Friday, August 29, 2014

Time To Go On The Record

The president called a news conference yesterday. The consensus in the room was that the president was planning to expand US bombing raids to attack ISIS forces in Syria. After all the Secretary of Defense, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and UN ambassador had all been out there in recent days making the case that ISIS posed a threat to national security that had to be eliminated. The only question yet to be answered was whether the president would seek congressional authorization before attacking ISIS forces in Syria.

“I don’t’ want to put the cart before the horse,” the president said. “We don’t have a strategy, yet.”

As one might expect the president’s political adversaries, who have been vacationing for the last several weeks, were more than eager to weigh in with their characterizations of a weak, feckless, clueless president and his leading from behind policies. I won’t bore you with the details.

Lost in the cacophony of congressional criticism was what the president said next.

“We don’t have a strategy, yet. We need to make sure that we’ve got clear plans, that we’re developing them. At that point I will consult with congress and make sure that their voices are heard. But there is no point in me asking for action on the part of congress before I know exactly what is going to be required for us to get the job done. He then made it clear that any plans to go after ISIS would be a “regional strategy” that involved “moderate Sunni’s who are able to govern and offer a real alternative. We won’t go it alone.”

Translation…once we get our ducks lined up with the other players in the regional I’ll go to congress and ask for their authorization to execute the plan.

That is exactly what congress does NOT want to hear. With the exception of McCain, Graham and a few other neo-cons, most of our congressional representatives want no part of going on the record as being for or against another war in the Middle East. Hillary Clinton might well be into her second term as president if not for her vote in favor of the war in Iraq. Lesson learned! Far better to sit back and let the president do the heavy lifting…then weigh in after the dust has cleared.

You may recall that about a year ago the world watched while the Assad regime slaughtered tens of thousands of its citizens who had committed the sin of rising up in protest. The president’s critics ripped him apart; saying that his unwillingness to arm the rebels had led to the slaughter of tens of thousands of innocents. The president for his part was unwilling to provide arms to rebel forces that included al Qaeda and other bad actors who threatened American interests.

You may NOT recall that on August 31, 2013, almost exactly one year ago, President Obama went to the Rose Garden to announce that after consulting with military leaders he was prepared to authorize air strikes in support of the rebel forces that were being slaughtered by the Assad regime. But cognizant of the country’s war weariness and fully aware of the tenants of the constitution he felt that it was important for the peoples’ elected representatives to have their voices heard on the subject. So instead of going it alone he asked congress to vote, yea or nay, on whether he should order the military to engage in bombing runs in Syria.


Over the ensuing months many members of congress railed against the president for “not doing more” to help the Syrian rebels. But they never went on the record to authorize another war in another Middle East country. One year later that vote has yet to be heard.

We are now seeing a rerun of that same movie. By all accounts any effort to defeat ISIS must go through Syria. All the weak, feckless, leading from behind noise that you are hearing from the fools on the Hill is nothing more than a politically motivated attempt to goad the president into acting so that they don’t have to take action themselves. A distraction campaign if you will, designed to hide their political cowardice.

Over the next several days you will hear members of congress ripping the president for saying “We don’t have a strategy, yet.” Behind closed doors they are praying that he does. Should the president decide to take military action without seeking their authorization they will rip him for “abuse of power.” Behind closed doors they are thrilled to be relieved of the burden.

There is an old saying that politics stops at the water’s edge. It should…but clearly it doesn’t.

I am pleased to have a president who, regardless of the political consequences, is thoughtful and deliberate when considering matters of war. Unfortunately our elected leaders in congress are not made of the same cloth.

It is time for Congress to go on the record.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

This & That

War Drums Beating Louder – In an ever expanding effort to rollback ISIS advances in the region, the White House announced that the president has authorized reconnaissance flights over Syria. U-2 spy planes and military drones will scout out ISIS military positions and command and control centers along the blurred Iraqi/Syrian border. The reconnaissance missions put to bed any previous doubts over whether the US will take military action against ISIS in Syrian territory. The question is no longer “if” but “when.” You don’t run reconnaissance missions to post pictures on facebook. Senator Lindsey Graham had recently accused the president of being derelict in his duties as commander-in-chief for failing to take the fight to ISIS in Syria. It would certainly appear that the senator will get his wish. The ever expanding “mission creep” that we are seeing reminds me once again of the build up to the second Iraq war. ISIS, like Saddam will be defeated. For as well armed and disciplined as ISIS may be its 17,000 troops will be but a smudge on the Iraq landscape should the president decide to bring the full force and might of the US military to bear. The question that I have now is the same question I had before Bush 43 unleashed his “Shock and Awe Campaign” against Saddam. What’s next? When Bush decided to wage war in Iraq ISIS didn’t exist. The evil that is ISIS arose from the ashes of what was once Saddam’s Iraq; brought on in no small part by America’s failure to have a ready answer to that question. “What’s next?” Is there any reason to believe that once we have heeded Senator Graham’s war cry and ground ISIS into dust that another hate filled faction won’t rise up to take its place?

