Friday, June 27, 2014

This Is Insane!

The president wants congress to authorize $500 million to arm and train the Syrian opposition forces.

I thought we were broke!

$23 trillion in debt!

Who is going to pay for this?

Why us?

Where are the Brits…the French…the Germans…the Canadians?

If this is such an important region where are the Saudis…the Jordanians…the Qataris?

Where is Israel?

If this doesn’t work out…then what?

What’s the exit strategy?

We spent $25 billion…that’s billion with a “B”…to train and arm the Iraqi army and police force.

How did that work out?

They threw down their arms and ran at the first sign of trouble.

Now ISIS is rolling through Iraq armed to the teeth with US made arms and material…occupying territory that 4,500 Americans died for…for no apparent reason.

Vietnam…Afghanistan…Iraq…and now Syria…

What’s next…the Ukraine…North Korea…Iran?

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

This is madness!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Political Tactics

BOEHNER SUES THE PRESIDENT – Speaker Boehner announced that he intends to sue President Obama over his use of executive authority. The Speaker believes that the president overstepped his constitutional authority in delaying certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act, halting the deportation of illegal immigrants who were brought to this country as minors by their parents, raising the minimum wage for federal contractors and expanding gay rights. Boehner argues that the president’s actions constitute an abuse of power for the express purpose of circumventing congress and as such violate the checks and balances intended by the founders in writing the constitution.

It is true that the president has used his authority to amend certain provisions of the aforementioned laws. The White House argues that such amendments are within the scope of his authority to faithfully execute the laws enacted by congress.

The constitutional balance between the executive and legislative branches of the government has been a source of debate and discord since the founders put pen to paper. Lawsuits are often filed by one branch versus the other over contentious matters. There is currently pending a lawsuit against the administration over its implementation of the Affordable Care act.

Given the current toxic partisan atmosphere in Washington, Boehner’s grandstanding ploy comes as no surprise. And that is what this is…political grandstanding to appease the base during an election year.

President Obama has used his executive authority on far fewer occasions than any of his predecessors save one…Bush 41. The suit is baseless. And even if it does manage to go to trail it won’t see the light of a courtroom until well after President Obama has left office.

This is nothing more than a face saving ploy on the part of a do nothing congress during an election year…a multi-million dollar political scam that will be paid for by the taxpayers.

SORE LOSERS – The right wing media has its hair on fire over incumbent Senator Thad Cochran’s runoff victory over Tea Party challenger Chris McDaniel in their run for the Mississippi GOP nomination. Neither candidate garnered 50% of the vote in the primary which forced a runoff.

Cochran shifted gears in the runoff and targeted black voters who typically vote Democrat, touting his 42 years of bringing millions of federal dollars into the state. The Mississippi GOP runs an open primary meaning that you do not have to be a registered Republican to vote. Cochran’s strategy paid off. The African American vote in the runoff was 40% higher than the primary with most of those votes going to Cochran. Cochran won the nomination. McDaniel has yet to concede, questioning the legitimacy of the votes.

Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh and all the folks at FOXNEWS are incensed over Cochran’s tactics. Palin wants to start a third political party. They can’t rap their heads around the fact that a Republican nominee was swept to victory by Democrat votes.

Here’s the deal. Mississippi is an open primary state. Cochran played by the rules. Cochran was smart enough to understand that appealing to ALL races, colors and creeds was the path to victory. He was smart enough to understand that the face of this country is no longer that of an old white man.

Cochran embraced diversity. McDaniel turned his back to it. The sooner the GOP comes to grips with the changing demographics of today’s voters the sooner they will return to relevance on the national stage.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

ISIS Can Thank McCain And Graham

Before Iraq went to hell in a hand basket our focus was on the blood bath in Syria.

Rebel factions had taken up arms in an effort to over through the Syrian government. The Assad regime responded with brutal force, including the use of chemical weapons; slaughtering well over 100,000 of its citizens.

Lawmakers here in the states demanded that the president send arms and material to the rebels who were no match for Assad’s tanks and air power. The administration refused, fearing that factions aligned with al Qaeda were operating within the rebel forces. To arm the rebels could be sending arms to those who would harm American interests. Instead the administration sought economic sanctions and worked toward persuading the regime to surrender its arsenal of chemical weapons.

