Sunday, May 24, 2009

Memorial Day

"Some people wonder all their lives if they've made a difference. The Marines don't have that problem." - Ronald Reagan

Friday, May 22, 2009

Perception...and reality

President Obama at the US Naval Academy graduation today:

"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.”

Obama's talk = Bush's walk

Geithner vows to cut deficit

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

One hell of a speech...

As prepared for delivery Vice President CheneyRemarks at the American Enterprise InstituteThursday, 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.

The people "upend" California

In what can only be described as another amazingly orchestrated Astroturf movement, the people of California rejected attempts to raise taxes in order to pay for inflated government, despite Colin Powell’s recent assertion that people want more government in their lives. Surely Fox News and Rush Limbaugh are behind this.

The Left is convinced – to the point of hallucination – that the results of the last two national elections prove that the American people want more government and are willing to pay higher taxes to achieve it. That’s why they sneer at tax day Tea Parties, and scoff when ballot initiatives like the ones in California go down in defeat, viewing these things as outliers inconsistent with the “real” wishes of most Americans. Jennifer Steinhauer described it this way in the New York Times: “Direct democracy has once again upended California…”

Get it? The Times apparently has no problem with out-of-control government spending. No, it's direct democracy that is the problem here. In other words, THE PEOPLE are to blame.

When a state government overspends by massive amounts and implements laws that are unfriendly to business and commerce, the resulting fiscal crisis is not their fault. It’s up to the people to subsidize the irresponsible spending, because government knows best. Believe me, Ms. Steinhauer is not alone in her opinion. The ballot initiative SHOULD act as a warning to politicians that the people are quickly getting fed up with tax-and-spend policies. But something tells me very few of them will comprehend that warning in the throws of their hallucinogenic power-trip. Just like with the Tea Parties last month, I’m sure the voices of California will go unheard, and nothing much will change. But this “Astroturf” movement isn’t going away. Even in the bluest of blue states, the movement is gaining ground.

So is Obama listening? Not really. When Governor Arnold attempted to save money by cutting wages on unionized state employees, Washington responded by threatening to withhold $6 billion in bailout money from the state. So now the Governor is suggesting that he will have to release inmates from prison and shorten the school year as part of his plan to save money. Washington hasn’t voiced any objection to this. Screw the kids and make the law-abiding public less safe, but don’t touch the unionized government workers. Naturally, all of this is the people’s fault.

California is the 6th most-taxed state in the union. Couple this with massive entitlement spending, business-unfriendly environmental policies, and high corporate taxes and what else can you expect but an impending fiscal crisis? Job-rich businesses aren’t going to stick around and pay high taxes while being forced to comply to irrational environmental laws when states like Nevada and Texas welcome them with open arms. And when businesses go, so do jobs and tax-revenue. But never mind all that. The people should have agreed to higher taxes to keep on the same path because, you know, it is working so well.

A major political storm is brewing. Astroturf Americans are getting angrier by the day, and this is BEFORE the high federal taxes and high inflation of Obama’s budget hits. My guess is the politicians will continue to ignore the voice of the people, the media will continue to sneer, and they will all be in for a shock when the hallucination ends.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Obama and Notre Dame

“Maybe we won’t agree on abortion, but we can still agree that this heart-wrenching decision for any woman is not made casually. It has both moral and spiritual dimension…So let us work together to reduce the number of women seeking abortions. Let’s reduce unintended pregnancies. Let’s make adoption more available. Let’s provide care and support for women who do carry their children to term.”

This was a portion of President Obama’s speech at Notre Dame yesterday. And, of course, I have a comment or two.

First, it’s hard for me to take any words of his on this particular subject seriously, given his prior support for partial-birth abortion. This procedure involves cutting open the skull and suctioning out the brain of a child who is capable of feeling pain and, in less than 10 seconds, would be an American citizen. There is no medical reason for doing it, theoretical or otherwise. It is done only to kill the baby because the mother decides she doesn’t want it. He votes to keep this legal, but tells us that dumping a bucket of water on the head of a terrorist is “torture”. I wonder what Obama would think if we interrogated the prisoners with a method similar to partial-birth abortion? So I write this with some obvious bias and disdain for his conflicting positions.

I disagree with the protestors who interrupted his speech. That is something the Left does. It is NOT appropriate behavior. People should be allowed to speak and attempting to shout them down is un-American. Protesting is fine, but let’s not try to suppress the free speech of another human being.

Notre Dame made a mistake. Quite simply, they shouldn’t have invited him. It looks like a sell-out in order to gain prestige, and it confirms what many of us have thought all along: That Notre Dame is just another secular university that doesn’t really stand on any strong principles. However, I am glad that once they invited him they stood by it. The office of the President should be honored, and disinviting him would have failed in that regard.

Now, to Obama’s words. He calls for dialogue and, to some extent, compromise. I agree with the words I quoted above. We should reduce unwanted pregnancies. We should help teenage mothers who give birth. We should make adoption more available. But all of those things miss the point of the argument and doesn’t really equate to compromise.

