Thursday, July 31, 2008

Connecticut's John Larson; Raising Taxes and Gambling With Our Lives

Just before the "Slink Away" Congress made good on its name, a bill proposed by Connecticut's First Congressional District incumbent John Larson, that he claimed would lower oil prices by further regulating the futures market, failed to garner the minimum votes to move to the next step.

In a press conference after his plan went down to flaming defeat, Larson reportedly went on a tear, bashing Congressional Republicans - who are in the minority - and demanding to "cut the cards" to give consumers "a new deal."

Uh-huh. What's that adage - "truer words are said in jest?" Interesting that Larson's first comments after his bill died referred to gambling.

This ladies and gentlemen, is not a time to gamble with unproven theories and half-baked proposals - especially considering we are talking about public safety this winter, not to mention more taxpayer dollars. Larson's bill failed in the House of Representatives because it was ill-conceived and given no chance to succeed in the first place, even by his own party.

According to a media report, in his rant against the minority Republicans, Larson also referred to Congressional testimony suggesting the impact of speculation on gas prices could be anywhere from as little as 10 percent up to 70 percent.

Larson, the Vice Chairman of the Democratic caucus, meaning he is a major mover and shaker and played a leading role in creating the conditions in which our country finds itself, then reportedly said, "Somewhere in between lies the truth. What we're saying is what my grandfather used to say, 'Trust everyone, but cut the cards.'"

I'll bet Larson's grandfather never told him to bet on a hand that had 60 percent possibility of failure.

Larson's bill would have created the position of inspector general for the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, which would have carried with it all the staff, office and expense requirements that piggyback on any new bureaucracy.

"Whether it's 10 percent or 70 percent or somewhere in between, we have a responsibility to make sure we cut the cards, give a new deal to our consumers," Larson said.

Need I remind us all that any game of cards is a game of chance? That no matter how often you cut the cards or re-deal, you do not have a guaranteed outcome unless you are cheating and dealing from the bottom of the deck? That's why so many professional poker players have boom and bust histories, and why card players talk of "hot" and "cold" streaks.

So, what Larson really said is he has no idea what the actual impact of futures trading is on the price of oil, but he doesn't mind making a wild bet if he gets a momentary bounce in the polls, since, what the hell, it isn't his money he's betting with anyway.

Being a good Democrat, and one of the most powerful people in Congress, Larson never misses an opportunity to tout a new bureaucracy. Oh, and somewhere along the way you can bet your bippy that there would be new taxes or fees to pay for this unneeded government expansion.

Prior to the vote on Larson's measure, economists and government officials had testified against it, stating that energy speculators play only a small role in oil markets. Truth be told, if there is a big enough supply, coming from enough diverse sources, speculators won't be pushing up the price because buyers will simply go elsewhere.

Nonetheless, continuing his rant, Larson sputtered that "Republicans remain frozen in their indifference, to the cries and pleas and concerns of people."

Wow! That is a first-class denunciation of those heartless Republicans who keep insisting that increasing supply will decrease prices. That sure told them, said the guy who has consistently voted against any expansion of the domestic oil supply or refining capabilities.

Larson claimed Republicans have one only one solution - "Drill, drill, drill, drill, drill."

Yes, well, that's only partially true because the GOP "mantra" also includes a comprehensive energy policy that emphasizes development of long-term, non-fossil fuel sources, which Larson didn't mention at the press conference.

As for the drill, drill, drill, drill issue, that is because if we drill drill drill, we increase the supply, supply supply, and the prices come down, down, down.

If anyone is indifferent to the cries and pleas of "the people" it is Congressional Democrats who again shut down any chance of opening up domestic petroleum development after Larson's mentor, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, threw a hissy fit during Wednesday's session and stormed off in a huff.

"I'm trying to save the planet!" she screeched as the gavel came crashing down and the majority Democrats took energy resolutions off the agenda.

That was just before the session ended and they hopped into their jet planes and big honking SUVs to go on vacation to far away places where someone else picks up the tab and energy simply is not a concern.

But while Larson and Pelosi are conspiring on how to "save the world" maybe they can get a bit more focused and figure out how to help the elderly homeowners in my community. Folks who are on fixed incomes and at wits end on how to pay for skyrocketing property taxes and food prices, are going to be hit and hit hard in just one month when they turn their attention to filling their oil tanks.

Did I tell you that the Democrats adjourned Congress and went on vacation without addressing the energy issues facing us? You are aware, aren't you, that by the time they come back we will be right on the edge of the fall heating system and people are going to be in a panic when they find out what it costs?

Did you see what happened to oil prices when President Bush ended the executive ban on offshore drilling? Prices went down like a rock.

Did you see what happened when Congress ran away from the issue and didn't vote on anything relevant regarding energy? Oil prices stopped the downward plunge, leveled off and even turned right back around again on occasion. Supply and demand baby, supply and demand, on display on the Fox Business channel for all to see.

Where will Larson and Pelosi be when they return to Congress in September? They'll be talking about raising $10 billion in new taxes - disguised under another name, but new taxes nonetheless - when the last thing we need is more of that. Or pushing the Democratic agenda of a 50 percent increase to the federal gasoline tax. Boy, that will knock the daylights out of any price reduction at the pump!

Sure will show us won't it?

And as far as a "comprehensive energy policy" that Larson has suddenly found so attractive; his opponent Joe Visconti has been pushing that approach ever since the First District Republicans put him up to oppose Larson back in April.

Seems as though the good Congressman is keeping a close watch on his opponent and gambling that the public won't see he isn't coming up with any workable ideas of his own, just appropriating those that Visconti has already thought through and vetted.

John Larson, the face and voice of the US Congress, poster boy for Politics as Usual.
Saturday, July 26, 2008

Was Obama's Prayer Christian, Jewish, Muslim - or Non-Denominational

In the movie The 13th Warrior, Antonio Banderas plays an Arabian poet, Ahmad ibn Fadlan ibn al-Abbas ibn Rashid ibn Hamad, who is exiled to the land of the Norsemen for coveting the wife of a powerful member of the Caliphate.

The character's Muslim religion comes into play throughout as Banderas is dragged along on an improbable and dangerous quest with the Viking king to a land beset by an unspeakable evil.

In the end, only a few of the original 13 warriors are left alive, albeit victorious, and as he sails back to his home on a Viking ship Banderas' last line is a prayer to Allah asking that he might become "a useful servant of God."

Fast forward on your home entertainment system to the made-by-the-media-epic "Barack's Totally Cool International Adventure" until you get to the part where the Ruler of the Known Universe Designate pays a visit to the Wailing Wall or Western Wall whichever you prefer to call it. There he takes part in a time honored tradition of leaving a written prayer in the cracks between the stones.

The prayer which I gleaned from no less than two dozen Internet sources states: "Lord, Protect my family and me. Forgive me my sins, and help me guard against pride and despair. Give me the wisdom to do what is right and just. And make me an instrument of your will."

Is that an incredible coincidence or what? "Lord, Make me an instrument of your will" from Sen. Obama, compared to making Ahmad "a useful servant of God."

There is much passion and controversy over this incident because usually the papers on which such prayers are written are collected by a rabbi and burned in a sacred ritual.

But this was not a "usual" visit and Sen. Obama's prayer was "collected" by an unauthorized person, then passed on to a willing newspaper that promptly printed it. Pundits worldwide have spent the last two days denouncing the acts of collecting and printing the prayer, but then most of the denouncers also dissect it.

Personally I believe the theft of the prayer was no more than an attempt to see if Barack was going to say something kind about terrorists, or give a hint on his real feelings about Israel considering his contradictory statements on both issues. I don't think we can blame some Israelis for their concern about the true feelings of a man who could conceivably hold their lives in his hands.

Since the prayer has been in the public domain for a couple of days now I would like to take a deeper look inside it. That may be tough to do however, because I found it to be incredibly shallow and self-centered.

There is not one word in this prayer about giving him the strength and wisdom to do what is right for his supporters, his party, his country, or his (prematurely?)assumed status as leader of the free world. Nothing like that, just Obama and his family.

I don't take issue with thinking about his family, but if he wants to lead everyone else in the world, don't you think he could have given us at least a clause, if not a complete sentence?

Which makes me wonder if it is really a prayer based on the Christian religion? The Judeo-Christian religious tradition, from which Islam evolved, is not supposed to be about the individual, it is supposed to be about leading a good life by following God's word.

There are as many variations as to what constitutes God's word as there are denominations, but generally the basic thrust is the same. But I don't see that in this prayer, since concern for one's family could easily be interpreted as a selfish concern for oneself.

The next sentence is once again, all about Obama. (Somebody should use that line to compose a song.) "Forgive me my sins. Help me guard against pride and despair."

Once again, nothing about the affect he is having on others, how he might lead them down the right path. Nope, just 'forgive me, Big Guy, and let me enjoy life without getting to smarmy about it.'

The we move on to asking for help in "Doing what is right and just." OK, nice touch, but right and just for whom? Doing what is just and right as the assumed leader of the free world carries much larger implications and responsibilities than just watching out for your own rear end.

