The IRS proves the Tea Party Right with their Attack on the Tea Party

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 16th, 2013

Politics 101

The Democrats lost Big in the 2010 Midterm Elections because of Tea Party Conservatives and Citizens United

“Trust us.  We’re the federal government.”  Two sentences that really don’t go together these days.  Something more appropriate would be, “Do as we say.  And think like we think.  If you don’t, trust us, we will make your life unpleasant.  Such as targeting excessive IRS scrutiny on your sorry ass.”  Yes, that sounds more appropriate.  At least, based on the actions of the federal government.

The 2010 midterm elections really shocked and dismayed the liberal Democrats.  In 2010 approximately 21% of the population identified themselves as liberals.  About 35% identified themselves as moderates.  And about 40% identified themselves as conservative (see Conservatives Remain the Largest Ideological Group in U.S. posted on Gallup).  Which is why after passing Obamacare on pure party lines the Democrats loss was so big in the 2010 midterm elections.  And it became clear to liberal Democrats that they cannot win the debate in the arena of ideas.  No.  If they were to maintain their power and transform the country against the will of the people they had to rig the game in their favor.

The Democrats lost big in the 2010 midterms because of Tea Party conservatives.  Those people who admired the Founding Fathers.  The Constitution.  Limited government.  Laissez-faire capitalism.  And the rule of law.  The things that made the United States of America great.  And things the current administration is NOT a big fan of.  For they want to expand the federal government into European socialism.  With a great and mighty federal government.  So those in the ruling class can shape the nation into their image.  Not the Founding Fathers’ image.  And to do this they have to eliminate public enemy number one.  No, not al Qaeda.  But the Tea Party.  And denying their right to free speech using the power of the IRS was one way to achieve that.

The Obama Administration ordered Military Forces in Tripoli to Stand Down because it Wouldn’t Fit the Narrative

Ever since the Supreme Court decision Citizens United (2010) ruled that corporations were people the liberal Democrats had a bug up their backside.  Because they enjoyed collecting huge sums from unions who were, apparently, people, too.  And the liberals’ favorite tool for attacking business interests.  As unions supported them in their anti-business agenda with lots of cash.  To help the liberals regulate and transfer more wealth from private sector to the public sector.  While forcing union-friendly policies on businesses.  To protect their friends in the unions.  To keep a large portion of those unions dues flowing to Democrat coffers.

Liberals blame Citizens United for the rise of the Tea Party which led to their defeat in the 2010 midterms.  After 2010 it was payback time.  When liberal nonprofits filed for their tax-exempt status the IRS granted them within months.  Whereas the IRS delayed the application process for conservative groups.  Especially any with ‘Tea Party’ in their name.  Demanding a list of their political donors.  What books they read.  Who they associated with.  Whether they would attack Planned Parenthood.  Etc.  Inappropriate.  And illegal.  This harassment went on for months.  Preventing these organizations from collecting donations and exercising their First Amendment right of free speech.  And when the IRS collected any information on donors they gave it to liberal websites to publicize and attack.  Discouraging further contributions.  And limiting opposing political ads in the run-up to the 2012 election.  Helping President Obama and Democrats.  While hurting Mitt Romney and Republicans.

The Democrats have a perception that they are strong on domestic issues but weak on national defense.  Which is why President Obama made the decision to kill Osama bin Laden when the opportunity came.  To show he was strong on national defense.  In fact, with the killing of bin Laden President Obama said al Qaeda was in retreat.  Because he fought the War on Terror better and smarter than George W. Bush did.  The 2012 campaign narrative was ‘Osama bin Laden is dead.  And General Motors is alive’.  Which is why the Obama administration told Ambassador Stevens he could not have more security in Benghazi.  Because it wouldn’t fit the narrative.  It’s why the Obama administration ordered military forces in Tripoli to stand down and not assist those under attack in Benghazi.  Who probably could have saved the two Americans killed some 7 hours after the White House Situation Room received word of an attack in Benghazi.  Because it wouldn’t fit the narrative.

Like-Minded People don’t Need Orders when they Share the same Burning Passion to Defeat Conservatism

Benghazi is a political nightmare for the administration.  First of all they ignored the deteriorating conditions in Benghazi (it was so unsafe that the British pulled their people out just before the attack on the American mission).  Then four Americans died.  Because this administration was weak on national defense.  There was the stand-down order.  President Obama disappeared during the attack.  And, of course, there was the YouTube video the Obama administration blamed.  Not a terrorist attack.  Because, again, that wouldn’t fit the narrative.  We should reelect president Obama because al Qaeda was in retreat.  So they weren’t assaulting Americans in Benghazi.  It was just people protesting that YouTube video that got out of hand.  And pulled rocket propelled grenades and mortars from their pockets and started killing Americans with them.

At press conferences reporters ask questions on Benghazi and the IRS harassment of conservatives.  Which the Obama administration doesn’t answer.  Because there is an ongoing investigation.  Or they simply state they don’t know.  But they insist that they will get to the bottom of it.  Figure out what happened.  And make sure it doesn’t happen again.  As well as insisting that there is no political bias in any of these scandals.  Just a rogue employee or two.  Which is hard to believe.  Because whenever there is a scandal there is a common element to them.  They hurt conservatives.  Making it more difficult for them to win elections.  While helping liberal Democrats.  Making it easier for them to win elections.  Without fail.  So it’s hard to believe that there is no political motive behind them.  Especially considering the 2010 midterm elections.  The rise of the Tea Party.  And liberals’ inability to win in the arena of ideas.  Requiring them to cheat wherever they can to win elections.  To maintain their power and transform the country against the will of the people.

The president doesn’t govern.  He only campaigns.  Always fighting those who are against his policies.  And everything bad that ever happens is because of this opposition he is fighting against.  As if he hasn’t been president for the past 4+ years.  But these scandals are bad.  Especially the IRS scandal.  Where people on the Left are even comparing it to the Nixon administration.  So his defenders say it’s not him.  It’s some people in the vast federal government.  That is just too big for the president to know everything that’s going on.  No one could.  This is the defense of the president that wants to make the federal government even bigger.  The government is too big.

The president hates the Citizens United ruling.  And the Tea Party.  Blaming both for the Democrats losing the House in the 2010 midterms.  These are his feelings.  And he hires people who think and feel like he does.  So even if he didn’t direct his administration to do these things he might as well have.  For these are universal feelings among liberal Democrats.  Where no orders are necessary.  Because like-minded people will take initiative.  Either eager to please.  Or because they share the same burning passion to defeat conservatism and enlarge the federal government.  So more smart bureaucrats can manage every aspect of our lives.  Even breaking the law to help their cause.  Because they feel the administration will approve of their actions.  Even protect them if they get caught.  So these scandals are not so much a reflection of an administration out of control.  But of a political party out of control.  Who have grown the federal government so large that no one person can know what it is doing.  So the defenders of President Obama are right.  The government is too large.  And we need to reduce the size of it.  Just as the Tea Party would have said.  Had the IRS not hindered their ability to exercise their First Amendment right during the 2012 election.  Which may be the only reason why the Democrats retained control of the Senate.  Or why President Obama won reelection.  Because they cheated.  Which may be the only way they can win elections when only 21% of the people think like they do.

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Did President Obama use the IRS to attack Enemies of his Administration during the 2012 Election?

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 11th, 2013

Week in Review

President Obama’s Treasury Department’s IRS is caught harassing perceived enemies of the Obama administration.  To help stifle their free speech during the 2012 election.  But they deny it was political.  And apologize (see IRS apologizes for targeting conservative groups by STEPHEN OHLEMACHER posted 5/10/2013 on the AP).

The Internal Revenue Service apologized Friday for what it acknowledged was “inappropriate” targeting of conservative political groups during the 2012 election to see if they were violating their tax-exempt status.

IRS agents singled out dozens of organizations for additional reviews because they included the words “tea party” or “patriot” in their exemption applications, said Lois Lerner, who heads the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt groups. In some cases, groups were asked for lists of donors, which violates IRS policy in most cases, she said…

About 75 groups were inappropriately targeted. None had their tax-exempt status revoked, Lerner said.