$500/hour – The Speaker’s office announced that the House has hired a $500/hour law firm to litigate the House suit against the president. The House is suing the president for what they see as abusing his executive authority. The president extended by one year the deadline for the business community to conform to the mandate requirements of the Affordable Care Act. Republicans say the president is in fact rewriting a law passed by congress; and that his actions are in violation of the constitution. The truth is if the president were a Republican they would have applauded his actions as being good for small businesses. The law will in all likelihood be dismissed out of hand as the House has no standing. But even if it does eventually go to trial the president will undoubtedly be on a golf course somewhere having served out his term. Should a court rule in the Houses’ favor, the ruling could end up tying the hands of a Republican president. Unforeseen consequences can be a bitch. The estimated $350,000 cost of this frivolous lawsuit is almost as preposterous as its premise. The fact is, if the suit ever makes it to court the legal fees will be ten times that. Republican “fiscal conservatives” fret about our growing debt and the “mortgaging of our children’s future.” Who do they think is going to pay for this nonsensical legal maneuver? Our children will foot the bill…with money they borrow from the Chinese.

From Mitch’s Lips to God’s Ears - Mitch McConnell is in a very tight race to keep his senate seat. He needs every vote he can get. So he is doing everything he can to attract Tea Party voters who view him as part of the “free spending Washington establishment.” McConnell wants to assure them that he is a bastion of anti-Obama hatred and the poster boy for reducing the size of government. The other day he inadvertently gave us a glimpse of what Washington will look like if Republicans seize control of the senate and Mitch becomes Majority Leader: “We’re going to pass spending bills, and they’re going to have a lot of restrictions on the activities of the bureaucracy…that’s something he won’t like but it will be done. I guarantee it…Obama needs to be challenged and the best way to do that is through the spending process…He would have to make a decision on a given bill, if there is more in it that he likes than dislikes.” Translation: Republicans will attach partisan conservative spending restrictions to any continuing resolutions to keep the government open. Obama will be forced to either accept the amendments or veto the bills and assume blame for shutdown the government. You may recall that we saw this movie before in September of 2013. House Republicans refuse to fund the government unless the president agreed to certain provisions. The result was a 16 day government shutdown that drained $24 billion from the economy and culminated in the historic first reduction of our nations’ credit rating. McConnell was hailed as the last minute deal maker; steppig in at the eleventh hour to broker a “clean” continuing resolution to re-open the government. It wasn’t until after the dust settled that we learned that the supposedly “clean” bill, that is one without any earmarks or pork, contained a $3.5 billion dollar amendment to fund a bridge repair in McConnell’s home state of Kentucky. Mitch now tells us that if voters turn control of the senate over to him and the Republicans we can expect more of the same.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Michael Brown Is Buried...Racism Lives On

Michael Brown will be laid to rest today.

The shooting of the eighteen year old black youth by local police led to three weeks of violent protests that gripped the nation.

I do not know if Michael Brown was a homicide victim or a perpetrator who brought about his own violent demise. The investigation into Brown’s death is still ongoing.

I do know this.

Michael Brown’s remains were left to lay in the middle of the street for four plus hours while police officers, detectives and members of the coroner’s office casually went about their business. For over thirty minutes his body laid uncovered as it bled out; fodder for cell phone videos and social media aficionados. It took another two hours for his body to be posted in by the coroner’s office. The lack of decency that his remains were shown speaks volumes. Victim or perpetrator; he deserved better.

Micheal Brown's death and subsequent treatment led to three weeks violent protests as heavily armed white policemen battled black protestors. I do not condone the violence and vandalism, but in some regard I understand it.

Imagine if you will the subsequent events if Michael Brown were a white youth shot by a black cop in an affluent or middle class white community. Anyone who thinks the white victim’s family and remains would have been treated in such a callus manner is delusional.

Michael Brown’s death and the events that followed are undeniable proof that the cancerous growth of racism continues to threaten the very heart our society.

Friday, August 22, 2014

"I see a bad moon risin'..."

I predict that within the next few months President Obama will order United States military forces to return to Iraq for the purpose of eliminating the national security threat posed by ISIS. The only question in my mind is whether the US will once again form the tip of the spear or will the president be able to persuade other nations in the region to join us in removing ISIS from the chessboard. I fear the former scenario is most likely.

My prediction is based on the alarmingly rapid manner in which the bi-partisan call for US involvement has escalated over the past few months.

