The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Archive for the ‘war’ Category

CALLING A SPADE A SPADE

 

There are those who claim that poker is a game of skill.  Usually, those are people who have just taken down a big pot or won a tournament.  There are those who claim that poker is a game of luck.  Usually, those are people who have just taken what is affectionately known in the poker world as a “bad beat.”  My personal view is that poker is a game of luck combined with an element of skill.  I base that on the fact that if poker were simply a game of skill, each of the sixty-five events at the World Series of Poker would see the same faces at the final table.  That is simply not the case.  Even the greatest marksman is not going to be able to show his stuff if he does not have a supply of bullets.

Back in the days when I played a great deal of live poker I noticed that there were certain days that I could do nothing wrong.  It was as though I were a magnet for the winning hand.  Sadly, those days were few and far between.  More often the rules of random mathematical probability held sway (whether poker is a game of luck, skill or a combination of the two, there is no question that it is a game based on math), and I would receive my share of good, bad and indifferent starting hands.  Then there were the times that I would sit at the table for hours without having a hand that had any high probability of being the best when then final card was dealt.  For some reason, those slumps seemed to last for an inordinately long period of time – once for over a month of daily play.

As I was in my “slump” period, I began wondering why I subjected myself to this sort of abuse.  Anyone who has experienced the phenomenon of consistently bad cards has probably asked the same question.  I was about four hours into the session and nothing had changed when I picked up my cards and saw the six of spades.  I slid the bottom card to the right, keeping my cards sequestered from the player to my left who had a habit of staring over to see if he could make out what I had been dealt when I saw the corner of the top card, a black ace, the ace of spades.  If you don’t play poker you might think this was a good hand – but it isn’t.  In fact, A – 6 is the worst holding with an ace that you can have.  The fact that it was suited only slightly improves the hand.  But as my stack of chips had dwindled through four hours of antes, I decided to play it anyway.  There were four callers so that gave my hand some improvement through what is known as “pot odds.”

The dealer removed the first card from the deck, placing it on the discard pile and turned over the first three cards of the hand, otherwise known as the “flop.”  Much to my delight, three spades came up, the queen, eight and deuce.  I had, at that moment, what is known as “the nuts,” in other words, the best hand that could be held at that particular stage of play.  I kept my poker face and showed no reaction to the cards on the table.  One of the players to my right made a moderate bet and three of us called.  I presumed he held a queen and was betting top pair.

The next card, the “turn” was dealt.  It was the seven of hearts.  Unless you were holding a seven or two of them, this didn’t improve anyone’s hand.  The original bettor made a more aggressive bet, which another player raised.  I figured the raiser either was holding a pair of sevens or a seven and another card that had already appeared on the board.  At that point, I called with all my remaining chips and the original bettor called.  Then the final card, the “river” was dealt.  It was the three of diamonds.  I had survived and my “nut flush” had finally broken my long run of terrible cards.

The first bettor turned over his cards, A – Q for a pair; the second player turned his cards up and, as expected had three sevens; and with glee I turned up my cards, only to discover that what I had taken for the ace of spades was in fact the ace of clubs.  I had mis-read my cards and had nothing.  So I picked myself up from my seat, went home and took a month long sabbatical from playing poker.  That improved my attitude – a great deal – if you’ll pardon the expression.

Was it wish fulfillment that I saw a spade where a club existed?  Was I simply tired and misread the card?  Perhaps it was some combination of the two.  But this episode reminded me of the turmoil in which we in the United States now find ourselves – primarily because we are being fed a line that says that a club is a spade – if it’s more opportune to call it that.  While some call that “political correctness” my name for this form of communication is deceit.

As I’ve gotten older I’ve used the term “senior moment” from time to time to explain why I lost my train of thought or forgot the reason that I went into the cupboard.  Fortunately, those moments are relatively rare and only affect me.  But there is a more pernicious lapse afoot that I have named “an Obama moment.”  Should you wonder what that is, here’s my definition:  Diddling around while a solvable problem festers into a crisis and then, finally, making the wrong decision on how to handle it.

