Another Write-wing Conspirator

Commentary, observations, musing, and ranting from the middle of the road (or just to the right of center. Usually.) featuring The Curmudgeon

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  • Welcome to The Curmudgeon’s lair

    Welcome to my curmudgeondom. As you’ll soon learn, your reactions to my missives here are likely to range from fear to loathing to tears to outright rage—and I just might even evoke from you an occasional sober nod or two.

    If you see a posting you like and wish to share it with others, by all means feel free to do so. I'd prefer that you send the link to your friends, but you're also welcome to reproduce anything here—as long as you retain my identity on the document. If you have a web site of your own and wish to post a link to this blog (or to a specific post), again, feel free to do so.

    The purpose of this blog is simple: to provide me a vehicle for sounding-off on whatever topic suits me at the moment. While there’s sure to be no shortage of politically-oriented palaver here, it is by no means all (nor necessarily even most) of what will be proffered to your discerning mind. You’ll also find that my personal politics, ethics, morals, and standards are pretty much “all over the map” (according to my mother-in-law)—so, don’t be surprised to see rants regarding, say, the interference of churches in politics, politically-correct anything, “nanny” laws, taxes, the United Nations, Congress, the Commissioner of Baseball, the State of Ohio’s speed limits, steroids, Jesse Jackson, the “mainstream” media, ultra-liberals, ultra-conservatives, the price of cigarettes, Obamarxism, regulating sales of alcohol, gasoline price manipulation, Muslim foot baths, illegal immigration, laws banning the sale of adult sex toys, cell phones, heavy-handed cops, meddlesome politicians, Hillary, Billary, our all-but-self-proclaimed uncrowned Queen Nancy, “W”, eminent domain, freedom of speech, and the designated hitter all in succession. It is, as I said, my curmudgeondom — and I have the credentials and bona fides to lay claim to the title of The Curmudgeon. So, there.

    Some of the postings you'll encounter may seem familiar—especially to those who know me personally. By way of explanation… I once had an ongoing relationship with a local newspaper, and had a number of published opinion pieces—some of which may be posted here. My arrangement was for a feature entitled An Opposing View; given that the editorial staff had a generally liberal, left-of-center view, it stands to reason that my "opposing" view would generally be perceived as coming from the right (in more ways than one, in my own humble opinion). These posts will be annotated as having been previously published.

    Comments, of course, are always welcome. You may agree or disagree with me. Doesn’t matter. Of course, I reserve the right to completely ignore you — but, feel free to let your feelings be known, anyway. And if you don't want to comment directly here, my e-mail address is: jimseeber@gmail.com .

    Oh, and…yes, I can spell. That "Write-wing" is only a play on words. So, there. Again.

    Welcome, once again. Strap in and hang on.

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  • About this “curmudgeon” guy…

    Armchair philosopher, politically-incorrect political commentator, raconteur, retired air traffic controller, dilettante truck driver, US Army veteran, recluse, sometime-writer, redneck convert neè Buckeye, ne'er-do-well, bon vivant, unrepentant libertine, unapologetic libertarian, and (of course) curmudgeon…

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Archive for the ‘national security’ Category

Veterans Day

Posted by The Curmudgeon on November 11, 2011

A note to my brothers-in-arms…

Note: This started as a simple email to friends and fellow veterans. Owing to the response I received, I decided to spruce it up a little and include it here. —Jim

To my fellow veterans:

Perhaps it’s because of the times we live in, with troops in harm’s way. Or it might be the still-fresh memory of the massacre at Ft. Hood. Or it could be owing to recent communications with former brothers- (and sisters-) in-arms. Whatever the source, I’m feeling particularly sentimental about Veterans Day—our day—this time around. It always happens, but…for some reason, it’s a stronger feeling today.

Some of you I served with. Some, I didn’t. No matter. I’ve always felt that—regardless of our respective histories—we share something very special. I suspect many of you feel the same.

Some time ago, I was seated at a blackjack table in Tunica, MS. I’d been engaged in sporadic conversation with the young man seated alongside me, and learned that he’d recently returned from his second tour in Iraq. I asked the usual questions (we all know them—right?) : Where are you from? What’s your MOS? How long’ve you been in?

This, of course, revealed to him (we all recognize the signs and subtle signals) that I’d spent time in the military, as well—and in fact we had Army service in common (like I said: We all recognize the telltale signs of a brother-in-arms).

He then surprised me by extending his hand and saying: “Thanks for your service.”

This simple gesture has become common in recent years—and I kinda like it. However, no one had ever said it to me before; frankly, it caught me a little off-guard. Yes, I’d served. My military career was, however, decidedly unremarkable. No hero. Just did my job—like most of us. To be honest, I felt a tinge of humility hearing a “Thank-you” from someone so recently returned from the jaws of Hell.

Almost sheepishly, I grasped the proffered hand and shook it firmly. “No,” I said. “Thank-you. My time was long ago and a helluva lot easier.”

And then he said it.

“You served,” he said evenly, still gripping my hand. “That’s all that matters.”

And the steady, certain look in his eyes confirmed that he’d meant what he’d said.

He was right.

It doesn’t matter whether we were cooks, grunts, supply clerks, swabbies, wrench-turners, jarheads, or cannon-cockers.

We served—and that is all that matters. Many…most…didn’t. We did.

I’m reminded of a Marine Corps recruiting billboard from a few years ago showing a split-view of a young man’s face. One-half was the boyish look he’d borne before he enlisted; the other half was the steel-jawed look that Uncle Sam put on him. The caption was simple: “The change is forever.”

And it is. It changed us. All of us. And we’ll always be different for it. Regardless of which branch each of us served in or what we did.

How many times have you sat around swapping lies with other vets when you suddenly became aware of the rapt attention being paid by one of them, those who never took our oath?

We share a common bond—one that will never be broken. It’s a special fraternity. It’s something that they will never have, nor even completely understand.

I pity them.

They’ll never know what it feels like.

They don’t know our friendships spawned amid shared adversity, our camaraderie forged by experiences they can’t even imagine. They’ll never know those memories that we won’t—or can’t—speak of except amongst ourselves, our brothers. They don’t understand the particular annoyance we feel when the entertainment superstar of the moment butchers the national anthem at a football game, or why we feel compelled to throttle those in the stands who fail to remove their hats or place their hands over their hearts or at least shut the hell up while it’s being played. They puzzle over why we rail against a giveaway to someone who’s earned nothing, but we’ll give anything—anything—to one of our brothers in need. They’ll never know that bittersweet tug on our heart-strings whenever we hear the mournful strains of Taps being played.

They can’t imagine a wintertime patrol of the DMZ in Korea when you’ve given-up on the idea of ever actually being warm again, settling instead for merely being able to once again feel your toes. They can’t picture an exhausted airman trying desperately to avoid dripping sweat on sensitive avionics components while struggling in desert heat to repair an aircraft for a ground-support mission. They’ll never know the lonely vigil of a sailor standing watch at night, peering into the inky blackness of the North Atlantic. They can’t begin to know fear so deep that you’re no longer certain of having control of your breathing or your bladder as you suddenly realize that there are a lot of people trying to kill you. They can’t imagine your feverish attempts to apply a field dressing, or holding a wounded buddy as his life slips away. They’ll never be able to laugh, years later, as friends reminisce about an over-exuberant celebration in an exotic port after months at sea—that might’ve resulted in a night or two spent in the local jail. They don’t grasp the significance to us of George Orwell’s familiar observation about people being able to sleep soundly in their beds at night because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf—nor do they have any idea that we now and then silently remind ourselves with pride: I was one of those rough men.