John McCain, Lindsey Graham and the neo-conservatives were incensed. “How can this administration stand by while tens of thousands of innocents are being slaughtered?” “Once again” they said, “we see this feckless president leading from behind.”

Lindsey Graham traveled to the region and encouraged the Saudis and Qataris to arm the rebels. Chief among those sympathetic to Graham’s appeal was the then head of Saudi Arabia’s powerful intelligence services, Prince Bandar bin Sultan. Graham made his case and tens of millions in weaponry and cash began flowing from these Persian Gulf countries to the rebel forces. “Thank God for the Saudis and Prince Bandar, and for our Qatari friends” said Senator McCain while attending Munich Security Conference where he was leveling another round of criticism at the Obama administration.

Yesterday we learned that the administration’s use of diplomacy and economic sanctions were effective as Syria turned over what is believed to be the last of their chemical weapon stockpiles. However Senators McCain and Graham’s plan to arm and fund the rebel factions has come back to bite them in the ass.

The Qatari funds and munitions have found their way to a Jabat al-Nusra, an Islamic extremist group that has vowed to wage jihad against American interests. The Saudi’s military and economic largesse is now in the hands of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria; better known as ISIS. Thanks in no small part to Senator’s McCain and Graham, a well provisioned ISIS is now rolling down the road toward Baghdad in American made humvees, brandishing American made weapons, leaving a path of death, destruction and terror in its wake.

“Thank God for the Saudis and Prince Bandar, and for our Qatari friends.”

Monday, June 23, 2014

Lessons To Be Learned

As a product of the 60”s the Vietnam War was very much a part of my life. Though I was not called into service I felt its affects; losing three of my closest friends in the bloody conflict. I mourned with their parents and siblings after learning the news that their loved ones would not be returning home. The sorrow of those days came flooding back to me when I learned that the president had sent 300 US military “advisors” into Iraq to assess the country’s rapid disintegration into an all out civil war.

In 1955 Communism was spreading throughout Asia. The US government was gravely concerned that if one nation in the region fell under Communist control the rest would follow. The belief was that a Communist presence in the region would present a serious threat to national security. The Southeast Asia Treaty Organization was formed in 1955 to prevent such expansion. The US supported South Vietnamese government was being threatened by attacks by pro-Communist insurgents from the North Vietnam. Eisenhower had authorized the insertion of 700 military and economic advisors to aid the weakened South Vietnamese government.

When Kennedy took office in 1960 all of our efforts to stabilize the region were failing. The South Vietnam government was on the verge of collapse. Corruption, greed, religious differences, public protests and the surge of successful Vietcong attacks were having a disastrous affect. Kennedy increased economic aid to the region and the number of advisors now topped 16,000; all to no avail. Kennedy wrestled with sending in combat troops to aid the South Vietnamese government. At the time of his death he still believed that it was up to the Vietnamese people to decide their own destiny: “In the final analysis it is their war. They are the ones that have to win it or lose it. We can help them, we can give them equipment, we can send our men out there as advisors, but they have to win it, the people of Vietnam against the Communists.”

You all know the rest. Days after making this statement Kennedy was felled by an assassin’s bullet. Lyndon Johnson assumed the presidency and authorized the use of military force in the region. By 1968 over 500,000 US military personnel were fighting in Vietnam. In January of 1975 the North Vietnamese initiated a massive offensive against the South. Saigon fell in short order. A police action that began with the insertion of 700 US military “advisors” ended with the deaths of 58,000 Americans.

Go back and read the last three paragraphs but this time instead of Communist/Communism/Vietnam insert Terrorism/Terrorist/Iraq. The similarities are striking.

This is the Iraqis war. It is up to them to win it or lose it. The American people have invested 4,500 hundred lives and trillions of dollars into the Iraq government and military complex only to watch the Iraqis shed their uniforms and run at the first sight of conflict. If the Iraqis don’t feel that Mosul, or Tikrit or Baghdad are worth fighting for why should we?

The world calls on the president to resolve the conflict. There are no good options here. The president can enter into talks with the ISIS rebels who vow destruction on American interests, or the Maliki government that is cozy with Iran.

Critics like Dick Cheney call him a fool for allowing the the violence to flair and for even considering discussions with Iran. They conveniently ignore the fact that the invasion they so passionately supported created the power vacuum that ISIS and Iran are only too happy to fill. They tell us that relitigating history will only distract us from moving forward.

