by David Solway
The next president will have to embark once again on a worldwide “reset” campaign, apologizing to America’s allies for the shabby treatment meted out to them by Obama.
As we all know by this time, judging from President Obama’s junket behavior and his endless nostra culpae, America is probably the most flawed, aggressive, and insensitive nation on the face of the earth, bar none. It is guilty, we’ve been informed, of harboring the mistaken notion of historical exceptionalism, which it supposedly does not merit. It is guilty of imposing its imperial will on other countries and peoples without regard for their economic well-being and without the slightest consideration for their cultural structures, beliefs, and presuppositions. It has identified as an “axis of evil” nations which may have had legitimate grievances. It has been, apparently, a blundering hegemon riding roughshod over the planet, prosecuting wars it had no business starting in the first place, alienating nations it could have dealt with diplomatically, and wreaking misery and havoc when, with both insight and foresight, it might have brought peace and mutual understanding among needless belligerents. It has a dark past to purge and much to apologize for. So goes the current presidential narrative. And under Obama, it has indeed apologized, and done so with a vengeance, presumably redeeming its sullied image for all posterity.
Thus Obama has apologized to the UN for America’s propensity to “act alone” rather than take the road of multilateral consultation, a claim which is patently false. Obama has apologized to Europe for failing “to appreciate Europe’s leading role in the world” and for being arrogant, “even derisive.” Obama has apologized to Islam for having misprised, neglected, or demeaned the Muslim world and for grinding the umma beneath its colonial boot, and is now seeking pardon in the hope of restoring the harmony of “20 or 30 years ago” — which of course never existed. Obama has apologized to Turkey for “difficulties” and “strained” trust over “these past few years” — the same Turkey that is moving inexorably into the Iranian orbit of influence. Obama has apologized, through State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley, to Libyan despot Muammar Gaddafi for offensive remarks clumsily delivered. Dispatching his adviser Valery Jarrett to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Obama has apologized by proxy to the entire planet for America’s role in the economic meltdown. Obama effectively apologized to Japan for the way in which the war in the Pacific theater was brought to an end. Obama has apologized to Russia by other means, offering to press the “reset” button, as per the hapless Hillary Clinton. Via his mouthpiece Assistant Secretary of State Michael Posner, Obama has apologized to China, perhaps the world’s worst human rights offender, for Arizona’s entirely legitimate new immigration law. Obama’s Magical History Tour shows no sign of ever folding its tent and returning, however belatedly, to the real world or to the realm of national dignity.
When Obama is swept from office in 2012, as he surely will be if the American people still retain a femtogram of good sense, a Republican president will have his or her work cut out for them. Be it Mitt Romney or Sarah Palin or — who knows? — the very impressive Tom McClintock (sanely refusing to apologize to Mexican President Felipe Calderón, who objected to the Arizona immigration law, but administering a thorough dressing down instead), a major rehabilitation effort will be necessary. For the new president will have to embark once again on a worldwide “reset” campaign, apologizing to America’s allies for the shabby treatment meted out to them by the former president.
He (or she) will need to apologize to Honduras for Obama’s backing of mini-Chavez, would-be dictator Manuel Zelaya who attempted to steal a country. He (or she) will need to apologize to Poland and the Czech Republic for Obama’s broken promises and his crude mishandling of the anti-missile program. He (or she) will need to ask forgiveness from the Iranian people whom Obama abandoned in the midst of their bloody uprising against a repressive and violent regime. He (or she) will need to soothe the ruffled feelings of the British electorate for having insulted their prime minister with the meager gift of unplayable CDs and for returning the bust of Winston Churchill. And he (or she) will need to make amends to Israel for Obama’s inexcusable conduct toward Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and for putting all the onus for the success of the so-called “peace talks,” whether “proximity” or “direct,” — or the blame for their failure — on the Jewish state while giving the Palestinians every benefit of the doubt and pandering to their insatiable demands.
This will be no easy task as the abjection of apology does not befit a great and admirable nation, but Obama has left his successor no choice but to apologize, both for his orgy of apologies to America’s enemies and competitors and for his churlish betrayal of America’s allies and friends.