Whether you did a two-year stint courtesy of your draft board…or had nothing better to do for a few years after surviving high school…or felt a call to duty…or made a twenty- or thirty-year career out of it…

You served. We served. And whether we like it or not, we retain feelings that get stirred-up from time to time.

We know what it feels like, and sometimes have to choke down some pretty strong emotions. They haven’t a clue as to what that’s all about.

Some might recall that I’ve been waging a years-long battle to try to get people—them—to grasp the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day. It sends me into a slow boil every Memorial Day when I see television and newspaper ads proclaiming: “Thanks to all our veterans!”

I appreciate the sentiment, but…that’s not our day; that day is set aside for those who didn’t return—and blurring the line between the two occasions cheapens their sacrifice.

I’ve probably aggravated a lot of people in attempting to correct that misconception.

This is our day. This is the one we earned when we raised our hands and swore our oaths—when we entered that special fraternity…when we underwent that change that we’ll all take to our graves…when we were bound to one another forever.

Thank-you all for your service. Enjoy your day; you earned it. Go grab the free chow at Applebee’s and Golden Corral and Chili’s, and be appreciative that some, at least, acknowledge your service and sacrifice. Muster-up a dash of humility if a kid comes up to you today and says “Thanks” because a parent or teacher instilled that sense of values. Choke back your tears when the bugler plays Taps during the ceremony at The Tomb (or let them flow; you earned that right, too). Call an old Army buddy (or Navy; you get the idea). Shake hands with fellow vets you know; they’re your brothers-in-arms—and it’s their day, too.

Having now gotten all maudlin, I’ll leave you with one final thought expressed by Rudyard Kipling:

I’ve eaten your bread and salt,
I’ve drunk your water and wine.
The deaths ye died I watched beside,
and the lives ye led were mine.

 

Jim

“A veteran is someone who, at one point in his or her life, wrote a blank check made payable to ‘The United States of America’ for an amount of ‘up to and including my life.'”author unknown

Note: This is a re-posting of an entry from two years ago. I first posted it in my old blog; however, when I transferred everything to this site, some of the formatting was corrupted. In addition, I received several requests from friends asking that it be re-posted for Veterans Day last year. So, I spruced it up again and made a few changes. Apparently, a lot of people liked it; I received several requests to re-post it again this year. —Jim

__________

Posted in military, national defense, national security, patriotism, veteran, veterans day | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Veterans Day

Posted by The Curmudgeon on November 11, 2010

A note to my brothers-in-arms…

 Note: This started as a simple email to friends and fellow veterans. Owing to the response I received, I decided to spruce it up a little and include it here. —Jim

To my fellow veterans:

Perhaps it’s because of the times we live in, with troops in harm’s way. Or it might be the still-fresh memory of the massacre at Ft. Hood. Or it could be owing to recent communications with former brothers- (and sisters-) in-arms. Whatever the source, I’m feeling particularly sentimental about Veterans Day—our day—this time around. It always happens, but…for some reason, it’s a stronger feeling today.

Some of you I served with. Some, I didn’t. No matter. I’ve always felt that—regardless of our respective histories—we share something very special. I suspect many of you feel the same.

Some time ago, I was seated at a blackjack table in Tunica, MS. I’d been engaged in sporadic conversation with the young man seated alongside me, and learned that he’d recently returned from his second tour in Iraq. I asked the usual questions (we all know them—right?) : Where are you from? What’s your MOS? How long’ve you been in?

This, of course, revealed to him (we all recognize the signs and subtle signals) that I’d spent time in the military, as well—and in fact we had Army service in common (like I said: We all recognize the telltale signs of a brother-in-arms).

He then surprised me by extending his hand and saying: “Thanks for your service.”

This simple gesture has become common in recent years—and I kinda like it. However, no one had ever said it to me before; frankly, it caught me a little off-guard. Yes, I’d served. My military career was, however, decidedly unremarkable. No hero. Just did my job—like most of us. To be honest, I felt a tinge of humility hearing a “Thank-you” from someone so recently returned from the jaws of Hell.

Almost sheepishly, I grasped the proffered hand and shook it firmly. “No,” I said. “Thank-you. My time was long ago and a helluva lot easier.”

And then he said it.

“You served,” he said evenly, still gripping my hand. “That’s all that matters.”

And the steady, certain look in his eyes confirmed that he’d meant what he’d said.

He was right.

 It doesn’t matter whether we were cooks, grunts, supply clerks, swabbies, wrench-turners, jarheads, or cannon-cockers.

 We served—and that is all that matters. Many…most…didn’t. We did.

 I’m reminded of a Marine Corps recruiting billboard from a few years ago showing a split-view of a young man’s face. One-half was the boyish look he’d borne before he enlisted; the other half was the steel-jawed look that Uncle Sam put on him. The caption was simple: “The change is forever.”

 And it is. It changed us. All of us. And we’ll always be different for it. Regardless of which branch each of us served in or what we did.

 How many times have you sat around swapping lies with other vets when you suddenly became aware of the rapt attention being paid by one of them, those who never took our oath?

 We share a common bond—one that will never be broken. It’s a special fraternity. It’s something that they will never have, nor even completely understand.

 I pity them.

They’ll never know what it feels like.

They don’t know our friendships spawned amid shared adversity, our camaraderie forged by experiences they can’t even imagine. They’ll never know those memories that we won’t—or can’t—speak of except amongst ourselves, our brothers. They don’t understand the particular annoyance we feel when the entertainment superstar of the moment butchers the national anthem at a football game, or why we feel compelled to throttle those in the stands who fail to remove their hats or place their hands over their hearts or at least shut the hell up while it’s being played. They puzzle over why we rail against a giveaway to someone who’s earned nothing, but we’ll give anything—anything—to one of our brothers in need. They’ll never know that bittersweet tug on our heart-strings whenever we hear the mournful strains of Taps being played.

They can’t imagine a wintertime patrol of the DMZ in Korea when you’ve given-up on the idea of ever actually being warm again, settling instead for merely being able to once again feel your toes. They can’t picture an exhausted airman trying desperately to avoid dripping sweat on sensitive avionics components while struggling in desert heat to repair an aircraft for a ground-support mission. They’ll never know the lonely vigil of a sailor standing watch at night, peering into the inky blackness of the North Atlantic. They can’t begin to know fear so deep that you’re no longer certain of having control of your breathing or your bladder as you suddenly realize that there are a lot of people trying to kill you. They can’t imagine your feverish attempts to apply a field dressing, or holding a wounded buddy as his life slips away. They’ll never be able to laugh, years later, as friends reminisce about an over-exuberant celebration in an exotic port after months at sea—that might’ve resulted in a night or two spent in the local jail. They don’t grasp the significance to us of George Orwell’s familiar observation about people being able to sleep soundly in their beds at night because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf—nor do they have any idea that we now and then silently remind ourselves with pride: I was one of those rough men.

Whether you did a two-year stint courtesy of your draft board…or had nothing better to do for a few years after surviving high school…or felt a call to duty…or made a twenty- or thirty-year career out of it…

You served. We served. And whether we like it or not, we retain feelings that get stirred-up from time to time.

We know what it feels like, and sometimes have to choke down some pretty strong emotions. They haven’t a clue as to what that’s all about.