The IRS is an independent agency within the Treasury Department that enforces the nation’s tax laws. Revelations that the agency was targeting political groups because they were affiliated with a movement that is critical of President Barack Obama could become a new headache for the White House…

IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman told Congress in March 2012 that the IRS was not targeting groups based on politics.

How can this be anything but politics?  And a gross misuse of power?

The Obama administration would identify organizations with ‘Tea Party’ and ‘patriot’ in their name as enemies of the Obama administration.  For with every shooting or bombing on American soil the go-to people are the ‘anti-government’ Tea Party and patriot people.  Radical conservatives as they call them.  Of course it hasn’t yet turned out that a mass murderer was a radical conservative.  They have been either radical Islamists.  Or people with mental health problems.

After what we’ve learned about the Benghazi cover-up this past week is it really hard to believe that the Obama administration used the power of the IRS against political opponents?  President Nixon did that.  So why not President Obama?

Both President Obama and President Nixon lied to the American people to improve their reelection chances.  Who would have thought that the guy who wanted to be compared to FDR would actually be more like President Nixon?  Of course, with President Nixon there was a crime.  A break-in.  But no one died.  As they did in Benghazi.  Because the Obama administration just couldn’t grant the requests of Ambassador Stevens for more security after President Obama declared the War on Terror was over.  For the 2012 campaign message was that ‘Osama bin Laden was dead.  And General Motors is alive’.  With bin Laden gone al Qaeda was defeated.  At least that was what the Obama administration was saying.  After bin Laden’s death there were no more radical Islamists trying to kill Americans.  This was why we needed to vote for President Obama.  For he made the world a safer place.  And beefing up security in Benghazi wouldn’t help that message before the election.  So they denied Ambassador Steven’s request.  For what could possible happen?

A full-scale military assault.  That’s what.  Which was even worse to the Obama campaign than beefing up security.  The Obama administration couldn’t have this.  So they concocted the story about the anti-Islamic YouTube video and a spontaneous uprising.  And when the intelligence reports came in identifying an al Qaeda affiliated terrorist group they took their talking points and edited them down.  Pulling anything ‘militant Islamist’ out of them.  This despite the president of Libya confirming the al Qaeda connection.  This kept the Benghazi mess quiet through the election.  And what’s to say they might have set the IRS on their political opponents to help keep the Benghazi mess quiet through the election?

They lied about Benghazi.  So they’re probably lying about the IRS.  The very same people they’re putting in charge of the funding of Obamacare.  Who will be looking ever more closely at our employers.  And our personal lives.  But there’s nothing to worry about.  For the IRS would never use their power for political purposes.  Not with the most transparent presidency since the Nixon administration.  Well, perhaps not quite as transparent as the Nixon administration.  Then again, it’s probably one of the least transparent administrations in U.S. history.  In fact, the Nixon administration was probably more transparent and honest than the current administration.  Nixon may have lied.  But he didn’t leave his embassy staff unprotected.  So enemies of the United States could kill them.  And then lie to cover it up.

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FT169: “College is more about making Democrat voters than giving students marketable skills.” —Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 10th, 2013

Fundamental Truth

Another Big Reason why College Tuition has been Soaring is because of Public Sector Unions

College tuition is rising.  With increases greater than the rate of inflation.  With some tuition costs growing greater than costs in health care.  There are many reasons for this.  Unlike private sector business colleges cannot produce more with less.  That is, they cannot use productivity gains to educate more students with fewer professors.  Auto manufacturers can use robots to replace people on the assembly line.  Reducing wage, pension and health care costs.  The biggest costs that go into a car.

Universities are big campuses with lots of buildings that basically do one thing.  Sit students down in front of a professor.  This hasn’t change since the first days of higher education.  The only things that have changed are the buildings are a lot nicer.  And university employees all have better pay, pensions and health care than they used to have.  Which is why tuition costs keep rising.  For universities, unlike auto manufacturers, can’t speed up their assembly lines by using robots instead of people.  But it’s not only the auto manufacturers and the universities that have high labor, pension and health care costs.

Another big reason why university tuition has been soaring is because of public sector unions.  Who have negotiated some extremely generous union contracts.  Cities and states everywhere are drowning under the costs of their labor, pension and health care costs.  Forcing them to cut back spending elsewhere to pay for those generous public sector union contracts.  So they’re cutting back on their subsidies for higher education.  And what the state cuts the universities just tack on to the student’s tuition bill.

Universities lure High School Kids into College with Promises of a Big Paycheck for an Easy Degree

Today’s tuition costs will saddle a student with the kind of debt that can pay for a house.  A very big house.  One of those McMansions.  Depending on where you go to college.  Which is all well and fine if a student gets a high-paying job after graduating.  Sadly, though, a lot aren’t.  A lot are taking jobs that they could have gotten out of high school.  Without that massive student loan debt.  Debt they will be paying for a long, long time.  Making it very difficult for them to buy a house and start a family.  And the reason for this is too many students are taking degrees with no market value in a high-tech economy.

Today’s businesses are looking for people with a strong science and math background.  For this is what businesses in a high-tech economy need.  Not people with degrees in anthropology.  Philosophy.  Women’s studies.  Art history.  Comparative literature.  Communication.  Or a myriad of other degrees that a business just can’t use.  Yet our universities are selling these degrees.  Telling their prospective students who don’t want the heavy math load a science and engineering degree requires that these other degrees are just as good.  And that they, too, can have that big paycheck.  Just like engineers and chemists and doctors and physicists.  All they need is a student loan.  And the world can be their oyster.

So these kids starting their adult lives start that life by making one of the worst decisions of their lives.  Because they really want to go to college.  For the fun.  Universities lure these high school kids into higher education.  Appealing to them as adults.  Who can live away from home out from under the judgmental eyes of their parents.  For on a college campus there is a lot of fun to be had.  Sex.  Drugs.  Alcohol.  And health services.  Such as birth control and access to abortion services.  For all the consequence-free fun a high school graduate could ever ask for.  This is the bait.  And all they have to do to have all of that grownup fun is to borrow enormous sums of money that they will probably never be able to pay back.

Liberals say You should Never Rush to Judgment, Especially if we can’t Blame Conservatives

For the universities, though, it’s not just the money.  For their curriculum is the product of those Sixties’ radicals.  Who tried to overthrow capitalism.  And replace it with communism.  As they were never able to incite the workers’ revolt in the United States they changed tack.  And continued their revolution from the inside.  By becoming college professors.  Who eventually got tenure.  And went on to write the curriculum.  Basically an anti-capitalist, America is responsible for all the world’s problems and an anti-religious/anti-tradition curriculum.  Hence the socially liberal campus where anything goes.  And those college degrees that have no market value.  That advanced a relentless attack on capitalism and business.  And made their students eschew American greatness.

This curriculum has helped President Obama win reelection despite a horrific economic record.  And a brutal attack on the American mission in Benghazi.  The result of a failed foreign policy that tried to make nice with America’s enemies.  Who have been trying—and at times succeeding—to kill Americans.  The Fort Hood shooting by a radical Islamist.  The underwear bomber (failed Islamist plot).  The Times Square bomber (failed Islamist plot).  As well as other smaller and lesser known incidents.  Both successful and failed Islamist plots.  Then Benghazi.  And the death of 4 Americans.  Despite earlier witnessing an increase of anti-Western violence in the city.  A resurgent al Qaeda.  And an anniversary date holy to radical Islam.  9/11.  The U.S. mission in Benghazi requested additional security.  The Obama administration denied it as it would not fit the 2012 campaign meme.  ‘Osama bin Laden is dead.  And General Motors is alive.’  President Obama had won the War on Terror with the killing of bin Laden.  Therefore, they couldn’t have a terrorist attack in Benghazi before the 2012 election.  So the Obama administration made up the story about an anti-Islamic YouTube video that led to a spontaneous protest in front of the U.S. mission.  A protest that naturally got out of hand when the people pulled RPGs and mortars out of their pockets and started a military assault on the American compound.