When the business of restitution is accomplished, enemies put on notice and friends restored to their proper place, and once the United States is prepared to resume its former pre-eminence and proud stature as the world’s best arbiter and as Abraham Lincoln’s “last best hope,” apologies can cease altogether — except, perhaps, for the apology the American people should make to themselves and to their children for having elected the most feckless and damaging sorcerer’s apprentice of a president in the storied chronicle of the republic.
David Solway is a Canadian poet and essayist. He is the author of The Big Lie: On Terror, Antisemitism, and Identity, and is currently working on a sequel, Living in the Valley of Shmoon. His new book on Jewish and Israeli themes, Hear, O Israel!, has just been released by Mantua Books.
Here is the full text of John L. Perry’s column on Newsmax which suggests that a military coup to “resolve the Obama problem” is becoming more possible and is not “unrealistic.” Perry also writes that a coup, while not “ideal,” may be preferable to “Obama’s radical ideal” — and would “restore and defend the Constitution.” Newsmax has since removed the column from its website.
Obama Risks a Domestic Military Intervention
By: John L. Perry
There is a remote, although gaining, possibility America’s military will intervene as a last resort to resolve the “Obama problem.” Don’t dismiss it as unrealistic.
America isn’t the Third World. If a military coup does occur here it will be civilized. That it has never happened doesn’t mean it wont. Describing what may be afoot is not to advocate it. So, view the following through military eyes:
# Officers swear to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Unlike enlisted personnel, they do not swear to “obey the orders of the president of the United States.”
# Top military officers can see the Constitution they are sworn to defend being trampled as American institutions and enterprises are nationalized.
# They can see that Americans are increasingly alarmed that this nation, under President Barack Obama, may not even be recognizable as America by the 2012 election, in which he will surely seek continuation in office.
# They can see that the economy — ravaged by deficits, taxes, unemployment, and impending inflation — is financially reliant on foreign lender governments.
# They can see this president waging undeclared war on the intelligence community, without whose rigorous and independent functions the armed services are rendered blind in an ever-more hostile world overseas and at home.
# They can see the dismantling of defenses against missiles targeted at this nation by avowed enemies, even as America’s troop strength is allowed to sag.
# They can see the horror of major warfare erupting simultaneously in two, and possibly three, far-flung theaters before America can react in time.
# They can see the nation’s safety and their own military establishments and honor placed in jeopardy as never before.
So, if you are one of those observant military professionals, what do you do?
Wait until this president bungles into losing the war in Afghanistan, and Pakistan’s arsenal of nuclear bombs falls into the hands of militant Islam?
Wait until Israel is forced to launch air strikes on Iran’s nuclear-bomb plants, and the Middle East explodes, destabilizing or subjugating the Free World?
What happens if the generals Obama sent to win the Afghan war are told by this president (who now says, “I’m not interested in victory”) that they will be denied troops they must have to win? Do they follow orders they cannot carry out, consistent with their oath of duty? Do they resign en masse?
Or do they soldier on, hoping the 2010 congressional elections will reverse the situation? Do they dare gamble the national survival on such political whims?
Anyone who imagines that those thoughts are not weighing heavily on the intellect and conscience of America’s military leadership is lost in a fool’s fog.
Will the day come when patriotic general and flag officers sit down with the president, or with those who control him, and work out the national equivalent of a “family intervention,” with some form of limited, shared responsibility?
Imagine a bloodless coup to restore and defend the Constitution through an interim administration that would do the serious business of governing and defending the nation. Skilled, military-trained, nation-builders would replace accountability-challenged, radical-left commissars. Having bonded with his twin teleprompters, the president would be detailed for ceremonial speech-making.
Military intervention is what Obama’s exponentially accelerating agenda for “fundamental change” toward a Marxist state is inviting upon America. A coup is not an ideal option, but Obama’s radical ideal is not acceptable or reversible.
Unthinkable? Then think up an alternative, non-violent solution to the Obama problem. Just don’t shrug and say, “We can always worry about that later.”
