Category Archives: Department of Defence

America, a Nation of Legal Immigrants

I am proud to be an immigrant; honored to be American by choice. Legal immigration is part of the DNA of a nation founded and built by immigrants. Unless you are a pure blood Native American, you are the product of immigrants, even if you are a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution. I embraced the American ideal of achievement based on your ability and hard work as opposed to the neo-socialist nanny state of my native Canada. My path to citizenship involved crafting my career to achieve the skill set needed to immigrate to America. What followed was years of filing forms and dozens of trips to the then Immigration & Naturalization Service and its successor the U.S. Citizenship and immigration Service. This was not easy, convenient or even at times logical but it was the process established by my new home. Forms were diligently completed and the legal system embraced. The day I raised my right hand and took the oath of citizenship was among the proudest of my life, second only to the day I married my wife.

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” Emma Lazarus from “The New Colossus”

 

As an immigrant I truly understand what attracts millions to aspire to not only move to America but to embrace the culture that defines being American, I feel it in my heart. America needs immigrants to sustain growth and to enrich the very fiber of the country. Yet the foundation of any immigration policy must be one of the core elements of America, the rule of law. As an immigrant, there was much of the process I found to be nonsensical, the test of American History so simple and uninspired no idiot with a pulse could fail; the one sentence of monosyllable words test of English competence. But this process was defined by law, American law, and it was the first test of citizenship to be passed. The American People must define our nation’s immigration policy, not those who aspire to join the American family.

While the debate has been dominated by radicals on both sides of the issue, fundamental immigration reform must be affected for both the economic and national security interest of the nation. The core principles below would provide the foundation for sensible and sustainable immigration reform.

  1. Respect for the Rule of Law: At the core of citizenship is respect for the rule of law; any immigrant must fully embrace and respect those laws even if they do not agree with them. If ones first act upon entering the United States is to violate its national laws, that person has disqualified themselves from the privilege of making America their home. Any form of amnesty, direct or back door, is a slap in the face to all of us who have followed the legal path to enter America. Further, those illegal’s who have been in America for years have violated our laws by either working “off the books” or by using falsified or stolen identities to maintain a legal appearance. Those who violate our laws must never be rewarded for their illegal activities and should be deported and barred from reentry into the United States.
  2. The Defense of the Boarder is one of the Fundamental Responsibilities of Government: The current administration has failed in its obligation to secure the nations boarders. To the south illegal migrants pass through the boarders with little difficulty. To the north world’s largest undefended border with Canada is utterly unprotected with little more than warning signs in most places. Given Canada’s open immigration policy, particularly from countries who wish America harm, necessitates securing that border in the same manner as our border with Mexico. If the Department of Homeland Security cannot adequatly secure the nations boarders, then the assistance of the Department of Defense must be sought.
  3. Immigrants must Embrace American Culture & Institutions: A nation is defined by a common culture, language and legal structure. Those who wish to come to America must in their hearts embrace these before seeking to live on our shores. Those who hate America and what it stands for must not be allowed to abuse a welcoming nation to do it harm. Competence in the English language is essential to a successful immigrant experience and must be mastered before arriving at the gates. Political activism and dissent are at the foundation of our fundamental rights, but these must be done within the rule of law and our political system. In short, America, love it or stay home.
  4. All Immigrants Should be on a Path to Citizenship: We want those who come to America to embrace the American experience and seek to be a permanent part of our society. Temporary work permits simply allow American corporations to bring foreign workers to America, often at wages well below paid to American workers and use their temporary status to keep them from complaining. If a legitimate need exists for bring a foreign worker to America, they should be brought in on a single immigrant track and subject to the same requirements and controls. The concept of “Permanent Resident” status, the so called Green Card should be ended. Foreigners should not be allowed to reside in America indefinably without becoming citizens and fully participating in American Society. At the end of a single 10 year residency period (the valid period of a current Green Card) an immigrant has not become a citizen, they should return to their country of origin. A permanent sub class of residents does nothing to elevate the nation as a whole.
  5. Knowledge of American History, Government and the English Language is Required to be a Productive American: All immigrants should be expected to have the same understanding of American History and Government as is expected of an American high school graduate (leave aside what high school graduates actually know). In the same way competence in the English language is essential to take part in the public discourse and succeed economically. Those who cannot, or will not, achieve these should not be welcomed to America.
  6. Multiculturalism and Hyphenated Americanism are a Cancer on the Nation: While it is fine to have pride in one’s heritage and fore fathers, at the core of citizenship is becoming an American in ones heart and soul, not only the color of the passport. One can be an American proud of their heritage, but being American must come first, last and always.
  7. Immigration must be Maintained at Sustainable Levels: Recognizing the danger to the very fabric of the United States, the levels of immigration must never be allowed to exceed the number of immigrants who can be effectively assimilated into American society. We must cherish and protect the melting pot of our society and its ability to bring newly arrived immigrants into our communities. To allow levels of new immigrants to overwhelm American society not only does a disservice to the immigrants themselves, it represents a danger to the future of the nation itself.

