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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Speaker Boehner, Shut Her Down

"Sometimes the law defends plunder and participates in it. Thus the beneficiaries are spared the shame and danger that their acts would otherwise involve. But how is this legal plunder to be identified? Quite simply. See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them and gives it to the other persons to whom it doesn't belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime. Then abolish that law without delay. No legal plunder; this is the principle of justice, peace, order, stability, harmony and logic." — Frederic Bastiat

The Honorable John Boehner, Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Dear Speaker Boehner.

I am writing you as a simple taxpaying citizen. I am a member of no special interest group except that of the American citizen. I have not taken any bail out or stimulus money. I did not buy a new car and take $7,500 of my fellow taxpayer’s money for doing so. I have not benefited from any diversity, welfare, food stamp, WIC or aide to dependent children program. I have paid millions of dollars in income, property, sales and gasoline taxes over the past 55 years. In essence, Speaker Boehner, I, like millions of my fellow citizens am not a freeloader.

Speaker Boehner, last November I, like millions of my fellow citizens and Tea Party supporters, were elated at the results of the mid-term elections. We saw a real chance for the Republicans we elected to make some tangible changes in our government. We saw the beginning of a new day when spending would be reined in and government downsized. We saw a day when the private sector would be rejuvenated and our economy would grow and prosper. Yes, Speaker Boehner we were not only elated, we were filled with hope. Not the hope and change promised by President Obama, but hope for a better tomorrow with more individual freedom and less interference in our lives from Washington, D.C.

Speaker Boehner, like you I was an entrepreneur and business owner. I was pleased to see a man who had once made payroll rise to your elevated position in our government. I believed, that like our Founding Fathers who were businessmen, farmers and entrepreneurs, you would stand against the entrenched professional politicians in Washington and speak for us. Yes, Speaker Boehner I believed this.

Speaking frankly Speaker Boehner I am very disappointed in your performance so far. I know that you are an emotional and caring person, but now is the time to cowboy up and take the progressives and Democrats full on. You cannot trust them to participate in fair and honest negotiations, the recent example of the health care debate and the debacle in Wisconsin have illustrated that. You must realize that if they cannot get their way they will do everything in their power to undermine any budget cuts you and your caucus propose.

As for the media you have taken the wrong tack. You believed your position would be honestly portrayed in the media. By now you should know that this just will not happen. Again I refer to the Wisconsin budget battle where the reporting was very one-sided in the media — the side of the unions and the Democrats. Just look how your caucus’ proposed defunding of NPR was covered. Harry Reid and his sycophants in the Congress and the media mounted a vicious attack on you for wanting to get rid of Sesame Street.

We have a looming $1.65 trillion deficit and a $14 trillion national debt. Mr. Speaker, do you realize that the Louisiana Purchases, which increased our national territory by 50% and made us a coast to coast nation, only cost $219 billion in today’s dollars. You have proposed a $100 billion dollar cut in this massive deficit and the Democrats have responded by putting $6 billion on the table. Mr. Speaker, that’s a difference of $94 billion dollars. You have the power in the House and they are driving the ship.

The Democrats are calling you extremists and hostages to the Tea Party. They say you want to shut down the government. They have put you on the defense and you are losing the battle in the media. They are dictating the dialog. They bring up the specter of 1995 when one of your predecessors, Newt Gingrich, did in fact shut the government down for a few hours. What harm did it really do? So what if a few protected federal employees and congressional staffers don’t get a paycheck on time and the national parks are closed. What about all of those Americans that haven’t gotten a paycheck for months.

Speaker Boehner, this is not 1995. You have an army of supporter who will march behind you if you ask them. Let’s take a moment to look at the differences between 1995 and today.

In 1995 the unemployment rate was 5.6%; today, 9.0%. (Gallup has a more accurate reading of 10.0%). The U-6 unemployment rate was 9.9% today 17.0% (the U-6 unemployment rate counts not only people without work seeking full time employment but also marginally attached workers and those working part-time for economic reasons.) (Gallup shows that figure to be 19.0%) The unemployment rates are up 62 and 72% respectively.

The federal budget deficit in 1995 was $172 billion; by the end of fiscal 2011 it will be nearly $1.65 Trillion (adjusting for inflation: the annual deficit is up by 543%). The deficit as a percent of GDP in 1995 was 3.2% in 2011 it will be 11.3%.

The national debt at the end of 1995 was $4.9 Trillion; at the end of 2011 it will be $14.5 Trillion (adjusting for inflation: the national debt is up 106% or more than double). The national debt was 66% of GDP in 1995 and will be nearly 100% of GDP in 2011.

Overall government (federal, state and local) spending has also skyrocketed. In 1995, $2.63 Trillion was spent; in 2011 it will be $6.3 Trillion (adjusted for inflation: overall spending is up 70%). In 1995 this spending was 35% of the GDP; today it exceeds 46% of the GDP.

In 1995, the federal government budget was $1.6 Trillion; President Obama has proposed for 2011 a budget of $3.75 Trillion (adjusted for inflation: an increase of 67%).

The U.S. Gross Domestic Product in 1995 grew over 4.5% from the previous year. In 2010 the GDP grew only at 2.3% over the previous year.

Another point of economic comparison is the price of oil. In 1995 it was $17.99 a barrel, today it is $105.00 (an increase of 304% adjusted for inflation).

The Democrats cannot escape the fact that all this devastating economic news over the past 3 years occurred when they either controlled Congress or had a stranglehold on White House and the Congress.

In 1995, the American citizen was not engaged in the political process. Per the above statistics, the economy was doing well and the average citizen was content to go about his business and be concerned with his family. Most people were busy earning a living, buying a home and raising a family — I certainly was.

There were no foreign wars ongoing, no terror activity, and no upheavals in the Middle East with the very real prospect of jihadist takeovers in Egypt, Libya and Yemen in addition to a nuclear armed Iran. The world is a far more dangerous place than it was in 1995 or even 2008.

In the venue of the media there was no Fox News, no internet blogs or news and commentary sites, and talk radio (dominated by conservatives) was a quarter of what it is today. The media that so aided and abetted the Democrats to spin the 1995 shutdown as a Republican blunder is a shadow of its former self.

Fox News is now the dominant cable news network outside Washington D.C. In '95, CNN and C-Span were the only real cable news networks and the big three networks and the big two newspapers dominated the media for the most part.

In fact, phrases like "the mainstream media," let alone "lamestream media" and "liberal media bias" and "Jurassic media" and so on were not part of our political vernacular. Now they're practically base assumptions on the part of a huge swath of American voters.

Rush Limbaugh was on a few hundred stations, but nothing like the 600 plus he is on today. Meanwhile, Hannity and Beck and Levin and Humphries and Wilkow and Savage and Larson and Cain and Lewis were names no one knew — because they were not yet conservative talk show hosts. These folks are all now popular out in the 50 —or is it 57 — states.

Al Gore had not yet gotten the internet up to speed with hundreds of conservative websites and blogs (like mine). There was no American Thinker, NRO, Red State, Sweetness and Light, Lucianne, Free Republic,, etc., etc., etc. Folks still got their daily news from a handful of national newspapers or magazines. One of those magazines (Newsweek) was recently sold for a dollar. In 95, it was an opinion mover.

There was no Facebook or Twitter, nor was there a certain Alaskan with the power to dominate the national debate with but a single tweet or post on given subjects. Is there one now? You betcha!

In 1995 the term viral normally meant a discussion of AIDS; today it means a YouTube video is out exposing just what typical government union employees are all about as they act like spoiled lunatic children in Madison's formerly stately capitol grounds. Speaker Boehner you should check one of these out one day.

There was no Obama Care legislation that had passed back in 1995. If you remember correctly, Hillary Care failed — and while it was a driver of the 94 elections, it was not around in 95 as exhibit A of out of control government. Today, we can say safely that ObamaCare is still alive and still animating an anti-government movement.