In the 2008 election, that was the wistful, self-indulgent, indifferent reliance on abnegation of personal responsibility that has sunk the nation into this morass.
The president’s top counterterrorism adviser on Wednesday called jihad a “legitimate tenet of Islam,” arguing that the term “jihadists” should not be used to describe America’s enemies.
During a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, John Brennan described violent extremists as victims of “political, economic and social forces,” but said that those plotting attacks on the United States should not be described in “religious terms.”
He repeated the administration argument that the enemy is not “terrorism,” because terrorism is a “tactic,” and not terror, because terror is a “state of mind” — though Brennan’s title, deputy national security adviser for counterterrorism and homeland security, includes the word “terrorism” in it. But then Brennan said that the word “jihad” should not be applied either.
“Nor do we describe our enemy as ‘jihadists’ or ‘Islamists’ because jihad is a holy struggle, a legitimate tenet of Islam, meaning to purify oneself or one’s community, and there is nothing holy or legitimate or Islamic about murdering innocent men, women and children,” Brennan said.
The technical, broadest definition of jihad is a “struggle” in the name of Islam and the term does not connote “holy war” for all Muslims. However, jihad frequently connotes images of military combat or warfare, and some of the world’s most wanted terrorists including Usama bin Laden commonly use the word to call for war against the West.
Brennan defined the enemy as members of bin Laden’s Al Qaeda network and “its terrorist affiliates.”
But Brennan argued that it would be “counterproductive” for the United States to use the term, as it would “play into the false perception” that the “murderers” leading war against the West are doing so in the name of a “holy cause.”
“Moreover, describing our enemy in religious terms would lend credence to the lie propagated by Al Qaeda and its affiliates to justify terrorism — that the United States is somehow at war against Islam,” he said.
The comment comes after Brennan, in a February speech in which he described his respect for the tolerance and devotion of Middle Eastern nations, referred to Jerusalem on first reference by its Arabic name, Al-Quds.
“In all my travels the city I have come to love most is al-Quds, Jerusalem, where three great faiths come together,” Brennan said at an event co-sponsored by the White House Office of Public Engagement and the Islamic Center at New York University and the Islamic Law Students Association at NYU.
No more turning a blind eye toward evildoers among us
By Ted Nugent
The nonstop news orgy, in its never-ending scramble to figure out why the Times Square bomber would want to hurt innocent Americans, is laughable. That’s like getting a headache trying to determine the causation of Jeffrey Dahmer’s demonic predisposition to drug, rape, torture, murder and eat the remains of his homosexual victims.
Uncle Ted News Alert: He was a sick, deranged, subhuman criminal, that’s why. Case closed.
Does anybody really care why evil people do evil things? There have always been evil, rotten maniacs among us, and we should probably be prepared for more evil, rotten maniacs among us. It is a well-established human flaw going all the way back to cave-jackers and spear-runners. Bad guys are not a new phenomena. Old news.
Don’t get over it, get rid of it.
The real question isn’t why these monsters do what they do. Rather, it is how the rest of us can learn from our historic mistake of ignoring the glut of overt warning signs that come from these devils, and why – over and over again and again – we fail to make intelligent counter-moves, either before tragedy strikes, or at the very least, to stop them after their first few violations.
Recidivism isn’t simply the result of the perpetrator’s choice as much as it is the result of a society too stupid and disconnected from our responsibilities to be vigilant and act decisively to protect the innocent by stopping these evildoers. The only reason repeat offenders repeat is because we let them.
Uncle Ted News Alert: Stop them.
So many catastrophic failures throughout history – from ignoring warnings from radar operators at Pearl Harbor, to watching the jihadists motoring up to the USS Cole, to eliminating the sharing of critical interagency intelligence prior to Sept. 11, to the coyotes repeatedly attacking children at Griffith Park in Los Angeles – are a direct result of a combination of politically-correct tolerance and good old-fashioned blindness. Both open doors to tragedies waiting to happen.
Close the damn door.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t live on a flood plain or in Tornado Alley. My addiction to pragmatism and my powerful instinct to survive keeps getting in the way.