During the past month or so I’ve begun many posts.  But almost as soon as I began, a new issue has arisen which distracted me from my original writing.  This is, clearly, a fast paced world and we no longer have to wait for the evening paper to find out what has been happening here and abroad.  While many hope for their five minutes of fame, that fame has now been reduced to the length of a nanosecond.  It’s almost as though there is a concerted conspiratorial effort to so overwhelm us with “news” that we are being distracted from what is really happening and what events are truly important.  As I am not a fan of “conspiracy theories” I dismiss that – with a modicum of reservation.  So what are the real “crises” that President Obama has allowed to reach their present state?  They are immigration; ISIS and Ebola – although I can’t blame him for inventing Ebola.  More importantly, might these three be potentially interconnected?

The vast majority of Americans support legal immigration and a path to citizenship for those who want to come here.  They also support our having borders that are secure.  While charges of “racism” are lobbed because the vast majority of illegals (or “undocumented people” per Ninny Pepperoni, a/k/a Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi), are of Mexican or Central American origin, there are documented cases of people from Iraq, Iran, Syria and other middle eastern countries where ISIS has grown exponentially, who have also made it across our southern border and were apprehended.  At least some of them were apprehended.

Virtually everyone who has seen the acts of terrorism which ISIS regularly employs would agree that it is an organization based on consummate evil – and something that the rest of us in the world who do not subscribe to its tenets – would be better off without.  Certainly those who have been victims would, if they were still with us, agree with that statement.

Yet while ISIS grows in size and controls a greater amount of territory almost on a daily basis, this administration and its supporters engage us in a debate about whether using the term “Islamic” is a term of racism.  It hardly seems like a worthwhile argument since ISIS or IS (or in the administration’s preferred variant ISIL) uses Islamic as the first word in its acronym.  While we engage in that meaningless discussion, we see the focus of the liberal left applauding the speech that high school dropout Leonardo DiCaprio gave as he waxed eloquently before the UN about the evils of climate change.  Unfortunately, Mr. DiCaprio and his cohorts in Hollywood would have little to fear from climate change as, if ISIS were to prevail in its objective of theocratic domination, they would be among the first to face the executioner’s sword.

Then, of course, we have the West African Ebola outbreak.  We should all feel reassured that the president went on record that no cases would be spawned here – other than the fact that we now hear there may be several people who are  currently under observation for the disease.  Politicians, and the rest of us for that matter, should refrain from using the words none or all, since one exception makes our statements incorrect.  But to the average Joe or Juwanna, making sweeping statements is very reassuring – until the exception manifests itself.

Now what do all three of these issues have in common?

We know that ISIS’ members are so fanatical that they are willing to sacrifice themselves for an assured place with Allah in the afterlife.  I applaud their devotion and wish them all a speedy trip.  One of the ways to make that dream a reality is dying while killing the infidel – namely any or all of the six plus billion people or so who do not subscribe to Islam – and, for that matter, many of their Islamic brethren who do not adhere to their exact interpretation of that faith.

Given the porosity of our borders, the ease of international air travel, what is to prevent these zealots from sending a contingent of their fellow jihadists to West Africa, purposely infecting themselves with Ebola and then travelling to the United States and dispersing among many of our cities?  Purportedly, we have five medical centers nationwide which are equipped to treat patients who are affected by the Ebola virus.  How would we handle hundreds or thousands or tens of thousands of such cases?  The answer is that we couldn’t.  And, sadly, that’s true no matter how much Obama, his cronies and supporters claim otherwise.

The nation has endured nearly six years of an administration that is either ineffectual, indifferent or incompetent.  It’s hard to imagine suffering through another two more years of the same.  Should President Obama decide that the greatest contribution he could make to the country is taking an early retirement and heading for the golf course, I’d be willing to chip in to help pay his greens fees.  And while gaffe stricken VP Biden doesn’t seem much of an improvement, at least he would provide us with a little comic relief.  And just about now, based on the pessimistic view most Americans hold of the future, we could all use a good laugh.

And that’s calling a spade a spade.

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DODGE BALL, THE LIBERAL LEFT AND TERRORISM

When I was in grammar school, all of us engaged in a weekly game of dodge ball.  Students from four grades were sided up, the “A” homeroom students on one side and the “B” homeroom students on the other.  The balls were divided evenly between both sides and we scrambled to pick up this ammunition, intent on destroying our enemy students.  This gave me an early insight into my own and my fellow students’ different personalities.