There was no such thing as a "Massachusetts Republican" anywhere to be found in Washington that I can remember. Now, one occupies "the Kennedy seat." (OK, he's a flawed RINO, but I'm talking about the change in the national dynamic here).

And Mr. Speaker, then of course, there was nothing around in 95 like today's tea party movement. And believe you me; this is not a movement that went into hibernation after the elections. It may be impossible to define the tea party to everyone's satisfaction, but trust that it is still out there and it is still adamant about reducing the size, scope, power, reach and spending of government. That's what the election of 2010 was all about. Let me repeat that: reduce the size, scope, reach, power and spending of government.

But the ultimate determination of the supposed disaster that befell the Republicans is what happened in the next election in 1996 less than a year after the shutdown. This was also a presidential election year wherein Bill Clinton carried 31 states soundly defeating Bob Dole by over 8.3 million votes. Yet the Republicans picked up 2 seats in the Senate and lost only 9 in the House after winning a then unprecedented 54 seats in 1994. The Republicans also maintained control of the House for the next ten years until 2006. Did you ever happen to think that the economy was churning along just fine and Bob Dole, a RINO Republican, brought nothing to the party. So what, I really didn’t care if Senator Dole, war hero as he was, kept his federal job. I was more concerned with the hundreds of people who worked for me.

The atmosphere that allowed Bill Clinton, the Democrats and their allies in the media to blame the shutdown on the Republicans does not exist today. In fact it is the polar opposite. Mr. Speaker, the Republican leadership of the House and Senate need to understand that.

The people are now engaged. They are aware of the nation's debt and spending crisis which will lead to national bankruptcy. The Tea Party movement is unlike any other in recent American history and confirms the anxiety of the vast majority of the people as to the future. A shutdown will not result in Social Security checks or other vital services being curtailed only the temporary stoppage of non-essential services. There will be no fear of seniors starving to death, soldiers not being paid or airplanes falling from the sky.

The Democrats and Liberals in general pride themselves on always being the smartest people in the room. They claim to always be a step ahead of those Neanderthal conservatives who are stuck in the past, and as for those really dumb people in fly-over country — well there's just no hope for them. Yet these same self-proclaimed movers and shakers are always reverting to a 70 year old tattered and threadbare political playbook and assume whatever may have worked to their benefit in the past will work again.

Today the Democrats, Chuck Schumer and Howard Dean and their sycophants in the media among others, are out publicly cheerleading and plotting to force a government shutdown in the assumption that they will win in the court of public opinion as they perceive they did in 1995. But did they succeed in destroying the Republicans in 1995 and what were the circumstances then versus now?

Sixteen years in politics is a lifetime; for those Republicans with weak knees in the House and Senate, perhaps a primer of what the facts on the ground were in 1995 (the last government shutdown blamed on the Republicans) as compared to today is in order.

Speaker Boehner I strongly suggest you gather your forces as the Democrats have done and marshal them behind one clear and succinct message (RINOs like Scott Brown included). Get out in front of the cameras and reporters and tell the American people what is at stake. Call Democrats out for the liars and spenders they are. Don’t be concerned with their calls for bipartisanship and cooperation — they certainly didn’t offer that when Nancy Pelosi held the reins on the House. Don’t be concerned about the left-wing press. They will sucker you with sweetness and then stab you in the back the minute you turn around no matter what you do — they are not your friends and never will be.

Focus your message on the American people — the conservatives independents and Tea Party supporters. They are the ones that gave you and your caucus the jobs they have now. Forget about the Democrat’s claims of “hurting the poor, the children, the seniors and education.” Ignore their false claims that cutting the budget is extreme and will kill jobs. Face up to the Reids, Pelosis, Wieners and Schumers. Counter with the facts and stick to them.

Now there is nothing that could be a better way to start to reduce all of that size, scope, reach, power and spending than by shutting the government down. Not only will that immediately reduce all of that by a tiny amount, it will send a clear signal that we don't need or want this government that we cannot afford — even if we did want it. And we certainly do not!

And those who make this come to pass will not be blamed. They will be given credit. So Speaker Boehner: wipe the tears, cowboy up, and shut this sucker down. You will be glad you did. The producers among us are counting on this.

Speaker Boehner, I thank you for taking time out your busy day to consider my comments. I hope you and you caucus will give them serious consideration. There are millions of Americans depending on you.


A very concerned citizen and taxpayer.

Obama’s Slippery Slope to War and Beyond

“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” — Sun Tzu

On Monday night President Obama told us we would turn over command of the no-fly zone to NATO and we would not have boots on the ground. He also told us Gaddafi should go, but there were no plans for the U.S. to take him out. Obama assured us that our role would be limited and we would be leaving Libya as soon as possible.

All of this ballyhoo was delivered 24 hours before Gaddafi, knowing what our plans were, began seriously attacking the rebels and driving them back towards Benghazi. Without heavy weapons and fuel for their Toyota and Nissan pickup trucks the rebels are beginning to succumb to the forces loyal to Gaddafi.

Now the White House has “leaked” a classified document stating that Obama has authorized a covert action to take Gaddafi out — a real Mitch Rapp type of assassination, or will he use predator drones with hellfire missiles.

Fox News has reported that; “President Obama has signed a secret presidential finding authorizing covert operations in Libya, a U.S. official told Fox News, although the administration says it still hasn't decided whether to arm rebel forces there.”

“The presidential findings establish a framework of legal authorities for covert action. They can authorize specific actions, such as arming the rebels, or establish authorities under which future actions might be taken after permissions are given to undertake them.”

“In other words, covert actions won't start until the president signs off again.”

“Another senior American official, however, says CIA operatives are already on the ground in Libya and are currently gathering intelligence and aiding rebel forces.”

“The Pentagon has begun drafting plans for arming the rebels if needed, sources told Fox News, but officials caution that no decision has been made because not enough is known yet about.”

Note that last paragraph where the issue of arming he rebels is being considered. This would definitely be an escalating step, something contradicting what Obama told us on Monday night.

US involvement in the Kosovo War was based on a principle first espoused by Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain — "We have a responsibility to act." President Bill Clinton wasn't convinced at first, but after Blair's unyielding campaign to sell his idea, Clinton went along. It was the world's first "humanitarian war", and to this day the guiding principle of Western leaders boils down to a single, undefined phrase — "We have a responsibility to act."

President Obama had nothing to do with the principle's creation, but he used it Monday night in a speech at the National Defense University in Washington to explain why the US went to war with Libya. His speech was aimed as much at the peoples of the world as it was at the American people, and he left no doubt in anyone's mind that nations of the world "have a responsibility to act" to defend suffering humans wherever they may be.

Like socialism, in theory it sounds wonderful — the right thing to do, but in practice, it's full of holes because it is such an open-ended, nebulous concept. The problem with the principle begins to break down with the first word, "we." Who is "we"? Is it the UN? Is it NATO? Is it the quartet? No one has yet clarified who "we" are, but if the "we have a responsibility to act" principle is going to be our guiding global principle, someone will have to. In due course, you can bet that someone will.

The "we have a responsibility to act" principle becomes even more problematic when the word "responsibility" is introduced. What is "responsibility"? Is it a duty, a task, or a job? If it is, then who gave it to "us"? The UN? In Libya's case, the answer is yes, but in other instances the answer is no. Take Iraq, for example. The US and its allies were going to take action in Iraq. That was clear from the beginning, but the UN didn't go along. In the end, a "coalition of the willing" simply assumed responsibility, invaded Iraq, deposed Saddam Hussein, and replaced his dictatorial Baathist regime with a democratic government. We are still enmeshed in that struggle, but the "we have a responsibility to act" principle is no clearer now than it was in the 1990s when it was first introduced.

The final problem with the "we have a responsibility to act" principle lies in the definition of the phrase "to act." Broadly defined, "to act" can mean anything from invasion to no-fly zones to embargos of various sorts to anything the "we" decides is their "responsibility." People who have dedicated their professional lives to law enforcement realize how thorny this arrangement is because it violates every principle of jurisprudence that we have come to accept and respect. It's the global equivalent of vigilante justice, and it can't and won't survive.

