Monthly Archives: February 2015

The Face of Evil: ISIS Demonstrates the Inhumanity of Islamofascism

Today we were all saddened with the formal news we had all feared, the death of Kayla Mueller at the hands of her ISIS captors. This was a young woman who went to Syria because she wanted to aid in relieving the suffering of the Syrian people at the hands of their corrupt leaders. Today we saw statements form Kayla’s friends and family and their pain was hard to watch. All America stands with her family in their grief and mourns the loss of a very special life far too soon. This comes just over a week after the posting of ISIS Burning captured Jordanian Pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh was announced by the Islamofascist group. Moral relativists would tell you we need to understand why ISIS would be led to perform such atrocities. The truth is much simpler; ISIS and its Islamofascist philosophy are the face of pure evil in the world today.

Jordanian Pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh Murdered by ISIS

After much thought a screen capture from that video of the insane slaughter of the pilot has been included with this post as it is important to see what ISIS has done. In performing such acts the killings of Kayla and Moaz the Islamofascists have surrendered any claim to humanity they had. They are a cancerous growth on humanity and like any malignancy, they must be eliminated. The reality is we will see more such acts, and given ISIS’s progression towards increasingly sadistic acts, the worst is yet to come.

What is equally starling are the differences in our two nation’s responses. King Abdullah II of Jordan pledged to wage war and wipe the ISIS infestation off the face of the planet.  Spending much of his time since the execution became public with his troops, he has said ‘The only problem we’re going to have is running out of fuel and bullets.’ True leaders lead and can come from any nation great or small. Jordan is fortunate to be lead by a courageous leader and his time in history is now.

Contrast that with comments made by President Barack Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast when he compared the atrocities of Islamofascists with the acts of Christian crusaders more than 500 years ago. The Democrat administration continues to use the minimum amount of force needed to keep the American people and their representatives in congress from removing the decision from his failed Presidency. The world should have no misunderstanding; Barack Obama does not speak for the majority of the American people. He has abdicated that responsibility.

Barack Obama and King Abdullah II of Jordan WH Photo

We are past the point of taking legal or legislative action against President Obama; he is a lame duck and will be on the stage for less than 2 years. Yet if left unchecked by Western Democracies ISIS will morph during that period into something even more depraved than it is today. One act the Congress could take is to drop all discussions on Approval of Force resolutions and instead pass an unambiguous Declaration of War against ISIS and any state or group providing support. Even will all his arrogance, I suspect Barack Obama would realize vetoing the Declaration of War would be political suicide, assuming the Declaration was passed by less than a veto proof majority.

It may be unpopular in some circles to say this, but President George W. Bush was right in that we are engaged in a multi generational struggle that will determine the very nature of humanity in the future. The responsibility lies with each and every one of us to ensure the scourge of Islamofascism is wiped from the face of the earth.  The more we wait the more death and misery will be endured.

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Filed under Barack Obama, Foreign Policy, Islamofascism, Politics, Terrorism

War, Peace and Political Cowards: Debating Conflict with ISIS

As a nation America is now engaged in a debate about a potential full scale war with the islamofascist group ISIS. At its face there is little debate that ISIS is a modern manifestation of evil with social media savvy which must be eliminate before it gets to the point where such elimination is either not possible or has caused damage that will make the events of 9/11 seem tame. This post is not going to debate the virtuous goal of wiping the ISIS infection from the planet but rather the political dance currently going on and the widespread political cowardness being demonstrated in Washington. Let’s be fair, there are some who have taken well thought out policy positions, at considerable political risk. Senator Rand Paul favoring very restrictive use of force to Senator Lindsey Graham who favors a virtually unlimited authority for fight the Islamofascists.  Then there are the fast majority of politicians who are desperately trying to hide from being the ones to make the decision to send America back to the Mideast in what is almost certain to end up another large ground war. No one epitomizes this more than former Secretary of State and presumptive Democrat nominee for President Hillary Clinton who seems to be using a “Grandma Strategy” to be avoiding any public statements on the largest foreign policy debate of the election cycle and which emerged in large part as a result of the policy of the State Department she led. We are not going to debate the policy positions today but rather the growing game of political hot potato being played. It’s almost spring in Washington and the Yellow Back flowers of Capital Hill and the White House are in full bloom.

