President Obama’s 2014 State of the Union Address

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 30th, 2014

Politics 101

Democrats offered Enthusiastic Applause for Unsound Policy Proposals that have no Basis in Reality

President Obama’s 2014 State of the Union address was a little longer than an hour.  But if you didn’t look at a clock it felt a lot longer.  For it was the same tripe you hear all the time from this administration.  And the political left.  It was full of misleading statements.  Inaccurate facts and figures.  And some lies.  The usual stuff you expect from the liberal left.  But what was really disturbing was the enthusiastic applause for some really unsound policy proposals that have no basis in reality.  Showing either how clueless these enthusiastic Democrats are about economics, business, national security, etc.  Or how amoral they are in their quest for power.  As they judge and implement policy not by how it will improve the lives of Americans.  But how it will improve their lives in government.

Some Big Reasons why Businesses export Jobs are Taxes, Regulations and Labor Costs

If there was ever an example of what people not to have in power this state of the union theater was it.  Following are excerpts from President Obama’s speech (see FULL TRANSCRIPT: Obama’s 2014 State of the Union address posted 1/28/2014 on The Washington Post).  Comments and analysis follow each excerpt.

And here are the results of your efforts: the lowest unemployment rate in over five years; a rebounding housing market — (applause) — a manufacturing sector that’s adding jobs for the first time since the 1990s — (applause) — more oil produced — more oil produced at home than we buy from the rest of the world, the first time that’s happened in nearly twenty years — (applause) — our deficits cut by more than half; and for the first time — (applause) — for the first time in over a decade, business leaders around the world have declared that China is no longer the world’s number one place to invest; America is.

The total number of people who left the civilian labor force since President Obama took office is 11,301,000 (see The BLS Employment Situation Summary for December 2013 posted 1/13/2014 on PITHOCRATES).  Which means the unemployment rate is meaningless.  The only reason why it’s falling is that the BLS doesn’t count unemployed people who gave up looking for jobs that just aren’t there.  Oil production on private land may be up.  While overall oil consumption is down because of the Great Recession that just won’t end.  Which is helping to keep gas prices down.  Unemployed people just don’t have the money to buy gas.  So they don’t.  Greatly reducing the demand for gas.  Thus reducing gas prices and oil imports.  George W. Bush’s last deficit was $498.37 billion.  President Obama’s first deficit was $1,539.22 billion.  And it was over $1 trillion in 2010, 2011 and 2012.  It fell to $680 billion in 2013 thanks to the sequester.  But the deficit is larger now than when President Obama assumed office.  The only reduction in the deficit is a reduction in the amount he increased it.

Now, as president, I’m committed to making Washington work better, and rebuilding the trust of the people who sent us here.

Really?  You’re committed to rebuilding the trust of the people?  Mr. “If you like your health insurance you can keep your health insurance.  Period.”  Otherwise known as the lie of the year.  You’re going to rebuild the trust of the people?  Good luck with that.  What with your pants on fire and all.

Today, after four years of economic growth, corporate profits and stock prices have rarely been higher, and those at the top have never done better. But average wages have barely budged. Inequality has deepened. Upward mobility has stalled. The cold, hard fact is that even in the midst of recovery, too many Americans are working more than ever just to get by; let alone to get ahead. And too many still aren’t working at all.

Well, finally something Republicans can agree with the president about.  Yes, his economic policies have benefitted Wall Street.  While hurting Main Street.  Finally some bipartisan agreement.

So let’s make that decision easier for more companies. Both Democrats and Republicans have argued that our tax code is riddled with wasteful, complicated loopholes that punish businesses investing here, and reward companies that keep profits abroad. Let’s flip that equation. Let’s work together to close those loopholes, end those incentives to ship jobs overseas, and lower tax rates for businesses that create jobs right here at home. (Cheers, applause.)

There are only a few reasons why businesses export jobs.  And the big three are taxes, regulations and labor costs.  The Obama administration wants to raise taxes.  They’ve increased regulatory costs.  And they support costly union labor.  So everything they stand for encourages businesses to export jobs.

But — but I’ll act on my own to slash bureaucracy and streamline the permitting process for key projects, so we can get more construction workers on the job as fast as possible. (Applause.)

So how’s that approval for the Keystone XL pipeline coming along?  That thing you’ve been studying since 2010?  Which by the laws of arithmetic is approximately 4 years ago.  Is this slashing bureaucracy and streamlining the permitting process?  At this rate it would probably be quicker to elect a Republican president in 2016.  You know, someone who, when it comes to economic activity, walks it while the Democrats only talk it.

We also have the chance, right now, to beat other countries in the race for the next wave of high-tech manufacturing jobs. And my administration’s launched two hubs for high-tech manufacturing in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Youngstown, Ohio, where we’ve connected businesses to research universities that can help America lead the world in advanced technologies.

Universities are in the grant business.  They want as many grants as they can get to help bring money into the university.  And to do so they will study anything the government wants them to.  No matter how wasteful it is.  While some of the biggest high-tech companies started in garages.  Apple, Google, Hewlett Packard and Microsoft.  To name a few.  Yes, there is a lot of university-driven research.  But the big innovation is more entrepreneurial.  Created by people thinking up new stuff no one thought of yet.  Which is the last thing you want government involved in.  That same government that can’t build a website using 1990s technology.

Let’s do more to help the entrepreneurs and small business owners who create most new jobs in America. Over the past five years, my administration has made more loans to small business owners than any other. And when 98 percent of our exporters are small businesses, new trade partnerships with Europe and the Asia-Pacific will help them create even more jobs. We need to work together on tools like bipartisan trade promotion authority to protect our workers, protect our environment and open new markets to new goods stamped “Made in the USA.” (Applause.)

You want to help entrepreneurs and small business?  Get rid of Obamacare.  And slash tax rates.  This will provide incentive.  And allow them to reinvest more of their earnings to grow their business.  Allowing them to create those jobs.

Now, one of the biggest factors in bringing more jobs back is our commitment to American energy. The “all the above” energy strategy I announced a few years ago is working, and today America is closer to energy independence than we have been in decades. (Applause.)

‘All of the above’ as long as it isn’t coal, oil or nuclear.  But if it’s solar power and wind power they are committed to giving more tax dollars to their friends and bundlers in the green energy industry.

Meanwhile, my administration will keep working with the industry to sustain production and jobs growth while strengthening protection of our air, our water, our communities. And while we’re at it, I’ll use my authority to protect more of our pristine federal lands for future generations. (Applause.)

You can’t sustain production and jobs growth by strengthening protection of our air, water and pristine federal lands.  That’s just more regulatory costs.  And raising energy costs by not allowing any oil or natural gas production on those pristine federal lands.  Raising energy costs by restricting supply.  Which raises business costs.  In addition to those new regulatory costs.

Every four minutes another American home or business goes solar, every panel pounded into place by a worker whose job can’t be outsourced. Let’s continue that progress with a smarter tax policy that stops giving $4 billion a year to fossil fuel industries that don’t need it so we can invest more in fuels of the future that do. (Cheers, applause.)

That says it all.  Fossil fuels don’t need subsidies because their costs are affordable.  While solar (and wind power) are so costly that they are unaffordable.  Unless government heavily subsidizes them.

But the debate is settled. Climate change is a fact. (Applause.) And when our children’s children look us in the eye and ask if we did all we could to leave them a safer, more stable world, with new sources of energy, I want us to be able to say yes, we did. (Cheers, applause.)

There is no such thing as settled science.  Only science that has yet to be disproved.  Besides, once upon a time glaciers stretched down from the poles to near the equator.  And then receded back to where they are now.  All without any manmade carbon in the atmosphere to warm the planet.  As we were still simple hunter and gatherers then.  So if the glaciers moved more before there was manmade global warming they’ll move again regardless of what man is doing to warm the planet.

Finally, if we’re serious about economic growth, it is time to heed the call of business leaders, labor leaders, faith leaders, law enforcement — and fix our broken immigration system. (Cheers, applause.) Republicans and Democrats in the Senate have acted, and I know that members of both parties in the House want to do the same. Independent economists say immigration reform will grow our economy and shrink our deficits by almost $1 trillion in the next two decades. And for good reason: When people come here to fulfill their dreams — to study, invent, contribute to our culture — they make our country a more attractive place for businesses to locate and create jobs for everybody. So let’s get immigration reform done this year. (Cheers, applause.) Let’s get it done. It’s time.

Funny how that argument doesn’t apply to birth control and abortion.  The reason we need to “fix our broken immigration system.”  For if we were having babies at the rate when government created the welfare state we could pay for that welfare state today.  But thanks to the Sixties, birth control, abortion and feminism women stopped having babies.  Which is fine if a woman doesn’t want to.  But the progressives designed the welfare state based on them being baby machines.  Creating a greater number of taxpayers with each generation.  So more people pay into the welfare state than collect from it.  The way it must be for a Ponzi scheme to work.

That’s why I’ve been asking CEOs to give more long-term unemployed workers a fair shot at new jobs, a new chance to support their families. And in fact, this week many will come to the White House to make that commitment real.

When you raise the cost of labor (union labor, Obamacare, etc.) businesses tend to look at automating production instead of hiring that costly labor.  They may not be able to do anything about the higher regulatory costs but they can do something about higher labor costs.  Use more machines than people.  If you want CEOs to create new jobs stop making labor so costly.  And you can start with getting rid of Obamacare.

Of course, it’s not enough to train today’s workforce. We also have to prepare tomorrow’s workforce, by guaranteeing every child access to a world-class education. (Applause.)…

Five years ago we set out to change the odds for all our kids. We worked with lenders to reform student loans, and today more young people are earning college degrees than ever before. Race to the Top, with the help of governors from both parties, has helped states raise expectations and performance. Teachers and principals in schools from Tennessee to Washington, D.C., are making big strides in preparing students with the skills for the new economy — problem solving, critical thinking, science, technology, engineering, math.

Yes, more kids are going to college than ever before.  But they’re going there to have fun.  And to facilitate their fun many are getting easy, worthless degrees in the social sciences and humanities.  Costly degrees that universities sold them promising them future riches.  Enriching the university.  While impoverishing their graduates.  For a high-tech company has no use for these degrees.  Which is why a lot of these people end up in jobs they didn’t need that costly degree to do.  And our high-tech companies are using the visa program to get foreigners who have the skills they want.  Problem solving, critical thinking, science, technology, engineering and math.

It requires everything from more challenging curriculums and more demanding parents to better support for teachers and new ways to measure how well our kids think, not how well they can fill in a bubble on a test. But it is worth it — and it is working.

If you want kids to do better we need to champion marriage and family more.  And they should embrace religion a little more.  Instead of encouraging our young women to use birth control and abortion to avoid marriage and family.  And pulling every last vestige of religion from our lives.  Kids growing up in a household with a mother and a father who go to church do far better on average than kids growing up in a single-parent household and don’t go to church (see Strong families steeped in Conservative Values and Traditions do Well in America posted 1/11/2014 on PITHOCRATES).

Research shows that one of the best investments we can make in a child’s life is high-quality early education. (Applause.) Last year, I asked this Congress to help states make high-quality pre-K available to every 4-year-old. And as a parent as well as a president, I repeat that request tonight.

Actually, research doesn’t show that.  Yet they keep saying that.  For it’s like that line in the musical Evita, “Get them while they’re young, Evita.  Get them while they’re young.”  The sooner they can take them away from their parents the sooner they can start turning them into Democrat voters.  Such as teaching them to blame their parents for the manmade global warming that is killing the polar bears as they have no ice to rest on while eating their baby seals.

You know, today, women make up about half our workforce, but they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong, and in 2014, it’s an embarrassment.

Women deserve equal pay for equal work. (Cheers, applause.)

