Insanity?

Posted at Lifezette yesterday:

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) said on Friday that if the allegations against Alabama candidate for U.S. Senate Roy Moore are true, he should step aside, and “should be dealt with severely.”

But Graham not only hasn’t called for Democrat Sen. Bob Menendez (N.J.), accused of having sex with underage prostitutes, to step aside — he also went to New Jersey on his own dime two weeks ago to testify as a character witness in Menendez’s corruption trial, telling the judge that Menendez is “very honest” and “honorable.”

I’m just going to leave this here for your consideration.

Lied To Again

I don’t know how many times Senator John McCain promised to repeal ObamaCare when he was running for office. Evidently he doesn’t remember either. So it’s time to take a different approach to repeal. Understand that the Democrats will never support a bill that de-funds Planned Parenthood, something that the Graham Cassidy bill does. Every Republican should support the bill for that reason alone.

A website called The Stream posted an open letter to Senator Rand Paul yesterday. Here are some highlights from the letter:

Dear Senator Paul,

Let me start by saying “Thank you.” On issue after issue, from individual privacy to economic freedom, from constitutional war-making to criminal justice reform, you have been a light in an often murky Senate and a muddled GOP.

…Your stand on foreign policy in the 2016 election was equally brave and principled. Here at The Stream I echoed your sensible objections to the Syria policies of GOP establishment politicians. You were right in warning against Marco Rubio’s support for arming Syrian rebels. And against Chris Christie’s proposal to threaten to shoot down Russian planes in defense of jihadists. Indeed, you helped lead the fight to stop President Obama from a reckless and destructive U.S. intervention in Syria a year before.

You have been a voice of principle, of course. In the Republican party you may have the best claim to Reagan’s mantle. His optimism, his confidence that Americans would prevail if the government simply protected their rights and left them alone … there’s too little of that spirit in the GOP today, much less in the country. In an age where the competition seems to be for the label of “victim,” you carry on like the Gipper.

Here is the purpose of the letter:

I urge you to reconsider your position. To support an imperfect bill for the sake of the greater good. The Graham-Cassidy Bill is not the repeal of Obamacare that any of us hoped for. It doesn’t dismantle the huge array of perverse incentives, subsidies, and crony-capitalist tinkering that distort American medicine. However, as National Review has noted, it does make some real progress. It does restore some liberty. In fact, the bill offers some concrete benefits not to be sneezed at. Per NRO:

It abolishes the individual and employer mandates, caps per capita spending on Medicaid, blocks federal funds from going to insurance plans that cover abortion, and lets interested states attain freedom from some of Obamacare’s regulations. Some of those states could use that freedom to create markets in which people outside of Medicare, Medicaid, and employer-based coverage would finally be enabled to buy cheap, renewable catastrophic-insurance policies.

All of those are important improvements. But I’d like to focus on one. Pro-life groups have put heavy pressure on you to reverse your stand on this bill. That’s because it’s the one plausible chance to accomplish something which you’ve tried manfully to do on several occasions: to defund Planned Parenthood.

The letter concludes:

It’s crucial to keep the close attachment that evangelical Christians and conservative Catholics have had to American ideals of liberty. We don’t want the growth of a statist, nationalist party in America along the lines of France’s National Front. That’s not our GOP.

With your principled stand on life, your balanced stance on immigration, you could help anchor the party. You might well come to lead it. But if you get blamed for the failure to defund Planned Parenthood, and undo at least some of Obamacare’s damage. … I fear that will never happen.

So please, Senator Paul. The causes of life and liberty are here in perfect alignment. So is political prudence. And your own lofty ambitions, which I support. Please change your vote.

It is obvious that we cannot count on Senator McCain. Can we count of Senator Rand Paul to help end the nightmare of ObamaCare? This may be our last chance to get rid of this horrible law. I suggest that if we cannot end ObamaCare that President Trump immediately sign an executive order putting Congress under ObamaCare. If Congress if going to force the American people to live with a bad law, they should have to live with it also.

 

When Money Is More Important Than National Security

On September 6, I posted an article about the money the Iranian lobby gave to Congressmen to support the Iranian nuclear deal. This is an article showing the monetary reasons some Republicans allowed the deal to go through.