Some might recall that I’ve been waging a years-long battle to try to get people—them—to grasp the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day. It sends me into a slow boil every Memorial Day when I see television and newspaper ads proclaiming: “Thanks to all our veterans!”

I appreciate the sentiment, but…that’s not our day; that day is set aside for those who didn’t return—and blurring the line between the two occasions cheapens their sacrifice.

I’ve probably aggravated a lot of people in attempting to correct that misconception.

This is our day. This is the one we earned when we raised our hands and swore our oaths—when we entered that special fraternity…when we underwent that change that we’ll all take to our graves…when we were bound to one another forever.

Thank-you all for your service. Enjoy your day; you earned it. Go grab the free chow at Applebee’s and Golden Corral and Chili’s, and be appreciative that some, at least, acknowledge your service and sacrifice. Muster-up a dash of humility if a kid comes up to you today and says “Thanks” because a parent or teacher instilled that sense of values. Choke back your tears when the bugler plays Taps during the ceremony at The Tomb (or let them flow; you earned that right, too). Call an old Army buddy (or Navy; you get the idea). Shake hands with fellow vets you know; they’re your brothers-in-arms—and it’s their day, too.

Having now gotten all maudlin, I’ll leave you with one final thought expressed by Rudyard Kipling:

I’ve eaten your bread and salt,
I’ve drunk your water and wine.
The deaths ye died I watched beside,
and the lives ye led were mine.

  

  

 

Jim 

“A veteran is someone who, at one point in his or her life, wrote a blank check made payable to ‘The United States of America’ for an amount of ‘up to and including my life.'”author unknown 

Note: This is a re-posting of an entry from a year ago. I first posted it in my old blog; however, when I transferred everything to this site, some of the formatting was corrupted. In addition, I received several requests from friends asking that it be re-posted for Veterans Day this year. So, I spruced it up again and made a few changes. I hope you all liked it. —Jim 

__________

 

Posted in national defense, national security, patriotism, veteran, veterans day, war | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

Who Would REALLY Benefit from Voter “Amnesia”?

Posted by The Curmudgeon on November 1, 2010

There’s much that Obama would have us forget, too.

Hip-deep in his perpetual campaigning, Barack Obama derisively pointed out to voters last week that Republicans were pinning their hopes on the electorate’s suddenly developing “amnesia”—then reiterated once again his oft-repeated claim that responsibility for everything currently going awry anywhere in the known universe should be laid at the GOP’s feet.

As usual, there was a modicum of validity to the manchild-in-chief’s assertion; after all, has there ever been a political candidate who didn’t wish the voters would forget about something?

Obama should keep in mind, however, that there’s also much that he would like to erase from the voters’ collective memory. Though not actually running for re-election himself, the imminent midterm election is very much a referendum on his record—and the outcome is crucial to his future plans. To a candidate who won the preceding election owing largely to voter vacuity, the continued cluelessness of the electorate is of inestimable value.

Our manchild-in-chief would much prefer, for example, that we not remember the intense pressure brought to bear by his regime to ram through his unpopular ObamaCare travesty far enough in advance of this election that we wouldn’t remember the promised transparency that turned to occlusion. We’re likewise expected to forget the behind-the-scenes deal-brokering and outright bribery that made his showcase legislation possible, notably the “Cornhusker Kickback” and the “Louisiana Purchase.” It’s supposed to fade from memory that the prohibition on using federal funds for abortions was inexplicably left out of the grand health care reform legislation, a claimed oversight that Obama promised to correct via executive order (the order was in fact issued—but it now seems to have less in the way of teeth than was claimed at the time signed it).

Though Obama has stubbornly clung to his habitual hammering of his predecessor for the nation’s economic woes and rising employment, the simple fact is that his own profligate spending (you remember: the spending that he insisted was necessary to hold unemployment under eight percent) has buried us under a mountain of debt from which we may never recover—and unemployment has now crept perilously close to ten percent.

He would dearly love for us to forget all about the problem of illegal immigration and his own scandalous refusal to secure the nation’s borders. (How very curious…we haven’t heard a word about “comprehensive immigration reform” for a few weeks—have we?) He’d like us all to forget that his response to the chaotic border situation was to sic his Justice Department on the state of Arizona for daring to do what he refused to do. He wants us to forget all about the efforts to secure amnesty for some twelve million future Democrats illegal immigrants.

It’s supposed to slip our minds that our first “post-racial” chief executive has in fact fanned the flames of racism. We’re supposed to no longer recall the specter of New Black Panther Party goons convicted of intimidating voters in Philadelphia—only to be sent on their merry way by Obama’s Justice Departmant, which inexcusably declined to pursue the case. We’re supposed to conveniently forget Obama’s own rash (and obviously incorrect) berating of the Cambridge Police Department and Sgt. James Crowley—who, as it turns out, hadn’t acted so “stupidly” as Obama had claimed. We’re supposed to not notice when he manages to find that “Negro dialect” that Harry Reid said he lacked—when he’s busy whipping-up support among a black crowd by creating an “us-versus-them” atmosphere.

We’re supposed to forget about the steady procession of tax cheats, avowed communists and socialists, and far left-wing whack-jobs he’s welcomed to his regime. We’re supposed to forget the blatant power grabs and attempts to exert direct government control over banking, manufacturing, communications, and the media (it’s telling when Helen Thomas — hardly a conservative icon — criticizes the administration for doing so).

He would like for many of us to forget how badly he needs to emerge from the midterm election with Democrats controlling Congress — though he’s quick to remind those who voted for him in 2008 that it’s essential for them to keep the faith, as he needs that power base “to continue with my agenda”…whatever his agenda may comprise. (His obsession with secrecy and hidden deals leaves us constantly guessing.)

We’re expected to forget all about the vacations, travel, and high living that his regime is enjoying at taxpayer expense while much of the nation struggles just to make ends meet. We’re not supposed to remember the unprecedented arrogance shown by himself and his henchmen. We’re expected to forget the tax that isn’t a tax, then is, then isn’t—depending, it seems, entirely on what our narcissistic dear leader is trying to pull at any given time. He wants us to forget the political thuggery that Democrats have freely exercised from the moment they grasped the reins of government.

Let’s hope enough of us have better memories than he gives us credit for.

__________

Posted in ballot, border security, budget, corruption, debt, deficit, economy, election, federal bail-out, health care reform, illegal aliens, immigration, immigration reform, manchild, media corruption, national security, obama, ObamaCare, politics, Reid, stimulus, tax, unemployment, vote, waste | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

A Little Knowledge

Posted by The Curmudgeon on August 28, 2010

It’s still dangerous—as is ignorance of history

Two of the most familiar and oft-quoted observations respectively hold that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing and that failure to learn from history dooms us to repeat it.

With that, I present Chris Cuomo of ABC News.

This past week, Cuomo (seeming to echo the growing crescendo of ill-informed mainstream media figures) transmitted the following via his Twitter account: “To all my christian brothers and sisters, especially catholics – before u condemn muslims for violence, remember the crusades….study them”

Interesting.

Some of Cuomo’s Twitter “followers” then engaged him in a bit of back-and-forth, correctly pointing out that the Crusades were in fact preceded by an extended period of Muslim encroachment (indeed, Charles Martel and the Franks halted the Muslim invasion of Europe at the Battle of Tours in 732 AD—long before the First Crusade of 1095-1099 AD).

Not to excuse Cuomo’s ignorance, but his misperception is a common one: that Muslims have been running around in the pissed-off-and-locked position since the Crusades, having never forgiven Christendom for such effrontery—and itching for centuries to get even.