I am sure there will be many on the left and the right who will disagree with these views, such is the American way. Yet balancing the conflicting interest will require compromise. What cannot be compromised is maintaining the fundamental qualities of what it is to be an American. Many, such as the current Administration seek to place their political interests in before those of the nation. It is the responsibility of the American people to prevent this from destroying the very character of our nation.

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” Emma Lazarus from “The New Colossus”

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Filed under 2012 Election, Barak Obama, Department of Defence, Department of Homeland Security, Immigration, Politics

Reflections on Memorial Day

This afternoon I found myself in our yard with my wife cleaning up, trimming some rose bushes, watering plants, all those things one does as spring turns into summer and we prepare for the first long weekend of the year. We are focused on the pleasures and challenges of our lives and the good fortune we have to live in America. Earlier this morning I wrote a posting on poles for the upcoming primary season as well as reading a number of others thoughts. Many I agreed with, some a few infuriated me but we all can freely express ourselves without fear or thought of reprisal. When I came inside I found my wife watching the movie Taking Chance, the 2009 film portraying the real life story of a Marine Lt. Colonel escorting a fallen Marine, Pfc. Chance Phelps home for the last time in 2004. We set aside plans for the day and found ourselves watching this film, one we had seen before, drawn again in a way to its story.

Arlington National Cemetery

As I watched this movie I found myself thinking of all those who have been brought home for the last time after service to our country as well as those who have never returned. We often talk about their sacrifice for the country, but I think we often fail to appreciate the magnitude of a life lost. For almost 10 years, since that dark Tuesday in September 2001 we have been a country at war. Yet for those of us fortunate enough to live in America, there has been little sign of that war. We see the occasional returning Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine in an airport as they come and go. If we are thoughtful we approach them and thank them for their service. Yet for us life goes on almost without sign of the conflicts which they are keeping from our shores. We hear from time to time of the loss of Americans and allied forces in an ambush or by an IED attack but life goes on for most of us. This has not been Vietnam, Korea or World War 2 with tens of thousands dies, often in a matter of days. Yet the loss of a single member of our armed forces is such a profound loss.

Today as I watch the movie I found myself thinking about the meaning and impact of each and every loss. Thinking about the life cut short far before its time. The lives that were touched by each and every one of these fallen patriots. The families that would not be, the loves that would not be, the children that would never be born. The experiences along the voyage of life the way that would never be seen or felt. No hair turning gray or expanding waistlines. No sunsets shared with spouses and partners. What adventures that would now never be had. The contributions to science, arts, their communities and yes, politics that would never be. The loss of each and every member of our armed services leaves a gaping hole in our country that will never be filled.

As we sit here today enjoying the first days of the summer of 2011 we do so due to the sacrifices of hundreds of thousands of lives cut short in order that we can live free. From the opening shots of the War of Independence to the battlefields of Afghanistan today. The magnitude of their sacrifice is almost beyond comprehension. Yet our lives go on and in a way we do honor to their lost lives by the quality of ours lived in freedom. Next time I see a young man or women in uniform I hope I stop and thank them as they have volunteered to put their lives in harm’s way. Someone once said rule number one of war was young men and women die, and rule number two is you can’t change rule number one. I hope as we cook the hot dogs and burgers this weekend we remember this. I hope our leaders and political talking heads remember the absolute sacrifice that will be made by those young men and women in uniform, as well as the many lives which were never finished over the last 235 years.

God bless each and every one who has fallen, who has or currently wears the uniform, and may God continue to bless the United States of America.