Generally, the older kids, oblivious of the pelting they were likely to encounter, ran to the demarcation line dividing the two sides, poised to hoist and hurl their soft rubber missiles at their opponents.  Naturally, many of these were felled by their opponents’ projectiles and were retired from the game.  Others who were perhaps more prudent, hung back from the front line of the playing field, more intent on avoiding the balls flung at them than demolishing the enemy until the numbers on both sides had been culled down to a more manageable size.

In a typical game I found myself sidelined fairly early on.  In part this was due to the large, heavy prescription glasses that I wore from an early age that limited my peripheral vision, resulting in my taking more than my fair share of balls to the head and other body parts.  But perhaps the more important factor in my less than stellar performance was my own view of my abilities.  I knew that I didn’t throw as well as other kids and I didn’t have a vision of being the superstar who carried my side through to victory.

One day, through a matter of chance and a little bit of artful dodging, I was the last kid on my side still standing – versus three older kids on the other side.  My classmates, knowing my less than stellar athletic skills, still cheered me on enthusiastically.  All of a sudden my adrenaline started flowing.  I had to hold up the honor of all of us “A” homeroom kids.  I put out of my mind the fact that I was outnumbered by three to one and these kids were all better throwers than I.  The only assets I had going for me were agility and desire.

One kid came to the line and fired one of the small, fast balls at me.  Remarkably, I caught it – much to both our surprise and the cheers of my classmates.  I hurled it right back and it struck one of the two remaining contenders in the foot.  More cheers from the sideline.  Then it was one on one.

After an exchange of mis-fired balls my nemesis on the other side of the chalk threw one of the larger balls.  For a moment I debated whether I should try to grab or evade it.  I finally thought I could catch it – and I did.  We had won – and my classmates cheered me with tremendous enthusiasm (and I suspect a modicum of disbelief).  I felt a tremendous glow, knowing what it was to win.

America once had this “can do” spirit of winning.  That’s what brought millions of immigrants to the country.  Nowhere else in the world was it possible for a humble person to make the best possible life for him or herself and his kids.  Being the best was the goal.  It was not an embarrassment.  And we won consistently and that had benefits not only for Americans but billions around the world because Americans are a charitable people.

It always amazes me when I hear the envy, inherent in the philosophy of the liberal left that, “So and so has too much money.  We should take most of that and redistribute it to those who barely have enough food to eat.”  While helping out the poor is certainly a moral thing in which to engage, what the left either fails to realize or chooses to ignore is that once that one time distribution is made, the poor person will continue to engage in the behaviors that made him poor and the formerly wealthy person will continue to engage in the behaviors that will enable him to amass a second fortune.

The underlying premise of left wing American politics is that America is an evil-doer, without the moral compass to participate in world affairs since they believe that it is American past policy which has misshapen our globe into the turbulent place it is.  If we were to ask them to name a country that has done more to help out humanity through charitable giving or selfless military service where and when it has been needed, they will either be silent or they will change the focus of the conversation.  That is because there is no answer to that question by virtually any measure.

While the real motivation for initiating the war in Iraq may be debatable, there is no question that Saddam Hussein was a violent, ruthless and genocidal dictator.  That in itself would present sufficient reason for ridding his people of him.  Estimates are that between 250,000 and 500,000 died at his hands.  Is that not a sufficient number dead to have removed this scourge from the Earth?

We ignored Hussein and his murders for years.  Whether he possessed WMD’s or not, the slaughter of one half million of his own countrymen should stir even the most pacifistic person to action.  And after a hard fought war, Hussein was eliminated and Iraq was brought to what, by Middleastern standards, was a level of balance and tranquility.  And then we withdrew and the country is once again in chaos with perhaps an even more violent and ruthless force now in control of much of the country.  The previous post had several graphic pictures of the horror they currently are bringing on those whose views differ from theirs.

In defense of what can only be generously termed a “policy,” President Obama said in a New York Times interview yesterday that “The responsibility for Iraq falls on the shoulders of the Iraqi government – not the United States.  And if we had left a force of 10,000 troops there it would have made no difference in ISIS’ ascendancy to power.”  The first part of the statement, that Iraqis should determine their own fate has some fair amount of validity to it.  The second part, that leaving troops there would have had no impact on future developments is purely speculative and, in my belief, likely untrue.  Having a U. S. military presence there might have at the least shown that we hadn’t abandoned the country and left it totally in the hands of what has proven to be an inefficient and inept government.