The Obama administration then started to disseminate the lie.  They sent Secretary Rice to the Sunday morning television shows with severely edited talking points to downplay any role of radical Islam.  Then President Obama and Secretary Clinton made numerous public statements denouncing that YouTube video.  Even made a video to air in Pakistan.  And the mainstream media, the product of that anti-capitalist, America is responsible for all the world’s problems and anti-religious/anti-tradition curriculum never questioned anything.  They just dutifully carried the administration’s water.  And now that signs of a cover-up are coming out the administration is saying the only reason why they made any edits to those talking points was to prevent anyone from rushing to judgment.  Something they say we should never do.  Especially if we can’t blame conservatives.  Or Christians.  Like they did with the YouTube video that proved to be a red herring.  And as they—and their friends in the mainstream media—have rushed to judgment in the past.  By quickly blaming radical conservatives for every other massacre.  Only to see it turn out to be someone who wasn’t a conservative.  But a radical Islamist(s) instead.  Or someone suffering from mental illness.

Of course this wouldn’t be possible without higher education.  Where college is more about making Democrat voters than giving students marketable skills.  One could even blame those deaths in Benghazi on that anti-capitalist, America is responsible for all the world’s problems and anti-religious/anti-tradition curriculum.  (As well as being the reason why these kids can’t find any high-paying jobs; the vote for anti-business Democrat candidates whose policies discourage economic growth.)  Because protecting Americans in Benghazi would have been bad for the Democrats in 2012.  So perhaps we should be addressing the high cost of higher education.  And follow the example of the automotive industry.  By producing more graduates with fewer professors.  And put an end to the liberal Shangri la of the college campus.  By replacing the bulk of higher education with online studies.  For if a 15-year old girl can make medical decisions about the morning after pill by reading the contents of the packaging without consulting a doctor or parent then she can get her higher education online.  Without all the fun.  Or student loan debt.

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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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The British foil al Qaeda Plot in Britain following al Qaeda’s Defeat in the War on Terror

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 28th, 2012

Week in Review

If you’ve been paying attention to the US presidential campaign you probably have heard that President Obama killed Osama bin Laden.  And defeated al Qaeda.  This was May 2, 2011.  Which is why the Benghazi attack took this administration by surprise.  And why they were reluctant at one time to call it a terrorist attack.  For with the killing of bin Laden the War on Terror was over.  Was this just an isolated incident?  Or was al Qaeda keeping busy even with the death of Osama bin Laden?  As it turns out, yes.  In fact, it was business as usual for some in the immediate months following bin Laden’s death (see ‘Terror suspect trio plotted to massacre crowds using a car fitted with knives and detonating eight suicide bombs in attack bigger than July 7’ by Chris Greenwood posted 10/22/2012 on the Daily Mail).

Three British Muslims were accused yesterday of plotting a suicide bomb attack designed to wreak more devastation than the July 7 attacks.

The Al Qaeda-inspired trio masterminded a conspiracy to detonate eight home-made rucksack devices, a court was told.

They bragged how the attacks would have caused ‘mass deaths’ in crowded areas. One of the men was secretly recorded saying the 2005 London attacks had ‘gone a bit wrong’ because the killers forgot to put nails in their bombs.

They also discussed mass poisoning and fixing blades to the wheels of a vehicle before driving it into a crowd of people, and boasted their plot would be ‘another 9/11’.

The trio raised thousands of pounds to fund the plot by posing as street collectors for the humanitarian charity Muslim Aid, the jury was told. Two of the men are alleged to have travelled to Pakistan to attend a terrorist camp and received training with explosives, weapons and poisons. They are said to have recorded ‘martyrdom videos’ explaining their actions which were to be released to the media after their deaths…

Two of the men – unemployed graduate Irfan Naseer, 31, and former security guard Irfan Khalid, 27 – are accused of twice travelling to terrorist camps in Pakistan. They spent 15 months learning how to make bombs, use weapons and create poisons ‘for the sole purpose’ of bringing their knowledge to Britain and using it, the court heard.

When they returned in July 2011, they teamed up with Ashik Ali, 27, whose ground-floor flat was transformed into a safe house to experiment with explosive chemicals. The court heard Naseer was recorded agreeing with another man that July 7 had ‘gone a bit wrong’ because the bombers did not use nails.

Naseer, a heavily-built man known as ‘Chubbs’, used knowledge from his pharmacy degree to mix the chemicals. He bought an instant cold pack, in the mistaken belief it contained ammonium nitrate.

The men were recorded talking about training with AK-47 assault rifles and grenades as well as firing a rocket launcher and the vehicle blade plot, which was in the Al Qaeda magazine, Inspire…

The terrorist cell was allegedly inspired by internet videos and the writings of Osama Bin Laden and US-born Yemeni extremist Anwar Al-Awlaki, who was killed in a drone strike 12 days after the suspects were arrested.

These men were in Pakistan when President Obama killed Osama bin Laden.  So they must have known of his death.  And the end of the War on Terror.  Yet they returned to England and continued their planning and preparations.  Lucky for the British that they didn’t let their guard down.  For it appears radical British Muslims in Britain didn’t get the memo that the War on Terror was over.  Which is why the British pulled their people out of Benghazi as the radical Islamists were increasing their attacks against Western targets.

The world is still not a safe place.  Al Qaeda is not defeated.  And the War on Terror continues on.  Where some of the Islamists are still trying to inflict another 9/11 on the West.  And this after the death of bin Laden.  Which explains the rise of Islamist violence in Benghazi.  And the death of four Americans.  Casualties in a war that the Americans had declared victory in that the other side never acknowledged.

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Salafists, Jihadists and other Islamist Extremists are Joining the Syrian Rebels

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 14th, 2012

Week in Review

During the Democrat National Convention two of the main themes were that GM is alive.  And Osama bin Laden is dead.  Over and over they hammered home how President Obama killed Osama bin Laden.  No doubt angering the Islamist world with excessive spiking of the Osama bin Laden football.  The only thing the president didn’t do was some taunting end zone dance.  And an ‘In your face, al Qaeda” from the president to the Islamist extremist world.  The president wanted to sound tough to dispel rumors that he’s too soft on national security.  So they made it clear to the people watching the Democrat National Convention, and to the world, that President Obama killed Osama bin Laden.

Shortly after this terrorists killed the American ambassador in Benghazi on the anniversary of 9/11.  Was there a connection?  Well, the Islamist extremists hated America to begin with.  And rubbing the killing of Osama bin laden in their faces probably didn’t help soften their seething hatred of Americans.  It may have played a part.  But being that it was on 9/11 and they used heavy weapons suggests that the attack was in the planning for awhile.  However the protests at embassies throughout the world following the Benghazi attack may have been inflamed by the spiking of the Osama bin Laden football.  Or the publicity of a YouTube video to blame the violence in Benghazi on that people in the Islamic world did not even see until the Obama administration brought it to their attention.

Of course, this Islamist reaction completely baffles the Obama administration.  For they have gone out of their way to be nice to these people that hate us.  When there were protests against our staunch ally in Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, President Obama was quick to call for Mubarak to step down from power.  At the beginning of the Arab Spring.  Yes, he was a dictator.  Like most are in that region.  But he was a dictator that promoted regional stability.  That suppressed Islamist extremism.  Kept Iran in its place.  Prevented the flow of arms to Hamas in the Gaza Strip.  Made the Suez Canal safe for all shipping.  Kept the anti-Western Muslim Brotherhood out of power.  And made it safe for Western tourists to travel to Egypt.  But President Obama said Mubarak had to go.  He did not help him.  Did not try to broker a peace deal leaving him in power.  Or one with Mubarak in exile to live out his life.  So Mubarak stepped down.  The Muslim Brotherhood stepped up.  They threw open their border with the Gaza strip.  And talked about abandoning their peace treaty with Israel.  Causing great instability in the region.

When Libya erupted in civil war the Obama administration supported the rebels.  Even though no one knew who the rebels were.  Other than including members of al Qaeda.  Libya was no longer an active enemy of the United States.  And not even a major oil supplier to the United States.  They had even begun to clamp down on Islamist extremists in their country following the US invasion of Iraq.  Yet we supported the rebels with US air power.  Because if we didn’t the war could spill over their borders.  Leading to Libyans fleeing their country and causing a humanitarian crisis.

