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Memorial Day

They were people were just like you and me. They got up each day and lived their lives as Americans. They went to the same schools, churches, grocery stories and ate at the same restaurants. They smiled and laughed at our jokes. They listened to the same music and watched the same movies we did. They comforted us when we were sad and we looked up to them and admired them.  They sat across from us at our dinner tables and living rooms and shared with us their hopes, dreams, secrets and aspirations. We loved them and the world was a little brighter because of them.  They were our ancestors, our grandfathers, our parents, our siblings, our children, cousins, or maybe just our best friend. They are now gone. They are all missed.

For the families of lost service men and women nothing can replace the heavy loss felt and the empty chair at the table. These brave few served each other, and their country paying with their lives. Some had no choice and were drafted into their country’s service; some willingly answered the call, but each ended up serving something far greater.

It has been said that only the dead have seen the end of war. The world as it is still requires vigilance against tyranny and evil and some men and women still end up paying the ultimate price to keep the peace, and preserve the nation. The good book tells us that  “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” It is good and right then they we have a national holiday to remember them.

Memorial Day is not about the political correctness of the conflicts with which these men and women lost their lives; history is the final judge of that. Today on this day we put aside our correctness; our righteous indignation and protests against war and all its causes. Today we just celebrate our loved ones and their tragic, final sacrifices made… and remember them with heartfelt gratitude.memorial day eagle

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Voting is not our only civic responsibility

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I sometimes hear those that support big government and the actions our government takes like the NSA’s electronic eavesdropping, which is in violation of the 4th amendment by the way, as being somehow justified. They argue that “We the People” elected them to do a job protecting this country and their actions are only those serving the best interests of the citizens.

I recall the recent Republican debate where Chris Christie and Rand Paul opposed each other vigorously regarding surveillance and warrants. Paul continually shouting over Christie saying “get a warrant”, “get a warrant!” It made for good theatrics at the debate if not also illustrating a rift within the Republican party.  It became very obvious to me that Christie fully believed the ends justified the means and he would not have a problem with America acting a little more like a police state to keep us “safe.”  Christie I am sure is not alone in that belief.  I believe Trump, Bush, Fiorina, Rubio, and probably a few others on the stage that night would have agreed with him. If many of the leading Republican candidates for President are willing to look the other way when it comes to the law to protect us and we know the Democrats are openly willing to re-interpret and change policy in violations of the laws what hope is there for our form of government to survive?

Amendment IV

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

It was only after the revelations by Edward Snowden, the NSA whistle-blower, and traitor to some,  that the American citizens started to really wake up and realize what their government has been doing for a while now all in the name of keeping us “safe” and “secure.” At least that’s what they tell us anyway. My question however is who keeps us safe from them? We are led to believe that a small court of judges, the FISA court protects our 4th amendment rights from abuse. A secret court whose rulings are never questioned and seldom reversed and who are not directly accountable to the people. My conservative side wants to believe they will respect the law and not abuse the citizens however my libertarian side says why should we trust them when they have shown utter contempt for the law in the past and for the rights of the citizens of this country? We are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty but our government’s actions since 9/11  turn that notion on its head.

We must not destroy the fabric of freedom and democracy by taking overt un-constitutional and very un-democratic actions to protect it. We risk becoming that which we are supposed to be protecting against. These big government types want to prevent terrorism and violence against our people by routinely violating the individual rights of citizens.  Does that make sense to anyone? I mean solitary confinement in a prison is about the safest place a person can be but I don’t know many who would want to live in  solitary by choice just to be “safe.”  There has to be a balance between safety and freedom. I firmly believe the Constitution gave us that balance and the more we stray from it the more we are at risk and “unsafe”.

“Freedom is not based upon fear, however fear is used to take freedom away.”

