In 1958, when I was very young, then-Vice President Richard Nixon visited South America and along the way his motorcade was stoned in Caracas, Venezuela's capital. Nixon and his wife Pat were spat upon.
I remember seeing the incident on television and reading about it in the local papers. I also remember that it made me sad to think that the vice president of the United States of America, my country, was treated so poorly by one of our neighbors. But at least back then, members of America's executive branch had to travel outside the country to experience anarchy, street riots, out of control politics, and sheer lousy manners.
Nearly fifty years has passed since that unfortunate incident, and now our country has deteriorated to the point where an American president can be treated like a doormat without ever leaving the Oval Office. If you were to believe the daily talking points hammered out by the Democratic Party, run by left-over communists making one last stab at world domination, and their public relations agency, the Associated Press, you would think that America is one step away from sliding into the ocean and joining the Lost City of Atlantis.
Since I care about politics, and the state of our military, I often am tuned in to a variety of news outlets, but all I hear from the vast majority of them is bad news.
Even when the news is great, it is portrayed as bad news. If our guys win a battle in Iraq or Afghanistan, we don't hear that they won, or how many terrorists they killed, captured or wounded. We only hear about our losses, which, while regrettable, are usually minimal in comparison to the victory we won - but you don't hear that.
Case in point - I wrote recently that the AP makes a big deal of it if Taliban fighters cross the border from Pakistan to Afghanistan, attack a village, kill some local police and take over the village square for a few days. But when NATO troops or the Afghanistan army attack, kill hundreds of Taliban and send the battered remnants limping back over the border, you hear nothing.
Well, on Thursday a Taliban army unit attacked a small village in Afghanistan, and it took them five hours in a pitched battle against the local police to overrun the village square. Two police and the mayor were killed, and 10 Taliban were killed.
The AP reported that the Taliban took over the entire district, and what an embarrassment this was to the Afghan government! Yet when the Afghan army units got there - to the village, not the district - the mighty Taliban had run for the border to lick their wounds. That didn't get very much play from the AP, which should be of no surprise to anyone.
On the domestic financial front, when the stock market tanks for a couple of days, the media claims it signals the end of the capitalist economic system. When it reaches new highs, it simply means the rich are getting richer, while the poor are being used as step ladders.
When unemployment drops to historic lows, it barely gets a mention. When hundreds of thousands of new jobs are created, they aren't the right kind of jobs. According to the media and the Democratic party, every single job created in America since George Bush was elected is a menial, minimum wage embarrassment that proud and capable people would never stoop to if they weren't in dire straits.
When the minimum wage issue arises, which is used to create an artificial benchmark from which unions boost their wage and benefit demands, it seems that every single minimum wage earner is an uneducated, single parent with 12 children who will never get promoted or take advantage of adult education opportunities.
And every single one of these issues is George Bush's fault! Or so the media would have us believe.
Global Warming? George Bush, even though it has been going on for more than a century. American dependence on foreign oil? George Bush, even though he at least is promoting alternative fuel use and development.
Gas prices? Bush. High cost of chain store coffee? Bush.
Lousy date last night? Bush. Bad hair day? Bush.
Crime? Bush. Weather? Bush. Gun Control? Cheney. (Hah, just checking to see if you're reading.)
Aside from the War on Terror and the Battle for Iraq, the number one issue on most Americans' minds is illegal immigration. While we certainly have to come up with a cohesive national policy on that issue, let's face it, the issue exists because millions of people are trying to get in to the United States. Why? Because things are so much better here than in most of rest of the world!
Are there things George Bush does that I don't agree with? I certainly hope so! I don't vote in elections from the local to national levels to put puppets into office. I want to hear ideas that are different from mine, I want to debate issues, and I want to see that creative thinking is going on all along the political process.
If you want lock-step, mindless, bureaucratic governments, go to communist or socialist countries and see how you like it there. I guarantee you, not one of them has an immigration problem. Most of them have human rights issues and armed guards to keep the labor force in, otherwise all they would see is the heels of their citizens as they run for the borders to get out!
I saw Jesse Jackson on TV this morning, getting ready to march in New Orleans because that city hasn't been cleaned up or rebuilt after Hurricane Katrina despite the US Congress providing billions of dollars in aid to do just that! So whose fault is that? George Bush? Hardly.
He isn't responsible for the ineptness and corruption in New Orleans any more than he was responsible for keeping federal troops out of Louisiana during the emergency. Unfortunately, far too many Americans have no idea that the section of the federal code detailing how and when federal troops can be deployed for law enforcement purposes in national emergencies - formally known as Posse Comitatus - requires that the governor and legislature of affected states approve the deployment except in cases of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons use, or insurrection.