“Get even,” hell; they started this crap.

Or as Princeton University Professor Emeritus Bernard Lewis put it: “The Crusades could more accurately be described as a limited, belated and, in the last analysis, ineffectual response to the jihad – a failed attempt to recover by a Christian holy war what had been lost to a Muslim holy war.”

However, let’s set aside that issue for just a moment to allow me to digress (it is my blog, after all).

Many years ago, there was a war fought in a place known (then) as South Vietnam. Some of you may recall it. Some of you were too young (or still a gleam in your daddy’s eye) at the time. For those who recall that period, there are also distant memories of widespread unrest, anti-war demonstrations, riots, draft resisters, and so forth. It was a long and costly war, and it resulted in deep divisions among the citizenry.

Being in high school at the height of the war (and rapidly approaching draft-able age), I had more than a passing interest in the matter. Personally, I had mixed feelings about this nation’s involvement in Southeast Asia; however, my ambivalence was spawned by my own research.

The same could not necessarily be said of the majority of my peers.

Oh, they could regurgitate the rhetoric on cue. They had all the chants down pat.

But did they really understand what was going on?

I clearly recall a class discussion during that time. I pretty much hung back and listened for a time, noting the by-then familiar rhetoric being offered. Then, I posed a few questions to some of the more vocal critics of the war.

“You say the war is ‘illegal.’ Based on what?”

I was immediately bombarded with cries that the war was an undeclared one, and that Congress hadn’t approved our involvement there. In reply, I reminded them of the “power of the purse” that Congress wields, and noted that Congress itself had appropriated the funds necessary to conduct the war.

No answers to that one.

I then asked them whether they were familiar with the USS Maddox or the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. The “domino theory,” perhaps?

Again, no answers.

Now, I relate this vignette not in an effort to revive the decades-old debate over U.S. involvement in the war, but to illustrate my point that many during that era formed their opinions based not on what they’d discovered through examination of facts but on whatever input (we frequently call them “talking points,” these days) they’d heard from others. It was often a lemming-like acceptance of whatever they’d been fed by commentators via evening news broadcasts—sources known even then for their biased interpretation of events (and reporting thereof).

Which brings us back to the present day, where we are currently assailed by recitals of the current rhetoric. For example, how many times have we heard various sources use the precise phrase “comprehensive immigration reform” in recent months? (This, by the way, is the Democrats’ and illegal aliens’ euphemism for “amnesty and pathway to citizenship to which they have no valid claim since they’re in the country illegally to begin with.”) The phrase’s use seemed to spread overnight, as if by a hidden network (and with the “outing” of the JournoList cabal, the scenario seems quite plausible). Political organizers plant the current phraseology among their minions to go and spread the word far and wide.

Cries of “racism” are also a staple—particularly for anyone with the audacity to criticize anything that Barack Obama says or does.

And then there are the “phobes.” After years of being attacked for being “homophobes,” for example, some are finally (and correctly) pointing out that a phobia is by definition “an irrational fear”—and resistance to the concerted presentation of the homosexual agenda has nothing to do with fear, at all.

Now we’re suddenly dismissed as “Islamophobic” for daring to object to the construction of a mosque where many believe it doesn’t belong, expressing dismay at what seems an insidious transformation of our legal system to a Shariah-compliant state, or pointing out the obvious lie that mass-murder committed by a Muslim officer in the U.S. Army who considers himself a “soldier of Allah” is anything but an act of terrorism. We wonder how there can be a Ramadan observance at the White House while prominent symbols of Christianity are under attack. We question why Uncle Sam foots the bill for repairs to mosques in foreign countries while court challenges halt the restoration of a mission (listed as a national historic landmark) in California based on assertions that the use of taxpayer funds implies endorsement of a religion. We’re aghast that the Obama regime would send an imam (at taxpayers’ expense) through the Muslim world as a sort of emissary and troubleshooter—then have it revealed that this same imam basically said that we brought on the 9/11 attacks ourselves. We’re alarmed and outraged that this imam insists on erecting a mosque at Ground Zero with funds of murky origin, and puzzled that others fail to see the symbolic significance of such a structure to a movement with a history of building mosques to commemorate victories.

Oh, and Cuomo’s response to a Twitter “follower” who challenged his claim? He tweeted: “not sure how pointing out muslim wrongs erases christian wrongs…more defense by attack? proof of bias?”

As Nathan Burchfiel of Newsbusters summed up Cuomo’s response: “So pointing out Muslim wrongs doesn’t erase Christian wrongs — but pointing out Christian wrongs justifies Muslim wrongs?”

Swell. Cuomo’s little bit of knowledge brings us full circle, repeating history once again. The blind leading the blind who refuse to think for themselves, whipped-up by scores of Cuomo’s ilk who have little understanding of history (my wife cites a Biblical reference calling this “zeal without knowledge”) but are intent on shaping the public debate to their liking.

As alleged “Islamophobes,” we’re assailed for having “an irrational fear” about a purported religion of peace that in fact has a long history of extreme violence and repression…a religion that often appears less a religion and more a politically-driven cult with a sinister agenda.

Well, the pundits got the “fear” part right; 9/11 frightened the bejesus out of us. There’s nothing irrational about it, though.

And the current “Islamophobia” label has no validity. What we’re feeling now has little to do with fear.

But we are mad as hell.

________

.

Posted in 9/11, corruption, crusade, ground zero, hate crimes, hate speech, health care reform, illegal aliens, immigration, immigration reform, islam, islamofascist, islamophobia, JournoList, media corruption, media establishment, mosque, national security, obama, political correctness, politics, terrorism | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

A Tough Week for Logic

Posted by The Curmudgeon on July 13, 2010

Conventional wisdom and common sense take it on the chin

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) chief John Morton revealed last week that his agency had resources only to remove four hundred thousand illegal immigrants per year. That’s about 4% of the estimated eleven million believed to be here—with more arriving every day. This announcement comes on the heels of Arizona’s passage of tough new legislation for dealing with illegal immigrants, which (logically) federal officials might be expected to welcome as needed bolstering of their efforts.

And the Obama regime’s response to Arizona’s initiative?

It filed suit against the state for what it characterized as an attempt to preempt federal authority (you know: the job that the Feds haven’t been doing).

Sure. That makes a lot of sense. (Cue the old cartoon of the dopey dog intoning: “Du-uuh…dat sounds log-i-cul.”)

It was a busy week for the Department of Justice. Far from Arizona (Philadelphia, to be precise), another high-profile case reclaimed the public’s attention.

Remember the 2008 election? Now, remember the ugly specter of the New Black Panther Party goons clad in black paramilitary garb and berets, wielding clubs outside a polling place? Well, that’s called “voter intimidation”—and it’s a federal crime. The sort of red meat upon which Justice Department attorneys feed. Justice has an entire unit devoted to this kind of stuff—and one might imagine they were all chortling with glee over the ease with which they’d be able to make this case. In fact, the goons made it even easier by not bothering to show up for the trial. Guilty, guilty, guilty. Summary judgment. An easy, slam-dunk conviction. All that remained was sentencing.

…until Obama’s Justice Department arbitrarily dropped the case without official comment. (Cue the dopey mutt, again.)