On January 12, 2014 the president dismisses ISIS as a “JV team.” Two weeks later, on January 19 he sends 300 “advisors” to the region to assess the threat. In an August 7 statement to the nation the president announces that the US will carry out “targeted” air strikes as part of a humanitarian effort to protect religious refugees persecuted by ISIS who were trapped on Mt. Sinjar. The refugees are spared but the bombing runs escalate. ISIS forces threatening US interests in Erbil are targeted. Then US bombers aide Kurdish forces in taking back a key dam in Mosul. On August 12 the president announces he is sending 130 more troops to northern Iraq to assess the situation on the ground. On August 14 the president announces that the air strikes will continue. On August 20 while addressing the execution of American journalist James Foley the president states that the US will be “relentless” against the Islamic State militants. On that same day Sec. of State John Kerry tweets that “ISIS must be destroyed.” On August 21 Sec. of Defense Chuck Hagel tells reporters that that the danger presented by ISIS is “Apocalyptic, beyond anything we’ve ever seen.” At the same gathering Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Martin Dempsey says that our open borders and immigration issues make ISIS and “immediate threat.” He further states that there is no way to defeat ISIS without taking out its command and control centers in Syria. Politicians from both sides of the aisle, appalled by the public execution of James Foley, are calling on the president take “appropriate action” to eliminate ISIS.

The White House continues to state publically that it will not be drawn into a comprehensive military altercation with ISIS. “American boots on the ground” is not an option; they say.

If that is the case…then what IS the strategy? No one that I’ve read believes that ISIS can be defeated by air power alone.

I believe that ISIS must be defeated and that the US must play a part in a worldwide coalition to achieve that goal. But my major concern is what happens next. What is our exit strategy? We have seen this movie before. The bad guys are eliminated only to have another band of bad actors take their place. We can’t just rush in and bloody the bully. We have to find a way to find a lasting worldwide diplomatic solution to bring peace to the region.

Unfortunately the drumbeat for war grows louder by the day...the exit strategy lost in all the noise.

I’m afraid we are about to go down the same rabbit hole that got us here in the first place.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Why So Americans Hate The French

French President Francois Hollande has decided that the time has come for the French to enlighten the world with their perspective on the events occurring in Syria and Iraq.

In a statement provided to media outlets shortly after the beheading of American journalist James Foley, Hollande called for an international summit to craft a global response to the ISIS threat. He called on “all countries in the region” including Iran, to join the west in the fight. “We can no longer keep to the traditional debate…intervention or not. We must come up with a global strategy.”
He also announced that France would be supplying weapons to Kurdish forces fighting ISIS in the Northern provinces.

Hollande is a little late to the party…but at least he showed up. President Obama has been calling for an international response to ISIS for two years. But the French along with the rest of the international community have stood meekly by while allowing the US to do the heavy lifting. Apparently Hollande finally understands that the US is no longer willing to go it alone and that he and the rest of the world community are going to have to pitch in unless they want ISIS knocking on their doors.

I’d give Hollande a “thumbs up” if he had just left it there. But Hollande couldn’t resist the opportunity to point the finger of blame. In previous statements Hollande has made it clear that the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq has left a power vacuum that Iran, Syria, Russia and a host of radical Islamist terrorist groups have only been too willing to fill. Hollande blames Obama’s unwillingness to arm the Syrian rebels in response to Assad’s use of chemical weapons as the genesis of ISIS. So it comes as no surprise that Hollande included this gem in yesterday’s comments. “If one year ago major powers had reacted to the use of chemical weapons we wouldn’t have this terrible choice between a dictator and a terrorist group.”

Just to be clear…from the French perspective…Invading Iraq = bad. Leaving Iraq = bad. ISIS = bad. Failing to supply arms to Syrian rebels even though by all accounts many of those rebels were ISIS forces and anti-western terrorists = bad. Are you following this? The logic is simple if you are French.

Given the opportunity I would ask President Hollande the following;

Mr. President, if you were concerned about the vacuum resulting from US military forces leaving Iraq why didn’t the French or a European coalition step in to fill it?

Mr. President, if you believed that the Syrian rebels should have been provided arms to help in their fight against the Assad regime…why didn’t the French provide them?

Mr. President, if you are concerned about the increased Iranian and Russian influence in the region why does your country continue to sell them arms?

Mr. President, why did it take the French government two years to join President Obama in calling for a global response to the rise of terrorism in the world…specifically the threat posed by ISIS?

Of course we already know the answer to these

The French were unwilling to arm the Syrian rebels in their fight against Assad because they didn’t want to get in the cross hairs of the Russians. Russia, an ally of Assad, is the number one supplier of gas and oil to the French as well as one of France’s biggest customers for military weaponry. France remained silent about Russia’s intervention in the Middle East and expansion into Crimea and Ukraine for the same reasons. Why bite the hand that feeds you? And why invest blood and treasure into a conflict when the US will do it for you?

To be clear…the entire situation in Syria and Iraq is the direct result of the United States entering into a wrongful and unnecessary war without any forethought of the aftermath. But Hollande’s words of wisdom are little more than a self serving attempt to put a bold face on France's impotent response to a very difficult and dangerous situation. Hollande knows that ISIS and terrorist groups like it are coming to the western world. He also knows that the American people are no longer willing to stand up while his country sits idly by.

So why DO so many Americans hate the French? Many believe that the anger stems from stories of the French collaborating with the Germans during WWII; straddling the fence until an apparent victor immerged. Others cite French accounts of the war as documented for all time in the Musee de I’Armee in Paris. If you tour of the museum you can’t help but come away with the impression that that Charles de Gaulle saved the world from the Nazis…the US war effort little more than a footnote. Perhaps it stems from self serving statements like those of President Hollande.