Actually, it’s closer to 91 cents (see The White House’s use of data on the gender wage gap by Glenn Kessler posted 6/5/2012 on The Washington Post).  And the small difference is not due to discrimination but personal choice.  When you look at aggregate wages women will make less than men.  Because more women are teachers (with 3 month off without pay) than men are.  Some women work fewer hours at work to spend more time with their children. While men tend to work more overtime.  Men also work the more dangerous and higher paying jobs.  And are more likely to belong to a union.  When you compare childless, single men and women with a college degree some women are actually earning more than men.  Figures don’t lie but liars figure.  And for the contortions the Obama administration did here The Washington Post’s The Fact Checker gave the president one Pinocchio.

Now, women hold a majority of lower-wage jobs, but they’re not the only ones stifled by stagnant wages. Americans understand that some people will earn more money than others, and we don’t resent those who, by virtue of their efforts, achieve incredible success. That’s what America’s all about. But Americans overwhelmingly agree that no one who works full-time should ever have to raise a family in poverty. (Applause.)

In the year since I asked this Congress to raise the minimum wage, five states have passed laws to raise theirs.

You’re not going to have a lot of upward mobility when you pay people more to remain in the jobs they hate.  All the talk about making college more affordable and bringing employers and community colleges together to help give people the skills they need to fill the jobs employers have is all for nothing if they just pay people more for doing an entry-level job.

Let’s do more to help Americans save for retirement. Today most workers don’t have a pension. A Social Security check often isn’t enough on its own. And while the stock market has doubled over the last five years, that doesn’t help folks who don’t have 401(k)s. That’s why tomorrow I will direct the Treasury to create a new way for working Americans to start their own retirement savings: MyRA. It’s a — it’s a new savings bond that encourages folks to build a nest egg.

Once upon a time people opened a savings account at their local bank and they saved to buy a house.  And they saved for their retirement.  That’s how people saved when they didn’t have a pension or a 401(k).  They can’t do that today because of the Federal Reserve destroying the banking industry by keeping interest rates at zero.  If the Fed stopped printing money and let investment capital come from our savings like they did before the Keynesians gave us the Federal Reserve people would be saving like we once did.  And we’d stop having Great Depressions, stagflation and Great Recessions.  Created by their prolonging the growth side of the business cycle.  Which raises prices higher than they normally would go.  Making the contraction side of the business cycle that much more painful.  As those prices have a much longer way to fall than they normally would.  Thanks to the Fed’s meddling with interest rates.

MyRA guarantees a decent return with no risk of losing what you put in. And if this Congress wants to help, work with me to fix an upside-down tax code that gives big tax breaks to help the wealthy save, but does little or nothing for middle-class Americans, offer every American access to an automatic IRA on the job, so they can save at work just like everybody in this chamber can.

You know why they want these MyRAs?  Because they can’t stand people saving money.  They love Social Security.  Because they can borrow from the Social Security Trust Fund.  Which is what they will do with these MyRAs.  They will take this money and spend it.  Filling the MyRA Trust Fund with a bunch of IOUs.  Just like they do with the Social Security Trust Fund.  And then provide a retirement benefit like Social Security.  That is too small to live on.  Whereas if we saved the money ourselves our retirement nest-egg will be much larger.  And it will provide for our retirement.  Unlike Social Security.

And since the most important investment many families make is their home, send me legislation that protects taxpayers from footing the bill for a housing crisis ever again, and keeps the dream of homeownership alive for future generations. (Applause.)

It was Bill Clinton that set the stage for the subprime mortgage crisis with his Policy Statement on Discrimination in Lending (see Bill Clinton created the subprime mortgage crisis with his Policy Statement on Discrimination in Lending posted 11/6/2011 on PITHOCRATES).  Using the heavy hand of government to get lenders to qualify the unqualified.  Then the Fed’s artificially low interest rates were the bait for the trap.  Enticing people to borrow huge sums of money because those interest rates were just too good to pass up.  Even if they weren’t planning to buy a house to begin with. The subprime mortgage crisis and the resulting Great Recession were government made.  If we want to prevent the taxpayers from footing the bill for another housing crisis we need to get the Keynesians out of government.

Already, because of the Affordable Care Act, more than 3 million Americans under age 26 have gained coverage under their parents’ plans. (Applause.)

More than 9 million Americans have signed up for private health insurance or Medicaid coverage — 9 million. (Applause.)

The Washington Post gave this lie three Pinocchios (see Warning: Ignore claims that 3.9 million people signed up for Medicaid because of Obamacare by Glenn Kessler posted 1/16/2014 on The Washington Post).  For they’re counting some 3.9 million who would have signed up anyway for Medicaid regardless of the Affordable Care Act.  Also, the government was counting people who put a health care plan into their shopping cart as if they signed up for it.  Which many couldn’t.  As they haven’t programmed the back end of the health care website yet to actually accept payment or to pass that information on to the insurers.

And here’s another number: zero. Because of this law, no American, none, zero, can ever again be dropped or denied coverage for a pre-existing condition like asthma or back pain or cancer. (Cheers, applause.) No woman can ever be charged more just because she’s a woman. (Cheers, applause.) And we did all this while adding years to Medicare’s finances, keeping Medicare premiums flat and lowering prescription costs for millions of seniors.

That’s right.  Women with reproductive systems that men don’t have won’t pay more for their health insurance than men pay for theirs.  How can they do that?  Simple.  They just are charging men more.  To cover the cost of a reproductive system they don’t have.

Citizenship means standing up for the lives that gun violence steals from us each day. I have seen the courage of parents, students, pastors, and police officers all over this country who say “we are not afraid,” and I intend to keep trying, with or without Congress, to help stop more tragedies from visiting innocent Americans in our movie theaters and our shopping malls, or schools like Sandy Hook. (Applause.)

If you take away guns from law-abiding gun owners that won’t keep dangerous people with mental health issues that want to harm people out of our movie theaters, our shopping malls or schools like Sandy Hook.  For there are other ways to harm people.  Just look at the Boston Marathon bombers.  The people he’s talking about not only had mental health issues but they were also smart.  Many were even college students.  Who probably could think of other ways to hurt people.  And you just can’t take away everything they might use to harm people.  But you can place these people somewhere where they can’t harm anyone.

You see, in a world of complex threats, our security, our leadership depends on all elements of our power — including strong and principled diplomacy. American diplomacy has rallied more than 50 countries to prevent nuclear materials from falling into the wrong hands, and allowed us to reduce our own reliance on Cold War stockpiles.

Since President Obama assumed office he did nothing to support the Green Revolution in Iran.  Which kept the hard-line Islamists in power there.  He gave Egypt to the Muslim Brotherhood by telling Hosni Mubarak that he had to go.  Removing the stable anchor of the Middle East.  And moved Egypt closer to Iran.  (The Egyptian people eventually rose up to overthrow the oppressive Muslim Brotherhood).  He went to war in Libya and helped to overthrow Colonel Muammar Qaddafi.  Who at the time was a quasi ally in the War on Terror.  After the Iraq invasion frightened him into believing he may be next.  President Obama was thanked for his Libyan war by al Qaeda with 4 dead Americans in Benghazi on the anniversary of 9/11.  He waited too long to act in the Syrian civil war.  Which only brought al Qaeda into the conflict.  He failed to attain a status of forces agreement in Iraq.  So he pulled all U.S. forces out of Iraq which has only invited al Qaeda in.  And it looks like this will be repeated in Afghanistan.  He blamed George W. Bush’s wars as recruitment tools for al Qaeda.  While his extensive drone use is doing the same thing.  Especially in Yemen.  The hotbed of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.  All that his diplomacy and leadership has done was to make the world a more dangerous place.

American diplomacy, backed by the threat of force, is why Syria’s chemical weapons are being eliminated. (Applause.) And we will continue to work with the international community to usher in the future the Syrian people deserve — a future free of dictatorship, terror and fear.

His diplomacy with Bashar al-Assad in Syria only gave his oppressive regime legitimacy in the civil war he was raging against his people.  Making it easier for Assad to kill Syrians with conventional arms while he gives up a token amount of his chemical weapons.  While also making Russia who brokered the deal the dominate player in the region.

And it is American diplomacy, backed by pressure, that has halted the progress of Iran’s nuclear program — and rolled back parts of that program — for the very first time in a decade. As we gather here tonight, Iran has begun to eliminate its stockpile of higher levels of enriched uranium.

It’s not installing advanced centrifuges. Unprecedented inspections help the world verify every day that Iran is not building a bomb. And with our allies and partners, we’re engaged in negotiations to see if we can peacefully achieve a goal we all share: preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. (Applause.)

All Iran is doing is pausing their program.  And chemically altering some of their enriched uranium to meet the requirements of this diplomatic deal.  But this chemical process is reversible.  And they will reverse it once they get what they want.  This deal makes the world no safer.  If anything it makes it more dangerous.  For it does not diminish the Iranian nuclear program in the least.  But gives them more time to work on it as they prop up their regime with much needed supplies thanks to a relaxation of the sanctions against them.

These negotiations will be difficult; they may not succeed. We are clear-eyed about Iran’s support for terrorist organizations like Hezbollah, which threaten our allies; and we’re clear about the mistrust between our nations, mistrust that cannot be wished away. But these negotiations don’t rely on trust; any long-term deal we agree to must be based on verifiable action that convinces us and the international community that Iran is not building a nuclear bomb. If John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan could negotiate with the Soviet Union, then surely a strong and confident America can negotiate with less powerful adversaries today. (Applause.)

The sanctions that we put in place helped make this opportunity possible. But let me be clear: if this Congress sends me a new sanctions bill now that threatens to derail these talks, I will veto it. (Applause.) For the sake of our national security, we must give diplomacy a chance to succeed.

The Soviet Union never attacked U.S. soil.  And there was a reason they didn’t.  They were rational.  And knew they would lose a great deal in a war with America.  Especially a nuclear one.  Which is why they never used their nuclear weapons.  But Iran giving a nuclear weapon to a shadowy group that is not a state?  With little to lose in using a nuclear weapon?  If it’s not a nuclear missile there will be no way in knowing where the nuclear bomb came from.  We can have our suspicions that Iran made it and gave it to someone.  But do we nuke Iran over that?  What if there are more nukes in the hands of al Qaeda, Hezbollah, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, etc.?  You could nuke Iran back to the Stone Age but it won’t stop those others being used.  The president insists this will not happen as Iran signed an agreement.  The only problem with that is the Iranians are liars.  And they call the United States the Great Satan.   These two facts suggest that replacing those sanctions with a promise not to build nuclear bombs was probably not a wise trade.

But for more than two hundred years, we have put those things aside and placed our collective shoulder to the wheel of progress: to create and build and expand the possibilities of individual achievement; to free other nations from tyranny and fear; to promote justice and fairness and equality under the law, so that the words set to paper by our founders are made real for every citizen.

Use our collective shoulder to expand individual achievement?  The president believes in the former more than the latter.  He didn’t help the Iranians get free from tyranny when he had the chance.  And he turned the Egyptian people over to tyranny.  The Muslim Brotherhood.  Who were oppressing women and Christians.  Fairness and equality under the law?  Ask those Tea Party groups who were targeted by the IRS about fairness and equality under the law.  The Constitution?  That document of negative rights?  The left hates it.  And insists it’s a living document that can evolve over time to suit the needs of an expanding government.  So they can do exactly what the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution to prevent from happening.

The Left endorses Unsound Policy Proposals with no Basis in Reality to improve their Chances of Winning Elections

The country is more conservative than liberal (see Liberal Self-Identification Edges Up to New High in 2013 by Jeffrey M. Jones posted 1/10/2014 on Gallup).  Which is why liberals want state-funded pre-K to start indoctrinating our children as soon as possible.  To get them away from their parents so they can begin the process of turning them into Democrat voters.  It’s why kids are getting worthless social science and humanities degrees.  To further indoctrinate them.  Because their views are minority views.  So they need to play loose with the facts.  And lie.  Which is easier to do with indoctrinated kids than educated adults.  You’ll even hear Democrats talk about lowering the voting age.  To get a few more years of voting out of these kids before they grow old and wise.  And begin voting conservative.  So they do what they can to dumb down education.  Lie.  Cheat.  And buy as many votes as they can by giving away free stuff.  And the thing they really want to give away is citizenship for illegal aliens.  Who they are sure will be forever grateful.  And show it by voting Democrat.