I am afraid as more time passes from Snowden’s  revelations, the more the public will forget about them and ignore the facts. After all the man on the street says if you have nothing to hide what’s the big deal. That attitude however is completely wrong and ignorant of the relationship, or contract our government has with its citizens as defined in the Constitution. Just because I have nothing to hide does not mean I want my government listening to my phone calls or spying on me. We are all presumed to be innocent until proven guilty. The burden is on the state to prove our guilt not the other way around.

Why bother obey the law at all, if our leaders can pick and choose what laws to obey and what laws to break. If they can do that why can’t we?  What makes them more important or special? This country for a long time now has been moving away from the Constitutional ideas of our founders. There are those in this country in power right now that do not recognize natural rights or individual rights and therefore by default reject the Constitutions’s protections of those rights. They believe rights are granted by men and subject to change by men and not by God.  If that is the case and the only authority is men in power willing to use force to back up their positions then we are in trouble. This is a rejection of the founding father’s core philosophy and a move back in the direction of despotism.

There is also this illusion that those in government try to maintain and sell to those not paying attention, that they the “elected” actually care what we think about, after the elections are over.  Once elected these “public servants” act as if our opinions don’t matter anymore until the next election cycle. They act as if they only feedback the citizens have in this country is the election itself and once over we are just supposed to sit back in our safe and cozy stupor, and put our blind faith, trust and allegiance in the elected that they will do the job. We now know that this is not true and that they don’t trust the American people and spy on them regularly, or they use the power of the federal government to abuse political opponents. They also don’t put the public interest ahead of themselves but frequently act in self-interest like the Clintons. They are also  influenced by wealthy people like Donald Trump for example or George Soros.

Lastly these representatives cannot do the job by themselves so they hire un-elected and largely unaccountable people to fill positions in government. These “bureaucratic minnions” are not answerable to the American people and only to those elected representatives who as we already mentioned are not very accountable to We the People after elections. A person once employed by the Federal Government is so protected by unions that they have to really screw up to get fired. Instead when they do screw up they are often transferred or promoted.  I have spoken with many current and former federal employees who would confirm this.

I believe if we are to change the course of this country we need to re-visit the idea that our elected officials and “public servants” must reflect the will of the citizens and they should not be permitted to stay in office for a lifetime. I believe term limits for elected officials and un-elected bureaucrats is necessary and appropriate. We need citizen-representatives with the emphasis that they are citizens first and foremost and not career representatives. We need citizen civil servants and not career civil servants who sponge off the American taxpayer for a lifetime never producing anything in the private sector. The public interest is not best served by having the same people in charge for decades anyway.  The White House, Congress, the Supreme Court, and the bureaucrats running the Administrative State must all be answerable to the people with consequences for breaches of faith.

Voting is not our only civic responsibility. We must be actively engaged in the politics of our nation and acquainted with our representatives and their actions. We cannot afford to blindly vote D or R ever election without looking at the man or women representing us and their track record of accomplishments and voting record. We must act as if every election is a matter of life and death because it is, so we must do our part.

 

“The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.” -Justice Louis Brandeis

 

Our nation is being twisted and turned upside down by elements hell bent on its destruction and re-birth as a socialist, welfare dependent country. We have to take it back peacefully soon, or we just might not be able to do so without fighting and spilling blood to get back what we so willingly gave up to be “safe and secure.”

 

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Obama- the breeder of empires

In Victor David Hanson’s recent story for the National Review, he talks about how the political climate in today’s world resembles the early 20th century.  At that time following WWI  in rather quick succession you saw the fall of once great powerful empires; empires like Austro-Hungary, Kaiser Wilhelm’s Imperial Germany, the Ottoman Empire, and Czarist Russia. Due to inattention by the world’s leading governments they were then replaced by even stronger more ruthless empires such as  the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, Mussolini’s Italy, and Imperial Japan. The rise and fall of such empires and the cost to humanity in terms of suffering, property damage, and loss of life cannot be accurately measured nor can the cost be ignored and treated as if its irrelevant ancient history.

It was only through a monumental wholehearted national effort by Western democracies, at great cost and sacrifice by their military combatants and civilians, working in cooperation to meet the threat, did these oppressive regimes finally meet their end.