To become a legitimate guiding principle, the "we have a responsibility act" principle must clearly define "we," "responsibility," and "to act." Absent those definitions, the "we have a responsibility act" principle leads to chaos and potential repression on a global scale by a "coalition of the willing" or the UN or any other group that sees as its duty the responsibility to take any action it chooses to bring about any outcome it desires.

Will the "we" be the UN? Maybe, but it's doubtful given the UN's current configuration, its spotty record, and its propensity for manipulation by individuals and groups with dark agendas. Will it be NATO or a similar group? Not likely because NATO and groups like it are simply alliances of nations, subgroups of "the nations of the world." In the end, defining "we" will challenge the very concept of "sovereign nation" because if the "we" has a "responsibility to act," then nations by definition can't be sovereign.

We are in the process of defining what has come to be known as "one world government." In due course, the questions I've posed will have to be answered, and they will be answered. When they're answered we will have a "one world government" with laws, regulations, taxing authority, and enforcement powers — everything a global government will need to operate.

I'm not telling you this because I think it's the right thing to do. I'm bringing it up because it's inevitable, and it's taking place right now. This is something Obama has preached since 2009.

So what will be the solution for Libya if the “rebels” cannot beat off theOttoman_Provinces_Of_Present_day_Libyapng counter attacks by Gaddafi’s loyalists and we cannot take him out? My guess it would be a divided Libya, a divide that dates back to the Roman Empire when the region was called Cyrenaica and Tripolitania with Cyrenaica in the east going to rebels and Tripolitania in the west staying with Gaddafi.

An analysis by Stratfor states; The Gadhafi regime has effectively lost control of the east, where opposition forces are concentrated in and around the cities of Benghazi and Al Baida. The opposition is also encroaching on Libya’s dividing line, the energy-critical Gulf of Sidra, with the directors of several subsidiaries of the state-owned National Oil Corporation announcing they were splitting from Gadhafi and joining the people.

To the west, Gadhafi and his remaining allies appear to be digging in for a fight. Residents in Tripoli, many of whom turned on Gadhafi after witnessing the gratuitous violence used on protesters, are reportedly stockpiling arms, unsure of what will come next, but expecting the worst.

A swath of nearly 500 miles of desert lies between the opposition and Gadhafi strongholds. And herein lies the historical challenge in ruling Libya: the split between ancient Tripolitania and Cyrenaica. The Cyrenaica region has a long and rich history, dating back to the 7th Century B.C. This is a region that has seen many rulers, including Greeks, Romans, Persians, Egyptians, Ottomans, Italians and British, and has long been at odds with the rival power base of Tripolitania, founded by the Phoenicians. At the time of Libya’s independence and through the reign of King Idris I (whose base of power was Cyrenaica), Libya was ruled by two capitals, Tripoli in the west and Benghazi in the east. For most Cyrenaics, Benghazi — and not Tripoli — is seen as their true capital.

It was not until Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s 1969 military coup that overthrew the monarchy that the Tripolitanians could truly claim dominance over the fledgling Libyan state. But in a country divided by myriad dialects, tribes and ancient histories, Tripolitanian power could only be held through a complex alliance of tribes, the army’s loyalty and an iron fist.

The divided state was an artifact of the Cold War in which nations conquered or liberated at the close of WWII were partitioned into zones controlled by the Western Allies on the one hand and the Soviet Union on the other. These included East and West Germany and North and South Korea, with Vietnam partitioned into northern and southern halves in 1954. The Germanys merged through the collapse of the Soviet empire in 1989. Only Korea remains divided, a circumstance that may be corrected at any time.

We are now facing the possibility of an East and West Libya. Hostilities over the next few weeks are likely to fall into stalemate, with Coalition air power preventing Gaddafi from utilizing his armor and heavy artillery to sweep aside the rebels, and the rebels unable to take Tripoli or the surrounding cities due to their hodgepodge composition and simple military realities (operations become harder for an attacker as he enters the enemy's home territory, partly due to simple geometry — acting along "interior lines" makes it easier for the defender to maneuver — and the morale advantage of fighting in defense of "home."

Both factors are widely attested to in military history — like northern Virginia in 1863-1865 or the German-Soviet front in 1945. There are things that air power alone can't do, and taking ground is one of them. American or European ground forces would annihilate Gaddafi's loyalists, but it seems unlikely that they will enter combat. That being the case, we can look forward to the seesaw battles of the past few days settling down into a stalemate over the next week or two, one that can only be broken by serious military effort or a diplomatic coup. Both, in my opinion, are unlikely.

We will then have the de facto states of East and West Libya, one based on Tripoli, the other on Benghazi, with Sirte acting as the rough demarcation point. Interestingly, this almost duplicates the old imperial Roman division into the provinces of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica. This means the U.S. and Europe are in for the long haul, exactly the case as in Iraq and Afghanistan. The no-fly operation will have to be maintained until further notice, probably with added efforts to assure that Gaddafi remains bottled up.

Libyan Oil Fields mapWe could argue that neither state is viable in the customary sense, but that doesn't matter. In the end, it turned out that neither East Germany nor South Vietnam was viable in the circumstances facing them. This is probably also the case with North Korea. But all of them managed to hold on for a lengthy period, South Vietnam for thirty years, East Germany for forty-four years, while North Korea exists still. They hung on for the same reason — outside support. The two Libyas can do the same. East Libya will be supported by the U.S. and the EU, while Gaddafi's kingdom will have to do with support from pariahs such as Mugabe and the Sudanese military clique and possibly China. Cash flow will not be a problem. Both sides have access to the country's oil, the preponderance of active fields going to the rebels, who also possess more refining and storage capability. (Did I hear someone say that Gaddafi's share of the oil can be interdicted? You can Google "Oil for Food".)

Without exception, the divided states acted as flashpoints throughout the Cold War period. South Vietnam embroiled both France and the U.S. in lengthy, failed wars. East Germany (particularly as regarded West Berlin, located far behind the East-West borderline) served as a picture window that the Soviets could toss a brick through every time they wanted to create an uproar. North Korea fills the role of international pest to this day, uttering threats, firing missiles, and sinking patrol boats whenever the dear leaders feel they aren't getting enough attention.

We could expect the same from a divided Libya, perhaps from both sides. Gaddafi, needless to say, will want revenge, and he is a man who knows how to get it. He has an effective intelligence service capable of any style of covert action. He can also reach out to Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Qaeda, and what have you, any of which will be delighted to work with him. (Even Al Qaeda, with which the colonel has had issues in the past.) If Gaddafi is not taken down, expect much more in the way of exploding airliners and falling buildings. Keep in mind that Gaddafi is not only brutal and cunning; he is, by any ordinary measure, not quite sane.

Amanda Marshall reports in Fox News; “Despite the forward march, however, historically al Qaeda has long maintained a strong underground presence in predominately Sunni Muslim Libya. According to the CIA World Factbook, 47 percent of the Sunni population is made up of people age 25, nearly half of whom are unemployed.”

“In 2007, The West Point Terrorism Report concluded that the second largest number of foreign fighters in Iraq, traveling through Syria, came from Libya, second only to Saudi Arabia. Of those, the report concluded that the majority came from the Northeast, particularly the coastal towns of Darna and Benghazi where the rebel groups have been strongest in the current fight.”

As for East Libya, its status as number two source (behind Saudi Arabia) for Jihadi fighters, and the news that precisely such people are involved in the rebellion, should have been reported on more than it has. An East Libya under UN protection could serve as an excellent staging area for any given Jihadi group. No doubt we'll have a lengthy speech from Obama explaining why this is necessary.