The Assad regime in Syria was not a friend of the US.  Saddam Hussein may have hidden his chemical weapons in Syria when the US invaded Iraq.  They are a supporter of terrorism.  A client of Iran.  They support Hezbollah in Lebanon.  So they are no friend to the US or regional peace.  Yet when they erupted in civil war the Obama administration did not help these rebels.  And the things they said would happen in Libya if they didn’t get involved there are happening in Syria.  And now because the US (as well as the international community) didn’t help the rebels someone else is (see Syria despatch: rebel fighters fear the growing influence of their ‘Bin Laden’ faction by Ruth Sherlock posted 10/13/2012 on The Telegraph).

Standing on a patch of muddy scrubland just inside Syria’s broken border fence with Turkey, the rebel commander watched glumly as the group of jihadists crossed into his country.

Scruffy, with long beards, some wearing khaki jackets and each clutching a black travel bag, the six men walked silently through the crowd of refugees who had assembled and were waiting to leave Syria. A driver in a pick-up truck quickly greeted the men and drove them away into the countryside.

“Libyans”, muttered the rebel Free Syria Army leader under his breath, shooting the men a dirty look. “We don’t want these extremist people here. Look at them; we didn’t have this style in Syria – who is this? Bin Laden?”

Even before President Bashar al-Assad has been defeated, a war within the civil war is brewing in Syria. It is a battle of ideas, a struggle for the overall direction of the insurgency that is pitting moderate-Muslims against Salafists, jihadists and other Islamist groups.

Syria’s most powerful Islamist brigades have united under a new “liberation front” to wage jihad against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime and turn the country into an Islamic state.

President Obama’s foreign policy has not been much of a success.  In fact, he has made the Middle East, North Africa, the United States and the world a less safe place.  If he had purposely tried to help the Islamist extremist he probably could not have done a better job.  The Arab Spring was less about replacing dictatorships with democracy than replacing one kind of dictatorships with another.  A dictatorship of Islamist extremists.  Salafists, jihadists and other Islamist groups.

None of this is spontaneous.  And none of this had to do with a YouTube video.  Not even the spiking of the Osama bin Laden football.  But the spiking of the Osama bin Laden football is no doubt working as a recruiting tool to bring more jihadists into these extremist groups.

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Iran and al Qaeda hate America and Anyone who Associates with America or Sells them Oil

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 28th, 2011

In 2001 al Qaeda was by far More Evil than Iran but the Evil Race is Still On

Iranian president Ahmadinejad denies the Holocaust.  And that al Qaeda brought down the Twin Towers.  Which is really pissing off al Qaeda (see Al Qaeda to Iran: Stop Spreading 9/11 Conspiracy Theory by Lee Ferran posted 9/27/2011 on ABC News).

“The Iranian government has professed on the tongue of its president Ahmadinejad that it does not believe that al Qaeda was behind 9/11 but rather, the U.S. government,” an article reads. “So we may ask the question: why would Iran ascribe to such a ridiculous belief that stands in the face of all logic and evidence?”

Though Iran was the first of the two to use the “Great Satan” as a synonym for the U.S., the author claims that Iran sees itself as a rival for al Qaeda when it comes to anti-Americanism and was jealous of the 9/11 attacks.

“For them, al Qaeda was a competitor for the hearts and minds of the disenfranchised Muslims around the world,” the article says. “Al Qaeda… succeeded in what Iran couldn’t. Therefore it was necessary for the Iranians to discredit 9/11 and what better way to do so? Conspiracy theories.”

Reminds me a little of that Austin Powers movie where Dr. Evil laments that his son is not evil enough.

In your face, Iran, says al Qaeda.  Yes, in 2001, al Qaeda was by far more evil than Iran.  Sadly, the evil competition hasn’t ended.  And we should worry about escalation in the evil race.  Especially when one of these evil competitors may already have a nuclear bomb.

I wonder how the 9/11 deniers will take this?  All those George W. Bush haters who said Bush imploded the Twin Towers.  So he could invade the Middle East.  Most everyone else blamed al Qaeda.  Something al Qaeda, incidentally, never denied.  And claims responsibility for to this day.  Even after punishing retribution.  And the death of their glorious leader.  Osama bin Laden.

And what about those saying that our only enemy is al Qaeda?  That Iran’s nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes.  And their meddling in the Middle East is nothing to worry about.  Sure they support Hezbollah.  And they support Hamas.  And support these groups in their goal of removing American ally Israel from the world map.  But there’s nothing to worry about.  For I’m sure their territorial ambitions will end with Israel.  Much like Hitler‘s did with the Sudetenland.  Besides, who else says they have an anti-American agenda?  Other than the big bad of anti-Americanism?  Al Qaeda.

The Wahhabis don’t like the House of Saud or their Coziness with the U.S

So, yes, Virginia, radical Islamists want to hurt Americans.  Despite the last 2+ years of de-Bushifying the nation.  Despite the Cairo speech.  Nothing has changed.  The bad guys are still gunning for Americans.  Wherever they can find Americans (see US warns of possible kidnap plot in Saudi Arabia posted 9/28/2011 on CBS News).

The U.S. Embassy in Saudi Arabia warned Americans on Wednesday that a terrorist group may be planning to abduct Westerners in the capital of Riyadh…

Saudi Arabia has waged a heavy crackdown on Islamist militants since al Qaeda’s Saudi branch launched a wave of attacks in the country in 2003, including suicide bombings and shootings that killed dozens of Saudis and foreigners. At least 11 Americans were among the dead.

Saudi Arabia is an important U.S. ally in the Middle East.  And friend.   Which is why they get a lot of this kind of stuff in their kingdom.  And their actions in 2003 prove this.  For everyone talks about the Saudi money that financed bin Laden.  But it wasn’t the House of Saud.  It was the Wahhabi Muslim sect residing within their kingdom.  From whence bin Laden came.

The Wahhabis don’t like the House of Saud.  Or their coziness with the U.S.  So the Saudis walk a fine line.  Staying friendly with the U.S.  Without being too friendly with the U.S.  To keep the peace in their kingdom.  And to maintain stability in the Middle East.

And all the while they’re dealing with this threat from within they have to deal with the threat from without.  Iran.  Who may have a hand in these Arab uprisings.  Especially where there are Shiite majorities.  To expand Iranian hegemony into the Middle East.  Especially in the Sunni areas of the Middle East.

On Monday, the former chief of Saudi intelligence services said the kingdom’s sizable oil installations were safe despite the growing threat of terrorist attacks in the region.

Prince Turki al-Faisal said the unrest in the Arab world would not spill over into Saudi Arabia.

“While the general picture of Saudi Arabia’s surroundings is predominated by this great turmoil, at the center of these many storms sits our Kingdom, which, I am glad to report, remains stable and secure,” he said.

Which is good.  Because next to Canada, Saudi Arabia is the second largest source of U.S. oil imports.  Even expanded their production to compensate for the loss of Libyan crude.  Again, Saudi Arabia is an important ally.  And friend.

The Loss of Refinery Capacity Now will make Gas Prices Soar During any Economic Recovery

Oil is the lifeblood of a modern economy.  Advanced nations consume oil with a voracious appetite.  That’s why Saudi crude is so important.  Both to the West.  And the enemies of the West.  Because if they can disrupt it they can disrupt the Western economies.  So any threat to Saudi Arabia is a national security interest.  Especially when it’s against Americans in the kingdom.

So oil is important.  As is the price of oil.  When it falls it’s for one of two reasons.  Either we’ve increased supply.  Or people just aren’t buying it (see Crude Oil Set for Second Straight Quarterly Decline on Europe Debt Crisis by Mark Shenk posted 9/28/2011 on Bloomberg).

Crude oil fell in New York, heading for the biggest quarterly drop since 2008, on concern that Europe’s debt crisis will linger and on rising U.S. stockpiles…

Crude stockpiles advanced as imports rose and refineries reduced operating rates…

Gasoline stockpiles rose 791,000 barrels to 214.9 million in the week ended Sept. 23, the report showed. Supplies of distillate fuel, a category that includes heating oil and diesel, increased 72,000 barrels to 157.7 million.

Sadly, this fall in price is due to people not buying it.

What?  Oil prices are falling?  That’s good news, yes?  Sadly, no.  Not in this case.  Because they are falling for a bad reason.  Weak demand.  From an economy on the precipice of another recession.  (The economy is so bad that people just aren’t buying gasoline).  Though some will argue we’ve never emerged from the Great Recession.  And it gets worse.