This explains the enthusiastic applause for unsound policy proposals that have no basis in reality.  For the left is not interested in improving the lives of Americans.  They just want to improve their chances of winning elections.

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Imagine what the Left would be saying if President Obama was a Republican

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 7th, 2013

Politics 101

President Obama added more to the Federal Debt in 4 Years than Reagan and Bush did in 8 Years

The Left hated Republican Ronald Reagan.  Because his policies worked.  He cut federal income tax rates.  And those cuts in tax rates increased tax revenue coming into the federal treasury by 75.8% during his 8 years in office (see Table 1.1—Summary of Receipts, Outlays, and Surpluses or Deficits (-): 1789–2017).  Even though the Left likes spending money and loves having more money flowing into the treasury they can’t stand that this growth in tax revenue came from a cut in tax rates.  So they focus on his deficits.

They say, yes, he generated great economic activity, but at what cost?  He added $1.69 trillion to the federal debt (see A History of Debt In The United States) in his 8 years ($2.51 trillion in 2012 dollars).  The Left say he was irresponsible, reckless and was mortgaging our children’s future.  While President Obama has added $5.39 trillion to the federal debt.  In only FOUR years.  That’s just over twice what Reagan added in only half the time.  On top of that tax revenue fell 2.19% from where they were in 2008.  Yet President Obama is not irresponsible, reckless or mortgaging our children’s future.  Instead the Left blames the Republicans because they won’t increase tax rates.

Republican George W. Bush added $3.15 trillion to the federal debt over his 8 years.  President Obama’s 4 years in office outdid that by 1.7 times.  And Bush beefed up homeland security after 9/11.  Fought the War in Afghanistan.  And the Iraq War.  Bush cut taxes, too.  Not as much as Reagan.  Probably explaining why he didn’t increase tax revenues as much as Reagan.  After his 8 years in office he increased tax revenues by 24.6%.  While President Obama decreased tax revenue by 2.19% after his first 4 years in office.  Yet George W. Bush was irresponsible, reckless and mortgaging our children’s future.  While President Obama is not.

President Obama vowed to Shut Down Gitmo and try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in a U.S. Court

The Left really hated George W. Bush.  They didn’t just want to impeach him.  They wanted to arrest him for war crimes for his invasion of Iraq.  Among other things.  They called him every dirty name in the book.  Even accused him of trying to give himself dictatorial powers.  Which is what the Patriot Act did according to the Left.  There are few things that angered the Left more.  They hated the powers it gave the president in the War on Terror.  Even allowing warrantless wiretaps on Americans.

If an American citizen was talking to someone with known terrorist connections the Bush administration didn’t need to go to a judge.  They could just listen into private phone calls like in any other dictatorship.  The Patriot Act was everything that was wrong with George W. Bush.  And his assault on personal liberties.  But when President Obama renewed the Patriot Act the Left did not call President Obama every dirty name in the book.  Or accuse him of trying to amass dictatorial powers.  After he renewed the Patriot Act all criticism of the Patriot Act just went away.  Just as the daily body count in the Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan went away from the network news broadcasts once President Obama moved into the White House.

As the War on Terror progressed the U.S. started taking terrorists into captivity.  People who wore no uniform.  Who fought for no state signatory to the Geneva Convention.  Who followed no rules.  And killed indiscriminately.  Men.  Women.  Even children.  The U.S. incarcerated these most dangerous outlaws on the island of Cuba.  At Guantanamo Bay Naval Base.  Gitmo.  Including the mastermind of 9/11.  Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.  The Left called this a travesty of justice.  They wanted to shut down Gitmo.  Transfer these men to U.S. prisons in the United States.  And give them proper trials.  They even wanted to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in New York City.  Not far from Ground Zero.  For these prisoners in Gitmo deserved the full protection of the American criminal justice system.  Not military tribunals.  President Obama vowed to shut down Gitmo if elected.  And give these outlaws the full protection of the U.S. legal system.

President Obama acted as Judge, Jury and Executioner when Targeting and Killing Americans Abroad

But that’s not the only thing the war criminal George W. Bush did.  He also tortured people.  He water boarded three terrorists.  And held people in foreign countries where they did who knows what to these terrorists.  To gather intelligence.  To help the U.S. interdict terrorist strikes against America.  And to ultimately lead us to Osama bin Laden.  But to the Left these things were just beyond the pale.  Crimes against humanity.  They wanted to do to Bush what Bush was doing to these terrorists.  They even applauded when foreign states issued arrest warrants for George W. Bush should he travel to their countries.  President Obama was going to reverse the damage Bush did to the reputation of the U.S.  And make America the law-abiding nation it once was.

It’s now 2013 and Gitmo is still open.  And those terrorists are still there.  Also, they’re being tried in military tribunals.  Not the American criminal justice system.  Yet the Left doesn’t call President Obama a war criminal.  Terrorist incarcerations are down, too.  Thanks to his policy of drone strikes.  And his kill list.  Instead of capturing terrorists he just kills them.  Without a trial.  Along with any innocent civilians who had the misfortune to be near these terrorists during these drone strikes.  Who are identified as terrorists after the fact.  So his drone strikes don’t kill any innocent civilians.  Not taking prisoners solves the problems of what to do with terrorists in American custody.  But dead terrorists can’t give us intelligence that can interdict future terror strikes.  While dead terrorists and dead innocent civilians incite anti-American sentiment in the Muslim world.  That has led to al Qaeda recruitment.  And attacks on U.S. embassies.

But President Obama is doing something that George W. Bush never did.  While the Left attacked the Bush administration for their legal defense of enhanced interrogation techniques (what the Left calls torture) the Obama administration had a legal defense of their own.  But it wasn’t to justify water boarding three terrorists to gain useful intelligence.  It was for killing Americans in foreign countries who MAY present a threat to the U.S.   Which he has done.  Three times.  Without due process.  Where the president acted as judge, jury and executioner.  Like someone with dictatorial powers.  Yet the Left doesn’t call President Obama a war criminal.  Despite doing a lot of the same things George W. Bush did.  And worse.  Like targeting and killing Americans abroad.

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2012 Endorsements: Adolf Hitler and Osama bin Laden

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 1st, 2012

2012 Election

Workers Enthusiastically Supported the Nazi Party because it had the Word ‘Workers’ in It

Adolf Hitler joined the German Workers’ Party (DAP) in 1919.  The party platform included nationalist, anti-capitalist and anti-Marxist policy positions.  As well as being anti-Semitic.  A socialist party where everyone was equal.  Unless you were a Jew.  Something Hitler could wrap his arms around.  As he would blame the Jews for Germany’s loss in World War I.  A war in which Hitler served as a messenger.  Even got awarded for bravery.  And he would later blame the bad German economy on the Jews as well.  Having a scapegoat is very important if you want dictatorial powers.  For you have to attack someone as you really can’t run on a platform of wanting dictatorial power so you can oppress your people.  The DAP became the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP).  And Hitler designed the party banner.  Creating the swastika.  And the Nazi Party.

Now there isn’t a whole lot of difference between socialism and Marxism.  They are both about sharing the wealth and both are anti-capitalist.  The real reason Hitler hated Marxism is that they were a strong contender for power in Germany.  Power that Hitler wanted for his National Socialists.  And for him.  Which he consolidated by scapegoating, lying and using his personal charisma.  Another important quality for one aspiring to be a dictator.  To create a cult of personality.  Hero worship.  You have to be able to charm the masses so they don’t look that close at your policies.  Or your record.  Germans voted Hitler into office.  He didn’t seize power.  They fell in love with him.  But they had no idea what they were voting for.  World War.  Genocide.  He just moved them so much that they were willing to trust him fully.  Even when some began to learn about what was happening at the death camps or what the Einsatzgruppen (mobile killing squads) were doing on the Eastern Front they told themselves that the Führer was doing what he had to do to protect the German people.  Or, at the least, they blamed these atrocities on excesses of the SS and not their beloved Fuehrer.  Or simply chose not to believe these reports.

The Nazis created an employment boom coming off of the Great Depression.  With massive public works projects.  And an aggressive rearmament program to prepare for World War II.   The war economy made industry hum.  Paid for with funds confiscated from enemies of the state.  And through massive monetary expansion.  That is, they printed a lot of money.  Causing a lot of price inflation which raised the cost of living for the working German.  Businesses were buried in red tape.  The Nazi state controlled everything.  Including the private sector.  Complying with Nazi regulations took up about half of all communications for those in business.  As one task could require up to 40 forms.  Probably in triplicate.  The Nazis shut down small businesses and small corporations.  Wanting to deal only with big industry.  So they could better control the businesses.  And the workers.  Business people once warmly supported Hitler during the ascent of his power only to discover later that Hitler was ruining German industry.  Making them to regret their previous support.  As did the workers.  Who enthusiastically supported a party that had the word ‘workers’ in it.  Only to see higher prices.  Lower wages.  Longer hours.  No collective bargaining.  No right to strike.  High income taxes.  Compulsory contributions for sickness, unemployment and disability insurance.  Union dues (for a union that represented the state, not the worker).  As time passed they even lost the ability to quit their job.  Or change jobs.  Being forever chained to the job the state chose for them.  Which worked well to maximize industrial output.  And to prepare for war.

After 9/11 George W. Bush kept America Safe from another al Qaeda Attack while he was in Office

America’s problem with radical Islam probably dates back to the Iranian Hostage Crisis (1979).  Then came the United States Embassy Bombing (1983) in Beirut.  And then the Beirut Barracks Bombing (1983) that killed 241 Americans.  Who were there in a peace-keeping mission during the Lebanese Civil War.  To be neutral referees between the warring Muslim and Christian sides.  Where the Muslims felt that although the Americans claimed neutrality in the conflict they leaned Christian.  Hence the bombing of the Barracks.  There was no real American retaliation for the attack.  As they weren’t certain who was responsible.  With other threats to American forces President Reagan eventually abandoned the mission and pulled out US forces.  One person took great interest in this American response to terror.  Osama bin Laden.  Who learned the following lesson.  When Americans suffer casualties they quit.

Islamist attacks (and plans for attacks) against American targets increased during the Nineties.  Perhaps the most shocking being the 1993 World Trade Center Bombing.  An attempt to topple the Twin Towers that failed.  Then came the New York City Landmark Bomb Plot (1993).  The Khobar Towers Bombing (1996).  The United States Embassy Bombings (1998).  The Millennium Attack Plots (2000).  The USS Cole Bombing (2000).  Then 9/11.  An attempt to topple the Twin Towers that succeeded.  Until 9/11 we treated all of these events as criminal offences.  Not acts of war.  We talked about bringing these people to justice.  In a court of law.  Despite bin Laden having declared war against the United States back in 1996.  Well, after 9/11 George W. Bush declared war against Osama bin Laden.  And his terrorist organization.  Al Qaeda.

Bush attacked bin Laden’s safe haven in Afghanistan.  Chasing him underground.  Bush invaded Iraq.  In part to pressure Saudi Arabia to crack down on the Wahhabi in their kingdom financing al Qaeda as the Saudis feared Iran filling any power void in Iraq.  Which made American success in Iraq important to the Saudis.  (The Wahhabi hated the Saudi Royal family as much as they hated America.  While the Saudis had to tread lightly around the Wahhabi lest they provoke a civil war in the kingdom).  It worked.  Bush captured Islamist terrorists and sent them to a detention center at the US Naval facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.  Interrogating them for intelligence.  As enemy combatants.  Not as people with American Constitutional protections.  Which helped to thwart future terrorist plots.  Causing the Islamist world to hate George W. Bush with a passion.  But he kept America safe from another al Qaeda attack while he was in office.