Justice officials also announced, however, that they’d be investigating the case of Johannes Mehserle (a transit cop—and white), convicted of manslaughter in the shooting death of Oscar Grant (who was being arrested at the time for his involvement in a public melee—and black). Meanwhile, comments and testimony furnished by former Justice Department attorney J. Christian Adams — assigned to the Voting Rights Section until his recent resignation — suggest a culture within Justice that vigorously prosecutes cases involving minority plaintiffs and white defendants, but seems to have no interest when the roles are reversed.

And then there’s NASA administrator Charles Bolden’s revelation that he was charged by Obama with the mission “…perhaps foremost, (to) find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science…and math and engineering.” (Sorry; even the dopey mutt’s scratching his head over this one.)

Of course, it could be argued that all this is, in fact, perfectly logical—but it makes no sense to us because we’re not viewing it all in the proper context.

For example, Senator John Kyl (R-AZ) recently revealed that during a private meeting with Obama, he’d reiterated his stance that the Mexican border must be secured before any comprehensive immigration reform measure could be considered. According to Kyl, Obama replied that “The problem is…if we secure the border, then you all (congressional Republicans) won’t have any reason to support comprehensive immigration reform.” Kyl added that “In other words, they’re holding it (border security) hostage. They don’t want to secure the border unless and until it is combined with comprehensive immigration reform.” This, despite Kyl’s reminding Obama that both the President and Congress have a duty and a responsibility to secure the border—immigration “reform” notwithstanding. It follows, then, that anything that serves to enhance border security or otherwise combat illegal immigration runs counter to Obama’s agenda—so, he sics the Justice Department on Arizona.

In other words: in Obamaworld, the megalomaniac-in-chief’s political aims trump his Constitutional duties, federal law, the will of the people, and pretty much everything else.

Make sense, now?

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Posted in ballot, border security, corruption, election, hate crimes, illegal aliens, immigration, immigration reform, muslim, national security, obama, politics, terrorism | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Crushed by a Rolling Stone?

Posted by The Curmudgeon on June 29, 2010

Was McChrystal thrown under the bus—or did he leap in front of it?

By now, the initial waves have settled in the departure of General Stanley McChrystal. He’s out, General David Petraeus is a virtual lock to be confirmed as his successor, and life goes on. Some are still sorting-out the particulars surrounding the affair and the events leading up to it, but it’s largely moot.

But, I’m gonna throw-in a few extra cents, anyway.

First of all, there’s still no clear picture of exactly what happened. Were McChrystal and his minions blind-sided by a far-left zealot of a reporter who duplicitously included details understood to be “off the record” — or did they believe their comments would be deemed acceptable? Rolling Stone has released the “factcheck” sheet supposedly approved by McChrystal’s people prior to publication of Michael Hastings’ piece (variously described as an “interview” and a “profile, with details provided over a period of weeks). On its surface, it appears pretty much in order with the lone apparent exception being the inclusion of McChrystal’s voting record. Beyond that, McChrystal (or one of his subordinates) seems to have been in agreement with Hastings’ account.

Now, I’d like to digress just a little and pose one question: What idiot would give any reporter (and especially one from such a liberal publication) unfettered access to follow him around recording and taking notes on everything that was heard and observed? Speaking from experience, soldiers with information worth imparting quickly identify whether a journalist is friend or foe—and know enough to keep their mouths shut when faced with the prospect of being second-guessed later. If it’s a “feel good” story, they’ll play along and wave and say “Hi” to Aunt Edna and Mom and Uncle Dewey and smile and reassure everyone they’re all just fine; otherwise, they clam-up and hold the interloper at arm’s length. (Wisely so.)

One would think that a four-star general and his staff would be at least that discreet.

Here’s another news flash: Soldiers gripe. They piss and moan. They complain. They bitch. And they cuss. And they say very unsavory things about senior leaders and politicians. This holds true from the lowliest buck private to the guys with stars; the difference is that the further one progresses up the chain of command, the more discreet one becomes. (Again, wisely so.)

Another news flash: The Army knows they’re all out there bitching and pissing and moaning and complaining. The Army tolerates this. Wanna know why? The answer is in some sage advice I was offered as a junior enlisted man: “A complaining soldier is a happy soldier. Soldiers believe they have a God-given right to bitch—as long as they’re also getting the job done. A soldier’s not happy unless he does have something to gripe about. Don’t worry about the complaints. You only worry if they stop; that would indicate that they’ve given up and no longer care—and then you have a real problem.”

Now, back to our recalcitrant general.

When this “profile” (or whatever it was) was published, many immediately jumped to the conclusion that Hastings had deliberately set out to write a “hit piece”…a hatchet job; truth be told, I wondered, myself. Then I read it.

I hate to disappoint my right-leaning friends, but…unless there were inclusions that had been expressly marked for omission, or comments taken out of context, Hastings doesn’t appear to have done anything wrong. There don’t appear to be any outright fabrications, and no one seems to be disputing that what was written accurately records what was said and done.

Again, we have to wonder: what the hell was McChrystal thinking? Did he approve this journalistic effort? Was he pressured to allow it? And why was Hastings allowed such broad access? It’s unthinkable that such a group of experienced, carefully selected senior military officials would be so loose-lipped in the presence of an outsider representing a faction generally seen as less than friendly—if not downright hostile.

I’ve not seen the question posed elsewhere, but…I gotta wonder: Did McChrystal deliberately provoke this confrontation with his boss? If so—to what end?

Let’s go back to McChrystal’s White House meeting with Barrack Hussein Obama. While many mainstream pundits lauded Obama’s decisiveness and criticized McChrystal for having left him (in their view) no viable alternative, they seemed to overlook the obvious: Every news report I saw stated clearly that McChrystal immediately tendered his resignation upon arrival for the meeting—and Obama accepted.

That’s not quite like being fired.

Now, consider that only two days ago Obama seemed to be distancing himself from his own pre-set withdrawal scheme for bringing troops home from Afghanistan, citing “a lot of obsession” about holding him to his announced withdrawal date and emphasizing that his focus is on making sure the mission there is successful. “I think that right now the debate surrounding Afghanistan is presented as either we get up and leave immediately because there’s no chance at a positive outcome, or we stay basically indefinitely and do quote unquote whatever it takes for as long as it takes.” He added that the planned July 2011 date to begin withdrawing troops does not mean the U.S. will “suddenly turn off the lights and let the door close behind us,” and posited that U.S. assistance to Afghanistan would continue “for a long time to come.” (Remember also that before the planned withdrawal begins, U.S. troop strength will first increase to 98,000.)

Interesting.

Recall that Obama hand-picked McChrystal for the job, and specifically asked him what he needed to take care of business. McChrystal gave his response—and Obama “dithered” (remember that term?) for an inordinately long time before issuing his reply. Ultimately, he agreed to give McChrystal about 75% of the requested troop strength.

Now, suppose you’re McChrystal, sitting in Afghanistan with only 75% of the force strength you’ve calculated necessary to get the job done—and a planned withdrawal date looming. Next, ask yourself: What’s my next assignment going to be? One of the realities of having those stars on your shoulders is that as time passes, there are fewer places to put you; there are strict limits placed on the number of slots available—fewer than there are personnel in which to put them. As each assignment draws to a close, then, somebody moves up—or is forced out. Given your length of service and past assignments, there would seem pretty slim pickings awaiting you at the end of the current tunnel. Moreover, you’re prosecuting a war under the still-controversial doctrine of counterinsurgency (COIN), and your own experience shows you that your commander-in-chief seems somewhat “disengaged” (according to the Hastings profile). Are the prospects for success good?