The Iranian nuclear deal is a treaty. Were it treated as a treaty, it would be defeated. Therefore, the Obama Administration needed to come up with a scheme to prevent it from being defeated. First of all, they declared it an ‘agreement’–not a treaty. Then they agreed to a deal under which it would take two-thirds of the Senate to reject it–not two-thirds of the Senate to approve it. If the Senate could not get a two-thirds rejection vote (when was the last time two-thirds of the Senate agreed on anything?), the ‘agreement’ would become law.

I wondered why the Republicans were stupid enough to agree to that deal, but I think Andrew McCarthy has the answer. On Friday Andrew McCarthy posted an article in the National Review which might explain the actions of the Republicans.

The article reports:

Based in Chicago, Boeing is the world’s largest aerospace company, with revenues expected to surge past $96 billion this year. It is a major GOP donor. It gives mountains of money to Democrats, too, but the lion’s share of its political contributions go to Republicans.

For the 2014 campaign cycle, according to OpenSecrets.org, the company gave about 60 percent of its whopping $3,250,000 in donations to the GOP. Major recipients included such establishment pillars as the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee ($38,000 each), and the National Republican Senatorial Committee ($33,000). Significant contributions were also made to McConnell ($13,000), Boehner ($25,000), Senator Lindsey Graham ($39,000), and many others. And that’s apart from the nearly $17 million the company spent in 2014 on lobbyists, 80 percent of whom have transitioned to the other end of the trough after careers in government.

It just so happens that Boeing stands to reap huge money from Obama’s lifting of the sanctions.

This is an aspect of politics that most Americans hate. Congress sold its soul to the highest bidder.

The Iran deal is a real threat to America–it funds terrorists and terrorism, creates a nuclear arms race in the Middle East–an area of the world that has never been known for political stability, and pretty much assures a war between Iran and Israel. Any Senator that voted for this treaty or voted to prevent a vote should be ashamed. The purpose of government is to protect the nation. Our Senate has betrayed us.

Last Night’s Republican Debate

I am a football fan. One of the great things about football is that when you turn on a football game, you see a football game. It is played like a football game and reported like a football game. Last night I turned on the Republican debate. I am not exactly sure what I saw. I am a Hugh Hewitt fan. He was there, sitting in a special chair. I believe he had less talking time than most of the candidates. I guess that’s okay–the candidates were the ones having the debate, but why was he there? Also, why was the debate reported as if it were a football game. It’s not a football game–it’s supposed to be a serious discussion to help voters determine who they want to run for President. Or is it?

Now I am going into some tall grass. In August, The Conservative Treehouse posted an article about the establishment Republican’s strategy to make sure Jeb Bush was the party’s nominee. Basically, the strategy was to split the conservative vote in every early primary state so that Jeb Bush would win, even without a plurality of votes. If you look at the candidates, the theory cannot easily be dismissed. Marco Rubio will take Florida, Ted Cruz will take Texas, Lindsey Graham will take South Carolina, etc. Therefore, by the time you get to the more liberal Republican states, no conservative will have enough votes to challenge Jeb Bush.

In July I posted an article by Mark Jones which explained a new rule by the GOP:

Any state, other than the four exempt states already mentioned, that holds a Primary the first two weeks of the month will be forced to allocate those delegate on a proportional basis.  This means that if 5, or even 15, candidates are on the ballot, each candidate will receive a percentage of our delegates commensurate with the percentage of the vote they receive.This may sounds like a fair process on the surface, but as usual, there is more to the story.  The RNC’s penalty will mean that a number of very conservative states,with high delegate counts like Texas, Virginia, and North Carolina, that intend to hold early Primaries, will be forced to divide their delegates among multiple candidates.  In fact, 10 of 15 Southern states plan to hold their Primaries in this window. Conservative stalwarts like Colorado and Utah also plan to hold Primaries in this window.  It is highly unlikely any candidate will emerge from these conservative states with enough delegates to establish a significant lead or gain momentum in the race to be the Republican nominee before March 14.

The purpose of the debate (in the mind of the establishment GOP) is to divide the support among the conservative candidates. The media tends liberal, so they are going to play along so that the Republicans put forth a weak candidate. Unless the conservatives running for President agree among themselves on who gets out of the race and who remains in the race, we are going to have Jeb Bush as a candidate. I can assure you his candidacy will result in a Democrat President. The success of Donald Trump has thrown a bit of a wrench into the establishment plan, but I seriously doubt that a majority of Americans support a Trump presidency.

