Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Terrorism’ Category

The right-wing war hawks are revving up again.  The usual actors are calling for a “big war plan” against ISIS in both Iraq and Syria.  Heck even Paul Ryan said that the U.S. military needs to “finish [ISIS] off because we will either fight them here or we will fight them there,” adding that the deployment of ground troops to Syria or Iraq or wherever should not be “off the table.”   Not to be outdone, Sen. Lindsey Graham said that President Obama “is becoming derelict in his duties as commander-in-chief to protect our homeland by not aggressively confronting ISIL wherever they reside, including Syria.”

The President has already assigned about 1,000 troops into Iraq as advisors.  The right-wing says that isn’t enough and more “boots on the ground” are needed.  Of course they complain that we didn’t keep a military presence in Iraq when we pulled our troops out.  Of course, they fail to mention that Iraq refused a treaty that would have kept troops there.  As a result, we could not keep troops in Iraq because the Iraqi Government told us they didn’t want us there.

When the problems in Syria kicked off, the right-wing was all for bombing and putting troops in Syria to help oust Assad.  But, just like in Iraq, they didn’t have an end game for after Assad was kicked out.  It was that lack of an end game in Iraq that led to the mess that is occurring there now.

President Obama recently has ordered surveillance planes over Syria to gather intelligence.  The war hawk Washington Post editorial board takes that to mean we will soon be shooting in Syria.  But, their advice is a little different from Graham’s.  The U.S. needs to launch a war on the cross-border Iraq-Syria theater and find partners: “Kurds in Iraq and Syria, Sunni tribal leaders in Iraq, the Iraqi government if it can become more inclusive, what is left of the Free Syrian Army.” That should be real easy to do with a few phone calls. “Aiding them does not require a U.S. invasion,” the editorial continues, “but it will need ‘boots on the ground,’ as Mr. Obama already has acknowledged by sending close to 1,000 special forces back to Iraq. They will be needed for training, to assist in air targeting and perhaps more.”  Aren’t “boots on the ground” the same as an invasion?

The White House’s main concern, at this point, doesn’t seem to be about getting involved in Syria — it’s about “how to target the Sunni extremists without helping President Bashar al-Assad,” as the New York Times writes.  As we know, you can’t have a nice little war without boots on the ground too.  But, there is a big problem with all of this war talk that no one seems to be talking about.  How are you going to pay for it?

President Clinton left President George W. Bush a surplus budget.  Two wars later we are $17 Trillion in debt mostly due to the cost of the wars that were not paid for.  Additionally, we are a war-weary country.  Our troops have spent their blood in Iraq and Afghanistan.  We know that the VA is  a mess and veterans are still having problems getting their benefits including health care and disability ratings so they can get their pensions.  Yet, the war hawks are calling for more war across international borders.  You know the same kind of borders that they claim Russia is breaking in the Ukraine, which he is.

It is amazing to me how the only “veteran” who is calling for more war is John McCain, and he should know better.  Regardless of what you hear from other forums, military personnel are not all gung-ho to go to war.  We are the ones who pay the price for war.  We would rather be a tool used to prevent war rather than a tool to force it.

I would like to think that all of these war hawks would encourage their own children and/or grandchildren to sign up for the military right now.  Maybe, they wouldn’t be so quick to send our troops into another war.  How about Sarah Palin telling Bristol she should join up as her patriotic duty?  Or Lindsey Graham tell his children or grandchildren to sign up.  I say that knowing full well that will never happen.  War hawks want a war, they just don’t want their families involved in them.

They like to keep it to the “little people” like us.  My father served in WWII and the Korean War.  I served 20 years in the U.S. Coast Guard.  My son served in the Marines during the second Iraq War.  My grandson is going through the process to enlist in and serve in the Navy.  There are a lot of reasons why we have all served.  Mostly it is because we love our country.  Unfortunately, these war hawks don’t feel the same responsibility to serve their country.

I don’t know if we will be forced to join in a war against ISIS or ISIL whatever they call themselves.  But, if we are, it must first be voted on by the full Congress.  We must make sure that every single member of Congress either buys into another war or goes on the record against it.  And, it must include a way to pay for it!  We also must make sure that these veterans will be properly taken care of when the fighting is over.  Something that this country has failed miserably at for generations.