Then we get to the last line - 'make me an instrument of your will.' Did Barack lift that from The 13th Warrior and rewrite it a bit, or is this just a happy coincidence?

Many blog posts about his prayer have questioned whether Obama's speech writers penned it for him, and some even question whether Obama's campaign engineered the theft and publication. I don't believe they did in either case.

We have been told for about a year now that Obama has simply the best campaign staff and organization that has ever existed in the history of democracy. Thus, if an Obama campaign communicator had written the prayer it would have been much, much better. It would have had much grander references to world peace, togetherness, strength and wisdom to lead, and similar platitudes.

Doing what is just and right is something anyone, even someone of common birth, can include in a prayer. That's the kind of prayer you see a child saying at bedtime on family movies from the 50s.

No, if a campaign communicator had written that speech it would have gone something like: "Lord, Please bring peace to this troubled land, and safeguard my family, all who support me, and those I hope to lead. Help us guard against despair in this troubled time. Grant me the wisdom to follow the path toward peace and equality for all people, and make me an instrument of your will."

Professional speechwriters would have stayed away from personal sin issues since the first thing the media should have asked is, "What sin would that be, Senator?"

But still, that last line. Did Obama really think that up himself, or is he a fan of The 13th Warrior too? And if it came from The 13th Warrior is it a typical Muslim prayer request as opposed to something you might hear in a church or temple. Or, for that matter, is it pretty much a non-denominational, safe for all purposes, one-size-fits-all prayer request that you could hear just about anywhere?

There are many implications to these questions as Americans, the people who will actually vote for or against Obama, seek to find out more about the man behind the myth.

This is an important question for me especially, because if he got it from Antonio Banderas, it means that Barack Obama and I actually have something in common. I didn't think that was possible and it certainly doesn't mean I'll vote for him.

But, you never know, he might have a lot of time on his hands after November, in which case he can come over to my place, shoot some hoops, hang out and watch a few movies.
Friday, July 25, 2008

The Big Lie About Iraq - We're Winning But Obama Won't Say It!

I have been writing for months now about the drop off in news from Iraq and how the media presence has diminished considerably since fewer American troops have been killed or injured, which apparently is the only criteria for "news" among many of those covering Iraq and Afghanistan.

It was gratifying to see Fox News do a segment this week on Brit Hume's Special Report confirming what I wrote a while back, that the permanent media presence in Iraq has dropped from hundreds back when the Surge was getting underway to a few dozen now. Few of those few dozen media people - aside from Fox - are doing any reporting on American victories though.

There was a flurry of activity in Afghanistan after 9 of our troops were killed in a coordinated Taliban attack, which by the way, was hugely unsuccessful with the Taliban forces being wiped out and failing to gain their objective.

Unless, once again like Vietnam, the real objective was to throw inordinate numbers of terrorist troops into a suicide mission against American forces so the media would report it as an American "setback" regardless of what really happened on the ground.

In the midst of all this non-reporting there was an eruption of coverage over Barack Obama's decision to grace our troops with his presence for a day or two. Well, maybe he didn't really grace them after all, since he ignored most, spent minimal time with those he didn't ignore - and please, don't try to con the American voters into this "Congressional fact-finding" nonsense.

When you shoot basketball in front of specially selected troops and then play the video on the news back home as if it really is NEWS, it isn't. It is just a publicity stunt. I can make three-pointers too, by the way. The hoop is outside by my driveway if you want to check it out and make a video.

How are Obama's publicity stunts in Afghanistan, which are labeled as Senate "work," any different than his aborted decision to visit wounded troops in Germany, which he claims the Pentagon prohibited him from doing because it wasn't Senate work? Basketball and breakfast with the troops in Afghanistan are "work," but visiting wounded soldiers in Germany is not?

Something doesn't smell right here. But then, something hasn't smelled right about this trip from the start. I saw a member of Congress on Fox News' America's Newsroom Friday morning, a Democrat with a long and distinguished military career, splitting hairs on Obama's activities shooting hoops in Afghanistan but not visiting the wounded in Germany claiming there was "a fine line" of difference between the two.

No disrespect intended to a fellow veteran but that simply doesn't wash, and sir, if you can take a well-intended constructive assessment of your performance on Fox, the next time a Congressional leader asks you to make an appearance that puts you in a similar position, use your best command demeanor and tell him - or her - to do it because you have more respect for the American voters than that.

And as much as I distrust polls as used by the media to tell us how to think, the one valuable piece of information the polls did give us this time is that most Americans aren't fooled by this multi-million taxpayer funded publicity stunt at all.

What I believe is the most telling event of the entire trip is Obama's refusal to declare the Surge successful. He wants our troops to vote for him but can't bring himself to admit that he was wrong.

What an opportunity Obama and his handlers missed there. If he had merely fessed up and said "I was wrong, you guys were right, and I never should have doubted you. I will never make that mistake again" he at least would have garnered some sympathy among undecideds and maybe picked up a few votes.

But what Obama showed is that he is in denial. I don't care if you supported or didn't support the War in Iraq at the outset, the fact is, tens of thousands of terrorists and their top leaders were lured there to fight the jihad against America, and now they are dead.

The fact is, as I have written many times before, Abu Al Zarqawi was in Iraq with Saddam Hussein's support and blessing, before the invasion, rebuilding the terrorist network that was destroyed in Afghanistan. Iraq was the intended launching pad for new attacks on the US and Europe, Saddam was up to his teeth in it, and now they all are dead.

Iraq may not be a perfect model of anything, but it is on its way to being a stable democracy with considerable support for the US, rather than an unstable hotbed of terrorism. The terrorists are fleeing back to the mountains of Pakistan trying to recreate the Taliban, and it isn't because we dropped the ball there, it is because there is no other safe haven for them in the world.

Meanwhile Barack Obama deals with this reality by claiming we don't know what would have happened if we had followed his plan and scurried away instead? Yes we do! Iraq and the entire Middle East would be aflame, new attacks would be launched against us by the tens of thousands of undead terrorists, and we would once again have zero respect on the world stage.

That is the true nature of humanity, not the media version where you can talk to rabid dogs and convince them of the error of their ways like some kind of surreal Disney movie.

Oh, there was some news in Afghanistan, but you probably didn't see in the states. Consider this report from Reuters which I didn't see in my local papers or on my Internet provider's regularly updated news reports:

A senior Taliban commander in southern Afghanistan surrendered to Pakistani authorities and British forces killed another leader, dealing a "shattering blow" to the militant group's leadership, the British army said on Tuesday. (July 22, 2008.)

Mullah Rahim, the top commander for southern Helmand province, gave himself up after British forces had killed two other Taliban leaders in little over three weeks.

Hours after his surrender, another senior Taliban commander, Abdul Rasaq, also known as "Mullah Sheikh," was killed in a British missile strike 15 km (9 miles) north of the town of Musa Qala in Helmand on Monday morning, the British army said in a statement. Three other insurgents also died.

Rasaq headed Taliban actions around Musa Qala and was active in the insurgency for a number of years, it said.

"The Taliban's senior leadership structure has suffered a shattering blow," British army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Robin Matthews said in the statement.

So there you have it. Straight from the front via an incredibly roundabout route. But at least you know it. Could someone pass this on to Barack Obama? Maybe he can reroute the end of his summer vacation tour back to Afghanistan and give an "attaboy" to the men and women there who really are putting in an effort on behalf of freedom and democracy.
Sunday, July 20, 2008

Were Troops Forced to Assume New "Identities" For Obama Photo Ops?

My, my, my it seems we are barely into good Senator Barack Obama's "fact-finding" tour of the world outside the DC beltway and already a scandal is brewing.

My military friends wasted no time today informing me that the word out of Afghanistan is that troops were ordered to attend the Obama "breakfast" that has been all over the media and blogosphere. More to the point, some troops also were ordered to alter their identities, at least as far as their home states are concerned, for the benefit of the Senator's campaign.

Apparently, the Senator's campaign people wanted to make sure that the photo ops showed the Senator talking with service personnel from the appropriate parts of the country. Appropriate in this case apparently meaning places where he needs a big boost in the polls.

So if military people pictured with Barack were from, say, Michigan, they were told to say they were from someplace like Arizona instead.

This is problematic on several fronts. Remember this portion of the trip wasn't supposed to be campaign related, just a good ol' American Senator on a junket, er, Congressional Inquiry.

If it happened - and even though I wasn't there personally, this came in the way of far more than just rumors - there are a number of violations involved, civilian and military.

I saw Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday today insisting that Barack's trip was NOT taxpayer funded, even though the part where he was in Afghanistan IS taxpayer funded, because the Afghan part of the trip is supposed to be only about real, serious, Senate type stuff. That would be the kind of stuff one can only find during photo ops in the president's palace and the troops' dining facility, I guess.

Stuff you would find out by going out into the combat environments apparently was not on the list.

Well, we shouldn't worry about that. Wallace also interviewed Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the show Sunday. The admiral just came back from some far-forward front-line touring, along with Fox News reporter Jennifer Griffin and her film crew.

I'm not trying to give anyone an ulcer here, but if Barack is short on war stories and is in danger of trying to make more of his experiences than they warrant, he could always ask Jennifer for some pointers on what happens when one is right up against a firefight instead of sipping java in the dining facility. She and the crew with her were within range of Taliban weapons in at least one of the segments Fox showed, so the lady is a veteran and has some war stories to tell.