Liberals seem to be consumed with the desperate need to try to answer the question why. Their predictable excuse-mongering and efforts to uncover the troubled youth of evil people – as if discovering a series of events that brought psychological suffering can somehow shortstop tragedy – is futile at best. Show me one human being who doesn’t know that child abuse and drug abuse are likely to bring about complications in life. Even the abusers will admit that they knew better. But we cannot monitor the private lives of everybody and intervening after the fact is too late.
The name of the game is for society to make a stand on behalf of the good guys by sending a consistent, loud message and warning that criminal and dangerous behavior will simply not be tolerated. We should show clearly that the consequences are swift, painful and certain.
When neighbors, teachers, authority figures – and even cops – are afraid of being sued for interfering in the misbehavior of another’s child, this hands-off disconnect has its consequences, and they are never very pretty. A brief look into the recent murder of the college lacrosse player is another tragic example of turning a blind eye to a long life of violent, dangerous behavior by the alleged killer. How many more documented warning signs do we need?
A new era of dramatically upgraded awareness and involvement in our neighborhoods, the workplace, school and everyday lives is desperately needed across America. With the war on terror, increased countryman-on-countryman violence and criminality on the upsurge, Americans need to turn up their societal radar a few notches and rid ourselves of the deadly “don’t get involved” mentality.
We have all seen the tragic outcome of the suicidal anti-snitch mentality in our inner cities, literally placing allegiance to murderers and rapists above the citizen’s responsibility of life-saving whistle-blowing. Those who fail to turn in a criminal are complicit in that criminal’s next crime, and there is blood on your hands.
Some people just don’t know better. Those of us who do must turn up the heat and be the eyes and ears and whistle-blowers for law and order. We the people can actually save lives, and when we refuse to get involved, we are part of the problem, not the solution.
Pay attention. Get involved. Demand action. Trample the weak. Hurdle the dead.
Ted Nugent is an unstoppable American rock ‘n’ roll, sporting and political-activist icon. He is author of “Ted, White & Blue: The Nugent Manifesto” and “God, Guns & Rock ‘N’ Roll” (Regnery Publishing).
By Robert Samuelson
WASHINGTON — It is now conventional wisdom that the world has avoided a second Great Depression. Governments and the economists who advise them learned the lessons of the 1930s. When the gravity of the financial crisis became apparent in late 2008, the response was swift and aggressive. Central banks like the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank dropped interest rates and lent liberally to threatened financial institutions and rattled investors. The United States and many countries approved “stimulus” programs of tax cuts and additional spending. Panic was halted. A downward spiral of falling private spending and rising unemployment was reversed. The resulting economic slump was awful. But it was not another Great Depression. The worst has passed.
Or has it? Greece’s plight challenges this optimistic interpretation. It implies that celebration is premature and that the economic crisis has moved into a new phase: one dominated by the huge debt burdens of governments in advanced societies. Comparisons with the Great Depression remain relevant — and unsettling. Now, as then, we may be prisoners of deep and poorly understood changes to the world economic system.
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Robert Samuelson RealClearPolitics
Historians increasingly attribute the Depression to broad geopolitical upheavals. World War I shattered the existing global economic order. Dominated by Great Britain, it fostered vibrant trade and rested on the gold standard. (Under the gold standard, paper currencies could be converted into gold coins or bullion.) The war also spawned huge international debts, reflecting German war reparations and large U.S. loans to Britain and France. It was impossible to reconstruct the prewar order. Britain was too weak, the gold standard was too constricting, and the debts were too heavy. But countries tried, because the prewar order had delivered prosperity. This futile effort brought on Depression. Only when economic hardship became unbearable were unrealistic goals (keeping the gold standard, repaying debts) abandoned.
There are eerie, if crude, parallels now. The welfare state is today’s equivalent of the gold standard. With aging societies, advanced countries have promised more benefits than their tax bases can support. Hence, high government debt. Greece is merely the canary in the coal mine. But politicians resist cutting popular benefits except under extreme pressure. It takes a crisis. Greece, again. Another unsettling parallel is the global economy. The United States’ leadership since World War II is eroding before China’s ascent. There’s a danger now, as then, of a power vacuum. Witness the long delay in coming to Greece’s aid. No one country acted decisively, even as markets grew nervous.