Personally, I think the president should have invoked the insurrection clause when Louisiana's governor, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco refused to allow the military to be deployed for nearly a week in the aftermath of Katrina, while the residents of New Orleans suffered. I also think President Bush was far too lenient on her and should have been screaming from the rooftops that she was the primary obstruction. But that is one of those areas where I disagree with him and it isn't a matter of national security.
As far as the current situation in New Orleans, Jackson said his real concern is that the former residents of that city won't return, and that will upset the voting demographics and Congressional representation there, which is the real reason he is marching there. The money is there, the aid is available. If New Orleans and Louisiana's government bureaucracies are too inept or corrupt to handle it properly, investigate yes, prosecute if necessary, but don't blame it on George Bush. There is only so much he can do.
In Iraq, I have had my disagreements with the president. I think we were far too lenient with the militias, especially the militia run by Muqtada Al Sadr, right from the start. I disagree with Rules of Engagement, and I vehemently disagree with the way our service people have been arrested and treated for claims of wrongdoing that aren't standing up to scrutiny.
If someone is shooting at our guys from a mosque or other 'holy' building, we are not the ones disrespecting their religion. They are, and the building should be leveled if that is what it takes to get the bad guys at minimal exposure to our guys.
If terrorists are hiding in neighborhoods and the residents of those neighborhoods are cooperating with them, it should be a free fire zone. I don't like it any better than anyone who has never gotten closer to a war than their TV or movie screen, but it is the best way to ensure the safety of our troops.
If you can drop a bomb from an airplane or a shell from an artillery battery without holding the gunners responsible for innocent deaths - in a war - then the same conditions should apply to the infantry. Other than provable incidents of troops deliberately targeting the civilian populace for crimes not involving split-second decisions in combat, the Rules of Engagement should be tossed!
Al Sadr should never have been allowed to build his militia and we never should have agreed to stay out of Sadr City. If you want to bring security to Iraq you start out by being the baddest guy on the block and you make sure that any anarchists who challenge you are flattened, immediately and irrevocably. That is how you create a secure environment out of chaos.
Those points aside, I am happy that the president has changed commanders in Iraq and is embarking on an offensive designed specifically to bring stability there long enough for the Iraqis to get their feet solidly on the ground. I am happy that he is standing firm in the face of some outright treasonous comments from Congress - Democrats and Republicans alike - and I am confident that given full support from their commander in chief, our troops will accomplish their mission.
On the political front, I was told by a very well educated Republican operative the other day that we have to be "civil" in our dealings with the Democrats. Really? Where is that written? Who said that?
Are the communists who run the Democratic Party being civil to anyone who disagrees with them? Check it out. They attack people in or running for office on every single level of the political process from local to national, and even international if they don't like our UN ambassador.
Every day America is forced to sit through interminable accusations and hearings in Washington, none of which has accomplished anything, but which perpetuate the appearance of chaos in our nation's capital.
Vice President Dick Cheney and President Bush are portrayed as murderers who engineer wars just to keep their friends rich, but no one talks about how successful they have been in preventing further terrorist attacks on our shores since 9-11. They both have lost valuable members of their staffs because the communists running the Democratic Party have targeted them for disposal, and say outright they intend to "get" this or that staff member. Karl Rove is the name they use most often.
Meanwhile, no one says squat about leaks to the media from within Congress on our surveillance, detention or financial tracking methodology. If those leaks had occurred in the World War II, the perpetrators would have been caught, tried and most likely, shot.
If I had one suggestion for President Bush it would be to take a good hard look at the people who are surrounding him inside the DC beltway. It is nice, it is absolutely wonderful, to have highly educated staffers and operatives and telemarketers.
But if they have only formal education and have no life experiences that give them the ability to apply that education, the result is ineffectiveness - in other words, you lose elections, you lose Congress and your life becomes infinitely more difficult.
A highly educated, Washington-based staffer who doesn't know that the Gathering of Eagles is not a Republican fund-raising unit, and who worries more about what his liberal Democratic friends will be saying over cocktails after work than whether we are effectively combating efforts to dismantle our form of government, is not being helpful.
This is a hard time for America, and overall George Bush is doing well, despite what is said about him on the political front. But he and Vice President Cheney have far more to worry about than constant belittlement and distractions from their political opponents.
Instead of running for cover and hiding away as they are doing now, the Republican fence-sitters and even the Republican turncoats in Congress should be standing up and taking on some of the fight so the executive branch can function as it should. Otherwise, they can expect to see their seats move from the R to the D category in coming elections.
Remember, I live in Connecticut, where the state Republican Party was dominant a decade ago and now is an endangered species. It didn't happen because the Democrats were so much better, it happened because our party was infiltrated, distracted, and rendered ineffective.
All the while people who were in office did nothing, said nothing, and now are on the outside looking in.
Saturday, April 28, 2007