Aside from the Obama campaign's attempt to circumvent government regulations (if it happened as I was told it did) and turn his Afghanistan visit into a campaign sideshow - at taxpayer expense - I also am concerned that any military commanders would go along with this chicanery.

Are we in the middle of a two-front war and forcing our military commanders to watch their political rear ends at the same time they are ducking bombs and bullets?

This warrants an investigation. A serious investigation, not a political investigation. Did Obama misuse his position and taxpayer dollars to turn what is supposed to be a non-political trip into a campaign appearance?

Did commanders order troops to attend the Obama breakfast and lie about their true identities so his campaign could benefit?

And while we are at it, why was there far more air security for Obama's visit than our top generals receive when they are working in the area?

Obviously there were plenty of media people around in Afghanistan, otherwise I wouldn't know about this would I? So why didn't a single one of these so-called objective, non-political journalists find out about this?

After all, I am thousands of miles away and word got to me pretty quickly. What kind of journalists are we dealing with that can't come up with this story on their own when they are right on the scene?
Saturday, July 19, 2008

Is Network Coverage of Obama's Whistle-stop World Tour An In-kind Donation?

If you haven't been drowned in network news coverage of Barack Obama finally going overseas on a whistle-stop tour of foreign capitals this week, and even stopping at a couple of military bases, you probably have the good sense to be living in a cave very high up in the mountains.

Unfortunately, for the rest of us, it is once again, all Obama, all the time. You can channel surf all you want but it is nearly impossible to escape some breathless network newscaster talking about his "unprecedented" overseas visit!

Are these people serious? Do they not have lives? Or are they on the take?

Does anyone know what John McCain is doing right now? Do you? No, I didn't think so.

Correct me if I am wrong here, but isn't the broadcast media supposed to give equal time to political candidates? Please, explain to me how this guy finally getting off his duff to take an incredibly brief, way, way, way behind the lines, in-the-rear- with-the-gear, look at military operations overseas is NEWS!

That he is trying to reverse the public's opinion of him as a shoot-from-the-hip know-nothing is worth mentioning in a brief in the political segment, but hardly worth 24-hour coverage of his every movement by a virtual army of network news personnel.

One commentator, when asked if this trip really was going to change anyone's mind, and if its brevity could suddenly make him conversant on any of the relevant issues, replied that "simply seeing him on television meeting with leaders" is going to be a huge deal for the voters!

I see. Jeez, I saw him three-freaking-dozen times today already and I don't feel a bit different about him. I feel as though I have been repeatedly driving through the busiest intersection in the biggest city in the land and seen his photo on a billboard every time - and muttered something unprintable on each cycle.

"The world is watching this trip," was the report from another newscaster. Yeah, cause we can't find anyone broadcasting anything else except for this. I have to go to the old movie channel to find anything worth watching.

But seriously, doesn't this meet the definition of an in-kind donation from the networks? Obama is getting millions of dollars of free publicity on this, and since he has no status in our government's foreign relations structure, and can't make or deliver on any promises, there is nothing to this but a campaign ploy.

Isn't it just a bit suspicious that it comes in the summer doldrums when it takes a lot of money to keep your campaign before the voters, and coincidentally at a time when Obama is having money problems?

The broadcast media is supposed to give second by second equal time to all candidates running for the same office. I would love to see the comparison of McCain's time in the coming week compared to Obama's.

Another newscaster reported that "Any misstep (on Obama's trip) would make it hard to recover, but if he does well it could be a big stepping stone to a win in November."

What???? A one-week blow through of a dozen countries suddenly makes him a foreign policy and military expert?

Any college kid who bicycled or hitchhiked across Europe and stayed in hostels in different countries is already far more capable than Obama, and this little jaunt on the taxpayer's dime isn't going to change a thing. You realize that we are paying a big chunk of this don't you?

If Obama really wanted this to be anything other than a campaign scam, he would write a 50 page essay titled "What I did on my summer vacation," and submit it to a panel of high school teachers for review.

The truth is Obama has been running his mouth non-stop about what he would and would not do as Commander-in-Chief and has been so far off the mark on both Iraq and Afghanistan that he isn't even on the same target range. Spending a few hours taking our commanders away from their jobs so he can get some photo ops is both unnecessary and counterproductive.

Let the military fight. That is what they do best and they are doing it well. If Obama needs an image makeover, he should hire a PR firm.

I hate to wish our lives away, but I sure hope there is more to this week than wall-to-wall Obama gushing, otherwise we may as well just stay in bed. McCain's legal advisers should be taking a very close look at the amount of air time his opponent receives and how much of it can justifiably be defined as "News."

Meanwhile, I need something else to do this week that will give true meaning to my life.

Hey, there's a Mad Men marathon on AMC this weekend! Thank You Lord. Finally, some quality programming.
Friday, July 18, 2008

"9 Percent" Pelosi Calls Bush a Failure; Hypocrisy, Thy Name is Nancy

Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, who has a lower approval rating than Lizzie Borden, was quoted in the news the other day calling President George Bush a bunch of names reminiscent of childhood playground spats.

She can't get anything done, has accomplished absolutely nothing, and can't understand why Americans aren't happy with her stunts such as subjugating herself before the king of Syria, and claiming that our military can't win a war unless the Iranian fanatics "let them." So she resorts to sticks and stones behavior.

What a hoot! This woman is the living embodiment of cluelessness. She reminds me of Yosemite Sam after he has been soundly thrashed by Bugs Bunny. Bugs walks away with a non-stop commentary along the lines of "What a Maroon, What a Nimrod," while the Samster goes ballistic and steam comes out of his ears.

In this case, President Bush had the class and good taste not to respond to Pelosi's blatherings as he walks away victorious, but I almost wish he would. Maybe the White House communications crew can look up a bunch of old Looney Tunes and get some good retorts to go with the steam blowing out of Pelosi's ears.

The fact is, 91 percent of Americans think this Democratically controlled Congress is a total flop. If Pelosi and Senate leader Harry Reid's approval ratings sink any lower they will be in the negatives.

I find it amusing that some news organizations are trying to come up with polls that give different outcomes than the Rasmussen poll last week that showed the 9 percent approval rating for Congress. Yet, even with skewing the questions and targeting the most likely people to say something nice about Congress, they still can't get out of the teens.

So what do they - Reid and Pelosi - do in response? Do they sit down and take a realistic appraisal of their performance, where they are going wrong, what they have to do to turn it around?

Nope. They hurl invective and personal insults at the President of the United States in a time worn propaganda tactic of doing something really badly, but pointing your finger and blaming your failures on your opponent.

It might have worked a few generations ago, but America is smarter than that. Obviously Pelosi and Reid are not included in that definition of "America."

Guess which historic American leader had an approval rating during wartime that matched President Bush? Give up?

George Washington! It's true, look it up. In the middle of the Revolutionary War only a third of colonists were behind him, another third were solidly opposed and the rest were fence sitters. Guess whose approval rating skyrocketed when we won that war?

Right again. Such is the nature of political life in a democracy.

There is some hope here. There actually are capable people running for election to Congress all across this country. They are often up against entrenched Democrats, and the media likes to claim that so-called "Democratic districts" will automatically return the incumbents to power, as though every Democratic voter in America is a mindless stooge with no more sense than lemmings.

I disagree. Many of my friends of Democratic and Independent persuasions are as disgusted with the actions of their party leaders as I and many other Republicans were with some of our so-called representatives in Congress two years ago.

People may not show it in public, but when they go to vote, they can vote their consciences. The greatest show of conscience I can imagine would be Nancy Pelosi's district in California throwing her out and putting a capable representative in her place.
Thursday, July 17, 2008

"9 Percent" Congress: You Can't Legislate Your Way Out of This!

Did you see what happened to the stock market when President Bush stood tall, lifted the executive restrictions on off-shore drilling and called on the "9 Percent" Congress to do the same?

You bet. The price of oil dropped like a rock and the stock market rebounded like a rocket! As Bush said in announcing his decision earlier this week it won't mean more oil tomorrow, but it will change the "psychology" of oil trading.

As long as futures traders, speculators if you will, see the supply of oil as outstripping the demand, the price will stay low. Just the hint that new supplies will finally be opened was enough to turn the skyrocketing prices around.

Bush also is calling on Congressional Democrats to end their blockade of new drilling for shale oil, and in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, a misnomer if ever there was one. Have you seen the photos of the section of ANWR where the oil companies want to drill?

A more desolate and barren piece of uninhabited wasteland would be hard to find.

Bush has been very clear in previous statements that he sees the United States as being in a transition period moving away from fossil fuels to alternative forms energy. But there still has to be oil for fuel, whether it is gasoline, diesel or home heating oil, until that transition is complete.

Democrats in Congress meanwhile, led by Connecticut representative John Larson, are responding to the crisis in the same way they always do - by coming up with new legislation that won't have any impact whatsoever, and new taxes to further strap the American people who already are taxed beyond our ability to pay.