Everyone who is anti-abortion agrees with these things, so compromise in those areas isn’t necessary. It’s not like we want a bunch of illegitimate children running around. But that misses the point of whether abortion should be legal, and this is where the anti-abortion crowd will never budge in the name of finding common ground. You see, in our minds a human fetus is a human life. If it’s not a human life, then what is it? And since it is a human life – innocent of a crime and not engaged in war – then it should be against the law to kill it. Period.

Obama’s words allude to the old “safe, legal and rare” argument that pro-abortion folks love to parrot. Well, if it’s NOT a human being, then why should abortion be rare? If it’s NOT a human being, then why would killing it have both “moral and spiritual dimension”? If it’s NOT a living thing, then why would killing it be a “heart-wrenching” decision? It’s this kind of double-speak that tells me that the pro-abortion crowd most likely understands that a human fetus is a living creature, but simply doesn’t care because the mother’s convenience takes higher priority. It’s this kind of “one life is more valuable than another” thinking that threatens our moral foundations.

When we start deciding that one person should die so another isn’t burdened, then we’re walking a very dangerous line. Redefining “life” in order to justify killing that other person doesn’t solve the problem, it only complicates it, which is why people say that the abortion issue is a complicated one. No, it’s not! Saying that it’s okay to kill a fetus because a fetus isn’t human doesn’t hide the fact that we are killing one person so another isn’t burdened. Once we justify that – by redefining life or any other method – then we open the door to a lot of horrible things. Are we prepared to actually say that we are all endowed with the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but we are not endowed with them until we fully emerge from the birth canal? Therefore, an unborn baby has ZERO rights? Except in cases when the pregnancy is wanted, then the baby should have rights, which contradicts the entire meaning of the term “unalienable rights”, since the presence of those rights would be dependent on whether the pregnancy was wanted or unwanted. Well, that’s not unalienable, it’s prerequisite. Can you imagine Jefferson saying that we are endowed with “prerequisite rights”? The double-speak makes no sense!

That’s why compromise is out of the question, because if we compromise on it we essentially compromise our values. If a fetus is a human life in the second or third trimester, then it MUST also be a human life in the first trimester. Nothing changes between 13 weeks, 6 days and fourteen weeks. And if a fetus is a human life, then the method of conception doesn’t change that, and neither does the desirability of the pregnancy. So, yes, EVEN in cases of rape or incest, a human fetus is STILL a human life. The fact that such a life came about via a crime doesn’t redefine its status as a human life.

These inconsistencies are part of the reason why I changed from pro-abortion to anti-abortion. The other side of the argument just doesn’t make sense, and logic is totally absent from their claim. Either it IS a human life or it is NOT a human life. If it IS, then the law should protect it. If it is NOT, then there should be no regulations and abortion should be available on demand, without restriction, “safe, legal and rare” should not be necessary, and there should be no laws against harming an unborn child; yet those are the things that make us a bit squeamish.

So is it a human life or not? The fact that so many people are wishy-washy in answering that question tells me that they have obvious moral conflicts about it. Chances are, deep down they know what the answer is however inconvenient that may be. As a result, we get this typical fence-riding like: first-trimester only, or only in the case of rape or incest. People don’t want to declare one side or the other because to say that it IS a human life is to say that it should be illegal in any circumstance to kill it; and to say that it is NOT a human life is to say that it can be killed under any circumstances, without reason, without restriction, without repercussions. Most people won’t commit either way because one side is inconvenient and the other is grotesque. Instead, they choose the safe route. And leading their efforts is our President, who once said that such a decision is above his pay grade.

That’s not true, Mr. President. It is well within your pay grade as a human being, just as it is with all of us. It’s a simple yes or no question with a simple answer. Is a fetus a human life? The answer is simple, even though the consequences of the answer may be difficult.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Frank Melton, 1949-2009

Frank Melton, 1949-2009

I want to take a moment to acknowledge someone I admired a great deal back in my hometown. Frank Melton, the Mayor of Jackson, MS, died last Thursday, becoming the city’s first sitting mayor to die in office.

I best remember Melton as the owner of the local NBC affiliate, where he had his own editorial news segment call “The Bottom Line”. He used his own airwaves to fight some of the city’s biggest problems, namely drugs and crime. He wouldn’t hesitate to mention drug dealers by name, and was often highly critical of a corrupt city council that rarely took the necessary measures to protect the city. He also took his cause to local schools where he would give speeches about personal responsibility, pursuing your goals, and avoiding the pitfalls that often trap the city’s youth. I saw him speak at a local community college and I was very impressed. I was younger then, but I remember thinking how we needed more voices like his, how the youth needed to hear more inspirational words like his.

Melton did more than just talk the talk. He had a passion for inner-city kids who were doomed to a life of drugs and crime. Stories like this personify the kind of man he was. He literally welcomed dozens of inner-city kids into his own home, giving them an opportunity to escape the streets and have a better life. He paid for some of them to go to safer private schools. He even paid for college tuition. He helped establish safe-havens in the city, places where kids could go without having to deal with the daily onslaught of a violent, drug-ridden city. In Mississippi today, there are quite a few people who overcame much to succeed in life, and today they grieve for the man who played a major role in helping them do that.

