Thursday, September 25, 2014

Obama Repeats the Mistakes of the Viet Nam War

Candidate Barack Obama made a big thing in the 2008 campaign of promising that he would end "George Bush's War" and withdraw from Iraq immediately. In his 2012 re-election campaign, he made an even bigger thing of how he had ended the war in Iraq and brought all our troops home. Now, however, he's changing his tune. A video has been made of a group of Obama's 2012 campaign statements, with one of his more recent statements at its end.

(Click here to see the video.)

Now President Obama has decided to initiate a war. Again. (Remember Libya?) But he doesn't want to handle his war the way President Bush did. His base wouldn't stand for that! Plus, he's trapped himself with his own statements. So, as a direct result, President Obama has reportedly overruled all his generals and other military advisors, and keeps repeating his mantra that there will be "no American boots on the ground in Iraq" (and now he's adding Syria).

Of course, it's not really "no (American) boots on the ground" — it's "no (American) combat boots on the ground." In part, that's because we already have thousands of American boots on the ground in Iraq. But, of course, they're not "combat troops", they're security forces and military advisors. So, of course, they're not "boots on the ground." Because President Obama has said "I want to be clear: The American forces that have been deployed to Iraq do not and will not have a combat mission."

Along with that, President Obama wants to maintain tight control over what the troops other than ground troops do in carrying out his war. In fact, it appears President Obama's personal authorization will be required for every single mission — every single strike — in Syria. And it won't be very much different from that in Iraq.

So the US strategy will be, Obama says, entirely airborne — bombing strikes and Tomahawk missiles. There's a problem with that. It really doesn't work. There's also a reason for it.

To those of us of a certain age, this all gives us a profound sense of déjà vu. We've seen it all before. In Viet Nam. We had "advisors" there, and were promised no combat troops would be used. But they were, of course. And we had air strikes, all of which had to be approved in advance by Washington. It was driven by politics then, and it's being driven by politics now.

This strategy was a failure in Viet Nam. It got more than 58,000 troops killed and a lot more maimed. It's sure to be a failure here, too. President Obama's response? “I’m not going to anticipate failure at this point.” He'd rather be surprised, just as he has been by all his other failures.

And that will produce the expected result.

Friday, September 12, 2014

"The Islamic State is not Islamic"

President Barack Obama said Wednesday evening that “ISIL is not ‘Islamic.’” He followed that up by saying “No religion condones the killing of innocents.”

And Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) agrees with him.

Let's take a look at this logically.

  1. “No religion condones the killing of innocents.”

  2. ISIS — which President Obama calls ISIL — unquestionably does condone such killing. So does al Qaeda. So does Hamas. So does Hezbollah. So does the Taliban. So does the Muslim Brotherhood. So does every major Islamic group. So does the Koran. So did Mohammed.

    Therefore, by President Obama's own logic,
  3. Islam is not a religion.

That seems clear enough to me.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

9/11/2001 -- Never Forget!

Our own generation's "day which will live in infamy."


It's the day we were attacked by uncivilized barbarians. We saw some of what they caused.


Their successors are even less civilized than they were. We hadn't thought that possible.

No, we must never forget!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Albuquerque Area Readers Opine

There were a couple of "letters to the editor," published in today's Albuquerque Journal, that seem to me deserving of wider distribution. One identifies the key reason for the "do nothing" Congress.

Sen. Reid's desk is where bills go to die

The U.S. House is working, but the Senate is where the obstruction is.

More than 250 bills made it through the U.S. House — none of which have made it to the floor of the Senate. Two hundred of the bills were passed in the House with unanimous support ... More than 90 percent of those bills passed the U.S. House with bipartisan support, and more than 100 were passed with 75 percent support of House Democrats. Over 50 were introduced by Democrats.

The U.S. House has passed dozens of reform bills for the VA — some bipartisan — none of which have made it to the floor of the Senate; (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid stopped them. He didn't give senators the opportunity to even consider them. Over 30 jobs bills are also sitting on Harry Reid's desk, which he also refuses to even put up for a vote.

Senators are (more) focused on special interest groups than the "folks back home." The longer they're in office and live in Washington, the less they feel they need their constituents. You can't fix their arrogance and support for Harry Reid, but you can vote them out.

JIM PLOSKONKA
Cedar Crest

Cedar Crest is one of the small towns outside Albuquerque. Another is Ojo Feliz, from which comes a good suggested long-term solution.
Put limit on terms, not on corporate funding

RE: Sally-Alice Thompson's letter to the editor "It's Time to Control Money in Politics" (Aug. 26).

