The People Who Make Our Laws Can’t Even Follow Their Own Rules

CBN News is reporting today that despite passing a law last year that made earmarks illegal, Congress passed more than 100 earmarks for 2014.

The article reports:

Every year, the Pig Book Summary blasts Congress for its wasteful pork barrel projects.

“There are 109 earmarks, costing taxpayers $2.7 billion in fiscal year 2014,” Thomas Schatz, with Citizens against Government Waste, told CBN News.

Congress has even passed millions in spending for agencies who didn’t want the money.

One example of an agency that did not want the money is the $90 million for M1 tanks the Pentagon insists it really doesn’t want.

The article further reports:

“The secretary of the Army said they don’t need to build more M1s. They want to delay this for four years and save $3 billion,” Schatz said. “There are 2,000 M1s sitting idle in the desert of California.”

Meanwhile, the Defense Department is getting $866 million to mostly duplicate research on the very same illnesses and diseases as the civilian sector.

“Breast cancer research can be done at the National Institutes of Health and it’s done –billions of dollars [for] other research done at other agencies,” Schatz charged.

Americans are pinching pennies to stay afloat in the so-called economic recovery, and Congress is borrowing money our children and grandchildren will have to pay back. This is ridiculous. It’s time to vote every Congressman out of office who has supported the runaway spending of recent years.

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Why We Are Still Investigating Benghazi

Byron York posted an article at the Washington Examiner yesterday explaining why Congress had formed a committee to investigate the Benghazi attack. In the article, he mentions two reasons that have been set forth by the Democrats as the reason to form an investigative committee–to destroy Hillary Clinton as a Presidential candidate in 2016 or some sort of weird Republican fixation. But he puts forth a much more logical reason for a Congressional probe–more than two years later, we still don’t know very much about the attack on Benghazi, why help wasn’t given to the people there, and what the attack was about. That’s why we need a committee.

The article reports:

Republican sources on Capitol Hill say that in general, the Pentagon’s cooperation has been a model of how to deal with such an investigation, while the State Department and White House have been models of what not to do.

If the rest of the administration had followed the military’s example, the Benghazi controversy would likely be over by now.

The probe started with three questions. One, was the U.S. adequately prepared for possible trouble abroad on the anniversary of Sept. 11?

Two, did the government do everything it could to try to rescue the Americans who were under attack for seven and a half hours?

And three, did the Obama administration tell the straight story about what happened?

Republicans in Congress have been reluctant to form an investigative committee–fearing that it would be seen as a political move. That changed with the recent release of emails obtained by Judicial Watch in a Freedom of Information request that revealed a White House role in creating a misleading narrative about the attack. From my perspective, the attack and the fact that we did not send help is bad enough, but the political whitewashing and misleading the American people that went on afterward is a disgrace.

I look forward to the answers to the three questions above.

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More Cuts To Military Benefits

Yesterday Stripes posted an article explaining how the cuts to the military budget will impact commissaries.

The article explains:

The long-feared cuts to military commissaries appear to be real: The Defense Department subsidy would drop from $1.4 billion annually to $400 million under a defense budget proposal the Obama administration plans to deliver to Congress next week, Pentagon officials announced Monday.

The commissary cut will be accomplished not by eliminating any commissary locations, but by reducing the amount of savings over civilian markets that servicemembers enjoy. The cut will be phased in over several years.

A recent study by Defense Commissary Agency, or DeCA, found that using the commissary saves shoppers an average of 30.5 percent annually when compared to other stores off base.

The savings would drop to about 10 percent, defense officials said in a briefing that covered all aspects of the 2015 defense budget, including hardware and military pay.

At that rate, our military would do just as well to shop at the local discount stores. This is a disgrace.

What impact are all the proposed cuts in benefits going to have on the morale of our military and the re-enlistment rate? I really think our government is going in the wrong direction on this. If the current Congress will not put a stop to this, we need to elect a Congress that will.

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Manipulating The Numbers To Disguise Increased Spending

Breitbart.com posted an article today about the budget compromise recently reached by Paul Ryan and Patty Murray. Congressman Ryan continues to defend the proposed cuts to veteran’s retirement pay. Before I continue, I just want to mention that cutting retirement pay for veterans is breaking a contract that was made with them when they agreed to serve in our military for twenty years or more.

Now, back to the actual point–the spending cuts in this budget do not reduce the deficit–they are math gimmicks.

The article reports:

As Breitbart News has reported, Ryan’s and Murray’s budget deal does not reduce the deficit. In fact, the deal raises the deficit by at least $15.5 billion because of a series of gimmicks that Ryan and Murray employed in the accounting of the deal — namely, double counting of savings like the tactic which was employed in Obamacare, and the failure to include an estimate of the interest on the borrowed money for the first couple of years of increased spending. These are only a few among a series of other misleading statements Ryan has made about the deal.