We can avoid much of this outcome simply by assuring that Gaddafi is eliminated as soon as possible. This does not necessarily entail an armored division roaring down the road toward Tripoli a la Montgomery and the 8th Army, welcome though such a sight would be. My suggestions would include covering Tripoli with leaflets promising a million bucks and legal immunity to whoever knocks off the colonel. But there are other alternatives — a decapitation strike by way of B-2 Spirit, or a Predator Drone. Gaddafi is at bay, and one way or another, he can be taken out. The Western stance that his person is somehow inviolate after decades of crimes against his own people and the world at large is simply a public-relations move, an opportunity for Obama and the Europeans to adapt a moral pose by asserting, "We go by the rules, even with someone like Gaddafi." This is asinine. Medieval culture had a category for the Gaddafi type: the outlaw, the man whose crimes put him beyond the law's protection and who could be killed by anyone as they pleased. Gaddafi is an outlaw and should be treated as such.

Through their unwillingness to stand up to Josef Stalin, Franklin D. Roosevelt and his advisors (along with Winston Churchill in this case), created an unstable, dysfunctional, and blood-soaked postwar world. A student of FDR in all things, Obama (and let's not kid ourselves as to who's really calling the shots here) is recreating an identical situation.

As reported in the Daily Telegraph; “In transferring command and control to NATO, the US is turning over the reins to an organization dominated by the US itself, both militarily and politically. In essence, the US runs the show that is taking over running the show.”

“This is not inevitable, and can be corrected with quick and decisive action. Sun Tzu wrote, "In all history, there is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare." We've seen enough in the past few years to verify that dictum. We don't need yet another lesson.

And so we wait. Opposition forces in the east will conduct quiet negotiations in the west to determine who will defect and who will resist; the United States and Italy will be lobbied endlessly by the opposition to enforce a no-fly zone over the country; the external powers will continue to deliberate among a severely limited number of bad options; and Gaddafi and his remaining allies will dig in for the fight.

As Stratfor states; “If neither side can acquire the force strength to make a move, Libya will return to its historic split between Tripolitania and Cyrenaica with separate bases of power. If one side takes a gamble and makes a move, civil war is likely to ensue. Sometimes it really is that simple.”

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

An Open Letter to Alan Simpson

"A society of sheep must in time beget a government of wolves." — French philosopher Bertrand de Jouvenel (1903-1987)

My brother sent me one of those “pass in on” e-mails that seen to circulate in cyberspace with some regularity. This particular electronic epistle was a letter directed at former Senator Alan Simpson (R-WY) regarding comments he made calling senior citizens the “Greediest Generation” as he compared "Social Security to a Milk Cow with 310 million teats” in August, 2010 during his recent tenure on the President’s Budget Commission.

After reading this anonymous letter I began thinking about the comments the writer made and how they pertained to me. The more I pondered these remarks the angrier I became. So, with that in mind I decided to expand on the writer’s remarks in the context of my own life.

The following is my open letter to Senator Alan Simpson.

Dear Senator Simpson:

I was particularly annoyed by your remarks directed at seniors who were he current or soon to be recipients of Social Security and Medicare saying they were citizens or the greediest generation and like a milk cow 319 million teats.

First let me tell you something about myself so you may better understand of which I speak.

I am a retired professional civil engineer and land surveyor. I am a self-educated high school graduate who has never taken a penny of public money for my personal use or that of my family.

I began working while in high school at the ripe old age of 16 and since then the days of work I missed were the ones while I was relocating for Ohio to California, a state that you and your cohorts managed to destroy with your taxes and regulations.

For the nest 55 years of my life I supported my family by practicing my chosen profession and offering my services to those who needed them. This meant that for 55 years I paid federal and state income tax, FICA, SDI and Medicare taxes, gasoline taxes, sales taxes, property taxes and sales taxes. All of these taxes were paid with a belief that I was contributing to my retirement, my future health care and the public good. I did not ask or elect to pay the Social Security or Medicare taxes. You and your cohorts in crime forced me to pay them. You told me I the money I and my employer were was paying was going into a trust fund that I would be able to draw upon at my retirement. You said this was a sacred contract between my government and me, a contract that I could depend upon. You and your cohorts lied. What you really sold me was a Ponzi scheme, something Bernie Madoff is serving a life term in federal prison for. Why aren’t you and your cohorts with him?

As I stated earlier when I was 16 years of age I began working at the profession I would make my life-long vocation. I worked hard and studied when I could. I took correspondence courses and attended night school and seminars for which I paid for with my hard earned dollars. I did not take a dime of public money for my education — no student loans, no scholarships, no government subsides and no preferential treatment because of my race or ethnicity.

For the next 16 years I work for someone else until I, along with two partners, opened our own civil engineering and land surveying business. For the next ten years I along with my partners work 10-14 hours six days a week to build our business and provide jobs for others. During this time I performed many daily tasks including providing professional and technical services, managing a business, marketing the firm, business development and attending continuing education classes so I could better serve my clients. What were you doing this time? I bet you were busy raising other people’s money to finance your next political campaign by promising them more of my money.

After ten years of denying my family much of my personal time we had built our business to 100 employees. During this time I was raising a family of three children and supporting my aging parents who were living with us. You see my wife and I bought a house large enough to comfortably be a home to the seven of us with my parents having a three room suite of their own.

Oh, I almost neglected to mention that my wife also worked as a bank executive for 30 years until her retirement. She also paid income tax, FICA, SDI and Medicare tax. Fortunately her employer offered he stock options and a 401k which yielded much better than your government run Ponzi scheme.

I would also like to remind you Senator Simpson that while paying property taxes to support my local public schools I sent my children to a private parochial school for a fine and moral education — an education that allowed them to succeed in life, become productive tax paying citizens and have families of their own. Families that you and your cronies in Congress are hell bent on destroying with your socialist tax and spend policies.

In the late 1970’s you and your Democratic partners in crime under the leadership of the worst president in the history of this Republic, Jimmy Carter, began destroying the economy. Inflation was rampant and mortgage interest had risen to 23%. By 1982 our business had shrunk to 7 employees and the future looked very bleak.

By 1982 things were looking very bleak. Money was drying up and loans were coming due. I and my remaining partner did not look to the federal government for subsides and bailout like you gave to your cattle rancher and cowboy buddies or the banks, auto companies and insurance companies. We sucked it up, tightened our belts and work a little harder and longer.

Instead we found a similar firm in similar straits. This firm had two offices, three principal owners and 72 employees. We were able to strike a deal, without government intervention, and merge the two firms. I then became a principal owner of the new firm.

Over the ensuing years until my retirement in 2005 I spent the next 23 years working long and hard to build this new business into something I could be proud off. By the time I retired the firm had 850 dedicated and loyal employees.

Senator Simpson, do you have any idea what this meant? Well, I’ll tell you. It meant working 12 hours a day and fretting each night over these 850 employees. You see I had 850 families who depended on my ability to bring in work to keep their bread winners gainfully employed and well compensated. I worried about 850 mortgages, 850 medical care payments, 850 car payments, 850 school tuitions, 850 food bills and 850 families with enough money to enjoy life and pursue happiness. You see, Senator Simpson I was one of those greedy corporate owners.

Over the years I paid and my wife paid over $2.5 million dollars in federal and state income tax. We also paid approximately $400,000 in FICA tax and at least $250,000 in Medicare tax (including my employer’s share — which in reality was me and my partners). That’s $650,000 into your Ponzi scheme

And what did you and your associates do with this money. You pissed it away on freeloaders and corporate welfare. You tossed into your personal kitty for subsides and earmarks. You not only did this to me and my family you did it to millions of other American families. You broke trust with us and you call me greedy.

If I would have had the opportunity to invest my and my wife’s FICA and Medicare tax into a private, interest bearing investment account like a 401k, we would have millions in our retirement account and we could tell the government to take their money and shove it. But we didn’t have that opportunity. You and your cronies made sure of that. You had the law and he guns on your side. You needed the money to support your Ponzi scheme and you got it at the tip of the Roman spear.

Fortunately my wife was able to put aside a good portion of her earnings into such a private account and when I retired I received a payout for my stock in the company

As a career politician you have been slopping at the public trough for fifty some years and you dare call me greedy. You and your cohorts have continued to spend other people’s money on every damned socialist program you can think of. You have regulated us into a soft tyranny dictated from Washington D.C. A tyranny that is now telling us how many calories we can eat and what kind of light bulbs we must put into our lamps.