Part of the left’s justification for withdrawing from Iraq and soon Afghanistan is that the American people are war weary.  Poll after poll shows that is the case.  But that is a reflection and expression of politics not policy.  If we were to use that metric, there would have been a bipartisan law passed repealing Obamacare since the majority of Americans in poll after poll oppose the law.  If liberal Americans want to use polling as the basis for policy decisions they should, at least, be consistent.

Now, in a limited way, we’re back in Iraq.  We’re finally supplying some armaments to our longest standing allies, the Kurds and humanitarian relief to the Yazidis and other minority groups that are being butchered by the ISIS savages.  Even as we embark on this, we have shown our hand by describing our present and future involvement as being “limited.”  It’s fairly clear that if anyone in this administration has ever paid poker, they have not done well in that venture.  There is no difference in the way in which the Obama administration pursues American relations with other countries than an NFL coach who shares his playbook with the opposing team.

Because of our natural resources, not the least of which is our people’s ability to perceive that evil, where it existed, could not be tolerated and had to be combatted, America has been the perhaps unwilling caretaker for the world at least since the end of WW II.  As a result of a philosophy that ignores that fact, this administration has led an exodus of retreat – and the results are what we see before us today on the world’s stage.  It is not a pretty picture and belies Obama’s recent statement that, “The world has never been a safer place.”

When I found myself the lone survivor in our dodge ball game I realized that I was outnumbered and had poorer skills than my opponents.  But sometimes you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.  America faces no such similar deficiency.  We are still the world’s strongest power militarily and, despite the decline in our standards of morality, know the difference between what is right and what is wrong.  Hopefully, we will do the right thing even at the cost of personal sacrifice.

It’s time that the administration stood up, moved to the demarcation line, looked the army of terror in the face and said, “Enough.  You will go no further.”  We’ll see if our future actions are determined by partisan politics or intelligent policy.

WHILE OBAMA DAWDLES

WARNING: THE FOLLOWING IMAGES ARE GRAPHIC

No reasonable person wants war. The ISIS extremists in Iraq, Syria and who knows wherever else are not reasonable. Their credo is to make war and exterminate anyone who does not subscribe to their beliefs.

When Obama came into office, the situation in Iraq was, at least, stable. His policy of trying to end the war, while admirable, has resulted in the holocausts that are happening today in that ancient land. This is a Commander in Chief who could screw up a one horse parade.

Several days ago was the fortieth anniversary of President Nixon’s resignation. While he had not committed “high crimes and misdemeanors,” he had certainly overstepped the bounds of legality. He did the right thing. He resigned. The events that brought about RMN’s decision to step down from the highest office in the country were related not to public policy but to creating a mystique and ensuring that his “legacy” would be remembered. It has been.

The pictures below are real examples of brutality and sub-human behavior. If, with the limited air strikes and marginal amounts of “humanitarian aid” that have been forthcoming at the CIC’s direction, I hear one person talk about “income inequality,” a “war on women” or anything equally trivial during the next few months of the campaign, I’m fairly certain that I will retch. Those issues may be minor inconveniences. What is happening to minorities in Iraq is a tragedy.

Nixon did the right thing and resigned. Frankly, his offenses were minimal compared to the affronts to which Obama has subjected the Constitution, the nation and all Americans. Not only has he bankrupted the country financially, he has even more importantly eviscerated the moral ethos on which the country is based and abandoned our allies to fill an un-fillable vacuum which has resulted in the ISIS perversion to gain a strong foothold.

 

ISISsyrianman

A Syrian man beheaded in a brutal execution by ISIS

 

ISISgroupbeheading

A group execution by ISIS in Iraq

 

younggirlISIS

A young girl executed by ISIS in Iraq

 

Mr. President.  I hope you enjoy your vacation.  I hear Martha’s Vineyard is very lovely this time of year.

THE FARMER AND THE THIEF

In the Midwest about twenty-five years ago, just about the time that common sense began its long sabbatical from which it has yet to return, a case came to court which involved a chicken farmer and a chicken thief.  The case was brought against the farmer by the crook.

The farmer had noticed that his chickens were diminishing in number, several at a time.  As he examined the coop he saw no evidence that a fox might be getting in among them as there were no feathers or mutilated chicken parts lying around.  So he concluded correctly that the thief was a human.