Thompson calls on us to support the so-called Democracy for All Amendment as an aid to getting rid of corporate funding of elections.

Basically, she's advocating removing the issue of constitutional protection of political speech from the courts and giving it to Congress so that members of Congress could determine who could engage in political speech and to what extent. This amendment, Brain child of (N.M. Sen.) Tom Udall, would more accurately be called the Incumbent Protection Amendment.

Thompson touches on the real source of the problem but skates right past it. "Why do congressmen so avidly respond to the wishes of the corporations rather than to the requests of the voters ... ? Is it because that's where they get the campaign funds necessary to keep them in their privileged positions?"

I suggest we come at the perceived problem of corporate money in politics by amending the Constitution to limit the terms of all members of Congress. If repeated re-elections are out of the picture, so is much of the opportunity for "you scratch my back — with campaign contributions — and I'll scratch yours — with legislation that benefits you." With term limits and a "cooling-off period" between holding public office and being allowed to hire on as a lobbyist for your favorite corporation, I suspect we could at least chip away at the self-anointed aristocracy that we have allowed our national legislature to become.

Giving Congress the power to aid its supporters and to shut out those who would criticize its members simply compounds the problem.

MARY VERMILLION
Ojo Feliz

Food for thought — and action.

Elite politicians disconnected from the people.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Labor Day, 2014

Mrs. Critter and I took off for Labor Day. We hadn't ridden the Rail Runner before, and thought it was high time we did. So we boarded the train this morning (Monday) and headed for Santa Fe.

On the way — both directions — we were joined by a lot of folks going to and from the 27th annual New Mexico Wine Festival in Bernalillo, not far north of Albuquerque. But many were, like us, going to Santa Fe. A major draw this weekend was the Santa Fe Fiestas, held continuously since 1712.

We enjoyed ourselves wandering about among the fiesta booths. We also visited a number of the shops on the Plaza, and the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis, a short distance off the city's central square. And we had drinks and snacks (tapas, if you like).

In the late afternoon, we headed back for the train station for our return home.

All in all, our holiday jaunt was very enjoyable. It was inexpensive, and avoided hassles with traffic and parking — twin issues for so many visits to Santa Fe.

We hope your Labor Day holiday was enjoyable, too!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Middle East Update

It looks like President Barack Obama is about to send troops back to Iraq, and maybe to Syria. That's "boots on the ground" — or maybe not.

There may be other factors involved, as well. That's particularly the case because of the barbarous, completely uncivilized, and subhuman behavior of the jihadists who are the Islamic State's "fighters".

It appears we should treat this cancer while we wait, however, rather than waiting for that judgment. This would be in line with a statement attributed to a U.S. Marine (paraphrased): "It's God's job to judge the jihadists. It's up to us to arrange their meeting."

In the meantime, while we are watching events there, it would also be appropriate to keep in mind who the characters in this Middle East play are.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Reflections on Obama

President Barack Obama is in hot water again — this time for demonstrating his lack of actual feeling for others, including those caught up in the detritus of his policies. UPDATE: Now ISIS has beheaded a second U.S. journalist — Steve Sotloff — and President Obama couldn't even be bothered to make a statement. (end update)
UPDATE II: To be fair, Obama did finally make a statement on the Sotloff beheading. I think that's where he also made his self-contradictory statements about ISIS. (end update)

But you've got to understand a few things: Barack Obama loves his perks. Many would say they are the reason he wants to continue being President. But that's not quite right, because Obama is an ideologue. That's why he will say anyting he thinks will give him an advantage, no matter how temporary, whether it's something like his Foley statement or his statements on his decision (and campaign promise) pulling our troops out of Iraq.

All of which gives Obama a huge blind spot.
That and his (and his advisors') total inexperience in foreign affairs makes him and his team what he called another group.

Because his ideology is driving his actions, there are some areas and organizations he really has no use for. Those he disses, and dismisses, without a thought.

Obama's not dumb, though he sometimes seems so. It's just that, for example, his ideology says there are 57 states (all but two of which he has visited), so it must be so.

To me, the "bottom line" is this: Barack Obama is a failure as President, having damaged this country throughout his term.
And Jimmy Carter is no longer our Worst President Ever.

Just Because It's Funny

A new cell phone designed just for seniors.

(You younger people, have a senior explain this to you.)