If Adolf Hitler and Osama bin Laden were Alive Today they would likely Endorse Barack Obama and Joe Biden

Things changed under President Obama.  Who also hated George W. Bush.  Blaming him for the Muslim hatred against America.  So he tried to offer a softer, friendly face to the Muslim world.  He stopped using the term ‘War on Terror’.  He wanted to try some 9/11 terrorists in the civilian court system in New York City.  Instead of by military tribunal.  He said the US would no longer torture people.  And promised to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay.  When a radical Muslim in the US Army killed fellow soldiers on an Army base because of America’s ‘crimes against Islam’ the president called that workplace violence.  Not terrorism.  A lot of these things the Islamists liked.  But President Obama also killed indiscriminately with unmanned drones.  Anyone killed that wasn’t on the kill-list was deemed an enemy combatant.  So collateral damage of innocents was greatly reduced.  By simply calling everyone killed an enemy combatant.  And by killing all terrorist and terrorist-adjacent people there were no prisoners to house.  But there was also no intelligence to gather.  Which had its drawbacks.

Years of interrogations and intelligence gathering eventually located Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.  When advised President Obama gave the ‘go’ order to kill him.  So in one day the president killed bin Laden.  Defeated al Qaeda.  And ended the War on Terror.  Something the president likes to say over and over again.  A never ending spiking of the football.  This relentless bragging and the unmanned drone attacks inflamed the Islamist world.  Providing a great recruiting tool for al Qaeda.  Possibly being the impetus for the attacks on the American embassy in Benghazi.  Which was left poorly protected.  Even after the American ambassador requested additional protection.  Especially around the anniversary of 9/11.  But someone in the Obama administration denied the request because President Obama had killed Osama bin Laden.  And defeated al Qaeda.  And having to beef up security in Benghazi would have gone against that narrative.  So they didn’t.

So if Adolf Hitler and Osama bin Laden were alive today who would they endorse in the 2012 election?  Well, Hitler would have liked the Democrat attacks on rich people.  Seeing that as good scapegoating.  He would be impressed by the cult of personality around President Obama.  Though it wasn’t as good as his.  He would like the attack on capitalists and the massive government interference into the private sector.  And the high income taxes and regulations.  As well as those public works projects.  Those roads and bridges.  No doubt Hitler would have liked a lot of what he saw in the Obama administration.  Though, perhaps, he would be confused as the ultimate purpose of this massive power grab.  And Osama bin Laden?  Well, he hated George W. Bush.  President Obama may have killed him but it was all that War on Terror stuff that brought the Americans to him in Pakistan.  He would prefer the Obama light touch over the Bush hammer.  And he’d probably prefer his people getting killed by drones instead of being captured and pumped for information.  Like the guy that gave up a name that eventually led the SEALs to his hiding place.  And he would just love the opportunity to speak in a US court.  Something that just wouldn’t have happened under Bush.  Finally he would have liked the naïveté and arrogance of President Obama.  Which would have given him a target-rich environment.  Like Benghazi.  If Adolf Hitler and Osama bin Laden were alive today they would likely endorse the Democrat candidates Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

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Life was Good for Women Entrepreneurs in Afghanistan but after the Americans Leave they may Emigrate to India

Posted by PITHOCRATES - July 1st, 2012

Week in Review

The American Left attacks the Republicans for wanting to turn back the hands of time for women in America.  Ridiculous, really, considering the success of women in this country.  There are women CEOs.  Women governors.  Women cabinet members.  Women in Congress.  Women on the Supreme Court.  (The first woman justice of the Supreme Court, Sandra Day O’Connor, was nominated by the man the Left hates most.  Republican Ronald Reagan.)  Women in the military.  Something usually associated with the Right.  So if the Right really wanted to turn back the hands of time for women it would be doubtful they would allow them into the military.  So the argument is silly.  And sad. Considering how the hands of time may move back for some women in the world (see Afghan women entrepreneurs look to India for opportunities by Rama Lakshmi posted 6/27/2012 on The Washington Post).

They run fleets of trucks, supply construction material, design software programs and make furniture. Women entrepreneurs in war-torn Afghanistan have been breaking many cultural ceilings in the past decade…

“It will be a big challenge once the Americans and the others leave. The local market in Afghanistan has not progressed much,” said Masuma Rezaie, 24-year-old founder of the evocatively named company First Afghan Lady Logistics and Services. “But there is big money in the Indian market.”

To this end, Rezaie and other businesswomen came to New Delhi on Wednesday to seek deals, training and technology from Indian companies. The three-day business-to-business meetings, facilitated by USAID and the Consortium of Women Entrepreneurs of India, comes at a time when the impending withdrawal of the international forces from Afghanistan is also raising concerns about the future of women’s rights to study and work…

Another entrepreneur, Malika Qanih, wants to learn the process of manufacturing herbal medicines from Indians.

“Afghanistan is rich in undiscovered, untapped herbs. Big business potential,” said Malika Qanih, 60, chief executive of Sun Pharma. On Friday, she will visit a factory owned by Shahnaz Husain, czarina of Indian herbal cosmetics.

Qanih hopes that Afghan women will not have to go back to the past after 2014. “Many countries have signed strategic partnerships with Afghanistan. I hope they will not forget to protect us even after 2014,” she said.

President Obama always said the War in Afghanistan was the right war. To put the Taliban and al Qaeda on the defensive.  And take away their safe sanctuary.  While the Iraq War was just a distraction.  But the Left didn’t like the War in Afghanistan any more than they liked the Iraq War.  So to appeal to his liberal base in an election year the president announced a timeline for the withdrawal of US forces.  Even though it is likely that the Taliban and al Qaeda will return once the international forces leave.  Raising concerns about the future of women’s rights to study and work.  While in America the Left warns women that if Republicans get into office they’ll have to suffer the horrors of paying for birth control.  And enduring back-alley abortions.

At least if the Afghan women don’t have the support of the American Left they have a safe sanctuary in India.  Where free market capitalism still can flourish.  As do women’s rights.  India may not be perfect.  For no country is.  But it’s one of the BRICS economies so they’re doing something very well.  So India provides hope for Afghan women.  A place that will let them keep the freedoms they gained in Afghanistan.  For in India they’ll be able to breathe free.  Hope.  And pursue their entrepreneurial dreams.  Something they can’t quite do in Iran, Afghanistan (other than doing business with the international forces) or Pakistan (which the Afghani women will presumably pass through to get to India).

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The Best Polio Vaccine is Free Market Capitalism

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 25th, 2012

Week in Review

India is polio-free.  Pity the same can’t be said about her neighbors (see Effort to stop polio aims to vaccinate 111 million children in four days posted 3/23/2012 on the Los Angeles Times).

Polio, a viral disease that invades the nervous system, cannot be cured, only prevented. It mainly affects children under the age of five, leading to paralysis and even death.

The disease has been cut by more than 99% since the global campaign to eradicate polio was launched in 1988; India, which once had half of the polio cases in the world, recently marked a year without a case…

Last year, 650 cases were reported worldwide, with persistent pockets in Nigeria and along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The virus resurged in Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, and Niger.

If you follow the link you will see a map.  In that map you can see the three countries India, Pakistan and Afghanistan.  India, the most populated of the three, is polio-free.  Pakistan and Afghanistan, less populated, are not polio-free.  One would think that the sheer numbers would have made India the country with the most cases of polio.  But no.  Why?  What’s different between India and Pakistan/Afghanistan?  India is a country growing more modern by the day.  With a bustling economy.  And a rising standard of living.  Pakistan and Afghanistan, on the other hand, aren’t much different than they were a millennium ago.  Especially in the border region between these two countries.  They are not modern countries.  And suffer from diseases more modern countries have already eradicated.

Are their campaigns to eradicate polio in the United States?  Canada?  The United Kingdom?  Europe?  South Africa?  Australia?  New Zealand?  No.  Because these are advanced First World nations.  Where childhood includes the dreaded vaccinations.  Kids hate getting their shots.  But they get them.  And are healthier for it.  Unlike the kids in the border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan.  Who suffer Third World poverty.  And infectious disease.

The best medicine for children?  Free market capitalism.  That produces a wealthy middle class.  A high standard of living for all.  And a social safety net for those who fall on hard times.  Where there is no Third World poverty.  And the children suffer little from infectious disease.

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Osama bin Laden is Dead

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 2nd, 2011

SEAL Team Six

Early reports credit SEAL Team Six with the take down of Osama bin Laden.  Despite losing a helicopter, they executed the mission with extreme precision.  Which is the way SEALs like to do it.  A grateful thanks goes out to all our men and women in the armed forces, especially those in the Special Forces community.  Much of what they do never ‘officially’ happens.  So they are truly America’s unsung heroes.  And a special thanks goes out to Navy SEAL and Rogue Warrior Richard Marcinko.  He created SEAL Team Six and made it the potent asset it is today.  It’s not easy to become a SEAL.  And Marcinko made it harder still to get into SEAL Team Six.  A lot of what they do isn’t humanly possible.  And yet they do it.  Because that’s their business.  Doing the impossible.

A Work in Progress

Number 1 on the FBI’s most wanted terrorist list took awhile to find.  Starting in the Clinton administration even before 9/11.  Yes, he was killing Americans before 9/11.  There were the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya.  And the 2000 USS Cole bombing.  Then came 9/11.  Which intensified the manhunt (see Getting Osama bin Laden: How the mission went down by Mike Allen posted 5/2/2011 on Politico).

In the biggest break in a global pursuit of bin Laden that stretched back to the Clinton administration, the U.S. discovered the compound by following one of the terrorist’s personal couriers, identified by terrorist detainees as one of the few al Qaeda couriers who bin Laden trusted.

“They indicated he might be living with and protecting bin Laden,” a senior administration official told reporters on a midnight conference call. “Detainees gave us his nom de guerre, or his nickname, and identified him as both a protégé of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of September 11th, and a trusted assistant of Abu Faraj al-Libbi, the former number three of al Qaeda who was captured in 2005.”

Officials didn’t learn the courier’s name until 2007. Then it took two years to find him and track him back to this compound, which was discovered in August 2010.

It was this courier that led us to bin Laden.  Identifying him was key.  So important that President Bush authorized some forceful interrogation techniques (see Woman who died as a human shield was one of bin Laden’s wives: White House posted 5/2/2011 on The Toronto Star).

Torture and interrogation tactics inside CIA prisons in Romania and Poland extracted the courier’s name from Mohammed and his successor, Abu Faraj Al Libi, the Associated Press reported.

Former U.S. president George W. Bush had authorized the CIA to use torture; Obama closed the prison system.

Which of course led us not to some cave in Afghanistan near the Pakistan border.  But inside Pakistan.  In relative comfort (see US kills Osama bin Laden decade after 9/11 attacks by Kimberly Dozier and David Espo, Associated Press, posted 5/2/2011 on Yahoo! News).

Long believed to be hiding in caves, bin Laden was tracked down in a costly, custom-built hideout not far from a Pakistani military academy…

The compound is about a half-mile from a Pakistani military academy, in a city that is home to three army regiments and thousands of military personnel. Abbottabad is surrounded by hills and with mountains in the distance.

Critics have long accused elements of Pakistan’s security establishment of protecting bin Laden, though Islamabad has always denied it, and in a statement the foreign ministry said his death showed the country’s resolve in the battle against terrorism.

Still, bin Laden’s location raised pointed questions of whether Pakistani authorities knew the whereabouts of the world’s most wanted man.

And there he was.  Hiding in our ally’s back yard.  With all the comforts of home.  Including a wife or two.  For years.  And all that time not that far from under our very noses.  Was Pakistan complicit?  Time will tell.  Of course, Muslims helping Westerners to hunt down and kill Muslims is a tricky business.  Helping Americans isn’t exactly in their best interests.  They may have been hiding him.  But there were no communication lines going into that compound.  The only contact with the outside world was via those couriers.  So, yes, he was there.  But what exactly was he doing while he was there?  Probably not a lot.  So even though he wasn’t in Gitmo or dead, he may have been, for all intents and purposes, neutralized.  Which would have helped American national security interests.

