Wednesday, December 16, 2009
And there's one other reason. I'm finding that it does very little good to argue sane points against an insane ideology. I'm beginning to understand that the people who hold liberal viewpoints have become immune to common sense, rational thought, fundamental logic and little things called facts. Ideology is all that matters to them, damn the truth. How do you argue against that? Well, you can't.
It's like having an alcoholic cousin. We all have one. You can reason with him, tell him how destructive alcohol is, plead with him to stop, etc, etc. But the truth is eventually it all becomes futile and the only thing you can do is step back let him hit rock bottom and discover the truths you've been preaching on his own. I guess that's the attitude I'm adopting with the neo-socialist ideology. These people are either power hungry politicians who want to rule the people or they are ignorant drones who vote for the power hungry politicians. It's fruitless to try to reason with them. So perhaps it's best if we just hit rock bottom and let the drones learn some tough life lessons.
Case in point: Health Care.
Congress is on the verge of passing legislation that will completely dismantle the world's greatest health care system. Afterward, they will stand in front of the cameras with big smiles, slobbering over and congratulating each other on the "historic" legislation. Oh yeah, it will be historic alright. History books will mention this one by name because America will never be the same afterward. The Left is ecstatic. The drones are pleased. All I can say is that what happens after this becomes law will be well-deserved. You are the fools who put these fools into office, so now you will reap the consequences.
By the time Mr. Obama prepares for a re-election bid our health care system will be a complete disaster. It may very well be the deciding factor in whether or not he even tries for re-election, if hyperinflation or a double-dip recession doesn't wipe out his prospects first. All doctors know this. As do most hospital administrators and other health care professionals. The shame of it all is that many Americans have no idea. The drones are clueless to what's about to be forced upon them by a deaf, cynical Congressional majority who has no regard for the will and well-being of the people. That makes me a little sad.
As for me and my family, I've already begun taking action to protect our health. We will be fine. But there are so many who are about to be blind-sided by this monstrosity of a law. There is a part of me that wants to take pity on them, but then I am reminded that I tried so many times. We all tried. My alcoholic cousin wouldn't listen, and neither would the drones. So rock bottom is a necessity. I'm thinking it's probably the only way to get the point across.
Remember, this is what you voted for. It's not the government's fault. It's not the "rich" folks' fault. You have no one to blame but yourselves. I won't say "I told you so". It won't be necessary. But I will be there ready to rebuild once our democracy crashes under the weight of our laziness, greed, lack of responsibility, and sense of entitlement. Until that moment arrives, I'm afraid this country is facing some tough times.
Friday, November 20, 2009
First, the CBO has announced that the Senate health care bill fails to reduce healthcare costs, which is an improvement over the House bill that the CBO says will increase healthcare costs. For that reason alone, both bills should be canned. But it gets worse, much worse.
Soon-to-be-former senator Harry Reid says the Senate bill will cost $850 billion over ten years and that this will be budget neutral via higher taxes and cuts in Medicare. That’s a convenient and blatantly dishonest description, but Harry is rarely accused of having integrity. According to the Post, Harry has used a smoke-and-mirrors game to come up with a ten-year “budget neutral” bill. The trick is that the actual entitlement program doesn’t kick in until 2014. The first ten years therefore includes five years of no entitlement program, no massive spending. During that first five years, the tax hikes and medicare cuts will be enacted. So we begin paying before anything actually happens. 99% of the costs of the bill won’t kick in until after 2014.
So, the CBO calculated the “true” cost of the bill. That is, the first ten years of the actual healthcare entitlement (2014-2023). And, surprise, they found that the bill will cost an obscene $1.8 trillion – double what Harry is telling us. But there’s more.
During that same ten years, the Post reports that there will be $900 billion in tax increases.
Again, before any of this happens, before anyone actually gets healthcare, we will start paying right away. For starters, the Senate proposes to divert $800 billion for Medicare to help fund this monstrosity. Half of that amount will come from cuts in physician reimbursement. Beginning in 2011, Medicare will cut pay to physicians by 23%. Logically, this will lead to a mass “drop” of Medicare, as in doctors will stop taking patients who are covered by Medicare alone. Medicare will effectively become another Medicaid, where doctors who see those patients do so at a net loss. There is only so much room for those types of patients in any medical practice. Similar scenarios will develop in hospitals and nursing homes. Access to care for seniors on Medicare will vanish, until 2014 when they can all enroll in the government option. Yet, the CBO didn’t take this “unintended consequence” into account when determining its $1.8 trillion price tag. So the actual cost will be hard to imagine.
The rest of the money comes from tax increases, lots of them. There will be taxes on food, taxes on cosmetic surgery, taxes on private insurance policies. But the big one will be an increase in payroll taxes. This will come at a time when unemployment has eclipsed 10%. We cross our fingers and hope businesses will start hiring again, and then we slap those businesses with more payroll taxes that will only discourage hiring.
Already have health insurance? Get ready to pay more for it, a lot more. The Senate bill clearly bans insurance companies from disqualifying people with pre-existing conditions, or due to increased age. It also says that the insurance companies can’t charge these people more for insurance. They must charge all customers the same. Therefore, private insurance policies will increase in price dramatically. Those of us who have insurance will pay more for it in order to make up for those people whose insurance costs more to provide. That’s on top of the taxes that will be assessed on our private policies.
Get insurance from your employer? Don’t count on it. Employers will be slapped with more payroll taxes and will be required to provide health insurance (that will be costing more) for their employees or pay a fine to the federal government. Problem is, the fine is a lot cheaper than providing insurance. So smaller companies will dump their insurance plans and simply pay the fine, telling employees they have the option to enroll in the government program. This will further bloat the government program, another unintended consequence not factored in by the CBO.
And remember, the government option isn’t available until 2014. So, there is a very real possibility that for the next 5 years the number of uninsured will skyrocket and once the government opens its clinic doors it will be flooded by people seeking care. $1.8 trillion won’t begin to cover the cost.
If passed, this bill will be an economic disaster, one that ruins the best healthcare system and the strongest economy in the world all with one swoop. But Harry tells us it can work while Obama eagerly waits to sign any bill that hits his desk no matter how destructive. And the drones applaud because even though we destroy the economy and the healthcare sector, we will finally give healthcare to people who never earned it.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
First, let's call it what it is. This was a calculated attack. An act of war. An act of Jihad. The man involved wasn't insane. He was an Islamic fundamentalist. He was a Jihadist who bought into the extremist notion that non-believers are the enemy, that anyone who opposes the extremist ideology should be killed. He didn't suffer from any disease. He didn't "just snap". He was well aware of what he was doing and he was doing it for a cause. Why some people have difficulty admitting that is beyond me.
This was the deadliest terrorist attack on US soil since 9-11. Fourteen people were murdered in the name of Islamic fundamentalism because they were non-believers, because they were part of the "great satan".
Today, Hasan was charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder. And as the father of one of the victims said...that's a good start. Hopefully, more charges will come. Now, we have learned that he has been wiring money to Pakistan. Once the FBI discovers that these wires were going to fund the Taliban and Al Qaeda, I expect him to be charged with treason. I would also like a 14th count of murder given the fact that one of the casualties was 2 months pregnant.
I could get into the questions of why this guy slipped through the cracks, but that is something that will be debated and discussed for a long time. Basically, my own military experience taught me that much of the military has inexplicably become political. The Pentagon is way too close to D.C. Political correctness has infected it as it has infected much of our society, even to the point where it has become dangerous. I know why Hasan was never investigated, nor identified as a potential threat. I saw the politics during my own time in the service. I'd be willing to bet that there were several people on the low end of the chain-of-command who sounded the alert, only to be squashed by their superiors. Anyone with recent military service will agree with me for they certainly saw it as well. There is no greater evidence of it than that seen in the Army Chief-of-Staff's statement about the attack, that it would be a greater tragedy if the Army lost its diversity.
A greater tragedy? Good grief.
This guy was in contact with Al Qaeda recruiters. He repeatedly denounced the US activity in the Middle East. He burst into repeated religious rants while counseling returning troops. He gave a medical lecture about the need to behead infidels, which included the statement that "we love death more than you love life". His business card included "Soldier of Allah". He cried Allahu Akbar while murdering the troops. He wired money to Pakistan even though his family was originally from Jordan. Yet, we want to focus on PTSD and bullying as an etiology for his action. This is what they do in Europe, afraid to acknowledge the problem. And that is why the problem over there has grown.
I also would like to see an end to the obligatory disclaimer that everyone inserts during their commentary. We've all heard it. "Not all Muslims are terrorists" or "there are many Muslims who serve with honor" or "Islam is a religion of peace". No kidding! Is this really necessary? Does this help? Are we so afraid of being painted with the bigot brush that we feel we have to issue this statement anytime we talk about terrorism? Give it a rest.
So the investigation will go on. Congress will probably have hearings. The pundits will discuss it for weeks. But I think plenty of damage has already been done. When the enemy is capable of infiltrating our own military and executing a deadly attack on defenseless troops, the majority of the media and many American citizens along with the Presidential administration lacks the courage to call it a terrorist attack by an Islamic fundamentalist. There is little that can demoralize our military more. If we lack the courage to name it, how on earth can we have the courage to confront and defeat it?
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
The independents have swung. The dems have dominated the last two elections the same way the GOP dominated those previous...by convincing the independents. I think these elections were a referendum on the economy, and the economy is not good. Not only that, but I think the independents made a statement that taxing and spending isn't the way to fix the economy. In Virginia, there was a 25 point swing - one quarter of the electorate. In New Jersey it was 20 points. And the exit polls showed overwhelming swing in independents from dem to GOP. McDonnell even won the more liberal areas of the state. If unemployment is still bad in a year (which I think it will be) and the economy is still lagging (ditto) then I think the independents will continue to reject the dems.
The Bush effect is dead. Bush is gone, and so is the dem's favorite scapegoat. Corzine repeatedly tried to hang George W. Bush around his opponent's neck and it didn't work. I wonder if President Obama took note of this?