Congressman Ryan claims that the changes in military pensions are simply a ‘small adjustment.’ The facts do not back up that statement.

The article reports:

Ryan characterized the change as a “small adjustment” in the next paragraph, even though he admitted it could affect veterans by as much as $100,000 or more over their lifetimes, depending on when they retire.

That’s a serious broken promise.

The article reminds us:

In his op-ed, Ryan did not address the proposal in the House of Representatives gaining significant attention already from Reps. Martha Roby (R-AL) and Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA). Roby’s and Fitzpatrick’s plan would restore pensions for all military veterans and offset the savings those cuts create with savings from closing a loophole allowing illegal aliens access to the Refundable Child Tax Credit. Closing that loophole would save $7 billion — more than enough to ensure that the Pentagon gets the money it needs to buy top-notch military equipment.

Why are we taking money away from our military veterans and giving it to illegal aliens? Is this where we want to go?

 

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The Cost Of Mismanagement

The cuts to the defense budget in sequestration were much larger than they should have been–that was the only way that the Democrats would have even considered sequestration as an alternative to working out a sensible budget. However, the way the cuts have been implemented does not reflect a lot of wisdom on the part of the people making the decisions. Just as in the recent government shutdown, many of the sequester cuts were made in places where it would be most obvious–not in places were it would actually make sense.

On Thursday, Military.com posted an article about one area where the cuts did more harm than good. One place where the Defense Department made cuts was in the air shows put on in various areas of the country. These air shows provide entertainment, but in many cases have a much broader purpose–the provide a chance for Americans to interact with our military.  The air show at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar was cancelled the day before it was supposed to take place.

According to the article, the cancellation of that air show cost the base between $600,000 and $700,000.

The article further reports:

Last year’s air show netted $1.6 million in profit, which goes back into Marine Corps Community Services programs on base, including family readiness programs, the youth and teen center, and fitness programs, officials said.
 
The Miramar air show was originally scheduled for Oct. 4-6, but sequestration cuts grounded many military planes and helicopters. The base asked the Pentagon for a waiver to allow them to fly military aircraft at the show, and when it was denied, officials decided the show would go on anyway.
 
The sequestration version of the air show was to be two days long and feature civilian flying demonstrations and acrobatics, along with military aircraft parked on the tarmac.

And while the show is typically paid for with sponsorship money, appropriated and nonappropriated funds, no appropriated-fund monies were to be used for this year’s event, said Lt. Chad Hill, a Miramar spokesman.

Among other things, the military air shows give Americans a chance to see what their military is doing and to meet many of the members of the military. Aside from raising money to support military families, the shows are a good way to remind the public that there are many brave young men and women serving our country in the military.
Unfortunately, when the government was shut down, the show had to be cancelled again.

The article reports:

Then the government shut down. Base officials continued moving forward with the show, but were told the morning before it was to begin that all nonessential activities — including outreach events like the air show — were not authorized under a shutdown.
 
Many of the acts were already on base preparing when Farnham held another press conference.
 
The Pentagon’s restrictions were “more than I had the authority to overcome,” he said. “The timing probably couldn’t be worse … but it is what it is.”

The fact that the government was shut down was unfortunate, but the fact that the shutdown was managed by a group of petulant leaders who chose to punish the American people for the shutdown was truly despicable. It is a shame that we have such petty people running our country.

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Unsettling News

Even as we focus on budget battles and the problems of the ObamaCare website, there are still other things going on in the world. One of the more disturbing stories to come out this week was about another possible dry run for a future 911-style attack.

Yesterday The Week posted an article detailing an internal memo from the U.S. Airline Pilots Association, which warns of “several cases recently…of what appear to be probes, or dry runs” of 911-style attacks.

The article reports:

It’s common practice for potential terrorists to carry out dress rehearsals of their planned attacks, and most major terror strikes of the last few decades have involved a dummy-run of some sort. Some have even accidentally involved celebrities.

Before al Qaeda terrorists hijacked four commercial planes and crashed them into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a field in western Pennsylvania, killing almost 3,000 people, they carried out a number of dry runs — including one on a flight carrying Oscar-nominated actor James Woods. Four of the future attackers were apparently sitting in first class with Woods on the Boston to Los Angeles flight, and behaved so strangely — sitting erect in their seats and staring ahead for the whole flight — that the veteran Hollywood star called the FBI the day after 9/11 to report his unsettling experience.

As long as radical Islamists exist, we will have the threat of terrorism. The hope is that if there ever is another 911-style attack, passengers will react like those on Flight 93 (only this time successfully landing the plane).