From Osama bin Laden to Egypt

So bin Laden is dead.  Does it change much?  Perhaps.  But not in the way most would think.  Since 9/11 bin Laden hasn’t been all that active.  It’s hard to be active when you’re always hiding.  The real al Qaeda threat of late has been in Yemen.  Not Afghanistan.  The recent attempts (the underwear bomber and the printer cartridge bombs) were launched from Yemen.  So killing bin Laden may actually have a negative impact on U.S. security.  Because it brought him back from relative obscurity.  Perhaps offering a rallying call for our enemies.  Especially when the U.S. acted unilaterally inside a sovereign Muslim Pakistan.  Where the local population doesn’t much like the U.S. to begin with. 

Osama bin Laden may still have been active.  And taking him out sends a message to other terrorists.  But it is a distraction from more disturbing developments in the Middle East.  In Egypt to be specific.  Where a whole lot of change is happening.  Some of which may not be for the good.  Such as the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood.  Opening the Gaza border crossing.  Their brokering a unity deal between Fatah in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.  And Egypt’s move to normalize relations with Iran.  Little good can come from these developments.  And a lot bad can.  So, yes, bin Laden got what he deserved.  But the developing theater in the War on Terror may now be in the Middle East.

Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood Condemn the Killing of Osama bin Laden

Osama bin Laden was a Saudi.  ‘Was’ being the operative wood.  The Saudis were glad to see him go (see Saudi hopes bin Laden death will aid terror fight by Mahmoud Habboush, Cynthia Johnston, Joseph Logan and Mark Heinrich, posted 5/2/2011 on Reuters).

“An official source expressed the hope of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia that the elimination of the leader of the terrorist al Qaeda organization would be a step toward supporting international efforts aimed at fighting terrorism,” the news agency said.

It added that Riyadh hoped that bin Laden’s demise would also help break up al Qaeda cells and eliminate the “misguided thought” it said was drives militancy.

He and the Wahhabi sect had been a problem for the Saudi kingdom.  They were glad to get rid of him first from the kingdom.  Then from the living.  And when the U.S. offered them bin Laden’s body for burial they refused.  They did not want him buried in Saudi soil.  But not everyone in the Middle East shared Saudi opinion (see Hamas condemns killing of al-Qa’ida leader by Reuters posted 5/2/2011 on The Independent).

Hamas condemned on Monday the US killing of Osama bin Laden as the assassination of an Arab holy warrior, differing sharply with the Palestinian Authority, the Islamist group’s partner in a new unity deal.

“We ask God to offer him mercy with the true believers and the martyrs,” Ismail Haniyeh, head of the Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip, told reporters. ..

Hamas, classified by the United States and the European Union as a terrorist group over its violence against Israel, is due to sign a unity deal this week in Cairo with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s more secular Fatah movement.

Israel has condemned the agreement, saying it could sabotage any efforts to revive peace talks with the Palestinians. The deal envisages an interim unity government comprised of independents and Palestinian elections later in the year.

This is no surprise that Hamas would condemn bin Laden’s killing.  They share his hatred of Americans.  And the State of Israel.  What is troubling, though, is the unity deal between the secular Fatah in the West Bank and the Islamist Hamas in the Gaza Strip.  Especially with that unity deal being brokered in post-Mubarak Egypt.  This is very troubling indeed.  For the Hamas Charter calls for the destruction of Israel.  Which is still in the charter.  Which begs the question, what will be a unified Hamas/Fatah position on Israel?  Especially now that the Muslim Brotherhood, who supports that proviso in the Hamas charter, is ascendant in Egypt.  Perhaps we can learn by the Muslim Brotherhood’s reaction to the killing of bin Laden (see Egypt Muslim Brotherhood condemns Bin Laden death by the Associated Press posted 5/2/2011 on Yahoo! News).

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, a conservative organization with links around the Islamic world, has condemned the killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden by U.S. forces as an “assassination.”

The Brotherhood, which seeks the establishment of a state run according to Islamic principles through peaceful means, is Egypt’s most powerful and organized political movement.

Post-Mubarak Egypt is not looking good.  If current trends continue, it may be like exchanging a Mubarak-Egypt for another Iran.  On the all important Suez Canal.  And but a short walk from Israel.  Public enemy number one for radical Islam.  And let’s not forget that Iran is working on a nuclear program.

The Dawn of a new Islamist Day in Egypt?

It’s hard to find a bigger mistake in the Middle East than forcing Mubarak from office.  For Egypt has a lot more radical Islam fomenting in their populace than they do democracy.  Even bin Laden’s number two, Ayman Al-Zawahri, is an Egyptian.  And he may shortly become al Qaeda’s number one.  Which is cause for concern.  Because he’s not as nice a guy as Osama bin Laden was (see Egypt’s Al-Zawahri likely to succeed bin Laden by Hamza Hendawi and Lee Keath, Associated Press, posted 5/2/2011 on the Daily News Egypt).

With bin Laden killed, Ayman Al-Zawahri becomes the top candidate for the world’s top terror job.

It’s too early to tell how exactly Al-Qaeda would change with its founder and supreme mentor gone, but the group under Al-Zawahri would likely be further radicalized, unleashing a new wave of attacks to avenge bin Laden’s killing by US troops in Pakistan on Monday to send a message that it’s business as usual.

Yes, the mentor bin Laden was the less radical one.  The protégé, Al-Zawahri, may very well take it up a notch.  At least to avenge his mentor’s death.  Unless the U.S. gets to him first.

The attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon made bin Laden Enemy No. 1 to the United States. But he likely could never have carried it out without Al-Zawahri. Bin Laden provided Al-Qaeda with the charisma and money, but Al-Zawahri brought the ideological fire, tactics and organizational skills needed to forge disparate militants into a network of cells in countries around the world.

“Al-Zawahri was always bin Laden’s mentor, bin Laden always looked up to him,” says terrorism expert Bruce Hoffman of Georgetown University.

Osama bin Laden may have put out the call for jihad on 9/11.  By Al-Zawahri made it happen.  And created an international terror network to boot.

Al-Zawahri ensured Al-Qaeda’s survival, rebuilding Al-Qaeda’s leadership in the Afghan-Pakistan border region and installing his allies as new lieutenants in key positions. Since then, the network inspired or had a direct hand in attacks in North Africa, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Pakistan, the 2004 train bombings in Madrid and the 2005 transit bombings in London.

It was Al-Zawahri, not bin Laden, who was responsible for post-9/11 al Qaeda.

But before Al-Qaeda — and before Al-Zawahri focused his wrath on the “far enemy,” United States — his goal was to bring down the “near enemy,” the US-allied government of then president Hosni Mubarak in his native Egypt.

And in what may prove one of the greatest blunders of national security, Al-Zawahri’s ‘far enemy’ took out his ‘near enemy’.  And now all that radical Islam that’s been simmering below the surface can boil over now.  Because the U.S. got rid of the guy that contained it.  Hosni Mubarak.

At the same time, Al-Zawahri began reassembling Islamic Jihad and surrounded bin Laden with Egyptian members of Jihad such as Mohamed Atef and Saif Al-Adel, who would one day play key roles in putting together the Sept. 11 attacks.

The alliance established Al-Zawahri as bin Laden’s deputy and soon after came the bombings of the US embassies in Africa, followed by the 2000 suicide bombing of the USS Cole off the coast of Yemen, an attack Al-Zawahri is believed to have helped organize.

Apparently these Egyptians went to work for bin Laden because they were not welcomed in Egypt.  Of course, that may have all changed.  Egypt is moving closer to Hamas.  And Iran.  And there’s talk about pulling out of the Camp David Accords with Israel.  No doubt these Egyptians are now feeling that there is no place like home.  And they’re probably going back to Egypt.  Eager to take part in the dawn of a new Islamist day there.

Developments in Egypt are of Greater Concern

President Obama acted boldly by giving the go ahead for SEAL Team Six to take down Osama bin Laden.  And some are already talking about how this will help his 2012 reelection chances.  Of course, Osama bin Laden may be moot by then if the economy is still in recession.  George H. W. Bush lost to Bill Clinton after riding record approval numbers after his victory in the Gulf War.  Because it was the economy, stupid.  Osama bin Laden is big.  But his he bigger enough to overcome a recession?

But Obama has a bigger problem, though.  He told Hosni Mubarak he had to go.  That was a mistake.  And it can have huge consequences.  On the War on Terror.  On Middle East stability.  And on world peace.  Bad things are already lining up to happen.  The degree of bad may very well determine the 2012 election.

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The Libyan War is the First Battleground in the New War to End Human Suffering

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 3rd, 2011

Men and Women join the Military to Guard this county and our Way of Life

No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country.  He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.  In case you don’t recognize these lines they’re from Patton.  In that opening speech George C. Scott gives in front of that giant American flag.  This is the sad reality of war.  People die.  And it’s not only the bad guys.  Often they’re our teenagers.  Our young men and women.  Who answer the call of duty.  Knowing they may die.  For it’s in the job description.  And in the Code of the U.S. Fighting Force:

I am an American fighting in the forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense.

That’s why people join the military.  To risk their life guarding this county.  And our way of life.  This is the contract they signed on to.  Not humanitarian missions guarding other people and their way of life.  It’s one thing making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.  But it’s a whole other thing making the ultimate sacrifice just so another people can have a better life.  While your family is left with only memories. And a flag that draped a coffin. 

The Many Roads to War

Vietnam was yet another chapter in the Cold War to block Soviet Expansion.  Before Vietnam we were pretty successful.  We checked them in Berlin.  Greece.  Turkey.  Iran.  Failed in China.  Held the line on the Korean peninsula.  In Cuba (where we prevented the Soviets from placing their nuclear weapons there).  And tried again in South Vietnam.  And failed.  JFK was a Cold War warrior.  That’s why he went into Vietnam.  To check Soviet Expansion.  Our enemy in the Cold War.  Who was always trying to undermine our country and way of life.  People may not remember this, but Vietnam was a popular war before it was unpopular.  Because we lived in fear of the Soviet Union.  And their mushroom cloud.

Much of the world’s oil flows from the Persian Gulf region.  You stop that oil exportation and the world stops.  Remember the oil crisis of 1973?  We would dream of times as good as those should a Middle East dictator shut down that oil flow.  That’s why we threw Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait in the Gulf War.  To stop him from controlling all of that oil.  We went into Afghanistan to topple the Taliban who was giving sanctuary to al Qaeda.  For we had traced the 9/11 attacks back to Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan.

The Iraq War is a little more complicated.  Hussein had repeatedly violated the terms of the ceasefire ending the Gulf War.  He was a threat to the region.  And the Saudis were very reluctant to shut down the terrorist financing in Saudi Arabia lest the Wahhabi rise up and overthrow their kingdom.  Long story short, our Iraqi invasion forced their hand.  Because they feared Iranian hegemony in the Middle East more than the Wahhabi.  Say what you want about the Saudis, but they walk a fine line between helping us and maintaining Arab peace.  All the while not playing politics with their oil.  You can’t really ask for more in a friend and ally.

Now Libya?  Whatever happened in Libya would not have changed life in America.  It was not a national security interest.  It was to the Europeans who bought Libyan oil.  And those nations that may face an influx of refugees hitting their shores.  But there was no U.S. interest for Americans to die for.  It’s a purely humanitarian mission.  Sure, the slaughter of innocents is bad.  And we have a big and powerful military.  But the men and women who sign up to serve pledge to give their life to guard this county.  And our way of life.  Not theirs.  It’s a heavy burden to send men and women into harm’s way.  Especially when some may make that ultimate sacrifice.  But when families understand why their loved ones died, they can find some solace that at least their loss served a higher purpose.  But that ‘why’ in Libya is not going to assuage much of their grief.  Should there be grief.

So why Libya?  It doesn’t make any sense from a national security standpoint.  From a military standpoint.  A diplomatic standpoint.  It’s very confusing.  Why, we don’t even know who the people are that we’re helping.  It would appear that emotion, not logic, got us into Libya.