Larson is pushing new regulations on the stock market targeting oil speculators. That this type of regulation is unnecessary was shown quite dramatically by Wednesday's quick turnaround in both stock value and oil prices when even the hint of opening up the supply made its way to the ears of futures traders.

The New York Stock Exchange opened its first permanent headquarters near Wall Street in New York City in 1865. But it traces its origins to the Buttonwood Agreement of 1792, when 24 New York City stockbrokers and merchants first got together to do some trading. In 1817 the New York Stock & Exchange Board (NYS&EB) was formally established and operated out of rented rooms at 40 Wall Street.

Can someone tell me what possible regulation the government could have missed implementing in the two centuries that people have been buying and selling stocks, securities, bonds, futures, and commodities considering especially that the country has been through recessions, depressions, bull markets, bear markets and scandals galore in that time?

America does not need more knee-jerk, feel-good Congressional legislation to address a problem that Congress created in the first place.

Do you want to strike back at "speculators" who you believe are responsible for the spike in energy costs? Fine! Open up the supply of oil, which will drive down the prices through the time tested laws of supply and demand.

As long as the United States continues to seriously work on development of alternative energy supplies - hydrogen is my #1 choice, but we also should work on solar, vegetable oil derived from algae, and to a limited extent wind - we CAN in fact drill our way out of the current situation.

But we can NOT legislate our way out of it. All that will be accomplished by the current calls for new legislation - including another Larson favorite, taxing Internet poker winnings - is the creation of another diversion to shift attention away from the fact that Congress created this imbroglio by curtailing drilling offshore, in ANWR and for Rocky Mountain shale oil in the first place.

New England's Congressional Democrats, again led by Larson, Wednesday proposed another whopping oil-related tax increase - of course they didn't portray it that way. New England's Democratic delegation members revealed they just want to spend another $10 billion, supposedly to fund emergency low-income heating fuel assistance and weatherization assistance.

That figure is triple last year's budget, meaning that we must have seen quite a spike in low income Americans, as well as in oil prices.

Where the $10 billion is to come from wasn't exactly worked out, which of course means when no one is looking there will be another fee, another tax, another cost on top of a cost to pay for a program that isn't necessary in the first place.

Larson's opponent in Connecticut, Republican Joseph Visconti, immediately countered in the media that Congress lift the ban on drilling offshore, in ANWR and for shale oil, which he said would enable President Bush to use oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to go directly to the states for emergency heating oil relief.

Under Visconti's plan there would be no new taxes, and as he pointed out Thursday, American taxpayers have already paid for the oil in the Strategic Reserves once, why should we pay for it again? He also recommended expanding the reserve to give our country a true buffer against foreign interference, and requiring a portion of all new oil sources to go to the reserve to keep it full.

Under the Democrats' proposals, the strategic reserves would be diverted to the marketplace and resold at the pumps, enabling foreign oil cartels to again manipulate the market for their own profit. Also, since the Dems say they would take no more than 10 percent of the reserves, Republican leaders in Congress say it would only last for a few days.

Oh, and before I forget, I learned the other day that there are idle offshore rigs in place off the coast of California that could be up, running and produce new oil supplies in a year if given the go-ahead. Knocks the pins right out from under the Democrats' claim that we wouldn't get any new oil for a decade, doesn't it?

The truth is, we can drill our way out of this situation if the drilling is combined with a comprehensive, non-stop movement away from fossil fuels to alternative sources.

But more legislation? From the very people who created the high prices through manipulation of supply? No, I don't think so.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Mr. President (Bush) Please Give the Troops a Welcome Home Parade

It was reported today the the year-old offensive in Iraq officially called The Surge has ended. All the units that were sent to Iraq to boost troop strength and take the fight straight to the terrorists are out and redeploying elsewhere.

By any measure of success our troops are emerging from a bitter battle as the victors. They have smashed Al Qaeda, brought warring religious factions to the table where they are ironing out their difference and working together for a unified, stable country, and political milestones are well on their way to completion.

America can be proud of its military, proud of the job our troops have done and how they comported themselves in a harsh environment.

Thus I am asking President Bush to honor them, and all our troops, in a true old-fashioned way, by giving them a parade, a big parade with full support of our government, right down Constitution Avenue past the National Mall.

I realize that this will take a couple of months to put together so it can be done right, and the people who most deserve the thanks can be brought together to march with their units.

But consider this; in early fall one baseball team will win the World Series and the city that is home to this team will throw a huge parade for a group of multi-millionaires that will be covered by all the media. I don't know who is in the running this year and I don't care, having pretty much been turned off to baseball ever since the players strike of the 80s.

But our victorious troops who put their lives on the line, many shedding their own blood, many of whom saw their comrades wounded and in some cases die for this country, should be honored at least to the same, and frankly a much higher degree, than a group of athletes many of whom make more in one year than most Americans make in a lifetime, with no risk involved.

As a Vietnam veteran there are two parades I recall with a deep sense of appreciation - the first in Washington in 1982 at the dedication of the Vietnam Memorial and the second in New York City, arranged by Mayor Ed Koch on May 7, 1985. I was told recently that the tons of ticker tape heaped on Vietnam Veterans as we marched through Manhattan after crossing the Brooklyn Bridge was an all-time record.

I don't know if that is true, but I hope it is.

I also would like to see that record shattered by a similar parade arranged by New York City for this generation of veterans. And, following the lead of other American cities that finally held parades for Vietnam veterans I would like to see America's cities large and small take a day out of their busy schedules in the coming year, to hold welcome home parades for veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.

It is obvious that all else being equal we will have a much smaller military force in Iraq by this time next year, and it will likely not be involved in combat operations.

Afghanistan is a different story, since the remnants of Al Qaeda have fled back to the birthplace of the Taliban, just as they fled to Iraq in 2002 after being defeated by US and coalition forces in Afghanistan.

The good news is that there are very few places in the world where the terrorists can expect sanctuary and support, as evidenced by their pinball-like existence running from Afghanistan to Iraq and back to Afghanistan again.

While there will continue to be fighting, and while there will be a War on Terror as long as there are any terror groups with the intent and capability of launching attacks on the American homeland or our interests abroad, we still have scored a major victory, and to the victors should go a parade.

Aside from some diehard leftist politicians who put their careers on the line by disparaging the military - never outright of course, but underhandedly by saying The Surge wouldn't work, couldn't work, and even undermining the troops as they were locked in battle - the vast majority of Americans now know The Surge worked, America is victorious, and will support a formal "Thank You and Welcome Home."

We keep hearing the No More Vietnams refrain from our media and politicians. Those who read this column regularly know how I feel about that and by now are familiar with the truth of how the troops won the war only to have the politicians squander our victories.

If we truly don't want anymore Vietnams, then we should deal with the truth of that war, not the media myths. Don't let another generation of victorious troops come home to a misinformed populace, and simply disappear with no recognition for what they accomplished.

There will be a lifetime of burdens for this generation of veterans to bear, just as every generation of veterans that preceded them. The wounded and maimed will have to adjust, those with post traumatic stress will need varying degrees of treatment, and all will have their memories.

But all that they must bear will be an easier load to carry if the country rises up as one and says Thank You.

Mr. President, please don't turn your back on those who fought for their country, fought for our freedoms, fought for world freedom, and fought for you. Make sure that the World Series parade is not the only parade Americans see this fall.

If you say it should be done, it will be done, and when America puts its mind into throwing a parade, there are none better. Our troops deserve the best, and nothing less.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Congressman John Larson, #1 Cause of High Gas Prices; Poster Child for Government Dysfunction

Connecticut's First District Congressman John Larson, a 10-year veteran of failed Congressional policies, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's personal valet, appeared on national media Monday afternoon demanding that President Bush tap into the Strategic Petroleum Reserves for additional oil supplies.

This he said, while claiming to be the only man in America who knew the long-term answer to our energy needs, would create an immediate drop in gas prices for the consumer.

He was, as usual, parroting Pelosi who has been making the same claim for some time now, and as usual these two "geniuses" couldn't mount a double digit IQ if they stood on each other's shoulders.

For those who may have been Larson's students when he was teaching revisionist history before becoming a politician and thus wouldn't know this, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve was created in the mid-1970s in response to the Arab Oil Embargo of 1973, which I see as the first shot in the War on Terror.

The oil exporting countries of the Middle East, sensing spinelessness in the US Congress after it voted to sell South Vietnam down the river, suddenly shut down oil exports to the US. As a result there were domestic shortages, our gas prices spiked, rationing went into effect, lines were everywhere, people were duking it out at the corner gas stations, and something had to be done.

"Something" turned out to be a series of hollowed out salt caverns on the Texas and Louisiana Gulf coasts, which are intended to hold up to 1 billion barrels of petroleum. The thinking at that time was that if all other sources of petroleum were suddenly shut off, we would have a 90-day supply to keep our military functioning and keep vital industries operating.

Since shutting down all of our oil producing capabilities would obviously be an act of war, the thinking was that our military could wipe up any potential enemy within the 90 days and still have time left over to get the pipeline flowing again.