This is very unsettling news, but hopefully we have learned from past experiences.

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The Question That Seems To Be Ignored

Fox News is reporting that late yesterday President Obama signed a bill that would send payments to the families of fallen soldiers during the government shutdown.

The article reports:

Carney claimed the bill was “not necessary,” noting that charity group The Fisher House Foundation had just entered into an agreement with the Pentagon a day earlier to provide the benefits in the short-term. 

“The legislation is not necessary,” Carney said, adding that the Defense Department had already agreed to reimburse the Fisher House. 

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, who pushed the bill in the Senate, blasted the White House over Carney’s remark. 

“Now, we’re learning the president has taken his political obstinacy to a new low and believes the legislation Congress has passed to right this wrong is ‘not necessary,’” he said in a written statement. “Not only is this legislation necessary it’s the moral obligation of this nation and it’s the spoken will of Congress that we deliver immediate assistance to the families of fallen service members.

There is a part of this story which has been widely ignored. The President agreed to reimburse Fisher House after the government reopens. The President does not have the Constitutional authority to do that–only the House of Representatives is allowed to incur a debt. Under the U.S. Constitution the President does not have the authority to promise to pay Fisher House back. Has anyone in Washington read the Constitution?

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Where Are The Reasonable People?

Fox News reported today that because of the government shutdown the Pentagon will not be paying death benefits to families of fallen soldiers.

The article reports:

“Unfortunately, as a result of the shutdown, we do not have the legal authority to make death gratuity payments at this time,” said Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen, a Defense Department spokesman. “However, we are keeping a close eye on those survivors who have lost loved ones serving in the Department of Defense.”

The good news is that the House of Representatives is planning to vote Wednesday on a bill to restore funding for these payments.

The article further reports:

Adding further insult, the families will have to pay for their own travel to Dover. That’s a bill the Pentagon also says it can’t pay because of the partial shutdown.

…After the ceremony at Dover on Wednesday, the families will fly to their home states to conduct private funerals. That’s also an expense the Pentagon says it can no longer pay due to the stalemate.

All of this brings to mind a quote from an article posted on Sunday at rightwinggranny.com:

On Friday, we reported that a Park Ranger admitted being ordered to make life as inconvenient as possible in order to punish Americans during the shutdown.

“We’ve been told to make life as difficult for people as we can,” an angry Park Ranger told the Washington Times. “It’s disgusting.”

This is a government attack on the American people. It needs to be stopped, and the people responsible need to be voted out of office.

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Found On Facebook

Patriot Graves

Of all the dangers facing our country, perhaps the greatest danger of all is the one that still doesn’t make many headlines — our collective national amnesia. Our history textbooks are sanitized to be politically correct and give our children little sense of the greatness of the nation they live in. The Founders are seldom mentioned unless it is part of a controversy about slavery or some other scandal.

I am often struck by how often decent American kids have nothing good to say about their own country. Their knowledge of the sacrifices made to establish and preserve their freedom is virtually non-existent. They are the recipients of the greatest freedom and opportunity that any society has ever produced, yet they are unaware of the price in flesh and blood that was paid for it.

At my father’s table, I learned love of country in a way that only a Marine could teach it. Dad taught me that patriotism wasn’t a theory — it was flesh and blood, real sacrifice and pain. You are your children’s most important teacher. They are listening.

This weekend, as we celebrate Memorial Day, tell your children about the sacrifices that had to be made to stop the march of fascism and the cancer of communism. Tell them about the beaches of Normandy and the Bataan Death March. Tell them about why there was a Berlin Wall and how free men brought it down.

Remind them about 9/11, what happened at the Pentagon and over the fields of Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Take just a minute in the next three days to teach them to love the things we love and honor the things we honor.

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Something Is Very Wrong Here

NBC Connecticut is reporting today that three recipients of the Medal of Honor will present the Congressional Medal of Honor Society’s highest civilian award, the Citizen Honors Medal posthumously to the six educators that were killed trying to protect their students in Newtown. Connecticut on December 14th. I think that is wonderful–they are being awarded this medal because they were killed trying to protect their students.

However, there is another group of shooting victims that is being denied the honor they have earned. The Department of Defense is refusing to award the Purple Heart to those soldiers killed on the attack at Fort Hood, Texas.

On April 2, Military.com reported:

A position paper, delivered by the Pentagon to congressional staff members Friday, says giving the award, for injuries sustained in combat, to those injured at Fort Hood could “irrevocably alter the fundamental character of this time-honored decoration.”

If you are attacked at your base and people are killed, isn’t that combat? Admittedly it is unplanned combat, but isn’t a lot of combat unplanned?

The article at Military.com further reports:

Thirteen people were killed and 32 injured in the November 2009 shootings on the base. Maj. Nidal Hasan, the alleged shooter, awaits a military trial on premeditated murder and attempted murder charges.