The GOP must work with, not against, its base. I'm tired of hearing about the right wing base hurting the GOP. Scozzafava was selected by a group of career politicians without any input from the voters. As a result, the conservatives of NY 23 got a liberal candidate who was Left of even the democrat, thus clearing the way for a third party candidate that effectively split the vote. The conservatives simply didn't have a candidate. Had there been a primary, or even some opinion polls done, this could have been avoided. Hoffman lost by 3-4 pts, while DeDe carried about 5-6 pts even after she dropped out. If Hoffman had an R instead of an I beside his name maybe the outcome would be different. Who knows? At any rate, the base clearly rejected the liberal candidate because it was liberalism that damaged the party prior to 2006. Michael Steele and the GOP leaders have to wise up to the obvious. The GOP lost in '06 and '08 because they strayed from conservative ideals, NOT because they embraced them. The GOP leaders in NY 23 repeated that mistake and paid a big price, allowing a moderate dem to win the election.
Social issues aren't as important in a campaign. Deeds attacked McDonnell for being anti-abortion, and his close affiliation with the religious right. It didn't work. Hoffman ran on social issues rather than fiscal issues, and it failed. Yet, gay marriage loses on a ballot initiative. This is fascinating. Perhaps I've missed something here. I believe that most Americans share in relatively conservative social issues, but maybe they don't want them involved in politics. Maybe that's because many people adhere to the most basic of conservative principles, that we dictate the rules to the government, not vice versa, regardless of the issue. Perhaps conservatives don't want government involvement in social issues on either side of the aisle. I'm okay with that. Personally, I say let gay marriage, abortion, gun control, etc be decided by individual states. The Left would never allow that. So while it's important to conservatives to have conservative values, those candidates shouldn't flaunt them, at least not as much as they flaunt their fiscal conservatism. McDonnell and Cristie ran on fiscal conservatism and won. Hoffman ran on social conservatism and lost. Again, I'm fine with that. I'll agree to keep the social issues up to the people if the Left will stipulate.
Once again, the people reject gay marriage. This time in blue-state Maine. We'll see how long it takes the Left to involve the courts. To reinforce the point above, does anyone believe that Maine would have elected a conservative candidate who ran on a platform of anti-gay marriage? Nope.
The Tea Parties were more than astroturf. Just ask John Corzine and Creigh Deeds. The tea parties were all about government restraint, and I think they were loud and clear yesterday. It will be interesting to see if the politicians continue to dismiss this movement or choose to actually listen to the fiscal concerns of the citizens.
There IS a litmus test for GOP candidates. I could vote for a pro-gun control candidate. Or a pro-gay marriage candidate. Or a pro-abortion candidate. But I would NEVER vote for a big government, big spending, high taxing candidate. Never. Both parties need to take this to heart because I am most definitely not alone. Social issues are important, and I would be encouraged to know that the candidate I support feels as I do on these issues. But the primary issue in today's politics revolves around the degree of government involvement in people's lives. Yesterday, the people rejected a long-reaching government. I think they did the same in '06 and '08 based on campaign rhetoric. There is no reason to think the same won't happen next year.
It's time to hold the Washington elites accountable. It's disturbing when a GOP candidate withdraws from an election and endorses a democrat candidate. That has a certain "good-ole-boy-network" odor to it. I get the feeling that many politicians, regardless of party, are just milking this thing for all it's worth. They say one thing in front of the camera, and behind closed doors pat each other on the back and laugh about the great con they're pulling on the common folk. Washington just seems like an ancient, exclusive country club that doesn't like the idea of newcomers intruding on their gig. See Sarah Palin, Ross Perot, Doug Hoffman, Jesse Ventura and Ralph Nader for examples. The elites have a stranglehold on power and will resist any "we-the-people" revolt.
So, today I will write a check to the Chris Simcox campaign for Senate. He is running against John McCain in Arizona and I hope he wins. McCain is a fine and decent man, but I think he's lost touch with the common American. I encourage my fellow grassroots conservatives to do the same. If we can't form a third party, then let's redefine the GOP as a party of low taxes, limited government, free market solutions, energy independence, personal responsibility and strong national defense.
The social issues can be decided by the people. If government is involved, then the 6 principles above should govern any conservative party. I believe Chris Simcox adheres to those where John McCain has fallen short in the past.
Monday, November 02, 2009
In that traditionally conservative district, the grand party got together in a smoke-filled room and nominated a committed liberal to run for Congress. Dede Scazzafava is a pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage, pro-gun control Republican who supported Obama’s stimulus package back in February. Needless to say, when she was placed on the ballot, support for her was a bit subdued. The people in the district were once again placed in a position to choose between two liberals, one with an R beside her name, the other with a D.
Then there was Doug Hoffman, a member of the Conservative party, who is running as a true conservative, something the GOP used to stand for. He acquired some key endorsements from leaders of the conservative movement and suddenly his poll numbers surpassed those of Scazzafava, thus overcoming the old “third party can’t win” jinx. With dwindling support, the Republican bowed out and it now looks like a true conservative will win the election.
The liberal pundits love it. They see this as evidence that there is an internal war in the GOP. They criticize the party for not being more inclusive, not having a big tent. They criticize the party for “allowing” the conservative voices to have too much power. Basically, they criticize the GOP for not being more like the Democrats. In essence, the pundits want a two-party system consisting of an extremist liberal party and a moderate liberal party. There’s only one problem…voters.
Inside the beltway, GOP leaders drink the media kool-aid. They agree that the GOP needs to act more like Democrats. That’s why Gingrich, Michael Steele and John Boehner stood beside their liberal nominee. These guys, along with many others in DC, still haven’t gotten the message, and I think his endorsement of the liberal candidate will deal a crushing blow to any hopes he had of running for President in 2012, we’ll see.
The majority of Americans would consider themselves conservative over liberal, especially when it comes to fiscal policy. And the backlash over the ballooning federal deficit is further evidence of this. The pundits dismiss the backlash as Astroturf, and apparently the GOP leaders agree. Well, here are some numbers to munch on from an April 2009 CBS poll:
74% of Americans believe the government isn’t doing enough to control illegal immigration
51% feel that illegal immigrants should either be deported or placed in a guest worker program
63% feel that illegal immigration is too costly for the nation
52% favor building a border fence
76% oppose driver’s licenses for illegals
55% feel illegals should be turned over to the feds when arrested
72% disapprove of hiring quotas
68% feel that the poor have become too dependent on government assistance
67% feel that minorities are responsible for their own circumstances
51% are pro-life
79% are worried about harming the financial future of their children
53% support the death penalty
63% support immersion in English for illegals
33% support bilingual education
52% favor school vouchers
59% favor nuclear energy
74% favor offshore drilling
59% favor ANWR drilling
51% oppose cap-and-trade
77% feel the 2nd amendment protects gun ownership
57% feel that stricter gun laws would increase violent crimes
63% aren’t confident that Medicare will be available when they retire
61% feel the same about social security
52% oppose legalizing marijuana
56% believe social security is in crisis or serious trouble
36% believe health care is the government’s responsibility
Support for the Republican party is hemorrhaging. Leaders of the party seem to think it’s because they aren’t Democrat-enough. This is classic beltway thinking. They have no clue and refuse to acknowledge what the voters are clearly saying. The voters demand fiscal responsibility, plain and clear, and are more apt to have conservative values than liberal. That’s why the GOP was beat in 2006 and 2008, that’s why a “change” campaign won the White House, that’s why the tea party movement sprung up, that’s why Obama’s approval rating is dropping, and that’s why people refused to support yet another big-spending Republican who thought just having an R beside her name was enough to win the conservative vote. Well, no more!
The GOP is poised to become obsolete and if they choose to listen to the media pundits instead of the voters that’s exactly what will happen. I know many people who have abandoned that party, and not one of them says it’s because the party wasn’t inclusive enough. The GOP is losing support because they are too much like the Democrats, and until they start to bring some contrast to the progressives, that support will continue to erode.
Friday, October 23, 2009
Two months ago, General McChrystal presented his request for 40,000 additional troops to implement the counter-insurgency strategy that has now been endorsed by these leaders. As of this post, President Obama has yet to commit to that strategy.
However, Rahm has gone on the talk-shows and blasted - who else - the Bush administration for not having an effective strategy in Afghanistan, thus leaving Obama to "start from scratch". We now know that as early as March of this year, President Obama presented his strategy on Afghanistan. Interestingly enough, it mirrored Bush's strategy of a surge-like counter-insurgency. Obama appointed McChrystal to execute the plan. McChrystal established his command and soon after delivered his assessment that implementing the strategy originally designed by the Bush administration, adopted by the Obama administration, and now endorsed by our European allies, would require 40,000 troops. All of a sudden, Obama isn't sure.
McChrystal is waiting. Our dedicated troops are waiting. Obama believes the decision should be put off until the next Afghan election (or, more likely, the gubernatorial elections in NJ and Virgina).
McChrystal has made it clear what he needs. Even the Europeans agree. Obama isn't sure. This is our commander-in-chief. And each day he delays, military morale plummets.
Obama has one of two options: 1) send the troops McChrystal has requested, 2) pack up and get out of Afghanistan. My fear is that it will be somewhere in between, ie 10-20,000 troops. Folks, this is exactly how Vietnam escalated.
If Obama fails to meet his General's request, then I think both McChrystal and Petraeus should resign. And I think they will.
God bless our troops who are fighting and dying while their commander-in-chief deliberates on whether or not to give them what they need to win.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Think about this for a moment, the latest in many examples of Obama's Marxist ideology. This one is actually two-fold. For one, limiting someone's pay is inherently Marxist. No matter how hard you work, how many hours you put in, how successful your efforts are, there is a ceiling to what you can bring in. The flaw in this thinking is obvious, which is precisely why Marxism in reality has never actually succeeded without tyrannical brutality enforcing it.
But there is another aspect of this poll, one that is also inherently Marxist...that of class warfare. Barack Obama - more than any other political leader in US history - has made amazing progress at fanning the fires of envy and hatred between our social classes. Look at those executives, look at how much money they make, so much more than any of you, this is not fair, we should stop it, we should impose a limit to what they can make, let's get them.
