The article at Fox News points out:

Budget numbers, though, show the overall diplomatic security budget has ballooned over the past decade. While there were modest decreases in funding in recent years — and Congress has approved less than was requested — the overall security budget has more than doubled since fiscal 2004. 

For that year, the budget was $640 million.  It steadily climbed to $1.6 billion in fiscal 2010. It dipped to $1.5 billion the following year and roughly $1.35 billion in fiscal 2012. 

Slightly more has been requested for fiscal 2013. 

It’s difficult to tell how much was specifically allocated for Benghazi. Tripoli was the only post mentioned in the department’s fiscal 2013 request — funding for that location did slip, from $11.5 million in fiscal 2011 to $10.1 million the following year. Slightly more has been requested for fiscal 2013. 

Ignoring requests for increased security is not a budget issue. If the money was not available to protect our ambassador and staff at Benghazi, the ambassador and staff should have been moved elsewhere. The other part of this story that seems to be ignored is the report that Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty. were asked to stand down rather than help.

I am sure there will be more questions as Secretary Clinton’s testimony is analyzed. What I am not sure of is whether the picture of what actually happened at Benghazi will become any clearer.

Fired For Being Good At His Job

This story is based on two sources–one at Breitbart.com on Monday and one at The Weekly Standard on Tuesday. Both sources report that General James Mattis, the current commander of U.S. Central Command, is being moved out of his job before that would normally happen. What was his crime?

The Weekly Standard reports:

…Pentagon insiders say that he rubbed civilian officials the wrong way — not because he went all “mad dog,” which is his public image, and the view at the White House, but rather because he pushed the civilians so hard on considering the second- and third-order consequences of military action against Iran. Some of those questions apparently were uncomfortable. Like, what do you do with Iran once the nuclear issue is resolved and it remains a foe? What do you do if Iran then develops conventional capabilities that could make it hazardous for U.S. Navy ships to operate in the Persian Gulf? He kept saying, “And then what?”

Inquiry along these lines apparently was not welcomed — at least in the CENTCOM view. The White House view, apparently, is that Mattis was too hawkish, which is not something I believe, having seen him in the field over the years. I’d call him a tough-minded realist, someone who’d rather have tea with you than shoot you, but is happy to end the conversation either way.

This is not a White House that embraces the idea of secondary consequences of their actions. If the White House had looked at secondary consequences, it is possible that the Arab Spring might not have turned into the Arab Winter.

The article at Breitbart reports:

Mattis also expressed concern over the consequences of certain aspects of the U.S. approach to Afghanistan and Pakistan. It seems this line of reasoning didn’t sit well with National Security Adviser Tom Donilon.

The Obama Administration does not seem to take kindly to people who ask probing questions.

The article at the Weekly Standard concludes:

We should all be worried. The combination of President Obama’s nomination of Chuck Hagel to be secretary of defense—to be his hatchet man to slash the defense budget without regard to geopolitical realities—and the early retirement of a general renowned for his powerful blend of strategic sense and candor, bodes ill for the security of the United States. With a yes man as secretary of defense and a signal to the uniformed military that the frank and forceful presentation of the military’s view throughout the strategy-making and implementation process is not welcome runs counter to the principles of sound civil-military relations.   

Of course, a president has every right to choose the generals he wants, but it is also the case that he usually gets the generals he deserves. By pushing Mattis overboard, the administration is sending a message that it doesn’t want smart, independently minded generals who speak candidly to their civilian leaders. The message that generals and admirals may receive that they should go along to get along, which is a bad message for the health of U.S. civil-military relations.

By removing Mattis, the President has taken a wise voice out of defense discussions. Because we currently live in a very dangerous world, that is not a good thing.

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Jurassic Park Revisited

Yes, I realize that what I am about to report does not have to do with the Jurassic Era–it has to do with the movie. Fox News reported yesterday that Professor George Church, a professor of genetics at Harvard’s Medical School, wants to bring Neanderthal man back to life. He is looking for an ‘adventurous woman’ to help him in his quest.

The article reports some of Professor Church’s previous comments:

“We have lots of Neanderthal parts around the lab. We are creating Neanderthal cells. Let’s say someone has a healthy, normal Neanderthal baby. Well, then, everyone will want to have a Neanderthal kid. Were they superstrong or supersmart? Who knows? But there’s one way to find out.”