The truth is that there are lessons to be learned from history.

I’ve learned that anything that starts with the insertion of military advisors often ends badly.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

All for Nothing

In case you missed it…Iraq has returned to an all out war zone as Sunni and Shia resume centuries of bloody civil war.

Anti-government militants led by the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL), an Al Qaeda splinter group, have swiftly taken control of large swaths of the country including the key cities of Mosul and Tikrit. Iraqi military and police forces, trained by the US to protect the government from just such an uprising, have fled en mass; throwing down their weapons and stripping off their uniforms to more easily blend into the crowds.

Why is this happening?

Sunni and Shia sects have been in one form of civil war or another for centuries. They hate each other. Sunni’s controlled Iraq and terrorized Shiites for thirteen centuries until the US toppled Saddam and installed the current Shia government. Under the watchful eye of Paul Bremer and his band of US overseers, the US backed Shia government placed their boot on the throat of the Sunni’s. Sunni’s were removed from positions of power and authority and replaced by Shiites. Without a US military presence to keep the lid on, the bad blood that had been boiling under the surface has boiled over once again. The resulting bloodshed is part of an attempt by ISIL to
create a large Islamic territory that includes Iraq and Syria.

Critics are naturally blaming this situation on the president. This would not be happening they say, had the president left US military forces in place in Iraq. They say his wrongheaded decision has undone all that we had accomplished in the region.
To lay the current uprising at the feet of this president is nothing more than disingenuous partisan political nonsense.

The bloody unrest in Iraq was as predictable as it was inevitable. The civil war in Iraq was going to resume whenever we pulled out our forces. Whether that day was 5, 10, or 20 years from now the civil war would have begun anew. The only way to prevent that from happening would be for the US to occupy the country in perpetuity. 1300 years of history made the obvious case. The only surprise here is that the geniuses that took us into this war failed to understand the obvious.

4,500 US troops were killed in the Iraq war. 32,000 wounded. $3 trillion borrowed American dollars spent.

Was it all for nothing?


PS: In a few short years we’ll be writing the exact same story about Afghanistan.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Distracted Once More

USA Today “House GOP leader Eric Cantor defeated by Tea Party rival”

Washington Post “GOP in Chaos after Cantor Loss”

CNN “Election Earthquake”

New York Times “House’s Center of Gravity Shifts Right After Cantor’s Loss”

Wall Street Journal “Cantor’s Swift rise in GOP Ends in Stunning Defeat”

These are just some of the headlines that greeted me this morning when I turned on my computer. I could show you more but you get the drift. Shock & Awe! Eric Cantor lost his House seat.

It was 5AM when I pulled up these headlines. Less than 24 hours since a gunman had perpetrated the country’s 74th school related shooting in the last 18 months.

Emilio Hoffman is his name.

He is the latest child to lose his life in yet another senseless shooting in our nation’s schools.

Less than 24 hours had passed since his death and you would be hard pressed to find his name amidst all the “Shocked” “Stunned” reactions to Cantor’s loss.

This is what we do!
Eric Cantor’s story is but the latest shiny object to distract us from a culture of violence that permeates the very fiber of our society; a culture of violence that has become some commonplace that we have become numb to it.

This is unacceptable!

Eric Cantor suffered a major loss Tuesday.

So did Emilio Hoffman.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Another School Shooting! Do We Really Care?

Another school shooting!

This time it’s at a high school outside Portland, Oregon.

One student is dead. One teacher wounded.

Prepare yourself for the all too familiar media blitz.

Prepare yourself for the faux Washington outrage.

Today’s shooting is the 74th school related shooting since Adam Lanza slaughtered twenty 6 and 7 year olds at Sandy Hook Elementary.

That’s one school related shooting per week since that fateful December day in 2012.

We must not give a damn...because we do nothing to stop it.

You can't make this stuff up!

VIRGINIA – There is a debate going on in the state of Virginia over whether the state should accept federal funds to expand Medicaid and give 400,000 low income Virginians access to health care. The measure must pass through the state senate which is deadlocked on the issue…20 Democrats for, 20 Republicans against.