In order to preserve his flock and his livelihood, he set up a deterrent – a loaded shotgun inside the barn that would be activated if a person opened the door without disabling this trap.  He also posted a large sign warning whoever the thief was that they were in danger of being shot if the door was opened.

Several nights went by and suddenly the farmer was awakened to the sound of the shotgun being discharged within the coop.  In addition to the blast, he heard the chickens shrieking and went down to find the thief had been disabled by a blast from the gun.  The farmer called the local sheriff’s office and the thief was taken away.  The chicken farmer thought that he had successfully resolved the issue.  He was incorrect.

Several weeks went by and the farmer found that the thief had hired an attorney who had, on his behalf, filed a law suit against the farmer for “reckless endangerment.”  When the case came to trial, both sides made their arguments.  The farmer explained that he was simply trying to protect his family and his living.  He further pointed out that he had posted a sign, warning of the consequences of attempting to steal his chickens.  But, as it turned out, the thief was illiterate and had no idea what the sign said.  The court ruled in the thief’s favor – awarding him a judgment that was so large that the farmer had no way to pay it other than by signing the deed to his farm over to the crook.  Justice was done.

The way in which world opinion is developing regarding the conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza reminds me of this sad miscarriage of justice.

Before the thief showed up at his farm, the chicken farmer had not deployed his shotgun.  Before Israel began bombing Hamas weapons arsenals, Hamas was regularly lobbing rockets into Israel.

Before Israel began destroying the tunnels that were intended to provide a means to carry out terrorism within Israel, Hamas had to build those tunnels – with concrete and other supplies that had been supplied by humanitarian and government agencies.  That concrete was supposed to be used to build schools.

Before a thousand or so Palestinian civilians were killed in the conflict, Israel implemented a defense system, “The Iron Dome” to defend itself against the three thousand or so rockets that were launched against it by Hamas.  Who knows if that system had proven to be ineffective, how many innocent Israeli citizens would have perished.

The “outrage” that much of Europe and now the United States has expressed towards the way in which Israel has conducted its self-defense, revolves around the children who have died.  The Israeli argument is that Hamas intentionally hides its assault weapons in places where there are children, specifically for the purpose of being able to wage a public relations campaign to supplement its inefficient military campaign.  The counter argument is that Israel is “indiscriminately” bombing schools and hospitals without regard to civilian casualties.

What is Hamas (and Islam’s) view of the sacredness of the life of children (or anyone else)?  The following Wikipedia, incomplete as it is, will give you an introduction to how children in Palestine are regularly recruited and exploited to become suicide bombers:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Child_suicide_bombers_in_the_Israeli%E2%80%93Palestinian_conflict

The problem with relying on information from Wikipedia is that it is a compilation of anonymous sources.  It is difficult to know whether any of the authors (or editors) have a personal agenda they want to advance.  But there are countless articles about suicide child bombers available to the reader who wants to do an internet search.  This practice is not restricted to Hamas or Hezbollah in Palestine but is a tactic that the Taliban in Afghanistan also used.

But even if we were to dismiss this as fabrication, what is Islam’s view of the value of children generally?  An interesting article appeared in “The Huffington Post” recently regarding the abuse of children and forcing them to labor:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/29/child-labor-map_n_5631384.html

If you examine the map and the countries which are listed as “extreme” examples of utilizing child labor, seven out of the ten are countries in which Islam is the state religion.  Between the way in which Islam treats its children, not to mention its women, it is clear that human life holds a very low level of importance within that creed.

The current conflict, like those which preceded it, have all been instigated by militancy on the part of the Palestinians.  It is hard for me to understand the criticism of Israel by the Europeans, other than to say that they have now allowed such a large minority of Islamic residents within their countries that they are deferring the inevitable conflict which will come to pass as these people make more and greater demands to have their way of life “accommodated” by the majority within those countries.  France, Germany and the UK, among others, will have to face that conflict when it erupts – and now would be better than later.  But all of them have adopted a Clement Atlee state of mind.  At the moment, they believe they have that luxury.  Israel correctly has no such opinion – realizing that they are the lone small expression of democracy in a very ruthless neighborhood.