Or perhaps it is because only the French can exhibit a sanctimonious sense of pomposity that rivals our own.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Obama Disses Dems!

Over the past six years much has been written about President Obama’s disdain for engaging in the nitty- gritty of politics. The whole idea of “backroom politics;” where relationships are developed,arms are twisted…and laws are passed…resides far outside his comfort zone.

Prior to the 2010 mid-terms New York Times reporter Peter Baker asked the president if he had learned any lessons during his first two years in office. The president told Baker that he had no regrets about the broad direction of his presidency but admitted to what he called “tactical lessons.” “…we probably spent much more time trying to get the policy right” Obama said; “than trying to get the politics right.”

Those tactical errors cost the president dearly. Less than two weeks after Baker’s interview voters slapped the self confident president with a cruel dose of reality; electing Republicans to a majority in the House and thereby effectively bringing the president’s agenda to a screeching halt.

In a recent New York Times piece, reporters Carl Hulse, Jeremy Peters and Michael Shear write that not much has changed. In fact not only has the president dismissed any notion of mending fences with his Republican opponents he has refused to engage his Democrat supporters as well.

The Times article centers on a White House meeting in June between Obama and the four top leaders in congress. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the deteriorating situation in Iraq. Reid suddenly shifted gears and chastised McConnell and Republican senators for blocking dozens of the president’s nominees to serve as ambassadors. Reid expected the president to back him up. But, as the Times reports, Obama quickly dismissed the matter: ‘You and Mitch work it out,” Obama said, ending any further discussion. Reid seethed through the remainder of the meeting and later told other senators that he was astonished at how disengaged the president was given that these were the president’s own ambassadors that were being blocked. The president had chastised Republicans publically for blocking the ambassador appointments, especially to hotspots like Russia and the Ukraine. But when it came to seizing the opportunity to discuss the matter face to face with the leader of the opposition; the president backed off.

As the 2014 mid-terms approach we are hearing more and more Democrats express their frustration over the president’s refusal to build relationships and work hand in hand with them to move his agenda forward. As the president’s approval ratings plummet vulnerable Democrats are distancing themselves from him in much the same manner that he turned his back on them. With no personal relationship, no working relationship and no friendship to bond them to the president…who can blame them? If Republicans take the senate there is little for Obama to do than prepare his farewell speech.

The president likes to blame the gridlock in Washington on the Republicans in congress. A 17% congressional approval rating would suggest that the public agrees. Certainly their obstructionist tactics have played a major role in the failings of our government. But with all due respect Mr. President, how do you expect to break through that gridlock if you won’t even engage with your own supporters to find solutions.

It takes more than soaring rhetoric to move a nation forward. The president said he had learned that lesson. Unfortunately for this president and his legacy, actions speak louder than words.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Far From Exceptional

The president took a sabbatical from his family vacation to return to Washington to address the ongoing events in Iraq and Ferguson, Missouri.

In a hastily held news conference the president said the US air attacks coupled with Iraqi and Kurdish ground forces had halted the advance of ISIS insurgents and had retaken a key dam near Mosul. The president said that the air strikes would continue for the foreseeable future. Media types speculate that the president may be preparing the country for the insertion of US ground forces into the fray. The president’s critics stated flatly that he isn’t doing enough. “ISIS is preparing to attack our homeland” say the critics on the right; as if eliminating ISIS will bring eternal peace and tranquility to the region.

On the subject of Ferguson, Missouri the president announced that he is sending Atty. General Eric Holder to provide federal oversight into the investigation of the shooting of Michael Brown. When asked if there wasn’t more that he could do to quell the violence the president said: “I have to be careful not to be seen as prejudging these events because the Department of Justice works for me. I can’t look like I’m putting my thumb on the scales one way or another.” As expected the president’s remarks brought criticism from both the right and the left. The left called his comments “bloodless” and “Cosbyism;” labeling him “disengaged” for sending Holder instead of making the trip himself. The right ripped him for “not having the back of law enforcement.” Damned if you do…damned if you don’t. You have probably hit the right tone if both sides are pissed at you.

I believe the president hit the right cord on the situation in Ferguson. He is not the president of the Black States of America or the White States of America. He is the president of the United States of America. As such his words have power and influence. Allowing the justice system to play out is the right thing to do. Sending the Attorney General is a clear statement on how seriously he takes the situation. After all, how many criminal investigations are assigned by the president to the nation’s chief law enforcement officer?

Regarding Iraq, I do not believe that short of indefinite occupation there is anything our nation can do to bring a to an end a civil war that has been ongoing for centuries. It is up to the Iraqis to bring this war to an end.

We can however end the civil war of racism that continues to fester in our country. We can marginalize those who believe that a person’s worth is somehow determined by the color of their skin. We can marginalize those who believe that a broken home, miserable childhood and economic difficulties justify the use of violence against one’s fellow citizens. We can marginalize those who believe that wearing a badge gives one the right to play God and that use of excessive force, abuse of power and police brutality are a path to civil tranquility. Until we remove the blight of racism in this country I don’t see how we can ever become the exceptional nation we claim to be.