Constitutional Confusion

Dating back to the administration of our first President George Washington, the Constitution has provided ample opportunity for confusion over the requisite authority needed for the United States to wage war. This is not entirely accidental as during the constitutional convention which drafted the Constitution, the delegated debated the same core issue we are today, the respective powers of the Executive Branch personified by the President and the Legislative being Congress. At the time the debate and the resultant compromise was less of an imperative as waging a war in the 18th Century was a relatively time consuming process of raising an Army and or Navy and then dispatching it into harm’s way. Short of an enemy fleet arriving on our shore without notice, an event which would clearly result in war, there was time to work the process to resolution. The founding Fathers could never have anticipated our world where wars are fought in real time. Just imaging George Washington’s reaction to a B-2 crew who after breakfast with their family near their bases in the heartland go to work, board one of the most power weapon systems ever developed, take off and several refuelings later bomb targets in the middle east and then turn around and after a few more refuelings  land back home just about a day later. This is a challenge for which the constitution was not written.

President George Washington in Uniform at Fort Cumberland Prior to the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794

First let’s understand the inherent constitutional conflict. Article 1, Section 8, Clause 11 clearly gives Congress the power to declare war. Additionally the same section specifically gives power to the Congress to establish, provide for and maintain a Navy and Land Forces of the United States. It actually reads rather clear. The complicating factor is Article 2, Section 2, Clause 1 which makes the elected President the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces (thus clearly establishing civilian control). Now in the late 18th century this kind of made sense as Congress could have lots of time to debate while the President readied his forces to execute any Declaration of War which Congress may ultimately issue. They never envisioned the military technology of today which has made war fighting real time but more importantly they never envisioned the television camera in the 24 hour news cycle. Get ready your hair care products and makeup, congress is ready to debate; well at least a few members.

Yet for all the complexity assumed to be the foundation of the modern debate, simply reading the constitution, word for word, a few times seems to indeed provide much clarity. Congress has the sole power to declare war and once declared the President has the authority to carry out that war. Now the real issue is that congress is totally unwilling to step up and declare war. The last formal declaration of war by the United States was June 5, 1942 when a declaration was passed by unanimous votes of both houses against Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania. Those actions we fought since the Korean, Vietnam, Gulf War (1991), Afghanistan and Iraq as well as number of smaller conflicts have been fought with some ad hoc form of congressional resolution. Presidents, with the possible exception of the current, have been more than willing to pick up the ball congress has dropped. In 1973 congress passed the War Powers Resolution which became law over the veto of a Watergate weakened Richard Nixon. However a core element of that legislation is the ability of congress within 30 days to vote to end conflicts is the so called congressional veto. That mechanism was declared unconstitutional in 1983 (INS v Chadha) and thus most likely would not have any weight today, other than political. The result is a brain numbing debate that occurs every time we face an international threat and always results in some overly vague (think Gulf of Tonkin) congressional dribble.