Monday, August 18, 2014

Fundamentalist Islam Is Recent

Is the claim by fundamentalist Muslims, that they are working to re-establish the original, true Islam — as received by Mohammed — real or a is it a fraud?

Thus, Islamism represents a political ideology that claims to restore the pristine Islam of the 7th century and indeed appeals to Muslim history and sensibility, but in fact represents something new. As Roy notes, “The illusion held by the Islamic radicals is that they represent tradition, when in fact they express a negative form of westernization.”4
        4Olivier Roy, Globalized Islam, p. 20
Indeed, this claim to be restoring the "original Islam" seems to have developed at the time of the founding of the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1920's, based on Saudi Arabia's Wahhabi movement (founded by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, who was opposed by his own father and brother for his non-traditional interpretation of Islam).

This analysis may be accurate. If so, such an "originalist" cult appears to be a recurring theme within Islam, with the Assassin and Thug cults being its best-recognized predecessors. The new Islamic State is also part of this group. Other Islamic predecessors include the cult responsible for the vandalism long ago in Fatehpur Sikri, India's capital city during part of the Mughal Empire from 1571 to 1585, some of which is pictured here. These cults insisted that images of people and/or animals violate Islamic law, just as the Wahhabis preach. But the cult that vandalized Fatehpur Sikri was not characteristic of the Muslim Mughal Empire, which commissioned the beautiful carvings in their capital city. That cult developed in Afghanistan, just as the very similar Taliban did more recently — and, oddly enough, just as did the much more moderate Mughal Empire. (The Mughal Empire also did not agree with the cults' "convert or die" theology, as shown by the fact that the Emperor in Fatehpur Sikri had three wives — one Muslim, one Hindu, and one Christian.)

There must be a reason this kind of aberration keeps coming up within Islam. The Muslim Brotherhood's extreme version of Islam may be recent, but it represents a recurring theme within this "religion".

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Obama Parties While World Burns

President Barack Obama parties, ...
... dancing nearly every dance ...

... while the world burns at home ...
... and abroad, in violence ...
... and flight, seeking at least temporary safety, ...
... especially in areas occupied by ISIS.
A little girl beheaded in Syria, executed by militants because she was of a Christian family. Allegedly, Christian children in Mosul are being systematically beheaded and their little heads placed on poles in a park as a warning to others who love their children.
Islamists killing a woman by slitting her throat and capturing her blood in a bowl, holding her firm as her life literally drains from her neck. Such forms of execution are intended to intimidate others.

Events there are so bad that Pope Francis and the Chaldean Christian Patriarch have called for an armed response in the Middle East. But it's not bad enough for President Obama to interrupt his vacation, and only barely to interrupt his golf game.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Radiation Sense

A lot of people, especially in this country, are frightened and paranoid about anything that has the words "atomic" or "nuclear" associated with it. The same goes for anything associated with the word "radiation".

It shouldn't be that way. We all get some radiation dose. Some of that is from dental and medical x-rays. More is from naturally occurring doses. Those at lower altitudes get lower doses unless they live in an area of radioactive bedrock or similar materials. The higher the altitude, the less atmosphere shielding us from radiation prodoced above us.

In fact, — Remember Three Mile Island? There was no one who was in that nuclear plant through the entire time of the crisis there. If there had been someone in the control room throughtout the crisis, however, that person would have received less radiation dose than did every person living at 1 mile altitude (such as Denver and Albuquerque) during that same time period. But, somehow, this natural dose never seems to reach anyone's consciousness.

Now there has been an item or two published in the newspaper suggesting that radiation may not be so bad, even in much higher doses than commonly considered safe.

Maybe over time more people will develop a more realistic view of radiation. One can only hope.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

More Thought Is Needed

Herewith, a few items sure to produce added thought — and perhaps a chuckle. The first two are from Sense of Events. No further comment is needed, I think, for any of them.

Monday, August 11, 2014

We Need This Policy Here

I received this by e-mail last week, and think it's worthy of further disseminiation. In fact, as the title says, we need to have this policy here. After all, these people are coming here because they want what we have created and built. And that's based on our environment and our culture. It's the same in Australia.

Australia says NO -- This will be the second Time Julia Gillard has done this!

She sure isn't backing down on her hard line stance and one has to appreciate her belief in the rights of her native countrymen.

A breath of fresh air to see someone lead with guts and determination. Australian Prime Minister does it again!!

The whole world needs a leader like this!