It was this reputation that helped Melton win the mayoral election. Unfortunately, politics proved to be somewhat of a downfall, further proof that good men and good intentions don’t always make for good politics. His administration was chaotic. Government has rules, and his passion to help the youth of Jackson despite those rules got the better of him. He was in constant battles with the city council. He declared a state of emergency in the city due to the crime problem. He repeatedly expanded or introduced programs without consulting with the council. And he got into big trouble when he ordered a warrantless raid on a duplex that he claimed was a dangerous drug house. That’s when criminal charges were brought down. This week he was to go on trial for this action and it was no doubt the associated stress, along with a history of heart problems, that eventually took his life.

Frank Melton made some mistakes as we all do. Hopefully, those mistakes won’t tarnish his legacy – that of a man who truly cared, who devoted his life to helping others, who inspired people that grew up in an environment without inspiration, who gave hope to kids when the deck was clearly stacked against them. He made mistakes, but Frank Melton was a good man who did a lot of good things. The black community is in dire need of leaders like him. God knows this country needs more people like him. Rest in peace, Frank, you will be missed...and that's the bottom line!

Obama and Pelosi - bonehead moments

Barack Obama yesterday in New Mexico: “We can’t keep on just borrowing from China…We have to pay interest on that debt, and that means we are mortgaging our children’s future with more and more debt.”

Holders of U.S. debt will eventually “get tired” of buying it, causing interest rates on everything from auto loans to home mortgages to increase, Obama said. “It will have a dampening effect on our economy.” He went on to say that current deficit spending is “unsustainable” and warned of future skyrocketing interest rates.

It appears Obama is back into campaign mode, only this time he is now campaigning against himself. Of all the things that strike me about this guy, what stands out the most is his glaring lack of leadership qualities. Yes, folks, he is actually criticizing his own budget. Leaders don’t do things like that. Leaders take action. Hopefully he will grow into the job, but it seems like I’ve been saying that a lot lately.

And in the bonehead moment of the week, Nancy Pelosi has decided to declare political war on the CIA. Her story regarding the “torture” briefings has changed nearly half a dozen times and yesterday she decided to outright accuse the CIA of criminal behavior by deliberately lying to Congress. Dumb move. Very dumb.

This woman was formerly the ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, which means she had a lot of interactions with the CIA, which means the CIA has a lot of briefing memos with her name on it. Put simply, they have the goods on Pelosi and have a talent for “leaking” things like that to the press.

I’ve never been impressed with Nancy’s cerebral skills, but this is foolish even by her standards. You could almost hear the collective gasp from her advisors when she stumbled into her accusations at yesterday’s press conference. That thing got out of hand in a hurry. Obama’s own CIA director is saying that the CIA was right. And now the sharks are circling. Even though she is a ranking Democrat, the press is still the press. And when there is blood in the water a feeding frenzy will soon begin. Ms. Pelosi is about to become radioactive.

Just watch and see how fast the Dems throw her under the bus. I give it a month before she is booted from the Speaker position. Rest assured, Steny Hoyer is building his coalition as we speak. Politics will always be politics, and in this case I have to give a tip of the hat to karma.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

GE a Corporate Sponsor

As published in the Washington Times, written by Andrew Wilkow and Nick Rizzuto:

For all of the carping liberals did for eight years about corporate cronyism in George W. Bush's White House, they seem to turn a blind eye to the same behavior in President Obama's. With plans in place for a major overhaul in the health-care industry, General Electric is positioning itself to become a major beneficiary of these health care reforms.

Recently at the Business and Social Responsibility Conference, General Electric Chief Executive Officer Jeff Immelt referred to America's current economic crisis as part of a "reset" rather than part of an economic cycle, saying, "People who understand that will prosper in the future, and people who don't understand that will get left behind."

In the same address, Mr. Immelt, who is also a member of Mr. Obama's economic recovery advisory board, added, "The intersection of government and business will be changed, maybe for a generation." In other words, companies should be prepared to beg for a seat at the government's table if they plan on remaining lucrative.

Imagine that on the eve of the Iraq war, the CEO of Halliburton had declared that since Sept. 11, 2001, the relationship between the government and corporate interests have become one in the same.

Of course, Mr. Immelt's rhetoric about corporate responsibility was undercut last year when GE's once vaunted financial services business, GE Capital, was forced to ask the government for what amounted to a $140 billion government bailout.

Mr. Immelt's words betray GE's willingness to partner with the Obama government in order to turn a profit. To this end, GE has appointed Mr. Obama's former nominee for secretary of health and human services, Tom Daschle, to the board of advisers for Healthymagination, an initiative launched by General Electric in partnership along with Intel, which will invest $6 billion over the next six years on "health care innovation that will help deliver better care to more people at lower cost."

Mr. Daschle said, "We can only find real solutions in health care when business, government and their partners work together."

In 2008, Mr. Daschle wrote the book "Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis" in which he explains his radical solutions to the problems in American health care. In the book, Mr. Daschle calls for a British-style Federal Council on health care.

The profitability of GE's new venture will depend heavily on the nationalization of the health care industry. The standardization and streamlining of health care recordkeeping, something on which Mr. Obama ran in 2008, would require a massive government contract for the technology to achieve such standardization.