Democrat State Senator Phillip Puckett, a proponent of the measure, had made it known that he covets the lucrative chairmanship of the state’s powerful tobacco commission. He had also made it clear that he would like to see that his daughter, already a southwest Virginia judge, receive a full six year term on the bench. Puckett’s position on the state senate prohibits him from accepting an appointment on the tobacco commission. But GOP leadership made it clear that if Puckett were to resign his senate seat his dreams could become reality.

Yesterday, Puckett resigned his senate seat handing Republicans the 20-19 advantage they need in the senate to block Medicaid expansion. Later that same day, apparently overwhelmed by the withering allegations that he had been bribed to resign, Puckett declared that he would not seek the commissioner’ position.

Puckett represents everything we hate about politics. And it doesn’t take a genius to recognize bribery when you see it.

TEXAS – The Republican Caucus of the Great State of Texas is hammering together its platform for the upcoming elections. The platform consists of a litany of ideas that the party stands for. These are the things the party holds dear.

On Saturday the Texas Republican Party ratified a “plank” in that platform that includes support for “reparative therapy” for gays. Reparative therapy, which is discredited by the American Psychological Association and other major health organizations, seeks to turn gay people straight.

Perhaps there is some form of therapy for those who see homosexuality as a mental illness in need of a cure.

HILLARY – Hillary is out with a new book. “Hard Choices” hits book stands today. Like any big name author Hillary is out on tour promoting her latest endeavor. She appeared for an interview last night with ABS’s Dianne Sawyer. Clinton was commenting about the financial challenges she and Bill faced upon leaving the White House.

“We came out of the White House not only dead broke, but in debt. We had no money when we got there and we struggled to you know, piece together the resources for mortgages, for houses, for Chelsea’s education. You know, it was not easy…Bill worked very, very hard.”

Is this interview the first of many public appearances on the Hillary Clinton book tour? Or is this book tour the first of many calculated steps in a run for the presidency? We don’t know because Hillary hasn’t told us.

If Hillary decides to run we believe that the only thing that can prevent Hillary from winning is Hillary. If this was her first public appearance on the road to the White House then she needs to do better. For a seasoned politician her comments were as stupefying as they were tone deaf. You want out of touch…that was out of touch. Did she not watch the Romney campaign where the candidate handled inquiries about his wealth like a St. Bernard trying to catch a beach ball? Seriousely?

Here's a tip. As a person of means, never, ever whine about the life you have been so fortunate to live. And when discussing your finances the word “house” should always be used in the singular.

Monday, June 9, 2014

A Quick Look Back At The Past Six Years

The critics say that the president’s policies are bad for the country. They say his agenda hurts our economy, kills jobs here at home and weakens our positioning on foreign affairs. They site his “mishandling” of the circumstances surrounding Bowe Bergdahl’s return as just one more example of his incompetence. They say that a vote for “Obama’s (Democrat) candidate” this November is a vote to continue his ruinous, dangerous policies.

The president’s critics are correct in this respect. A vote for a Democrat in the mid-terms IS a vote to continue Barak Obama’s policies. With that in mind we thought that we would cut through the partisan rhetoric, hate speech and, yes, racism, to take an honest look at what this president has wrought upon our country over the past six years.

In order to put things into perspective it is important to note where we were as a country when Barak Obama took office in 2008.
In 2008 we were engaged in two costly, unpaid for, unwarranted, wars with no exit strategy to be found. Our economy was in the middle of the worst recession since the Great Depression. The stock market had crashed, losing 50% of its value, and the banking industry was on the verge of collapse. The American auto industry was about to close its doors. Unemployment was skyrocketing. The private sector was losing 700,000 jobs per month. Millions of Americans were losing their homes. The cost of health care was spiraling out of control. Tens of millions of Americans, unable to afford health insurance, were risking bankruptcy. Millions were being refused coverage due to pre-existing conditions. Millions more were being kicked off their policies. Retail sales were down. Manufacturing, down! Construction, down! Housing starts, non-existent! The Bush administration had turned a $200 billion surplus into a $5 trillion deficit.