The president returns to Martha’s Vineyard today to resume his vacation. I wonder how restful it can be. Surely, when the president first took the oath six years ago he could not possibly have envisioned that six years hence the key issues on his plate would be Iraq and race riots in the heartland.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

"Gearing Up" American Style

My wife recently took a trip overseas. In preparation we had several discussions about safety, securing valuables etc. As I look back on those conversations I have to laugh given what we are witnessing in our own communities.

Bedroom communities like Sandy Hook, CT have become killing fields. Mass shootings are commonplace. The past few days every news channel carries videos of the Ferguson Police department bearing arms that rival the US military.

We live in a violent society where the carnage seems to escalate exponentially day by day. Yet rather than demonstrate a bit of political courage by passing common sense laws that might help to lessen the violence, our elected leaders hand out $4 billion in military grade weaponry to local law enforcement agencies.

We saw what happened to much of the weaponry that our government handed out to the Iraqi military. It ended up in the hands of the bad guys.

We need the government to invest in education, infrastructure and research.

The last thing our violent society needs is another arms dealer.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

What say you, senator?

Kudos to the Obama administration! The president has cobbled together a coalition of the “less than enthused” to enter the fight in Iraq.

The French have agreed to stop selling weapons to the Russians and arm the Kurds. The Brits have provided humanitarian aid; concerns over a cameo as Obama’s Tony Blair at least temporarily assuaged. Turkey and Jordan have stepped up as well. And two unlikely partners, Saudi Arabia and Iran, have called on Iraq’s embattled prime minister to step down.

Meanwhile America’s 500+ “military advisors” in the region have determined that the numbers of Yazidi refugees stranded on Mt. Sinjar are less than previously believed. American bombing runs have made it possible for many refugees to escape lessening the likelihood of an US protected Moses like exodus.

ISIS is still out there seeking to sterilize the region of anyone who does not share in their radial religious beliefs. While the situation on Mt. Sinjar may be drawing to a close the number of Iraqis seeking aid and comfort from the ISIS onslaught is growing.

Senators McCain and Graham have been vocal in their criticism of the president’s policies. They see the president as being week on foreign policy. They blame his indecisiveness for the rise of ISIS in both Syria and Iraq and the humanitarian disaster that ensued. Domestically they like to lay the plight of millions of illegal immigrants at his feet. They see the lack of comprehensive immigration reform and the resulting mess on our borders as a prime example of his failed domestic agenda.

“The president has failed to lead!” is their mantra…“Leading from behind” their slogan.

I see the unrest in Iraq and the situation along our southern borders as opportunities for the good senators to step up and demonstrate firsthand the type of leadership they see lacking in our president.

It has been widely reported the Senator McCain and his wife own several homes…though they can’t seem to remember the exact number. Perhaps Senator McCain could open their homes to some of the displaced Iraqis; providing them the aid and comfort that he has accused the president of denying.

Senator Graham has been slurping at the federal government trough since 1995. Perhaps he could demonstrate the “American leadership” that he is always going on about and give something back to the country. Maybe tent cities in his backyard to provide shelter to some of the unattended children that have been dragged illegally across our border through no fault of their own.

American leadership!

What say you, senator?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Silence!...A Sad State of Affairs

Over the past several weeks we have listened to the president’s political adversaries criticize his foreign policy. Chief among their complaints was his unwillingness to use military force against ISIS; the Islamic terrorist group that is gobbling up large swaths of Iraqi territory at an alarming pace. Critics like McCain and Graham demanded that the president arm our Kurdish allies to the north. They demanded that he provide humanitarian aid to the 40,000 Christian refugees who fled into the mountains to avoid being slaughtered by ISIS Islamist militants. And they demanded that he bring US military forces to bear to halt any further ISIS’ advances.

As he is want to do…the president took his time to assess the situation; mindful of the country’s unwillingness to engage in another protracted war.

The president eventually decided that he had to act. In recent days he has authorized the delivery of arms to the Kurdish fighters in the north; dropped plane loads of water and MRE’s to the displaced refugees and authorized the US Navy fighter squadrons to target ISIS positions.

And what has the response been from the president’s critics; now that he has essentially given them everything they wanted?


Not one Republican has had the political courage to publically back his actions.

Democrats are equally guilty. Fearful of the political fallout certain to arise from any military engagement in Iraq, the president’s party has sat on their hands. All except Hillary Clinton who decided that this was the politically opportune time to say that all of this upheaval in Iraq could have been prevented had the president been willing to arm the Syrian rebels trying to overthrow Assad in Syria. (Yes, it’s complicated.)

And then there are America’s allies in Europe and the Middle East. France, Germany, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Jordan…all silent. Even the Brits…fearful of a reenactment of Tony Blair blindly following George Bush down the rabbit hole…have tucked their heads and turned their backs.


