Friday, August 30, 2013

Obama Is Another Politician Who Is "No Jack Kennedy"

In the 1988 vice presidential debates, Democratic nominee Lloyd Bentsen shoved a rhetorical shiv deep into George H. W. Bush's running mate Dan Quayle.  Quayle somehow compared himself to John F. Kennedy and Bentsen responded with one of the great defining "gotchas" in debate history.  "You, sir, are no Jack Kennedy."

Bentsen wanted to take a dig at Quayle, sure.  But his greater intent lay in showing that Dan Quayle was not a serious enough individual to be so close to presidential power.  Bentsen may have been right or wrong about that assumption, and curiously enough, he actually was not a friend of Kennedy's.  But he did speak to the hearts of many who do worry about the White House not being in serious hands.

A little over 50 years ago, Kennedy confronted Cuba and the Soviet Union over missiles placed there by the Communist nations.  Doing nothing meant accepting a mortal threat to the southeastern United States.  Too much response could lead to regional or even global war.  Kennedy knew about the missiles for some time before the public.  In October 1962, it became international news.  The president took 13 days to craft his response.

During the entire time, Kennedy met with a specially convened executive committee, nicknamed "ExCom."  This committee included representatives from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the National Security Committee, the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, and others.  Kennedy observed as they debated every possible option.  From watching these debates, Kennedy was able to intelligently rule out some options, such as air strikes and invasions, while putting together the best peaceable alternatives.  He preserved American integrity while achieving the national goal.  Whatever other faults he had, John F. Kennedy knew how to use and listen to advisers during a world crisis.

Yesterday, Obama's top team on Syria met with congressional representatives to discuss US options.  Meanwhile, Obama met with Magic Johnson.

That alone should be an impeachable offense.  This man does not take his job seriously. He has no sense of priorities.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Unleashing the Dogs of War . . . Or At Least A Limited Strike

The worst kept secret on the planet right now is that the United States, and perhaps other allies as well, will launch some sort of attack on Syria in the near future.

Last summer, Obama declared that one of his "red lines" was the use of weapons of mass destruction.  Last week, someone in the Assad "administration" apparently used them to kill, among others, many hundreds of civilians.

US intelligence sources cite a strange intercepted phone call within the Syrian government camp as proof.  A Syrian defense official demanded an explanation for why chemical weapons were launched.  If one was forthcoming, the rationale has not yet been released.

This raises questions about the Syrian government.  Was the attack the work of a rogue officer?  Was it a direct order from the highest levels of government?  Is the Syrian government even a cohesive unit anymore?
In any event, Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron seem to agree that a response must occur.

Cameron plans to consult with Parliament.  At this time, however, Obama seems to have no plans to request authorization from Congress.  Although some congressional Republicans have offered muted support, Senator Rand Paul (Ky.) claimed that Syrian events had "no clear national security connection" to the United States.  Paul did not rule out action, but asked that Obama consult with Congress meaningfully before acting.

In this case, rushing to action within a few days does not seem absolutely necessary.  The repulsiveness of the attack is not likely to wear out.  Indeed the United Nations investigators will undoubtedly either uncover more evidence and details that maintain world disgust, or Syrian officials will block them entirely.  The UN has requested four days, which does not seem unreasonable.  President George W. Bush gave them much longer before launching war against Iraq.

Syria presents US policy makers considerable trouble.  The rebel targets of government chemical weapons have shown themselves no less murderous than Assad's thugs.  Islamicist rebels have slaughtered Roman Catholic clergy among many other innocents during their own reign of terror.

President Bush had some "good guys" to work with when he overturned Saddam Hussein's thugocracy.  Syria seems to have few or no credible leaders who could make a peaceful republic work.

This limits Obama's options.  Any Iraq style invasion would require a much more powerful force prepared to stay in place for much longer.  Nation building would by necessity look more like colonization.

Any boots on the ground would likely end badly for the United States.  In the mid 1980s, President Reagan deployed Marines to serve as part of a peacekeeping unit to try and bring stability to Lebanon.  Terrorists killed over 200.  After a few good-bye blasts from the USS New Jersey, American forces skedaddled.

The various Lebanese factions had no desire to play nice just because American and European soldiers showed up.  They continued killing each other and blowing up heaps of rubble until they exhausted their will to fight.  Lebanon has remained relatively peaceable ever since.