Fort Hood was a terrorist act–it was not ‘workplace violence.’ Maj. Hasan yelled “Allahu Akbar” as he fired. We are at war–this was an attack by the enemy. We need to acknowledge that and make sure that all the victims of that attack receive the honor and benefits they are entitled to. Meanwhile, we do not hesitate to honor civilians in equally awful situations. Both groups should receive medals in a timely fashion.

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This Really Does Not Look Good

CNS News reported today that when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Libya in 2011, the Department of Defense pre-positioned ‘assets’ off the coast of Libya in order to ensure her safety.

The article reports:

The fact that the assets were pre-positioned for Clinton’s visit was included in the annual report of the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security (BDS).

CNSNews.com asked the Pentagon if it would specify which military assets had been prepositioned off Libya at the time Clinton’s visit. The inquiry was forwarded to U.S. Africa Command, but a spokesman for that command declined to add any details to what had been stated in BDS report.

“One of the most complex security challenges presented to the Secretary’s [Diplomatic Security] Detail was her equally historic and ground-breaking trip to Libya in October [2011], after the fall of the Qaddafi regime,” said the BDS annual report.

So we are left with a variety of questions. Was our intelligence so far off that we had concluded that Benghazi was safe when we decreased the security provided there? Does America routinely abandon its diplomats in unstable areas without adequate protection while going out of its way to protect their superiors? What did the State Department think had changed in the time Secretary Clinton visited Libya and the time Benghazi was attacked.

Just a note. As hearings convene next week on Benghazi, remember one thing–the person who produced the video that was NOT responsible for the attack in Benghazi is still in jail. How is that possible?

Please follow the link above to read the entire story.

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Being Court Martialed For Exercising The Rights You Are Supposed To Be Defending?????

Breitbart.com reported today that the Pentagon has released a statement confirming that soldiers may be prosecuted for sharing their faith. What? What happened to “There are no atheists in foxholes“?

The article reports:

The statement, released to Fox News, follows a Breitbart News report on Obama administration Pentagon appointees meeting with anti-Christian extremist Mikey Weinstein to develop court-martial procedures to punish Christians in the military who express or share their faith. 

(From our earlier report: Weinstein is the head of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, and says Christians–including chaplains–sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ in the military are guilty of “treason,” and of committing an act of “spiritual rape” as serious a crime as “sexual assault.” He also asserted that Christians sharing their faith in the military are “enemies of the Constitution.”)

Being convicted in a court martial means that a soldier has committed a crime under federal military law. Punishment for a court martial can include imprisonment and being dishonorably discharged from the military.

How in the world did we get to this place? This new regulation also includes military chaplains. Why are they there if they can’t share their faith?

If you are concerned about this violation of our soldiers’ rights, please follow this link to the Family Research Council to sign the petition protesting this new regulation. We need to protect the religious freedom of our troops.

On a historical note, I would like to include this picture which was posted by a friend on facebook:

Somewhere we have gone horribly astray.

UPDATE:  A website called Instant Analysis posted the following today:

UPDATE (May 2, 2013 – 1:30 p.m. Central) – The Pentagon is backing down on a Tuesday statement indicating members of the military could be subject to court-martial for religious proselytizing.

The Department of Defense has issued a new statement, saying that “Service members can share their faith, or evangelize, but must not force unwanted, intrusive attempts to convert others of any faith or no faith to one’s beliefs.”

On Tuesday it was revealed that Lt. Commander Nate Christensen issued a statement on behalf of the Pentagon that court-martials for “proselytizing” would be considered on a case-by-case basis. The statement outraged the Christian community, including current and former members of the armed services.

The question arose as to whether members of the military lose their First Amendment rights at the point at which they enter the military.

- See more at: http://www.instantanalysis.net/latest-headlines-from-american-family-news/2013/05/02/report-court-martials-may-await-soldiers-who-share-their-christian-faith#.UYLPuIWEX-s.facebook

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When The Government Controls Healthcare Bad Things Happen

When the government is allowed to decide what treatment is appropriate for medical problems, bad things happen. Yesterday Paul Mirengoff at Power Line posted a story about one particular incident and a possible solution.

TRICARE is the military’s healthcare program. It covers military personnel, retirees, and military families for all branches of the military. Rep. Tom Cotton is co-sponsoring legislation to make sure our military and their families get the care they need.

The article reports:

H.R. 1705, also known as “Kaitlyn’s Law,” would make sure that Tricare covers doctor-prescribed therapeutic exercises or therapeutic activities. When the doctors and therapists treating a patient covered by TRICARE agree that a particular form of therapy is needed, and can justify their decision on medical grounds, the patient would receive reimbursement for that therapy.