It was once said that war is hell.  It is!  I urge the President to force a vote on this issue in Congress.  Even if it is a bombing campaign.  There can be no doubt in November who was for and who was against military action in a foreign country.  I have no doubt that the men and women in uniform will do their job whatever the outcome of this debate is.  It is time for Congress, and especially the war hawks to do theirs first!

Read Full Post »

We are getting close to the end of the August recess for Congress.  The mid-term elections are just a few months away.  The Republicans are fighting hard to win control of the Senate.  They need 5 seats to win the majority in the upper chamber.  In the next couple of months, the election season will begin anew and the fight will get real nasty.

Most of us have already come to the conclusion that a Republican controlled congress would not be good for the government.  With President Obama still in office, we can be sure that the veto pen will be in heavy use.  We also figure that the Republicans will continue their assault on personal liberties in the name of “liberty”.

But, Mitch McConnell has come out and laid the groundwork for a Republican controlled Senate.  I guess he wanted to make sure the Tea Party was fully aware of his plan to run the Senate and destroy the country.  I don’t say that lightly either.  The plan he laid out will definitely destroy the country.

Interviewed by Politico aboard his campaign bus, the Senate minority leader offered his vision for the Senate should he be promoted to majority leader: confrontation, manufactured crises, and the ever-present threat of a government shutdown:

In an extensive interview here, the typically reserved McConnell laid out his clearest thinking yet of how he would lead the Senate if Republicans gain control of the chamber. The emerging strategy: Attach riders to spending bills that would limit Obama policies on everything from the environment to health care, consider using an arcane budget tactic to circumvent Democratic filibusters and force the president to “move to the center” if he wants to get any new legislation through Congress.

“Move to the center” is a real nice catch phrase.  But, what it really entails is that the President and the country will be held hostage again and again under a Republican controlled Senate.  The tactic is quite simple.  Add bogus riders to legislation so the President has no option but veto the bill.  Since the U.S. Supreme Court declared that the “line item veto” the Republicans thought was so wonderful as unconstitutional, there is no longer any other measure to stop their radical agenda.  If moving to the center is such a great idea, why doesn’t Mitch McConnell “move to the center?”

According to Mr. McConnell’s plan, seniors, the poor, vets, and anyone who depends upon the government will be held hostage by the Republican Senate in order to get what they want.  You know, like the last government shutdown over the Affordable Care Act.  There are going to be a whole lot of ugly legislation proposed by a Republican Senate.  They will attack Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, WIP, Food Stamps, Unemployment Insurance, Woman’s Rights, Welfare, Same Sex Marriage, etc.  You can bet that under a Republican controlled congress, the debt ceiling will be blocked and we will default on our debt.  That alone will destroy our currency since it is based on the full faith and promise of the U.S. Government.

Other things will also be under attack.  They will go after the Department of Education.  They will try to eliminate the EPA.  They will make sure all “free trade agreements” are passed quickly without debate, meaning thousands more jobs will be exported.  They will push for their donor’s tax cuts they promise all of the time.  They will try to open up drilling in all of the national parks.  They will do everything they can to eliminate any subsidies for clean energy while increasing them for the oil companies.  They will try to pass legislation eliminating the Federal Minim Wage Law.

These are just a handful of their pet projects, and you can be sure there will be flurry of activity by a Republican Senate to make them real.  Of course, the Immigration Reform Bill will die completely.  The Transportation and Infrastructure Bill will die completely.  And, a Personhood Amendment will surely be introduced.  They will also push for another war in Iraq and one in Syria.  Don’t be surprised if they even pass a formal declaration of war against both countries in an attempt to force the President into war again.

Well, there you have it.  Mitch McConnell is planning to take hostages, shut down the government, and basically destroy the country.  That is his plan if the Republicans win control of the Senate.  And, he said so himself!  If you think that the gridlock in Washington is bad now, wait until McConnell gets control of the Senate.