For decades the actual amount of petroleum stored in the reserve caverns has ebbed and flowed, so to speak, depending on world conditions and the beliefs of the administration in power. But after September 11, 2001 President Bush ordered a renewed emphasis on keeping the reserves topped off or as close to full as possible.

There is, however, a fly in the ointment. The capacity and longevity of the reserves were calculated back in the 70s when both our domestic consumption and our percentage of imported petroleum were far less than they are now.

Today the United States consumes approximately 21 millions barrels of oil per day, and if all of that suddenly had to come from a topped off Strategic Reserve we would have only a 50-day supply - do the math Congressman.

This comes, must I remind you, only a few days after the leaders of Iran, one of the biggest oil exporters in the world, fired off a bunch of missiles to show everyone that they still are crazy after all these decades, and threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, through which a huge percentage - up to 40 percent by some estimates - of the world's oil flows every day.

Earlier this month Iranian officials stated that Israel is pressuring America to attack Iran. "If they commit such a stupidity, Tel Aviv and U.S. shipping in the Persian Gulf will be Iran's first targets and they will be burned," an Iranian official said in news reports.

Some analysts estimate that Iran could control the Strait for a month before our troops hand them their rear ends on a silver platter. I think it is far less time, but that's just me.

Simply put, with all that is going on in the world, this is not a good time to be tapping into the Strategic Petroleum Reserves in an attempt to get a very limited political bounce. John Larson parroting ideas of this nature, ladies and gentlemen, is the prime reason that Congress has only a 9 percent approval rating!

Connecticut Congressman John Larson, right, looks on in support as Pennsylvania Congressman John Murtha attempts to convince Connecticut residents he really supports the military. Photo Credit: Richard Messina, Hartford Courant

When asked why Congress doesn't just lift its ban on drilling, Larson, who has been solidly opposed to any new drilling, and chants the Democratic mantra "We can't drill our way out of this. OOOOOHHHMMMM," while meditating on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, suddenly said that now he isn't opposed to new drilling!

He just wants the oil companies to drill in places where they have government leases and already have determined that there is no oil, or very little oil, or it would be so difficult to extract that it would take forever and not be worth the investment.
He even had a cute little chart showing something fuzzy that supposedly made his point but didn't come across on television - even with digital and big screen.

Then he got even cuter and tried to act sage and wise by stroking his chin and muttering something about "Oil companies making money? Hmmmmmm." Are you aware this guy makes more than $160,000 per year as a Congressman for coming up with this inane drivel?

Here's where things get really infuriating. The oil companies, as has been shown repeatedly after the Democrats started blaming them for the shortage of domestic production, make about 9 cents per gallon profit. That's it. Why? Because they have to pay for equipment, maintenance, research, development and upkeep on the oil drilling and refining infrastructure.

They pay salaries and benefits, not just for a handful of corporate CEOs but for tens of thousands of oil industry workers doing the jobs that keep America mobile.

Do you know who really gets a huge WINDFALL profit from gasoline sales? Try the US CONGRESS!! That's right! The federal government charges 18.4 cents tax on each gallon of gas sold in this country.

That is DOUBLE what the oil companies make and it is nearly all profit because Congress doesn't have to invest anything to get that money, nothing, nada - except the tax collectors who already were on site screwing us on every other thing that moves, breathes and takes up space in this country.

As of July 1, 2008, the average amount of tax, state and federal combined, imposed on a gallon of gasoline sold in the United States was 49.4 cents per gallon, up 2.4 cents from January 2008. Five hundred percent more than the oil companies make!

But wait, there's more! Larson is one of four Democratic congressmen from Connecticut, the state with the second highest level of gasoline taxes in the country. Connecticut motorists pay just under 70 CENTS PER GALLON on every gallon they pump!

And get this. The Connecticut Legislature, the one where Larson learned remedial "How to Shaft the Taxpayer" before he graduated to the US Congress, doesn't charge a flat tax per gallon, it charges a percentage based on the wholesale price of gasoline!

So every time the price of gasoline goes up, the amount of tax levied and collected increases right along with it!

John Larson. Connecticut's gift to the American taxpayer. Why would we want to keep a guy like him all to ourselves?

Americans are dealing with a slacking economy that in many cases is directly related to the unending increases in gasoline which affect the price of virtually everything else in the country. But while our state and federal legislative branches have a remedy right at hand through tax reductions, they continue to shaft us all, and blow billions of tax dollars right out the old wazoo without a care in the world.

Hey Congressman, how about you show us a graph with those little statistics drawn in?

The hypocrisy and arrogance of our elected persons is enough to put hair where you don't have it and curl it where you do.

I suppose we shouldn't be surprised at anything Larson says or does. He basically is Pelosi's shadow, except for when she lends him to John Murtha or Harry Reid, and pretty much all we see out of him is his head nodding in agreement whenever she makes an utterance.

He stood alongside Pelosi nodding sagely when they went to Iraq together and she insulted the American military by saying The Surge didn't really work, and our troops didn't really defeat the terrorists ... we won because the Iranians "let us."

Now she tries to divert attention away from high gas prices that are a direct result of Congressional refusal to open up drilling, refining and nuclear construction, by calling for tapping into the Strategic Reserves at the worst possible time, and he bobs his head and repeats the party talking points.

How does it go now? Oh yes. "We don't want to drill because it will destroy the environment .... But we do want to drill ... but we want the oil companies to drill where there may not be oil instead of where they know oil really is located ... and "We can't drill our way out of this!"

John Larson. Reinforces your faith in Congress and pride in being an American doesn't he?
Saturday, July 12, 2008

'Frisco Attack on JROTC Racist - Anti-Military.

I have been of the opinion for a long, long time that much of what passes for news reporting on the military in America has at its core a basic anti-militarism, that will result by design or as a natural consequence with increasing difficulty in maintaining strong, cutting edge, capable respected armed forces.

Much of the anti-military reporting is subtle, showing the difficult living conditions or the horrors of combat, for instance, but not showing the end results where countries are saved and rebuilt, or soldiers are honored either with medals for bravery or warm welcomes and respect from their communities.

Features on former service members who have made successful careers by applying the lessons they learned in the military to civilian life are exceedingly rare.

Out of all the television news organizations that cover our military, it has been my experience that only FOX News has consistently given a full view of both sides of serving.

But let someone take a shot at the military, especially an unjustified fear-monger shot, and the media will jump all over it. Take for instance the efforts to ban the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps at a high school in California.

What exactly does this program do? Well, it gives its members a taste of military life during part of their school week, prepares them for college level ROTC, and gives them a military career option if they so desire. But of more immediate importance, the JROTC program injects structure, discipline and positive role models into the lives of the students who participate.

So why on earth would you deliberately sabotage such a program in city high schools where the students very much want to participate?

For the answer, I'll refer you to Melanie Morgan, my west coast friend, author, commentator and dauntless supporter of our troops.

Here are excerpts from here column. Read the full account at

"Peace Crowd" Guilty of Racism and Discrimination

Liberals/progressives/socialists/communists - or whatever they call themselves these days - have tolerance for only their own ideas. If they don't like something, liberals attack with the fervor of a pool full of piranha. They even break their own rules of political correctness.

Two good examples are Jesse Jackson's threat to cut off Sen. Barack Obama's testicles, and a movement in San Francisco to kick out the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps from local high schools. Both show how liberals cover for each other, no matter how outrageous their behavior.

FOX news, which has the tape of Jackson's crude remarks, hasn't even released the worst of his raunchy rant. I would think the Secret Service might want to talk to somebody who threatened to neuter a presidential candidate.

But all is forgiven and the mainstream media - the handmaidens of Jackson and Obama - have had very little to say about the foul outburst. This is because the two are "progressives."

At least Jackson only hurt himself and what is left of his tattered reputation. What San Francisco school board members are doing to high school kids is outrageous and racist.

School board members Eric Mar and Mark Sanchez are running for re-election in November and decided to politicize children's futures by crippling JROTC. These self-serving politicians figured they would gain progressive Brownie points by forcing the JROTC out of San Francisco schools and taking away P.E. credits for JROTC students.

The school board already approved eliminating JROTC from the district by the 2009 school year. One reason the school board voted for the drastic, discriminatory and racist move, is the military's anti-gay "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that prevents gays from serving openly in the armed forces.

Banning the program wasn't enough for Mar and Sanchez. They want to stop the district from giving physical education credit to those in JROTC until the program ends, but that effort failed in June.

San Francisco high school students, who filled rows of the meeting room for two hours waiting for the budget meeting to end and the special session to begin, expressed their devotion to JROTC during public comments.

The banning of the JROTC is discriminatory and must be reversed. San Francisco schools are made up mostly of children of color: African-Americans, Chinese, other Asians and Hispanics. Whites are a minority in the district. So taking away JROTC would strip the 55,000 students, most of whom are ethnically diverse, of opportunity.

Voters will get a chance to redeem San Francisco schools from the depths of racism and discrimination.

On Monday, JROTC supporters delivered 13,600 signatures to City Hall to get a nonbinding resolution on the November ballot to show support for JROTC. The group needed 7,200 from registered city voters to qualify.

"They had no idea they would awaken this sleeping giant," said Nelson Lum, a Vietnam vet and father of Amy, a JROTC member, according to the San Francisco Chronicle's C.W. Nevius. "This is an issue that goes beyond political boundaries."