“The crude market is also under pressure because of the announcement of yet another possible shutdown of an East Coast refinery,” said Carl Larry, director of energy derivatives and research at Blue Ocean Brokerage LLC in New York. “At some point we’ll be able to count on both hands the number of operable refineries on the East Coast.”

Refineries are shutting down because of this extraordinary weak demand.  Which will not be good on the far side of this recession.  When the economy picks up.  For with the loss of this refinery capacity, when demand picks up gas prices will soar.  And it gets worse.

As economies heat up so will demand for oil.  Making oil prices soar.  Making high gasoline prices even higher.  Dampening any economic recovery.  Perhaps even throwing us back into recession.

A Big Oil Shock could Take any Bustling Economy and Thrown it into Recession

So the post-recession oil supply is not looking good.  Is there anything else to worry about?  Of course there is (see Double-dip ahead? Posted 9/28/2011 on The Economist).

Unfortunately, the economy has been battered for most of the year: by lousy weather, a seismic disaster in Japan, soaring oil prices, a major intensification of the European crisis, the end of QE2, and a down-to-the-wire blow-up over the debt ceiling among other things. There was good reason to think that the economy might have grown at 4% this year, but actual performance is largely governed by two big factors: what shocks occur and how policymakers respond to them.

Shocks, eh?  There could be a big oil shock in the pipeline.  Thanks to a bad economy that is closing down refinery capacity.  And an Arab Spring that is going to no one knows where yet.  And there are those who have eyes on Saudi Arabia.  People who don’t like America.  So, yeah, there could be a big oil shock coming our way.  Which could take any bustling economy and throw it into recession.

What Happens in the Middle East Matters to the Price of Gasoline and to American Security

There is a race between Iran and al Qaeda to see who can do America more harm.  We have made some progress against al Qaeda.  But we haven’t done much on the Iranian front.  And they’re about to acquire nuclear weapons.  Or already has them.

If our archenemy says that Iran is their rival in anti-Americanism, then Iran is probably anti-American.  And we should probably act accordingly.  Like the Saudis have against al Qaeda.  Despite the great risks that brought to their kingdom.  From the al Qaeda-sympathetic Wahhabi population.

When George W. Bush invaded Iraq many called it blood for oil.  They were adamantly against that.  Almost as much as they were against $4/gallon gasoline.  For they want their cheap gasoline.  And believe they should be able to get it no matter what happens in the Middle East.

But what happens in the Middle East matters.  To the price of gasoline.  And to American security.  They are linked.  And if given the chance, our enemies will use one.  To get to the other.  Us.  Because oil is the lifeblood of a modern economy.  And if they can’t defeat us in military arms.  They can shut us down by controlling the oil in the Middle East.

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The U.S. Killed a Marginalized Osama bin Laden before they Rebuilt the World Trade Center Site

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 7th, 2011

Despite losing the Hearts and Minds, the Violence will go On

Osama bin Laden is dead and gone.  So what is his legacy?  A great Martyr?  Or just a silly old man who lost touch with the Muslim world who did not quite want as an austere life as he thought they should have (see The Osama drama: Is the play over? by Michael Hudson posted 5/7/2011 on Al Jazeera)?

But it was not only the denial of a media platform that marginalised him. It was also his script: to most Arabs and Muslims the idea of a new caliphate enforcing an austere – and not widely accepted – form of Islamic rule was a bloodless abstraction and not very appealing at that. So, while he drew strength by articulating violent resistance against deeply held grievances, he failed to offer, as it were, a “happy ending”.

How galling it must have been for him, isolated in his Pakistani villa, to watch huge audiences across the Arab world following a new and different script. Nowhere in the wave of mass protests that began last December were there banners for bin Laden or calls for a salafi order; nowhere were there chants for violence – even when unarmed protesters were brutally attacked by regime security forces. Osama was upstaged by new actors with a new script and an audience that chose not to sit as passive observers of the political scene – but actually insisted on participation in governance and public affairs.

You can almost hear his lament.  “These kids today.  When I was out there killing people it meant something.  Today they don’t care.  It’s just a little fun for young people who love to whine about the great problems in their lives.  She doesn’t love me.  My parents won’t buy me an iPhone.  While I was trying to establish a new caliphate they just wanted to ‘friend’ others on Facebook.  Whatever that means.  *sigh*  Jihad isn’t what it used to be…Get off of my lawn you snot-nose kids!  Don’t make me come out there.”

It was a battle for the heart and minds of real Muslims.  And apparently, he lost (see Al-Qaeda is its own worst enemy by Alia Brahimi posted 5/7/2011 on Al Jazeera).

Though al-Qaeda will be temporarily re-energised by the killing of bin Laden, it will not be enough to build up the sort of momentum and broad-based sympathy that they enjoyed at the height of the US-led occupation of Iraq. Between 2003-2006 in particular, bin Laden’s poetic narrative of resistance resonated even beyond the Muslim world. A German student in my halls at Oxford once returned from a trip home sporting a bin Laden t-shirt. George W Bush’s “war on terror” did not win the struggle for hearts and minds – fortunately, however, al-Qaeda lost it.

Yes, al Qaeda lost their way.  They became ideologically soft in their brutal acts of terrorism.  Violence for violence sake.  Missing the big picture.  Like Uncle Osama preached.  To make everyone live under the most harsh and austere Sharia Law possible.  That’s why the Americans lost the Vietnam War.  They lost the hearts and minds.  The North Vietnamese never lost their faith.  Or their belief in Uncle Ho.  Of course, victory for them included a happy ending.  Which makes it easier to follow someone to the bitter end.  Because the end won’t necessarily be so bitter.

So the violence will go on.  It just won’t serve some higher purpose.

What a Terrible way to Spend a Decade

It took about 10 years to kill Osama bin Laden.  That’s a long time.  A lot can happen in 10 years.  You can build buildings.  A lot of them.  For example, they built the Empire State Building in only 410 days.  That’s about a month longer than one year.  And this during the Great Depression.  Not to mention the fact that it was the tallest building in the world at the time.  Says a lot about New Yorkers.  Even in the worst of times, they’re tough and strong and can do anything you ask of them.  So I imagine the new World Trade Center site should be showing great progress in almost 10 years.  Because some of the best people in the world were there to rebuild that site (see A World Trade Center Progress Report by Bill Marsh posted 5/7/2011 on The New York Times).

It will take much longer than that to heal the gaping wound in the Lower Manhattan cityscape. Blame politics, finances, legalities and the challenge of making the many compromises necessary for such an enormous reconstruction effort. But after spending much time on cleanup and foundation work, progress is ever more visible: The soaring 1 World Trade Center and another skyscraper are rising by about one floor per week; a spacious memorial is to open on the 10th anniversary of the attack this fall.

You know what you call an empty World Trade Center site?  A memorial to al Qaeda.  Rebuilding this site faster would have meant a lot more than a dead bin Laden.  I can’t imagine the frustration of the New York building trades this past decade.  What a terrible way to spend a decade.

A Better way to Spend a Decade

I can think of a far better way to put a decade to good use (see Whiskey is all about the waiting by Jason Wilson posted 5/6/2011 on The Washington Post).

Barrel aging is one of the most noteworthy aspects of whiskey making. It endlessly fascinates me that producers will take a clear “white dog” whiskey off the still at eyebrow-singeing proof, pour it into a barrel and let the liquid sit and mellow inside the wood — sometimes for decades.

Magical things happen inside that barrel in terms of flavor, texture and aroma. Beyond what sort of wood is used, the location of where the barrel sits in the warehouse matters greatly — a barrel sitting at ground level ages differently than one resting on a higher floor. In this way, the warehouse becomes a man-made terroir — similar to a winery, in which grapes from different geographic locations will take on different characteristics.

I’ve previously discussed the importance of aging and blending in the process of making whiskey. The craft of distillation is certainly of utmost importance — if mediocre whiskey comes off the still, it’s not going to get better after 10 years in a barrel. But how whiskey ages in a barrel is just as critical.