If this poll is to be trusted, then his efforts are succeeding. Ultimately, the collectivist desires equal outcomes for all citizens, which is why they favor mandatory minimum wages for the least-skilled workers and now mandatory maximum wages for the most-skilled. They achieve this by gaining support amongst the populous, in large part by inducing social class envy, bitterness, and hatred towards those who have achieved success in a free-market capitalist system. Their argument is that capitalism is unfair because such a small percentage of citizens become super-wealthy in such a system - of course failing to acknowledge that the same system results in great wealth for the collective compared to similar social classes in other nations and other systems.
The collectivist specializes in divisiveness, fueling the fires of greed and envy so that the populous feels cheated and eventually supports action against the super-wealthy, much like that reflected in this poll. However, the great trap is that those who support salary caps don't realize that their support effectively grants the state the power to cap EVERYONE's salary should the collective need arise...and that is the great trap that the collectivist has set.
The poll reads that 78% of Americans desire caps on executive pay. And this means that 78% of Americans are unwittingly willing to grant the government the power to set pay limits whenever the government deems it necessary. Mr. Alinsky is smiling about this one.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Two stories to comment on today. First, there was announcement today that Congress was attempting to fix the payment gap in Medicare for doctors. For those who don't know, this is an annual problem that Congress has to address. When Congress first established payment schedules for doctors they forgot to adjust these payments for inflation. So every year doctors face a reduction in reimbursement from medicare. What adds to the problem is that fact that if Congress fails to patch the problem from year to year, the payment schedule resorts back to the original payment schedule as determined years ago. So essentially, every year the problem gets bigger and bigger. And instead of actually fixing it once and for all, Congress just patches it year to year.
The problem is so big now that if Congress fails to fix it, then doctors would face as much as a 25% reduction in medicare reimbursement. That's serious. Many doctors would simply stop accepting medicare as a result, thus leaving seniors with fewer health care options. So Congress decides to put in a patch at a cost of $250 billion, which they aren't going to pay for. Yes, this money will just be added to our growing debt. Why? Well, I have a theory.
I have never been a member of the AMA because I think they are a political group who isn't interested in the well-being of our patients. The AMA represents doctors. And the AMA has thrown itself in with the Obama administration, supporting Obamacare. Now, Obama can claim to have the support of America's doctors for his health care reform. The only problem is that America's doctors don't support his reform. The AMA supports it, but if you poll physicians nationwide you'll find they basically reflect the opinion of the general population. My guess is the AMA agreed to get behind Obamacare for a trade-off, and we saw the fruits of that trade-off today. More pay for doctors, more debt on the shoulders of our children.
Now for the next topic. Today Robert Gibbs announced that the White House doesn't consider Fox News a legitimate news organization and it discourages people from getting their news from that network. This announcement was met with little objection from the White House press corps, except for one lone voice, that of ABC news' Jake Tapper. Tapper is a liberal. And he is also a professional journalist in the sense that his own political views rarely interfere with his reporting. He spoke up and pressed Gibbs about the administration's attitude toward Fox News, and I suspect he did so because Tapper recognized something that should disturb any journalist. Anytime the White House declares that a certain news organization should be ignored, it should make any citizen, and certainly any journalist pause.
Gibbs said that Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity were the primary reasons why the administration wants to marginalize Fox. Those shows are commentary, hosted by men who never try to hide their political ideology. Yet, Gibbs feels that's enough to black list the entire network. Meanwhile, Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow are always welcome at the White House despite their opinion-based programs. Keep in mind, Fox is really the only major news organization that has bothered to question many of Obama's initiatives, and now the administration wants them ignored, even marginalized. There is something quite disturbing about that. People like Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro do these kinds of things. It should never come from an American president. Even the Liberal commentators on Fox are voicing some legitimate objections to this.
George Bush welcomed dissent, and never tried to bully the media into falling in line with his objectives. Obama is bringing something much different to the table, and it really makes me squirm in my seat a bit. I am never comfortable when the White House gets to pick and choose which news organizations are "fit" to be considered legitimate. That's just too close to a state-sanctioned news source for my taste.
The fact is I watch Fox because it's the only network where I'm guaranteed to get the whole story. I get both points of view on the issues and I appreciate that. I hear the opinions of Beck and Hannity, as well as Alan Colmes, Juan Williams, Bob Beckel and Geraldo Rivera. I appreciate the spirited debate and the opportunity to make up my own mind on any given issue. It's hardly a bastion of conservatism, and anyone who says otherwise probably has never even bothered to watch it. Other networks have a tendency to spoon feed their viewers only the things they want them to hear and see. If you don't watch Fox, then you probably have no idea who Van Jones is, or why ACORN is suddenly in a lot of trouble.
Yes, Fox asks some tough questions. Why is Obama delaying the Afghan troop decision? Why isn't the stimulus package working as promised? Why isn't he giving more guidance on the health care debate? These are the things I want my President to be asked. Bush wasn't given any softer treatment. In fact, I would argue that Beck was just as tough on Bush as he is on Obama.
So I think journalists should take a step back. If you dare disagree with the White House, if you dare ask a difficult question, if you dare try to hold Obama accountable, you may be black-listed as well. If they can go after Fox, there is nothing keeping them from going after any other news outlet. We'll see if Jake Tapper is allowed to ask anymore questions at the White House press conference.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Basic logic says that if A = B, and B = C, then A = C. That's basic logic. So if you apply logic to Jimmy Carter you would come to the conclusion that the highest form of patriotism is dissent, and dissent is racism, therefore racism is the highest form of patriotism. That's what happens when you apply logic to Democrats like Jimmy Carter.
I disagree with Barack Obama on policy. This blog has left no doubt regarding that. But I am proud that America has overcome much of its racial past and elected a black man as President. That should make all Americans proud, conservative and liberal. But I think it's a shame that this man stepped into office promising to bring America into a post-racial era, while those closest to him continue to drag us back into the days of fire-hoses, whites-only lunch counters and segregation. That's what happens when a member of the Congressional Black Caucus warns that failure to censure Joe Wilson will lead to people roaming the countryside in white hoods and robes. Yes, he really said that! This is beyond ridiculous. This is irresponsible and I am not the only who is fed up by it.
It's shameful that we can't have a simple policy disagreement without one side accusing the other of genocidal hatred. How can Obama possibly succeed as a post-racial President with that kind of rhetoric being tossed around BY HIS OWN PARTY!? Indeed, by his own administration.
Bernie Goldberg said it best. We don't have a Black President of the United States. We have a President of the United States. His race does not define him. His action does.
It is becoming clearer day by day that the most racist people in this country are those who accuse others of racism the most. They are the ones who insist on judging by color. They are the ones who insist that race is all that matters. They are the ones who categorize people by physical, cultural, and religious traits. Conservatives don't do this. Conservatives judge according to actions.
Simple question: What would Dr. King think about all this nonsense? I'll tell you. He'd be the first to condemn Carter and others for using race as a political club to bludgeon those who disagree with them.
If Obama is going to be the post-racial President he must put a stop to this nonsense. He must demand that the Left knock it off and stop flinging the race card around so recklessly. It dishonors those in America's past who TRULY suffered racism.
It is disgraceful, shameful, and yes, illogical.
Monday, September 14, 2009
The highlight was Joe Wilson of South Carolina calling out "You lie" as Obama stated that his plan would not cover illegal immigrants. It was the most honest moment of the night. While I agree that it is uncivil to interrupt the President during a Congressional address, I can't deny the truth behind what Wilson said. And let's be honest, there is nothing civil about Washington politics. Does anyone remember Bush's 2005 State of the Union address being interrupted by "boos" from the Dems? And I say, if you're going to spring to your feet in applause - interrupting the President at the end of every sentence - then it's hard to condemn someone who actually calls him on an obvious mistruth.
Indeed, Obama was lying, but not just about the illegal immigrants. Later that week, the Obama White House admitted that there was no clause that mandated the verification of citizenship in order to receive medical benefits. They have since changed that simple oversight, but it proves that Wilson was right. Obama also said Medicare would not be cut, yet his own website details hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts to medicare. He said the bill would be budget neutral, yet the CBO has stated clearly that it will not. He said only 6 million people would sign up. ONLY 6 MILLION! There is no way anyone with rational thinking could possible believe this. If only 6 million people would enroll, then why on earth bother?
He said that people would not be forced into the public option. But look at the details. The plan mandates employers to cover all employees with health insurance or else pay the federal government a fine of 8% of their payroll taxes. Well, ask any business owner and they will tell you that their health insurance costs MUCH more than 8%, so most businesses will cancel their policies and, yes, therefore FORCE people into the public option.
Estimated cost is somewhere around $900 billion over 10 years, and Obama expects only 6 million people to enroll in the government option. Folks, do the math. That's a health care plan that costs $150,000 per person! Do you have any idea what kind of health insurance you could buy on the open market with even half that amount? And what if Obama is wrong and, say, 12 million sign up? Would that increase the cost to 1.8 trillion? And people STILL think this is a good idea?
Yet, Joe Wilson is called a racist. The old stand by. In today's political environment, if you disagree with the President then, by default, you are a racist. And this is the President who was supposed to transcend race.
I agree with Wilson. Obama was lying. He still is lying. At the very least, he's not telling the whole truth which is in my book a lie. He WILL cut medicare. He WILL force people into his government option. He WILL increase the deficit. He WILL ration care. It's simple math.
But Wilson's comment did manage to cement my lack of faith in the gutless GOP, whose leaders were quick to distance themselves from Wilson after the speech. They tssk-tssked the man. Shame on him. Only to find out that Wilson said out loud what many Americans were saying at home as Obama spoke. Grassroots Americans rallied around Wilson for speaking for the people. Suddenly the spineless GOP did an about face. Now they're "standing behind him". Spineless. Gutless. And they wonder how they lost control in Washington.