Today’s Debate over ISIS

Leaving the merits of the conflict with ISIS aside for this discussion, it seems like the debate we are in, as the great 20th century philosopher Yogi Berra said “It’s like déjà vu all over again.” President Obama is showing no leadership and we are engaging in mission creep chillingly reminiscent of Vietnam. After waiting two years  and not intervening until it seemed like the Iraq government was about to fall, the President unilaterally launched an air war only with commitment to not put American boots on the ground. Within a month he authorized up to 300 advisors and targeting support personal. Within months we had up to 3,000 advisors. Here we go again. One of the core lessons we took away from Vietnam was never to go to war without a clear mission and a commitment by the people by way of the Congress to achieve that mission. Let there be no doubt young American men and women in uniform are going to die fighting ISIS. The insanely barbaric of a Jordanian pilot captured after his aircraft was shot down is just a preview. Another lesson of Vietnam is an AK47 can bring down multi-million dollar jets.  Every member of congress should be required, without cameras to play up to, to go to the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington before this congressional circus goes any further. Having been to the memorial numerous times, there is something haunting about the more than 58,000 names etched in the black granite. Brave young Americans who answered their country’s call and their days cut tragically short. The one lesson congress must take from this is they need to step up and meet their constitutional responsibility.

President Obama in the White House Situation Room

Like Vietnam 50 years ago, we face a conflict where the only certainty about its future is uncertainty. We must, congress and the American people, make a decision to either engage ISIS with the full weight of American military power or walk away and let regional powers resolve the problem in some way. Life is about the choices we make; choices and their consequences. If we engage there will be a major war and American lives will be lost. Those losses will occur on the battlefield, in the air above and most likely in the homeland as ISIS will bring the fight to America in some form. If we walk away we likely will have to deal with a world with an ISIS controlled state, the size and nature of we can hardly imagine. Congress must make a choice, the President most certainly will not.

For me in this debate, as it has for the last 226 years the Constitution provided clear guidance. The Congress must either pass a clear and unrestricted Declaration of War. The President must then either sign that declaration and then fight the resulting war with vigor to victory or veto the declaration. Decisions must be made, forget politics and ignore perceived places in history. Look into the eyes of late teens and early twenty something men and women who will be called upon in one way or another to pay the price of that decision, or worse, indecision. They deserve leaders who lead, not elected cowards who hide within the Beltway. Those young men and women will show extraordinary courage if called upon just as previous generations have and continue to in Afghanistan. Congress and the President must show political courage that pales in comparison and make a choice. Just as importantly the American people much stand and be counted. Cowboy up.

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Filed under Barack Obama, Congress, Islamofascism, Politics, United States Constitution

Vaccines & Measles: Science, Liberty and Political Lunacy

This is a topic I really wish I never had to discuss and I think there are about a million more relevant than this given the choices, in my opinion, are so clear. Yet after an email exchange with a friend I came to realize there are a couple of important political questions here as well as substantiation of that old question, once again, so it’s time to give this some thought. To make this a little easier let’s look at the three main dimensions of the augment: The Science, Personal Liberty and Political Lunacy (Let’s include media coverage under lunacy):

Vaccines & Measles: Science, Liberty and Political Lunacy

The Science: A One Sided Debate

While I will acknowledge there are some who will vigorously disagree with on this point, rarely has there been a scientific question where the argument is so one sided. Vaccines have saved quite literally billions of lives, mostly in the last century and there is likely no other single medical advancement which has been as impactful to humanity (maybe antibiotics). Given I didn’t get past second year anatomy and physiology in collage I will leave the scientific points to those with letters behind their name, but the medical evidence is near unanimous, and not narrowly, that vaccines reduce illness due to major diseases and there is quite simply no quantitative studies which have been subject to repeatability and critique to support major dangers of taking the vaccine. The worst case is in some cases there is a statistically small chance of getting the underlying condition but in these cases those chances are well below the chances of contracting the condition without the vaccine. My advice to readers is think for yourself, read reliable studies and information and avoid the “junk science” that is pervasive on the internet.

So much for being nice to the scientific community as much of the anti-vaccine feelings can be directly traced to the total failure of the scientific community to make its case. Newsflash, we live in a democracy not a science worshiping totalitarian world. You need to make the case to the people and win their trust no matter how much contempt you seem to have for people (more on this later). In recent weeks I can’t count the number of times I have seen network health/science correspondents and/or TV Doctors say, essentially “get vaccinated because we tell you to”. What makes this totally aggravating is they have the science overwhelmingly on their side. The real skill of science in the media is to distill often complex data and arguments into a persuasive and understandable case without being contemptuous of the people themselves. My best advice if you are even giving just a little consideration to not vaccinating your children (and yes getting adult boosters) is talk to your family physician who we assume you trust (if Obamacare still lets you see them) and have a serious talk with them. This decision is truly one of life and death and if made wrong has Darwin Award written all over it.