It is not by accident that we have not seen another global confrontation like WWI or WWII in seventy years. Its not because humanity has somehow become more civilized, far from it. Its just that global peace is obtained only through commitment to strength and not by appearing weak or being weak.

Russian Tanks on Red Square

Russian Tanks on Red Square

Hanson asserts that in today’s world we are seeing an equally volatile period in history just like the 1930’s and 1940’s largely due to American indifference and perceived weakness by our enemies. During Obama’s watch we have seen the rise of ISIS/ISIL almost immediately after we began withdrawing from Iraq. We see Iran’s subtle and not so subtle influence over the Middle East growing not to mention their appetite to obtain  nuclear weapons and to destroy Israel at the right opportunity.  As we withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Taliban still assert power there. What is going to stop them from reclaiming what they lost, the shaky Afghan government?  Power abhors a vacuum. We are seeing Putin’s Russia reassert its once death grip hold over all of Eastern Europe with Ukraine being its latest victim.

President Barrack Hussein Obama

President Barrack Hussein Obama

I believe President Obama believes its his mission to remove the USA from its position of authority and world leadership much to our great detriment and the whole world’s. Our withdrawal from the world stage, retreating if you will, will have very bad consequences for us and those nations that resist oppressive anti-Democratic, anti-American, despotic governments.

ISIS follower beheads a captive 2014

LeonardGSiffleet

POW Sgt Leonard Siffleet executed by Japanese soldier 1943

 

History has shown Evil does in fact exist in the world and to turn from it and ignore it, or appease it only encourages it to be more audacious, not less dangerous or less threatening. Appeasement only works for those being appeased. Failing for example to name the source of almost all of the current terrorist activity in the world today ” Islamic fundamentalism” (which is rooted in literal interpretation of the Koran), only encourages those fanatics. I think it would be better a few be offended than billions engaged in a global armed conflict.

A position that says let’s not care about what goes on beyond our borders and focus just on our problems here may seem like a good idea on the surface to some. I understand the arguments for isolation, less intervention and domestic focus as I too once held that position. However I think that only invites a very ugly future global confrontation when we will be much weaker to resist the very real threats to our way of life.

Some might want to convince themselves that the evil in today’s world is caused by USA’s inequities in life and our greedy corporations coupled with our intolerance to other cultures. I would argue show me where these other cultures are better or as tolerant. The truth is the world is a very biased, racist, and intolerant place and its those intolerant cultures and countries that are now posing the greatest threats to mankind.

I believe however that appeasement and disengagement is our President and some of his follower’s intention. Somehow he has convinced himself that downsizing our military and abandoning our allies, while simultaneously: supporting or appeasing Islamic-Fascist regimes; removing sanctions for tired old communist regimes like Cuba; permitting  China and North Korea to engage in economic and cyber warfare against us daily; and allowing Russia to do what ever it wants without tangible negative consequences for them is somehow in our best interests.

Looking at the world today I really believe Obama appears feckless by design, he’s not that stupid like some would believe. His actions I believe are a portent of a much greater evil to come but that is another story.

For now the average American being comfortable, complacent and compliant with our government’s control over their lives while solely focused on themselves and their issues is not going to keep any of us  safe or free. We must stay concerned and engaged on matters inside and outside of our country. We must elect leaders willing to uphold the law, and oppose those who would seek our destruction from within as well as from outside our borders. Those same leaders must resist evil where ever it is, for however long it takes and rally the citizens behind the cause. We need to be fully committed as a nation, and willing to sacrifice for the long haul, just like those Americans from an earlier generation did for only then can we hope to win and survive.

What I’m saying is an all in commitment is necessary with a resolve to take the fight wherever it leads us, to whatever country’s doorstep it may take us.  We must resolve to win this war not just co-exist with it or we can expect to be at war forever.

