Archive for February, 2011

Lincoln on My Mind…

This weekend was the 202nd anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln. This year, as in past years for as long as most can remember, wreaths celebrating the life of Lincoln were laid. Dignitaries from the District of Columbia, the US Congress, and even from our neighboring countries (Mexico) attended the ceremony. My mother, a Lincoln scholar of some renowned, along with my oldest boy, of no renowned, were part of the honored delegations who laid a wreath in front of the monument. It was an awesome moment and one in which I was an extremely proud father as my little Cub Scout, decked out in all his glory, proudly saluted the man I hold in highest esteem.

I wish this was the end of the story; that this was the summation of a great moment in our lives and one in which we could regale one another with for years to come. Alas, it would not be so, for a couple of reasons.

It’s in the Constitution Stupid

Article 1, Section 2:
The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature.

Article 1, Section 3:
The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.

Article 1, Section 8, Clause 17:
To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;

The city government of the District of Columbia has pushed for the longest time the ludicrous meme of Taxation without Representation. Their beef is that since they are not allowed to have a full voting member in the House or Senate, that they are unfairly taxed without national level representation.

This is of course the stupidest argument ever made because the Constitution precisely lays out the criteria for Congressional representation, namely Statehood, as well as the precise management of the District. To say they have no representation is absurd because the Congress rules specifically over the District- they have 535 representatives AND the White House representing the interests of Washington, D.C.

As James Madison so eloquently put:

The indispensable necessity of complete authority at the seat of government, carries its own evidence with it. It is a power exercised by every legislature of the Union, I might say of the world, by virtue of its general supremacy. Without it, not only the public authority might be insulted and its proceedings interrupted with impunity; but a dependence of the members of the general government on the State comprehending the seat of the government, for protection in the exercise of their duty, might bring on the national councils an imputation of awe or influence, equally dishonorable to the government and dissatisfactory to the other members of the Confederacy. This consideration has the more weight, as the gradual accumulation of public improvements at the stationary residence of the government would be both too great a public pledge to be left in the hands of a single State, and would create so many obstacles to a removal of the government, as still further to abridge its necessary independence. The extent of this federal district is sufficiently circumscribed to satisfy every jealousy of an opposite nature. And as it is to be appropriated to this use with the consent of the State ceding it; as the State will no doubt provide in the compact for the rights and the consent of the citizens inhabiting it; as the inhabitants will find sufficient inducements of interest to become willing parties to the cession; as they will have had their voice in the election of the government which is to exercise authority over them; as a municipal legislature for local purposes, derived from their own suffrages, will of course be allowed them; and as the authority of the legislature of the State, and of the inhabitants of the ceded part of it, to concur in the cession, will be derived from the whole people of the State in their adoption of the Constitution, every imaginable objection seems to be obviated.

The necessity of a like authority over forts, magazines, etc., established by the general government, is not less evident. The public money expended on such places, and the public property deposited in them, requires that they should be exempt from the authority of the particular State. Nor would it be proper for the places on which the security of the entire Union may depend, to be in any degree dependent on a particular member of it. All objections and scruples are here also obviated, by requiring the concurrence of the States concerned, in every such establishment.

So, it was more than a little annoying when D.C. Mayor Grey Davis decided to equate the District’s lack of Congressional representation with that of slavery. Yes, you read that correctly.

Let us remember that D.C., more than any other territory- State or otherwise- receives far more federal dollars. The Mayor and D.C. City Council report to Congress and it is not uncommon for Congressman to push federal funds to pet projects in the District. D.C. lives off of the public tit like no other city, so the rhetoric is really getting old.

Icons Aren’t Convenient

This brings me to the moment where I was most annoyed.

In the program, it states that a letter from the President of the United States will be read. Now, essentially every President for the last 100+ years has either personally attended the ceremony, or sent a letter  to be read at the ceremony. That is to say, until Barak Hussein Obama. He failed to send a letter last year and once again, he failed to send a letter this year. Now, some might wonder what the big deal was in not sending a letter, except that Obama has gone out of his way to attempt to put himself and Lincoln together.

He invoked Lincoln when he decided to mimic Lincoln’s famous Train trip to Washington, or used the same Bible as Lincoln for his Oath of Office, or even gave a speech and- of all things- a concert at the steps of the memorial. He has even invoked Lincoln to make changes to education.

For someone so desperate to be seen as the reincarnation of someone else, whether Abraham Lincoln, or more recently Ronald Reagan, you would think that he would find the time to write a simple letter commemorating the birthday of the 16th President. Then again, we’re reminded of how well Obama stands by others… or not.

Advertisements

Can We Please Stop Deluding Ourselves?