When Barak Obama took office he enacted a number of bold and controversial measures to address the country’s problems. The president ended the war in Iraq and announced that we will be out of Afghanistan in 18 months. A depression was averted and today the economy is growing. The stock market is posting all time record highs. The auto industry is thriving and 3,000,000 at risk jobs have been saved. The banking industry has stabilized. Retail is up! Manufacturing up! Construction up! Housing starts up! Unemployment, once pushing 9%, now stands at 6.3%. The private sector, once losing 700,000 jobs per month is now creating 220,000 jobs per month. For the first time in 40 years health care costs are on the decline. Millions of Americans now have access to affordable health care while millions more no longer live in fear of losing their coverage.

Have there been failures? Certainly! Guantanamo is still open. Comprehensive immigration reform is still but a dream. Our infrastructure is still in dire need of attention. The number of people looking for work far exceeds the jobs that are available. Medicare and Medicaid still threaten our long term financial security and millions of Americans with mental health issues still roam the streets; bearing arms that would rival a well equipped Marine.

Do the president’s accomplishments outweigh his failures? By any fair measure, they do.

So as you watch the 2014 election season unfold think back to where we were when this president took office and where we are today. Then ask yourself, do I want to send people to congress that will help this president continue with his agenda or do I want to impede his progress.

Friday, June 6, 2014

"It Is Up To Us To Tell Their Story"

Just a few hours ago President Obama and French President Francois Hollande stood with 380 WWII veterans at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. Behind them 9,387 white marble tombstones stand on a bluff overlooking Omaha Beach, the site of the day’s bloodiest battle.

I have had the honor and the privilege of walking that hallowed ground. I can say without reservation that it was the most humbling experience of my life. This place stands in tribute not only to the brave men who selflessly gave their lives that day to liberate people that they didn’t know. It stands in silent testimony to who we are as a nation.

Much has been written about the invasion itself… the 200,000 allied soldiers who stormed the beaches…the 5,000 warships and landing craft…the 1,000 aircraft. It was the largest and most complicated military operation in recorded history; its success dependent upon secrecy, the whims of Mother Nature and the courage of mere boys. So much at stake! So much could go wrong! With the seas and weather less than optimal, Eisenhower feared the worst. Right before the invasion he penned a press release assuming full responsibility for its failure, and placed it in his wallet.

Six hours into the invasion the allied commanders expected to have advanced one mile inland. Six hours into the invasion they had barely secured ten yards of beach front. What came next is a testament to American perseverance and ingenuity.

Eisenhower famously said that he had given his men a plan to get ON the beach. It was up to them to figure out how to get OFF. And that they did. With the roar of gunfire and explosions so deafening they could not hear the man speaking next to them…they devised a way to scale the sheer 100 foot cliffs that guarded the mainland. One German vet who was there that day as a young boy soldier said: “As they came up the cliffs we were firing right down on them. They took heavy losses. But they kept coming…wave after wave. We’d kill them and more would come. I was frightened because I knew they were coming after me. They were so brave.”

Once the high ground was secured and the allies began to advance inland their progress was halted once again…by hedgerows…high, thick, unexpected and full of retreating German soldiers. Frightened, exhausted, perhaps wounded…the air filled with acrid smoke and the deafening roar of gunfire…the GI’s kept their wits about them…engineered cutting tools to knock down the hedgerows and forged them onto the front of their tanks. The allies pushed on. Ten months later the war was over.

The stories from the home front are just as remarkable as the invasion itself.

In 1939 the US Army of 190,000 soldiers was ranked 18th in the world…right behind Romania. By 1944 that number had swelled to 8,400,000. When the war ended 16,000,000 million Americans were serving in the armed forces. Civilians served in their own way…working in munitions factories, distribution centers, and food processing facilities; doing whatever they could to assist the war effort. All dedicated to preserving our society and liberating an entire continent of people that they’d never met.

When the war was over they came home. They didn’t hang on to the land they’d liberated as conquerors are apt to do. They returned the land to its people. They went home, went to college on the GI bill, raised their families and built the greatest middle class that the world has ever seen.

When I was boy my next door neighbor was a WWII vet. He landed on Omaha Beach. Shortly after he waded ashore he was shot through the shoulder. He shoved some packing material into his wound and kept on fighting. He was shot again…this time in the leg. He kept on fighting. He scaled the cliffs and kept on fighting. He made it home safe. Worked at a local brewery and raised six children. He never spoke of the war or the tremendous courage he displayed that day. I learned of his exploits from his brother…who fought at his side.