Because they know that the president’s limited response is but a political band aid on a cancerous tumor. They know that more will be required…much more…if terrorism is to be eradicated from the face of the earth. It will require both a military and diplomatic solution. It will be a long, heavy slog.

Our allies want nothing to do with it. They want the US to do the heavy lifting.

America is the world’s indispensible nation. The world sits and waits for us to act. We have fostered that dependency since end of WWII. Our internal politics breeds international distrust. Our politics no longer stops at the water’s edge. Our allies wonder if we can’t stand behind our own president what guarantee is there that we will stand behind them. Yet they prefer us to do the lifting rather than take on the burden.


The president stands alone.

A truly sad state of affairs.

Monday, August 11, 2014

...then what?

“There is a vacuum of American leadership in the Middle East…the consequences of our failure to leave a residual force and our announcement that we are leaving the area in a vacuum of leadership, especially in that part of the world, we are paying a price for it…I predicted what was going to happen Iraq. And I’m predicting now that if we pull everybody out of Afghanistan, not based on conditions, you will see the same movie again in Afghanistan…I would be rushing equipment to Irbil. I would be launching air strikes, not only in Iraq but in Syria against ISIS.”
Senator John McCain

“He (Obama ) trying to avoid bad news on his watch…the homeland is threatened by the presence of ISIL in Iraq and Syria. To change that threat we need have to have a sustained air campaign in Syria and Iraq. We need to go on the offensive…If he does not go on the offensive against ISIS, ISIL—whatever you want to call these guys, they are coming here.”
Senator Lindsey Graham

“I lost hundreds of constituents on 9/11. I never want to do that again. For the president to say we’re doing air strikes, we’re not doing anything else. What kind of leadership is that?”
Congressman Peter King

Two things strike me when I hear our elected leaders engage in this type of rhetoric. First of all it amazes me how casually our leaders in congress embrace the idea of engaging in military operations in foreign countries. Second, I always wait for the answer to the next obvious question…the follow-up question that never comes… “After those military operations are completed…then what?”

In the aftermath of 9/11, the CIA along with a rag tag bunch of handsomely compensated Afghani war lords drove the Taliban and al Qaeda militants out of Afghanistan. George W. Bush redirected the country’s focus onto Iraq. As soon as America’s back was turned the Taliban returned to Afghanistan and American forces were called in to drive them out again. Now with the withdrawal of American combat troops by years’ end there are signs that the Taliban will return once more.

Under “W’s” direction, US military forces routed Saddam. A democratically elected government was installed…a new Iraqi constitution written…$25 billion American tax dollars spent to train and arm the Iraqi military and police. Mission accomplished…the historic seeds of democracy sewn in the Middle East. US military forces withdrew.

The democratically elected Iraqi government ruled at the pleasure of the minority at the expense of the majority. Unrest ensued and a centuries old Shia/Sunni civil war reared its ugly head once more. Islamist extremists entered the chaos. ISIS was born.

Throughout all of this Middle East turmoil American interests at home and abroad were in danger of attack. The insertion of America’s military might, not to mention its western morals and beliefs, added more fuel to a centuries old conflagration. The resulting threats to our homeland have been real and plentiful. It is a testament to our national security services that another 9/11 has not already occurred.

Now comes ISIS; by all accounts a terrorist organization more dangerous than either the Taliban or al Qaeda. They have promised to strike us here at home. The president’s detractors would have him ignore history once more, and execute the same military strategy that failed so badly in Iraq and Afghanistan.

John McCain is right in this regard. The events that are occurring in Iraq were predictable. The future of Afghanistan is equally clear. When US forces exit Afghanistan the Taliban will most certainly return. So do we learn from history or do we go blindly forward and repeat the same mistakes? IF we drive ISIS from Iraq through the use of military force is it not likely they will return. If we follow ISIS into Syria, destroy its command and control, eliminate them as a player on the chessboard, are we certain that another bad actor fueled by the death and destruction that we have wrought will not rise from the ashes? Does our mere presence in the region only serve to fan an already burning flame?

So let us ask the question that nobody ever asks… After the American military has eliminated ISIS…then what?


There is only one military solution in the Middle East…occupation. The only way to keep the death of one bad actor from spawning the birth of another is to turn the Middle East into an American territory. It is a horrible, unreasonable solution. It is the solution that neo-cons like McCain and Graham dream about.

The unrest in the Middle East is not America’s problem. It is a world problem. America’s long term interests will not be served through unilateral military intervention. Recent history has made that clear. The only real long term solution is a diplomatic one led by someone other than the US. The sooner learn from our own history in the region the better off we will be.

The next time McCain or Graham or some other hawk beats the war drum someone might want to ask the question that nobody ever asks…then what?

Thursday, August 7, 2014

What does The GOP Stand For?

“What do I stand for? What do I stand for? Most nights I don’t know anymore…”
FUN – From the album “Some Nights”

I don’t know about you but when I go to the polls I vote for the candidates that I feel best represent my beliefs in how government should work. With the primary season in full swing and the mid-terms fast approaching voters are beginning to ask candidates to explain where they stand on the issues. When it comes to members of the Republican Party, the answer to that question is oft times elusive.