Semper Fidelis…not just some latin words

I write this in response to Salon magazine’s call for Americans to stop honoring men in uniform since America hasn’t really fought a war for freedom in seventy years. What a bunch of rubbish!

The men and women who put on military uniforms and fight wars for this country are to be honored not because their fight is necessarily just or honorable but because they take a pledge to fight and possibly die for this country. What is a country except its citizens? So they are in effect pledging to die for us all if they must. The left in this country has always gotten this wrong starting with their despicable behavior towards our Vietnam veterans when they came back from the jungles so long ago.  Something I’m sure many vets have never forgiven them for and rightly so.

Whether you agree with US foreign policy or not, is totally irrelevant. That is why we have free elections so that people who represent our values and beliefs are peacefully put in charge to determine for us who are enemies and who are friends are.  That is foreign policy. To blame the armed forces for the failure of foreign policy and hold them accountable is ridiculous.

We honor these brave men and women because they are agreeing to be a tool of US foreign policy- right or wrong. They have agreed to put on the uniform to keep us safe. They have agreed to surrender their individuality for a greater purpose. And they are necessary. To think otherwise is delusional.

Whether we agree who the enemies are is irrelevant from the standpoint of the serviceman.  They go where they are sent. They have agreed to be America’s tool, representing us all and risking it all.

Therefore it is that pledge of faithfulness and sacrifice that we honor, not the conflict however honorable or dishonorable it may be.

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Taking care of those who serve?

” No vet should go without food, housing, healthcare,work, and respect….ever!

                                                           Embed from Getty Images

That’s what today’s Facebook meme said and on the surface the sentiment can certainly be appreciated. I respect veterans immensely for the sacrifices they make, especially since they volunteer to serve in the military nowadays. To those who were drafted and later suffered after their service I believe your country does owe you its thanks and support where and when appropriate.

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The idea however that all vets are owed food, housing, health care, and a job is somewhat suspicious to my way of thinking.  To many the military is a place to serve their country. It is a place to get an education and training, provide opportunity and for some a refuge from a life of crime, poverty and street living.

If vets leave the military I think there should be good military programs in place to get them job placed and trained to function in the civilian world. Any health issues or dependency issues like PTSD, drug or  alcohol should be dealt with so that when they separate they are squared away or at least given a status that requires they seek treatment after being taken off of active duty.  If they are badly wounded and cannot take care of themselves then I agree they should receive those things mentioned in the Facebook meme until they can take care of themselves.

If however they develop dependency problems years later after their service like many do, or health issues unrelated to their military service I believe we the American people don’t owe them food, clothing, shelter, healthcare and a job for the remainder of their life. We would be doing them a disservice and enabling dependency to their addiction and their government.

No healthy American citizen should think they are “entitled” to receive anything from their government especially for making poor lifestyle choices in life. Help is available in other places like family, civic foundations, churches, etc.

It is the individual that provides charity to his fellow man; it is not the place of government to do so or force its citizens to provide it.

When you start grouping citizens into categories simply because of vocation and giving them perks that other citizens don’t have access to or the ability to have ie, members of military, member of Congress, federal govt workers, law enforcement, firefighters, teachers,  union members etc etc eventually there is no equality among the citizens any longer.

For example when they say “vets” do they mean people who are shot at or just people who put on the uniform? Do they mean the SOF guy who served behind enemy lines or the guy who served food at the chow hall on the front?

Why should a homeless drug dependent veteran receive all of the benefits mentioned above but someone who worked their whole life providing goods/or services to their community be left to fend for themselves? Everyone in a sense serves the country if they are gainfully employed or provide service. Some more than others, granted, but are we placing a higher value on people these days simply by the nature of their chosen profession?

Embed from Getty Images

The guy who served on active duty gets VA benefits but the part-time reservist does not? The federal civil “servant” should receive good healthcare but the electrician should not? The school teacher should be allowed to purchase computers at cheaper cost but the insurance salesman cannot? The firefighter can receive discounts on his cars and mortgage but the local Subway owner cannot? The Senator can get better healthcare than most and receive most of his salary for life but civilians cannot?