Senator Simpson, How much money have you earned from the American taxpayers during your 50-year political career? At what age did you retire from your political career and how much are you receiving in annual retirement benefits from the American taxpayers? How much do you pay for your government provided health insurance? And what cuts in your retirement and healthcare benefits are you proposing in your disgusting deficit reduction proposal, or, as usual, have you exempted yourself and your greedy political cronies?

It is you, Captain Bullshit, and your political co-conspirators called Congress who are the "greedy" ones. It is you and your fellow nutcases who have bankrupted America and stolen the American dream from millions of loyal, patriotic taxpayers. And for what? Votes. That's right, sir. You and yours have bankrupted America for the sole purpose of advancing your political careers. You know it, we know it and you know that we know it.

So, Senator Simpson, don’t call me greedy. I have made at least twice the contribution to this republic as you and your cronies in Congress and the state houses have. Senator Simpson, the next time you want to call someone greedy take a look in the mirror.


A pissed of American taxpayer and patriot.

The “I” Man Doth Speak

"The Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions." --American statesman and Senator Daniel Webster (1782-1852)

Monday night President Obama took to the airwaves to rebut the criticism and confusion surrounding his decision to send U.S. troops to Libya.

It was an interesting speech, but a lame attempt to make the Libyan circumstances seem unique to his presidency.

President Obama's biggest challenge was to attempt to step up to the podium and somehow convince the American people of an idea that even his own Defense Secretary refused to go along with when given the chance to do so on Sunday. (On every network except Fox.)

As the first Tomahawk missiles rained on Libya, armchair generals rushed to define "The Obama Doctrine." Most assessments focused on Obama's antiwar statements as a candidate and decisions by past presidents to take military action in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan.

By that I mean his supreme confidence in his own vision and powers to remake the world. Fueled by a mixture of hubris and faculty-lounge idealism, his words and actions suggest he believes his presidency is exempt from the lessons of history and human nature. The Obama Doctrine Is All About Obama. In Monday night’s address to the American people Obama used the personal pronoun “I” 25 times.

Just as he claimed his election would mark "the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal," his wars defy traditional military doctrine. For example, his approach in Libya, as in Afghanistan, features a promise of timed withdrawal, but not a clear mission. In both he talks of "success" but not "victory," leaving the yardstick vague. The refusal to be precise reflects a belief that his intentions are virtuous, as distinct from his predecessors', and that he should be judged on that basis, not on results. His goal in Libya is so abstract that he refuses to call it a "war." That would make it sound brutal — and ordinary. We thus meet the term "kinetic military action" as a White House talking point.

Despite the endless efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and despite objections from Defense Secretary Robert Gates and other brass, the president was confident that Libya would be easy in, easy out and that a civil war in an oil-rich tribal nation would be settled in days. After bypassing Congress and the public to cut a deal at the United Nations, we could fire missiles from ships at sea, drop bombs from 30,000 feet and be home in time for dinner.

It would be so surgical, the commander in chief could take his family on a trip to Brazil and points south while the military went into battle. We wouldn't need a single boot on the ground and could hand command to NATO or France or anybody who wanted it.

Obama neglected to mention the 2,000 U.S. Marines already on station in the Gulf of Sidra or the 2,200 Marines that are being deployed to support the NATO effort. He also made no mention of the special operations troops already in Libya calling in the air strikes and gathering intelligence for a possible deployment of U.S. ground forces into the fray.

Meanwhile, after 42 years in power, a brutal and mad Muammar Gaddafi would see our righteousness, lay down his weapons and quit his throne. Presto, that's how a just war should end, and this time it would — because of Obama.

The president’s speech Monday night left more questions than it gave answers. He talked a lot about how and why we got involved in Libya, but said almost nothing about how we get out. But two things do seem clear:

We could be doing more of these humanitarian interventions in the future, and we’re going to be involved in Libya for a long time.

The president made the case for involving American forces on humanitarian grounds and because our allies and Libya’s neighbors asked us, and the U.N. endorsed it. He said we couldn’t get involved every time a situation like this happens in the future, but that begs the question of why not if the same conditions exist? Why Libya but not Sudan, or the Ivory Coast, or Syria or even Iran?

The president announced that we would be turning the operations over to NATO in a few days but frankly, this is a distinction without a difference. NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander is an American Admiral on the short list to be our next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. NATO may be in charge going forward, but as long as we’re responsible for communications, logistics, intelligence, search and rescue we remain the backbone of the Libyan War. If the contrast drags on, so will our involvement.

So when do we leave? Despite what President Obama said, we still don’t know because there is no defined end state or conditions which must be met for us to go home.

So let's fill in the blanks and hypothesize how this might end. It boils down to two possible scenarios: Gaddafi goes or Gaddafi stays. Either way we’re there for a long time.

The good scenario – that Gaddafi goes – could unfold in a number of ways. He’s assassinated, he's killed as ‘collateral damage’ in a bombing raid, he’s abandoned by the Libyan military, his sons desert him, or he’s forced out by the rebels. This scenario could unfold quickly, or after a prolonged fight involving somebody’s boots on the ground, and building and arming a rebel military.

The bad scenario – that Gaddafi stays – could also happen in a number of ways. Gaddafi flees, goes underground and organizes and insurgency, Iraq style. Or Gaddafi hangs on to western Libya, and the rebels keep the east, and Libya is split in two with the peace enforced by an outside military force. Or there is a possibility that Gaddafi manages to hang on, offering amnesty to the rebels, and starting down the road to reform — until the coalition loses interest, goes home and Gaddafi goes back to his evil ways.

With either the good or the bad scenario, America is likely to be involved in Libya for a good while. In the good scenario we will either be nation-building, albeit in a secure environment. In the bad scenario, we stay involved militarily fighting Gaddafi, building and arming the rebels.

If there is one thing we should have learned in Afghanistan, or Iraq, or in the Israeli-Palestinian conflicts: this is a part of the world where they don’t think of peace as an end state; they tend to see it merely as a lull in the fighting.

Here are a few of the Facts Obama either neglected to mention or was less than honest about. You can read the entire list by clicking here.

OBAMA: "Our most effective alliance, NATO, has taken command of the enforcement of the arms embargo and no-fly zone. ... Going forward, the lead in enforcing the no-fly zone and protecting civilians on the ground will transition to our allies and partners, and I am fully confident that our coalition will keep the pressure on Gaddafi's remaining forces. In that effort, the United States will play a supporting role."

THE FACTS: As by far the pre-eminent player in NATO, and a nation historically reluctant to put its forces under operational foreign command, the United States will not be taking a back seat in the campaign even as its profile diminishes for public consumption.

NATO partners are bringing more into the fight. But the same "unique capabilities" that made the U.S. the inevitable leader out of the gate will continue to be in demand. They include a range of attack aircraft, refueling tankers that can keep aircraft airborne for lengthy periods, surveillance aircraft that can detect when Libyans even try to get a plane airborne, and, as Obama said, planes loaded with electronic gear that can gather intelligence or jam enemy communications and radars.

The United States supplies 22 percent of NATO's budget, almost as much as the next largest contributors — Britain and France — combined. A Canadian three-star general was selected to be in charge of all NATO operations in Libya. His boss, the commander of NATO's Allied Joint Force Command Naples, is an American admiral, and the admiral's boss is the supreme allied commander Europe, a post always held by an American.

NATO has declared it will delay in taking command of the Libyan operation while UN Ambassador Susan Rice is contemplating arming the rebels. This would be in direct contradiction to UN resolution 1973.

OBAMA: "Our military mission is narrowly focused on saving lives."

THE FACTS: Even as the U.S. steps back as the nominal leader, reduces some assets and fires a declining number of cruise missiles, the scope of the mission appears to be expanding and the end game remains unclear.