    Prime Minister Julia Gillard of Australia

Muslims who want to live under Islamic Sharia law were told on Wednesday to get out of Australia, as the government targeted radicals in a bid to head off potential terror attacks.

Separately, Gillard angered some Australian Muslims on Wednesday by saying she supported spy agencies monitoring the nation's mosques. Quote:

IMMIGRANTS, NOT AUSTRALIANS, MUST ADAPT... Take It Or Leave It. I am tired of this nation worrying about whether we are offending some individual or their culture. Since the terrorist attacks on Bali, we have experienced a surge in patriotism by the majority of Australians.

This culture has been developed over two centuries of struggles, trials and victories by millions of men and women who have sought freedom.

We speak mainly ENGLISH, not Spanish, Lebanese, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, or any other language. Therefore, if you wish to become part of our society, learn the language!

Most Australians believe in God. This is not some Christian, right wing, political push, but a fact, because Christian men and women, on Christian principles, founded this nation, and this is clearly documented. It is certainly appropriate to display it on the walls of our schools. If God offends you, then I suggest you consider another part of the world as your new home, because God is part of our culture.

We will accept your beliefs, and will not question why. All we ask is that you accept ours, and live in harmony and peaceful enjoyment with us.

This is OUR COUNTRY, OUR LAND, and OUR LIFESTYLE, and we will allow you every opportunity to enjoy all this. But once you are done complaining, whining, and griping about Our Flag, Our Pledge, Our Christian beliefs, or Our Way of Life, I highly encourage you take advantage of one other great Australian freedom, 'THE RIGHT TO LEAVE'.

If you aren't happy here then LEAVE. We didn't force you to come here. You asked to be here. So accept the country that accepted you.

I'm informed this statement is actually a composite of statements by the Prime Minister and members of her Administration. I don't think that matters — it's still her policy and intention. And it's what every country needs to follow.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

69 Years After Trinity

On this date 69 years ago — July 16, 1945 — the world was divided. Half was peaceful, and half was still at war. And an event in New Mexico changed history.

The war in Europe had been over for nine weeks, since the German surrender on May 8th. But the war in Asia and the Pacific continued and appeared likely to keep on for at least another year. Harry Truman, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin were meeting at Potsdam, mostly to make plans for post-war Europe. But Truman and Churchill were also outlining surrender terms for Japan.

While there, Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson delivered a message to President Truman that said "Operated this morning. Diagnosis not complete but results seem satisfactory and already exceed expectations ... Dr. Groves pleased." This was the message that told Truman that the Trinity Test had taken place in New Mexico earlier in the day, and had been a success. As a result, Truman mentioned having an unspecified "powerful new weapon" to Stalin; presumably Churchill got more details. At the end of the conference, an ultimatum (that did not mention the new weapon) was given to Japan to surrender or meet "prompt and utter destruction".

When the Potsdam Conference began, the Allies were looking at plans for another year or more of war in the Pacific, including invasions of the Japanese home islands that would have made D-Day look small. Because of the Trinity Test (and the resulting operations), Japan surrendered — without an invasion — a little over a month after Trinity.

The Manhattan Project and its Trinity Test changed the course of the Pacific War. Today is the 69th anniversary of that change.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

D-Day 70th Anniversary

Mrs Critter and I recently returned from a tour related to the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Normandy, and other events of the Second World War. Two World War II veterans — one from the 82nd Airborne Division and one from the 9th (and later the 42nd) Infantry Division. Both added a lot to our experience as they had been at a number of the places we visited, though the last time they had been there before now was when they helped capture these places in World War II.

The tour was the proverbial "drink from a firehose" on Normandy as we visited a whole series of D-Day sites on June 5th & 6th before going on to other World War II sites. We had far too little time at every site we visited. But it was enough to make us remember.

70 years ago, 160,000 troops stormed the beaches of Normandy. Along with 24,000 paratroopers dropped into the area a few hours earlier, they began the final invasion of the European continent.

Omaha Beach was the most restricted and most heavily defended of the invasion beaches. One of the units landing on that beach that day was the 29th Infantry Division — the Blue and Gray Division. The division included National Guardsmen from the Virginia and Maryland area, and men who were not yet assigned to the Division when the 29th shipped out to England (including my father).

Maybe this would be a good day for a movie that includes the Normandy invasion. A good one that provides a good sense what the landing felt like (according to one of the men who was there) is Saving Private Ryan. (When the movie ends, consider that all its action took place in just one week.) Another excellent choice would be Band of Brothers — the second episode is all D-Day, though it's focused more on the Airborne rather than the Infantry. Or, for a broader picture, a good choice would be The Longest Day.