Through a miscarriage of justice, the chicken farmer lost his property and his livelihood.  Irrespective of world opinion, Israel must continue undeterred in its fight for survival.  And it would to the benefit of the rest of the western world to realize that the jihadi who are today threatening Jerusalem and Tel Aviv have no plan to stop there.  As one American convert to jihadist Islam recently proclaimed in a You Tube video, “I’ll see you in New York.”

DISPUTIN’ PUTIN

Vladimir Putin isn’t a very nice guy.  There’s a lot of that going around among world leaders.  For one thing he has a low opinion of President Obama.  There’s a lot of that going around as well.  And he’s not all that favorably inclined to Secretary of State John Kerry – calling him a liar.  Obama’s meeting with Putin and the other G-20 heads has got to be creating a lot of angst for our president.

Putin disputes the reliability of the evidence that the Assad regime is responsible for the gassing of its citizens.  A reasonable person would take that denunciation with a grain of salt.  After all, Putin and the Russian government are supporting the current Syrian administration and Assad.

But a reasonable person also has to question the reliability – or more important, the believability of what is coming out from Obama and his administration.  This is an administration that has bald-faced lied about virtually everything since it found itself first empowered.  Yesterday in Stockholm, the president said, “It was not his red line that was crossed – it was the world’s red line.”  If that isn’t a bald-faced lie, what is?  I know because I’ve seen the tape about twenty times.

With the debate currently raging in Congress over whether to support a military initiative in Syria, the focus has now switched from humanitarian concerns to whether we should pass this resolution to allow the president – and by extension the nation – save face.  That is hardly an adequate reason for going to war – in Syria or anywhere else.

By now it should be obvious that we have managed to put together a national team which consists of a lot of scrubs.  That is not restricted to the executive branch.  The leadership and a fair amount of the membership of the Congress fall into that same unfortunate category.  While legally, they do represent America – they certainly don’t exemplify the American ideal.  And any thinking person either in this country or elsewhere realizes that.  There is no face to save for these people.

Speaking of legality – there are two sets of laws which we need to consider.  The first are those of the United States and the second of the international community (the PC way of speaking of the UN).

With the constant disregard for the laws of the United States that Obama has demonstrated by violating acts of Congress through executive fiat, I suppose the question of U. S. law is more or less irrelevant.  The law, as it is viewed by this administration, is something that should be enforced when it meets their objectives and ignored when it doesn’t.  So as U. S. law has essentially been minimalized by Obama and company, let’s not waste time on the academic exercise of debating whether the president can commit us to a military action in Syria or whether he needs Congressional consent.

So that leaves us with the question of international law.

As I understand it, there are specific conditions under which an outside party can involve itself in the affairs of another, sovereign nation.

The United States can engage in a war if we are threatened or believe that we are about to be attacked by another nation.  That is not the case in Syria.

The United States can engage in a war if we are asked to assist one of our allies who are being assaulted by another nation.  That is not the case in Syria.

The United States can engage in a war if we are asked to do so through a resolution passed by the United Nations.  That is not the case in Syria.

There is no legal justification under international law for us to be involved in Syria which is engaged in an internal struggle – a civil war.  We might take a lesson from England in this matter.  Queen Victoria was reputedly tempted to get involved in the American Civil War but was convinced by her husband Prince Albert not to get Great Britain into the fray.  I can only imagine how President Lincoln would have reacted if English war ships suddenly showed up on the shores of the east coast.

So there they are in St. Petersburg – President Putin and President Obama.  One straightforward tyrant and one wannabe I’m not sure what.  I guess the biggest difference between the two is that one shoots from the hip – the other from the lip.  And that lip smacking is precisely what has gotten us to where we are today.

AMERICAN MORALITY

Today the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing in an effort to convince those members who either oppose or are undecided  about whether the Congress should vote to support military action in Syria.

There was a great deal of speechifying about our (the United States’) moral obligation to punish an obvious atrocity.  I am nominating Secretary of State John Kerry for an Oscar – both for his performance today as well as for his moving speech on Friday.  Category – Best Performance in a work of fiction.

The Secretary expressed a concern that some members might vote against a resolution authorizing “limited military activity” because of their antipathy toward the Commander in Chief.  I’m no fan of the President’s – but I do not believe he needs to be embarrassed by the Congress.  He is perfectly capable of accomplishing that on his own.  Therefore, I hope that the members make their determination based on the facts and not on the politics.  For better or worse, for the next 1200 days or so we have the present administration in place and we have to live with that.