Kaitlyn is the child of a military family. She has numerous physical problems that cause her to be incapable of speaking or walking by herself. One of these problems is severe scoliosis. Without effective treatment, the curvature of her spine is so severe that as it increases her bones will pop out of joint and she will eventually be crushed; The challenge for her family was finding effective therapy.  When conventional therapy failed, they eventually found something called “hippotherapy.” This involved riding a horse in circles to stretch her back muscles and force her to sit upright. The Pentagon decided that this was not a ‘proven’ therapy (despite the fact that it worked) and stopped paying for it.

The article continues:

In essence, then, the government takes the position that it will pay for physical therapy that wasn’t working for Kaitlyn, but won’t pay for the type of physical therapy that does work for her. And it took that position even as it admitted that there is reliable evidence supporting the value of “horse therapy.” In addition, Kaitlyn’s doctors presented sworn testimony as to its effectiveness on her.

Kaitlyn’s law would reverse this injustice, not just for her but for the many military families in need of need of hippotherapy, as well as other non-traditional modalities, such as a ball, balance board, barrel or bench. This tweak would not impose a new mandate on private insurance carriers. It would simply precludes military insurers from second-guessing the treatment choices made by doctors and therapists in the context of rehabilitative therapy.

Please follow the link to the article and read the letter submitted to Congress about this bill. We ask a lot of our military families–we need to take care of them.

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The Consequences Of An America That Does Not Project Strength

At some point we all have to grow up enough to realize that everyone in the world does not love us or wish us well. Some of this ill will is related to things we have done, but some of it is related to who we are–we are a free country whose citizens enjoy rights envied by much of the world. The people who are less free want to be us, and the leaders who are responsible for keeping their citizens less free would like us to go away. We are as hated for who we are as much as for what we do. It is possible to make amends for what you do; it is nearly impossible to make peace with someone who hates you for what you are. That has been the challenge to America since World War II.

The Washington Free Beacon reported yesterday that a Russian bomber recently made a practice run simulating cruise missile attacks on U. S. missile defenses in Asia.

The article reports:

According to U.S. officials, a Russian Tu-22M Backfire bomber on Feb. 26 simulated firing air-launched cruise missiles at an Aegis ship deployed near Japan as part of U.S. missile defenses.

A second mock attack was conducted Feb. 27 against a ground-based missile defense site in Japan that officials did not identify further.

The Pentagon operates an X-band missile defense radar on the northern tip of Japan that is designed to monitor North Korean missile launches and transmit the data to missile-firing ships.

The bomber targeting comes as Russia is building up forces in the Pacific by modernizing submarines and building a spy ship specifically for intelligence-gathering against U.S. missile defenses.

We all remember this supposedly off-the-record conversation:

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is my last election. And after my election, I have more flexibility.

DMITRY MEDVEDEV, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT: I understand you. I transmit this information to Vladimir –

President Obama has essentially taken down our missile defense systems in Europe (in accordance with Russian wishes), and now the Russians are making practice runs on our missile defenses in Asia. I really don’t think the Russians want peace, and I really don’t think they are worried about offending us right now. That is unfortunate. I liked it better when we had someone in the White House that the world thought was dangerous and unpredictable–America and the world were safer then.

The article at the Washington Free Beacon points out an obvious contrast in the direction Russia is traveling and the direction America is traveling:

Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Tom McInerney said the Backfire targeting is troubling.

“Russia continues to conduct aggressive offensive missile training in the Pacific against U.S. and Allied Forces,” McInerney said.

“We should understand that they look at ‘reset’ differently than we do,” said the retired three-star general, who once commanded forces in Alaska. “They look at it as regaining their previous USSR position as a superpower while this administration is moving towards unilateral disarmament.”

When counties that stand for freedom put down their arms, countries that are not free take up arms. That is not a situation that should be encouraged.

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Why Sequestration Was Necessary

CBS News reported yesterday that the national debt has risen by more than $6 trillion since President Obama took office. During the eight years George W. Bush was President, the debt grew by $4.9 trillion.

The ‘cuts’ in sequestration are not the best cuts that could be made. There were better ways to do this. The most obvious improvement would have been to actually cut the budget. Although sequestration cuts the budget from now until June by about $40 billion (to keep things in perspective–aid to the victims of Hurricane Sandy was  $50 billion), it only cuts the future rate of growth–it does not cut future spending. Next years budget is larger than this years budget.

The Independent Journal Review posted an article listing five basic things all Americans need to know about the sequester:

1. The cuts are small, and most of them take place in future years. We know how that generally works.

2. Government spending is still increasing, even with the cuts.

3. The Pentagon budget will be about $500 billion, not counting war-related and emergency appropriations.

4. One example of how badly the government manages money is that the  one program which the sequester cuts by $2 million ended last year and does not even exist anymore.