I’m sipping a bourbon right now as I write.  It’s not a ten-year bourbon.  But it’s okay.  There’s some texture to it.  And it warms the belly.  But I know what I’ll be buying tomorrow.

In this week’s column, I discuss Buffalo Trace’s new Single Oak Project, which is part of the distillery’s larger two-decade search for the Holy Grail of bourbon…

This happened with the bourbons I wrote about this week. The man who went into the Ozarks to choose the white oaks for the Single Oak Project was named Ronnie Eddins, Buffalo Trace’s long-time warehouse manager. If you go to the Single Oak Project Web site, you actually can see videos of Eddins chatting with the loggers of those trees. Throughout the aging process, he was instrumental in creating these bourbons. Sadly, Eddins died earlier this year. He did not live to see the Single Oak Project bottled and sent to market.

Poor Ronnie Eddins.  He didn’t live to see the day Osama bin Laden paid for his crimes.  To see new buildings rising triumphantly on the World Trade Center site.  Or taste what he so lovingly brought to market.  Rest in peace, Ronnie.  Know that you brought enjoyment to others.  And that we smile as we raise a glass in your honor.

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LESSONS LEARNED #31: “Islam and guns are a lot alike. And yet when something bad happens, we try to ban one and forgive the other.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 16th, 2010

PEACE IN OUR TIME

What do you know about the Goths?  The Visigoths?  The Ostrogoths?  The Vandals?  The Franks.  Do you even know who these people are?  The Romans did.  And they were a pain in their ass.

The Great Migration of Huns from Asia into Europe displaced these European Germanic tribes.  Which brought them into contact with the Roman Empire.  The Romans then brought some into the empire.  First into the legions that were protecting the frontier against these displaced Germanic tribes.  Then some Germans commanded these legions.  Then the Romans built entire legions from these Germanic people.  Germans faced Germans on the frontier.  Loyalties tugged between empire and blood.  When the empire began to crumble, blood often won out.  And when the Western Roman Empire fell, these Germanic tribes stepped into the void.  Picked up the Roman banner and became the Holy Roman Empire.  Some of the Germanic tribes founded nations.  Spain, France and England.  But not Germany.  Not yet.

 It took the Franco-Prussian War (1870) to unite the German people into a nation.  And into the dominate Central European power at that.  That dominance ended in 1919 with the Treaty of Versailles.  Germany lost Alsace-Lorraine (which they took during the Franco-Prussian War).  She lost territory that became a reconstituted Poland (which separated her from East Prussia).  She had to take sole responsibility for causing World War I (which was unfair to say the least).  And pay reparations to the victors that would take forever and a day to pay.  The German people were not happy.  As was a decorated army corporal.  Adolf Hitler.

Hitler made it clear that he was going to restore the German empire.  The third in the line of empires.  A Third Reich.  Successor to the Holy Roman Empire.  And it would last a thousand years.  He established the official Nazi ideology (racial purity and the Master Race).  He renounced portions of the Versailles Treaty.  Began to rearm.  These actions worried the Allies.  But Hitler assuaged their worries in a speech given 5/21/1935.  He said Germany wanted peace.  And only peace.  The Allies breathed a collective sigh of relief.  Then he remilitarized the Rhineland.  Annexed Austria.  Then came Munich.  Great Britain’s Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, met with Hitler, concerned.  Hitler assured Chamberlain that this was his last territorial grab.  After all, Germany wanted peace.  And only peace.  So those at Munich gave the Czechoslovakian Sudetenland to Germany.  (Incidentally, the Czechs weren’t at Munich).  Chamberlain returned to England announcing they had attained “peace for our time.”  Soon thereafter, Germany took the rest of Czechoslovakia.  And one non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union to partition Poland later, Hitler invaded Poland, starting World War II.  So, no, they did not have peace in for their time.

FROM STETTIN IN THE BALTIC TO TRIESTE IN THE ADRIATIC AN IRON CURTAIN HAS DESCENDED ACROSS THE CONTINENT

Franklin Delano Roosevelt loved Joseph Stalin.  He liked what he was doing in the Soviet Union.  Now there was some Big Government doing big things.  Just like he was doing.  Only on a grander scale.  Then that non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany just broke his heart.  But the gods were smiling down on FDR.  Hitler turned on Stalin and invaded the Soviet Union.  Killed some 20 million Soviets.  FDR was elated.  He could embrace Uncle Joe again.

FDR said he could talk to Stalin.  Turn on the old FDR charm.  So he tried.  At the Yalta Conference where the Big Three (FDR, Churchill and Stalin) discussed the post-war world.  His plan was bold.  Give Stalin everything.  Ask for nothing.  And then Uncle Joe will work with him in establishing world peace and democracy.  He had a hunch it would work.  I mean, once he turned on that FDR charm, well, FDR got what FDR wanted.

But his administration was full of Soviet spies.  He stayed in the Soviet embassy (to show his trust of Stalin).  They bugged it.  The Soviets knew everything.  Not a strong negotiating position.  For FDR and Churchill, that is.  It was a very strong position for Stalin.  He could whisper whatever sweet nothings FDR wanted to hear.  Lie through his teeth.  In the end, he got Eastern Europe.  Instead of a Nazi occupation, it would now be a Soviet occupation.  Some saw Stalin for who he was.  Winston Churchill, for one.  Later, in 1946, he tried to warn us about Stalin.  He came to America and spoke at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri.  He said:

“From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an iron curtain has descended across the Continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia, all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere, and all are subject in one form or another, not only to Soviet influence but to a very high and, in some cases, increasing measure of control from Moscow.”

The old warhorse was right.  Stalin had no visions of democracy.  He wanted to conquer.  To spread communism.  And he did.  In Eastern Europe.  Wherever the Red Army was at the end of World War II the Red Army stayed.  Where they weren’t he tried to use the local communist parties (i.e., the Fifth Columns) in their stead.  To stir up trouble.  Eat away the nations from within.  To gradually convert them to communism.  Sometimes he used blunt force.  As in the coup d’état in Czechoslovakia.   American aid helped Western Europe, Greece and Turkey to rebuff Stalin’s advances there.  West Berlin, inside of East Germany behind the Iron Curtain, was a thorn in his side.  So he tried to blockade it.  Which we relieved with the Berlin Airlift.  Our guy in China (Chiang Kai-shek) lost to Mao Tse-tung in the Chinese Civil War making most of Asia communist.  This was the Cold War.  East vs. West.  Communism vs. Democracy.  The Soviet Union vs. the United States.  The Cold War at times got hot.  As the two superpowers fought each other by proxy.  In Korea.  Cuba (the Bay of Pigs was the hot part.  The more dangerous part was the cold part, playing nuclear chicken).  Vietnam.  The Iran-Iraq War.  Nicaragua.  And in a place called Afghanistan.

MR. GORBACHEV, TEAR DOWN THIS WALL

The Soviet Union supplied a lot of military hardware that killed a lot of Americans in the Vietnam War.  We returned the favor in Afghanistan.  And helped liberate the Afghanis from the Soviet Occupation.  The Soviet mechanized army and their Hind attack helicopters fought an impoverished and ill-equipped force.  The Mujahedeen.  Who soon got international support.  And U.S. antiaircraft Stinger missiles.  And the Soviet Union had their Vietnam.

Ronald Reagan grew weary of the Cold War.  He wanted to end it.  He understood collectivism.  And he knew history.  Capitalism worked.  Collectivism didn’t.  So he would turn up the pressure.  While the Soviets bled money in Afghanistan, he modernized our nuclear forces.  Proposed the Strategic Defense Initiative.  Spent money on defense.  And gave America an unprecedented decade of prosperity.  The Soviets tried to keep pace.  But couldn’t.  They couldn’t even feed their own people.  On June 12, 1987, in front of the Berlin Wall, at the Brandenburg Gate, Reagan said:

“We welcome change and openness; for we believe that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace. There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

In time he did.  Or, rather, stopped trying to prevent it from happening.  And Reagan consigned the Evil Empire to the “ash heap of history.”  Which left the Mujahedeen well armed, well financed and without a fight.