Looking back about fifty years, I remember another President, John F. Kennedy, who sent some advisors to a place called Viet Nam.  There was a bit of turmoil going on over there.  The French, incidentally our only potential ally in a Syrian adventure, had been dealing with those nasty Communist insurgents in that country for a decade.  This was a “limited” action on the part of our nation and stemmed from the “Domino Theory” that suggested that communism would gain strength and grow as it took over country after country.

Secretary of State Kerry and Sen. McCain, both of whom are advocating for the Congress’ endorsement of a military strike against Syria, served in that war.  So did a great number of young American men and of those who were primarily drafted, 58,209 came home in body bags and another 153,303 returned home wounded.  These are the results of a  “limited” war strategy.

The opening remarks were made by the committee’s Chairman, Sen. Bob Menendez (D – NJ).   One of his statements in his brief remarks was the following:

”This is not a declaration of war.  This is a declaration of our values to the world.”

The profoundly important question that each of us should ask is, “What values does America have?”  Are we to look to our politicians and the Washington bureaucracy to define those?  Are we to look to the examples they set for us as our guiding light?  Are we to have confidence in the values that a Sen. Menendez exhibits in his personal conduct?

Perhaps you may remember that the senator was involved in a scandal in the Dominican Republic, for hiring prostitutes as young as 16 while he stayed in that beautiful paradise setting.  And as recently as June of this year he was apparently involved in an affair with a married woman in Puerto Rico.  Now if you’re an old-fashioned person like me, you might find this sort of behavior reprehensible.  There are fewer of us with that view left in today’s America.  And to expect a thorough investigation by the Congress of one of its members is unlikely – since this sort of behavior is hardly restricted to Sen. Menendez as we have seen.

Perhaps you are of the opinion that a person’s sex life is his or her own business.  Consenting adults are free to do as they will – and the guidance for their actions must come either from within or from some higher power.  But the case of the Dominican incident did not involve adults but children – the same kind of children whom al-Qaeda presses into prostitution.

For some reason, we categorize al-Qaeda as degenerate, medieval bullies for those activities.  Yet we give a pass to a United States senator for utilizing those same children for his personal pleasure.  In fact, we make him the Chairman of a committee which expresses American ideals to the world – both to our foes and to our allies.  And what is more incomprehensible is that our military aid in Syria has, at least in part, gone to support the anti-Assad al-Qaeda rebel faction.

During the course of his testimony, Secretary of State Kerry, when pressed as to whether the proposed “limited strike” might escalate, finally admitted that if there “were a response by the Syrians or others, it might be necessary to send military forces in to Syria.”  He categorized that as a “remote possibility.”  While I’m no military strategist, I would put the likelihood of a “reaction” being pretty close to one hundred percent.

When the United States began sending more and more grunts to Viet Nam to win what the French had already learned was an unwinnable war, American frustration led to our using new and innovative weapons – specifically, napalm.  This was a petroleum based gel, first used during WW II but later perfected and used extensively by our military personnel in Vietnam.

Napalm clings to the skin and causes horrific epidermal burns.  Here is what a Vietnamese napalm survivor had to say about this weapon:

“Napalm is the most terrible pain you can imagine,” said Kim Phúc, known from a famous Vietnam War photograph. “Water boils at 212°F. degrees. Napalm generates temperatures of 1,500-2,200°F.”

In the photo below, Kim is the nude eight year old girl , center left, running down the road after being burned by napalm.

kimphuc

There is no morality in war.  In fact, war is the ultimate expression of a failure of morality.  Whether it’s napalm or sarin gas, nuclear weapons, machetes or assault rifles, the intent of war is to kill.  It doesn’t matter to the dead if she is a Syrian or Vietnamese child or a child in one of America’s inner cities.  Murder is an offense against all of humanity. And until each of us learns to live that truth, there will be murders and we will continue to excuse them by using the legalized term “war” to justify them.

“Peace demands the most heroic labor and the most difficult sacrifice.  It demands greater heroism than war.  It demands greater fidelity to the truth and a much more perfect purity of conscience.”

– Thomas Merton

THE IHOP PRESIDENT

With all the news that has assaulted us in the last ten days, I’ve made at least eight different attempts at putting up a post.  But the sensory overload of all the noise in the news left each of those pieces unfinished as something new always seemed to distract me.  I have no doubt I will get back to them at some point in the near future.