“The terrorist threat facing our country has evolved significantly in the last 10 years—and continues to evolve,” Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, 9 February 2011

This is quite the quote from this Administration. After all, this was the President that was going to change the way the Islamic community viewed the United States. He was going to be the great uniter, the first post-partisan President, the first blah, blah, blah. Frankly, nothing this man has claimed to be has held water. He’s been pretty pathetic.

So when I see Big Sister Napolitano claiming that the threat of terrorism is as bad as it has ever been, well, it begs some questions. Like how serious has this administration really been when it comes to dealing with the threat of terrorism? In March of 2009, Napolitano did an interview with Der Speigel:

SPIEGEL: Madame Secretary, in your first testimony to the US Congress as Homeland Security Secretary you never mentioned the word “terrorism.” Does Islamist terrorism suddenly no longer pose a threat to your country?

NAPOLITANO: Of course it does. I presume there is always a threat from terrorism. In my speech, although I did not use the word “terrorism,” I referred to “man-caused” disasters. That is perhaps only a nuance, but it demonstrates that we want to move away from the politics of fear toward a policy of being prepared for all risks that can occur.

Of course, this was also the same Administration that refused to use the term “long war” or the “Global War on Terrorism,” choosing instead “overseas contingency operations”. And let us not forget that two days after being sworn into office, Obama signed an executive order to close Guantanamo Bay, which is still open because- as President Bush told him- the home countries for these detainees are not prepared or interested in their coming back. Never mind the fact that the recidivism rate for detainees released from GITMO is increasing.

I’ll credit the Administration with one thing, and one thing only, they’ve maintained or increased the drone strikes in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan, and that has had a significant impact.

This aside, the record of this Administration effectively dealing with terrorism isn’t all that grand. For instance:

The Christmas Day Bomb Plot

On Christmas morning of 2009, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, or the Underwear Bomber, attempted to detonate an explosive device that was hidden in his underwear. The device didn’t detonate for one reason- operator error. The device likely used a chemical detonator, and Abdulmutallab- using a syringe filled with a chemical catalyst- injected the catalyst into the explosive itself, not the detonator or booster. In other words, two inches is what separated an explosion from Abdulmutallab setting his junk on fire.

The Administration didn’t catch this, they didn’t prevent the attack, they didn’t mitigate anything: WE GOT LUCKY.

Times Square Bomb Plot

In the early morning hours of May 1st, 2010, Faisal Shahzad placed a car bomb in Times Square. The device didn’t detonate for one reason- operator error. The detonator, which was incorrectly wired, failed to initiate the bomb. When the FBI reconstructed the device and tested it, this is what they saw:

Again, the Administration didn’t catch this, they didn’t prevent the attack, they didn’t mitigate anything: WE GOT LUCKY.

UPS/FEDEX Bomb Plot

In late October 2010, the US was tipped off by Saudi Arabian intelligence that there were bombs being sent via cargo flights to the United States. The Saudi’s were so kind as to even provide tracking numbers for the bombs. Something to consider:

It was a very close call and even with reliable information, ending the threat took cooperation and a little luck by the international community the were involved in stopping this possible catostraphic event from occurring. The bomb packages had traveled through five countries before being intercepted. The UPS bomb traveled from Yemen to Germany and eventually to England where it was discovered. This bomb was set to go explode over the Eastern United States on it’s way to Chicago. The FEDEX package traveled through Yemen, Qatar and Dubai.

The Intelligence Community, working closely with our allies in the region, were able to thwart the attack, barely. The only reason we were, was because we had allies in the region who were willing to help us, hence my consistent disapproval of how this Administration consistently treats our allies. Because of our allies WE GOT LUCKY.

So far, Big Sis’s antidote to terrorism is to take dirty pictures of passengers. Can we seriously stop deluding ourselves when it comes to terrorism? The terrorist threat that we in the United States, and the West in general, face is from radical Islamic terrorist groups. Ignoring this fact will not make them look on us with friendlier eyes and it certainly won’t stop the next terrorist attack.

With a Friend Like Him, Who Needs Enemies?

Following the mid-term elections of 2010, and the landslide victories the GOP realized at the expense of the Dems, many political pundits questioned how President Obama could recover. Most premised that he would move to the center on domestic policy, but that foreign policy- an arena the Executive branch enjoys a significant amount of political advantage- would be his saving grace in constraining the gains of the Republicans and in showcasing his skills as a leader.

I must admit, when I heard this, I chuckled. Actually, I laughed my ass off. This Administration has been an epic failure when it comes to foreign policy, so to think that foreign policy was going to save him, well, that’s wishful thinking if I ever heard it.