Okay…now revisit the damning comments appearing in the Hastings piece. Were they really so terrible? Unacceptable, to be sure—but not likely to taint someone for life. There’d be a few handsome scars. Nothing more.

Now speculate just a little on what McChrystal’s likely to do next. He’s already indicated to the Army that he’ll retire in the near future—a matter of a few months. Most likely, he’ll be a hot property on the lecture circuit for a time—and there’ll be no Army constraints placed on his comments, then. Further into the future, it’s conceivable that he might find himself sitting on a board of directors or two, probably a book deal, and the usual trappings that come to those of his background.

…all of which becomes less of a certainty if you botched your last assignment prior to retiring. On the other hand, if you bowed-out gracefully after chafing against restrictive policies, your reputation and integrity remain relatively intact—perhaps even enhanced.

Just food for thought.

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Posted in Afghanistan, McChrystal, Michael Hastings, national defense, national security, Petraeus, Rolling Stone, Senate confirmation, surge, terrorism | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The U.S. is NOT Mexico Norte

Posted by The Curmudgeon on May 26, 2010

What Obama, Congress, and Calderón don’t grasp—or simply choose to ignore

One scarcely knows where to begin in trying to keep abreast of events unfolding in the ongoing and escalating controversy over Arizona’s recently-enacted immigration law. What began as a desperation-driven attempt by the state of Arizona to plug the gaps created by federal negligence spawned a groundswell of public outcry and political posturing on both sides of the Mexican border.

…and—as predicted—Barack Hussein Obama and his henchmen responded with alacrity to the opportunity for extracting political gain from the situation (that “never let a good crisis go to waste” philosophy); indeed, one might wish that they’d shown as much enthusiasm in warding-off the current state of affairs.

To briefly recap:

The Arizona legislature finally got fed-up with waiting for the Feds to do their job and took matters into their own hands. Obama immediately condemned the action, in concert with Attorney General Eric “Holding Pattern” Holder and Department of Homeland Security head (and former Arizona governor) Janet Napolitano—though both Cabinet members were subsequently forced to admit that neither had actually read the legislation they’d so quickly attacked. (We can only wonder whether Obama’s read it; nobody asked him. Any bets?)

Obama, of course, immediately attempted to turn the debate away from his own failures (and, to be sure, his predecessors’), blaming Republicans in Congress for not joining with him in embracing the Democrats’ standard call for “comprehensive immigration reform” (read: “amnesty and pathway to citizenship”). Correctly citing the frustration felt by the good citizens of Arizona over Federal inaction, he incorrectly attributed this frustration to a universal desire for said “reform”—and lamented that he’s been stymied in his attempts to “fix” things by the loss of the Democrats’ sixty-vote supermajority in the Senate, imploring Republicans to “help” him. Designated legislative meddler Charles Schumer (D-NY) wrote a letter to current Arizona governor Jan Brewer, calling on her to likewise fall in love with his yet-to-be-finalized “reform” legislation. (There is no substantiation that the Democrats’ new official euphemism for illegal aliens really is “undocumented Democrats”—yet.)

Demonstrations and boycotts ensued, with the state of Arizona (and the 84% of its voters who favor the state’s initiative) being pressured to abandon the effort.

The Arizona folks (here’s the part I like, by the way) responded to the mayor of Los Angeles’ boycott threats with a simple message: “Go ahead; make my day. Boycott us—and we’ll turn off your damn’ lights.” (Okay; so, I paraphrased. A little.)

The guy who heads ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), John Morton, announced that his agency might not bother to “process” illegal aliens apprehended by Arizona police authorities; apparently, this suggests that not only will ICE not go out and apprehend the illegal aliens—a big part of its mission—it won’t even finish the job when others take up the slack and apprehend the illegal aliens for them. (Why does this clown still have a job?)

And, of course, Mexican President Felipe Calderón appeared before a joint session of Congress to denounce the Arizona law, lecture us in the niceties of border protocol, and tell us that we need to ban assault weapons—for which congressional Democrats awarded him a standing ovation.

The reader will at this point kindly choke-down the bile that may be felt rising within.

Obama and his ilk are nothing if not consistent; they continue to press their radical agenda—including amnesty and citizenship for those who have, in many cases, openly flouted the law. The people of this nation are angry not only at the government’s failure to meet its obligations, but also for its (that would be Obama’s) bullheadedness in pursuing a course the people emphatically reject. No, the people aren’t frustrated with Congress’s failure to implement comprehensive immigration reform; they’re mad as hell that the government (a) isn’t doing its job, and (b) isn’t listening to them—opting, instead, to ram an unacceptable policy down the nation’s collective throats. Indeed, reports surfacing from Republican lawmakers indicate that just yesterday they informed Obama that any “reform” effort must first address the issue of border security—and in the latest demonstration of his version of bipartisanship, Obama stubbornly rejected the notion. (The Anointed One did, however, reveal that he plans to send some 1200 National Guard troops to the border region—though not in an enforcement role. The general feeling is that his intent in doing so was to forestall stronger congressional action.)

Probably the most galling development, though, was the Democrats’ inviting Calderón to appear before Congress and lecture them (and, therefore, us) in the first place. No, wait; even more galling was the specter of Democrats actually giving this pompous ass a standing ovation. (Some may have considered it fitting that Democrats—who embrace an ass as their party symbol—were so quick to embrace a fellow ass.)

Who the hell does Calderón think he is? The guy’s nothing but a tinhorn who ascended to office amid allegations of election improprieties in a country notorious for corruption. He wants open borders—but only for northbound traffic. His own nation’s human rights record has been widely assailed. He called for an assault weapons ban in the United States, citing figures that are highly suspect (and not for the first time) to support his claim of arms being shipped south to Mexico—ignoring the simple fact that the weapon of choice for Mexican thugs (the ubiquitous AK-47) isn’t even manufactured here; it is, however, readily available throughout the world. (One wonders whether Obama—known to favor such a ban—might’ve planted that idea.) Calderón conveniently overlooks the graft that is a way of life in his country—and it’s unlikely that the drug cartels could flourish without some assistance from among his own law enforcement officials. The final irony? His own government’s lax enforcement along the border—indeed, it has long fostered illegal immigration into the U.S.—has also contributed to the alleged flow of weapons and drug money smuggled into Mexico from the north. Moreover, someone needs to remind this little man that his meager authority ends at the Rio Grande—and that meddling in the internal affairs of a sovereign nation just might result in him getting his ass kicked. (One might suspect that there is an ample supply of volunteers eager to shoulder that burden.)

Enough, already. This is not rocket science. It isn’t brain surgery. While purported to be a complex problem, the matter of illegal aliens is in fact a very simple one—and it has relatively simple solutions. This has gone on far too long. The Federal government—from the White House to Congress to the responsible agencies involved—all of them need to get off their dead butts and simply do their job.

Quit playing politics and pandering for votes; secure the border—as required by the Constitution.

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Posted in Arizona, border security, corruption, election, illegal aliens, immigration, immigration reform, national security, obama, political correctness, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Of Pots, Kettles, Nazis, Racists, and Aliens

Posted by The Curmudgeon on May 10, 2010

…and just how “open” are all those other borders, anyway?