The inspiration for this post is the furor raging over the President’s lack of decision over the atrocities the Assad regime is perpetrating in Syria – and a commercial that sums up the administration’s paralysis.  Specifically, it was an IHOP commercial which promoted their new line of waffles.  I can’t think of no better analogy for how the President has mishandled this entire affair.

Let’s be honest and admit that the situation in the Middle East is profoundly complicated and has been for thousands of years.  Not only are there ethnic issues but conjoined with those are religious ones as well.  That’s a combination that allows for an environment of conflagration and that is exactly what has unfolded for centuries.

I question whether the most seasoned and informed diplomats would be able to find a workable solution that would lead to a peaceful solution.  Many have certainly tried.

Let’s further agree that Assad is a ruthless and heartless ruler.  The testimony to that statement is that he has killed one hundred thousand of his people in the past two and one half years.  The recent alleged murder of an additional fifteen hundred or so people including hundreds of children seems to pale in comparison to his former activities, notwithstanding the use of chemical agents, presumably sarin gas, to dispatch those to their deaths.

It is hard for me to understand the genesis for the President’s outrage against the use of chemical weapons.  They are horrible and they have been banned and condemned by the international community for eighty years.  The Geneva Convention strictly prohibits their use.  Of course, the Geneva Convention also outlaws the killing of civilians and Assad and his opponents have disregarded that at least 100,000 times in two and one half years – most of which occurred under the watch of then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – now la dauphine assumptive of the Democratic Party as a presidential candidate in 2016.

Where is the outrage which came from this administration over the machete and gun murders that have killed an estimated 500,000 Congolese in yet another ongoing and seemingly never-ending civil war?  And how can we believe in the sincerity of an administration which has repeatedly denied the growing body of irrefutable evidence in scandal after scandal?

For rational people, war should be the absolute last step a nation should take – and then only after every other option has been considered and abandoned.  It should be undertaken only after a thorough evaluation of all the best evidence and weighing the different possible scenarios and their potential outcomes.  It should be considered by a thoughtful and moral President in consultation with other thoughtful and moral advisors.  Sadly, we do not have such a person in the White House and those advisors with whom he has surrounded himself are, in many cases, equally suspect.

Speaking of waffling, I find myself in the unusual position of flipping between the view that President Obama has an agenda to destroy America and the other that he is merely the most incompetent fool whom we have ever elected.  Frankly, there is a lot of evidence to support either viewpoint.  The one perception which is missing is that he has the nation’s best interests at heart and has merely made a few very substantial missteps despite his best intentions.  I see no evidence for that third scenario.

Perhaps it is the time in which we live which swept this very small man into office, replete with his tool bag of deception, deceit, no moral standards and nothing to commend him other than an appeal to the lowest, most carnal desires of a fawning plebiscite.  There are many in that electorate who will mindlessly defend their standard bearer, the facts not withstanding, because he serves and feeds their immediate lusts.  He is, truly, their man – and they are his.

For those of us who think outside the box and, despite the common fanfare broadcast by most of our nation’s media, come to rational conclusions, perhaps the greatest legacy of this president will be that he might have brought us to that cathartic moment when all around us is crumbling and it will awaken enough of us who believe in the vision and promise of the old America to take action to restore the nation and purge the sycophants who are leeching our society of its greatness.

Based on President Obama’s IHOP waffle “strategy,” it concerns me that we have placed in charge a man who, through executive order, would be able to order martial law should a true (or manufactured) national emergency exist.  And with an administration that has consistently sought to curtail civil liberties in its intrusion into our privacy and rights to defend ourselves in weapon ownership, one can’t help wonder whether this entire Syrian operation is merely a trial balloon to see how we would react should such an event occur.  Or, even more frighteningly, should the proposed minimal strike against Syria proceed, might this not provoke some response either here in America or against our allies in Jordan, Europe or Israel?

For nearly five years, we in America have had first hand evidence of an administration, headed by a puerile man, see how far and how fast he could bring down a once great and moral nation.  Now the world has a first hand opportunity to witness what we have had to live through.

That is perhaps the greatest transparency this administration has demonstrated during its term in office – and it has not made this revelation of its own volition.

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