There are only about 1,000,000 WWII vets left among us. We are losing them at a rate of 600 a day. As president Obama said: "It is up to us to tell their story." It is up to us to keep their memory alive. A well we should. For D-Day is not just a story of patriotism and the bravery of men in battle. It is a story of sacrifice, and perseverance, community and ingenuity…traits that we should forever embrace as individuals and as a nation.

And if we learn nothing else from the events of June 6, 1944 let us learn that even in victory the use of military force carries with it an exacting toll; one that should only be accepted as a measure of last resort.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

One more Thought...

If you would, please allow me to add one more thought to last night’s commentary.
We have heard all the criticism leveled at the president for bringing home a soldier that the right has deemed a traitor. Consider for a moment an alternate scenario…one that we have not seen considered in the debate.

Assume the facts are as is but the president decided NOT to make that exchange. What if we learned at some point in the future that the president had the option of exchanging Bergdahl for five Taliban prisoners…but declined?

It is 2016. The war is over. In accordance with international law all the Guantanamo prisoners have been released. But the Taliban still has Bergdahl. Or maybe he was executed when the president refused to deal. What if we learn at some later date that this president decided that the circumstances surrounding Bergdahl’s disappearance deemed him unworthy of our best efforts to bring him home? What if we learn that he could have secured Bergdahl’s release by handing over five al Qaeda prisoners that he was going to have to release anyway…but decided not to? What would that narrative sound like? Can you imagine the conflagration that would occur if we learned that this president appointed himself Bergdahl’s judge and jury (as his critics have) and decided that Bergdahl’s life was NOT worth saving? Can you imagine the reaction of our military men and women upon learning that in the eyes of their commander-in-chief the age old adage that we leave no one behind is not a resolute statement of fact but a political calculation?

What if the president said: “No”? What would that debate sound like?

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Bowe Bergdahl...Political Pawn

It used to be that the release of an American POW was met with cheers and tickertape a parade.

It used to be that an individual who was alleged to have committed a crime was presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

No more! Not in the toxic partisan world we live in.

I have come to expect that the president’s opponents will use every opportunity to cast anything he does in an unfavorable light. So I expected that there would be some political blowback when it was announced that the president had exchanged five high level Taliban prisoners held in Guantanamo for one US soldier. I expected the rancor over his decision would intensify when it was reported that Bergdahl had disparaged the country and its mission before leaving his post. And I knew that the level of vitriol would reach and even higher decibel when we learned that efforts to find and rescue Bergdahl resulted in the deaths of six American soldiers. But never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that the political right would sink to the level of incivility that they have demonstrated over the past few days.

The avalanche of personal attacks that Republicans have rained down on Bergdahl and his family goes way beyond the pale. They have labeled Bergdahl a coward, a traitor a deserter and an enemy sympathizer. They have characterized his parents as extremist, backward, radical and unclean. Bergdahl’s father had the audacity to grow a beard in support of his son’s service in Afghanistan. FOXNEWS’ Bill O’Reilly said he “looks like a Muslim.” The mindless life forms that feed at O’ Reilly’s trough gladly carried his tune. Republican strategists set up media interviews with members of Bergdahl’s unit willing to cast him in an unflattering light. Republican politicians who originally celebrated Bergdahl’s return on their websites have taken down their comments. The intended message is clear…Bergdahl is unfit and unworthy of our consideration. Leave it to the Taliban to administer his fate.

Meanwhile Bowe Bergdahl recovers in a German hospital, unable to respond to the voices railing against him.

The Republican goal here is as transparent as it is disgusting. Smear Bergdahl and his family and call into question the president’s leader ship for supporting such miscreants. Bergdahl is merely a pawn in a much bigger game.

As I watch the Republicans use Bowe Bergdahl and his family to marginalize the president I think back to September 30, 2011. On that day Anwar al Awlaki, an American citizen, was killed by a drone attack personally authorized by President Obama. Al Awlaki was a senior talent recruiter for al Qaeda and responsible for plotting terrorists attacks against American interests. Al Awlaki killed Americans! Yet many of the president’s opponents criticized him for taking out Al Awlaki without allowing al Awlaki the due process of law afforded to all American citizens.

Many of those critics who made that case on behalf of American citizen Anwar al Awlaki in 2011 are the same ones who are denying American citizen Bowe Bergdahl due process today.