Interspersed within the inevitable fallout from Arizona’s new “Nazi-like” (according to some) immigration law came the equally inevitable hyperbole condemning the racist actions of those neo-Nazi bigots in the state legislature bent on arbitrarily crushing the civil rights of every person in the state who doesn’t appear to be of (presumably) Aryan descent—and particularly those of Mexican extraction. Predictably, droves of protesters (many — if not most — aliens residing in the U.S. illegally) turned out for marches and rallies demanding “rights” for illegal immigrants. (Note to the protesters: Waving Mexican flags and chanting in Spanish won’t attract support—particularly with a tumultuous election season nigh, and politicians in no mood to face voters in no mood for demands of amnesty and citizenship from people who aren’t supposed to be here in the first place.)

Not surprisingly, the shrill shrieks of the left reached a deafening crescendo—and the left-leaning media were only too happy to chime in. And Democrats continually chumming for the Hispanic vote, of course, weren’t about to miss out on the opportunity to do some timely pandering—with the added bonus of bashing a Republican-dominated legislature and  a Republican governor.

Worthy of note, however, was the response south of the border.

In an ironic role-reversal, the Mexican government issued an advisory discouraging its citizens — including those with the intent of crossing the border illegally — from traveling to Arizona. (Kindly refrain from observing that it did so several decades late and for the wrong reasons.) More significantly, President Felipe Calderón — a noted open border-kinda guy — vowed to protect Mexicans wherever they may be and cited the usual human rights issues, condemning the Arizona law for its potential to foster “intolerance, hate, discrimination, and abuse in law enforcement.” He added that “My government cannot and will not remain indifferent when these kinds of policies go against human rights.” Apparently, our neighbors to the south consider events to their north to be unfairly targeting their citizens—and they seem to think the U.S. should be more like Mexico in addressing such matters.

Well. This clearly calls for a closer examination of conditions within Calderón’s bastion of human rights.

First of all, we find that entering Mexico illegally carries a penalty of two years in prison and a fine. Evading deportation is a felony. Returning to Mexico a second time after having been deported nets a ten-year prison sentence (apparently, that “open border” argument is a one-way street—and one might be tempted to surmise that a term in a Mexican prison wouldn’t be much of a picnic). Mexico itself does some pretty extensive deporting, currently ejecting some 130,000 illegal immigrants from Mexico every year. Legal entry is tightly controlled, and non-citizen residents do not share equal footing in such areas as land ownership and employment. And while Mexico sees fit to criticize Arizona’s law (which actually does nothing but direct that local authorities enforce existing federal law—which the federal government has consistently failed to do), Mexican law requires all police officers to check for immigration status—and failing to have in one’s possession proof of that status results in being hauled-off to jail. (Note that while this practice is accepted in Mexico, it elicits a loud outcry when applied in Arizona; older readers may be reminded of the venerated maxim about pots noting that kettles are black.)

Meanwhile, Amnesty International has compiled some very damning human-rights statistics regarding Mexico. During one recent six-month period, their records show that nearly 10,000 immigrants were kidnapped, and almost half the victims interviewed implicated Mexican authorities. According to one spokesperson, “Public officials turn a blind eye, or even play an active part in kidnappings, rapes and murders.” It’s estimated that 60% of migrant women fall victim to sexual violence while in Mexico.

Ignoring his own country’s chronic widespread corruption and drug-related violence, Calderón seems to like the idea of having Mexican standards exported elsewhere, proclaiming “I have said that Mexico does not stop at its border, that wherever there is a Mexican, there is Mexico.”

Let’s hope not; the Mexico that actually lies within Mexican borders is quite hellish enough. Moreover, Calderón appears to be asserting a degree of extraterritoriality that claims exemption of Mexican nationals from the laws of sovereign nations in which they reside—legally or otherwise; conversely, non-citizens in Mexico have no rights under Mexican law.

In the broader scheme of things, one might consider similar border situations across the globe. Is this “open borders” demand common elsewhere? Are we xenophobic, right-wing, racist Yankees out-of-step with the rest of the world?

Hardly. Notwithstanding the clamor of activists and news-media distortions, even the most superficial of investigations reveal broad employment of restrictive immigration law, the erection of physical barriers, and mass deportations throughout the world. In many countries, illegal entry is a crime dealt with swiftly and severely. Few nations seem to be encouraging immigration—and most resist it. (Argentina does encourage legal immigration from European nations.) Brazil last year enacted an amnesty measure—but largely because its immigration system was completely overwhelmed; it was to no small degree a capitulation on the government’s part and an implicit admission of failure. The European Union, on the other hand, recently implemented a tough, standardized system under which violators are detained for eighteen months—then deported.

Clearly, the histrionics of recent weeks do not accurately depict reality.

It cannot be overstated that one of the most crucial of the fundamental responsibilities of any sovereign nation is to provide for the security of its citizens—and meeting this responsibility begins with securing its own borders. The failure of the U.S. government to adequately attend this task is manifest. It must be remembered that the issue of aliens entering the country illegally is not strictly an economic issue; rather, it is first and foremost a legitimate national security concern.

At a time when many assert that “playing the race card” has been done to death, it was the first straw grasped by Arizona’s critics. Such vilification continued with comparisons to Nazis (always a crowd-pleaser among the socialist-leaning left) and utterly ludicrous charges of government-sanctioned separation of family members. Seemingly ignored (or simply brushed aside) by these same detractors is the clear support of the people — both within Arizona and nationwide — for tougher enforcement of immigration laws. Far from being the run amok-action portrayed by critics of a rogue state government running roughshod over civil rights, Arizona lawmakers correctly identified both the will of the people and the chronic failure of the federal government to discharge its duties, then acted very much in accordance with universal norms—though this would be difficult to discern from the media coverage that resulted.

But, then…it’s been wisely noted that one cannot believe everything that one reads in the newspaper—particularly in a media environment so institutionally predisposed to presenting its own “truth.”

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Posted in Arizona, border security, corruption, illegal aliens, immigration, immigration reform, national security, political correctness, terrorism | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Yearning for Simplicity

Posted by The Curmudgeon on April 27, 2010

…starting with income taxes and voter registration

For those of us who undergo that annual transmogrification from rational human beings to raging, babbling idiots when presented with a tax return to complete, it came as some ironic comfort to learn that even IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman doesn’t tread in the shadow of the tax code. “I find the tax code complex,” said Shulman, “so I use a (tax return) preparer.”

It was, at least, a bit more entertaining than the revelation that (then) Treasury Secretary-designate Timothy Geithner had “carelessly” failed to pay some $34,000 in income taxes. (I’ll set aside for a separate rant the dubious logic of having an alleged tax cheat who’s that “careless” about both money and compliance with tax laws placed in charge of the U.S. Treasury.)

These are but two examples one could cite in calling for a “flat tax” to replace the monument to esoterica that is the United States Tax Code.

Actually offering-up such a suggestion, however, invites a familiar litany of responses including rolling of the eyes, exaggerated sighs, dismissive waves of the hand, and condescending insistences that “It won’t work” (with the addition of “you imbecile” unspoken—but generally understood).

What it doesn’t seem to ever evoke is an explanation. Though quick to dismiss the notion, none of these supposed experts ever gets around to telling us why it wouldn’t work—which leads many of us to suspect that it actually could.

There might have to be some adjustments, of course. Claims that such a tax scheme would unfairly burden the poor seem unfounded, but might warrant excluding income below a designated minimum threshold. And there may have to be some allowance for extraordinary circumstances — such as a catastrophic illness or devastating loss from natural disaster, for example — but, that’s it. Just have everyone pay the same percentage of their income and be done with it. (Opinions vary, but 15% seems to be the most commonly suggested—though some speculate as low as 8%. Whether to keep the personal exemption is another question, and there are those who also advocate allowing exemptions for dependents.)