TO THE VICTORS GO THE SPOILS

The Western Roman Empire fell to the Germanic tribes but the Eastern Empire held on for a few more centuries.  It wouldn’t be the Germans causing her ultimate demise.  No.  The Eastern Empire fall to the Arabs.  Islam spread west from the Arabian desert into Egypt and across North Africa and up into Spain.  Saladin (revered Islamic hero) wrested the Holy Land from the Christians and then fought off the Christian Crusades when they tried to take it back.  Islam advanced across the Bosporus and into the Balkans before the European Christians finally stopped them.  A good chunk of the Christian Roman Empire was now Muslim.  And remained so for centuries.  Until World War I.  When Ottoman Turkey was on the losing side of the Great War.

After the war, Great Britain occupied some of the former Muslim lands.  Protected the Suez Canal for her shipping lanes to India and the Far East.  And to her oil interests.  Also, the League of Nations designated that Great Britain should administer the territory comprised of Palestine and Transjordan.  This British Mandate also included a provision for a future Jewish homeland in the Palestine territory.  Long story short, that happened in 1947 when the United Nations General Assembly voted to partition these territories into Jewish and Arab states.  The following year, May 14, the day before the British Mandate expired, the state of Israel came into existence. 

The Arabs didn’t agree to that deal.  Of course, the Jews didn’t like the Roman occupation.  And the Christians didn’t like the Muslim occupation of the Holy Land.  But to the victors go the spoils.  Not enjoying being on the loser’s side, they wanted Palestine back.  In fact, they want all of the land that used to be Muslim back.  Lands they gained by military conquest but later lost to military conquest.  They want to re-conquer lost land.  And conquer new.  One man in particular.  A Saudi who joined the Mujahedeen.  Osama bin Laden.  Who would lead his unemployed freedom fighters into a new line of work.  In a new organization.  Al Qaeda.

WORLD CONQUEST ISN’T NEW

The Romans conquered the known world.  Hitler had ambitious plans to do the same.  Ditto for Stalin.  (Even Mussolini wanted to restore the Roman Empire.)  And on 9/11/2001, that’s what Osama bin Laden was trying to do.  His devastating attack on the U.S. was to cause a spontaneous uprising by Muslims throughout the world.  There was none.  He failed.  He would be no Saladin.  He would rule little more than a network of caves on the Afghanistan/Pakistan border.  And be remembered as just another terrorist.  But his dream is shared by others.  And they’ve no doubt learned a lot from the Nazis.  And the Communists. 

There are elements within Islam, the so-called few who pervert this great religion of peace, that want to see bin Laden’s vision realized.  They’re using force.  Lying.  Trying to convert from within.  And turn to our constitution whenever anyone confronts them.  But these ambassadors of peace won’t condemn terrorist organizations or recognize the state of Israel.  They demand that everyone accommodate Islam while Islam accommodates only Islam.  They say that the U.S. was responsible for 9/11.  Even that the U.S. orchestrated 9/11 and blamed it on the Muslim world.  There is cause for concern.

A FEW IS ENOUGH

Not all Germans were Nazis but we still fought Nazi ideology.  We fought the communist ideology because it called for the conquest of western capitalism.  Ideology counts.  Not all Muslims are ‘the few who pervert’ but we should, at least, be on our guard against Islam.  Because how do we know who is lying?  If we err on the side of caution, all Americans (including Muslim Americans) are safe.  If we don’t, Americans can die.  Including Muslim Americans.

History has shown that the descendents of empire want to restore empire.  That people who lost land want to get that land back.  And ideological purity kills people.  That tells me we should be wary of a highly ideological people who once had an empire and desperately covets land.  And if we can’t know who those few are, it would be irresponsible not to be on our guard against anyone who might be one of those few. 

www.PITHOCRATES.com

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LESSONS LEARNED #25: “War is costly. Peace, too.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 5th, 2010

AT THE HEIGHT of the Roman Empire, the empire reached from North Africa to Britannia (England), from Hispania (Spain) to Mesopotamia (approximately modern day Iraq).  When Roman power ruled the civilized world, there was peace.  The Pax Romana (Roman Peace).  The Romans built empire through conquest.  And Rome grew rich with the spoils of conquest.  For awhile, peace was only those quiet intervals between growth and conquest.  But with secure borders, a uniform government, a rule of law, a stable currency, bustling trade & markets and a military to be the world’s policeman, peace broke out.  For some 200 years.

Life was good for the Roman citizen.  As well as for those living in the empire.  The Romans modernized the provinces they conquered.  Made life better.  Even for the conquered people.  Although there were those who hated being subjugated by a foreign power.

Reg: They bled us white, the bastards. They’ve taken everything we had. And not just from us! From our fathers, and from our father’s fathers.

Loretta: And from our father’s father’s fathers.

Reg: Yeah.

Loretta: And from our father’s father’s father’s fathers.

Reg: Yeah, all right Stan, don’t belabor the point. And what have they ever given us in return?

Revolutionary I: The aqueduct?

Reg: What?

Revolutionary I: The aqueduct.

Reg: Oh. Yeah, yeah, they did give us that, ah, that’s true, yeah.

Revolutionary II: And the sanitation.

Loretta: Oh, yeah, the sanitation, Reg. Remember what the city used to be like.

Reg: Yeah, all right, I’ll grant you the aqueduct and sanitation, the two things the Romans have done.

Matthias: And the roads.

Reg: Oh, yeah, obviously the roads. I mean the roads go without saying, don’t they? But apart from the sanitation, the aqueduct, and the roads…

Revolutionary III: Irrigation.

Revolutionary I: Medicine.

Revolutionary IV: Education.

Reg: Yeah, yeah, all right, fair enough.

Revolutionary V: And the wine.

All revolutionaries except Reg: Oh, yeah! Right!

Rogers: Yeah! Yeah, that’s something we’d really miss Reg, if the Romans left. Huh.

Revolutionary VI: Public bathes.

Loretta: And it’s safe to walk in the streets at night now, Reg.

Rogers: Yeah, they certainly know how to keep order. Let’s face it; they’re the only ones who could in a place like this.

All revolutionaries except Reg: Hahaha…all right…

Reg: All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh-water system and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?

Revolutionary I: Brought peace?

Reg: Oh, peace! Shut up!

(From Monty Python’s The Life of Brian, 1979.)

Maintaining a peaceful empire is costly.  As people got more accustomed to peace and plenty, they began to complain about taxes.  Citizens refused to volunteer to serve in the Roman Legions maintaining that peace.  Barbarians began to serve in the Legions.  Some rose to command them.  Some Roman commanders came from the very people they were fighting in the border regions.  Soon Rome would rely on mercenaries (hired soldiers) to defend their borders.  All of this cost the empire.  It had to pay more and more to maintain the loyalty of the military.  Ditto for the huge bureaucracy administrating the empire.  And they lost control.  Trouble on the borders and economic collapse ended the peace.  And, ultimately, the empire.  The civilized world broke down and collapsed.  And barbarian leaders on the borders, hungry for conquest, attacked.  Plunging the former Roman provinces into war and instability.

RISING FROM THE ashes of the Roman Empire were the seeds of new empires.  And the ground that proved most fertile was the northern limit of the old empire.  England.

England started to assert herself with the growth of her navy.  With her borders secured, a uniform government, a rule of law, a stable currency, bustling trade & markets and a military to be the world’s policeman, peace broke out.  Again.  For about a hundred years.  During the Industrial Revolution.  After the defeat of Napoleon. 

Imperial Britain stretched across the globe.  The sun never set on the British Empire.  And wherever she went, she brought the rule of law, modernity, a sound economy and political stability.  Her old colonial possessions went on to be some of the richest, most prosperous and peaceful nations in the world.  India.  Australia.  New Zealand.  South Africa.  Canada.  And, of course, the United States of America.  She achieved her century of peace (Pax Britannia) by a balance of power.  She maintained peace by intervening in disputes, often on the side of the weaker nation.  She prevented stronger, aggressive nations from threatening her weaker neighbors.   And she provided a safe environment for the weaker nation to live peacefully in the shadows of stronger, more aggressive neighbors.