It was in this vein while I pondered the implications of the Egyptian crisis that I came to the conclusion that this Administration is poised to damage our international standing in ways never before seen. But tangentially, the damages this man will cause our allies is something few have really considered before. Therefore, I present but three examples of this man’s treachery, and the implications it will have for our nation.

Great Britain

Everyone has a best friend, but rarely is that best friend a family member. When it is, that bond and friendship is something rarely, ever broken. At the end of the day, we are family with the British. Those limely bastards that we broke ranks with in the 1700’s have become the closest ally we could ever hope for. They’ve been with us through thick and thin, and likewise, we’ve been there for them. So, to cast sand in the face of the British, well, that was a sign of things to come.

First, there was the debacle of gifts. Prime Minister Gordon Brown gave Obama gifts worth some $16,500 and included a pen and holder made from the wood of the HMS Gannet, a Victorian warship that played a role in anti-slavery efforts. A truly thoughtful gift, especially for the Presidents who have used the Resolute desk. So, what did Obama give Prime Minister Brown? A boxset of movies. To add insult to injury, the DVD’s were for the wrong region and couldn’t be played on British DVD players. In addition to this, the President gave an iPod to Queen Elizabeth which was full of several of Obama’s speeches. What more could she ever hope for…

Next came the greatest ally gaff. At the beginning of this year, Obama called France America’s “greatest ally” and French President Nicolas Sarkozy a “stronger friend” than that of David Cameron. Really, the French are many things, but a reliable ally has never been one of them.

But this, this has got to be the creme de la creme, the straw on the proverbial camel’s back. Obama decided, when negotiaing with Russia the new SALT treaty, aggreed to divulge British nuclear secrets. British policy is to hide the number of nuclear weapons in its arsenal, so Obama’s aggreeing to divulge the number of Trident missiles provided to Great Britain, especially without their knowledge or consent, well, its not the kind of thing a friend does (unless, of course, you’re the kind of friend who bangs his buddies wife).

It is one thing to be a cheap friend, even a talk-shit-behind-your-back friend, but to divulge your friend’s national secrets associated with state survival, just so you can score some foreign policy “success” at home- that is a buddy fucker if there ever was one.

Egypt

Unfortunately, Great Britain hasn’t been the only ally we’ve thrown under the bus of late. As everyone knows, Egypt has caught the contagion of the Tunisian uprising, and it is having some major internal security issues. Now, Hosni Mubarak- who has been a solid ally of the U.S. for some 30 years- isn’t the nicest of guys. However, he has been an integral part of state-level peace in the Levant, and to ignore that, is very, very dangerous.

Obama’s betrayal came early in this crisis. While it appears that the early aspects of the protest were socioeconomically driven, and quite organic in nature, their current organization is in serious doubt. The Muslim Brotherhood has taken full advantage of the protests, and as the most organized opposition organization, it stands to gain the most from an immediate ouster of Mubarak. Mubarak has stated that he is going to not run for re-election and step down following elections in September. That gives ALL interested parties involved time to cool down, organize and move forward with rational, peaceful decisions. Apparently, Obama not interested in any of that.

First, there was Obama’s State Department holding secret meetings with the Muslim Brotherhood, with Obama going so far as to say that they could be legitimate actors in Egypt. Really? Obama’s going to suggest that a pan-Islamist organization that supports jihad and is adamantly opposed to both the United States and Israel is a good thing? Of course, this wasn’t the first time Obama reached out to the Muslim Brotherhood as he forced Mubarak to invite their leaders to his 2009 Cairo speech.

Frustrating the situation is Obama calling this an Egypt problem that will be solved by Egyptians, yet at every turn, he’s is injecting himself into the “Egyptian problem”. He’s even gone so far as to pull in other states, namely Turkey, into trying to force Mubarak out.

Considering the lack of knowledge anyone has on who could step into the power vacuum following Mubarak’s departure, rushing this seems more than a little foolish. It has significant implications for U.S. foreign policy, but it is having an enormous effect on our other allies. I can guarantee that every Arab ally the U.S. has in the region is reevaluating its relationship with the United States. The loss in trust in our support is something that could potentially take generations to regain. We rely on foreign leaders to address a whole host of issues that are of great concern to us. Do we really expect, especially after this, that they are going to be willing to do something in our interest when it conflicts with their own people? Case in point Pakistan: if you were the Pakistani’s, and you had been watching how well we treated a 30 year ally in trouble, would you stick your neck out to go after groups like al-Qaida or the Taliban, who happen to be viewed as less of a threat than  the U.S.?