So ground based combat forces will not work.

That leaves air strikes and/or covert operations.  The CIA does need to infiltrate Syria.  To make reasonable decisions, American leaders need to have knowledge of what is going on and who makes it happen.  It needs to monitor individuals and groups as they refine terror techniques.  Covert teams can also find locations of important sites in case stronger military action is required.

Air strikes would have to be very precise and specific.  Former Representative and anti-war crusader Dennis Kucinich noted that air strikes by American planes would make them Al Qaeda's air force.  Indiscriminate targeting of Syrian government military forces would help clear the road for an even worse regime.  Conversely, firing a couple of Tomahawk missiles in the general direction of Assad makes American power look downright petty and even silly.

Take the time to identify chemical weapons facilities.  Only target them.  Use weapons capable of doing the job, like daisy cutters.  Cruise missiles may not deliver enough punch.  This will achieve a limited goal and curb WMD attacks in the future without overly involving the US or using military action as a public relations stunt.

Obama must also prepare to stand by Israel.  Attacks on Syria may provoke a response against Israel.  Specific tactical actions may be necessary against any force deployed to strike Israel.  On the other hand, it is difficult to see how effectively Syria could strike Israel while struggling in its own civil war.

Obama must make wise decisions here, stick by them, and articulate explanations.  He must have the specific goal of curbing WMD usage while rebuilding respect for American power.  If he covers his bases with Congress and the United Nations, this could help reconstruct respect for US foreign policy that has fallen greatly since Bush left office.

Many unmarked cliffs and chasms loom in the road ahead.  Obama will have to tread carefully as he acts.

Transcript of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream Speech" 50 Years Later

Transcript of Martin Luther King Jr.'s 'I have a dream' speech

Published August 27, 2013
I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.
Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.
But 100 years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we've come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.
In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men -- yes, black men as well as white men -- would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check that has come back marked "insufficient funds."
But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so we've come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.
It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. 1963 is not an end but a beginning. Those who hoped that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges. 
But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.
As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating "for whites only." We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no we are not satisfied and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.
I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.
Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.
Let us not wallow in the valley of despair. I say to you today my friends -- so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification -- one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.
This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
This will be the day, this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning "My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my father's died, land of the Pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring!"
And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.
Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado. Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.
But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi -- from every mountainside.
Let freedom ring. And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring -- when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children -- black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics -- will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

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Monday, August 26, 2013

Universities That Begged For Subsidies Now Fight Obama's Power Grab

They begged for them and got them.  But at what price?

The college and university system in the United States fought long and hard to obtain as much student aid and tuition subsidies as possible from the federal government.  And now, Washington Examiner columnist Tim Carney explains that their chickens have come home to roost.

Last week, Obama gave a higher education speech.  It addressed the endless upward spiral of tuition and debt, as well as the declining value of a college education in many fields.  What was Obama's idea?  As usual, let the federal government handle it.

Obama proposed that the federal government rate colleges (based on what criteria!) to determine which offered the best educational value.  Suddenly, hard bitten liberal and left wing academics protested like Tea Party activists about the potential for political abuse.

Carney quoted former Harvard president Derek Bok, "I have to be somewhat apprehensive when any force as powerful as the federal government undertakes the task."

William and Mary economics department chair David H. Feldman warned in the Chronicle of Higher Education that tying outcomes to funding would force colleges and universities to reject at-risk students who could come and do well otherwise.

Others say that the information proposed as a baseline to analysis is incomplete.

The universities themselves invited this bind.  They begged for the subsidies and got them.  Then, as years passed, they built dorms that would make an Embassy Suites blush.  They bloated salaries, travel budgets, and other perquisites of office.  Higher education went on spending sprees, leaving faculty salaries and cash strapped students in the dust.

Now the federal government proposes to meddle in higher education in the same way that it has ripped apart the public school systems.  Killing it with kindly bureaucratic help.

Interestingly, all that stands in the way of Obama is House Republicans.  Congress has refused to authorize the sweeping data collection needed by the federal government to implement this.  That being said, some conservatives may agree that the federal government deserves more bang for its buck.  It is not as if academia has ever given Republicans a reason to offer a helping hand.

Not to mention that overspending taxpayer funds created this mess for the colleges

Will left wing higher education-ocrats deign to work with the Republican Party?   Stay tuned!