If the Democrats don’t use this as a fighting point and make hay out of it, then it is possible for it to happen.  They need to make sure all of the states who are holding Senate elections understand just what they are in for if the Republicans win control of the Senate.  If the Republicans win, it just might turn out that Mitch McConnell and his cronies will be able to do what the Russians were unable to do.  Bury us!

 

Read Full Post »

I haven’t written too much about James O’Keefe and his conservative videos because quite frankly I consider him a lunatic.  His videos are nothing but fodder for anyone who wants to prove those “others” are taking over America and it is all the President’s fault.  But, this time, I think I need to say something about his latest.

Seems O’Keefe wanted to prove how illegals and especially those terrorists are able to simply walk across the border without being arrested.  So, to prove his point, he picked an area of the border where there is absolutely no one, including all those illegals, to prove how easy it was.  He even dressed up in a Halloween costume of Osama Bin Laden!  That surely would have him arrested.  But, no, he waded across a stream on the border without getting arrested.

Of course, even if there were border agents present, I seriously doubt that they would be eager to arrest a dead man.  I mean, come on, if you are going to dress up like a terrorist, at least pick a costume of someone who isn’t dead!  Then again, I am still trying to figure out just what a terrorist looks like.  Of course O’Keefe and his cronies believe that anyone who looks like a Muslim is a terrorist.  That way why he chose a costume of Osama Bin Laden.  All Muslims are terrorists to him.

O’Keefe then went on to interview the county sheriff, Arvin West.  They talked about the “lack of border security” in the area.   “You hear the rumors of boots on the ground and more agents,” West says. “We’ve got plenty of agents, they just need to be on the border. Look around you … you look miles and miles in either direction and there is not a Border Patrol agent.”

Okay, that may be a fair point.  But, neither O’Keefe nor West talked about a bill that would answer some of their concerns.  This bill includes:

  • Doubling the number of agents on the border from approximately 20,000 to 40,000
  • Authorize an additional 700 miles of fencing
  • Institute a mandatory E-verify system for employment
  • Establish a “$3.2 billion high-tech border surveillance plan — including drones, infrared ground sensors and long-range thermal imaging cameras”

I would think that both O’Keefe and West would want such a bill passed.  It covers everything they claim is wrong with border security.  Of course, they won’t talk about that in the video because these things are included in the bi-partisan Senate Passed Immigration Reform Bill.  You know the one that the House of Representatives refuses to even vote on!

James O’Keefe is a buffoon who just likes to make videos slamming everything he considers wrong with America.  He uses catch phrases to rile up the conservative base, but does nothing else.  I wonder just what would have happened if he had picked a more populous area and a border agent did arrest him.  Or, worse, shot him.

If the conservatives really want something done about immigration, they need to start acting on immigration reform.  But, with the wackos ruling the roost in the House, that is never going to happen.  Why?  Because they are opposed to anything that even remotely smells like a compromise.  After all, compromise is a necessary tool in actually legislating.  Legislating is the last thing the conservatives want to do.  They just want to stand in front of cameras and pout that their draconian measures aren’t what the American people actually want.

Remember, over 70% of the American People are in favor of the Immigration Reform Bill passed by the Senate.  But the conservatives think the 20% who are opposed to the bill constitute the “real majority” on this issue.  If that is the case, maybe we do need math reform in our schools.

Read Full Post »

The much ballyhooed, long-awaited announcement came on July 30, 2014.  Remember that date.  That is when Trey Gowdy announced that his House Select Committee will begin holding hearings in September on the Benghazi scandal.  That’s right, in September we will uncover all of the nasty, devious conspiracies that triggered the death of four Americans including our Ambassador to Libya.

We have all waited for this to begin.  We also knew that it wouldn’t start until after the August recess to put it front and center just before the mid-term elections.  But, there is no politicking here, please move on.  Mr. Gowdy has said over and over that there are still unanswered questions about what really happened that night.  He is sure he will be able to flush out the truth and lay bare the conspiracy he knows existed.  How does he know?  Because he is the biggest conspiracy theorist on Capital Hill.

There is another date to remember.  That date is July 31, 2014.  That is when the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence voted to release its unclassified portion of their investigation into Benghazi.  There is something else to note about this report.  It was unanimously approved by the committee.  There were 12 Republicans on the committee.  Surely there must be something that Mr. Gowdy can use in his investigation.