The picture below is apparently the picture one of my father's wartime letters referred to, saying this was the beach he landed on.

With all of this, this would be a good time to read the D-Day commemorations at Blackfive, specifically this and this, and to consider how terribly high the stakes were on D-Day in 1944.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Obama's Issues

President Barack Obama is being asked to deal with several issues at the same time lately. Actually, these issues have been there for a long time and just haven't been dealt with effectively.

One such issue is the Veterans Administration and its handling of health care for veterans. President Obama knew about this in his first presidential campaign, and promised to fix the problem. Instead, nothing has been done and the situation has gotten worse during his Administration.

That's bad enough on its own. But the whole country should be concerned about what it means for everyone under the horribly mis-named Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.

Part of the problem is that Obamacare does nothing in the field of health care. It is an insurance bill, not a health care bill. It does not create a single additional doctor or nurse or dentist or other health care provider. But its demands will demand more of those still working in the medical care system.

And that's before you add in all the people coming across the border. You know, the ones the Department of Homeland Security is busing (and flying) to relocation centers all over the country, those who are given a court date and released, etc. They're all going to need free lawyers, we're told, and free health care.

That's also before you add in the fact that the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) isn't stable — it isn't finished. It's still being changed, both by the Department of Health and Human Services (formerly Kathleen Sebelius) and the White House (Barack Obama).

Of course, a lot of folks insist the President and his Cabinet departments don't have that kind of authority. They aren't allowed to change the laws passed by Congress and signed by the President, either by adding provisions to those laws or by declining to enforce those laws. If they do, it comes to this.

There also seem to be other differences in views between those inside the Administration cocoon and those outside it. Some of those differences are rather substantial.

Just one more. And this one may be a little snarky. But it gave me a chuckle, so here it is anyway.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Top 10 Amazing Things About the U.S.

Here (received from a friend in Arizona by e-mail) is a Canadian's version of a David Letterman Top 10 list — of U.S. American stupidities. It just makes you wanna shake your head in disbelief, it's so true.

  • Number 10 — Only in America could politicians talk about the greed of the rich at a $35,000.00 per plate Obama campaign fund-raising event.
  • Number 9 — Only in America could people claim that the government still discriminates against black Americans when they have a black President, a black Attorney General, and roughly 20% of the federal workforce is black while only 14% of the population is black, and more than 40% of all federal entitlements goes to black Americans — 3 times the rate that go to whites, and 5 times the rate that go to Hispanics!
  • Number 8 — Only in America could they have had the two people most responsible for our tax code, Timothy Geithner (the head of the Treasury Department) and Charles Rangel (who once ran the Ways and Means Committee), BOTH turn out to be tax cheats who are in favor of higher taxes.
  • Number 7 — Only in America can they have terrorists kill people in the name of Allah and have the media primarily react by fretting that Muslims might be harmed by the backlash.
  • Number 6 — Only in America would they make people who want to legally become American citizens wait for years in their home countries and pay tens of thousands of dollars for the privilege, while they discuss letting anyone who sneaks into the country illegally just 'magically' become American citizens (this probably should be number one or two).
  • Number 5 — Only in America could the people who believe in balancing the budget and sticking by the country's Constitution be thought of as EXTREMISTS.
  • Number 4 — Only in America could you need to present a driver's license to cash a check or buy alcohol, but not to vote.
  • Number 3 — Only in America could people demand the government investigate whether oil companies are gouging the public because the price of gas went up when the return on equity invested in a major U.S. Oil company (Marathon Oil) is less than half that of a company making tennis shoes (Nike). This in spite of the fact that, on each gallon, the federal government makes several times as much in taxes as the oil companies make in gross (pre-tax) profits.
  • Number 2 — Only in America could you collect more tax dollars from the people than any nation in recorded history, still spend a trillion dollars more than it has per year (for total spending of $7 million PER MINUTE) and complain that it doesn't have nearly enough money.
  • Number 1 on the list — and this is especially amazing! — Only in America could the richer people, who pay 86% of all income taxes, be accused of not paying their "fair share" by people who don't pay any income taxes at all.
You have to laugh, or you'll cry.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Independence Day, 2014

Today commemorates the United States formally becoming a nation.

That was 238 years ago.

And the U.S. is still the beacon of liberty for the whole world.

Happy Independence Day! Happy Fourth of July!