5. The sequester was the President’s idea. The President and the media should not be allowed to use the sequester as a battering ram against the Republicans. First of all, runaway spending should not be a political issue–it impacts all of us.

Since the current leadership in Washington does not want to put the welfare of the country over their own petty politics, both parties need new leadership. Sequester happened because there was no one with the courage (or possibly the will) to cut government spending. Until Americans elect more people who are willing to stand up for the rights of working Americans who pay taxes, we will only have more spending, more debt, and eventually, bankruptcy.

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Some Suggestions For Cutting Government

Yesterday Fox News posted a story that provided some perspective on the current sequestration debate.

The article reports:

The sequester is expected to take a $85 billion bite out of the fiscal 2013 budget, though only half of that impact is expected to be felt this year.
But lawmakers say the government already has $45 billion in unspent money which could be used to offset the shortfall.

Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. introduced legislation on Tuesday that would require the director of the White House budget office to rescind funds that haven’t yet been obligated.

The article further reports:

Republican Sen. Tom Coburn has also identified several programs at the Pentagon he’d set aside, including a video called “grill sergeants” in which the instructors show their favorite recipes; money for a plan to send a space ship to another solar system; funds to find advancements in beef jerky from France; and $6 billion on questionable research, including what lessons about democracy and decision-making could be learned — from fish. 

I have enough input into my decisions–I have no plans to consult my local fish.

Please follow the link above to see some of the places where money is available and government spending can be cut. The upside of this discussion is that it will bring attention to government waste. Hopefully we can learn from our past overspending and cut our spending in order to reduce the credit card bill we are handing our children.

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Sometimes It’s Hard To Imagine How Some People Think

Yesterday the Washington Examiner reported that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has suggested that military pay be cut in order to help with the budget cuts facing the Pentagon due to sequestration. This suggestion comes after President Obama signed an executive order raising the salary of Vice President Joe Biden and other federal officials.

The article reports:

“The President’s pay hike even increases the salary for federal employees who receive poor performance reviews from their own supervisors,” House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said when a group of lawmakers proposed legislation to reverse the pay increase. “As President Obama continues to say one thing and do another on deficit spending, it is appropriate for Congress to challenge his unilateral decision to spend $11 billion on non-merit based pay raises for federal workers.”

Secretary Panetta suggested that military salaries be limited to a one percent increase in 2014.

This is simply disgusting.

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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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The Washington Post Opinion On Chuck Hagel For Defense Secretary

Yesterday the Washington Post posted an editorial about the expected nomination of Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense. The Washington Post editorial board opposes the nomination.

The editorial states:

…Mr. Hagel’s stated positions on critical issues, ranging from defense spending to Iran, fall well to the left of those pursued by Mr. Obama during his first term — and place him near the fringe of the Senate that would be asked to confirm him.

The article explains that Mr. Hagel does not seem to be as concerned about the Defense Department sequester as current Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. When interviewed by the Financial Times, Mr. Hagel stated, “The Defense Department, I think in many ways, has been bloated, so I think the Pentagon needs to be pared down.” There is a difference between cutting waste and undermining the country’s defense.

The editorial reminds us:

Mr. Hagel was similarly isolated in his views about Iran during his time in the Senate. He repeatedly voted against sanctions, opposing even those aimed at the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, which at the time was orchestrating devastating bomb attacks against U.S. troops in Iraq. Mr. Hagel argued that direct negotiations, rather than sanctions, were the best means to alter Iran’s behavior. The Obama administration offered diplomacy but has turned to tough sanctions as the only way to compel Iran to negotiate seriously.

At some point, even President Obama began to realize that negotiations were a tool that Iran was using to buy time to complete their nuclear program.

The article concludes:

What’s certain is that Mr. Obama has available other possible nominees who are considerably closer to the mainstream and to the president’s first-term policies. Former undersecretary of defense Michèle Flournoy, for example, is a seasoned policymaker who understands how to manage the Pentagon bureaucracy and where responsible cuts can be made. She would bring welcome diversity as the nation’s first female defense secretary.

Mr. Hagel is an honorable man who served the country with distinction as a soldier in Vietnam and who was respected by his fellow senators. But Mr. Obama could make a better choice for defense secretary.

For once I agree with the editorial board of the Washington Post.

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I Don’t Know Why This Makes Me Crazy, But It Does

Military.com reported last Thursday that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has asked the Joint Chiefs of Staff to review ethics training and to brainstorm on ways to steer officers away from trouble. This is the same Leon Panetta that was President Bill Clinton‘s White House Chief of Staff from 1994 to 1997. One wonders if he every made a similar recommendation for ethics training for Presidents.