It crosses boundaries all right, and sets back gains for children of color in the San Francisco school district.

Speaking of that, where is Jesse Jackson on this racism? Apparently he's too busy thinking of ways to emasculate Obama.

Melanie Morgan's colums also are available at
Friday, July 11, 2008

China Kept American POWs; So Did Laos; Rambo WAS Expendable

A recent news article revealed that the Pentagon has known for nearly five years that China had held an American POW from the Korean War, moving him from Korea to China where the Chinese say he died and was buried in obscurity.

To some in the news business this comes as a shocking revelation, but to the POW-MIA community it is merely confirmation of what has been known for decades. That being, hundreds of Americans were never repatriated from the Korean and Vietnam Wars, many were alive at last sighting, and the US government has been complicit for decades in deflecting all efforts to find, return or even publicize their plight.

With all the talk on the presidential campaign circuit about the value of military service to the presidency there certainly is good reason to ask the presidential aspirants what they would do about the POW issue.

In the case of Army Sgt. Richard G. Desautels, of Shoreham, VT, who was captured in Korea in 1950, the Chinese finally told the US officially that he died in captivity and was buried in an unknown location - in CHINA!

Obviously this flies in the face of China's decades long assertion that all POW issues were resolved at the conclusion of the war in 1953 and that no Americans were transported to and/or held in China.

Now we find out that China revealed information about Desautels more than five years ago. The article I read about it on Yahoo News said that the information was not widely disseminated because it was intended only for members of the Desautels family who had never ceased pressing the government for information on him.

Ultimately the information went from to Desautels' brother, Rolland, through a POW-MIA organization to the media.

For many who have tracked the issues regarding American POWs none of these recent revelations are surprising. But the truth is, except for those directly involved, both the Korean and Vietnam Wars are ancient history, and the government - both civilians and the Pentagon - appears to be completely disinterested in putting the issue on the front burner.

The Chinese said at the signing of the Armistice in 1953 that the POW issue was settled even though we had some in the military and government who screamed loud and long that they had proof that all the POWs had not been returned. The issue was quieted down over time and has been relegated to an asterisk in historical documents.

The same can be said for the Vietnam War. It was known at the time of the signing of the Paris Peace Accords in 1973 that more than 300 America aircrew members had been captured in Laos by communist forces and were not included in the 600 POWs released by North Vietnam. The official explanation was that North Vietnam assured the US negotiating team headed by Henry Kissinger that all POWs, including those held by Laos would be released.

But when the accords were signed, North Vietnam suddenly feigned a lack of control over Laos and the issue has been deadlocked ever since. The communists claim the Nixon administration secretly promised billions in war reparations that were never delivered; hence there was no pressure on the Laotian communists to release the prisoners they held.

The issue of live POWs held in Asian hell holes was brought up over the years both by POW-MIA activists and in some Hollywood productions - particularly the movie Uncommon Valor starring Gene Hackman, the second Rambo movie starring Sylvester Stallone, and of course Chuck Norris in his Missing in Action series, as well as the earlier Good Guys Wear Black.

But even as activists and a small band of producers and actors attempted to keep the issue alive, the media dismissed it as the stuff of disaffected veterans who - they said - couldn't accept a loss (that never occurred militarily) and conspiracy theorists.

But there was plenty of evidence that American POWs had not been returned from WWII German prison camps that were "liberated" by the Russian Army, in addition to those from the Korean and Vietnam Wars, so it was not improbable that Americans were still being held by communist governments.

Legally a conspiracy is defined as two people discussing a plan of action between them, so we have to question whether it is appropriate to dismiss people who want to keep the POW issue current, if there is evidence that more than two people in the government have had many, many discussions about it. At the very least there seems to be a mountain of evidence that there has been a conspiracy of silence on the issue of American POWs and MIAs.

The admission that an American POW was taken from North Korea to China and buried there merely confirms what many who have refused to let the issue wither knew or believed about what China, Russia, Laos, North Vietnam and other communist countries did with our military personnel who had been captured.

Not only does the Desautels case confirm that the Chinese know far more about American POWs-MIAs than they have been willing to share, but it also reconfirms that far more is known about the 300 plus Americans held by the Laotians.

Somebody has some explaining to do. An enormous effort was made in the early 1990s through a Senate Select Committee series of hearings on POWs and MIAs - John Kerry and John McCain both served on the committee - but the hearings ended on a sour note with much vital information declared classified and locked away from public view. To put it mildly many veterans and family members are still understandably bitter over the outcome of those proceedings.

The Pentagon also has shut the door, slammed the door probably is a more accurate description, on the issue and many inside and out of the military have had their careers tarnished for refusing to accept the standard line.

In the second Stallone Rambo movie, his female counterpart tells him while they are on a mission to document the existence of live American POWs that "you are not expendable."

It sounded good in the movie and probably is an accurate assessment of how most Americans feel about those who serve in the military.

But it is obvious from the actions of American politicians and Pentagon officials alike over the course of five decades now, that far more is known about the fate of our POWs than has been publicized. For those in government and the military whose careers would suffer from more revelations of this nature, in their minds at least, our troops are expendable.

Also published at
Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Forget Cheney; Investigate Waxman

California Congressman Henry Waxman who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is threatening to subpoena Attorney General Michael Mukasey because he wants a copy of a FBI interview with Vice President Dick Cheney in the long dead and who cares Valerie Plame affair.

Waxman apparently wants to revisit the Plame issue because the other stupid investigations launched against the Bush Administration in the last six years have fallen through and he needs some sort of distraction to keep the public's mind off the pending American victory over terrorists in Iraq.

Without going down in the mud on the Plame affair, it erupted after she helped get her under-employed husband a trip to Nigeria on behalf of the CIA where she had an inside job in Virginia. He was supposed to find out whether Saddam Hussein was trying to buy yellow cake uranium, which is the base element for some nuclear weapons.

Plame's husband filed an internal report that said one thing, then wrote an article for the New York Times that said the exact opposite - claiming that Saddam wasn't trying to get his hands on yellow cake uranium.

Ironically, the media reported this week that the US has just finished transporting 600 tons of Saddam's yellow cake uranium to Canada for disposal.

Anyway, a DC columnist wrote about the issue and in his column mentioned Plame's role in it. She went ballistic claiming she was an undercover CIA agent - James Bond-ess I guess. She blitzed the DC beltway demographic will allegations the Bush Administration "outed" her, thus exposing bazillions of real spies to discovery. Again, not true, but it was enough for the media doing publicity for the Democrats (most print and broadcast outlets) to launch a long-running investigation that cost the taxpayers millions and produced nothing.

The focus of the investigation was to prove that someone with direct ties to the White House had leaked Plame's name to the media. It turns out the "leaker" was the at-that-time Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage who wasn't working in league with the White House and has never been charged with anything in the case.

However, one person, Scooter Libby, who was Cheney's Chief of Staff, was convicted of obstruction because he got two issues confused when testifying before the Grand Jury. Libby had nothing to do with the original allegations, but hey, why let the facts get in the way of a case that is holding on by a thread.

President Bush commuted Libby's sentence and the issue has been dormant since, except for a pending lawsuit.

So now Henry Waxman wants to create another diversion and start another investigation to waste tax dollars for pissant political purposes.

I have a better idea.

Waxman is from California and is reputed to have close ties to the pro-terrorist organization Code Pink, which operates openly in his state - they are the ones that try to block Marine officer recruiting in Berkeley, for instance, and interrupted President Bush on July 4 when he was swearing in a group of new Legal immigrants as US citizens. Code Pink also is part of the ANSWER coalition which not only includes terrorist organizations, but communists and other America haters as well.

Code Pink is alleged to have arranged to ship some $600,000 in supplies to Al Qaeda in Fallujah, Iraq when the US Marines were fighting a pitched battle to throw them out of that city. The Internet has been abuzz with claims for well over a year that Waxman helped them in that endeavor.

If there is even a shred of truth to that allegation, it goes far, far beyond any insider Washington Gotcha Games over a desk jockey's spy fantasies.

If there is any truth to these allegations whatsoever, considering that they involve a very serious federal crime, the White House should launch a Justice Department investigation. The American people want to known whether Waxman participated in a seedy, despicable affair that if true, certainly could be considered a violation of the US Constitution prohibiting aiding and abetting our enemies.

I saw a video of President Bush at the G-8 summit earlier this week in which he vowed he was "sprinting" to the finish line in the last year of his administration.

If so, I wish he would jog past the Justice Department and initiate an investigation into these very serious allegations about Waxman. If guilty he should be fried, and if cleared, well then justice will have been done.

That is one investigation I would gladly pony up my tax dollars to see through.
Monday, July 07, 2008

Will The Pilots Who Saved Barack Obama Have a Job in December? And What About His Carbon Footprint?

The news erupted Monday morning with the bulletin that Barack Obama's chartered plane had to make an "unscheduled landing" because of some control issues.

OK, let's not kid about that part. It is prudent to say the least to land your aircraft when something is not right. Otherwise as opposed to an unscheduled landing you may have to deal with an uncontrolled landing which is far worse and far less predictable.