Despite insistences that the operation is only to protect civilians, the airstrikes now are undeniably helping the rebels to advance. U.S. officials acknowledge that the effect of air attacks on Gaddafi's forces — and on the supply and communications links that support them — is useful if not crucial to the rebels. "Clearly they're achieving a benefit from the actions that we're taking," Navy Vice Adm. William Gortney, staff director for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Monday.

The Pentagon has been turning to air power of a kind more useful than high-flying bombers in engaging Libyan ground forces. So far these have included low-flying Air Force AC-130 and A-10 attack aircraft, and the Pentagon is considering adding armed drones and helicopters.

Obama said, "We continue to pursue the broader goal of a Libya that belongs not to a dictator, but to its people," but spoke of achieving that through diplomacy and political pressure, not force of U.S. arms.

OBAMA: Seeking to justify military intervention, the president said the U.S. has "an important strategic interest in preventing Gaddafi from overrunning those who oppose him. A massacre would have driven thousands of additional refugees across Libya's borders, putting enormous strains on the peaceful -- yet fragile -- transitions in Egypt and Tunisia." He added: "I am convinced that a failure to act in Libya would have carried a far greater price for America."

THE FACTS: Obama did not wait to make that case to Congress, despite his past statements that presidents should get congressional authorization before taking the country to war, absent a threat to the nation that cannot wait.

"The president does not have the power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation," he told The Boston Globe in 2007 in his presidential campaign. "History has shown us time and again that military action is most successful when it is authorized and supported by the legislative branch."

Obama's defense secretary, Robert Gates, said Sunday that the crisis in Libya "was not a vital national interest to the United States, but it was an interest."

OBAMA: "And tonight, I can report that we have stopped Gaddafi's deadly advance."

THE FACTS: The weeklong international barrage has disabled Libya's air defenses, communications networks and supply chains. But Gaddafi's ground forces remain a potent threat to the rebels and civilians, according to U.S. military officials.

Army Gen. Carter Ham, the top American officer overseeing the mission, told The New York Times on Monday that "the regime still overmatches opposition forces militarily. The regime possesses the capability to roll them back very quickly. Coalition air power is the major reason that has not happened."

Only small numbers of Gaddafi's troops have defected to the opposition, Ham said.

At the Pentagon, Vice Adm. Gortney said the rebels are not well organized. "It is not a very robust organization," he said. "So any gain that they make is tenuous based on that.

Just today the rebels have been driven back. AP reported; “Rebels retreated from the key Libyan oil port of Ras Lanouf along the coastal road leading to the capital Tripoli after they came under heavy shelling from Qaddafi ground forces.

Qaddafi's forces were shelling Brega, another important oil city to the east. A rebel soldier, Col. Abdullah Hadi, said he expected the loyalists to enter Brega by Wednesday night.

"I ask NATO for just one aircraft to push them back. All we need is air cover and we could do this. They should be helping us," Hadi said.

NATO planes flew over the zone where the heaviest fighting was under way earlier Wednesday and an Associated Press reporter at the scene heard explosions, but it was unclear whether any airstrikes hit the area. U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Clint Gebke, a spokesman for the NATO operation aboard the USS Mount Whitney, said he could not confirm any specific strikes but Western aircraft were engaging pro-Qaddafi forces in areas including Sirte and Misrata, the rebels' last significant holdout in western Libya.

The retreat Wednesday looked like a mad scramble: Pickup trucks, with

mattresses and boxes tied on, driving east at 100 mph (160 kilometers per hour). [Source: Fox News]

OBAMA: "Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different. And as president, I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action."

THE FACTS: Mass violence against civilians has also been escalating elsewhere, without any U.S. military intervention anticipated.

More than 1 million people have fled the Ivory Coast, where the U.N. says forces loyal to the incumbent leader, Laurent Gbagbo, have used heavy weapons against the population and more than 460 killings have been confirmed of supporters of the internationally recognized president, Alassane Ouattara.

The Obama administration says Gbagbo and Qaddafi have both lost their legitimacy to rule. But only one is under attack from the U.S.

Presidents typically pick their fights according to the crisis and circumstances at hand, not any consistent doctrine about when to use force in one place and not another. They have been criticized for doing so — by Obama himself.

In his pre-presidential book "The Audacity of Hope," Obama said the U.S. will lack international legitimacy if it intervenes militarily "without a well-articulated strategy that the public supports and the world understands."

He questioned: "Why invade Iraq and not North Korea or Burma? Why intervene in Bosnia and not Darfur?"

So the Obama Doctrine, the Doctrine of “I”, appears to be confusing at best and downright disingenuous at the worst.

You can read a more detailed article on American Spectator by clicking here

Who is Patricia de Stacy Harrison?

“Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of liberty.” — Thomas Jefferson

Let's talk about Republicans and 2012.

What does the NPR kerfuffle really mean in terms of the 2012 battle for the GOP presidential nomination?

Who is Patricia de Stacy Harrison? And what does her support of NPR really have to do with that 2012 fight?

Say what? Beyond the minor Shakespearean skirmish over National Public Radio ("to fund or not to fund, that is the question") what in the world does NPR have to do with the looming fight for the GOP presidential nomination? And what does it have to do with a GOP victory — whether in 2012, 2016 or for that matter, anytime? — A lot.

First, Ms. Harrison.

Jeffrey Lord writes in American Spectator; “Patricia de Stacy Harrison is the president of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the "parent" of the public TV and radio siblings PBS and NPR. NPR, as the world knows, has been hard upon troubled times lately. First because of the firing of commentator Juan Williams. Then the mishandling of the firing of Juan Williams. This was followed in short order by the James O'Keefe Muslim-fundraising videotape and the abrupt departures of the un-related but seemingly identical thinking NPR Schillers, Ron and Vivian. As a result, the very liberal NPR has found itself targeted by conservatives for an end to its federal funding.”

“Enter Ms. Harrison, who has come quickly to NPR's defense.”

“Issuing a formal statement in her role as CPB president and CEO on the day the GOP-controlled House cut off NPR's funding, Harrison said in part that NPR decidedly was in need of "federal support" and that "rather than penalize public broadcasting, the debate should focus on strengthening and supporting this valuable national asset." At the end of her statement was an apparently standard description of CPB that said in its first sentence the organization is the "steward of the federal government's investment in public broadcasting."

“What makes this important is not that Harrison is the CPB President and CEO. No, what makes this plea for federal funding significant is that she is a former co-chair of the Republican National Committee and a Bush appointee to head the CPB.”

“In other words, as we head into the fight for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, Patricia Harrison's stance on NPR signals that this is exactly the right time to begin understanding the very real philosophical differences among those in the Republican presidential field. Discerning -- not to put too fine a point on it — who among these would-be Republican presidents really and truly understand in their bones what the party of Lincoln (not to mention Reagan!!) is all about. Do they get what Republican Party founder Abraham Lincoln was talking about in, say, his famous debates with Stephen A. Douglas in 1858? When he said, for example, that the "real question" in politics was all too frequently obscured by "fog." That principle, cherished if almost never openly acknowledged by the left is, again according to Lincoln: "You work and toil and earn bread, and I'll eat it."

“In Liberty and Tyranny Mark Levin took the very title of his considerable bestseller from Lincoln saying this again years later — in 1864 — as president. Then, Lincoln summed up the point by saying that the difference between each man doing "as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor" — or not — is "called by two different and incompatible names — liberty and tyranny." Levin revitalizes an old and accurate term for those who would take the results of someone else's work and toil to satisfy what Levin calls their "endless rationalizations for seizing ever more governmental authority" in service of the "supremacy of the state."

“The term: Statists. Or, if you prefer, "neo-Statists." The latter Levin's Lincoln-like designation of "some who claim the mantle of conservatism but are, in truth, neo-Statists, who would have the Conservative abandon the high ground of the founding principles for the quicksand of a soft tyranny."

