Sunday, September 24, 2017

Cam Got it Right

Looks like the president’s done it again!

His comments about athletes taking a knee during the national anthem have ignited a firestorm of criticism and controversy. Why?

Because he tapped into a vein of anger amongst a good deal of Americans who think that Colin Kaepernick and those who have followed in his footsteps are in fact disrespecting the flag and those who have served under it. When the Kaepernick brouhaha first broke, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was asked to give his thoughts on the matter. His answer, simply put, was that he himself would not do such a thing and disagreed with Kaepernick, but that it was his right to do so. As a result, Mr. Newton was pilloried by sports and political talking heads for not wanting to take a side. They got it wrong, he got it right. 

Those who have gone before me, those who still serve, and those who eventually will, do this nation’s work and in the process, also protect our rights, regardless of political leanings. Those rights come from our creator and not a piece of paper or any earthly entity. The Constitution, despite what we’ve been told, is a set of negative liberties detailing what government cannot do to its citizenry. I don’t appreciate Mr. Kaepernick’s actions, although I wouldn’t raise them to the level of someone who burns Bibles, Korans, flags, or any other deeply held symbol of faith or patriotism. But, then again, doing any of the above is well within their right to do so.

All of these players chose to make a political and social statement. Again, that’s their choice and right. But, as a result of doing this, they have now elevated themselves to the level of role models (despite NBA great Charles Barkley’s now infamous comments). That, whether they like it or not, has now become a burden that they are going to have to shoulder for some time to come. The NFL, NBA, MLB or any other sports leagues are businesses. If the fans decide that they want nothing to do with these teams because of what their players do, then that’s their business. After all, money talks. The president’s comments about team owners canning these players was misinformed. These players are represented by player associations, which in effect are labor unions. Because of this, there are collective bargaining agreements that govern the interactions between players and management. It’s doubtful that anything will ever happen.

It would be wise for all of us to keep in mind that what some consider disrespectful conduct may be looked upon by others as a legitimate form of protest. The founding fathers never wanted us to walk in lockstep with every opinion out there. They wanted healthy, reasoned discussion and yes, even vigorous debate. But at the end of the day, we were supposed to shake hands and agree to disagree if nothing else could be agreed upon. I’m sure that there will be those who agree with the contents this quick scribble and those who won’t. After all, this is America.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Long Time Coming

I’m not all that thrilled with the television commentators and their spin on events like the Charlottesville riot (call it what it was), the North Korea situation, and the Iran nuke deal. Why? Because these events have been decades in the making and the fact that they’re now blowing up in everyone’s faces is suddenly an issue that needs to be dealt with. Oh really?

Let’s start with the white supremacists who decided to hold a protest march over the fact that a local municipality decided to take down a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Lest we forget, Lee before he joined the Confederacy as its military head, was a U.S. Army officer and a graduate of West Point. Unlike the Nazis or Imperial Japanese military, Lee was not involved in violations of the Laws of War. Over the past two decades, we’ve seen the left decry various actions as racist, sexist, xenophobic, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, etc. Most of these claims have been baseless, they have been nothing more than a grievance industry shifting into high gear and going full tilt.

Back in the early nineties, I remember a squadron mate decrying the fact that our society was becoming politically correct, but I gave it very little thought at the time. As I became a little more politically conscious, I eventually latched onto what he was saying. We have succumbed to the idea that we aren’t allowed to discuss “touchy” subjects because someone somewhere might get upset or offended at what’s being talked about. This is nothing more than free speech and the exchange of different ideas being squelched by those with an agenda. That agenda does not include the sort of discourse that this country’s founders wanted us to remain engaged in (the USAA incident is a good example). The kind of discourse that no how matter how uncomfortable or messy it became, enabled us to become a better, stronger nation. Make no mistake, what we witnessed in Virginia was the epitome of pure evil. It was the very antithesis of the melting pot philosophy that has made us, in the words of the late Barbara Jordan, the most successful multi-ethnic country in the history of the world.