Do political pawns have rights?

Elections DO Matter!

Are you one of those people that do not vote because you feel that your vote doesn’t matter? Then take a look at the two headline stories in today’s news and consider the role our president played and the impact his decisions will have on our future.

BERGDAHL – The debate over circumstances surrounding the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl rose in intensity yesterday as new facts were brought to light. We now know that just days before Bergdahl left his post he sent an email to his parents that contained harsh criticism of the US and its mission in Afghanistan. Bergdahl’s father responded by counseling him to follow his conscience. Three days later Bergdahl apparently put down his weapon and left his post. We now know that subsequent efforts to find and return Bergdahl to base resulted in the deaths of six US military personnel.

The president was aware these facts when he decided to trade five high level Guantanamo detainees for Bergdahl’s release. He was also aware that he was required by the constitution to give congress thirty days notice of his intent to affect such a release/transfer; a notice he did not give. He was aware that the US has a policy of leaving no soldier behind. And he most certainly knew that the US has a policy of not negotiating with terrorists.

The president has stated publically that he wants to close the prison facility at Guantanamo Bay. He has ordered that all military forces be out of Afghanistan by the end of 2016. He is aware that the Taliban have stated repeatedly that their beef with the US stems from America’s military presence on Afghan soil and US interference in the Afghan way of life. In essence leave us alone and we’ll leave you alone.

Did the president’s decision to embolden our enemies to act in a similar fashion as his critics have suggested? Did his decision endanger our national security? Did he violate the constitution? Should he have taken this step on behalf of a soldier who it appears violated his oath, deserted his post and placed his fellow soldiers at risk?

EPA – The president has ordered that all manufacturers reduce their carbon based emissions 30% by the year 2030. The order amounts to the largest ecologically based transformation in our history. Critics say that the president’s decision will decimate the coal industry, weaken the economy and cost the country 800,000 jobs.

We are not going to get into the pros and cons of each of these major decisions. It is way too early to determine the long term impact of the president’s actions. What we can say with a great degree of certainty is that these decisions will have a tremendous impact on our foreign policy, our economy and our way of life.

The president made two decisions within the past seven days that will change the nation. The upcoming mid-term elections will have a major impact on whether this president can continue to move his agenda forward during the final two years of his presidency. Whether you agree or disagree with his decisions this much is certain.

Elections matter!


Monday, June 2, 2014

A Little Honesty Might Help

While puttering around the house this weekend I found myself listening to a local conservative radio talk show. No surprise there. It is hard to find any liberal or moderate local commentary when you live in the hometown of Speaker John Boehner. Finding a liberal or moderate media outlet in this neck of the woods is like finding an African American at a Klan rally. But I digress…

The topic for the day’s “discussion” was the scandal at the VA…the host ranting about how the situation there was just another example of the incompetence of the federal government. And then he said this…

“Now we know what Obamacare will look like in the years to come.”

I was struck by the not only by the blatant dishonesty of statement but by the crass motivation behind it. This guy wasn’t interested in having a reasonable discussion about the VA and how we might right a terrible situation. This guy was only interested in riling up his conservative listeners and pumping up his ratings. His statement was as self serving as it was misleading.

The fact is. We don’t know what Obamacare will look like in the years to come. It could become a bureaucratic nightmare like the VA. Or it could become a wildly popular program like Medicare or the Prescription Drug program. Approach any senior, Democrat or Republican and tell them that you are going to do away with their Medicare benefits. Hell hath no fury!

The same disingenuous debate is now taking place over the return of Sgt. Bowe Bergdhal after being held captive for five years by the Taliban. Bergdhal has yet to touch American soil, yet to talk to his parents, yet to address the media; but the politicians are already forming ranks and the media only too happy to fan the flames. Why did Bergdhal leave his post? Why did we trade five high level Taliban insurgents for one army grunt? Why now? These are legitimate questions. But condemnation of the administration and proclamations that the transfer will set a dangerous precedent and endanger our national security are little more than election year politics at its worst. We will eventually find the truth. The inflammatory rhetoric only obscures our path.

Our society is fraught with serious problems. If we have any hope of solving them we must first engage in thoughtful debate. We might start by interjecting a modicum of honesty into the dialogue.