Of course, these parallels do not preordain a second Depression. But they at least clarify today’s confusing economic outlook. There’s a tug-of-war. The normal mechanics of the business cycle signal recovery, while deeper economic weaknesses threaten it. In late 2008 and early 2009, fear and hysteria were almost palpable, especially in the United States. Consumers and companies cut spending anywhere they could. From September 2008 to June 2009, the U.S. economy lost 6 million payroll jobs. In 2009, American car sales were almost 40 percent lower than in 2007. Governments’ frenetic interventions stabilized confidence. People and firms are opening their wallets again, here and abroad. The world economy will grow almost 4.3 percent in 2010 and 2011, with the United States expanding at an average of nearly 3 percent, reckons the International Monetary Fund.
But the deep-seated problems remain. Three stand out: first, the weight of the welfare state and aging populations; second, the burden of huge private debts (mortgages and consumer loans in America and elsewhere); and finally, huge imbalances in global trade, with some countries — notably China — running massive surpluses and others — notably the United States — having large deficits. Each threatens a vigorous recovery that could conceivably plunge the world back into a protracted slump.
To cope with big budget deficits, developed countries would cut spending or raise taxes. These steps would weaken recovery. The problem is that failing to do so might have the same effect by creating a financial crisis. Lenders, scared by mounting debt, would insist on higher interest rates. The value of older government bonds, issued at lower interest rates, would drop. Banks around the world, which are big holders of various countries’ bonds, would suffer huge losses. So would other investors and financial institutions. The financial system might again seize up.
The dilemma posed by Greece isn’t unique. It’s different only in degree. In 2009, Greece’s budget deficit was almost 14 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) — its economy. Its accumulated debt was 115 percent of GDP. Meanwhile, Italy’s deficit was 5 percent of GDP and its debt 116 percent of GDP. Spain’s deficit was 11 percent of GDP and its debt 53 percent. Germany’s deficit was 3 percent and its debt 73 percent. The U.S. deficit — calculated slightly differently — was 9.9 percent of GDP; the debt, 53 percent of GDP. Most developed countries, representing about half the world economy, are caught in the same trap.
The same is true, though to a lesser extent, of heavily indebted households in the developed world. As they pare back, or lenders tighten lending standards, consumer spending will remain subdued, depriving the recovery of another powerful propellant. It wasn’t just Americans who enjoyed years of easy credit. In the United States, household debt reached 138 percent of disposable income in 2007, reports the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Elsewhere, comparable figures were also high: 138 percent in Canada; 128 percent in Japan, 186 percent in Britain; 102 percent in Germany. There is no precise threshold as to what constitutes too much debt; but these levels suggest restraint and retrenchment, not exuberant spending.
On paper, the escape from these problems seems plain. China, India, Brazil and other “emerging market” countries would become the world’s engine of growth. Their appetite for advanced goods from the developed world — airplanes, power plants, earth-moving equipment, medical instruments — would raise their living standards and sustain production and employment in advanced countries. This could be happening. The latest IMF forecasts have poorer countries (“emerging and developing economies”) growing at about 6.5 percent in 2010 and 2011 compared with 2.4 percent for all developed countries. The trouble is that this shift requires that China and other Asian countries permanently renounce export-led growth. It’s not clear that they can or will.
Everywhere countries face changes of policies, practices and habits that are deeply woven into their social, political and economic fabrics. Can developed countries gradually rein in their welfare states? Will Asia’s relentless export economies shift to domestic-led growth? Will Americans save more and spend less — and the Chinese do the opposite? As after World War I, reverting to what’s familiar, comfortable and understood may be hazardous. It was the inability to see and adapt to change in the 1920s — a process complicated by the war’s animosities — that fundamentally caused the Great Depression, economic historians Barry Eichengreen of the University of California, Berkeley, and Peter Temin of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have argued.