Though there’s again no shortage of really smart people who claim that it wouldn’t work, there are also a lot of really smart people who insist that it would. Given how well the present system has worked out (hold your laughter, please), it might be time to consider it.

While we’re at it, let’s take a look at voter registration; in fact, it could be made to dovetail nicely with a tax code revision.

Consider the following:

First, require that a tax return be filed by everyone eighteen years of age or older (whether they had any income or not) and by everyone — regardless of age — who has income of any sort. If the new scheme is to continue allowing exemptions, then everyone would get to claim one exemption for themselves — just as under the current scheme — and one exemption may also be taken for each dependent child. Require also that both names and Social Security numbers for filers and dependents alike (yes; even infants) be affixed to each return. (Those under eighteen who are claimed as dependents would see their tax withholdings refunded. It’s only fair; many are high school kids with part-time jobs, anyway—and it’s simply wrong to demand taxes from those who are not yet old enough to vote.) There may also be room in this proposal for allowing the dependent exemption to continue until a later age (twenty-two, perhaps?) for full-time students. All other income withholding continues in its current format (e.g., Social Security, disability, etc), and tax is assessed only on net income.

Since Social Security numbers are required for tax returns, there’d be greater accountability both for tax revenue and to ensure that those who file returns are eligible for employment in the U.S—an added bonus that just might help curtail illegal immigration. Funds withheld and deposited to Social Security accounts that are not accounted for by corresponding tax returns would trigger an alert to IRS—and to ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement).

That’s it. No deductions. No exceptions.

Upon IRS receipt of the tax returns, filers who are also eligible to vote would automatically be registered to do so, and would be issued voter eligibility certificates that must be presented when voting. And since everyone would be required to file a tax return, other manners of voter registration — notorious for being rife with fraud — could be done away with altogether. Voter registration would expire after one year; it would then be automatically reinstated with the filing of the succeeding year’s tax return, and a new eligibility certificate issued—obviating the need to maintain voter rolls.

You pay taxes according to a code that doesn’t require a Rosetta Stone to decipher, you file a tax return, you vote; it’s just that simple. No more ACORN-like voter registration scandals, no more non-citizens voting, and those long-buried corpses that miraculously spring back to life every few years (just long enough to cast ballots) would finally be laid to rest—permanently.

Would all this work?

Only one way to find out for certain—but it’s unlikely to be any worse than the current system, in any event.

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Posted in ballot, border security, corruption, deficit, economy, flat tax, illegal aliens, immigration, income tax, national security, obama, opinion, politics, tax, vote | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

The Case for Government Sticking to the Job It’s Actually SUPPOSED to Do

Posted by The Curmudgeon on April 25, 2010

An object lesson in how not to provide for the common defense and secure the blessings of liberty.

At a time when the federal government seems obsessed with by turns either boldly thrusting or slyly insinuating itself into a seemingly endless array of initiatives in which it doesn’t belong, it might be nice to see our fearless leaders occupy themselves with addressing a few minor issues lying within the realm of authority that they actually have.

Securing the nation, for example, springs to mind.

Unburdened for the moment of the crushing pressure of dealing with such crucial matters as athletes using steroids, major league baseball going on strike, publicly spanking corporate executives, and removing salt from our hot dogs, Congress might now be disposed toward turning its attention to the nation’s southern border—preferably before that particular handbasket actually completes its long-unfolding journey to Hell.

With the memory of rancher Rob Krentz’s murder (allegedly at the hands of an illegal immigrant) still fresh, Arizona’s legislature finally decided that several decades of federal neglect was enough and took steps to crack down on illegal immigration—ordinarily (and by law, arguably) the exclusive domain of the federal government. Refusing to be dissuaded by criticism from immigrants’ rights activists, lawmakers overwhelmingly approved a measure granting police broader authority in identifying and apprehending illegal aliens. Though police are required by law to enforce this legislation in accordance with federal standards already in place, the great hue and cry over immigrants’ rights and hand-wringing over perceived threats to civil liberties commenced even before the measure was passed.

Making good on her stated intent to sign the legislation, Governor Jan Brewer remarked that “We in Arizona have been more than patient waiting for Washington to act. But decades of inaction and misguided policy have created a dangerous and unacceptable situation.”

Coincidentally, the White House also found use for the term “misguided” as Barack Obama condemned Arizona’s action.

He’s probably correct—to a degree.

Border security is rightly a federal matter. So is immigration. No argument, there.

The problem is that the federal government has been profoundly — some say willfully — neglectful of its duty to secure the border, and long ago lost any semblance of control over the flood of illegal immigrants, with an estimated twelve million illegal aliens now in the U.S. Obama acknowledged the federal government’s failings, as well, though in a back-handed manner—and with a different agenda altogether.

In keeping with his regime’s policy of never letting a good crisis go to waste, Obama seized the opportunity to blame Congress for not enacting comprehensive immigration reform — and of course urged lawmakers to do so forthwith — claiming that federal complacency has led others to act precipitously.

He’s partially correct—but demanding the wrong solution.

Arizonans didn’t act out of frustration over Congress’s inability to enact comprehensive immigration reform; they acted out of frustration over the federal government’s utter failure (or refusal) to enforce existing law.

We’ve heard for several years the mounting cries for comprehensive immigration reform, and those demands consistently include calls for amnesty or pathways to citizenship—measures overwhelmingly opposed by the populace. Indeed, there’s common belief that lax enforcement has been but one tool employed in applying pressure for passage of this so-called “reform,” allowing proponents to cite the resulting state of affairs to bolster charges that the immigration system is “broken”—which it isn’t.

Stripped to its essence, Obama’s renewed demand for “reform” is nothing more than political opportunism, attempting to capitalize on Arizona’s exasperation by reviving proposed legislation that’s currently stalled in congressional doldrums—legislation which includes an amnesty provision. Indeed, it could be argued that the Arizona legislature may have unwittingly supplied the Obama regime with the perfect vehicle for advancing his amnesty-and-citizenship scheme; on the other hand — possibly lacking adequate support in a Congress still reeling from the recent health care reform nightmare — Obama may now be forced to abandon his plan in order to soothe tensions in the region and focus on the remainder of his agenda.

Back when nationwide media attention was first drawn to the Minuteman Project’s efforts to monitor the border, numerous suggestions and requests went out for troops — whether Regular Army or National Guard — to be deployed to safeguard the border and establish a presence intended to keep a lid on things; each either fell on deaf ears or was greeted with a laundry list of reasons (including legal uncertainties) why this couldn’t be done. Mindful of a growing list of crimes committed by illegal aliens and mounting losses incurred by area residents, I speculated at the time that (a) as tensions rose, the likelihood increased that there’d be a general flare-up of violence in the region, and (b) that troops might eventually be dispatched to preserve order—but also that there was at least an even chance that they’d be tasked with ensuring the safety and well-being of illegal aliens rather than with safeguarding the lives and property of the citizens they’re intended to protect and serve.

Owing to Arizona’s actions, we may soon find out.

It’s said that Nature abhors a vacuum; it could be argued that government does, as well. Arizona lawmakers acted — for better or worse — simply because the federal government repeatedly failed to do so. By chronically ignoring one of its most fundamental responsibilities, the federal government created a perfect storm of unrest and danger.

Something for the nation’s political leaders to think about the next time they decide to address matters that lie beyond their rightful scope of authority—all the while neglecting their statutory duties.

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