Personal Liberty: No Exception to the Sanctity of the Person

Part of the debate in recent weeks has been as to when the state should force people to be vaccinated, my reply is NEVER. Nothing is more values to the very concepts of American Freedom and Liberty as the sanctity of the individuals very body from state intrusion barring the most compelling circumstances (vaccines don’t even come close here). This is a simple bright line test, much as free speech, and the true test is standing up for this right when you think the individual is being an idiot. That being said, choice comes with consequences and those choosing not to vaccinate their children should bear those costs without all the wining. Just as the state can compel an individual to wear eye glasses if they want a diver’s license, States should require vaccines in order to enter any public school. Don’t want to vaccinate your kids, enjoy home schooling all the way through high school. As for private schools and colleges and universities, as private institutions they have the choice of rules to set for attendance and given the enormous litigation risk, I doubt many would allow entry to unvaccinated. As a conservative core to my views is the concept of individual rights and individual responsibility; this is one case where the accountability for your actions lands squarely on you the individual.

Now a lawyer friend responded to this argument when I made it, and I paraphrase “well if your unvaccinated Johnny gives my vaccinated (not all vaccines take) sally the (insert horrible medical condition here) then I should be able to make a civil claim for damages. As I said every choice has consequences and leaving aside the potential difficulty of proving direct person to person causation even at the lower standard of more likely than not, let the jury decide. As I said under science, the onus is on the scientific and medical community to make this case and on that they have failed. Yet just because you have a right, it most certainly does not mean you should exercise that right.

The Political Circus: Lunacy, Lies and our Culture of Celebrity

This is a story made for the 24 hour news cycle and the media is milking it for all its worth. Additionally those on the left and their tools in the media have been quick to blame the conservative Neanderthals. But facts are an inconvenient thing. That noted medical expert and outspoken vaccine opponent Jenny McCarthy based on her time on The View and disclosed political contributions is a Democrat. Indeed the Hollywierd crowd is the source of much of the misinformation on the subject. Now in her defense much of the anti vaccine fear comes from the skyrocketing rates of Autism. The failure to research the causes of this may be the biggest failing of environmental science in the last 3 decades. But if you are getting your medical advice from a TV/Radio host whose leading resume line is former Playboy Playmate then well, you live with the consequences. Now I would hope that GOP presidential contenders would have a better answer to this ambush question than Gov. Chris Christie (pander babble). Rand Paul gave a well thought out replay, as he usually does and while I do not totally agree, it is well conceived. The rest, do some thinking, the reporters from TMZ, MSNBC and the National whatever are lurking in wait!

To all others, please do the smart thing, the right thing and get your kids vaccinated and to us adult, have a conversation with your doctor at your next annual physical about your own vaccination status.

Useful Links:

The Mayo Clinic – Childhood vaccines: Tough questions, straight answers

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/infant-and-toddler-health/in-depth/vaccines/art-20048334

The Centers for Disease Control – Measles: Make Sure Your Child Is Protected with MMR Vaccine

http://www.cdc.gov/features/measles/index.html

For a more conservative perspective:

http://www.conservapedia.com/Vaccine

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Filed under Conservative, Liberty, Science