But the news talkers were literally gushing about what must have been happening in the cockpit.


Uh, yeah. Or maybe it was something like the first officer - copilot for you non-aviation types - clicking on the cockpit intercom and saying "Captain do you have stability control on your side?"

Captain: "Sure Do."

FO: "OK, I've lost it on this side. Can you set trim to -" (insert your favorite degree setting here.)

Captain: "Roger that. Let's set this down and see what's going on, just to be on the safe side."

And with that they set a course for the nearest airport with sufficient runway and drop the bottom out of that baby. All Right, I know they don't drop the bottom out of it, but it sounded good.

Anyway, issues like the one on Sen. Obama's aircraft are far more common than the flying public is probably aware, and the pilots handle them fairly routinely. Because truth be told, America's commercial flight crews are about as professional and well trained a group as you will find worldwide, even if they occasionally fall asleep and overfly Hawaii.

But you wouldn't know that to listen to the news today. Before this relatively normal malfunction was an hour old I was listening to horror stories of past crashes where control problems caused death and destruction. Nothing like that occurred today.

Nonetheless, the chartered aircraft was safely landed in St. Louis, the press corps was forced to stay on board, just in case it blew up on the ground I guess, and the senator got off and walked far, far away until he got the 'all clear' to come back.

I would like to personally thank the flight crew and note once again that their professionalism and extensive, ongoing training obviously enabled them to handle a routine in-flight malfunction without it turning into a major issue.

But I wonder if that flight crew took any time after they got on the ground to consider that the guy who just bailed out on them as fast as he could run is pushing energy policies that are putting flights on the ground faster than gravity, and if he gets elected they may well lose their jobs.

No kidding! He doesn't want drilling anywhere in the US except on 38 million barren acres leased by the oil companies which have no proven or even suspected reserves beneath them. He wants a total shut down on all petroleum refining, the consequences be damned!

And who will be the first to suffer the biggest impact over skyrocketing fuel prices?

Right! The airlines, which fly airplanes, which use jet fuel! Fuel costs go up, airlines cut back flights, personnel are let go, and Barack Obama sits back in the Oval Office, puts his feet up on an antique desk, smiles and gives himself a verbal "Well done."

He will too! I bet he will!

So, while I admire the professionalism of the flight crew, I can't help but wonder if they actually support the guy they are flying all over America, talking out of both sides of his mouth at once.

And while we're on the subject, what is this flying all over America stuff anyway? On a non-scheduled charter aircraft no less! What exactly does Barack Obama's carbon footprint look like?

It must be huge! How much carbon dioxide is added to the atmosphere every time Barack Obama takes a campaign trip? And that's just from his speeches. I bet his airplane does a number on the global warming statistics too!

How can you FLY all over creation making the claim that you want to reduce so-called greenhouse emissions? Isn't that just a tad contradictory, if not outright hypocritical?

Barack Obama. Flyboy For President. Don't Do As I Do, Do As I Say!
Friday, July 04, 2008

Audacity Of Hope? Or Just Audacity?

This is another in the occasional series from the Airline Industry:

From The Flight Deck

Word of impending layoffs is swirling around the airline industry like contrails in an evening sky, and many of us who work to move millions of passengers throughout our country and overseas each year are facing what at best can be described as an uncertain future.

Every airline is struggling with fuel costs that have eliminated profit margins, some are on the verge of going under, and meanwhile, Congress dithers, twiddles its thumbs, pontificates, in other words "blows smoke." The economy is tanking over oil costs but Congress runs its collective mouth about "Big Oil" and "obscene profits," which somehow are materializing from a roughly 9 percent profit margin.

Oh and let's nail those despicable speculators too, rather than increasing the oil supply which would result in plummeting prices.

We, meaning airline employees, might make it through the summer travel season, but it doesn't look good for the fall. Furlough is the word on the lips of many pilots, first officers, flight crews, ramp workers, and ticket agents.

Furlough. Sounds nice doesn't it? Almost has the ring of 'vacation' to it. But it isn't nice and certainly not a vacation. Furlough means 'let go,' it means 'lay off,' it means 'fire.' Unemployment here we come.

As the number of flight personnel goes down, ticket prices will take off right along with the limited number of flights available, and the economy will take another major blow - all linked to Congress' refusal to allow new drilling or refining.

Congress has decided to make a leap into alternative forms of fuel, with no transition to ease the impact on the economy. It is obvious Congress would rather shut down the airline industry for short term political gain, than use common sense in how we move forward on the energy issue.

I am a proponent of moving away from fossil fuels that pollute our atmosphere. But I also understand that it can't happen overnight without an extreme impact on the national economy. So many people are employed in so many jobs relating to the pumping, transporting, refining and delivery of oil in all its myriad uses, that to shut down a huge chunk of the oil industry overnight means to throw millions out of work.

I take personal umbrage at Congress - particularly the Democratic members - putting its own agenda ahead of the welfare of the American worker.

I didn't start out flying for an airline, but that was my dream. I was in another profession for several years, and during that time worked for my private pilot's license, and amassed flight hours in general aviation. When I had sufficient experience to move into commercial aviation I worked hard and scrimped for years so I could take a year off to study and train for my commercial ratings.

I didn't get a break from the government, I wasn't enrolled in a program that paid my living expenses while I had The Audacity of Hope. I actually believed that if I worked hard, used self-discipline, saved my money, and studied my flight manuals and FAA regulations I just might achieve a position with an airline.

In the end my work and study paid off and I was hired by a major carrier. I have steadily moved up in the ranks and have taken on increasing responsibilities as the years pass.

But that is coming to a screeching halt. Thank you ever so much Democratic Congress.

Thank you Barack Obama for conveniently ignoring airlines as you spew this non-stop drivel that America can somehow be altered overnight to travel on batteries or alternative fuels.

Sure, fill the fuel tank of a 757 with corn niblets or soybeans and see how far that gets you.

Do the members of Congress who are known for their long distance junkets and "fact-finding" flights to exotic ports need to be reminded that for their long and mid-distance flights, airlines use JET engines? Jet engines work on jet fuel. Not something else. Jet fuel. Get it? Jet fuel.

Jet fuel comes from crude oil. It will take years of testing to find alternative forms of fuel for jet aircraft, considering how many thousands are flying across the globe every hour of every day, and how much power those alternative fuels must deliver to get an airliner off the ground.

Claiming that commercial aircraft can be converted to untried forms of fuel overnight is not just wrong, it is outright dangerous.

Think about it. Do you want to fly on an aircraft that as a result of a government decree has been converted to a bio fuel for which it isn't designed? Go ahead. This time, I'll let you go right to the head of the line.

As I understand the purpose of government, its number one priority is the security of the nation, which I take to mean both physical and economic security. But Congress has failed to provide for our energy security, which in turn means Congress has failed to provide for our economic security and thus our physical security.

Mr. Obama says he wants to "inspire" America on many fronts including using alternative fuels. But all I see is Congress "inspiring" the airline industry to lay off, fire and cut services. Way to go Barack.

It occurred to me that the entire US House of Representatives is up for election this fall. It further occurred to me that the incumbent in my home district is a Democrat who voted against renewed oil drilling and refining.

I wonder if he has the Audacity of Hope to think there is any possible way I will be voting for him this November?
Thursday, July 03, 2008

What - Pray Tell - Is The "White" National Anthem?

Well, here we go again. Out in Denver where the Democratic National Convention will be held in August, a city government meeting was supposed to be opened with the traditional singing of the National Anthem.

However, a vocally talented lady who was chosen to do the honors -she just happened to be dark skinned - instead substituted words that now have been identified in the media as the "Black National Anthem."

I guess I must have missed that particular part of American History because I never knew there was a "black" national anthem that is different from the traditional version, which I was under the impression was for everyone who calls themselves an American.

In fact, I don't know of any words in the National Anthem that could be mistaken for meaning it is only for one race, not all races. Hold it, there is that version that goes along with an old joke about an Hispanic guy who couldn't get a good seat at the ball game and a scalper sells him one on the top of the flag pole and he is overjoyed because the game starts with the crowd singing "Jose, Can You See!?"

Other than that, when I took American History in grade school, high school, and college I thought the whole point of all the words and laws that were written, and let's not forget the worst war ever fought by the US, was to make us ALL EQUAL!

What happened? Who lied to me? Was it my teachers way back when? Was it Abraham Lincoln, the abolitionists, Civil Rights legislation, the Emancipation Proclamation? What? Who?

How did this escape my attention? I have lived in mixed neighborhoods nearly my entire life, count a number of black Americans as my friends as well as my neighbors, and yet I have never, ever, heard anyone anywhere sing the Black National Anthem. Until now.,2933,375164,00.html

Check it out yourself. At least as long as that web link lasts.

I didn't make it up, but to hear the news announcers talking about it today you'd think that everyone in America knew about this except me.

Well, here is my response. In the interest of equality I want a White National Anthem.

Wait, wait, we can't do that. It would be seen as racist and bigoted and exclusionary. Right? I mean everyone else can have some sort of song just for them, unless you are white.