Mr. Obama has introduced a plan to computerize all health records within five years. Independent studies from Harvard, Rand Corp. and the Commonwealth Fund have estimated that such a plan could cost at least $75 billion to $100 billion over the next 10 years. Healthymagination is readying just such a technology, claiming that they will seek to "increase the use and capability of electronic medical record (EMR) technology and other information technology." With Mr. Obama's ally Mr. Daschle on board, Healthymagination is sure to have more than a leg up on its competition when it comes time to dole out these massive contracts.
Under the cloak of corporate responsibility, General Electric seeks to benefit to the tune of billions from the passage of Mr. Obama's health care reform. On its corporate Web site, Healthymagination admits it will use every tool at its disposal to achieve its goals, including NBC Universal, the parent company of MSNBC which offers nearly uncritical coverage of Mr. Obama and his policies.

In effect, NBC Universal would become the propaganda arm of the administrations drive for the nationalization of health care, pushing its passage in its print and television properties.
Healthymagination states its target dates for the completion of its various initiatives as 2015, well into a second Obama term. This means GE will have a deep financial interest in Mr. Obama's re-election; a fact that will no doubt be reflected in its media divisions. It will certainly be interesting to see if the left-wing watchdogs howl, or if they will conclude this is an acceptable level of collusion between the White House and a multinational conglomerate.

• Andrew Wilkow is the host of Sirius/XM Satellite radio's Wilkow Majority program. Nick Rizzuto is his producer.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Obama's 2009 Budget

Yesterday the federal gov’t released their latest set of numbers on this year’s budget. The budget deficit for 2009 now approaches $1.85 Trillion dollars. That’s many billions more than previously predicted because the gov’t thought the economy would be improving more than it actually is. So they had to adjust their numbers.

The deficit is $1.85 trillion. Obama and Congress has officially quadrupled 2008’s budget deficit. QUADRUPLED! The very people – especially Obama – who criticized Bush for fiscal irresponsibility, who blamed him for “record deficits”, have just quadrupled the deficit that he accumulated. $1.85 trillion.

Now for some perspective. Bush’s deficit in 2008 was just under 3% of GDP. Yes, the actual dollar amount was big. Yes his deficit was the highest in history, but it was still just under 3% of GDP. Economists will tell you that some deficit spending is okay and can actually be helpful for the economy, as long as the deficit is kept relatively low compared to GDP. Many will say that 2-3% of GDP is acceptable. The logic behind it is that borrowing can be stimulative. We borrow money in order to spend, spending stimulates the economy, jobs are created, etc. The key here is keeping the deficit spending relatively low compared to GDP. A little is good, a lot can be very, very bad. Again, ask an economist and they will say 2-3% of GDP is an acceptable level.

Personally, I tend to be more of a budget hawk. I say deficit spending is wrong and should not be done. If Congress needs to spend more money then they should find it through budget cuts. Perhaps that would be imprudent. But Congress has not shown itself to be a responsible entity when it comes to money, so I feel they should be kept on a tighter leash. But that’s just me.

Now let’s look at the ’09 budget. Deficit spending at 2-3% of GDP is considered acceptable. Obama’s 2009 budget will eclipse 12%. TWELVE PERCENT!!!!

That means that he will spend ALL the money the federal government takes in PLUS an amount equivalent to 12% of our GDP. This is unprecedented. In fact, to many of us it is unfathomable. Many people – including myself – believe that TOTAL federal spending should not be more than 10-12% of GDP. Obama OVERSPENDS by that much. I simply can’t describe it. Irresponsible. Incomprehensible. Somehow these words just don’t do it justice.

So why do economists say that 2-3% is acceptable, and four times that would be dangerous? Well, because at 2-3% you will get some economic stimulus. At 2-3%, the borrowed money is spent, the jobs are created, and the resulting inflation is kept to a minimum with little negative impact on the overall economy. At 12% it is a much different scenario. Yes, money is spent. Yes, jobs are likely created, but the ensuing monstrous inflation that follows will quickly consume any stimulative effects of the spending. In short, the bad eventually outweighs the good and the economy eventually suffers terribly. Guess where we are headed, folks? It’s simple math. It’s basic economics. We are staring at very high inflation. The question is no longer if, but when. Will it hit while we are still in our current recession or will it hit as we are in the midst of recovering, thereby triggering ANOTHER major recession in order to recover?

In Jimmy Carter’s final year, inflation was at 14%. That number is a very real possibility in the next 2-3 years. History continues to teach us lessons, and we are determined not to listen.

Buckle your seatbelts, folks. This recession may be bad, but there are still some bumpy times ahead. And when inflation surpasses 10%, just keep that in mind the next time you’re in the voting booth.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Health care "savings"

They call it unprecedented. Private groups are pledging to cut health care costs by up to $2 trillion over 5 years, translating into a savings of $2500 for a family of 4 over that time, assuming that all the savings leaks back into the private sector.