The case that we have dodged a second Great Depression rests on a narrower notion: that the Depression was preventable; and that advances in economic knowledge allowed us to do so. If we knew then what we know now, governments could have averted the tragedy. Despite some disagreements, economic scholars subscribe to a broad consensus about what went wrong in the 1930s. Government central banks, like the Fed, were too passive. They didn’t halt bank panics. Intervention at decisive moments (perhaps the failure of the Bank of the United States in late 1930 or Austria’s Credit Anstalt in spring 1931) could have changed history. Instead, mounting unemployment and falling prices fed on each other. Debtors couldn’t repay loans, leading to more bank failures, a contraction of credit and deposit losses. But this time the mistakes were not repeated. Despite criticism, banks were “bailed out.” Money was pumped into credit markets to pre-empt a downward spiral.
By this reading, the world has bought itself time to deal with underlying problems. As the economic recovery strengthens and lengthens, the politics of confronting unstable export-led growth (for Asia) or unsustainable welfare spending (for developed countries) will grow easier. People will be more optimistic about the future; they will be more open to necessary, if not popular, adjustments. This could happen. The world may muddle through, making gradual and messy changes that ultimately defuse another large crisis.
But there is another more sobering reading of the Great Depression. It is that painful and once unthinkable changes are made only under the pressure of acute crisis. One reason that central banks were so passive is that they clung to the gold standard: Relaxing credit policies too dramatically to rescue banks might lead to a loss of gold; people would demand metal to replace paper money. Gold was abandoned in various countries only after it seemed untenable. Similarly, the post-World War I debt problem wasn’t “solved” until repayment was impossible. As for Britain’s place as global leader, the United States assumed that role only in World War II.
Against that backdrop, today’s unresolved problems — over the welfare state, leadership in the global economy — become more ominous. They suggest that major adjustments won’t be made until they’re compelled by some sort of crisis. This possibility defines the present economic drama. Will the recovery encourage conscious changes? Or is recovery providing a false sense of security? The stakes are, of course, enormous, because — as everyone knows — the economic suffering of the Great Depression transformed many countries’ politics for the worse and led to World War II.
By Peter Huessy – FOXNews.com
Our own immigration system is so riddled with holes that terrorists can drive into our country in an explosive laden truck just like the Times Square bomb suspect did.
We can only hope that the Times Square near-bombing will focus our attention on the conventional wisdom surrounding from the left surrounding immigration reform. First there’s the belief that no attempt at reform can succeed without a generous amnesty. Then, there’s the belief that immigration “coyotes” and other scam artists do not associate with terrorists. And finally, there’s the misguided belief that our relatively open border with Mexico, and thus by default the rest of the world, is no big deal, and can be resolved through the simple act of issuing more work visas.
In my own conversations with experts on immigration, the drug cartels and terrorism, it has always been an article of faith that while drug cartels certainly use illegal immigration as a conduit for smuggling drugs, terrorists are not welcome among the coyotes that smuggle migrants and vice versa. But that is changing.
In the laptop captured from a top FARC commander, evidence was found of links between Chavez and Russia (from where weapons and explosives would come and be transferred) and Hezbollah and drug syndicates (where FARC would help Hezbollah blow up pipelines carrying Mexican oil for America).
I’m not concerned about the links between terrorism and immigration because it’s the issue of the day. And it’s not because Arizona has passed legislation that enables local and state law enforcement to actually “enforce” a 1940 federal statute dealing with whether legal residents but not citizens of the U.S. have to carry “papers” (they do). Nor am I focused on it because the Senate is, once again, considering bringing up “compressive immigration reform.”
No, the events that have made me even more concerned about immigration are four-fold.
1. Dozens of bomb plotters in attacks on the United States have used the immigration system to marry women here in America and thus gain citizenship faster and with less scrutiny than they otherwise would. This includes the bombing suspect arrested for attempting to blow up people in New York City and Times Square, a point made eloquently and most recently by Michelle Malkin.