Well, according to reports, the House Permanent Select Committee found no conspiracy.  They found no cover-up.  They found no proof of a “stand-down” order.  Basically, they found nothing.  The Democratic Ranking member,  Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger. released a statement:

The report also shows that the process used to develop the talking points was flawed, but that the talking points reflected the conflicting intelligence assessments in the days immediately following the crisis. Finally, the report demonstrates that there was no illegal activity or illegal arms sales occurring at U.S. facilities in Benghazi. And there was absolutely no evidence, in documents or testimony, that the Intelligence Community’s assessments were politically motivated in any way.

Adam Schiff, another top Democrat on the committee, issued a statement saying:

The initial talking points provided by the intelligence community were flawed because of conflicting assessments not an intention to deceive, that there was no stand down order, that the diplomatic facilities lacked adequate security, and that our personnel at the scene acted bravely and appropriately.

Yes, it is possible that the Democrats are putting on a nice spin from the report.  But, even if they are, they fall in line with a report from the House Armed Services Committee that also found that there was no intelligence pointing to an imminent threat in Benghazi, and there was no “stand down” order.

Benghazi has been investigated by no less than a dozen committees.  Most of them in the House where the Republicans hold sway.  Yet, none of the reports from any of these investigations show any conspiracy on that fateful day.  So, why so many investigations?  Because the Republicans cannot take no for an answer.  Their tilted view of the world says there had to be a conspiracy, and by god they are going to find one, even if they have to make it up!  Besides, when you think there is a conspiracy around every corner, facts mean nothing.

But then again, if you are a Fiscal Conservative, as the Republicans say they are, what is another $3.5 million tax dollars spent on another political stunt in Congress?  In their mind wasting tax dollars on meaningless investigations is far better than helping the poor and elderly.

Read Full Post »

The NFL the other day announced a 2 game suspension for Ray Rice.  Many of you may know that Ray Rice has agreed to “anger management’ treatment and “sensitivity treatment” as part of a plea deal in his case when he punched his then fiancé, now his wife, and dragged her out of an elevator in Las Vegas while she was unconscious.  The part of him dragging her out of the elevator was caught on video and shown to the world.

Hardy, another NFL player in Charlotte, was found guilty by a judge for hitting and throwing his former fiancé and then covering up the crime.  The judge ruled that there was proof beyond a reasonable doubt that he committed these crimes.  Yet, he did not hand out any jail time.  Just probation.  Hardy is appealing.  That will result in a “jury” trial, but not before the NFL season is over.  The Charlotte team said they would “defer” punishment to the NFL.

After the NFL announced its punishment of Rice, there was a huge outcry about it being too lenient.  Yesterday, the league said the punishment shows “the league will not tolerate this kind of behavior”.  During one of the arguments about the punishment, Steven A. Smith at ESPN, although acknowledging that domestic abuse cannot be tolerated, went on to say that something needs to be done to determine “provocation” in such cases.  That is right, he believes that domestic cases are “provoked” by the victim.

Let me put it this way, Mr. Smith, approximately 1 in 3 women in this country has been or will be a victim of domestic abuse.  Do you really think that a full one-third of women are provoking their domestic partner to abuse them?  That is an absurd stand!  In my career, I dealt with many women who were abused by their spouses.  Yes, I even dealt with some men who were also abused.  If Mr. Smith wants to know what provokes these attacks it is simple.

The wife burns his supper.  She has a different view on something.  She didn’t dress exactly the way she was expected to.  She wouldn’t have sex with him because he was drunk.  She happened to be home when the drunken husband came in and took out his rage on her.  Often times, it is simply that she is handy.  The vast majority of domestic abuse victims usually fall into one of these “provocations” before being beaten.

It would be easy to speak about this only in terms of the NFL.  But this goes way beyond the NFL.  It goes deep into daily lives of people.  It is tragic.  It is indefensible.  It is pure criminal.  However, too many people look at domestic abuse as Mr. Smith does.  They automatically blame the victim for “provoking” the abuse.  So, instead of these vicious attackers being locked up in jail, they are given suspended sentences or probation like in the two cases above.