Women bring Distinctive Life Experiences to Politics

There’s a big push to get more women into government.  For they bring something to the office a man doesn’t (see For a woman to reach the White House, the 2012 elections will be key by Debbie Walsh and Kathy Kleeman posted 4/1/2011 on The Washington Post).

This isn’t just about numbers, though. Women bring distinctive life experiences to politics, and research shows that female officeholders change both the policy agenda and the governing process. Whether the issue is equal access to credit (Bella Abzug) or education (Patsy Mink), family and medical leave (Marge Roukema), or inclusion of women in medical research (Pat Schroeder and Olympia Snowe), female lawmakers have long been recognized as powerful voices on behalf of women, children and families…

Eager for more female candidates, including some who don’t fit the traditional patterns, we’re working on the 2012 Project — a national, nonpartisan CAWP campaign in collaboration with California political strategist Mary Hughes to increase the number of women in federal and state legislative offices. Our goal is to identify and engage accomplished women 45 and older to run for office, women who already have established careers and reduced family responsibilities. We are especially seeking women from fields and industries underrepresented in elective offices, including finance, science, technology, energy and health care.

So they’re trying to find women who also happen to have these qualities to serve in government.  It would seem better to find people with these qualities who happen to be women.  Because it sounds like we’re trying to find the best qualified women.  Instead of the best qualified.  I wonder what Margaret Thatcher thinks of this.  I mean, she was a great leader.  Not just the best woman they could find to be prime minister.

A Woman with “Distinctive Life Experiences” advises Obama to go to War in Libya

There are some women already in politics.  One in particular has quite a powerful position in the Obama administration.  A confidant and adviser to the president.  Well learned and scholarly.  Wrote a book.  Which won her a Pulitzer Prize.  So she’s quite accomplished.  And people should fear her abroad.  Because she likes to send the military on lethal humanitarian missions.  And she’s going places (see Samantha Power to be the next Secretary of State? by Cathy Hayes posted 4/2/2011 on IrishCentral). 

A flattering New York Times profile has increased speculation that Samantha Power, the Dublin-born aide to President Obama, could be his next Secretary of State or National Security Adviser.

She has been the main architect, along with Hillary Clinton, of the Libya policy and has an increasing influence in the White House inner circle.

Of course that new job may all depend on what happens in Libya.  Will the mission creep?  Will there be boots on the ground?  And coffins returning to Dover Air Force Base?  Or will Qaddafi leave and peacefully transfer power to the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group?  Or al Qaeda?  The Muslim Brotherhood?  Or whoever the rebels are?

…she defended the administration’s decision in establishing a no-fly zone, adding failure to do so would have been “extremely chilling, deadly and indeed a stain on our collective conscience.”

Since she began her career working as a war correspondant in Bosnia at the tender age of 22, Power has believed that nations have a moral obligation to prevent genocide. She can bring life to these ideals from her position of the National Security Council…

Some of her critics say that she could be pushing the U.S. into another Iraq. The conservative blog American Thinker says that Obama has “outsourced foreign policy” to the Dublin woman. She has also drawn the ire of the Israeli lobby for her pro-Palestinian positions.

Another Iraq?  I think another Vietnam may be more appropriate.  Because of the mission creep (from advisors to airpower to boots on the ground).  And the affect on the Johnson‘s presidency.  Made him a one-term president.  Unpopular wars can do that.  Will the Libyan War stay popular?  If so perhaps it can be another Iraq.  If not?  Hello Vietnam.

This is the problem of getting women into politics because they are women.  They bring those “distinctive life experiences to politics.”  Emotions then cloud prudent deliberation.  For it would have been better if someone else had the president’s ear regarding Libya.  Someone who said, yes, the situation in Libya is bad.  But we can’t send young Americans on lethal humanitarian missions where ever there is horrible suffering and crimes against humanity.  Because there is horrible suffering and crimes against humanity everywhere.  We can’t pick and choose.  Play God.  Say these people are worthy of living.  While these people should die.  And we can’t encourage others to rise up because they think we will intervene in their country, too.  We just don’t have the resources.  And we can’t ask our brave men and women to do things they didn’t contract for when they joined the military.  Dying for someone else’s country and way of life.

Instead, it was the softer side of the Obama administration that cringed at the thought of people suffering.  And these women did not hesitate to put our men and women at risk to soothe their anguished souls.  And why not?  These leftist intellectuals hate the military (the Ivy League only recently -and reluctantly- let ROTC back on their campuses with the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, no doubt conflicting them.  They enjoyed all the turmoil this is causing in the military.  But now they can’t use that excuse anymore to keep these people off of their campuses).  They don’t care if these people die.  You want to play war?  Okay.  Go play war in Libya.  Kill for us.  Be useful for the first time in your miserable lives.

The War to end Human Suffering

Now women in power is not necessarily bad.  Margaret Thatcher was a great leader.  I wish there were more of her to go around.  It’s getting women in power just because they’re women that is bad.  Especially when they bring those “distinctive life experiences.”  We can’t afford ‘nurturing mother’ types running our foreign policy.  Nurturers want to help.  Because they can’t bear to see suffering.  We need people who can see beyond the suffering.  Who can get past their emotions. 

The military is not a cold impersonal thing.  It’s our sons and daughters.  Our brothers and sisters.  Our fathers and mothers.  Our husbands and wives.  These are people.  Real people.  And we need to treat them as the precious resources they are.  Yes, some may die completing a mission.  So it is our duty to them to make sure they do not die in vain.  That we never ask them to make the supreme sacrifice just to make someone feel better.  Yes, suffering is bad.  But suffering is not a national security interest.  Oil is.  Stability in the Middle East is.  Sealing our southern border is.  Fighting al Qaeda is.  But suffering in Libya, the Ivory Coast, North Korea, (insert a country where there is suffering here), etc., is not. 

Suffering is bad.  But no reason to send Americans to die in war.  We cannot declare war on human suffering.  Because that’s a war that we can never win.  Like our war on drugs.  It requires changing human nature.  And until we can do that there will always be suffering.  And people using drugs.  We have a much better chance stopping terrorism. 

A war on terror?  Now there’s a war worth fighting.  Because winning that war is in our national security interest.

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When it Comes to the Libyan War, Obama must see George W. Bush when he Looks into the Mirror

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 30th, 2011

Dumb things and Turd Sandwiches

President Obama called what he’s doing in Libya dumb.  In 2002 when he was criticizing George W. Bush for toppling the brutal dictator Saddam Hussein in Iraq.   He may not have changed much from this position.  Someone told Savannah Guthrie, NBC News, that the president used a phrase of a national security aide to describe his Libyan operations, calling them a “turd sandwich.”  You have to hand it to the president, he sure knows dumb and turd sandwiches.  Because they really describe well the Obama Doctrine in Libya.  And though it’s not a great delicacy, we the people may have to learn to enjoy this sandwich.  For we may be taking a bite from this sandwich for a very long time.

Libya to become a Recruiting Ground for al Qaeda?

First it was a no-fly zone.  Then we were attacking Qaddafi’s ground forces.  Now we’re taking it up a notch.  We may be supplying arms to the opposition forces.  And Obama has CIA operatives on the ground.  But I’m sure they’re not wearing boots.  For Obama promised there would be no boots on the ground. 

Get ready to take another bite of that sandwich.  Even though the UN Resolution 1973 did not authorize regime change, we’re sure acting like that’s what we’re doing.  And we really don’t know who the opposition is.  But what the hell?  What’s the worst that can happen in this chaotic, rapidly changing situation (see Al Qaeda’s Libya Pilgrimage by Ron Moreau & Sami Yousafzai posted 3/30/2011 on The Daily Beast)?

As debate rages in Washington over whether to arm anti-Gaddafi rebels, an exclusive report by The Daily Beast indicates al Qaeda forces are gearing up to join the rebels and seize power in Libya…

Since the anti-Gaddafi revolution began last month, al Qaeda—especially Libyan-born affiliates—have viewed the fighting as an opportunity to spread their radical Islamist ideology. Indeed, as one Afghan Taliban operative who helps facilitate the movement of al Qaeda militants between the tribal area and Pakistani cities told The Daily Beast earlier this month: “This rebellion is the fresh breeze they’ve been waiting years for. They realize that if they don’t use this opportunity, it could be the end of their chances to turn Libya toward a real Islamic state, as Afghanistan once was…”

According to the Afghan commander, al Qaeda fighters can’t believe their good luck that U.S. and NATO aircraft—the same forces that have dropped bombs on their heads in Afghanistan and Pakistan—are now raining down ordnance against Gaddafi.

You mean our actions in Libya will attract al Qaeda operatives?  Wait a minute.  Let me see if I understand this.  A country where radical Islamists were persecuted and exiled who then went abroad to get battle experience in foreign wars want to come home now because of the Obama Doctrine?  Why, that’s not good.  In fact, Obama can call his actions in Libya dumb again.  For he criticized George W. Bush for doing this in Iraq.  Recruiting al Qaeda where there was no al Qaeda.  And here is Obama.  Recruiting al Qaeda to Libya.  Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

Today, along the tribal border region, al Qaeda’s thirst for more immediate news has led even top leaders like Abu Yahya al-Libi, a Libyan who serves as the movement’s senior Islamist ideologue and bin Laden’s head of operations for Afghanistan, to become almost foolhardy. The Afghan commander says that Yahya and some of his countrymen have even risked visiting villagers’ houses that have satellite television dishes on the roof to watch the latest Western and Middle Eastern news feeds from Libya. Their movements in public areas could easily expose these high value targets to human and UAV surveillance, and a deadly drone strike.

When important bad guys risk their lives for Libyan War updates you know something is afoot.

Whether Yahya himself will return to Libya remains to be seen, but speculation about what he’ll do is rife in the tribal area. “What Yahya will do is on the mind and in the words of everyone,” the Taliban commander adds.  “But I think he is probably preparing for his next move, contacting mujahideen in Libya and watching the situation in Libya…”

“They know they must tread cautiously, and not push too hard, for too much, too soon,” he says. Instead, he says, they expect to take a moderate line at first, while quietly trying to persuade rebel leaders that the preservation of Libyan sovereignty against Western “colonialists” depends on taking an anti-Israeli, anti-American line. Any move toward imposing Islamic sharia law, Yahya’s specialty, will have to come later. Still, Taliban sources say, if Yahya is successful in reaching rebel-held territory inside Libya, at least he’ll be able to operate with relative freedom, without worrying about Gaddafi’s secret police.

Oh my.  This is double plus dumb.  To play on an Orwellian phrase.  Some of us older people may have an eerie feeling of déjà vu.  Because this is how the Iranian Revolution went from democratic uprising to oppressive theocracy.  And we’re providing just the kind of environment to recruit mujahedeen.  Chaos.  Not only that, when they recruit them they may be already armed.  Because of the Obama Doctrine.  Perhaps it’s time to rethink this doctrine.

The Cities we’re Protecting are home to Libyan Jihadists?

All right, it looks like Islamist militants are coming home to Libya.  Thanks to our no-fly zone.  And ground support for the opposition.  Whoever they may be.  So what was this Islamist militant-Qaddafi relationship like?  And who was the real bad guy?  Well, if we focus on just this dynamic it appears that we may be backing the wrong horse (see Jihadist Opportunities in Libya by Scott Stewart posted 2/24/2011 on Stratfor).

Libyans have long participated in militant operations in places like Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chechnya and Iraq. After leaving Afghanistan in the early 1990s, a sizable group of Libyan jihadists returned home and launched a militant campaign aimed at toppling Gadhafi, whom they considered an infidel. The group began calling itself the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) in 1995, and carried out a low-level insurgency that included assassination attempts against Gadhafi and attacks against military and police patrols.

Gadhafi responded with an iron fist, essentially imposing martial law in the Islamist militant strongholds of Darnah and Benghazi and the towns of Ras al-Helal and al-Qubbah in the Jabal al-Akhdar region… Many LIFG members fled the country in the face of the government crackdown and a number of them ended up finding refuge with groups like al Qaeda in places such as Afghanistan.