The president was right IMHO to go off script on his initial statements condemning what happened in Charlottesville. He and his predecessor have been the recipients of an awful lot of vitriol from the political opposition. That hatred and the sort of hostility that we witnessed last week has been building over time and was eventually going to find a release somewhere. Political correctness lit the fuse, time did the rest.


North Korea and Iran are Pariah states, plain, pure, and simple. The Mullahs and Kim dynasty have held vise like grips on their respective countries and populations for decades. The fact that these regimes have been seeking to obtain nuclear weapons should come as no surprise. They need some way to maintain their legitimacy on the world stage. What better way to do so than become a nuclear power? Once that milestone has been achieved, it becomes much more difficult to unseat them and turn back the clock. 

When the 1979 revolution in Iran turned it into a theocracy, it also set the regime on a path to becoming a regional hegemon. They have been the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world. The U.S. invasion of Iraq, their near peer competitor/regional foe was intended to send the mullahs a message, it had just the opposite effect and emboldened them to become even more aggressive in the region. The North Koreans were the original bad boys when it came to international condemnation and scorn being heaped on any nation for its behavior. We have watched three successive generations of despotic leaders starve their populace, engage in assassinations abroad, military acts of provocation, and the illegal detention of foreigners for the purpose of being used as nothing more than bargaining chips (Iran has been guilty of this as well).

Previous administrations have tried the philosophy of constructive engagement in the hopes of bringing these regimes to the table to establish meaningful dialogue. That dialogue was nothing more than a smokescreen that enabled them to focus their efforts on clandestine programs while the rest of the world thought that progress was being made at reaching a peaceful solution (think Saddam Hussein and the UN Oil for Food program). Yet, for some reason we see these commentators and politicos wringing their hands and bemoaning the president’s comments towards the North Koreans. So, can anyone explain how all those flowery and optimistic words have helped us get to a place where we can claim a modicum of success in dealing with either country? Simply put, they can’t.

The time for though talk is now at hand. Just look at the Japanese. What continues to go underreported throughout all of this is the fact that after the last series of North Korean ballistic missile tests several months ago, the Japanese government vowed to shoot down any North Korean missile that overflew its territory (Japan has had the capability for a while now). This most recent threat by Mr. Kim’s generals to launch several missiles into the sea around Guam didn’t go unnoticed in Tokyo. Those missiles have to fly over Japan on their way to their intended targets. Again, the Japanese ministry of Defense reminded all concerned that Japan would not stand for any act that violated its territorial sovereignty, but who’s been reporting it? Almost no one.

It appears that rather than focus on the things that should be bringing us together, we’re still being subject to partisan bickering over whether presidential condemnation over a brutal act was strong enough or if rhetoric directed towards a rogue nation went too far. C’mon man, grow up! It’s time to put aside the parochialism and start acting as Americans. ‘Nuff said.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Alphabet Soup

As I watch the news on the recent revelations about even more info coming to light vis a vis Mrs. Clinton and her email situation, courtesy of disgraced US Representative Anthony Weiner and his proclivity for showing his body parts to members of the fairer sex, I keep coming back to one question concerning all of Mrs. Clinton’s scandals. Why now?

She’s already been cleared of any criminal wrongdoing concerning her use of a private email server. Although, in testimony before Congress, FBI Director Comey’s responses to a litany of committee members’ questions, at the very least, sounded like a disqualification against her bid to hold the highest office in the land. The WikiLeaks brouhaha made her, her campaign, and the entire Democrat party establishment (deservedly so) the objects of a lot of scorn, derision, ire, and betrayal, especially among Bernie Sanders supporters.

The Russians, or at least hackers with ties to the Russian government have been blamed for the release of these documents to Mr. Assange and Company. The reason given, of course, was to directly or indirectly influence the outcome of a US presidential election. The Democrats, the media, and a few establishment Republicans feigned outrage over such an act, despite the fact that we’ve had our own dealings overseas doing just that in the third world. 