This sounds great, except for a few things. First, I’d like to know how. That’s a lot of money and there are no specifics on how the insurance companies plan to save this kind of money. So while we wait for an answer, I’ll leave a brief list of reasons why health care is expensive today:

1) Added personnel. Doctors don’t have time to fight with insurance companies. As a general rule, it seems that all claims (or at least a large percentage of them) submitted by private physicians are immediately denied for one reason or another. This requires time to resubmit, or make phone calls, or do any number of things to get paid. Most doctors have to hire additional personnel since this can be a full-time job in itself. That means higher overhead, which means increased cost.
2) Tort Reform. Lawsuits drive up malpractice insurance cost, which drives up overhead. Additionally, the “fear” of being sued leads many doctors to practice defensive medicine, which means unnecessary tests are ordered, which means care is more expensive.
3) Declining reimbursement. Doctors are getting paid less for their time. So a basic clinic visit yields fewer dollars, while overhead costs are going up. This means more appointments must be added to cover the cost, which means less time with the doctor. Ultimately, basic problems that could be addressed if more time were available aren’t getting addressed, and those basic problems grow into bigger, more expensive problems.
4) Prevention. Screening for chronic disease may be more expensive in the short run, but the diseases that can be potentially prevented cost much more in the long run

If these things aren’t changed, then costs can’t be reduced. It’s as simple as that. Otherwise, the only way to reduce costs would be to ration care, which is not something we want.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Gay marriage

The gay community is slowing growing impatient with President Obama, who opposes gay marriage, and is now starting to apply the pressure to have their agenda addressed. So it’s time WEP re-addressed the issue.

When I discuss gay marriage in these forums I like to leave religion out of it. My personal beliefs are set aside and I’m still able to argue my points. This drives the other side nuts because the basis of their counter-argument is the whole “separation of church and state” myth. So, religion won’t apply here.

First, homosexuality is not the issue. So do I support civil rights for gay people? Absolutely. I support civil rights for all law-abiding citizens and that certainly includes those who engage in atypical sexual acts. People are free to have sex with whomever they choose, so long as their partner is an unwed consenting adult. The caveat is that I don’t want to be held financially responsible when someone who engages in such behavior contracts a disease as a result of that behavior. So I will support someone’s right to have sex with any unwed consenting adult of their choosing if they in turn support my right to NOT pay for medical care that is necessary for diseases they contract when engaging in such behavior. I think that’s fair and reasonable. For that matter, I don’t want to pay for healthcare for those who drink too much, eat too much, smoke too much, or don’t exercise enough. Their behavior has consequences and they should not expect others to shoulder the load of those consequences.

Is homosexuality a natural act? Gay advocates will say that homosexuality is genetic, that people are essentially born straight or born gay. As a man of science, I don’t see any evidence of that. Humans are the only animals that engage in recreational – rather than procreational – sex. And since homosexuality is not procreational, what else can it be but recreational? We have mapped the human genome and have yet to discover the “gay” gene. And if someone believes in Darwinian evolution as I do, then how could such a gene survive the survival-of-the-fittest test? It would certainly not be passed from generation to generation. So in order to believe that such a gene exists, you would have to also believe that every homosexual is due to the exact same spontaneous DNA mutation that occurs randomly at the same moment in each homosexual individual. You don’t have to be a geneticist to realize that the chances of that are slim…very slim. Plus, such a claim would essentially label homosexuality as a genetic disease, or maybe a birth defect if you will. This opens a whole new can of worms.

Instead, I see homosexuality as a product of one’s environment. It is atypical sexual behavior likely the result of a pathological psychiatric process related to sexual abuse in one’s past. We know that women who were sexually abused tend to be much more promiscuous, a misguided expression of sex that developed from their traumatic past. I think something similar is going on with homosexuality. Does this mean that everyone who is abused becomes gay or promiscuous? No. But it does mean that sexual abuse increases the risk of such behavior in the future because the victims view sex much differently than someone who was not abused. But that’s just a theory.

Now, on to the marriage issue. There are two schools of thought here. I believe that marriage is defined by a particular culture. Our idea of marriage is much different than in Asian cultures, or Middle Eastern cultures. There is also a wide variation among different religious groups. The point is that marriage is a product of culture and therefore is defined by the society within that culture. Which means the people decide how they want to define marriage.

Some contend that marriage is a right. I have a problem here. When I here “right” I think of voting, peaceful assembly, free speech, no illegal search and seizure and so on. Those are rights. I am apprehensive about elevating marriage (or healthcare for that matter) to such a high level because rights are things that can’t be infringed upon by others. If we were to say that marriage is a Constitutional right under the 9th Amendment, then we will be dealing with many other problems because immediately there will be claims of civil rights violations. Suppose a man wants to marry his daughter. Or wants to marry 8 different women. Or wants to marry his pet goat. If we try to make laws against this we will then be flirting with civil rights violations. And what about divorce? Suppose one spouse wants a divorce and the other wants to stay married. Will we deny the divorce in order to protect the other’s right to marriage? The point is that calling marriage a right gets very slippery. It’s a cultural tradition defined by the society within that culture. It is not a Constitutional right.

So I support civil rights for all, including homosexuals. But when it comes time to define marriage that must be done by the people, NOT the court system. I agree with President Obama’s position against same-sex marriage, but that’s not the relevant point. Obama should instead articulate that the definition of marriage should be decided by the people and not the court system. This would keep his personal feelings out of it and would possibly keep the homosexual special interests from hassling him too much.