While the continued participation of Libyan men in fighting on far-flung battlefields was not expressly encouraged by the Libyan government, it was tacitly permitted. The Gadhafi regime, like other countries in the region, saw exporting jihadists as a way to rid itself of potential problems. Every jihadist who died overseas was one less the government had to worry about. This policy did not take into account the concept of “tactical Darwinism,” which means that while the United States and its coalition partners will kill many fighters, those who survive are apt to be strong and cunning. The weak and incompetent have been weeded out, leaving a core of hardened, competent militants. These survivors have learned tactics for survival in the face of superior firepower and have learned to manufacture and effectively employ new types of highly effective improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

In a Nov. 3, 2007, audio message, al Qaeda No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahiri reported that the LIFG had formally joined the al Qaeda network. This statement came as no real surprise, given that members of the group have long been close to al-Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden. Moreover, the core al Qaeda group has long had a large number of Libyan cadre in its senior ranks, including men such as Abu Yahya al-Libi, Anas al-Libi, Abu Faraj al-Libi (who reportedly is being held by U.S. forces at Guantanamo Bay) and Abu Laith al-Libi, who was killed in a January 2008 unmanned aerial vehicle strike in Pakistan.

Oh, oh.  The rebel cities are also home to the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group?  Really?  The people who were killing Americans in Afghanistan and Iraq are the people we’re now helping in Libya?  We’re going to give these people arms?  So they can, basically, continue a struggle they started long ago to overthrow Qaddafi and impose Sharia Law?  Replacing one oppressive regime with another even more oppressive regime?  Do I understand this correctly?  Because this is dumb.  And worthy of the turd sandwich metaphor.

This toppling of brutal dictators is trickier than it looks.

The Libyan government’s security apparatus carefully monitored those Libyans who passed through the crucible of fighting on the battlefield in places like Iraq and Afghanistan and then returned to Libya. Tripoli took a carrot-and-stick approach to the group similar to that implemented by the Saudi regime. As a result, the LIFG and other jihadists were unable to pose a serious threat to the Gadhafi regime, and have remained very quiet in recent years. In fact, they were for the most part demobilized and rehabilitated.

Gadhafi’s son Seif al-Islam oversaw the program to rehabilitate LIFG militants, which his personal charity managed. The regime’s continued concern over the LIFG was clearly demonstrated early on in the unrest when it announced that it would continue the scheduled release from custody of LIFG fighters.

So Libya has been struggling with a Muslim problem.  Of the radical Islamist kind.  And some of those trying to now overthrow the regime may be Islamic militants.  How about that?  Maybe that crazy bastard wasn’t lying.  Maybe there were some chards of truth in Qaddafi’s ramblings.

This deep streak of radicalism in eastern Libya brings us back to the beginning. While it seems unlikely at this point that the jihadists could somehow gain control of Libya, if Gadhafi falls and there is a period of chaos in Libya, these militants may find themselves with far more operating space inside the country than they have experienced in decades…

While Seif al-Islam, who certainly has political motives to hype such a threat, has mentioned this possibility, so have the governments of Egypt and Italy. Should Libya become chaotic and the jihadists become able to establish an operational base amid the chaos, Egypt and Italy will have to be concerned about not only refugee problems but also the potential spillover of jihadists. Certainly, at the very least the weapons looted in Libya could easily be sold or given to jihadists in places like Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria, turning militancy in Libya into a larger regional problem. In a worst-case scenario, if Libya experiences a vacuum of power, it could become the next Iraq or Pakistan, a gathering place for jihadists from around the region and the world. The country did serve as such a base for a wide array of Marxist and rejectionist terrorists and militants in the 1970s and 1980s.

Refugees and jihadists spilling over Libyan borders?  Funny.  Because that’s sort of the focal point of the Obama Doctrine.  To prevent spillover.  That’s why we’re there.  To keep the region stable.  Avoid chaos.  And had we not intervened we may have just done that.  With less loss of life than we may have in this worst-case scenario.  And have a more stable Libya to boot.  But now we may have to nation-build for a third time in a Muslim country.  Or see jihadists radicalize the entire region.  In other words, turd sandwich.

Obama Doctrine or Chaos Theory?

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse in the Libyan War.  Obama Doctrine?  Truth be told there is no Obama Doctrine.  It’s chaos theory.  Without the theory.  For we sure seem to be doing a lot of things without thinking them through first.  Of course it could be worse.  If we did these things after thinking them through.  And we’re getting exactly what we expected.

Pass that sandwich.

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Obama Going all George W. Bush in the Middle East?

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 19th, 2011

Fighting Wars on the other Side of the World

In 1775, the shooting in the American Revolutionary War began.  The world’s superpower, the British Empire, had planned on taking some arms away from local rebels.  Some shots were exchanged at Lexington and Concord.  And the small British force retreated to Boston.  The rebels harassed the British column the entire way.  The war did not begin well for the British.  And it would end like it began.  Not well.  The British formally recognized the United States of America 8 years later with the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1783.

The British outclassed the Americans in every way but one.  Lines of communications.  The British lines were some 3,000 miles back to Great Britain.  About a 6 hour flight today.  Then, a couple of months by ship.  By contrast the Americans held the advantage of short, interior lines.  We could ‘hit and run’ and melt back into the surrounding country.  Like we did in 1775 during that British retreat.  As we did throughout the war.  Though General Washington wanted to defeat the British in a decisive battle, he would not get the chance to meet the British in such a battle until 6 long years later at Yorktown.  Unable to win a decisive battle, he did the only thing he could.  Not lose a decisive battle.  The American Revolutionary War was a war of attrition.  The British sued for peace when the cost of continuing the war was greater than the British people were willing to pay.  As wars are wont to be with such long lines of communications.

Military planners have learned this lesson.  You are probably familiar with a more recent war that was similar.  Where a world superpower was involved in a war of attrition half way across the world.  In South Vietnam.  The Americans came into the conflict to support South Vietnam from Communist North Vietnam.  There is no South Vietnam today.  Like the British some 200 years earlier, we won the military engagements but just couldn’t win the war.  When the cost in blood and treasure became too great, we met in Paris, too, to end the war.  We signed the Paris Peace Accords in 1973.  And we learned the British lesson of 1783.

Winning the War is Easier than Winning the Peace

When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, George H. W. Bush assembled an international coalition and threw the Iraqis out of Kuwait.  Operation Desert Storm was an overwhelming victory.  However, Bush was heavily criticized for ‘not finishing the job’ in the Gulf War.  His critics said we should have gone on to Baghdad to remove Hussein from power.  We didn’t.  For a couple of good reasons.  First of all, the coalition included Arab nations.  They only joined to repel Hussein from Kuwait.  Not to remove him from power.  The other reason was that if we toppled Hussein we would own Iraq.  And we would probably end up there for years trying to ‘win the peace’.

Following the Gulf War there were uprisings throughout Iraq.  The world watched hopeful that he would be overthrown by his own people and democracy would break out.  It didn’t.  He suppressed the rebellions brutally.  So brutally that no-fly zones were established in the north over the Kurds and in the south over the Shiite population.  But we didn’t invade.  And he remained a thorn in our side.  And his people suffered.

After 9/11, the US invaded Afghanistan.  Then Iraq.  The official reason was his weapons of mass destruction that he never documented destroyed.  He had used chemical weapons against the Iranians.  And the Kurds.  Being a ‘supporter’ of terrorism there was worry he might provide these weapons to a terrorist.  So there was that reason.  The other reason was a little more convoluted.  Osama bin Laden was a Wahhabi Sunni.  He had ties in Saudi Arabia.  And there was a large Wahhabi population in Saudi Arabia providing funding to al Qaeda.  The Saudis were reluctant to shut down this funding for fear of a rebellion by the Wahhabis against the House of Saud.  But there was one thing that worried them more than the Wahhabis.  Shiite Iran.  By invading Iraq we forced their hand.  They had a vested interest in seeing us succeed in Iraq.  And in our war against al Qaeda.  We made progress against al Qaeda and their Taliban hosts in Afghanistan.  And the Saudi started to shut down their funding.  The Iraq War was a success.  But the one drawback was that we now owned Iraq.  And winning the peace was nowhere as easy as winning the war.  As George W. Bush learned.

Obama Commits Military Force in Libya

The US has some very important friends in the Middle East and North Africa.  Among these are Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.  To name a few.  These are nations with Sunni populations and/or Sunni governments unfriendly to Iran.  Egypt made peace with Israel and kept the Suez Canal open for international trade for decades.  Saudi Arabia peacefully coexists with its neighbors and is the largest oil exporter in the world.  Except for the oil embargo of 1973, they have maintained the flow of that oil at market prices to Western economies.  The US Navy’s 5th Fleet is headquartered in Bahrain.

These nations aren’t perfect.  Saudi women can’t drive a car, for example.  But they’re stalwart US allies.  One of these nations was pretty progressive as well as being a staunch US friend.  Egypt.  Egyptian women were about the freest in the Middle East, second only to Tunisia.  Egypt and Tunisia, though, were suffering economically.  Had high unemployment.  And a Muslim opposition unhappy with their ‘Western’ ways.  The largest organized opposition group is the Muslim Brotherhood.  And they can be best described as being more simpatico with Iran.  When Egypt had their uprising, the Obama administration called it a democracy uprising and called for Hosni Mubarak to give up power.  Without considering who would step into that power void.  Which did not go over well with Mubarak.  Or the Saudis.

Now Libya is burning.  Qaddafi is attacking his own people.  The US dithered for weeks.  While the Libyans cried for help.  Even other Arab nations cried for our help.  But we did nothing.  Even though Qaddafi is not a US friend.  And was a sponsor of terrorism.  As the carnage mounted, though, someone took action.  The French of all people (see U.S. Missiles Strike Libyan Air-Defense Targets by David Kirkpatrick, Steven Erlanger and Elisabeth Bumiller posted 3/19/2011 The New York Times).

American and European forces began a broad campaign of strikes against the government of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi on Saturday, unleashing warplanes and missiles in a military intervention on a scale not seen in the Arab world since the Iraq war…

The campaign began with French warplane missions even before the end of an emergency summit meeting in Paris, where leaders, reacting to news that Colonel Qaddafi’s forces were attacking the rebel capital city of Benghazi on Saturday morning despite international demands for a cease-fire, said they had no choice but to act to defend Libyan civilians and opposition forces.

France has a Muslim problem.  They had some riots a few years back in some Paris Muslim suburbs.  Where young Muslims were unemployed.  Unhappy.  And not all that willing to assimilate into French culture.  Though they want to live in France.  So there’s been tensions between the French and their Muslim population.  So it says a lot that France was on point in this attack on a Muslim country.  Yes, at this time the international community, including some Arab states, approve of this action.  But you play with fire whenever you attack a Muslim country.  Especially if they have oil.  And Libya has oil.  In fact, it’s some of the finest oil in the Middle East.  A low-sulfur sweet crude.

When the international community was coming together against him, Qaddafi was defiant.  Warned us to stay out of their internal affairs.

“Libya is not yours. Libya is for all Libyans,” he wrote in one letter, read to the news media by a spokesman. “This is injustice, it is clear aggression, and it is uncalculated risk for its consequences on the Mediterranean and Europe.

“You will regret it if you take a step toward intervening in our internal affairs.”

Colonel Qaddafi addressed President Obama as “our son,” in a letter jarring for its familiarity. “I have said to you before that even if Libya and the United States enter into war, God forbid, you will always remain my son and I have all the love for you as a son, and I do not want your image to change with me,” he wrote. “We are confronting Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, nothing more. What would you do if you found them controlling American cities with the power of weapons? Tell me how would you behave so that I could follow your example?”