I'm still waiting for the grassroots candidates to emerge. Somewhere there are a group of people who will split from the two-party system and form a true party of the people. When they do, history will be made, and a third party will emerge as a political power. I think the time has come for the Democrats and the Republicans to go the way of the Whigs.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Ted Kennedy died yesterday, and YES, the Democrats are exploiting the man's death in order to gain support for their unpopular health reform bill. Seems like of all people the fringe Left would want to mourn it would be Ted. Nope. They're just trying to find a way to make it work for them. I heard someone say he was the greatest Senator ever, and I'm still trying to figure out if it was a compliment. Greatest Senator ever? Sorta like saying greatest loan shark ever. Or greatest mobster ever. Not exactly a title that sparks feelings of admiration.
But still, even though I obviously disagreed with Kennedy on pretty much everything, I believe in honoring those whom we love and admire. And Kennedy was loved and admired by a lot of people. You don't honor someone by exploiting their death for cheap political favor.
Yet the tactic does reflect how clueless our socialist leaders in Congress really are. 79% of Americans are just fine with health care as it is now. Most of them share my opinions and disagreements with Ted Kennedy. So why would saying "Let's do it for Ted" suddenly swing those people in favor of overhauling health care?
Speaking of socialists, Eric Holder was in the news a bit this week. A few months ago, Holder was tasked to decide whether or not to prosecute a group of thugs who stood in front of a Philadelphia polling station brandishing weapons and obviously intimidating voters. He couldn't exactly claim lack of evidence because a few voters actually recorded the neo-Black Panthers - nightsticks and all - doing their Marxist duty. So, Holder just decided to drop the charges. No prosecution. No explanation. I'm sure we are all confident that had it been a group of white extremists intimidating voters in such a way, Holder would have made a similar decision.
And speaking of racism, Glen Beck has become targeted by a racist organization for stating his opinion about Barack Obama. During an interview, Beck explained some of the President's actions and then went on to say "I believe he is a racist." Clearly an opinion, whether you agree with him or not.
Now, I don't know if Barack Obama is a racist. Racist implies that one believes in the superiority of his or her race over others. I don't know what's in the President's heart. But I do know that Glen Beck has a Constitutional right to state his opinion about the President, just as Cindy Sheehan once did. Apparently some disagree. So a racist organization has begun a campaign to threaten Beck's sponsors and effectively boycott the commentator in an attempt to silence his opinion. Dissent and debate are not welcome in the minds of Marxists - case in point, the aforementioned White House email watch list. Among those sponsors who caved is UPS. Which means that I will forever be using Federal Express for all my shipping needs.
But let's get back to Eric Holder. The Attorney General who once argued for the pardon of Mark Rich, the biggest tax cheat in US history, does not believe in prosecuting people who intimidate and discourage potential voters. But he does believe in prosecuting the CIA operatives who played a key role in protecting this country over the past 8 years at great personal risk. Holder points to a 2005 report that suggests possible "rough" behavior during some interrogations. The behavior in question includes - gasp! - blowing second hand smoke in the face of terrorists. Clearly this is much more of a crime than pointing a billy-club at someone while they're trying to vote. But Holder is hell bent. He won't tolerate anything more than predetermined questions read to the terrorist in a non-threatening and polite manner, with special emphasis on the words "please" and "thank you". As in "please tell us where the next attack will be" and "thank you for your enlightening and helpful cooperation". There is simply no better way to get information about imminent attacks. And President Obama has yet to comment on the actions of his AG.
And so we finally come to our hope-and-change savior. Obama has decided that the interrogation of terrorists will be coordinated by the White House. A select panel has been set up to handle this duty, and these people will report directly to Obama just like the upcoming US census bureau. To my knowledge, Obama didn't have any experience interrogating mass murderers during his days as a community organizer, but I may be wrong. Let's hope that he's better at it than the CIA, an organization that has carried out such duties for decades with impressive effectiveness. He wasn't lying when he said things were going to change.
In the midst of dabbling in terrorist interrogation, Obama has appointed over thirty "czars" to advise him on certain issues. Again, these people were chosen by the President and have no Constitutional basis for their job titles. They are unelected and there is no Congressional check on anything they do. Among these "czars" there is a man who is a self-proclaimed "communist revolutionary" who advises Obama about green jobs. What does a Communist know about green jobs? Please email me when you find out. And there is also a man who has openly advocated for population control, saying that the Constitution does not guarantee nor specify the number of children a citizen can have. Yikes! These are the people the President chooses to advise him on matters?
Among the Communists and baby killers, you would think that Obama would have someone with good math skills advising him. Apparently that's not the case. This week the White House announced that - oops - they underestimated the deficit by nearly 30%. Just 4 months ago Obama and his staff projected a $7 trillion deficit. This week, they revised that to $9 trillion. That's not exactly a careless error in arithmetic. Imagine a CFO in the private world going before the board of directors or the stock holders and saying that his numbers from 4 months ago were off by nearly 30%. That guy would be out on his can. Not so in DC.
And this is the same guy who tells us he can give us all health care by driving down costs, allow us to keep our current health insurance if we so chose, keep it all budget neutral, and not raise anyone's taxes.
Saturday, August 08, 2009
Pulled this off of Drudge this morning. In 2004, Senator-elect Obama was giving an interview with of Air America fame, and in the interview he was complaining about President Bush pushing legislation through Congress without giving ample time for Congress to read the bills.
: ...When you rush these budgets that are a foot high and nobody has any idea what's in them and nobody has read them.
RANDI RHODES: 14 pounds it was!
BARACK OBAMA: Yeah. And it gets rushed through without any clear deliberation or debate then these kinds of things happen. And I think that this is in some ways what happened to the Patriot Act. I mean you remember that there was no real debate about that. It was so quick after 9/11 that it was introduced that people felt very intimidated by the administration.
Just more evidence to support what I’ve known ever since Obama emerged as a national politician…he is a phony. There is no such thing as “change you can believe in” because there is no change. He is just another politician, doing what politicians do.
Post-racial? No way. Whether its injecting race into the campaign with comments like “he doesn’t look like those other presidents” or “did I mention he was black”; or prejudging a highly-respected police officer as behaving “stupidly” and with racial motives, Barack Obama has proven that he is anything but post-racial.
Post-Partisan? Bull. He continues to blame his problems on the prior administration every time there is a camera pointed his way. He blames Republicans for obstructionism despite his party owning a Congressional super majority. He says the has no alternative ideas, which is an interesting accusation considering his unwillingness to listen to any alternative ideas.
Six months into it, and thus far Obama has been a disappointment. He mandated the closure of Gitmo prison without any plan of execution thus far – aside from releasing a few prisoners on a Bahamian island paradise.
He crammed a $780 billion “stimulus” package through Congress without allowing Congress ample time to actually read the bill, and so far no stimulus has occurred. Probably because the money is going to things like turtle crossings and toilet repair.
He crammed cap and trade through the House with the help of Pelosi and political bribery.
And now healthcare. Geez.
And if you’re not yet disgusted by the behavior of our political leaders, here is a link to about the necessity of reading a bill before voting on it:
“What good is reading the bill if it’s a thousand pages and you don’t have two days and two lawyers to find out what it means after you read the bill?”
Despite his sentiments, Conyers still voted in favor of the
I realize that by posting opinions like this I run the risk of being targeted by the White House and ending up on their "flag" list. So what. Feel free to report me to the brown shirts.
Friday, July 17, 2009
The US House recently put together a bill for universal health care in order to cover the 45 million or so people who don’t have health insurance. The CBO estimates a $1.5 trillion price tag, and the House has decided to pay for it in part by taxing the “wealthiest” Americans, which is basically any couple making over $280,000 a year. This new tax will be in addition to the higher taxes that Obama has promised for the “wealthy” to pay for his spending, and in addition to the tax hikes that will be passed in the next few years once Congress realizes the need to control federal deficit spending. I’m nowhere near that limit, but if I work hard and keep a full schedule I just may eclipse that mark and become one of the “wealthy”, although I hardly feel that way.
So this is what our government plans to do. They want to take money from me in order to give healthcare to someone who doesn’t have it. Basically, I will be paying for someone to have healthcare.
I you believe like I do, that all men are created equal, then you should have a serious problem with the above notion. Because those who support this plan tend to believe that healthcare is a right, not a responsibility. Therefore, since it is a right, every human being must be granted healthcare. But in order to do that, the money must be taken from me and given to another. In other words, I owe my fellow Americans healthcare simply because I make (or could possibly make) a certain amount of money. In other words, I am indebted to them.
This creates a problematic situation. If I am indebted to another person to the point of owing them healthcare, then what exactly have I done to incur that debt? And what has this person done to become my creditor? What is it about the two of us that makes us different to the point that I owe this person a portion of my earnings so that he/she can have healthcare or any other entitlement? I think it would be interesting to know how the supporters of this bill would answer such a simple question.
You can’t say that the debt was incurred by the mere existence of the non-healthcare person. Just being born does not entitle one person to healthcare, or retirement savings, or food stamps, or free education. Those things cost money and that money has to be paid by someone else. If you believe that all men are created equal then you will have a tough time reconciling that belief with the notion the merely existing entitles you to these things paid for by the fruits of someone else’s labor. My mere existence does not incur a debt to another person. In order to incur debt there must be an exchange of some sort of commodity or service. And that person’s mere existence does not entitle them to these things that I mentioned because they have done nothing to earn them. If you disagree, then you will have difficulty defending your beliefs in light of the truth that all men are created equal.
To claim that healthcare is a right amounts to a gross misrepresentation of what a right really is. A right is something that all human beings have regardless of race, color, ethnicity, religion, etc. We are born with rights. We are endowed by our Creator with them. They can’t be taken away or altered. They come with being human. Freedom of speech is a right. Voting is a right. Freedom of religion, peaceful assembly, to keep and bear arms. These things are rights. To place healthcare on that level is to say that all humans have a right to the labor of a healthcare professional, they have a right to my trade, my time; which creates a major discrepancy because if the government says that one person has a right to my labor, paid for by my money, then that in itself infringes upon my rights as a human being. I have done nothing to incur such a debt, yet I am being told that I owe this person healthcare.