$17 billion. Not enough.

Today, President Obama announced a budget plan to cut $17 billion in gov’t spending. Good for him. I realize that $17 billion is only one half of one percent of his entire budget, but at least he’s trying and I give him credit for it. Hopefully, this will only be a start. There is a very long way to go. At the very least it tells me that he realizes the need to cut money out of the budget.

But there are problems that must be pointed out. Many of the programs that Obama wants to cut are the same programs that Bush tried to cut only to be thwarted by Congress. An example is Even Start, an education program similar to Head Start that has been proven to not produce results. It is a wasteful program and Bush has tried to cut it for years. Congress – no doubt under the influence of special interest groups – has continued to fund it. So while I am encouraged by Obama’s proposals – meager as they may be – I don’t have as much confidence that Congress will go along. Those people are spending money like a bunch of bong-smoking dopers at Waffle House. Listening to reason is not their forte.

The other problem is redirecting the spending cuts. Obama himself said that the cuts will make room for spending on health care and education. In that case, it’s not a spending cut. Instead it’s more like a reshuffling of the bloated government budget. A spending cut is worthless if you increase spending in other areas. The whole point of a spending cut in today’s environment is to reduce the deficit and the subsequent ever-rising national debt. There is no indication that Obama’s proposal will do either, so I guess we’re back to square one.

One suggestion would be to eliminate TARP funding. That’s about $500 billion of next year’s budget, or 14% of Obama’s total spending. Now that’s a serious spending cut. Besides, Bernanke and others are already saying the economic slide has bottomed and it’s only up from here so why the need to keep dumping money into TARP? In addition, of Obama’s $780 billion stimulus plan, only $15 billion has been spent so far, and yet we’re getting these reports of hitting bottom. So, if the economy has bottomed and recovery is expected to begin, why continue spending the other $765 billion? These are the questions I’d like Obama to answer. I don’t care about what enchants him the most.

The Government Accountability Office now forecasts that beginning in 2025, ALL federal revenue will be consumed by Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and payments on debt interest. In 16 years we will only be able to afford 3 programs along with paying interest to foreign nations who hold our debt. That means there will be no money available for defense spending, energy independence, homeland security, education, salaries of government employees, or anything else outside of these 3 programs that the government wants to fund. 16 years. Not much time to fix a serious problem. So while I appreciate his effort to cut spending, Obama’s proposal demonstrates to me that he has no grasp of the serious budget problems that we face. If we’re going to avoid a major budget crisis within the next two decades it will require DRASTIC action now. Like, perhaps, an immediate freeze on new spending and an across-the-board cut on ALL federal programs (except maybe military pay). Let’s start at 20% and go from there.

But don’t listen to us Tea Party folks, nothing we say should be taken seriously.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

BREAKING NEWS...Obama eats a cheeseburger!

I admit – despite my complete lack of respect for them – the national media really does provide entertainment. If nothing else, the way they stumble and swoon over Obama – like a bunch of training-bra, pimple-faced, preteen girls at a Jonas Brothers concert – is at least good for a daily laugh. Case in point, Andrea Mitchell of MSNBC actually interrupted her afternoon news report to inform her viewers that President Obama had just eaten a cheeseburger.

Seriously. I can’t make this stuff up. What’s even more fascinating is the in-depth reporting on the burger. This burger is now officially the most investigated member of Obama’s entire administration. On the same day that Robert Gibbs tells the press corps that the photos from the infamous NYC Air Force One buzz-over have disappeared, the media manages to inform us all on intricate details regarding the cow flesh the President just consumed. It was a bacon cheddar cheese burger, cooked medium well, with Dijon mustard and a side of potato puffs. Joe “web number” Biden had a mushroom swiss burger. And not only that, but they paid for it themselves AND treated the White House press corps to burgers of their own. I’m actually kind of surprised MSNBC wasn’t reporting live via satellite from the burger joint itself, interviewing eye witnesses, re-enacting the whole scenario with slow-motion replays and computer graphic animation showing every dollop of Dijon dripping off of Obama’s burger, Biden reaching across the table to wipe a smudge of mustard off Barry’s face with a wink and a smile.

Oh, wait a minute, they actually DID interview an eye witness (again, I can’t possibly make this up). She was passing through picking up burgers for her family on the way home for work. Her comments were along the lines of how impressed she was with the President, and that this proves how in touch he is with the people, that he’s just a regular guy eating a burger. Remember, 300,000 Americans hold tax day protests coast-to-coast and the President has no clue why they’re so upset, yet his consumption of a cheeseburger with Dijon proves how “in touch” he is with the people? Where do they find these drones? And how did the reporter manage to not give her a shoulda-had-a-V8 bonk over the head with his microphone?