2. In 2008, I testified before the Maryland State Assembly that driver licenses should not be given to those illegally in America. Remember Muhammad Atta had a driver’s license and when stopped in North Carolina for a traffic violation, the local police officer could not access immigration records to determine that Atta was here on an expired visa.
After testifying, I remained outside the hearing room and listened to a local Montgomery County representative to the Annapolis Assembly being interviewed by Mexican television about the oppressive nature of such a law as forbidding those illegally in the U.S. from getting driver licenses. She told a Mexican television reporter that there was really no such thing as an illegal immigrant: “They are all here simply waiting to adjust their status.”
3. Then there is the news that Syria, probably via Iran and North Korea, has transferred Scud missiles to Hezbollah, the Lebanese-based terrorist subsidiary of Iran. Remember, Scud missiles used to be what we thought about when thinking about missile threats from Saddam’s Iraq and Kim’s North Korea. It appears everyone has graduated—Kim to long range rockets and Hezbollah to Scuds!
4. Finally, there’s the likelihood that Iran will get a nuclear weapon and transfer it to a specially created and trained terror group to smuggle it into the United States. Open borders make that an easier job. Scam marriages do too.
So, here we are congratulating ourselves for capturing the Times Square suspect when our own immigration system is so riddled with holes that terrorists can drive right across our borders in an explosive laden truck and with a driver’s license secured in any number of states blind to current threats. And we congratulate ourselves when our supposed potential peace partners, with whom were are so eager to engage, are either sending rockets to terrorists or building nuclear bombs destined for an American city.
Why then are Washington elites hell-bent on approving amnesty provisions as a part of what is known as “compressive immigration reform?” What part of “terror-sponsoring state,” “terrorist,” “open borders” and “bomb” do they not understand? And what do we make of the common complaint that we only wish to secure our borders and make our immigration system synonymous with “common sense” because we are a racist country inhospitable to ethnic groups other than “Anglos?” God, has anyone who claims this actually walked around any American city recently? Amnesty is objectionable because the person who gets to decide whether or not 16 million estimated illegal immigrants get to stay in this country are the illegal immigrants themselves!! They are, of course, “just adjusting their status.”
Speaking of the millions of people already here illegally, David Broder quoted the late Senator Kennedy as being dumbfounded about why people could not understand why the illegal immigrants already here in the USA had to stay here. The assumption: we cannot send them home or they will not go home. And so if they wish to stay here in America, well, they get to stay here. And if jihadists intent on blowing us all to kingdom come, want to come here from rural Pakistan and marry an American citizen—well aren’t we all in favor of multiculturalism? (Parenthetically, what skills are we adding to the American workforce by such an immigration policy?)
Immigration policy is now, by default, no longer a question of whom we as Americans desire to accept into our country. It has become a question of who wants to come to America whether we like it or not. And that is why so many citizens of this country are supportive of the Arizona law and against the amnesty provisions of past immigration reform laws. We want our sovereignty back. We want to decide who gets to be future Americans—because we value American citizenship and believe it should not simply be given away, either through amnesty, sham marriages or some wacky notion of multiculturalism. And we care who comes in and out of our country. Especially if they are armed. Armed with a bomb. Or a nuclear weapon. Feeling safe?
Peter Huessy is Senior Defense Consultant at the National Defense University Foundation.
By Craig Whitlock
Washington Post Staff Writer
The Pentagon, not usually known for its frugality, is pleading with Congress to stop spending so much money on the troops.
Through nine years of war, service members have seen a healthy rise in pay and benefits, with most of them now better compensated than workers in the private sector with similar experience and education levels.
Congress has been so determined to take care of troops and their families that for several years running it has overruled the Pentagon and mandated more-generous pay raises than requested by the George W. Bush and Obama administrations. It has also rejected attempts by the Pentagon to slow soaring health-care costs — which Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has said are “eating us alive” — by raising co-pays or premiums.
Now, Pentagon officials see fiscal calamity.
In the midst of two long-running wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, defense officials are increasingly worried that the government’s generosity is unsustainable and that it will leave them with less money to buy weapons and take care of equipment.