For a hundred years Britannia kept the peace.  In large part due to her Royal Navy, the most powerful and potent navy at the time.  If you ate any imported food or used any imported goods, it was thanks to the Royal Navy that kept the world’s sea lanes safe.  But this peace came with a price.  The rise of nationalism, the quest of new empires to establish their own overseas colonies and a change in the balance of power in Europe with the rise of Germany added to that price.  And then a shot fired in Sarajevo by a Serbian terrorist ignited a tinderbox.  The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand by Gavrilo Princip started World War I.  The most bloody and expensive war at the time, it bankrupted Great Britain and ended her empire.  And left the world a less safe place. 

From the ashes of World War I rose new leaders with aspirations of world conquest.  Fascist Italy led by Benito Mussolini.  Nazi Germany led by Adolf Hitler.  Communist Russia led by Joseph Stalin.  Imperial Japan led by Hideki Tojo.  And the nation that led the victors in World War II would, by default, become the new world power.  The new world policeman.  The United States of America.

SO WHAT HAPPENED during the inter-war years that led to World War II?  War exhausted Britain and France.  Neither had the stomach for another war.  Britain continued to rely on the Royal Navy for protection (as an island nation, sea power is indispensable).  France built fixed fortifications (the Maginot Line).  Both were primarily defensive strategies. 

In America, General Billy Mitchell demonstrated the vulnerability of battleships to air power by sinking a battleship with an airplane (greatly flustering the naval high command).  Colonel George S. Patton developed an armored doctrine for an unenthused army and eventually transferred back to the horse cavalry.  Meanwhile, Imperial Japan was building aircraft carriers.  And Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and Communist Russia developed air and armored doctrine while fighting in the Spanish Civil War.

Fascist Italy attacked Ethiopia in 1935 to rebuild the Roman Empire and make the Mediterranean Sea a Roman lake once again.  Nazi Germany launched World War II in 1939 by an armored assault on Poland with tactical air support.  Poland resisted with horse cavalry.  And lost.  Imperial Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941 to destroy American naval power in the Pacific.  They did a lot of damage.  But the American carriers, their prime objective, were at sea.  They would eventually meet those carriers later at the Battle of Midway.  Where they would lose four of their best carriers and many of their best aviators.  This tipped the balance of power in the Pacific to the Americans.

America was ill-prepared for war.  But American industry, the Arsenal of Democracy, ramped up and built the planes, tanks, guns, rifles and ships that would win the war.   It would come with a heavy price tag.  Global wars typically do.  Had there been a balance of power that would have checked the territorial ambitions of the aggressor nations, it would have been a different story.  Of course, having the power is one thing.  How you use it is another. 

France had more tanks than Germany before the outbreak of hostilities.  But the Nazis quickly overran France.  Why?  Doctrine.  France’s doctrine was to hide behind the security of the Maginot Line.  It was a defensive-only strategy.  She developed no armored doctrine.  The lesson they learned from World War I was that armies killed themselves attacking fixed defenses.  Germany, too, learned that lesson.  So their doctrine called for going around fixed defenses with fast-moving armor spearheads with tactical air support (i.e., blitzkrieg).  Formidable though the Maginot Line was, it could not attack.  And if the Nazis didn’t attack it, it did nothing but concentrate men and firepower away from the battle.

WHEN WE PULLED out of South Vietnam, we agreed to use American air power if North Vietnam violated the terms of the treaty ending that war.  Watergate changed all of that.  Even though JFK got us into Vietnam, it became Nixon’s war.  And a vindictive Congress wouldn’t have anything more to do with it.  The North tested the American will.  Saw that there was none.   Attacked.  And overran South Vietnam.  The message was clear to tyrants.  America will quit in the long run.  Especially after a large loss of life.

Other ‘retreats’ would reinforce this perception.  Especially in the Arab world.  The withdrawal from Lebanon after the bombing of the Marines’ barracks.  The withdrawal from Somalia after the Somalis dragged dead American troops through the streets of Mogadishu.  The Arab world even saw the victory in Desert Storm as a retreat.  The anti-American Arab world said that our invasion was about oil.  That what we really wanted was to topple Saddam Hussein and take his oil.  It was just another Christian Crusade into holy Islamic lands.  When we didn’t do that, the Arab world saw it as another American retreat.  That America didn’t have the will to endure a bloody battle to conquer Iraq. 

So some in the Arab world would test America.  Al Qaeda.  Headed by Osama bin Laden.  They started small and became more daring.  World Trade Center bombing.  Tanzanian Embassy bombing.  Kenyan Embassy bombing.  Khobar Towers bombing.  The USS Cole attack.  And they paid little for these attacks.  America didn’t fight back.  But their luck ran out on September 11, 2001.  Because America finally fought back.

PUBLIC ENEMY NUMBER one, Osama bin Laden, belonged to the conservative Sunni sect of Islam called Wahhabi.  They have a large following in Saudi Arabia.  The Wahhabi have a delicate relationship with the Saudi Royal family.  They disapprove of the Western displays of wealth in the House of Saud. 

Al-Qaeda was a shadowy enemy.  We confronted them in the mountains of Afghanistan where the Taliban gave them a safe sanctuary.  We attacked.  Knocked the Taliban from power.  Drove al-Qaeda underground.  But we could not stop their funding.

Wahhabi money from Saudi Arabia financed 9/11.  And the money continued to flow.  The Saudis would not intervene on behalf of America.  They feared any crackdown on the Wahhabi could unleash a civil war.  So America needed leverage to get Saudi cooperation.  And they found it in an old nemesis, Saddam Hussein. 

A Sunni minority ruled Iraq.  The Saudis did not like Saddam Hussein.  However, they liked the balance of power he offered to Iran.  Iran was Shiite.  As much as the Saudis did not like Saddam, they disliked Shiite Iran more.  This was the American lever.

After some diplomatic gymnastics, the invasion of Iraq was set.  The Saudis thought we were bluffing.  They didn’t believe we would invade Iraq.  Never in a million years.  If we didn’t do it in Desert Storm when we had the force in place to do it and didn’t, there was no way the Americans would amass another coalition and redeploy forces to the region again.  Especially because America doesn’t like long, drawn out, bloody wars.  Which an invasion of Iraq would surely be.

They asked us to remove our forces from the Saudi bases.  We did.  Now they were getting nervous.  That was the political game.  Make some noise to show the Arab world you weren’t an American toady.  But, secretly, you want those American forces to remain.  That American presence did provide security.  And stability.  After the invasion of Kuwait, it sure looked like Saudi Arabia would be next.  It was only that large American force in the desert that changed that inevitability. 

The Americans invaded.  And conquered.  Now the Saudis had a vested interest in helping the Americans.  They needed them to be successful in Iraq.  To contain Iran.  The lever worked.  The Saudis stemmed the flow of Wahhabi money to al-Qaeda.  The invasion of Iraq proved to be one of the most effective battles in the war on terrorism.  

HISTORY HAS SHOWN that a balance of power can lead to peace.  It has also shown that a superpower can enforce a larger peace.  But it also has shown that there is good and bad when it comes to power.  The Romans could be cruel, but so were most in that time.  The road to empire, after all, started out simply as a quest to provide a buffer between Rome and the hostile barbarians on her borders.  Rome, then, expanded in pursuit of peace.  (Initially, at least.)  And then used her power to maintain peace.

Many view Great Britain as the successor to the Roman Empire.  And many view America as the successor to the British Empire.  These powers share many things (rule of law, an advanced civilization, political stability, etc.).  Perhaps the greatest, though, is a powerful military.  And how it was/is used.  As a powerful deterrent to an aggressor nation.  To protect trade routes.  To maintain peace.  Malign these empires/nations all you will, but the greatest periods of world peace were due to their military power.  And their will to use that military power.  Expensive as that was.  Is.

So, yes, wars are costly.  Peace, too.  Sometimes, though, we must fight wars.  But we can avoid a lot of them.  By a peace-time military force that acts as a deterrent.  Because there are bad guys out there.  Who only respect one thing.  And it isn’t diplomacy.  Often the only thing preventing them from waging a cruel war of conquest is a potent military and a willing leader to use it.  If a tyrant knows he will face a military consequence for acting, he may not act.  When he knows that consequence will be devastating, he will not act.  But if he knows a nation hasn’t the military power or the will to use military power, he will act.  Just as Hitler did.  As Mussolini did.  As Tojo did.  And as Osama bin Laden did.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

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