Last year, researchers finished sequencing the genome of another extinct human relative, the denisovan — based solely off a piece of fingerbone and two molars.

I guess I am hopelessly old fashioned, but I really would prefer that Neanderthal man continue to rest in peace.

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Trying To Make A Difference When You Really Don’t Have The Power

Admittedly there are some squishy Republicans who are part of the problem and not part of the solution in Washington, but there is also reality. Even if every Republican were on board, there would still be limits on what the House of Representatives could do to stop the runaway spending in Washington. Katie Pavlich posted an article at Townhall.com today outlining the current Republican strategy for dealing with the excessive spending of the Obama Administration.

The bottom line here is simple–as long as the 2009 budget is used as a baseline (because the Senate has not passed a budget since then), America will continue to have trillion dollar deficits every year. Logically, part of the solution is to change the baseline. The way to do that is to pass a new budget. Now for the strategy.

The article at Townhall.com reports:

House leaders on Monday unveiled legislation to permit the government to continue borrowing money through May 18 in order to stave off a first-ever default on U.S. obligations. It is slated for a vote on Wednesday.  

Although President Obama is getting a temporary break from the debt ceiling fight as a result of this latest move by Republicans, he’ll be anything but satisfied. After all, President Obama wants the debt ceiling completely eliminated and White House Press Secretary Jay Carney has repeatedly said a short term increase isn’t acceptable. On the other hand, Carney also refused last week to explain how much of an increase in the debt ceiling Obama is looking for.

There is a very interesting item in the Republican proposal:

The measure also contains a “no budget, no pay” provision that withholds pay for lawmakers if the chamber in which they serve fails to pass a congressional budget resolution by April 15. That’s a provision designed to press the Senate to pass a budget.

I cannot imagine the Senate agreeing to that, but it is an interesting proposal. The vote is expected tomorrow despite the fact that no one is saying how high the debt ceiling should be raised. Does anyone want to try to run their household finances this way?

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In The Middle East Which Country Allows Arabs The Most Civil Rights ?

Scott Johnson at Power Line posted an article today about the annual report from Freedom House, an organization that annually reports on freedom around the world. The recently released report explains how the results were obtained, discusses trends and provides current rankings for all countries around the world.

Freedom House reports:

Key global findings:

The number of electoral democracies stood at 117, the same as for 2011. Two countries, Georgia and Libya, achieved electoral democracy status, while two were dropped from the category, Mali and the Maldives.

Four countries moved from Partly Free to Free: Lesotho, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Tonga. Three countries rose from Not Free to Partly Free: Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, and Libya. Mali fell two tiers, from Free to Not Free, and Guinea-Bissau dropped from Partly Free to Not Free.

Some notable trends highlighted in the report include increased Muslim-on-Muslim violence, which reaching horrifying levels in Pakistan and remained a serious problem in Iraq and elsewhere; a serious decline in civil liberties in Turkey; and among the Persian Gulf states, a steady and disturbing decline in democratic institutions and an increase in repressive policies.

Worst of the Worst: Of the 47 countries designated as Not Free, nine have been given the survey’s lowest possible rating of 7 for both political rights and civil liberties: Eritrea, Equatorial Guinea, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Two territories, Tibet and Western Sahara, were also ranked among the worst of the worst.

An additional 5 countries and 1 territory received scores that were slightly above those of the worst-ranked countries, with ratings of 6,7 or 7,6 for political rights and civil liberties: Belarus, Chad, China, Cuba, Laos, and South Ossetia.

Let’s look at this summary for a minute. Many leaders in America claim that Sharia Law is compatible with American democracy. Saudi Arabia operates under Sharia Law–please note that they are listed as one of the worst or the worst. Note also that many of the countries listed in that category have Muslim governments.

The article at Power Line notes:

…The report notes some positive trends in the Middle East, yet Israel remains the region’s sole country ranked Free in Freedom House’s evaluation.

Today Israelis go to the polls to elect their government. Israel’s Arab citizens will vote and Arabs will be elected to Israel’s Knesset. Given the neighborhood, not to mention other factors, it’s a remarkable story.

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