The simple fact is that one person’s rights extend only so far, in that the rights of one man cannot infringe upon the rights of another. Healthcare is my trade. My commodity is time. That is how I make a living. To say that one person is born entitled to my trade, my time, is to say that his rights supersede my rights, that our mutual existence creates a debt between me and him even though nothing has been done to incur such a debt, which violates the notion that all men are created equal.
Which brings up a second question: If I pay for someone else’s healthcare and have done nothing to incur such a debt, then isn’t that person in some way indebted to me? And if I’m paying for healthcare, shouldn’t I have the right to demand responsible, healthy behavior from those who benefit from my tax money?
So if someone smokes, abuses drugs, is morbidly obese, eats too much salt or fast food, refuses to comply with doctor’s orders, engages in risky sexual activity, or participates in dangerous extracurricular activity, shouldn’t the government revoke their healthcare privileges in order to protect the taxpayer’s money? I think it would be a reasonable thing to do, which unfortunately brings the healthcare debate into a whole new realm regarding individual liberty and freedom of choice.
The point is that all of us are created equal. We may be born into different circumstances, but we all have freedom and opportunity. Taking full advantage of that opportunity and succeeding in life does not incur a debt to those who haven’t, because they were born with the same opportunities. And there is great danger in a system where one group of people provides for another group of people because that establishes power of one group over another, something the Founders never intended. This is why I oppose entitlements. It’s not because I lack compassion, it’s because I cherish liberty. If you depend on the government for food, education, daycare, retirement, healthcare, medication, or anything else…then you are NOT free! Your vote has been bought, and your liberty has been surrendered for the comfort that these entitlements bring. They have been provided for you so the providers can further ensure their reelection to office, and further ensure their power over you. That is not what America is about.
Thursday, July 09, 2009
Gov’t insurance wouldn’t have a competitive advantage over the private industry. “it wouldn't be that difficult to design a public option that abides by the same rules as private insurers and has no competitive advantage”. The argument is that a gov’t system would eventually squeeze out the private sector and before long we would all find ourselves insured by the government, thus putting our health in the hands of bureaucrats. What would start out as a “government option” would eventually become the only option. Findlay says this is a bogus argument, that no such scenario would happen and anyone who beats that drum is just fear-mongering. Bull.
How Findlay can say that a gov’t program would have no competitive advantage over the private sector is beyond me. A “public option” would have a huge competitive advantage in federal subsidies. The bottomless pockets of the US taxpayer would ensure that a public option could undercut the market and eventually drive away any competitors. Private companies don’t have access to this type of subsidy. So this fear is very real. A public option could most definitely become the only option, just as it is in Canada and England.
Quality and access won’t suffer. “Cookbook and rationed care? This fear stems from concerns that the government aims to dictate what doctors do and cut costs by limiting access to care. These notions are wrong. Rather, what Obama and both Democratic and Republican leaders want to do is aggressively measure the quality of care that doctors and hospitals deliver and change the way those providers get paid so quality of care — rather than quantity — is rewarded.” It’s simple math. Today’s doctors manage a group of patients while walking a fine line between quantity and quality. However, we get paid by volume, the more patients we see the more payment we get. That allows for good access since most doctors can comfortably see 3-4 patients an hour and still deliver quality care. But what if this were changed so that ONLY quality was rewarded? Well, suddenly doctors wouldn’t be as concerned about volume. Spending 30-45 minutes with a patient would lead to better payments, meanwhile access vanishes. A doctor that usually sees 3-4 patients an hour is now seeing one or two. In other words, appointments will be hard to come by. Quality and Quantity in medicine are inversely related. That is a hardened fact. Increase one at the other’s expense. Today, we walk that line rather well, but changing the rules puts access at risk. And when you consider that 45 million people will suddenly flood the primary care system in a public option and it’s easy to see just how difficult it will be to get in and see your doctor.
“The medical industry must be challenged to cuts costs;” Findlay says that medicine is too expensive and much of this comes from unnecessary tests and procedures. He wants a leaner, more efficient medical community, with doctors who only order tests that are necessary. I agree with this, but changing the current system of compensation isn’t the way to go about it. Findlay and those like him seem to think that we order unnecessary tests because it is financially beneficial to do so. That’s untrue. If I order a CT scan, I don’t see a dime of that money. However, ordering such a scan, even though the likelihood of finding an abnormality is slim, could potentially protect me from a lawsuit a few years down the road. This is called defensive medicine. I know that this patient doesn’t need a CT scan. But I also know that in a courtroom, a hired physician can armchair-quarterback in front of a jury and claim that I should have ordered that scan and potentially saved the patient some pain and suffering. It’s very, very easy to armchair-quarterback in medicine. So I order the scan, and this ultimately costs the system, which is wrong.
In order to stop things like this, then it’s the legal system that should be reformed. When doctors stop fearing the lawsuit, then they are more apt to avoid the unnecessary tests. Findlay makes absolutely no reference to the legal community in his article.
An earlier post of mine referred to some key points about improving health care in America. 2 of those things involve reforming the payers, so that we don’t have to hire people to fight with insurance and medicare in order to get our payments, and we don’t have to deal with declining reimbursement for our services. I also mentioned tort reform and more focus on preventive medicine. If these things aren’t addressed, then the system will not improve. Findlay didn’t hit a single one of these points. He simply has no idea, and neither does Washington.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
The other day I happened to catch Michael Moore’s “Sicko” on cable. Luckily, I didn’t spend any money on this nonsense. This film is one of the most dishonest, deeply deceiving propaganda flicks ever produced and since Obama is pledging to reconstruct our healthcare system I figure it’s time for this post.
I think the number of uninsured is somewhere around 47 million. The problem with that number is in the details, which also brings up the problem of covering them all. Statistics show that about 25% of the uninsured are illegal immigrants. Another 25% are people who already qualify for some form of government insurance but have not taken the time or the effort to apply for it. And yet another 25% are people who make over $50K a year. So, that really puts things into perspective. Do we really have a problem with lack of health insurance coverage?
I guess it depends on your ideology. Should the US taxpayer be responsible for paying for the medical care of illegal immigrants? I say no, even though we already pay for it when free care is given at your local ER. Regardless, advertising it would be a bad idea. There is no better reason to break the law and come to America illegally than to get free medical care.
And what about those who make over $50K. I think if you paid a visit to their homes you would find things that don’t fit the description of “necessity”. How many flat screen TVs would you find? How many satellite dishes, or cable boxes? How many riding lawnmowers? How many SUVs? The point is, we tend to view healthcare as a right that should be provided by the government and not a responsibility for us to provide for ourselves. We purchase luxury items without thinking twice, but cringe at the idea of paying $500 a month for health insurance. Call me insensitive or whatever, but the bottom line is that most people who make over $50K can afford health insurance but simply choose not to. It’s that simple.
And what of those who already qualify for gov’t aid? This brings the real motives of the pro-universal coverage folks into light. You see, if they were truly concerned about getting people healthcare then they would focus more effort on educating and enrolling these people who can already get healthcare from the government. It would be less difficult and certainly less expensive since the money has already been allocated. But that’s not the case. The universal coverage folks don’t really care about insuring the uninsured as much as they care about controlling as many people as they can. If you depend on the gov’t for healthcare, then you have sold those who provide it your vote. Dependence begets servitude.
Obama wants to change to a pay-for-performance model for doctors. In short, we get paid for quality of care rather than quantity, which tells me Obama knows absolutely nothing about healthcare. Outcomes depend on patient compliance. If I see a diabetic, I can follow the standard of care and maximize that person’s treatment but it will be completely fruitless if that person doesn’t do what I say, and under Obama’s plan I will be paid less because of it. This will create a system where patients who are non-compliant won’t be able to find any doctors willing to see them, and then we’re back to square one. Bad idea, Mr President. Perhaps you should actually consult with some doctors before you advance your plans to fix the healthcare system.
And let me address one statistic that Moore and the rest of the universal-coverage loons love to parrot. The US spends 17% of GDP on healthcare and ranks 50th in the world in life-expectancy. They love this statistic. For some reason they believe that the amount of money spent is directly related to life expectancy, and any discrepancy in these numbers suggests a deficiency in healthcare quality. In their eyes, the more money we spend should translate into a longer life expectancy, and that’s the rationale behind the need for universal coverage. This is preposterous.
It wouldn’t matter if we spent 100% of our GDP on healthcare, we’d still have a poor life expectancy. Why? Well (for lack of better terms) Americans, in general, have a tendency to be fat, lazy, tobacco-addicted, drunken whores. We overindulge in things that are bad for us. Our diets are terrible, we don’t exercise, we play too many video games, spend too much time on facebook, drink too much alcohol, smoke too many cigarettes and have too much sex with lots of different people. This leads to disease, which ultimately leads to death. Giving us all universal coverage will do little to change that. That’s why some third world countries who spend less on healthcare have higher life expectancies, because they aren’t filled with fat, lazy, tobacco-addicted, drunken whores. We have a poor life expectancy because we have trouble controlling our vices. Simple as that.
A more pertinent statistic would be obesity rates, which tend to be inversely related to life expectancy and directly related to healthcare expenditure. The higher the obesity rate, the lower the life expectancy and (because of disease caused by obesity) the more money is spent on healthcare. But don’t count on the universal coverage loons to parrot that one…especially not Michael Moore.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Sept 18, 2008 – Illinois Senator Dick Durbin was present in a closed meeting between Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and key Congressional leaders. In this meeting, Paulson and Bernanke asked Congressional leaders to devise legislation aimed at helping troubled banks
Sept 19, 2008 – Durbin dumps his stocks and mutual funds into the open market at a total of $115,000. He then used a portion of that money to invest in Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway. Within a few weeks, his total investment into Buffet’s company was nearly $100,000.
I seem to remember Martha Stewart going to jail for something similar.
Iran supposedly re-elected Ahmedinejad as predicted and, surprise, there are serious questions regarding the election process. As a result, many Iranians are now engaged in protests against the regime. Those protestors were recently engaged by the Revolutionary Guard and seven people were killed. As of this post, President Obama has yet to issue a statement supporting a peaceful democratic process, has yet to say anything in support of those who are protesting for a fair and transparent election process.