(and by the way, what kind of a man orders his burger medium well? My 4 year old daughter eats her burgers medium rare; and Dijon? On a cheeseburger? Just one of the folks, huh? Come on, Mr. President, if you want to look like an average Joe you can at least manage a little pink in your beef and some old-fashioned American mustard just one time)

At any rate, I don’t have a problem with Barry and Joe having a boy’s day out, knockin down a few burgers. I do question why it was necessary to bring the entire White House press corps. And I also wonder if Barry picked up the tab for his Secret Service detail. If it were me, I would have treated them and the limo drivers and let the press fend for themselves. Actually, Obama should have fed them scraps from his table. It would have been more appropriate to have the press sit on the floor around their table while Barry and Joe tossed them their burger grissle and the burnt ends of the potato puffs, chuckling as they scrambled and fought over every morsel. After all, if he can threaten to sic the press corps on his enemies, why not go all the way and treat them like dogs?

When a guy asks him, “What enchants you the most?”, who wouldn’t have loved to see Obama walk out to him, rub his head and say “Good boy! Goooooood boy! That’s my good boy! Him don’t ask me hard questions!”

Major Garrett better watch out. If he continues to ask Obama substantive questions he may get hit on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper. And something tells me that if Chris Matthews had been at the burger joint he would be sitting next to Obama, staring at his burger with a long string of drool hanging out of his mouth.

Don’t feel sorry for them. They deserve it.

Happy Cinco de Seis!

Monday, May 04, 2009

Obama's SCOTUS nominee

I have known this all along and at last the Left has admitted to it. They support judges who essentially legislate from the bench. President Obama said so much when the news of Souter’s pending retirement came down. When asked about his potential selection, Obama said he seeks a judge who will preside with “empathy”. He wants a nominee to understand that justice is "about how our laws affect the daily realities of people's lives -- whether they can make a living and care for their families, whether they feel safe in their homes and welcome in their own nation."

Think about that statement for a moment. It may sound good on the surface, but is this what the judicial branch was meant to do? You see, I always adhere to the notion that justice in this country is blind. That laws are interpreted according to their legality, without considering how they affect the daily realities of people’s lives, without considering whether or not someone can make a living and care for their families or feel safe in their homes. Those are the things to consider when the law is actually created, NOT when it is being interpreted based on the Constitution.

When I heard Obama’s statement I was reminded of a time when I appeared in traffic court. I had gotten a speeding ticket and didn’t have my insurance papers, so I was there to present proof of insurance and have my fine reduced. The woman in front of me was protesting her ticket as well. She told the judge her story; that she was a single mom, working two jobs and could barely make ends meet. Basically, she couldn’t afford to pay her $200 speeding ticket. The judge ordered her to pay the fine. He ruled against me as well, because the law clearly states that all drivers must have proof of insurance in their cars at all times.

The point is that personal circumstances do not define the law for each individual. Her lack of funds does not grant her the privilege of breaking the law without penalty. And my absentmindedness does not allow me to drive without my insurance papers, even though I was fully insured. Had this judge met Obama’s criteria, he may have very well ruled in her favor, and mine.

Obama is wrong. Justice is not about how our laws affect people in their daily lives. Justice is about applying the law according to the Constitution, and applying it equally regardless of someone’s personal life. It is unjust for poor people to get away with speeding just because they are poor. And it is unjust to apply the law differently to different people based on how the law affects their daily lives. This is a radical view of the law and Obama – with his background in Constitutional law – should know that. His view is more than troubling. His view essentially allows judges to do more than just interpret the law based on the Constitution, but to interpret it based on a case-by-case basis, which is essentially creating new laws every time they hear a case. This transcends the power of the judicial branch according to how the Framers envisioned it. This gives judges much more power than they should have.

If a judge hears a case on abortion, and that judge is empowered with “empathy”, then his decision will be based on who he has empathy for. If he has empathy for the mother, then he will rule for abortion. If he has empathy for the fetus, then he will rule against abortion. This sets a very dangerous precedent, because the judge should always rule according to whether or not the law in question is legal, and whether or not the law was followed – NOT according to his own personal feelings about the law or his feelings toward the involved parties.

Justice should be blind. Justice must be blind. If not, then someone will be victimized at some point by prejudice, stereotype or some judge’s own political ideology. I couldn’t disagree more with Obama and his radical view of the judicial branch. But, at least, I was proven right in my opinion that the Left wants activists on the bench.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Demoralizing the CIA

Matthew Cole. Remember that name. He is the freelance reporter hired by ABC news for a story about the CIA interrogations at Gitmo. In this story, Cole names two top advisors and pastes their photos, full name, and business location for all to see. I will not mention those names nor provide a link to Cole’s story because I think his actions have placed these two men and their families in grave danger. But I will mention that Cole has a book soon to be released about the CIA – no doubt providing motivation to drum up as much controversy as he can, to hell with the consequences. This was not a report, it was a hit-piece.

Cole is also known for a freelance story written shortly after 9/11 on the difficult treatment Muslims had to endure in the US after the attacks. I can’t find any story he wrote on the suffering of the victims of those attacks.