In my opinion the road to entitlement is getting more and more bumpy. Who gets to decide the value of these people and their professions ? Who decides who gets the perks and benefits and who gets left out?  Who decides who pays for it all? Our all knowing government masters, the faceless nameless bureaucrats in Washington?

 

That sounds decidedly un-American doesn’t it?

A friend’s passing

A close friend of mine died today. He lived a long, long, life filled with adventure, intrigue and the stuff you read in the history books. During his birth he beat the odds and many said he should not have survived. When he was a child, others left him mostly alone, not sure what to make of his odd ideas, manners and customs. He was blessed with a good place to live filled with abundance, and was raised by parents that respected God and family.

As a young adult he grew strong, powerful and self-confident. Some would even say he had become arrogant. He was also known to be cruel and selfish in his youth. However life’s experience would teach him hard lessons, and he learned from his mistakes. Slowly over time his character was built with confidence to overcome any obstacle. His can do attitude won him much adulation from his peers.

He became a fierce warrior with the heart of a lion out of necessity for survival. Others would call for his help frequently and he always answered that call. He would be forced to fight in wars and conflicts overseas seeing firsthand the cruelty and barbarity men could inflict upon others but it did not change his character instead making him only stronger and wiser as he aged. He was industrious, compassionate, and generous with his money.

In the years that followed he grew happy and content and sired many children. Over time however as with many families his children grew complacent, fat and lazy. Having not experienced the same challenges and hardships that their father had experienced, the same challenges and hardships that built his character; they became weak and insecure.

His children ignored their father’s warnings and lessons and ridiculed his past mistakes. They chose to spend their inheritance and squander the good will their father had built up with his friends over many years. They welcomed their father’s old enemy’s ideas into their hearts and borrowed money they could not pay back from those same enemies. Over time displeased and disgusted with their father and his ways, they dispatched him while he slumbered. His children celebrated their new found “freedom” from their father proclaiming his old ideas were slowing their progress and that with him gone their direction was certain.

However, seeing my friend’s demise, at the hands of his children, my friend’s old enemies no longer were afraid of my friend’s family and rose up against the house their father had built with blood, sweat and treasure expended and destroyed them all, taking their lands, their livelihoods and their freedom forever.

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I shall miss my friend America, as will most of the world as there has never been a country quite like it before in history and we are not likely to see one like it ever again.

 

Where will freedom reign once it is extinguished here?

 

“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” – Abraham Lincoln

Painless War?

Last evening according to Pentagon press secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby, US Navy Seals stormed aboard an oil tanker called the “Morning Glory” which was being held by three Libyan rebels. The tanker according to a Blaze report contained 36 million dollars’ worth of crude oil. The Seals took control of the tanker and no casualties were reported. According to reports, President Obama himself ordered the attack at the request of both the Libyan and Cypriot governments. Kirby said “The Morning Glory is carrying a cargo of oil owned by the Libyan government National Oil Company. The ship and its cargo were illicitly obtained …”

US Navy Seals fast rope on to a ship's deck.  U. S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 1st Class (AW) Michael W. Pendergrass

US Navy Seals fast rope on to a ship’s deck.

 

I wonder had there been Navy Seal casualties, if this story would have ever seen the light of day and possibly instead been given a Top Secret classification, the details hidden in the interests of National Security, i.e. avoiding White House public embarrassment. There may be some national security purpose to this raid but really it just looks like we helped out an oil company for the Libyan’s as a favor. Who knows? One thing for sure is we have made some more enemies with this action.

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President Obama making a call in the Oval Office

In my opinion this President or any sitting President for that matter, using the Seals as the World’s 911 first responders is a gross abuse of Presidential executive powers. Just because there is precedent for it does not make it right or just. Had there been casualties and say deaths, the Seals’s loved ones would be told they had died bravely in the performance of their duties for their country. In other words they would have died so an oil company could keep its oil. Will we ever hear outrage from the political left in this country about how this President put brave men into harm’s way over oil interests like we did when President Bush was in the White House? I’m not holding my breath.