There are some good conservative Republican candidates. If nothing else, the assembled people on the state would make an amazing Presidential cabinet. The problem is finding a conservative leader. I am sure Jeb Bush is an intelligent and very nice man–I just don’t want to see him as the Republican candidate–I don’t think he can win.

The First Republican Debates

I feel obligated to share a few thoughts on the Republican debates last night. Obviously, the star of the first debate was Carly Fiorina. She obviously has the education, business experience and acumen, and leadership experience to be President. The other person in the early debate who came across very well was Bobby Jindal. Governor Jindal also has the educational background and leadership ability to be President.

The second debate was a little more convoluted. At this point I should mention that I listened to both debates rather than watching them due to cable television issues in the community where I live. The second debate sounded more like the World Wrestling Federation than Republicans, but it was instructive. After a question was asked about the ‘war on women,’ I was glad to see Lindsey Graham comment that the ‘war on women’ is happening in the Middle East in the country that President Obama is trying to make a treaty with–not in the Republican party. The concept of a ‘war on women’ has no place in a Republican debate–it is a Democrat party talking point and Democrat party fiction. I was also left with the impression that Chris Christie is definitely from New Jersey. Having spent my teenage years there, his concept of discussion was somewhat familiar. Recently I had a friend in North Carolina who had been dealing with a New Yorker ask me how to tell if a New Yorker was angry–it seemed as if they were always talking very fast and very loud.

The Republican party can do better in the coming debates. The problem was not with the candidates–I felt that the problem was in the questions. We don’t need to see candidates attack each other–we need candidates that state their positions and contrast those positions with those of the Democrat party. The voters will choose the person who expresses their ideas clearly and is most aligned with their views. I also suspect that the participants in the next major Republican debate will be slightly different.

Breaking Faith With America’s Wounded Veterans

The Washington Free Beacon is reporting today that disabled veterans will not be exempt from the pension cuts included in the budget deal currently being considered in the Senate.

The story reports:

The Free Beacon previously reported that military retirees under the age of 62 would receive 1 percentage point less in their annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) in the plan crafted by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D., Wash.).

The section of the U.S. code that has been altered also applies to disabled servicemembers, many of whom have been wounded in combat.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.), ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, called the change “unthinkable.”

“It has been asserted that the controversial change to military retirees’ pensions affects those who are ‘working-age’ and ‘still in their working years,’ with the clear suggestion being that these individuals are able to work,” Sessions said in a statement. “That’s why I was deeply troubled when my staff and I discovered that even individuals who have been wounded and suffered a service-related disability could see their pensions reduced under this plan.”

“It is unthinkable that this provision would be included in a deal that spares current civilian workers from the same treatment,” he said. “An equivalent amount of savings and more can be easily found, and I hope the Senate will move to address the unbalanced treatment of our servicemembers before considering the legislation any further.”

This is simply obscene, and it really bothers me that I haven’t seen this provision commented on in any major news outlet.

The article further reports:

Rep. Ryan told the Weekly Standard that the changes are appropriate because servicemen and women who retire in their 40s after serving for two decades are still young enough to maintain a job.

“We give them a slightly smaller adjustment for inflation because they’re still in their working years and in most cases earning another paycheck,” Ryan said.

Sens. Roger Wicker (R., Miss.), Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), James Inhofe (R., Okla.), and Kelly Ayotte (R., N.H.) have said they are opposed to the deal because it cuts the benefits of military retirees, while not imposing equal cuts to federal civilian workers.

Paul Ryan is clearly on the wrong side of this issue. When anyone currently in the military joined the military, they were promised a certain pension if they retired after so many years of active duty or if they were retired due to injury. This is a breach of contract as well as a disgrace. The reason the cuts went to the military and not the federal civilian workers is that the federal civilian workers have unions–our military does not. This is simply wrong.

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A Story That Keeps Simmering Beneath The Surface

Forbes Magazine posted an article yesterday about the survivors of the attack on the diplomatic outpost in Benghazi in September.

The article reports:

And the number of survivors may be even larger than previously suspected. There may be more than 30 survivors, including State Department and CIA personnel as well as government contractors, according to a March 1, 2013 letter sent by Rep. Wolf and Rep. Jim Gerlach to Secretary of State John Kerry . As for those government contractors mentioned, they are believed to include former U.S Navy Seals and other former special-forces operators.