I will also link to this story by ABC news in July 2008 detailing the so-called impeachable offenses of the Bush administration, including the supposed “outing” of non-covert CIA worker Valerie Plame. This is just to add a little context to the hit-piece. After all, Plame was just a pencil pusher behind a desk, the two guys Cole just outed were involved in classified actions. Cole just passed some vital information to our al qaeda enemies, all in the name of trumpeting his book, furthering his pathetic career, and slandering the Bush administration. These two men played an integral role in keeping us safe post-9/11. Today, they are in danger because of the actions of a reckless reporter and a reckless news agency. And we are all in danger because of the actions of the Dem majority who seem intent on dismantling and demoralizing the CIA.
Rest assured, we will hear much more on this story. Matthew Cole has no doubt committed journalistic malpractice. I am disgusted by people like him who have infected the US media. They can’t muster an actual thought-provoking question for the President, yet they don’t hesitate to imperil two CIA advisors who were involved in dangerous activity. They curse these men while weeping for Kalid Shiekh Muhammed and the “torture” he had to endure. Cole needs to spend some face time with families who lost loved-ones in the World Trade Center. Or maybe he should hang out with the special forces in Afghanistan and Pakistan who place their lives on the line every day to keep reckless journalists free. Or maybe he should watch the beheading videos that al qaeda loves to publicize, or talk to Daniel Pearle’s family about the “inhumane treatment” of Gitmo detainees. I am sickened by people like him. Sickened.

On the heels of the CIA memo release, the Dems have begun to dismantle the very framework that kept us safe. Make no mistake, the CIA is currently demoralized, with many of our frontline agents looking over their shoulder wondering if Congress is going to drag them into a hearing. They feel betrayed. So much so that Chairman of Intelligence Committee, Silvestre Reyes, felt compelled to write this letter to the CIA to try to smooth things over. To echo the words of Jed Babbin, note the subtle hint that he won’t prosecute any CIA agent for “authorized” actions. Or that he wants to move the CIA/Congress interactions from “mere notification to real discussion”. In other words, none of this is Congress’s fault because they were only notified without any real discussion of the matter, so you can’t blame Pelosi for not stopping it when she was told. And nothing can further demoralize the CIA than the prospect of more Congressional oversight interfering with their already dangerous jobs, except maybe a hit-piece outing two of their top advisors.

Scooter Libby was sent to jail for doing much less than what Cole did. ABC news and Matthew Cole must be held accountable. This is outrageous.

By the way, here is a list of some of ABC’s top advertisers – just in case you wanted to know: Target, SC Johnson, AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Ethan Allen, ING. And don’t forget, ABC is owned by DISNEY.

Random points to ponder

- The press conference on Wed. was laughable. Fox refused air time, and I’m sure the other networks will do the same next time Obama asks for time. The American press has become a caricature of false objectivity.
- “What has enchanted you the most?” – That one will go down as perhaps the most ridiculous question ever asked at a Presidential press conference, and it was asked by the New York Times.
- No one asked Obama about the NYC flyby, or the worse-than-expected decline in the economy this past month. But at least we know what enchants him.
- When is someone going to muzzle Biden? His comments yesterday morning were absurd. But not nearly as absurd as Robert Gibbs later trying to tell us all what he “meant” to say. It amazes me how much the White House underestimates the intelligence of the average American.
- Congrats to the GOP for beginning the purge of their party. It’s people like Arlen Specter that turned conservatives like myself away from the party. If the GOP is going to comeback, they must get rid of those pseudo-conservatives who take conservative money and vote with the liberals. Hopefully, Specter won’t be the first.
- Specter said the party had become too right-wing for him. Too right-wing? That one had me laughing. Again, he must think we’re pretty stupid. Specter has been with the GOP since the Reagan years and yet he wants us all to think that the GOP – the same party who ran up record deficits the past 8 years – has become more right-wing than they were in Reagan’s time? This guy needs to find a rocking chair and a front porch where his nonsensical mumbling would be more appropriate.
- Kalid S. Muhammed was interrogated by the CIA and the only info they got was “you will soon find out…” This sounds like a threat of an imminent attack. It was only then that Bush ordered the waterboarding, and apparently more information was yielded, perhaps even thwarting a major attack. Yet, Obama says there are better ways to get this sort of information. Seems to me those ways failed with KSM.
- Someone needs to ask Obama that – if faced with a similar KSM situation – would he order waterboarding? In other words, suppose all other methods failed and the prisoner clearly had knowledge of an imminent attack on the US. What would Obama do? Instead, we get “what enchants you the most?”
- Obama said that Roe v. Wade was correctly decided. This tells me a lot about his understanding of the Constitution. Regardless of your opinion of abortion, if you have a good grasp of the Constitution as it is written there is no way you can make an argument that the Constitution provides a federally protected right to an abortion without having to make the same argument for rape, incest, pedophilia, domestic violence or even murder.
- John Kerry recently said that newspapers are so important to the American people that a federal bailout of failing papers should be considered.
- Obama’s treasury will lend Chrysler $8 billion in taxpayer dollars. That’s an $8 billion loan to a company in bankruptcy. Sounds like good fiscal policy to me.
- At the same time, Obama ripped Chrysler’s lenders for not forgiving enough of their debt, as though these people were greedy or something. Yeah, shame on you all for loaning money and actually expecting the borrower to pay it back. If lenders would only be as reckless with their money as the government is with our money, perhaps the world would be a better place. After all, we just “loaned” a bankrupt company $8 billion.
- And remember, we ALL need to be more responsible with money…and don’t forget to wash your hands or – as Biden puts it – stay away from any form of public transportation whatsoever.