This is unfortunate. Obama says he doesn’t want the US to appear as though we are “meddling” in the affairs of other countries. How ridiculous? The US has always stood for liberty and democracy, even and especially when such a stance – in the eyes of some - amounted to “meddling”. Iran is a nation under tyranny. We have an obligation as human beings to speak out against it. Supporting those who demand fair and transparent democracy is not meddling, it’s simply the right thing to do. If other countries don’t like it, then those countries aren’t on the side of liberty. Nobody’s asking Obama to send in troops, but a statement supporting the protestors would be nice. He is the leader of the free world and is therefore obligated to support those who support liberty. The message he sends is that you’re on your own if you want liberty in Iran.
When Chinese students took a stand for democracy in 1989, George Bush was quick to voice his support. He even called for sanctions when the Chinese military steamrolled the protestors. Obama is wrong…terribly wrong.
Friday, June 12, 2009
When the people in Iran vote they don’t have a ballot like we would think. There are no circles to fill in, or holes to punch, or fancy electronic machines that help through the entire process. No, the people in Iran have to go into the polling station and write down the name of the candidate, fill-in-the-blank style, whom they want to vote for. The problem is that 20% of Iran’s citizenry is illiterate. So the government provides election volunteers to “help” these people cast their vote. They ask the voter who they want to vote for and then write that person’s name down on the paper – or so it seems.
And somehow we’re supposed to believe that this will be a fair election, and that when Ahmedinejad wins he will have been legitimately elected?
And since I’m writing about government corruption, I think it’s appropriate to include this link regarding the federal government’s recent action to freeze winnings from online poker sites. The fed has ordered banks to stop paying winnings to private citizens, and since these banks are effectively owned by the government they must comply with the order. This is not company money, it does not belong to the individual website, it belongs to individual people – and it was obtained legally. I thought the Constitution forbade the seizure of private property without due process, but then again when has the Constitution ever stopped the government from fulfilling its own agenda? Once again, liberty has suffered a little bit more. Perhaps the next step will be voting with fill-in-the-blank ballots.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Friday, May 22, 2009
"We uphold our fundamental principles and values not just because we choose to, but because we swear to -- not because they feel good, but because they help keep us safe...When America strays from our values, it not only undermines the rule of law, it alienates us from our allies, it energizes our adversaries and it endangers our national security and the lives of our troops."
This argument is wearing thin. First, we have not “strayed” from our values in any way. No law was broken during Bush’s anti-terror campaign, there was nothing unconstitutional about it. Further, our enemies don’t hate us because of a supposed “stray” from our values. If that were true, then how do we explain the multiple attacks on the US prior to the Bush administration. If Obama were correct, then closing Gitmo would suddenly remove the motivation of the terrorists to attack and kill Americans, even though such motivation was quite apparent before the prison at Gitmo was opened, before Bush became president, before Abu Ghraib, before the international wire taps.
Dick Cheney said it best: “It is much closer to the truth that terrorists hate this country precisely because of the values we profess and seek to live by, not by some alleged failure to do so…But no moral value held dear by the American people obliges public servants ever to sacrifice innocent lives to spare a captured terrorist from unpleasant things...
"And when an entire population is targeted by a terror network, nothing is more consistent with American values than to stop them…As a practical matter, too, terrorists may lack much, but they have never lacked for grievances against the United States…
"List all the things that make us a force for good in the world – for liberty, for human rights, for the rational, peaceful resolution of differences – and what you end up with is a list of the reasons why the terrorists hate America. If fine speech-making appeals to reason, or pleas for compassion had the power to move them, the terrorists would long ago have abandoned the field. And when they see the American government caught up in arguments about interrogations, or whether foreign terrorists have constitutional rights, they don’t stand back in awe of our legal system and wonder whether they had misjudged us all along. Instead the terrorists see just what they were hoping for – our unity gone, our resolve shaken,our leaders distracted. In short, they see weakness and opportunity.”
Timmy Turbo Tax echoed Obama’s promise to cut the federal deficit over the next four years. As of this year’s budget, deficit spending is a staggering 12.9% of GDP, an unprecedented level. Geithner says that the goal would be to reduce deficit spending to about 3% of GDP. But I wonder if he has cleared that with his boss?
Because 2-3% of GDP was the level of deficit spending under George W. Bush, and Obama seems to have a big problem with it. Type in “Obama blames Bush” on a google search and you will get 4.56 million hits. Yesterday, in one speech alone, Obama referred negatively to Bush a total of 28 times despite his own call to end partisan bickering. But the blame has been most vocal regarding the Bush deficit spending, which he blames for his own budget that quadruples Bush’s level. Yet, Obama’s own treasury secretary just admitted that Bush’s level of deficit spending is the target for the current administration some four years from now. So what gives? Is it possible that Obama is endorsing Bush’s level of deficit spending, and that all his rhetoric is just politics as usual?
And since we’re on the topic of Obama and his talent for saying one thing and doing another, this column from Charles Krauthammer takes it one step further. Bush’s economic policies aren’t the only thing being endorsed by Obama. The Bush foreign policy – or at least all the good parts – are also being adopted by the new administration. But Obama would never admit that. No, instead he stands in front of his teleprompter and tongue-lashes Bush, having us all believe that he has completely changed course from the “mess” of the previous administration; and then when we’re not looking he takes the Bush policy, gives it a new paint job, and pawns it off as his own. Or as Krauthammer puts it: “the usual Obama three-step: (a) excoriate the Bush policy, (b) ostentatiously unveil cosmetic changes, (c) adopt the Bush policy”
I can’t explain it other than to say that the Dems think most Americans simply don’t know better. And they may be right. If Bush does it, then it’s a bad policy; but if Obama does it, then we’re on the right track. At least that’s what the mainstream media tells us, and since many people believe what the MSM says those same people are likely to fall for the shell game, continue to hand over their money thinking that next time they’ll be able to pick the shell containing the little rubber ball. The question is: How long will Americans be conned by the smoke and mirrors?
Personally, I think it’s great that Obama is adopting the Bush strategy, but it is still incredibly dishonest of him to blast Bush for the same strategies that he has adopted simply because it is politically advantageous to do so. This further proves that our new President is nothing more than another two-bit politician who is really good at reading a well-prepared speech from a teleprompter but has no genuine ideas of his own and has yet to discover within himself the character that is required to lead a nation.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Thank you all very much, and Arthur, thank you for that introduction.It’s good to be back at AEI, where we have many friends. Lynne is one of your longtime scholars, and I’m looking forward to spending more time here myself as a returning trustee. What happened was,they were looking for a new member of the board of trustees, and they asked me to head up the search committee.
I first came to AEI after serving at the Pentagon, and departed onlyafter a very interesting job offer came along. I had no expectation of returning to public life, but my career worked out a little differently.Those eight years as vice president were quite a journey, and during a time of big events and great decisions, I don’t think I missed much.
Being the first vice president who had also served as secretary of defense, naturally my duties tended toward national security. I focused on those challenges day to day, mostly free from the usual political distractions. I had the advantage of being a vice president content with the responsibilities I had, and going about my work with no higher ambition. Today, I’m an even freer man. Your kind invitation brings me here as a private citizen – a career in politics behind me, no elections to win or lose, and no favor to seek.
The responsibilities we carried belong to others now. And though I’m not here to speak for George W. Bush, I am certain that no one wishes the current administration more success in defending the country than we do. We understand the complexities of national security decisions. We understand the pressures that confront a president and his advisers. Above all, we know what is at stake. And though administrations and policies have changed, the stakes forAmerica have not changed.
Right now there is considerable debate in this city about the measures our administration took to defend the American people.Today I want to set forth the strategic thinking behind our policies. I do so as one who was there every day of the Bush Administration –who supported the policies when they were made, and without hesitation would do so again in the same circumstances.
When President Obama makes wise decisions, as I believe he has done in some respects on Afghanistan, and in reversing his plan to release incendiary photos, he deserves our support. And when he faults or mischaracterizes the national security decisions we made in the Bush years, he deserves an answer. The point is not to look backward. Now and for years to come, a lot rides on our President’s understanding of the security policies that preceded him. And whatever choices he makes concerning the defense of this country,those choices should not be based on slogans and campaign rhetoric, but on a truthful telling of history.
Our administration always faced its share of criticism, and from some quarters it was always intense. That was especially so in the later years of our term, when the dangers were as serious as ever, but the sense of general alarm after September 11th, 2001 was a fading memory. Part of our responsibility, as we saw it, was not to forget the terrible harm that had been done to America … and not to let 9/11 become the prelude to something much bigger and far worse.
That attack itself was, of course, the most devastating strike in a series of terrorist plots carried out against Americans at home and abroad. In 1993, terrorists bombed the World Trade Center, hopingto bring down the towers with a blast from below. The attacks continued in 1995, with the bombing of U.S. facilities in Riyadh, SaudiArabia; the killing of servicemen at Khobar Towers in 1996; the attack on our embassies in East Africa in 1998; the murder of American sailors on the USS Cole in 2000; and then the hijackings of 9/11, and all the grief and loss we suffered on that day.
Nine-eleven caused everyone to take a serious second look at threats that had been gathering for a while, and enemies whose plans were getting bolder and more sophisticated. Throughout the 90s,America had responded to these attacks, if at all, on an ad hoc basis.The first attack on the World Trade Center was treated as a law enforcement problem, with everything handled after the fact – crimescene, arrests, indictments, convictions, prison sentences, caseclosed.
That’s how it seemed from a law enforcement perspective, at least –but for the terrorists the case was not closed. For them, it was another offensive strike in their ongoing war against the United States. And it turned their minds to even harder strikes with higher casualties. Nine-eleven made necessary a shift of policy, aimed at a clear strategic threat – what the Congress called “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of theUnited States.” From that moment forward, instead of merely preparing to round up the suspects and count up the victims after the next attack, we were determined to prevent attacks in the first place.