With Washington confronting record deficits, the Pentagon is bracing for an end to the huge increases in defense spending of the past decade. On Saturday, Gates is scheduled to give a “hard-hitting” speech in Kansas on fiscal discipline, in which he will warn military leaders that “we’ll have to take some dramatic measures ourselves to sustain the force we have,” his press secretary, Geoff Morrell, told reporters.
Clifford L. Stanley, the undersecretary of defense for personnel, told a Senate committee in March that rising personnel costs could “dramatically affect the readiness of the department” by leaving less money to pay for operations and maintenance. Overall, personnel expenses constitute about one-quarter of defense spending.
Health care alone is projected to cost the military $51 billion next year, nearly one-tenth of the Pentagon’s budget, excluding the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since 2002, wages have risen 42 percent, compared with about 32 percent for the private sector. Housing and subsistence allowances, which troops receive tax-free, have gone up even more.
But Congress — including members opposed to the wars — has made clear that it considers military pay and benefits sacrosanct, especially when service members and their families are struggling to cope with repeated deployments to faraway conflicts.
“Both sides of the aisle are trying to send a very clear message to our military that we appreciate their service,” said Rep. Susan A. Davis (D-Calif.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee and chairman of its military personnel subcommittee. She said the Pentagon needs to do a better job of setting priorities. “We end up with a false choice — are we going to fund weapons or are we going to fund people? The reality is, we need both.”
The Pentagon’s attempts to rein in personnel costs have also run into opposition from powerful lobbying groups. “Any attempt to link rising military personnel costs with shrinking military readiness is total nonsense,” Thomas J. Tradewell Sr., leader of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, said in response to Stanley’s comments in March.
Advocates for troops and retirees say the main reason for the increase in wages is that they were way too low to begin with. In the late 1990s, after the military had been whittled down in size from its Cold War peak, studies found that service members earned about 13 percent less than workers in the private sector with similar experience and education levels.
“We’ve been recovering from that ever since, plus we’ve had a decade of war, which has created a tremendous national sympathy,” said Steven P. Strobridge, a retired Air Force colonel who serves as director of government relations for the Military Officers Association of America. “We’re extracting sacrifices from today’s forces that are just unprecedented.”
Military officials said generous compensation packages were a primary reason they were able to meet all of their annual recruiting goals last year for the first time since the all-volunteer force was established in 1973. Although the recession also played a major role, military leaders said surveys show service members are generally happy with their pay scales.
Under current scales, an average sergeant in the Army with four years of service and one dependent would receive $52,589 in annual compensation, a figure that includes basic pay, housing and subsistence allowances, as well as tax benefits.
Vice Adm. Mark E. Ferguson III, the chief of naval personnel, said improvements in pay and benefits have made it more likely that sailors will stick around longer. Last year, a Navy survey found that about 60 percent of spouses wanted their sailors to make a career of Navy life, meaning a stint of at least 20 years. In 2005, he said, only about 20 percent of spouses felt the same way.
“I think pay was previously a concern, but it’s started to change,” Ferguson said. He added that Congress had been “extremely generous” but that rising personnel costs were already influencing what the Navy spends to operate, maintain and modernize its fleet.
The Pentagon wants a pay raise of 1.4 percent for service members next year, an increase based on the Employment Cost Index, which the Labor Department uses to measure private-sector salary increases. Congress, as it has for the past several years, has indicated it favors a slightly bigger bump, of 1.9 percent.
Todd Harrison, a defense budget expert at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, said the extra half of a percent may not sound like much, but it would accrue annually and cost about $3.5 billion over the next decade. “If you continue doing it, it becomes a huge burden on the defense budget in the long term,” he said.
Other well-meaning programs to support service members and their families have turned into budgetary Frankensteins.
In February, the Pentagon abruptly shut down a new tuition-assistance program for military spouses after it was overwhelmed with applicants. Defense officials had set aside $61 million for the program, which reimburses tuition costs of up to $6,000 per person, but discovered they might need as much as $2 billion to satisfy unexpected demand.
Congress chastised the Pentagon for mismanaging the program, which has since resumed, though defense officials aren’t sure how they will pay for it.