I mentioned the two recent NFL cases because they show the unbelievable tolerance society shows to the abuser and the demonization of the victim.  In the case of Mr. Hardy, if the NFL does not act before the appeal, which they usually do not, then he will be able to play the full season.  Oh, by the way, he will make $13 million this season.

More than that, the NFL’s handling of these cases do not show a “no tolerance” policy towards domestic abuse.  It really shows that it will be punished only if you consider a slap on the wrist a punishment.

It is easy to come up with the usual argument about coddling athletes.  We see it in high school, college, and the professional levels.  If someone can play a sport exceedingly well, we tend to look the other way when they commit crimes.  The NFL was quick to point out that Mr. Rice was going to lose two paychecks and that would mean about $230,000.  When you consider his multi-million dollar contract, that is a drop in the bucket.  Can anyone really call that a deterrence?

Sports is not the only place where domestic violence takes place.  It happens all of the time in everyday life.  But, sports is where we can send clear signals that this kind of behavior is not acceptable.  I am not sure that either Mr. Rice or Mr. Hardy lose their right to play football.  But, in order to really deter this kind of violence, a year’s suspension seems a more reasonable punishment.  If players lose a full year of income, that will be a deterrence.  It may also send a clear message to lower players in high school and college that they cannot behave like cavemen and expect to be rewarded on the field.

I have never been one who believes in excessive punishment, except in domestic and/or child abuse cases.  Maybe we should have a punishment where the guilty party is tied to a post and every woman in the community is allowed to give two lashes with a whip.  Men who abuse women are really domestic terrorists who conduct torture.  That is what domestic abuse really is.  These men are animals.  Maybe we should start treating them as such.

Read Full Post »

We are a few month out from the scandal that rocked the VA.  The legislation that would have pumped an additional $30 Billion into the VA to help alleviate the waiting times by veterans seeking treatment from private doctors is stalled in Congress.  So what else is new.  The administration has also asked for an additional $18 Billion so the VA can hire more doctors, nurses, medical professionals, and lease new facilities to reduce overcrowding.

Of course there are a lot of reasons that this legislation has bogged down.  One big reason is that it is an election year, and no one wants to be blamed for its failure.  But, on the other side of the coin, no Republican wants the administration to be able to take credit for helping to fix a real problem either.  That means, the Republicans in the Senate have tried to introduce “amendments” to the bill that would certainly doom it.  For example, they want an amendment to put more sanctions on Iran.  Apparently, they don’t believe that Iran is negotiating faithfully.  Even if that is true, how does that help our veterans getting the help they need.

Obviously, this is simply a ploy by the Republicans in the Senate to kill a needed bill that will help the millions of veterans who need the help.  They just don’t want to come out in an election year and say as much.  Once veterans are no longer useful on the battlefield, they become expendable.  That has been the case since the country was founded.

The one part of the fight I find completely detestable is the argument that “it needs to be paid for”.  Really?  We sent millions of our finest young men and women into war, without paying for it, and now we say that those same people who desperately need our help can’t get it unless it is “paid for”.  Senator Lindsey Graham is one of the leading critics of this “paid for” mantra.

Okay, how about this for your thought Mr. Graham.  The veterans have already paid for the aid they need.  They paid for it with their lives, blood, and sanity!  They are the real patriots who stood by this country in time of trouble.  They are the ones who put everything on the line for their country.  How dare any politician who has sat safely in the capital even dream of using the words it must be “paid for” when it comes to veteran benefits?

Using comments like that is nothing more than a slap in the face to every man and women who has served this country!  Anyone using those words should resign their seat in the Congress.  It is more than shameful.

So, here is a way to “pay for” the aid our brothers and sisters need.  Let’s tax all of the money corporations have hidden overseas for the purpose of not paying taxes.  With the estimated trillions of dollars these corporations have hidden overseas, we could easily pay for these necessary benefits with a simple 10% tax on all of that money!

But, no, the Republicans won’t bite the hands that feed them.  They would rather treat the veterans like second-class citizens who, in their thinking are no better than the so-called 47 per centers.  In their minds, veterans who need the help the VA can provide them are merely seeking handouts from “uncle sugar”.