We could count on almost universal support back then, because everyone understood the environment we were in. We’d just been hit by a foreign enemy – leaving 3,000 Americans dead, more than we lost at Pearl Harbor. In Manhattan, we were staring at 16 acres of ashes. The Pentagon took a direct hit, and the Capitol or the WhiteHouse were spared only by the Americans on Flight 93, who died bravely and defiantly.
Everyone expected a follow-on attack, and our job was to stop it. We didn’t know what was coming next, but everything we did know in that autumn of 2001 looked bad. This was the world in which al-Qaeda was seeking nuclear technology, and A. Q. Khan was selling nuclear technology on the black market. We had the anthrax attack from an unknown source. We had the training camps of Afghanistan, and dictators like Saddam Hussein with known ties to Mideast terrorists.
These are just a few of the problems we had on our hands. And foremost on our minds was the prospect of the very worst coming to pass – a 9/11 with nuclear weapons. For me, one of the defining experiences was the morning of 9/11 itself. As you might recall, I was in my office in that first hour, when radar caught sight of an airliner heading toward the White House at 500 miles an hour. That was Flight 77, the one that ended up hitting the Pentagon. With the plane still inbound, Secret Service agents came into my office and said we had to leave, now. A few moments later I found myself in a fortified White House command post somewhere down below.
There in the bunker came the reports and images that so many Americans remember from that day – word of the crash in Pennsylvania, the final phone calls from hijacked planes, the final horror for those who jumped to their death to escape burning alive. In the years since, I’ve heard occasional speculation that I’m a different man after 9/11. I wouldn’t say that. But I’ll freely admit that watching a coordinated, devastating attack on our country from an underground bunker at the White House can affect how you view your responsibilities.
To make certain our nation never again faced such a day of horror, we developed a comprehensive strategy, beginning with far greater homeland security to make the United States a harder target. But since wars cannot be won on the defensive, we moved decisively against the terrorists in their hideouts and sanctuaries, and committed to using every asset to take down their networks. We decided, as well, to confront the regimes that sponsored terrorists, and to go after those who provide sanctuary, funding, and weapons to enemies of the United States. We turned special attention to regimes that had the capacity to build weapons of mass destruction, and might transfer such weapons to terrorists.
We did all of these things, and with bipartisan support put all these policies in place. It has resulted in serious blows against enemy operations … the take-down of the A.Q. Khan network … and the dismantling of Libya’s nuclear program. It’s required the commitment of many thousands of troops in two theaters of war, with high points and some low points in both Iraq and Afghanistan – and at every turn,the people of our military carried the heaviest burden. Well over seven years into the effort, one thing we know is that the enemy has spent most of this time on the defensive – and every attempt to strike inside the United States has failed.
So we’re left to draw one of two conclusions – and here is the great dividing line in our current debate over national security. You can look at the facts and conclude that the comprehensive strategy has worked, and therefore needs to be continued as vigilantly as ever. Or you can look at the same set of facts and conclude that 9/11 was a one-off event – coordinated, devastating, but also unique and not sufficient to justify a sustained wartime effort. Whichever conclusion you arrive at, it will shape your entire view of the last seven years, and of the policies necessary to protect America for years to come.
The key to any strategy is accurate intelligence, and skilled professionals to get that information in time to use it. In seeking to guard this nation against the threat of catastrophic violence, our Administration gave intelligence officers the tools and lawful authority they needed to gain vital information. We didn’t invent that authority. It is drawn from Article Two of the Constitution. And it was given specificity by the Congress after 9/11, in a Joint Resolution authorizing “all necessary and appropriate force” to protect the American people.
Our government prevented attacks and saved lives through theTerrorist Surveillance Program, which let us intercept calls and track contacts between al-Qaeda operatives and persons inside the UnitedStates. The program was top secret, and for good reason, until the editors of the New York Times got it and put it on the front page. After9/11, the Times had spent months publishing the pictures and the stories of everyone killed by al-Qaeda on 9/11. Now here was that same newspaper publishing secrets in a way that could only help al-Qaeda. It impressed the Pulitzer committee, but it damn sure didn’t serve the interests of our country, or the safety of our people.
In the years after 9/11, our government also understood that the safety of the country required collecting information known only to the worst of the terrorists. And in a few cases, that information could be gained only through tough interrogations. In top secret meetings about enhanced interrogations, I made my
own beliefs clear. I was and remain a strong proponent of our enhanced interrogation program. The interrogations were used on hardened terrorists after other efforts failed. They were legal,essential, justified, successful, and the right thing to do. The intelligence officers who questioned the terrorists can be proud of their work and proud of the results, because they prevented the violent death of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of innocent people.
Our successors in office have their own views on all of these matters.By presidential decision, last month we saw the selective release of documents relating to enhanced interrogations. This is held up as a bold exercise in open government, honoring the public’s right to know. We’re informed, as well, that there was much agonizing over this decision.
Yet somehow, when the soul-searching was done and the veil was lifted on the policies of the Bush administration, the public was given less than half the truth. The released memos were carefully redacted to leave out references to what our government learned through the methods in question. Other memos, laying out specific terrorist plots that were averted, apparently were not even considered for release.For reasons the administration has yet to explain, they believe the public has a right to know the method of the questions, but not the content of the answers.
Over on the left wing of the president’s party, there appears to be little curiosity in finding out what was learned from the terrorists. The kind of answers they’re after would be heard before a so-called “TruthCommission.” Some are even demanding that those who recommended and approved the interrogations be prosecuted, in effect treating political disagreements as a punishable offense, and political opponents as criminals. It’s hard to imagine a worse precedent, filled with more possibilities for trouble and abuse, than to have an incoming administration criminalize the policy decisions of its predecessors.
Apart from doing a serious injustice to intelligence operators and lawyers who deserve far better for their devoted service, the danger here is a loss of focus on national security, and what it requires. I would advise the administration to think very carefully about the course ahead. All the zeal that has been directed at interrogations is utterly misplaced. And staying on that path will only lead our government further away from its duty to protect the American people.
One person who by all accounts objected to the release of the interrogation memos was the Director of Central Intelligence, LeonPanetta. He was joined in that view by at least four of his predecessors. I assume they felt this way because they understand the importance of protecting intelligence sources, methods, and personnel. But now that this once top-secret information is out for all to see – including the enemy – let me draw your attention to some points that are routinely overlooked.
It is a fact that only detainees of the highest intelligence value were ever subjected to enhanced interrogation. You’ve heard endlessly about waterboarding. It happened to three terrorists. One of them was Khalid Sheikh Muhammed – the mastermind of 9/11, who has also boasted about beheading Daniel Pearl.
We had a lot of blind spots after the attacks on our country. We didn’tknow about al-Qaeda’s plans, but Khalid Sheikh Muhammed and a few others did know. And with many thousands of innocent lives potentially in the balance, we didn’t think it made sense to let the terrorists answer questions in their own good time, if they answered them at all.
Maybe you’ve heard that when we captured KSM, he said he would talk as soon as he got to New York City and saw his lawyer. But like many critics of interrogations, he clearly misunderstood the business at hand. American personnel were not there to commence an elaborate legal proceeding, but to extract information from him before al-Qaeda could strike again and kill more of our people.
In public discussion of these matters, there has been a strange and sometimes willful attempt to conflate what happened at Abu Ghraib prison with the top secret program of enhanced interrogations. At Abu Ghraib, a few sadistic prison guards abused inmates in violation of American law, military regulations, and simple decency. For the harm they did, to Iraqi prisoners and to America’s cause, they deserved and received Army justice. And it takes a deeply unfair cast of mind to equate the disgraces of Abu Ghraib with the lawful, skillful,and entirely honorable work of CIA personnel trained to deal with a few malevolent men.
Even before the interrogation program began, and throughout its operation, it was closely reviewed to ensure that every method used was in full compliance with the Constitution, statutes, and treaty obligations. On numerous occasions, leading members of Congress,including the current speaker of the House, were briefed on the program and on the methods.
Yet for all these exacting efforts to do a hard and necessary job and to do it right, we hear from some quarters nothing but feigned outrage based on a false narrative. In my long experience in Washington, few matters have inspired so much contrived indignation and phony moralizing as the interrogation methods applied to a few captured terrorists.
I might add that people who consistently distort the truth in this way are in no position to lecture anyone about “values.” Intelligence officers of the United States were not trying to rough up some terrorists simply to avenge the dead of 9/11. We know the difference in this country between justice and vengeance. Intelligence officers were not trying to get terrorists to confess to past killings; they were trying to prevent future killings. From the beginning of the program,there was only one focused and all-important purpose. We sought,and we in fact obtained, specific information on terrorist plans.
Those are the basic facts on enhanced interrogations. And to call this a program of torture is to libel the dedicated professionals who have saved American lives, and to cast terrorists and murderers as innocent victims. What’s more, to completely rule out enhanced interrogation methods in the future is unwise in the extreme. It is recklessness cloaked in righteousness, and would make the American people less safe.
The administration seems to pride itself on searching for some kind of middle ground in policies addressing terrorism. They may take comfort in hearing disagreement from opposite ends of the spectrum.If liberals are unhappy about some decisions, and conservatives are unhappy about other decisions, then it may seem to them that the President is on the path of sensible compromise. But in the fight against terrorism, there is no middle ground, and half-measures keep you half exposed. You cannot keep just some nuclear-armed terrorists out of the United States, you must keep every nuclear-armed terrorist out of the United States.
Triangulation is a political strategy, not a national security strategy. When just a single clue that goes unlearned … one lead that goes unpursued … can bring on catastrophe – it’s no time for splitting differences. There is never a good time to compromise when the lives and safety of the American people are in the balance.
Behind the overwrought reaction to enhanced interrogations is a broader misconception about the threats that still face our country.You can sense the problem in the emergence of euphemisms that strive to put an imaginary distance between the American people and the terrorist enemy. Apparently using the term “war” where terrorists are concerned is starting to feel a bit dated. So henceforth we’re advised by the administration to think of the fight against terrorists as,quote, “Overseas contingency operations.” In the event of another terrorist attack on America, the Homeland Security Department assures us it will be ready for this, quote, “man-made disaster” –never mind that the whole Department was created for the purpose of protecting Americans from terrorist attack.