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Filed under American Leadership, Department of Defence, Foreign Policy, Memorial Day

The USNS Cesar Chavez

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus is expected to name the 14th Lewis and Clark class dry cargo ship the USNS Cesar Chavez, the California union organizer who died in 1993. The Lewis and Clark class of ships prior to the Obama administration had been named for famous explorers (Lewis and Clark, Sacagawea, Alan Sheppard, Amelia Earhart), naval heroes (Robert E Peary, Carl Brashear). The current administration has moved to civil rights leaders (Medgar Evers) and now a union leader. Needless to say this has caused some controversy, with Rep Duncan Hunter (R-CA) stating “Naming a ship after Cesar Chavez goes right along with other recent decisions by the Navy that appears to be more about making a political statement than upholding the Navy’s history and tradition”.

USNS Alan Shepard, Honoring the Rear Admiral & First Americian in Space

There is no question Medgar Evans was a patriot and contributed to his country by his action in the civil rights movement. Ceasar Chavez was controversial throughout his life but dedicated that life to the workers he represented. However, the question is should the Navy be naming ships for these individuals, or should such honors be reserved for military and national heroes. There are dozens of Medal of Honor recipients who have earned the highest honor the country can bestow upon a member of the armed services who have never received such recognition. More concerning is the trend of this administration to see the military as a place for social engineering rather than the sharp end of American foreign policy.

Let me be clear, I would have no issue naming the Department of Labor building after a union leader, a national park after a civil rights legend. But the vessels which carry young men and women into harm’s way should recognize those who have shown courage in the line of duty. I would hope Secretary Mabus would give thought to recognizing those who have died in service to their country before heroes of other parts of our society, who should be honored in ways consistent with how they lived their lives.

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Filed under Department of Defence, Obama Administration, Politics, United States Navy

The F35: A Question of Patriotism

Yesterday the House of Representatives voted to cut off spending for the “Alternate Engine” for the F #5 joint Strike Fighter. It’s about time. It is testament to the power of corporate lobbyists that F136 engine has been kept alive this long. The military long ago chose the Pratt & Whitney  F135 engine as the power plant for F 35 Lightning II fighter program. The “Alternate”  F 136 produced by General Electric was the loser in a procurement competition. The drive to keep the F 136 alive is simply a cynical effort to keep the cash flowing to General Electric at the cost of providing  American men and women in uniform with the highest quality and greatest quantity of fifth generation fighters as they go into combat.

For years the Pentagon has said they have no interest in the F 136 Loser Engine. The concept of one fighter having two types of engine is truly ridiculous. Picture the maintenance teams on an aircraft carrier at sea with two F 35’s grounded and waiting for replacement parts in time of war. Rather than taking a part from one to get the other flying as occurs every day, both aircraft would sit idle as they did not share the same engine. Forward units would have to stock redundant parts. Maintenance teams would have to be dual trained or worse, additional teams would be required for both engines. Pilots of the F35’s equipped with the GE F136 engine would have the knowledge that they were going into combat with the “looser” engine. I wonder if the CEO of General Electric plans on writing letters to the families of those who would die from using the alternate engine?

For years the corporate gravy train has kept congressional support for the F 136 engine alive despite attempts by the Department of Defense to end the squandering of tax dollars on it by both the Bush and Obama administrations. So the vote yesterday of 233 – 198 to cut of spending for this unwanted waste of tax dollars was the first step in the right direction. Let there be no doubt, the lobbyist money is flowing today to keep the F136 alive in the senate as the Continuing Resolution containing this amendment moves forward. But it is time to put a stake into the heart of this blatant act of corporate welfare. However this is not just a case of wasteful spending, it’s a question of putting the profits of one company ahead of the lives of future generations of American warriors.

It’s time for all Republican members to show their commitment to responsible defense spending and providing our men and women in uniform with the best quality and highest quantity of weapons possible. Any republican who votes in favor of this project will not be able to claim any commitment to fiscal responsibility. It is this author’s hope that any Republican who does chose to support the Looser Engine will earn a primary challenge in 2012 and any contender for the White House supporting the continued waste on this engine would show themselves unqualified to claim the title of Conservative Republican. It’s time to cast the votes, and record the courage and commitment of our elected officials.

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Filed under Congress, Department of Defence, F 35 Joint Strike Fighter, National Debt, Obama Administration, Politics, Republican Party, Spending, The White House