Convictions, Conscience and Political Activism

Those who know me or have read this blog in the past know for the last few years I have, for the most part, gone quiet and withdrawn from the fight.  While getting a little older adds perspective it should also result in your questioning how your beliefs interact with your fellow citizens and more broadly society as a whole. I have never wavered in my core conservative believes. I believe in the individual rights and personal responsibility of the citizen. I believe in a government limited in scope to only those core responsibilities necessary for a free and just society. I believe in the defense of our freedom and those around the world who stand with us in the defense of liberty. What was shaken was my belief in the “conservative” movement and indeed the Republican Party is the internal dramatics which seem bent on self destruction. The 2012 election cycle was a disaster for conservatives and Republicans alike (I believe the two are inseparable), yet I reached the painful conclusion in the waning days of the 2012 campaign that the impending defeat was self inflicted. That the Republican Party with the weight of the conservative movement could not defeat the Obama-Reid-Pelosi Democrats made me question if those groups truly represented my view.

“I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!”                                                                                                                                                                                   Senator Barry Goldwater, Republican National Convention, 1964

Like many conservatives of my age, my views were rooted in the 1964 campaign of Senator Barry Goldwater, who lost that election just 6 weeks before my birth. Those views were crystallized during my teenage years as the Reagan-Thatcher conservative wave redefined western culture and politics while defeating, at least in the short term, the forces of evil that threatened the very existence of individual liberty. I believe in simplicity for it is that which can adapt to the unforeseen and provide direction in times of crisis. Conservatism is simply limited government, personal freedom and responsibility as well as the defense of those values against all those who seek to defeat them. For me, that is the test I apply to any political question. However in the early part of this century that direction seemed to be lost within the conservative movement and most certainly in our elected represent ivies.

At the elected level Republicans took on the character of “Big Government Conservatives”, a fundamental contradiction of terms that defies reason or logic. However of greater concern the conservative movement began to be dominated by those who sought to used government power to achieve their parochial agendas rather than to limit government’s interference in the ability of the individual to achieve those most basic of American values: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. I grew up in an age where conservative leaders were “happy warriors”, driving forward an agenda to improve the lives of people by improving mutual prosperity while limiting government interference in the lives of the citizen. We earnestly believed that our policies represented the best path for the largest number of people while still protecting those who needed a hand up.  By the middle of the last decade some claiming the mantle of leadership of the conservative movement had become decidedly nasty. Indeed many were advocating government activism to advance their respective special interest agenda at the very expense of the liberty of the individual.

The election of 2008 seemed to erase those issues as we were reminded that conservatives and Republicans of differing perspectives were not the political foes, the most left wing President and congressional majority in the history of the Republic were. The rise of the tea party movement, the most effective grass roots effort sense the Sons of Liberty in the 1770’s, united the right and in 2010 resulted in the largest congressional reversal in a century. For a time it seemed like order had been restored and rational conservatism was again in the majority of the body politic. Then came the 2012 GOP presidential campaign and the gates of the asylum were opened as one of the most internally destructive political races in memory resulted in the election of the politically weakest incumbent Presidents in a century (Yes, Jimmy Carter was politically weaker – his own party was fatally divided – but in the wake of Obamacare this incumbent should have been doomed).  For me it was late summer of 2012, convention season, when I first realized that the damage was done and like a freight train rumbling down the tracks toward a washed out bridge, the GOP nominee was headed to defeat. To be honest, there were many contributing factors leading to Mitt Romney’s loss, but in my opinion the divisive and indeed hateful soundtrack of the 2012 primary campaign resulted in the eventual outcome.  Political fratricide is so illogical and irrational that it borders on the insane. Thus my crisis of conscience and belief began.