Israel

But no ally has been thrown under the bus as far as the Israeli’s. They are watching the events unfold in Egypt with abject fear. They haven’t had to worry about their Southern border for three decades because they could rely on the Egyptian regime to keep the peace. They’ve also relied on the Egyptians to mitigate as much as possible the amount of arms and aid that could be sent to Palestinian terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip. To expect that to continue, is frankly delusional, especially since the group Obama thinks could be a legitimate actor in Egypt wants to end the Egypt-Israeli peace treaty.

From Obama telling the Israelis where they could build houses IN THEIR CAPITAL, to Obama encouraging foreign accelerates into the West Bank, this Administration has been outright hostile towards an ally that has been worth its weight in gold.

General George Keegan, former head of U.S. Air Force Intelligence has publicly declared that “Israel is worth five CIA’s.” He further stated that between 1974 and 1990, Israel received $18.3 billion in U.S. military grants. During the same period Israel provided the U.S. with $50-80 billion in intelligence, research and development savings, and Soviet weapons systems captured and transferred to the U.S.

Alexander Haig, a former Secretary of State and Supreme Commander of NATO, called Israel, “the largest, most battle-tested and cost-effective US aircraft carrier, which does not require a single US personnel, cannot be sunk and is located at a most critical area for US national security interests.” In early April of last year, 50 retired Generals and Admirals sent a letter to Obama highlighting the value of the U.S.-Israeli relationship, and that a departure from that would be a huge mistake. Yet that has not stopped this Administration from repeatedly undermining Israeli interests at their- and our own- expense.

This Administration has been an abject failure at foreign policy. It has failed because it is both unwilling and incapable of separating political ideology from pragmatic U.S. interests. Obama continuously demonstrates that he is not the leader of the American people, but rather the number one protagonist for a certain group of people, who happen to be the smallest political demographic.

Many have looked at the Carter Administration as the epitome of U.S. diplomatic failure, as Carter failed to address the formation of the oil cartel Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries or OPEC (which cemented manufactured market manipulation of global energy), the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan (which lead to the formation of organizations like al-Qaida), and of course, the fall of the Shah (which lead to the current Iranian regime and its persistent terrorist violence in the Levant, the region and the world).

When it comes to failure, it is really hard to imagine any President with the advantage of 20/20 hindsight to fail as dramatically. Yet here we are, on the cusp of seeing the Middle East potentially fall into the hands of extremists and the potential demise of the only real democracy in the region. Two words define this President: Epic Fail.

Sleeping Through 3 A.M.

We have heard from several pundits- mostly conservative- how the crisis in Egypt is Obama’s 3 A.M. phone call, and more importantly, that he has done a poor job in answering that call. I think that is incorrect and to judge Obama’s handling of Egypt in this environment a bit premature. Obama could not have failed to answer the 3 A.M. call from Egypt because the Egypt call was at about 6 A.M.- Tunisia was the 3 A.M. call and Obama slept right through it.

Tunisia, which was an economically based uprising that morphed into a socio-political revolution, has touched off a series of similar powder kegs throughout the Middle East. Algeria, Jordan, and Sudan have all had similar rioting but Egypt is the most pronounced because it is the largest country (population of 80-85 million) in the Middle East and it receives approximately $3 billion in aid, half of which is in military aid, from the United States.

National Public Radio and a host of other liberal media outlets praised the uprising and ouster of Tunisian President Zayn al-Abidin bin Ali, but they have been particularly absent on the potential threat now looming in Tunisia- Islam. Bin Ali was many things, but probably chief among those was his staunch anti-Islamic positions. When bin Ali took power, it was in the midst of Islamic terrorism from a group called the Islamic Tendency Movement, or Hizb al-Nahdah, which was convicted of carrying out several bombings targeting tourists in 1987. The group, also known as the Renaissance Party, was led by a man named Rashid al-Ghannushi, who denies having anything to do with the attacks. Well, long story short, Ghannushi was released from prison and exiled from Tunisia in 1988 following a general amnesty issued by new Tunisian President bin Ali, but was convicted in abtensia of trying to kill bin Ali and establish a fundamentalist Islamic state in Tunisia. Well, he’s back in Tunisia following bin Ali’s departure from office. Ghannushi claims to be a more “progressive” Islamist, meaning he is against the formation of an Islamic Caliphate, he is pro-democracy and sees a productive role for women in society. To listen to a snippet of his philosophy is to hear socialist tendencies based on the Quran versus Marx (I’ve alluded to the socialist tendencies of Islam before).