It is time for Congress to stop mistreating our veterans.  It is time for them to do their job!  I call on every veteran to make it to the polls this November and vote out anyone who is even trying to stop this bill.  Our veterans deserve better from our representatives.

Read Full Post »

You just can’t stop the images from flooding into your mind.  The death and destruction.  The faces of fallen friends.  The faces of the women and children killed.  You see danger behind every tree or wall or fence.  The fear grows with every step you take.  Your eyes are glancing from side to side looking for the danger.  You are on edge.

That isn’t taking place in Iraq or Afghanistan or even Vietnam.  It is happening as you take a walk down your street in your hometown.  Something triggered all of the memories of those conflicts.  Sometimes it isn’t even war that brings these memories.  It is natural disasters or plane crashes or even boating accidents you worked.  Something that you have witnessed while serving is suddenly flooding back into your conscious memory.

Even after you realize you are home, the dread lingers.  The guilt of having survived while others were not so lucky.  The thought of your friends killed while you lived haunt you.  Survivor’s guilt is what they call it.  It is real.  It is affecting everything you do.  It affects your ability to sleep or work or even laugh.  It affects every fiber of your existence.

You begin to feel like “damaged goods”.  You begin to feel like you aren’t worthy of living anymore.  You begin to feel like your family don’t want you around in “polite” company anymore.  You begin to shrink from society and shelter yourself away from others, including those who love you.  You never fully realize what is going on.  You think that somehow you are the cause of the problem.

Far too many times, you settle these internal conflicts with what you believe to be the only answer that is best for all.  You commit suicide.

That is just a very brief and incomplete example of what is called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  PTSD affects millions of our veterans everyday.  It is something that haunts memories and lives.  There are many ways veterans cope with PTSD and most of them are self-destructive.  Many will seek help from the VA.  Others too often turn to alcohol or drugs.  Anything that will “make me feel better” at least for a while.  But, they don’t help, they make things worse.

According to statistics, 22 veterans commit suicide every day!  That is 154 veteran suicides every week or 8000 per year.  Why, you ask, don’t these troubled souls get the help they need?  That is a fair question.  Many don’t get the help they need because they don’t fully understand what is happening to them.  Many don’t seek help because they think it is admitting a flaw in their personality.  Real vets don’t feel this way, they think.

Most try to cope with PTSD by themselves.  As a result, they don’t seek the help they need, and eventually push their families aside.  Especially when their family tries to convince them to seek help.  Psychological problems are difficult for anyone to accept.  People with psychological problems have been shunned by society for hundreds of years.  Besides, they don’t need help because they are “heroes”!  Heroes don’t need to be helped.  They are above all of these problems.

How do they know they are heroes?  Because every single day, someone is calling them a hero.  Every single day they hear the term used like “we want to thank all of our heroes for their service”.  In their own minds they start to become mythical.  They buy into the hype and never get the help they need.

That is how a simple word “hero” can affect people.  I know that everyone who uses the word thinks they are paying a compliment to those who have served.  They have risked everything in defense of our country.  They deserve the compliment.  But, sometimes, the simple word “hero” actually de-humanizes veterans.  It puts them on a pedestal that they are afraid of falling off.  They start to believe that if they seek help, they will no longer be a “hero”.  Heroes don’t have flaws.  They suck it up and move on.

We need to see our veterans for what they really are.  They are humans who served our country in some of the most god-awfull circumstances.  They have seen things that most people will never see.  They have lost some of their friends.  They have seen carnage we don’t want anyone to see.  It will affect them!  It will change them!  It will haunt them!

When people start using words like “hero” to describe our veterans, they don’t think about what that may mean.  They don’t understand that it can taken an excuse to “thank you” and then forget you.  No one means to be like that.  No one means to forget veterans.  But, all too often it happens.

I know very few veterans who need hero-worship.  We need respect.  We need jobs.  We need to take care of our families when we finally hang up the uniform.  We simply need to be a “normal” part of society.   What we do not need is to be called a “hero” and then forgotten.

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 148 other followers