“As Ms. Harrison's statement on NPR — indeed her very presence at CPB itself — makes clear, those who believe in the supremacy of the state are not just running the Statist Obama Administration or plotting Statist strategy with Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. They are inside the gates of the GOP itself.”

“Harrison, with her various compensations and vigorous defense of NPR — and for that matter the very existence of CPB, PBS, and NPR as tax-funded institutions — is the very embodiment of Lincoln's succinct summation of the attitude of elites towards working Americans in the private sector: "You work and toil and earn bread, and I'll eat it." It is the Americanized version of what Lincoln scorned as those choosing the "divine right of kings" over "the common right of humanity."

WHERE HAS THIS Conservative-Statist fight already shown itself with recent struggles inside the Republican Party? A party where everybody swears up and down so help them God, cross their hearts and hope to die — they believe in the idea of "limited government." Really. Honest.

In November 2010 the people of the United States went to the polls and spoke loudly and firmly by electing 65 new Republican members to the House of Representatives and over 600 to the various state legislators. Most of these new legislators were elected with the support of the Tea Party.

There was a great cry of jubilation across the land by the conservatives and of gloom by the liberals. There were hundreds of articles in the conservative press claiming they the nation would be set on a new path and the budget could be balanced and the deficit reduced. John Boehner (R-OH) was chosen to be the Speaker of the House — the third most powerful position in the Republic. We looked, with gleeful anticipation, towards a new day on the banks of the Potomac. That was then, before the dreaded political disease of Potomac fever incapacitated the Republican leadership and majority.

The Democrats had lost a major battle in November, but they are now beginning to win the war — the war in the media. During the Civil War the North lost its first major battles at Manassas and Fredericksburg and the people of the South danced in the streets. They thought they were on the way to winning the war and Lincoln would have to bow to their demands. Then the battle of Gettysburg took place, the war turned and the South lost.

This is analogous to what is happening in Washington now. The Republicans won a major victory in November, but the Democrats are winning the war of the budget. They are winning it in the media. They are winning due to the timidity of the Republicans.

In a mere 86 days the Democrats have not only seized the initiative, but they are driving the Republicans back to a defensive position. The Republicans have lost any advantage they gained in November. The battle over the budget has deteriorated into a daily claim by the Democrats that the evil, radical Republicans want to shut the government down while the Democrats are being rational and reasonable by offering a few paltry budget cuts. The battle over the union issue is being lost in the states in the same manner.

During the Battle of the Bulge during WWII when the German army mounted an offensive against the allied troops in Belgium most of the generals under Eisenhower’s command were surprised and shocked by the German action. They were at a loss to enact a plan to counter the German advance. Eisenhower split his forces and gave command of the forces on the north shoulder of the salient to the British General Montgomery, whose first action was to state that he needed to “tidy up his lines before he could mount a counter offensive. Montgomery was always known for his timidness.

The commander on of the U.S. forces on the south shoulder was General George S. Patton, a man known for his temerity Patton believed that an attack on the Germans was needed immediately — a belief for which he was roundly criticized. Patton, ignoring his critics, mounted the greatest winter offensive in the history of the United States. His forces relived the besieged town of Bastogne and turned back the German offensive.

One of the people Patton admired was the Prussian King Frederick the Great, who is quoted as saying; “Always presume that the enemy has dangerous designs and always be forehanded with the remedy. But do not let these calculations make your timid.” Patton believed timidity was tantamount to cowardice and had no place in military actions. He believed if you had the resources, training and moral fortitude you should not waste them by being timid. If you wanted to win you needed to take decisive action while you had the advantage.

Speaker Boehner should take a leaf from Frederick the Great’s book and stand up to his Democrat and media critics while he has the support of conservatives and independents — especially the Tea Party. His predecessor, Nancy Pelosi, had no problem addressing the public, on a daily basis, during the health care debate. She had no problem spitting out unsubstantiated facts and downright lies, even when her critics responded with the truth. This did not bother her one bit. She, and her Senate colleague, Harry Reid, She kept her troops in line and focused on the mission of passing ObamaCare. Nothing fazed her or gave her pause. She was Patton in a skirt.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer briefly revealed his true face and the strategy of the Democratic Party Tuesday as reporters listened to him instruct fellow Democrats in how to paint Republicans and House Speaker John Boehner as extremist Tea Party zealots in the budget debates. “I always use the word extreme,” Schumer told his fellow Democrats. “That is what the caucus instructed me to use this week.”

The brief peek behind the curtain came as Schumer was about to start a conference call with reporters on Tuesday morning, according to The New York Times. The No. 3 Democrat in the Senate was apparently unaware that many of the reporters were already on the line when he began revealing what passes as strategic messaging for Democrats.

After thanking his colleagues — Barbara Boxer of California, Benjamin L. Cardin of Maryland, Thomas R. Carper of Delaware and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut — for doing the budget bidding for the Senate Democrats, Schumer told them to portray John A. Boehner of Ohio, the speaker of the House, as painted into a box by the Tea Party, and to decry the spending cuts that he wants as extreme.

A minute or two into the talking-points tutorial, though, someone apparently figured out that reporters were listening, and silence fell, according to the Times.

After finding their bearings, the Democrats launched right into their message. “We are urging Mr. Boehner to abandon the extreme right wing,” said Boxer, urging the House to compromise on the scale of spending cuts and to drop proposed amendments that would deny federal financing for Planned Parenthood and for government agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency.

Carper, too, hit the word “extreme,” referring to some House Republicans’ “right-wing extremist friends.” Cardin decried Boehner’s giving into “extremes of his party.” Blumenthal closed by speaking of the “relatively small extreme group of ideologues” who are “an anchor” dragging down the budget negotiation process.

“It just lends to the fact to what we’ve always known, that this is a political game," said Rep. Allen West (R-FL) on Fox News. "It’s about gamesmanship, it’s about maneuvering, and it really is about politics. It’s not about doing what is best for the American people, it’s not about reducing the size and scope of the federal government so we can get back to have long-term, sustainable economic and job growth. I think Charles Schumer showed his hand. Now it’s up to the American people to realize who are really the ones who are standing as an obstacle for us to move forward.”

It matters not what the Republicans say to refute Schumer’s comments. The debate now is over the comments and not the issue of the budget. The Democrats will continue to call the Republicans “Tea Party extremists” as their caucus has dictated. No matter how hard Boehner and his troops attempt to counter this strategy they are on the defensive.

I suggest Boehner marshal his troops and go on the offensive. He should go on TV, as Pelosi did, and tell the America people this battle is not about the extreme or radical views of the Tea Party, it’s about protecting this Republic from a financial disaster. Look the American people in the eye and remind them why they were elected in November. Tell them why these cuts are needed and that the Democrats are the radical extremists. Tell them exactly what a government shutdown really involves and that the seniors collecting Social Security and Medicare will not be affected. Military pay will not be affected. Air traffic control and border security will not be affected. The delivery of mail will not be affected as the Post Office is self-funded. Lay the blame at the feet of the Democrats and put them on the defense.

Boehner should look presidential — after all he is third in the line of presidential succession. He needs to convince the people he is a strong leader, not a nice fellow trying to bring all sides together. You cannot bring all sides together if some of the sides don’t want to negotiate in good faith. You need to get their attention first and the only way to this is present them with the consequences if they remain intransient.

Boehner and the Republicans will be lambasted in the left-wing media. That’s the price of leadership. No matter what the Republicans do they will take heat from the Democrat’s minions in the press. So What! It’s not the press that matters, it’s the American people.

Boehner must marshal his lieutenants and give them a precise set of talking points, talking points that coincide with those of the people who elected them — not talking points that placate the media. If he does this he will take control of the debate, gather more support from the conservative media, especially the radio talkers, and force Obama’s hand on the budget — a hand he has been reluctant to show since his election. Make Obama take responsibility for a budget.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Hypocrisy of Barack Obama

“Hypocrisy can afford to be magnificent in its promises, for never intending to go beyond promise, it costs nothing.” — Edmund Burke

Associated Press, Monday, March 28 reports; “President Barack Obama said Monday that students should take fewer standardized tests and school performance should be measured in other ways than just exam results. Too much testing makes education boring for kids, he said.”