The article reports:

Panetta told Dempsey to work with the chiefs of the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps to review ethics training for officers to determine whether they are adequate, and to provide views on “how to better foster a culture of value-based decision-making and stewardship” among senior officers and their staffs. That is another way of saying Panetta wants a game plan for ending the string of bad behavior.

He said the initial results of the chiefs’ review, along with their recommendations, should be ready in time for Panetta to report to President Barack Obama by Dec. 1. The text of the Panetta memo, which he signed on Wednesday, was provided Thursday to reporters traveling with the Pentagon chief, who was in Bangkok for talks with senior Thai government officials in advance of Obama’s visit here this weekend.

I probably need to apologize for my cynicism, but how come the Defense Secretary, the State Department, and the CIA can’t get a report on Benghazi on the President’s desk by December 1? It would seem to me that Benghazi would have a higher priority?

The article further points out:

Panetta also told reporters he could not rule out the possibility that the Taliban in Afghanistan would try to use Petraeus’ admission of an extramarital affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, for propaganda purposes. Petraeus, who resigned Friday from his post as CIA director, was Allen’s predecessor as top commander in Afghanistan, leaving in summer 2011.

I am sorry that General Petraeus and General Allen did not behave appropriately while they were in Afghanistan. However, I need someone to explain to me why the head of the CIA had to resign over an extra-marital affair and the President of America (Bill Clinton) remained in office after an extra-marital affair. I am more than a little confused.

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Curiouser and Curiouser…

This story is based on two sources–an article by Ed Morrissey at Hot Air and an article by Eli Lake at the Daily Beast.

Both articles deal with the testimony of Michael Morell, who became acting Director of Central Intelligence following the surprise resignation of David Petraeus, who will be appearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee today. Director Morell is expected to testify that the CIA never requested military assistance during the attack on Benghazi.

The article at the Daily Beast reports:

The CIA, however, requested none of that assistance. Neither did the State Department. None of those teams ever arrived in Benghazi.

On the evening of the attack, the military provided two kinds of support to the CIA security officers who tried to fend off an attack at the U.S. diplomatic mission and then later stood guard at a CIA base less than a mile away, which was hit in a second wave at about 5 a.m. (A U.S. military team working for the CIA was sent that evening from Tripoli, but that team did not arrive at the CIA annex until after the U.S. diplomatic mission was overrun.)

The military support included an unarmed predator drone that recorded the dramatic rescue of U.S. personnel from the diplomatic mission to the CIA base at about midnight. (Timelines differ between the Pentagon and the CIA.) The U.S. military also provided medevac support to survivors of the attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens, State Department communications specialist Sean Smith, and two retired Navy SEALs, Tyrone Woods and Glenn Doherty.

Ed Morrissey points out:

But Morell’s explanation, as related by Lake, doesn’t make a lot of sense.  If the consulate and the CIA annex was under heavy and deliberate attack by forces using mortars and RPGs, why wouldn’t they ask for the military assistance that they knew was on standby for just this sort of contingency?  Why just ask for an unarmed surveillance drone rather than something that could potentially offer a diversion for the extraction of personnel from the consulate?  It’s difficult to imagine that the intelligence unit under fire off an on for seven hours would never have requested military assistance to save the lives of the people in the compound — not impossible, perhaps, but certainly implausible.

My hope is that there will be enough public hearings to make sense of this mess. Right now, this seems to have become a partisan accusation match. When questioned about the statements of Susan Rice on the Sunday news shows after the attack, the reply was that Condoleezza Rice was wrong when she testified that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Answers like that will not help anyone get to the bottom of what happened in Benghazi. Answers like that will also prevent steps being taken to make sure the events of September 11, 2012, are never repeated.

 

 

 

 

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General Carter Ham Has Lost His Job

Today’s Washington Times is reporting that General Carter Ham has been relieved of his command as head of Africom. During the Benghazi attack, the General disobeyed a direct order to stand down. After receiving e-mails during the attack, General Ham immediately had a rapid response unit ready and communicated to the Pentagon that he had a unit ready. He then received the order to stand down. He ignored that order and proceeded to respond to the request for aid.

The article reports:

Within 30 seconds to a minute after making the move to respond, his second in command apprehended General Ham and told him that he was now relieved of his command.

I realize that the General disobeyed a direct order, but some of the military people who understand these things are saying that this is very weird. Something strange is going on here.

 

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Bad Decisions Have Consequences

Today’s Washington Free Beacon reports:

Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson “did not permit U.S. Marine guards to carry live ammunition,” according to multiple reports on U.S. Marine Corps blogs spotted by Nightwatch. “She neutralized any U.S. military capability that was dedicated to preserve her life and protect the US Embassy.”