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has been in touch with the families of the survivors, and has stated that family members told him that the Obama Administration has asked the survivors to remain quiet and not share their stories.

Why is this important? It has become fairly obvious that the attack on the outpost was was a major al Qaeda operation. It had nothing to do with any protest about a video.

The article further relates:

The survivors could tell Congress, and the public, important new details. Libyan reports indicate that there were upwards of 100 attackers in Benghazi, that they were organized into machine-gun fire teams and mortar crews, and appeared to take orders from men wearing Afghan-style clothing. So far the Obama administration has provided few details about the attackers, their organization or their motivation.

The attack was an act of war. Because America is war-weary, President Obama ignored that fact in order to win an election. There is also the basic problem of a terrorist attack–who do we go to war with? Even if you look at terrorism as a law enforcement issue, which this administration and the Clinton Administration have tended to do, the criminals responsible for this attack are still at large.

The article also points out that no one has been held responsible for the fact that the State Department ignored the warnings that the outpost needed more security.

The attack on the Benghazi outpost needs to be investigated fully and the American public informed as to what happened. Meanwhile, the way America responded to that attack has made us look weak in the Middle East, opening the door for more unrest.

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The Statement Released After The Meeting

Yesterday Breitbart.com posted the statement released by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), John McCain (R-AZ), and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) after their meeting with UN Ambassador Susan Rice.

This is the statement:

We respectfully disagree with the White House’s statement today that ‘there are no unanswered questions’ about Ambassador Rice’s September 16 Sunday show appearances and the talking points she used. 

Around 10:00 this morning in a meeting requested by Ambassador Rice, accompanied by acting CIA Director Mike Morell, we asked Mr. Morell who changed the unclassified talking points to remove references to al-Qaeda.  In response, Mr. Morell said the FBI removed the references and did so to prevent compromising an ongoing criminal investigation.  We were surprised by this revelation and the reasoning behind it.

However, at approximately 4:00 this afternoon, CIA officials contacted us and indicated that Acting Director Morell misspoke in our earlier meeting. The CIA now says that it deleted the al-Qaeda references, not the FBI.  They were unable to give a reason as to why.

We are disturbed by the Administration’s continued inability to answer even the most basic questions about the Benghazi attack and the Administration’s response. 

Beyond Ambassador Rice’s misstatements, we continue to have questions about what happened in Benghazi before, during, and after the attack on our consulate – as well as the President’s statements regarding the attack.

Perhaps most important, we also need to understand why the U.S. military was unable to respond within seven hours to save American lives in Benghazi and why our consulate was left so unsecure despite a series of previous attacks. 

In more than a dozen letters, we and other Senators have repeatedly requested that the Administration provide answers to our questions.  Yet, today most of them remain unanswered.  We eagerly await their response.

It does seem from this statement that answers to even basic questions about Benghazi are nearly impossible to come by.  At least someone should know who actually changed the talking points or why no help was available to the Americans in Benghazi. At the rate we are going, we might have some of these answers after the 2016 election.

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The Unseen Cost Of A Litigious Society

This story has been sitting on my toolbar since Thursday. I didn’t want to write it because I don’t fully understand it and it is very complex, but it needs to be written.

Paul Mirengoff at Power Line posted an article on Thursday entitled, “Power and Constraint — how the JAGs hijacked U.S. anti-terrorism policy.” The article deals with how our actions in fighting the war on terror have been hijacked by lawyers rather than being run by the military.

The article reports:

During the Bush years, we often heard from the left that the war on terror was changing America for the worse by undermining our values and our Constitution. These claims were mostly nonsense. But one portion of our system did take a hit — the concepts of civilian control of the military and the Commander-in-Chief as chief law interpreter for the executive branch. This was the handiwork of the JAGs.

We covered this development as best we could on Power Line, mostly by reporting on the work, and the preening, of Lindsey Graham, the JAGs men in Congress. However, until I read Jack Goldsmith’s book Power and Constraint, I didn’t know the half of it.

Mr. Mirengoff then excerpts a large portion of his review of the Book Power and Constraint to explain how the JAGs have influenced the way the war is being fought. I strongly recommend that you follow the above link to the Power Line article and read the entire article.