President Obama delivers statement on US Consulate attack in Benghazi.

President Obama delivers statement on US Consulate attack in Benghazi.

We place our trust in politicians to represent us and do what’s right for the country, but are they really doing so? How would we know when they frequently hide their questionable actions behind the veil of national security? We have seen this administration openly sacrifice a US Ambassador and his security detail at the embassy in Benghazi, Libya. Those men died at the hands of terrorists and this Administration tried blaming some film maker for the incident. We may never know the real reasons why they were sacrificed. According to Hillary Clinton what does it matter? Well it does matter.

 

Going to war, which is really what it is when you give the green light to use Navy Seals or fire drones at targets in other countries for that matter, should be something that is used sparingly. This is why Congress has to be involved. Declarations of War involving the Congress must be required, something that almost never is done anymore. The practice needs to be restored so that the people have a voice in these potentially long, bloody, protracted engagements with dubious purpose. War making is a tool in a President’s diplomacy bag to be sure but it should be a tool rarely reached for at the bottom of the bag when everything else has failed.

Predator Drone

Predator Drone

I am concerned that we in this country have made war far, far too easy and relatively painless. It used to be for most of human history that war was waged by entire societies willingly or not; engaged in the cause, invested totally in the endeavor. Blood, treasure and lives were expended for the cause at great peril to those societies.

Scrap Metal Drive in Hood River, Oregon during WWII 1942

Scrap Metal Drive in Hood River, Oregon during WWII 1942

What sacrifices today does the average American experience as a result of war being fought on their behalf overseas? Today most Americans know little of the sacrifices our soldiers experience on daily basis in combat other than what they see on the web or television. Our leaders too have little invested personally in the endeavor and do not appear to be concerned about the long term consequences of their actions. Yes, there might be political fall-out if things go wrong, but when it’s all said and done they eventually retire from public service with full benefits and country club lifestyle at the tax payer expense for the rest of their lives.

 

Today with our satellites in orbit tracking everything; and the NSA listening to everybody, our leaders can sit in comfort and order death sentences to foreign nationals with never experiencing the real costs of waging this new kind of war. To me it seems talking is no longer part of US diplomacy and has been left behind in favor of brute force. Our policy now is shoot first, plan later and apologize only when absolutely necessary.

 

Our leaders in Washington argue that we are still at war against terror, but for how long does that last, another year, ten years, fifty? No one knows. How much longer can we afford to wage this type of war? In the year 2012 we spent 682 billion dollars or four times more than our nearest rival China on military expenditures. What are the incentives for peace? How about because we are broke financially as a country. That sounds like a good incentive to me.


War however appears to be big business. When you add our dependence on oil from the Middle East to that equation it almost guarantees justification for more and more spending on defense. I see no end in sight. Do you? I am not a peacenik but any stretch of the imagination but I am being practical in saying when will there be peace?

 

Has anybody really started asking that? We cannot remain in a perpetual state of war. What foreign policy initiatives are we taking right now to ensure that peace will come? I don’t think there are any on the table. Make no mistake about it, there are organizations and individuals in our country that benefit from our country being energy dependent and prolonging this war on terror as long as possible. I think the dangers of Eisenhower’s military industrial complex have come to fruition.


Fighting the war on terror is like fighting the war on poverty. We have invested billions of dollars on a problem that never goes away. Where is the return on investment? It could be argued we have developed better weapons and capabilities to fight this war and have men with experience now they wouldn’t have had otherwise, but it’s all spent in making war more efficient not eliminating the war. Just like the war on poverty, we’ve added new programs and spent huge sums of cash since the 1960’s fighting the “poverty war” but instead of eliminating poverty we have increased the numbers dependent on some form of assistance. Where does it end? It doesn’t apparently. It’s self-sustaining and painless until the bill comes due.

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