And when you hear that there are no more, quote, “enemycombatants,” as there were back in the days of that scary war on terror, at first that sounds like progress. The only problem is that the phrase is gone, but the same assortment of killers and would-be mass murderers are still there. And finding some less judgmental or
more pleasant-sounding name for terrorists doesn’t change what they are – or what they would do if we let them loose.
On his second day in office, President Obama announced that he was closing the detention facility at Guantanamo. This step came with little deliberation and no plan. Now the President says some of these terrorists should be brought to American soil for trial in our court system. Others, he says, will be shipped to third countries. But so far, the United States has had little luck getting other countries to take hardened terrorists. So what happens then? Attorney GeneralHolder and others have admitted that the United States will be compelled to accept a number of the terrorists here, in the homeland,and it has even been suggested US taxpayer dollars will be used to support them. On this one, I find myself in complete agreement with many in the President’s own party. Unsure how to explain to their constituents why terrorists might soon be relocating into their states,these Democrats chose instead to strip funding for such a move out of the most recent war supplemental.
The administration has found that it’s easy to receive applause in Europe for closing Guantanamo. But it’s tricky to come up with an alternative that will serve the interests of justice and America’s national security. Keep in mind that these are hardened terrorists picked up overseas since 9/11. The ones that were considered low-risk were released a long time ago. And among these, we learned yesterday, many were treated too leniently, because 1 in 7 cut a straight path back to their prior line of work and have conducted murderous attacks in the Middle East. I think the President will find,upon reflection, that to bring the worst of the worst terrorists inside the United States would be cause for great danger and regret in the years to come.
In the category of euphemism, the prize winning entry would be a recent editorial in a familiar newspaper that referred to terrorists we’ve captured as, quote, “abducted.” Here we have ruthless enemies of this country, stopped in their tracks by brave operatives in the service of America, and a major editorial page makes them sound like they were kidnap victims, picked up at random on their way to the movies.
It’s one thing to adopt the euphemisms that suggest we’re no longer engaged in a war. These are just words, and in the end it’s the policies that matter most. You don’t want to call them enemy combatants? Fine. Call them what you want – just don’t bring them into the United States. Tired of calling it a war? Use any term you prefer. Just remember it is a serious step to begin unraveling some of the very policies that have kept our people safe since 9/11.
Another term out there that slipped into the discussion is the notion that American interrogation practices were a “recruitment tool” for the enemy. On this theory, by the tough questioning of killers, we have supposedly fallen short of our own values. This recruitment-tool theory has become something of a mantra lately, including from the President himself. And after a familiar fashion, it excuses the violent and blames America for the evil that others do. It’s another version of that same old refrain from the Left, “We brought it on ourselves.”
It is much closer to the truth that terrorists hate this country precisely because of the values we profess and seek to live by, not by some alleged failure to do so. Nor are terrorists or those who see them as victims exactly the best judges of America’s moral standards, one way or the other.
Critics of our policies are given to lecturing on the theme of being consistent with American values. But no moral value held dear by the American people obliges public servants ever to sacrifice innocent lives to spare a captured terrorist from unpleasant things. And when an entire population is targeted by a terror network, nothing is more consistent with American values than to stop them.
As a practical matter, too, terrorists may lack much, but they have never lacked for grievances against the United States. Our belief in freedom of speech and religion … our belief in equal rights for women… our support for Israel … our cultural and political influence in the world – these are the true sources of resentment, all mixed in with the lies and conspiracy theories of the radical clerics. These recruitment
tools were in vigorous use throughout the 1990s, and they were sufficient to motivate the 19 recruits who boarded those planes onSeptember 11th, 2001.
The United States of America was a good country before 9/11, just as we are today. List all the things that make us a force for good in the world – for liberty, for human rights, for the rational, peaceful resolution of differences – and what you end up with is a list of the reasons why the terrorists hate America. If fine speech-making appeals to reason, or pleas for compassion had the power to move them, the terrorists would long ago have abandoned the field. And when they see the American government caught up in arguments about interrogations, or whether foreign terrorists have constitutional rights, they don’t stand back in awe of our legal system and wonder whether they had misjudged us all along. Instead the terrorists see just what they were hoping for – our unity gone, our resolve shaken,our leaders distracted. In short, they see weakness and opportunity.
What is equally certain is this: The broad-based strategy set in motion by President Bush obviously had nothing to do with causing the events of 9/11. But the serious way we dealt with terrorists from then on, and all the intelligence we gathered in that time, had everything to do with preventing another 9/11 on our watch. The enhanced interrogations of high-value detainees and the terrorist surveillance program have without question made our country safer. Every senior official who has been briefed on these classified matters knows of specific attacks that were in the planning stages and were stopped by the programs we put in place.
This might explain why President Obama has reserved unto himself the right to order the use of enhanced interrogation should he deem it appropriate. What value remains to that authority is debatable, given that the enemy now knows exactly what interrogation methods to train against, and which ones not to worry about. Yet having reserved for himself the authority to order enhanced interrogation after an emergency, you would think that President Obama would be less disdainful of what his predecessor authorized after 9/11. It’s almost gone unnoticed that the president has retained the power to order the same methods in the same circumstances. When they talk about interrogations, he and his administration speak as if they have resolved some great moral dilemma in how to extract critical information from terrorists. Instead they have put the decision off,while assigning a presumption of moral superiority to any decision they make in the future.
Releasing the interrogation memos was flatly contrary to the national security interest of the United States. The harm done only begins with top secret information now in the hands of the terrorists, who have just received a lengthy insert for their training manual. Across the world, governments that have helped us capture terrorists will fear that sensitive joint operations will be compromised. And at the CIA,operatives are left to wonder if they can depend on the White House or Congress to back them up when the going gets tough. Why should any agency employee take on a difficult assignment when,even though they act lawfully and in good faith, years down the road the press and Congress will treat everything they do with suspicion,outright hostility, and second-guessing? Some members of Congress are notorious for demanding they be briefed into the most sensitive intelligence programs. They support them in private, and then head for the hills at the first sign of controversy.
As far as the interrogations are concerned, all that remains an official secret is the information we gained as a result. Some of his defenders say the unseen memos are inconclusive, which only raises the question why they won’t let the American people decide that for themselves. I saw that information as vice president, and I reviewed some of it again at the National Archives last month. I’ve formally asked that it be declassified so the American people can see the intelligence we obtained, the things we learned, and the consequences for national security. And as you may have heard, last week that request was formally rejected. It’s worth recalling that ultimate power of declassification belongs to the President himself.President Obama has used his declassification power to reveal what happened in the interrogation of terrorists. Now let him use that same power to show Americans what did not happen, thanks to the good work of our intelligence officials.
I believe this information will confirm the value of interrogations – and I am not alone. President Obama’s own Director of National Intelligence, Admiral Blair, has put it this way: “High value information came from interrogations in which those methods were used and provided a deeper understanding of the al-Qaeda organization that was attacking this country.” End quote. Admiral Blair put that conclusion in writing, only to see it mysteriously deleted in a later version released by the administration – the missing 26 words that tell an inconvenient truth. But they couldn’t change the words of GeorgeTenet, the CIA Director under Presidents Clinton and Bush, who bluntly said: “I know that this program has saved lives. I know we’ve disrupted plots. I know this program alone is worth more than theFBI, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the National SecurityAgency put together have been able to tell us.” End of quote.
If Americans do get the chance to learn what our country was spared,it’ll do more than clarify the urgency and the rightness of enhanced interrogations in the years after 9/11. It may help us to stay focused on dangers that have not gone away. Instead of idly debating which political opponents to prosecute and punish, our attention will return to where it belongs – on the continuing threat of terrorist violence,and on stopping the men who are planning it.
For all the partisan anger that still lingers, our administration will stand up well in history – not despite our actions after 9/11, but because of them. And when I think about all that was to come during our administration and afterward – the recriminations, the second-guessing, the charges of “hubris” – my mind always goes back to that moment.
To put things in perspective, suppose that on the evening of 9/11,President Bush and I had promised that for as long as we held office – which was to be another 2,689 days – there would never be another terrorist attack inside this country. Talk about hubris – it would have seemed a rash and irresponsible thing to say. People would have doubted that we even understood the enormity of what had just happened. Everyone had a very bad feeling about all of this, and felt certain that the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and Shanksville were only the beginning of the violence.
Of course, we made no such promise. Instead, we promised an all-out effort to protect this country. We said we would marshal all elements of our nation’s power to fight this war and to win it. We said we would never forget what had happened on 9/11, even if the day came when many others did forget. We spoke of a war that would“include dramatic strikes, visible on TV, and covert operations, secret even in success.” We followed through on all of this, and we stayed true to our word.
To the very end of our administration, we kept al-Qaeda terrorists busy with other problems. We focused on getting their secrets,instead of sharing ours with them. And on our watch, they never hit this country again. After the most lethal and devastating terrorist attack ever, seven and a half years without a repeat is not a record to be rebuked and scorned, much less criminalized. It is a record to be continued until the danger has passed.
Along the way there were some hard calls. No decision of national security was ever made lightly, and certainly never made in haste. As in all warfare, there have been costs – none higher than the sacrifices of those killed and wounded in our country’s service. And even the most decisive victories can never take away the sorrow of losing so many of our own – all those innocent victims of 9/11, and the heroic souls who died trying to save them.
For all that we’ve lost in this conflict, the United States has never lost its moral bearings. And when the moral reckoning turns to the men known as high-value terrorists, I can assure you they were neither innocent nor victims. As for those who asked them questions and got answers: they did the right thing, they made our country safer,and a lot of Americans are alive today because of them.
Like so many others who serve America, they are not the kind to insist on a thank-you. But I will always be grateful to each one of them, and proud to have served with them for a time in the same cause. They, and so many others, have given honorable service to our country through all the difficulties and all the dangers. I will always admire them and wish them well. And I am confident that this nation will never take their work, their dedication, or their achievements, for granted.
Thank you very much.