What exactly does the Republican Party stand for? This is the question that is being asked not only by independents and outsiders like me but by moderates within the party as well. Republicans have made it quite clear that they are against anything proposed by what they see as an “illegitimate” “imperialist” president. But what exactly do Republicans stand for?

Republicans say they are for creating jobs. But they have yet to pass one jobs bill and have rejected several infrastructure bills offered by the president.

Republicans say they are for raising up the middle class. Yet they have opposed raising the minimum wage and equal pay for equal work while working tirelessly to eliminate unions and cut social safety net programs on which the middle class depends.

Republicans say they oppose government handouts like unemployment and food stamp programs “and the nanny state theses programs create.” Yet they support tax loopholes for millionaires and billionaires and billion dollar subsidies for big oil and agriculture.

Republicans say they are for freedom and individual liberty. Yet they oppose same sex marriage and women’s access to legally provided health services.

Republicans say they are for reducing our long term debt and deficit and leaving a “better world for our children.” But the CBO says that the few economic programs that Republicans have proposed will add $1 trillion dollars to our national debt over the next decade.

So I ask again…what do Republicans stand for?

Acclaimed Republican strategist Mike Murphy says that since Barak Obama took office the GOP strategy has been to engaged in a “grievance campaign” while holding investigative hearings on Benghazi, the IRS, NSA wiretaps etc. Murphy fears that this limited strategy may hold the party in good stead in the upcoming mid-terms but fears that it will prove to be the party’s “kryptonite” in the 2016 general. can’t win the White House by just saying “NO.”

What do Republicans stand for? Most nights they don’t seem to know.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

It's That Simple

As the death toll mounts top White House officials are seething over Israel’s carpet bombing of Gaza.

They claim to be “appalled” by the “disgraceful” shelling of a United Nation’s school where 3,000 Palestinians were sheltered. “Unacceptable…indefensible” they said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flipped the White House the bird and told them to “Never second guess me again.”

President Obama responded by signing into law $225 million dollars in emergency aid to fund Israel’s Iron Dome defense system.


Let us review…

Israel bombs UN school killing innocent civilians.

White House criticizes Israel’s actions.

Israeli leader tells White House to go to hell.

White House hands Israel $225 million.


You might say it’s not that simple.

Yes it is!

Without US support Israel ceases to exist.

It’s that simple.

Netanyahu might want to consider that simple fact next time he decides to scold us while reaching for another handout.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Hypocrisy Reins!

IMMIGRATION/IMPEACHMENT – Congress is off on a five week vacation leaving unresolved the toxic quagmire that is immigration reform. Before leaving the REPUBLICAN Speaker of the House encouraged the president to address the matter using the executive powers at his disposal. This was after he sued the president for using the executive powers at his disposal. The president promised that he would act alone. The White House has stated that the president is planning to announce a number of immigration reforms by the end of August. REPUBLICANS like Ted Cruz, Steve King and Louie Ghomert responded that if the president were to act alone they would give serious consideration to his impeachment. Going into the campaign season Democrats had pretty much handed Republicans control of the House and Senate on a silver platter. But the dysfunctional hypocrisy exhibited by Republicans like Boehner, Cruz, King and Ghomert keeps knocking that platter to the floor.

SMALL GOVERNMENT CONSERVATIVES – Republicans champion states’ rights over federal government overreach. That is until reality hits. Texas Governor Rick Perry is a small government conservative. He has been critical in what he describes as the federal government’s inadequate response to the crisis on Texas ‘southern border. An angry and frustrated Perry finally sent 1,000 Texas National Guard Troops to help secure the Texas southern border. “If the president won’t act, I will” said Perry. This is what happens when ideology runs head on into reality. Perry wants the federal government to stay out of his states’ affairs. But when tens of thousands of illegal immigrants flood Perry’s borders he whines to the president for help. Perry ha s often floated the idea of Texas seceding from the union. Good luck! Texas keeps its’ doors open by taking more funding from the federal government than any state save California.