“Purity in martyrdom is for suicide bombers. King Pyrrhus is remembered, but his nation disappeared. Winston Churchill set aside his lifetime loathing of Communism in order to fight World War II. Challenged as a hypocrite, he said that when the safety of Britain was at stake, his “conscience became a good girl.” We are at such a moment. I for one have no interest in standing in the wreckage of our Republic saying “I told you so” or “You should’ve done it my way.” “                                    Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, CPAC 2011, February 11, 2011

Politics without principles is a dangerous thing and I have always believed that a leaders beliefs and convictions were not only more critical but a better prediction of success than policy specifics. Going back to my earlier reference to simplicity, the conservative-libertarian-Republican right’s failure can , my opinion, be laid almost entirely on the movement forgetting two of Ronald Reagan’s foundational rules of politics: the so called 11th Commandment “thou shall not speak ill of a fellow republican” and his 80/20 rule on those who agree on 80 percent are friends rather than enemies for disagreeing on 20. We saw a presidential campaign where those who stood no chance of ever being elected president were elevated by a media set of ratings, and more than a little leftist dirty tricks agenda, as they spewed hate filled attacks of fellow candidates in the name of “real conservatism”. In life I have very little sympathy for those who are the “victims” of deliberate self inflicted wounds, in politics it is unforgivable.

Honesty time, I have a soft spot for internet politics, these words appear as such. However the apparent anonymity that the internet provides many of all political persuasions brings out the worst in many as they utter words they most likely (we hope) would never say face to face. Rather than improve transparency and increase dialogue among citizens, the internet has turned places like twitter and facebook into digital MMA Cage Fights: anything goes and the consequences are irrelevant when compared to the number of “likes” and “retweets”, where number of followers determines the virtue of the words. While entertaining when bored, this is not a recipe for either intellectual or electoral success; it brings into question the virtue of the author. A few years into the internet era I abandoned the use of usernames, where the technology allows, and only write under my own name. Only where there is a very real threat to the use of a real name exists, and those are rare indeed, is there value in anonymous words.

Yet the problem is deeper and more fundamental than simply the words, it seems like many have suspended that part of the brain that questions the motivation of the speaker. The air waves are filled with so many voices of conservative thought (there would be leftist voices if only they could get ratings – think Air America) yet perversely those voices do dramatically better economically if the Republican party fails. Bill Clinton was a financial windfall for many conservative hosts only to be surpassed by Barack Obama. Now I am not saying all these hosts are motivated only by money and as a believer in free market capitalism I support entrepreneurism. However it is the listeners who seem at times to turn off their own brains. Politics, like government itself, must gain its intellectual legitimacy from the people, not the hangers on to the process.

Lastly we come to the question of purity. While we all like to be in a room full of people who agree with us totally, it soon becomes apparent that those conversations provide little intellectual challenge. Politically it is death. The hard core reality of politics in America is philosophically there exists no pure majority in our politics. I do believe there is a fundamental conservative undercurrent, especially on the role of government, but that is not enough to form a governing majority. If we learn nothing else from the lessons of recent years, divided government achieves nothing but delaying hard choices (think Social Security, Debt…). Governing majorities are created, built from individual building blocks of points of agreement between individuals. Ronald Reagan understood this. Those who truly remember the 1980’s know he didn’t get all he wanted. Yet even with Democrats controlling at least one chamber of Congress his entire presidency he arguably achieved more than any conservative in modern memory (yes I know a strong case can be made for Thatcher, but the message would be the same). It is time we must decide do we want a government consistent with conservative values that only gets 80 (OK, maybe 90) percent; or do we want leftist majorities which give us more like Obamacare. Winning and electability are not bad words, intellectual dishonesty is much darker.

We now find ourselves in the middle of the 2016 Presidential campaign and yes it is very much underway. We on the right will be facing a left united behind Hillary Clinton in a way no party has in a century. I have concluded that this is the fight that will define much of the rest of my life. If the left wins Obamacare will be permanent, Clinton Immigration reform will change the nature of America (full disclosure, I am an Immigrant, an American by Choice) and the economics of envy so common in Socialist Europe will come to our shores.  This is a fight no true believer can stand by and watch. For me it is a challenge to stand by my principles, convictions and respect for others while helping in some small way preserving  America as the land of personal freedom and liberty: home of an exceptional people.

Let the fight be joined.

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Filed under 2016 Election, Conservative, Politics, Republican Party