He’s not so much what I’m worried about, however, I am worried about groups like Hizb al-Tahrir, or the Party of Liberation, a pan-Arab Islamist organization and one with a presence in about 40 nations. This is an organization that is well organized, globally positioned, and is adamantly anti-Israel and anti-West. They’re also a splinter group from the Muslim Brotherhood, which brings us back to Egypt.

The Muslim Brotherhood is another pan-Arab, Islamist organization that works towards reestablishing the Islamic Caliphate and instituting Sharia Law. The Brotherhood brought us wonderful scholars like Sayyid Qutb, who wrote Milestones, a primary treatise used by Islamic terrorist organizations. Many Brotherhood members are professors in Arab universities, where they can more easily influence younger generations (I know I’ve seen this strategy before…) and many jihadist ideologues- to include Osama bin Laden- credit Brotherhood teachings. The Brotherhood claims to be a non-violent organization, however, the teachings and splinter affiliations, to which the Brotherhood remains in contact with, challenge this position. But accepting that they are non-violent, as an opposition political actor- they are still very much anti-West and anti-Israel. Based on their statements, we can expect the collapse of the Camp David Accords, which has maintained peace between Egypt and Israel for the last 30 years. We can also expect to see Hamas greatly strengthened as a Brotherhood controlled Egypt will remove barriers of aid and arms to the Gaza Strip. What’s worse, there are several other dominoes that could fall- all based largely on the poor economies of the region, but could easily be hijacked for socio-political objectives- in the region, to include Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Jordan, Sudan and Yemen. We could potentially see most of North Africa collapse and fall under the influence of pan-Islamist organizations. This was something thought inconceivable about three weeks ago.

Which brings back to the abject failure of the Administration to address the Tunisian crisis. It is one thing to allow the Arab street to vociferously protest the avarice and corruption of their political elites, however, not addressing the issue and waiting for it to infect other states in the region suffering similar economic conditions is a gross miscalculation. What is particularly frustrating is that this is literally de ja vu. For all the failings of the Shah, he stabilized a country that was seen as a key strategic ally in the region. But Carter didn’t like the Shah, and undermined his efforts to put down the growing unrest. One premise behind this was Carter’s belief that the “progressive” actors resisting the Shah would still remain ally’s of the West. What Carter failed to see was the Islamist factions of Khomeini rise into power, and then their purge of the “progressives”. Socio-economic uprisings in Islamic countries go bad. They always have, and likely always will, because the “progressive” factions supported by liberals here in the U.S. are easily co-opted and destroyed by Islamist groups who can produce rhetoric that is eerily similar but backed by Allah, not the people. Because Obama did not step in early, perhaps with the United Nations (is this not the very thing it was designed to deal with?), or a more aggressive State Department, the Administration is now being forced to react to events on the ground. And similar to Carter, Obama is letting his ideology get in the way of what is best for this nation.

I have no love for Hosni Mubarak, nor do I enjoy the fact that we send Egypt some $3 billion in aid- as mandated by the Israeli-Egypt peace treaty put together by Carter. But I recognize that bad things can happen when a hot-headed population whipped into a frenzy begins to make policy changes for the nation based on emotion. Obama’s failure to cool the situation and work in structured change with the leaders- using carrots and sticks- has allowed the situation to get out of control.

We are well past 3 A.M. at this point.



Eygpt: Obama’s Betrayal

A quick note as more will follow, but this cements Obama’s position as the second coming of Jimmy Carter. Obama, sensing the hardship of supporting an ally regardless of the consequences, is abandoning Hosni Mubarak. Egypt, under Mubarak has been a staunch US ally for 30 plus years and it has been Mubarak that has kept peace in the Levant between Israel and Egypt. With him gone, and the Muslim Brotherhood in power, then the peace between those two states is all but at an end. The Muslim Brotherhood is already calling for war with Israel and Tehran, rightfully so, are taunting US abandonment of Cairo and welcoming a growing Islamic wave in the Middle East.

Israel is shocked at what a fair-weather ally the US has turned into, and frankly, and other ally right now should be extremely concerned about the commitment of this Administration to honor alliances. The message that this sends will be extremely damaging, particularly in places where we’re extremely dependent on ally support, in particular, Pakistan.

What should shock and disgust this nation, more than anything, is the Administrations quick embrace of radical Islamists that call for Sharia and jihad. Well, quick might be a tad generous. We should all remember that he forced Egypt to invite ten senior members of the Muslim Botherhood to his Cairo speech in 2009. But the fact that it is being reported that this Administration began secret talks with the Muslim Brotherhood is disturbing. We face a constant threat from radical Islam, which only exacerbates the ludicrous nature of this Administration’s position. The Left continues to embrace Islam as Islam prepares to stab them, and us, in the heart. It’s sickening…