It really is a shame that Americans are not allowed to sue the government. The article reports that if this information is true, Ambassador Patterson failed to do her duty to protect American interests in Egypt. The American Embassy is considered U. S. territory, and Ms. Patterson’s job (and oath of office) is to protect that territory.

The article further reports:

Given that the siege of the Cairo embassy unfolded over many hours, the source wondered if new orders pertaining to the rules of engagement were ever issued.

Ambassador Patterson was in Washington D.C. during the attacks, according to reports.

“I cannot believe that over an eight hour period that nobody … in that chain of command did not ask those questions of their superiors,” the source said. “These protestors did not just appear and within 20 minutes climb the wall.”

A Marine spokesperson at the Pentagon denied the Free Beacon’s report in a statement to Fox News.

Of course he did. I think we need some new security people.

UPDATE:

Special Report on Fox News is reporting that this story is not true. I will post more after I find out who is telling the truth.

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With Friends Like This…

One of the problems with the Obama Administration’s foreign policy is that for the past three years it seems as if we have watched our country reward our enemies and dis our friends. It’s getting worse–particularly in the case of our friend Israel.

The Blaze reported yesterday that a planned U. S. and Israel joint military exercise has been greatly scaled back.

The article reports:

Instead of the approximately 5,000 U.S. troops originally trumpeted for Austere Challenge 12…the Pentagon will send only 1,500 service members, and perhaps as few as 1,200.  Patriot anti-missile systems will arrive in Israel as planned, but the crews to operate them will not.  Instead of two Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense warships being dispatched to Israeli waters, the new plan is to send one, though even the remaining vessel is listed as a “maybe,” according to officials in both militaries.

“Basically what the Americans are saying is, ‘We don’t trust you,’” a unnamed senior Israeli military official told Time.

The U. S. of course is denying that it is a matter of trust. It really does not matter what the actual reason is–this is no way to treat our allies.

Meanwhile, Breitbart.com is reporting:

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of U.S. armed forces, said on Thursday that he does not wish to be “complicit” in any Israeli strike on Iran.

…We compare intelligence, we discuss regional implications, and we’ve admitted to each other that our clocks are turning at different rates … Israel is living with an existential concern that we are not living with.

Dempsey then said that he didn’t know Iran’s nuclear intentions.

That’s the same kind of thinking that gave Hitler Czechoslovakia.

 

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Who Is Vetting These People ?

Last week we saw the media (and John McCain) attack Michele Bachmann for requesting an investigation of the influence of Muslim Brotherhood in Washington, D. C. Breitbart.com posted an interesting article last week on some of the more obvious problems with the Muslim Brotherhood and its relationship to Washington.

The article at Breitbart cites the case of Louay Safi, a Syrian-American Islamic leader who has been actively involved with groups close to the Obama White House.

The article reports:

Safi himself has been fairly influential in government circles. For several years, he was only one of two endorsing agents for the Pentagon’s Muslim military chaplain program as Director of Leadership Development for the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). He was also responsible for teaching about Islam to American troops deploying to Afghanistan and Iraq.

It should be noted that the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) Trial (the largest terrorism financing trial in American history) in 2008.

The book, Shariah The Threat To America, states:

Thanks to the HLF trial, it is now public knowledge that nearly every major Muslim organization in the United States is actually controlled by the MB (Muslim Brotherhood) or a derivative organization. Consequently, most of the Muslim-American groups of any prominence in America are now known to be, as a matter of fact, hostile to the United States and its Constitution.

So where does this lead us?

The article at Breitbart reports:

Safi himself has been fairly influential in government circles. For several years, he was only one of two endorsing agents for the Pentagon’s Muslim military chaplain program as Director of Leadership Development for the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). He was also responsible for teaching about Islam to American troops deploying to Afghanistan and Iraq.

So it was particularly curious last year when Safi reappeared last August as the director of the political office of the newly-formed Syrian National Council (SNC). His profile appears on the SNC’s website, and pictures taken at the unveiling of the SNC in Istanbul shows Safi front and center of the leadership.

His new SNC role and his connections to the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood were first reported by the Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Report.

Now Safi’s presence on Al-Jazeera is nearly ubiquitous when it comes to matters concerning Syria and the efforts of the SNC and its subordinate Free Syrian Army to topple the regime of Bashar Assad:

But what is the relationship between the SNC and the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, historically one of the most violent Muslim Brotherhood offshoots in the world?

The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood and its Islamist allies have complete control of the SNC–as testified to in multiple media reports, including the New York Times and the Washington Post.

Michele Bachmann is correct in questioning ties between the Muslim Brotherhood and  those in power in Washington, D. C. The rest of us should be asking those same questions.

 

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