I’m going to go out on another limb and suggest that it wasn’t the Russians, the Chinese, or anyone closely associated with those governments who pulled this off. I’m thinking that we need to look a little closer to home. We have a hodgepodge of alphabet soup agencies in this country responsible for maintaining the security of this nation and ensuring the safety of its citizenry. In the process of accomplishing these tasks, they have been empowered by an all-encompassing law that was passed in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. Of course, I’m referring to the Patriot Act.

Edward Snowden has been called a lot of things, patriot, traitor, useful idiot, but the one thing that needs to be reinforced amongst all reading this is that he was the source of the disclosure about how much information that federal agencies like the NSA have been collecting on the average American. In testimony before a Senate committee, James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, was asked the question about whether he knew that the federal government was spying on American citizens. His response was that the government didn’t do so willingly. The senator posing the question already knew that statement to be a bare faced lie.

In light of the fact that we now know that Big Brother really is watching us, should it come as a surprise to anyone that those at the highest levels of government would be given even more scrutiny? It has been put forward by a television talking head or two that the NSA may actually have all of Mrs. Clinton’s deleted emails. That should not surprise anyone, especially in light of the fact that it was recently uncovered that at least one email service provider may have been charging law enforcement agencies a fee for emails collected on certain individuals, without a warrant. That’s right, corporate America is getting rich selling our information to the government. Barring any sort of written policies or agreements between the subscriber and the company to safeguard personal info, this action is completely legal.

If the NSA had access to the trove of emails from Mrs. Clinton’s servers, as well as gaining access to the accounts of those individuals and organizations she may have been in contact with, then it stands to reason that the folks poring through the information contained therein may have become deeply troubled by the picture that was being painted for them. These sorts of revelations would have been earth shattering, to say the least. You have a candidate for the presidency of this nation who has engaged in the very sort of activities that have sent “untouchable” mafia chieftains to prison, yet their political masters, based on previous instances of corruption and malfeasance at the highest levels of government, haven’t even bothered to lift a finger.

It may be one thing for the hacks in DC to politicize the security of this nation, but the Clintons have taken things a step further and commoditized it. They have been able to capitalize on their positions of power and influence to enrich themselves and their cohorts at the expense of the US taxpayer and our national security (Google the name Uranium One). It’s not much of a stretch to see how a fifth column movement could come into being with the express purpose of exposing such egregious/criminal behavior. Remember, these folks are not political. They are hard-working career people who swore an oath to protect the Constitution, the very fabric of our republic, from all enemies, foreign or domestic.

The question concerning who these documents should be “leaked” to was a no brainer. The only major concern was how to cover their tracks, or in this case, the fingerprint they would leave behind. Given the fact that Vladimir Putin and his government had become a thorn in our sides over the past few years, I’m sure that played a major role in deciding how to disperse the trail of breadcrumbs in such a manner that there could be only one conclusion drawn from what had transpired. Just about everyone fell for it, they were successful.

Based on what we now know, due to waves of disgruntled FBI agents who were about ready to mutiny, Director Comey was basically given no choice but to re-examine any and all Clinton related emails coming his way courtesy of one Anthony Weiner. But what if this wasn’t the only driver of his change of heart? What if that fifth column I mentioned earlier was also whispering into Mr. Comey’s ear? 

Of course, what they’d be whispering to him about would be the scope of information that they had collected on Mrs. Clinton, her campaign, and the party establishment. They’d let him know that he didn’t need to feel intimidated by his political superiors, that he wasn’t alone and that all he needed to do to get back into the fight was to act on the information being provided. This truly was becoming a conspiracy of light.

Pushing all of the political rhetoric aside, no one really knows what a Trump or Clinton presidency would look like. All one can go off of are the track records that the candidates bring to the table. In Mrs. Clinton’s case, it’s one riddled with corruption, double dealing, malfeasance, and vote rigging, to name a few. My guess is that this was more than enough for the keepers of the flame to step in and actually live up to that oath of office.

Q: Who watches the watchers?
A: They’re doing a damn good job taking care of themselves.