Could this be why the Obama administration was so reluctant to act?  Because of a father-son relationship between Obama and Qaddafi?  You gotta admit this is a strange thing for Qaddafi to say.  Makes you wonder just what was the extent of Obama’s apology tour in the Middle East.  One thing for sure, it will give fuel to those who think Obama is a Muslim.  I mean, it just doesn’t help when the bad guy calls you a son.

Regret?  We should take that threat seriously.  After some military encounters with Libyan losses in the Gulf of Sidra Qaddafi retaliated with the bombing of a German disco frequented by US troops.  When we discovered his connection to that bombing we bombed Tripoli.  In retaliation for that bombing he had a bomb smuggled aboard a 747.  Pan Am Flight 103.  Brought down on Lockerbie, Scotland.  So he has a history of getting even.  Which we need to be on guard for.

Obama now Owns Libya

So it’s war.  Missiles are flying.  People are dying (see Libya: British forces launch missile attacks on Gaddafi by Colin Freeman, in Benghazi and Sean Rayment posted 3/20/2011 on the UK’s Telegraph).

Explosions were reported at an airport east of Tripoli as a British Trafalgar Class submarine and US Navy ships and submarines stationed off Libya fired 110 Tomahawk missiles at 20 targets in what one source described as a “night of carnage”.

The missiles targeted Libyan command and control centres, radar installations and surface-to-air missile sites. Libyan officials said the attacks were “barbaric” and causing civilian casualties…

British sources and Pentagon officials said Nato would undertake a “battle damage assessment” of Libya’s military during daylight hours and would decide whether to continue with further attacks.

Sources at the Elysée Palace said Britain, France and the United States had assumed the “leadership” of the coalition in early talks between the Prime Minister, Mr Sarkozy and Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State. The “extremely purposeful conclusion” of the early talks was endorsed by the full meeting, where speakers included Ban Ki-Moon, the United Nations secretary general.

Well, President Obama has his third war.  Pretty impressive for a guy that said he would get us out of Iraq (he didn’t).  That he would fully prosecute the Afghanistan War to victory (he hasn’t).  And he wouldn’t nation-build like his predecessor.  George W. Bush.  He now may.  There’s no way Qaddafi can withstand the military force now aligned against him.  So he will lose.  But what then?  Who will fill that power vacuum?  In an already unstable and changing Middle East?  He can say what he wants about Iraq and Afghanistan, but it’s different with Libya.  This happened on his watch.  And he now owns it.  It will be up to him to win the peace.  Or lose it.

Those naval operations against Libya will be based out of Bahrain.  I sure hope he doesn’t encourage any more ‘democracy’ uprisings while we’re using that base for combat operations.  It would be a shame to lose that base during the middle of these operations.  And by a shame I mean a complete and utter disaster.  Because that would greatly extend our lines of communications.  And history has shown what that can do in war.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

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Can Feminism Survive in the Islamic Middle East?

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 19th, 2011

The Iranian Revolution and Feminism

The Shah of Iran modernized Iran.  And advanced women’s rights.  Did away with child marriage.  And outlawed having multiple wives.  Women may not have been fully equal but they were more equal than they had ever been before.  Or since.  And they had access to education.  In fact, they were so well educated that when they came out of college some could find no jobs.  At least none that called for such a higher education.  So there was a lot of unemployment during the 1970s.  A lot of highly educated people without jobs.  Both men and women.  And they protested.  Both men and women.  They overthrew the Shah.  Both men and women.  And how did that go?  Well, better for the men than it did for the women.

The Iranian Revolution in 1979 kind of came out of nowhere.  Stunned most of the world.  But many quickly welcomed this ‘democratic’ revolution.  Some people even welcomed that kindly, moderate, old man returning from exile.  Ayatollah Khomeini.  Even The New York Times said at last we will see a humane government in a third world country.  Of course, that didn’t happen.  The ‘democratic’ revolution soon became a theocratic revolution.  Khomeini ushered in Sharia law.  And a rather oppressive interpretation at that.  Everything the women gained under the Shah was gone.  Women were property again.  Second class citizens.  Not the kind of hope and change they were protesting about.  In fact, a lot of their daughters say today, “Thanks, Mom.”  And, “What were you thinking about!?!”  Under their breath, of course.

The Iranian Revolution started out as a democratic movement upset about rampant unemployment and abject poverty.  And they were angry at the Shah’s oppressive regime that exercised dictatorial power.  That shut down all opposition voices.  A lot like in Egypt.  But underneath this there was another element lurking in the background.  An Islamic element.  Angry at the Shah’s Westernization of Iran.  And eager to restore the old, Islamic ways.  And while the first revolutionaries talked about democratic reform, these other revolutionaries planned their theocracy.  Then they installed it.  And the rest is history.  A sad one for those women who had achieved so much under the Shah’s rule.

As in Iran, Men and Women Stood side by side during the Egyptian Revolution.  Will they after the Revolution?

So another revolution comes and goes in the Arab world.  It took only 18 days.  Things were pretty good in Egypt for women before the revolution.  But what will life be like after the revolution (see Egypt women stand for equality in the square by Kathy Lally posted 2/18/2011 on The Washington Post)?

Women are far better off in Egypt than some parts of the Arab world. There are no religious police enforcing dress codes as in Iran, or prohibitions against driving as in Saudi Arabia. But Egyptian women are greatly underrepresented in public life and inferior to men before the law. They hold cabinet posts, but no judgeships. They are members of parliament, but have few seats. They occupy many professions, but not all.

Divorces are difficult to obtain and favor men, as do property rights. Women are encouraged to marry and have children early: The legal age of marriage was only recently raised from 16 to 18.

And, every day as they walk down the street, they are reminded of their low status – until Tahrir Square. Egyptian women are sexually harassed to an astonishing degree, groped, ogled, followed by catcalls, behavior that no law forbids. In a 2008 survey, the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights in Cairo found that 83 percent of Egyptian women and 98 percent of foreign women had been harassed at some point.

And this in a ‘far better off’ country in the Arab world.  Makes one wonder what happened in the not so better off countries.  The question is, will this be the high water mark for feminism in Egypt?  Will they now retreat on the advancements made in women’s rights?

“We were equal partners in this revolution,” she said, “and we are respected as such. Now we have to use the moment effectively, to make sure women participate in daily political life, to make sure they are involved in the development of political parties and labor movements.”

That’s kind of what the women said in Iran.  Of course, once that theocracy took hold, all hopes for women being involved in political parties and movements were over.  Will this be Egypt’s fate?  Or the Middle East’s?  A common enemy can unite a people.  Even the sexes.  But what about tradition and culture?  And religion?  How heavily will they weigh on the new governments borne of revolution?

Tunisia and Egypt – Oppressors of the People but Defenders of Feminism

What do Tunisia and Egypt have in common?  They both just disposed hated dictators.  And they were both bastions of women’s rights (see Are the Mideast revolutions bad for women’s rights? by Isobel Coleman posted 2/20/2011 on The Washington Post).

Tunisia, in particular, has been a bastion of women’s rights in a region known for the opposite. Shortly after independence in 1956, President Habib Bourguiba, the country’s secular authoritarian leader, pushed through a Personal Status Code which was remarkably liberal for its time. It granted women equal divorce rights to men, abolished polygamy, set minimum marriage ages, allowed access to birth control and even some access to abortion. Bourguiba modeled himself on Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Turkey’s founder who force-marched his country into the modern age through a painful process of secularization – “for the people, despite the people,” as he once quipped.

The result is that Tunisian women today enjoy relatively high literacy and have achieved broad gains in law, medicine, business, academia and media.

But things got bad.  And the Tunisians protested about the same things the Iranians and the Egyptians did.  And the big question is this.  Now that there is a power vacuum, who will fill it?  A modern, democratic power?  Or an old school, theocratic power?  Like, say, the Muslim Brotherhood?

In Egypt, democracy will also create important openings for Islamist groups, especially the Muslim Brotherhood. In a 2007 Gallup survey, 64 percent of Egyptians polled said that sharia should be the only source of law in the country; an additional 24 percent said it should be a source of legislation. (There was little variation by gender.)

Still, Egyptians’ desire for sharia is balanced by a strong demand for modernization and a distaste for theocracy. Women’s rights will be a litmus test for the new government – a sign of where the country is headed. The Muslim Brotherhood unleashed a sea of controversy in 2007 when it released its party platform excluding women (and non-Muslims) from the presidency, and calling for a group of Islamic scholars to review and veto legislation that does not conform to religious rules. These conservative positions confirmed critics’ worst fears of the Brotherhood, and led to some soul-searching within the organization itself, especially among younger members who disagreed with the hard-line positions of their elders.

Those younger members should read a page from the Iranian Revolution history.  The young in Iran today are not all happy with their parent’s revolution.  Especially the women.  And the girls.

The rise of Salafism, a particularly conservative form of the faith propagated by Saudi Arabia, should worry Egyptian women’s groups. In recent years, tensions between secularists and Salafis have been rising, with Salafis calling for full veiling of women and gender segregation in universities. The Salafis’ following is evident in the rising number of Egyptian women wearing the niqab, the face-covering veil, long black abayas and even gloves on their hands to avoid physical contact with men.

Wearing the veil has become popular in Tunisia and Egypt for a variety of reasons, including as an expression of religious identity, conforming to social pressures and as a statement against the secular authoritarianism of the government. (The irony is that Egypt is the birthplace of Arab feminism, which in the first half of the 20th century put much energy into unveiling women.)

With Hosni Mubarak gone, activists will now have to contend with hard-core politics in a way that has been missing from Egypt’s Potemkin parliament. Controversial legislation, like the equal right to divorce that was passed in 2000, will come under pressure from Islamist lawmakers who fiercely opposed the bill. (Tunisia is the only other Arab country that grants women the right.) Women’s groups can no longer fall back upon a sympathetic Mubarak regime, which often sided with their cause.

Ah, yes, the hated Hosni Mubarak.  Champion of feminism.  Who they ran out of the country.  Much like the Shah of Iran.  One can only hope that the women of Egypt don’t end up like the women of Iran.

Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan – Still not Bastions of Women’s Rights

Of course, being a woman in Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan was no picnic.  Under their law, the sentence for many offences was death.  Even for not wearing the proper traditional garb.  But that was then.  We toppled the Taliban from power in Afghanistan.  And the Saudi’s are a stalwart ally.  So how are things there now (see Why American troops in Afghanistan shouldn’t have to wear headscarves by Martha McSally posted 2/18/2011 in The Washington Post)?

In 2001, I was an Air Force lieutenant colonel and A-10 fighter pilot stationed in Saudi Arabia, in charge of rescue operations for no-fly enforcement in Iraq and then in Afghanistan. Every time I went off base, I had to follow orders and put on a black Muslim abaya and head scarf. Military officials said this would show “cultural sensitivity” toward conservative Saudi leaders and guarantee “force protection” – this in a nation where women couldn’t drive, vote or dress as they pleased…

In Afghanistan after Sept. 11, 2001, the world saw the hallmark of Taliban oppression – women who failed to cover up risked death. Now, nine years after the fall of the Taliban government, Afghan women are still required to cover themselves and have hardly moved toward the equal rights and liberties we envisioned. In conjunction, U.S. military women are simply submitting to Muslim practices that symbolize the plight of Afghan women when they put on the scarf themselves.

American servicewomen will continue to be viewed as second-class warriors if leaders push them to take up the customs of countries where women are second-class citizens.

It’s pretty bad when they make your liberators adopt the custom of the previously oppressed women.  There’s a mixed message here.  Rise up and enjoy your freedom.  But be obedient.  They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.  And as tradition, culture and religion go, they don’t come much older.  Talk about democratic movements all you want.  But there is a heavy undertow of Islamic Fundamentalism in the Middle East.  And it’s going to take an extraordinary effort to resist it.  

Will the women make it to shore and enjoy democracy?  Or will they be dragged back and disappear beneath the surface of theocracy?  Like in that democratic revolution in Iran?  Let’s pray that feminism wins the day.  For if theocracy does, it won’t be only the women in the Middle East that suffer.  We all will.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

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