”Obama, who is pushing a rewrite of the nation’s education law that would ease some of its rigid measurement tools, said policymakers should find a test that “everybody agrees makes sense” and administer it in less pressure-packed atmospheres, potentially every few years instead of annually.”

“At the same time, Obama said, schools should be judged on criteria other than student test performance, including attendance rate.”

“One thing I never want to see happen is schools that are just teaching the test because then you’re not learning about the world, you’re not learning about different cultures, you’re not learning about science, you’re not learning about math,” the president said. “All you’re learning about is how to fill out a little bubble on an exam and little tricks that you need to do in order to take a test and that’s not going to make education interesting.”

Obama wants Congress to send him a rewrite of the 2001 law before the start of a new school year this fall. Although his education secretary, Arne Duncan, has been working hard with lawmakers of both parties, the deadline may be unrealistic with Congress focused on the budget and the economy. Congressional Republicans also look unwilling to sign off on Obama’s plans to increase spending on education.

Obama also made a plug Monday for the use of technology in classrooms, revealing that he himself has an iPad.

He turned back a plea from one questioner to grant a special protected status to students who are in the country illegally in order to prevent them from getting deported. Obama said it wouldn’t be appropriate because that status has traditionally been reserved for immigrants fleeing persecution or disaster.

The president did pledge to keep working to pass the Dream Act, which would give illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children a chance to gain legal status if they enroll in college or the military. The legislation passed the House but failed in the Senate in December; it now faces even longer odds in Congress with the House controlled by Republicans.

March Madness is in full swing. And former Harvard basketball player and current Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has once again “renewed his call for the N.C.A.A. to impose stricter penalties on universities that do not graduate enough of their athletes,” reports The Washington Post.

The Secretary noted that while most colleges take academics for their athletes seriously, there are still some who don’t. “And I just fail to understand why we continue to reward that behavior rather than not tolerate it,” Duncan told the Post. The article went on to list schools that fail to graduate a majority of their athletes yet receive significant revenue from their sports teams.

Currently, the N.C.A.A. requires teams to graduate at least 50 percent of their players or potentially face the loss of scholarships. If schools fail to reach the 40 percent mark several years in a row, they could risk a “postseason ban.“

Certainly, colleges should promote good academics for their athletes. But what if a standard similar to that applied to college athletic programs applied to the education taking place right in Secretary Duncan’s own backyard?

Recent data clearly show that a little more than half—56 percent—of D.C. public school students graduate from high school. Yet, while the Obama Administration continues to push for increased spending on public school systems in D.C. and throughout the country (D.C. public schools currently spend nearly twice the national average on annual per-pupil education costs), they have stood by and let funding for the all-star D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (DCOSP)—which graduates more than 90 percent of its students—be all but phased out.

But by Duncan’s own standard, the DCOSP should be his number one bracket pick.

Since 2003, the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program has helped give thousands of students from low-income families a shot at an educated future. Through the program, students from these families are able to receive scholarships to attend a private school of their choice, allowing many to escape failing and often violent schools. For many of these children, this has meant the difference between dropping out and earning a diploma. One scholarship recipient, senior Ronald Holassie of Archbishop Carroll High School, stated that the program had been a “life-changing experience” and that “I wouldn’t be the person I am … if it wasn’t for the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program.”

The Obama Administration talks big when it comes to improving education. So, instead of taking away a scholarship program that is having such a remarkable effect on the lives of D.C. students and their families, they should cheer it on. At a time when education in the United States is in dire need of improvement, benching a program that is successfully meeting that goal is only, well, madness.

House Speaker John Boehner’s (R–OH) commitment to school choice and his support for the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (DCOSP) was chronicled in The Washington Post on Tuesday.

“I just think it’s horrendous that you’ve got one of the worst school districts in the country right here in the District of Columbia,” Boehner stated. The Speaker went on to say: “Competition makes everyone better. One of the problems with education in America is that there’s not enough competition in the K through 12 arena.” Boehner understands what intellectual heavyweights like economist Milton Friedman knew: Competition, fostered through school choice, lifts all boats. Friedman explained in 2005:

“Full exercise of choice would invigorate the public school system; would improve it. Competition always has that effect … competition is a way in which both public and private schools can be required to satisfy their customers. In which the bad private schools will fail and the bad public schools will fail. So the fundamental assumption is simple: that competition is better than monopoly.”

The DCOSP has put detractors in the position of having to defend the poor performance of the government school system.

But most importantly, the DCOSP has empowered parents and limited bureaucratic and government control over education. Many low-income parents who were previously unable to access a safe and effective education for their children found themselves in a position to go directly to a private school they felt would best meet the needs of their children. Parents were now empowered to do what so many families who can afford it so often do: They were able to go from school to school, inspecting the premises, inquiring about the school’s academic record and interviewing principals and teachers.

Low-income parents in D.C. were no longer at the whim of the government school monopoly.

That is, until the last Congress, at the direction of Senator Richard Durbin (D–IL), caved into pressure from education unions and began phasing out the successful voucher program. Despite its proven track-record of increasing academic achievement and significantly improving graduation rates, 216 children had scholarships yanked from their hands by Members of Congress beholden to education unions and the failed status quo. Thousands more had their educational futures placed in jeopardy.

Boehner, by contrast, has made school choice a priority and has introduced a bill to reauthorize the DCOSP—the only bill the Speaker will sponsor this year. The contrast in philosophies could not be clearer: empower parents through school choice or condemn low-income children to underperforming government schools.

Empowering parents through school choice has many benefits. Thanks to the DCOSP, parents are not only able to choose the school that best meets their children’s needs; the program also ensures that money is spent more efficiently. The opportunity scholarships provide a far more efficient way of spending education dollars by empowering parents and taxpayers, not bureaucrats. To stand by and allow special interest groups like the education unions to kill off the only successful federal education program ever created would be a travesty unparalleled in school policy.

Last year, President Obama was asked if his daughters, who attend an elite private school, would have received a similar education at a District of Columbia public school. His answer — “I’ll be blunt with you: The answer is no, right now.”

On September 27, 2010, President Obama reopened what is often a sore subject in Washington, saying that his daughters could not obtain from D.C. public schools the academic experience they receive at the private Sidwell Friends School.

Washington parent Gamel New recently told the Washington Post “Everybody has their choice of where to send their kids. That’s [Obama's] choice. If I could afford it, I probably would, too.”

Unfortunately, everyone does not have that choice. But with the establishment of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, some parents in the nation’s capital finally have the option to send their children to better schools.

DCOSP allowed many low-income parents who were previously unable to access a safe and effective education for their children found themselves in a position to go directly to a private school they felt would best meet the needs of their children. Parents were now empowered to do what so many families who can afford it so often do: They were able to go from school to school, inspecting the premises, inquiring about the school’s academic record and interviewing principals and teachers.

Not only are parents empowered, but the voucher program makes sense from a financial point of view. The scholarships are worth $7,500 each, compared to the $18,791 the city spends per student. (The average across the United States is $11,257 and for California it’s $10,761)

Yet despite these successes, liberal legislators have denied funding for the program in next year’s budget. Pressure from teachers unions prompted them to phase the program out, despite its proven track record.

While 40 percent of Congressmen choose to send their children to private school, that choice would be denied to students in one of the most dangerous and underperforming school districts in the United States.

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R–OH) has introduced new legislation, known as the SOAR Act, that would not only reauthorize the scholarship program but also expand it to give more children the opportunity for school choice. During the State of the Union address, Boehner invited Heritage education experts Jennifer Marshall and Lindsey Burke to join scholarship recipients in the Speaker’s Box.

So, what we have here is a President who claims to be the president who wants to streamline and improve our public education while denying thousands of D.C. children the opportunity for the same education his two daughters and the children of 40% of the Congress are receiving. If this isn’t hypocrisy then I don’t know what is.