The article at Power Line concludes:

Goldsmith appears troubled by the military’s undermining of the President’s ability to interpret the law on behalf of the executive branch. He also recognizes that the injection of lawyers into battle harmed U.S. counterterrorism efforts. Ultimately, he is agnostic as to whether the harm is outweighed by the possible prevention of misguided polices and the blowback they would have caused.

Goldsmith’s agnosticism is understandable. Both sides of the cost-benefit equation are impossible to measure. But this much should be clear: our elected executive is responsible for making the cost-benefit decisions. His decisions may be subject to judicial review, but they should not be undermined or thwarted by military lawyers. It also seems clear that in war, including war on terrorism, the president should err in favor of defeating the enemy, rather than minimizing “blowback.”

As a relative of a soldier who served two tours in Afghanistan, I object to the current rules of engagement. I think it’s time we either fought wars or left situations alone. There really is no successful in-between path.

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Overruling The Law When Convenient

Sequestration is scheduled to occur on January 2, 2013. As usual, note that this is after the November election. Sequestration is essentially drastic cuts to government spending triggered by the fact that Congress was unable to reach a budget compromise. Sequestration will have an incredibly negative aspect on the American economy overall if is actually happens, and as of now, it will happen.

Scott Johnson at Power Line posted an article today about some of the political maneuvering revolving around sequestration. The article explains that under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, defense contractors are required to issue notices of layoffs to employees 60 days before the layoffs occur. Since under sequestration defense contractors can expect major layoffs (January 2, 2013), those notices would go out in early November. Obviously, the Obama Administration does not want that to happen.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has issued a memorandum stating that they do not believe these notices should be issued. Please follow this link to read the entire memorandum.

Some highlights from the memorandum:

DOL (Department of Labor) concluded that it is neither necessary nor appropriate for Federal contractors to provide WARN Act notice to employees 60 days in advance of the potential sequestration because of uncertainty about whether sequestration will occur and, if it did, what effect it would have on particular contracts, among other factors:

Specifically, if (1) sequestration occurs and an agency terminates or modifies a contract that necessitates that the contractor order a plant closing or mass layoff ofa type subject to WARN Act requirements, and (2) that contractor has followed a course of action consistent with DOL guidance; then any resulting employee· compensation costs for WARN Act liability as detennined by a court, as well as attoroeys’ fees and other litigation costs (irrespective of li tigation outcome), would qualify as allowable costs and be covered by the contracting agency, if otherwise reasonable and allocable.

Translated into English, this says don’t send out the notices and the government will pay any legal penalties.

The Hill reports:

“The Obama Administration is cynically trying to skirt the WARN Act to keep the American people in the dark about this looming national security and fiscal crisis,” Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) said in a statement. “The president should insist that companies act in accordance with the clearly stated law and move forward with the layoff notices.”

No one actually knows if sequestration will happen, but right now it is scheduled to happen. The law needs to be followed, regardless of the politics involved. The government is not supposed to be used as a campaign committee. This is totally over the top.

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A Case Of Misplaced Priorities

The Obama Administration has become more concerned with its image in America’s liberal media that it is with doing its job.

The Hill reported today that the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal got more complete briefings from Hillary Clinton on the attack that killed U.S. envoy Christopher Stephens in Libya than Senate Republicans received.

The article reports:

“I was very disappointed in the briefing yesterday, too. The bottom line is, we asked questions like, ‘How many people were at the Benghazi consulate?’ You pick up The New York Times and you get a blow-by-blow description of what supposedly went on,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The Times published a timeline of the attacks chronicling militants gaining access to the U.S. compound after 9:35 pm on Sept. 11, American security forces attempting to retake it at 10:45 pm and American and Libyan forces regaining control of the main compound around 11:20 pm, before evacuating.

The article further states:

“We were told nothing. We were told absolutely nothing,” said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), ranking Republican on the Armed Services Panel.

McCain said the details lawmakers sought were in The Times and The Journal.

“If that isn’t an incredible disrespect to the members of the United States Senate, I don’t know what is,” he said. “It’s an example of the disdain with which this body is held by the administration, including, I’m sorry to say, the secretary of state.”

“She didn’t talk about anything,” McCain said of Clinton in a subsequent interview.

Senators asked Clinton about the sequence of events during the Benghazi attack. She and other officials declined to provide any specifics, citing an ongoing investigation.

If Washington is broken, part of the reason may be the fact that in an important national security matter, the Obama Administration chose to brief the friendly media rather than Congress.

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