DISPROPORTIONATE RESPONSE – The war between the Israelis and Palestinians is complicated. It is an ongoing conflict that has been raging for decades. The number one perpetrator of violence against Israel is the terrorist organization known as Hamas. In recent weeks Hamas has fired 3,200 rockets into Israel killing hundreds of innocent women and children. The rockets were fired from behind the cover of Palestinian schools, hospitals, mosques and residential neighborhoods. Hamas had also constructed a series of tunnels into Israeli territory from which they launched attacks on Israeli citizens. Israel has responded with a devastating ground and rocket assault designed to take out the rocket launchers and tunnels …wherever they may be. The result has been the death of 1,800 innocent civilians and tens of thousands of Palestinian homes. Yesterday the Israelis blew up a UN run school killing ten children. This is the third UN run school to be hit by the Israeli military. The gory details played out on video for the entire world to see, generated an outpouring of global criticism for Israel’s “disproportionate” response. Yesterday, US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said: “The United States is appalled by the disgraceful shelling of a United Nations school. The US called the attack “totally unacceptable…totally indefensible.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to the White House: “Don’t ever second guess me again.” The US gives Israel $4 billion tax payer dollars a year to defend itself. Since WWII the US has handed Israel $121 billion to help ward off its enemies. When you give a country $121 billion you ought to be able to give them your opinion as well. It is however interesting to listen to the politicians and talking heads in this country criticize Israel’s “disproportionate” response to 3,200 missile attacks against their people. What would happen if some foreign power rained 3,200 missiles on our civilian population? I think we know. In response to the 9/11 attacks the United States of America invaded Iraq and Afghanistan in what became our country's longest wars. According to numerous sources at least 174,000 civilians died violently as a direct result of these wars. Add to that the number of civilian deaths resulting from the shattered infrastructure and poor health conditions and experts say the number grows to over 1,000,000. Was our response proportionate? In our self absorbed quest to be the world’s most exceptional nation…we sometimes act like its biggest hypocrite.

Friday, August 1, 2014


The Republican clown show continues.

If there was ever any doubt that the Republican Party is incapable of governing those doubts were put to rest last night as the party demonstrated a level of incompetence that left even their own members shaking their heads in disbelief.

Allow me to go back a few weeks to set the stage.

Three weeks ago Republicans were characterizing the situation on our southern border as the biggest moral and humanitarian crisis since 9/11. Republicans were crucifying the president for failing to find a solution to the problem; calling into question once again his leadership capabilities. The president’s decision to NOT visit the border only added fuel to the fire.

The president responded by proffering a $3.7 billion dollar bill to secure the border and streamline the deportation of those who had crossed illegally. Speaker Boehner rejected it out of hand and refused to bring it up in the House for a vote. The Senate had passed a similar $2.9 billion dollar solution months earlier which Boehner had also rejected. Fearful of returning to their districts for summer recess without addressing the problem, Boehner and Republican House leadership cobbled together a $1.5 billion solution. But the bill was quickly withdrawn when Boehner could not rally Tea Party members to support the measure.

Keep in mind that these are not comprehensive immigration reform bills that Republicans are rejecting. These are funding measures to enable the government to deport more people faster; something that the Republicans had been screaming for and a majority of the American people support.

As the August recess approached, the heat on Republicans to pass “something” before returning home had reached the boiling point. Boehner and the leadership drafted a watered down $659 million dollar measure. In an effort to woo the Tea Party bunch they even added a clause prohibiting the president from using his executive powers to amend or delay any immigration legislation. You may recall that the House had recently passed a resolution authorizing the Speaker to sue the president over his use of executive powers. The suit contends that the president uses his executive powers excessively in an effort to circumvent congress.

Confident that he had the votes to pass the bill; Boehner addressed the media. Once again he criticized the president for failing to secure the border and boldly stated that: “If the president won’t act congress will.” A few short hours later a blindsided Boehner was forced to pull his own bill when it became clear that he didn’t have the votes. It seems that while leadership was crafting the bill the Tea Party House members were meeting with Tea Party Senators Cruz and Sessions. Cruz and Sessions convinced them that it was better politically to do nothing and let the president shoulder the blame. The Tea Party caucus agreed and left Boehner hanging.

In a stunning scene…when Boehner announced that he was pulling the bill he and newly elected Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy were mobbed on the House floor by a furious moderate majority. They demanded that Boehner reconvene and find some way to craft and pass something; noting that going home to their constituents without something in hand would be disastrous. Boehner agreed and called his members back to renew the debate…some of whom had already left for the airport. They hope to pass someting...anything...this morning.

As if all of this weren’t ridiculous enough; Boehner issued a statement in the aftermath that only served to highlight the party’s incompetence. In his statement the Speaker said that the president had the power to act alone in addressing the border crisis and he encouraged the president to use the executive powers at his disposal to do so??? Remember, Boehner is currently suing this “imperialist” president for what Republicans believe is the president’s excessive use of executive powers. Now here the Speaker is encouraging the president invoke those very same powers?????

This entire comedy of errors was over a merely symbolic vote. Nothing the House passed was ever going to get by Harry Reid and the senate. Yet they still couldn’t find a way to get it done. Better to do nothing than pass something the people want.

So what have we learned?

We’ve learned that Republicans would rather do nothing than secure the border. They would rather do nothing than pass legislation that is generally popular with the American people.

We’ve learned that the Republicans can’t even come together to pass something they all agree on...a watered down bill that helps the government deport more people faster. If Republicans even can’t come to a legislative consensus on issues upon which they agree, then how can anyone expect them to govern if they secure both houses of congress this November?

We learned that Speaker Boehner is very bad at his job and that Ted Cruz has more influence over the Republican House Caucus than does Boehner.

We have also learned that the Republican Party is incapable of governing.

Republicans have given a weakened Democrat Party new life. If Democrats manage to renew their leadership in the Senate and/or win control of the House; Republicans can look at this as the day it all started slipping away.