But how about if you are an amalgam that just happens to turn out white? Or off white? Or a whiter shade of dark? Like Barack Obama. How about that?

How about if we take these amalgams apart, single them out for their unique characteristics and go from there?

Let's start with me. I am essentially Scots-Irish, with some German and a hint of French way, way back.

So first I would like to request Scotland the Brave as the Scots-American National Anthem. Great song. Very inspiring.

Then let's see, how about the Irish. Something with Whisky in it, or a poem to hit on our most popular urban myth attributes. Oh, I've got it. This is for my late maternal grandmother who came over from Ireland by herself when she was 16 years old and made a good life for her offspring - An Emigrant's Daughter.

Sad, but hauntingly beautiful.

For you grandma. I miss you. We could do Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye since there is an Americanized version of the music with different lyrics but I think it reminds me too much of the present situation.

Now let's see. German. No, not Deutschland uber alles, which isn't really the title, just the first lines. The actual title is Das Deutschlandlied. It actually was written back when the US was young, but today has some bad connotations from WWII movies. How about Ein Prosit? That should keep things on a friendly level.

Now France. La Marseillaise? Nah, too much like something out of Casablanca, besides which it is the French National Anthem. How about J'Attendrai by Jean Sablon from the movie The Good Year? I like the movie, I like the music. Why not? If you aren't happy with that find me a good song that goes with wine and cheese.

Italy. Let's see what will we do for my Italian friends. Que Sera? Maybe. How about Dean Martin "When the Moon Hits Your Eye Like A Big Pizza Pie" etc. etc. Hey, it's a lot less antagonistic than the Theme From the Godfather.

How about a Jewish National Anthem? Not for Israel, it has its own. But for Jewish people who live in the US. My first choice would be Hava Nagila but that's only because I like to dance at weddings.

I'm also open to further suggestions on that, plus anything from any Spanish speaking group - Cubans might have different priorities than Puerto Ricans or Mexicans for instance.

You get my point don't you? This is supposed to be one country with one set of values, and those values are best expressed in our COMMON National Anthem. Where else are we going to find one anthem for people from all the Asian countries who are Americans, or for all South Americans, Central Americans, and African people from other parts of the continent other than the interior?

Should we really have a different anthem for each of the original Native American tribes, since they sure weren't one big happy family when the Europeans arrived? And I barely got started on western Europe, not mention eastern Europe.

If we go off on tangents then we are not a country, we are just a collection of people hanging around the same geographic area, taking advantage of whatever comes our way, until we decide to just change things around to our liking.

Lots of people did that in the past, in other places. That's why many people came to America in the first place, and why many others stayed even if they came here against their will. I'm not sure my family would be here but for the fact that economic conditions in Ireland and Scotland were terrible when my father was a boy, and my Irish grandmother was a teen.

But once here, they stayed.

So let's just forget these individual anthems shall we? When someone asks you to sing the National Anthem you know just what to sing, and if you want to sing something else later on, be my guest. Other people just might like it if given half a chance.

Just don't call it the National Anthem.
Wednesday, July 02, 2008

John McCain Never Called Me a Baby Killer. Clark - Apologize!

When retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark, on behalf of the Obama campaign, criticized John McCain's qualifications to be Commander in Chief this week - based on McCain's rank in the Navy and command experience - I initially laughed so hard my sides hurt.

The general said in essence that McCain hadn't been high enough up the command ladder to really be a leader, and that being shot down, captured, tortured, and spending five years as a POW in North Vietnam don't really mean he understands war.

Basically, it was a retired military version of one-upmanship. "I have more stars than you do, I have more medals than you do, mine is bigger than yours" - so to speak. Clark's comments should have been ignored as nothing more than sour grapes, an extension of the annual Army-Navy football game, but they weren't.

(And don't tell me Obama didn't know about it, and was merely the unaware recipient of the good general's largesse. Nothing, and I mean nothing, goes on at that level of politics without the campaign knowing about it. Yes, Obama renounced the general's comments, but that is just a tactic to get the negative message out at the same time the candidate appears to remove himself from it. If you really think he wasn't in on this you are either suffering from a 60s counter-culture brain cell loss, or in total denial.)

I wrote about expected attacks on McCain's record during the South Carolina primary campaign earlier this year, and said then that McCain would have to be prepared to deal with them. It comes as no surprise and gives me no comfort to know that I was right, and I am not at all pleased that the Democrats have again used a former military man to attack McCain's qualifications based on his service.

Because after I thought about it for a bit, I realized that once again the Democrats are taking another shot at the military in general, and Vietnam Veterans in particular. Unfortunately they are using a bitter retired general as a dupe to lift his leg on the very troops he once led, and the general went along with it.

The mainstream media was filled with a 'spontaneous' eruption of comparisons to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth who exposed John Kerry as a poser and embellisher in the last presidential election. (Once again, if you really think anything about this was spontaneous and unplanned, I have a bridge for sale in downtown Manhattan. Call me. We'll talk price.)

It is unfortunate that any former military leader would be so unaware, so uniformed and so bitter that they would become a willing pawn in an effort to discredit a candidate by attacking what can only be described as honorable service. The end result did not work against McCain in the first place, but does dredge up the old hatreds and animosities of the 60s and 70s spewed by the anti-Vietnam War crowd of that era.

But there is a big difference between John McCain this year and John Kerry four years ago. There were and still are legitimate questions on what Kerry did or didn't do in Vietnam, and especially what he did to Vietnam veterans in the early 70s between lying to Congress and holding fake "hearings" that labelled an entire generation as out-of-control mindless serial killers.

Because of his wildly embellished stories about his service, and what he said about me and my fellow Vietnam Veterans afterward, I am not a fan of John Kerry. You can not read this column and mistake anything I say here as support for him. I have good reason.

I spent the early years in my media career at the Hartford Courant listening to colleagues spouting urban myths about Vietnam vets - straight from Kerry's statements - as truth. When I first was shopping the manuscript for Masters of the Art to publishers and agents in the late 80s I ran into a brick wall of opposition because it didn't follow the formulaic anti-war, anti-American diatribes that passed for literature at that time.

I was even called a liar, and a "baby-killer and murderer" by a Manhattan agent who wasn't satisfied with merely sending me a rejection slip. Screw him. The book is still here and the Courant is imploding. Sorry 'bout that.

Unlike McCain, John Kerry's actions both in Vietnam and afterward were fair game for the criticism that he encountered when he ran for president.

On the other hand, John McCain never called me a baby killer. When he came home from Vietnam he worked to regain his physical health, he stayed in the Navy for a time and then returned to civilian life and ultimately entered politics. How that disqualifies him from being president escapes me.

Based on Clark's attack on McCain, how the hell was John Kerry qualified to be president? Was it because he got some medals that were awarded based on questionable accounts of claimed injuries and claimed heroics? Let's not go down that road again here, other than to say that if the officers in my helicopter squadron had done what Kerry did to get a Silver Star, they would have been court martialed and for good reason.

As much as I disagree with Clark's comments or taking the lead in this issue, I realize that he did have a solid military career, was wounded - for real - in Vietnam, and had a mostly distinguished career up until the end when he was removed from command during the Clinton administration. I really don't like the commentary on the news attacking Clark based on his military career any more than Clark's comments about McCain.

It still amounts to bashing the military, again, but using military people to do it.

You can agree with McCain or disagree with McCain, but ultimately you have to decide whether you will vote for him based on what he can bring to the table as chief executive of this country, not on whether he had sufficient rank or command service in the military 30 years ago.

The truth is, Obama is so short on executive qualities that he is desperate to keep the spotlight off of his lack of expertise, and keep it on trumped up issues regarding McCain's qualifications.

Obama has zero military experience, so I guess in Clark's world that should disqualify him entirely. Frankly, I believe any form of honorable military service is a big plus when a person wants to run this country, since the president is the commander-in-chief and may have to send troops to battle. It isn't a deal breaker, but it does matter.

Obama also has no executive level experience, and actually is pretty thin on legislative experience too. Pumping up his resume to claim responsibility for ending welfare, for instance, when he actually opposed President Bill Clinton on that issue, is a prime example.

Obama has been searching the country looking for surrogates and possible running mates to backfill his lack of qualifications, but that in itself bothers me. Vice presidents are supposed to be qualified to step in without missing a beat if the president is incapacitated.

The vice president shouldn't be seen as an extension of the president who can handle the parts of the job that the president can't.

Obama has been interviewing other genuine heroes, such as former Marine officer and Vietnam War veteran Jim Webb, the Democratic Senator from Virginia, as his potential VP running mate. But as much as I like and respect Webb, he had less rank than McCain and, thus, under Clark's reasoning, less capability to be commander in chief.

There is a lot of contradictory information and a lot of hypocrisy running amok here.

What this all comes down to is another tawdry episode in which America's veterans are again being maligned by the Democrats for minimal political gains.

John McCain has nothing to apologize for in terms of his rank or command experience and how it relates to his quest for the presidency.

But Wesley Clark should apologize to every American veteran for bringing this issue up in the first place, and allowing himself to be a pawn of a political candidate who has shown once again that nothing and no one will be spared if he thinks it will earn him a few percentage points in the polls.


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