Ed's Blog

"Some people know everything, but that's all they know."

WELCOME TO ED’S BLOG

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Welcome to Ed’s Blog. One man’s perspective on the world from the outskirts of the hub of Western Civilization. Subscribe to RSS feed above, for email alerts at right..

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“THE TRANSPLANTS” A NOVEL

The Transplants Cover2

 Synopsis at EWRoss.com

Filed under: Books

JOURNEY TO AN UNKNOWN DESTINATION IN PRINT SOON

Journey WordPress

My memoir, “Journey to an Unknown Destination: In the Company of Great Americans,” will be out in print soon, hopefully before Memorial Day. Publishing books is a time consuming process. For those of you who haven’t already read the synopsis, here it is again below.

Life is a journey to an unknown destination, best traveled in the company of Great Americans. Ed Ross’ life is just such a story. This incredible no-holds-barred memoir reveals the good the bad and the evil of a 43-year career in the military and government, with stories of triumph, tragedy, murder, espionage, suicide, defection, terrorism, bureaucratic politics, sacrifice for love of country and associations with great Americans. He rises from a small child running free on the streets of Swissvale, Pennsylvania, to senior executive in the Department of Defense at home in the halls of power in Washington D.C. A highly-decorated Vietnam War combat veteran, he fights the Viet Cong in some of the major combat operations of the Vietnam War. As a case officer and counter-intelligence, counter-espionage special agent, he runs sensitive, deep cover operations against the Viet Cong, manages the U.S. Army’s clandestine intelligence operations in the Asia-Pacific Theater of Operations. A fluent and literate Chinese linguist, as a China/Taiwan analyst in the Defense Intelligence Agency and as a military attache’ to China he spearheads the opening of U.S.-China defense relations.

Medically retired from the U.S. Army in 1984 with life threatening end-stage renal disease, he receives a kidney transplant the following year and goes on to a 23-year career in Washington, D.C., as the Special Assistant for China in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, where he is the architect of U.S. arms sales to China and oversees sensitive U.S. arms sales to Taiwan. As Acting Deputy Assistant of Defense for POW/MOIA Affairs, he establishes the Defense Prisoner of war Missing in Action Office and leads the Department of Defense through the intense scrutiny of the American people, the media and the Congress of the controversy over accounting for MIAs in Southeast Asia. As Principal Director for Operations in the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, he led at the nexus where grand strategy and amorphous bureaucracy converged to train and equip friends and allies around the world.

In the meantime, my novel “The Transplants” is now out in print version. It’s available at Amazon.com.

The Transplants Wordpess

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GENERAL FLYNN’S FATAL MISTAKE

DIA Director Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn at the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum

The minute Gen. Mike Flynn decided he could fly solo in his interaction with Russian officials, his fate was sealed. This happened before President Donald Trump selected him to be his national security advisor or when he lied to Vice President Pence about his phone conversation with the Russian ambassador. It likely began in 2015 when he traveled to Russia to participate in a forum and he met with Vladimir Putin .

As a former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency it’s not as if Gen. Flynn doesn’t have plenty of experience dealing with foreign intelligence officials (friendly and not so friendly), although I doubt he met with them alone. Furthermore, his career in U.S. Army military Intelligence wasn’t in counter-intelligence or counter-espionage. Why is that important? Because counter-intelligence trained people never forget that practically every Russian or Chinese government official, especially diplomats, are always spotting and assessing individuals susceptible to recruitment, people they can elicit information from or useful idiots they can use.

Understanding the breadth and depth of their efforts and the measures the United States uses to counter them makes one far more sensitive to the danger that exists when you appear on their radar. I suspect Gen. Flynn didn’t fully appreciate the risk he was taking, or he just became overconfident in himself. He should have known that any phone conversation with the Russian ambassador would be tapped by NSA and made available to the Department of Justice. If he had, he never would have kept the Vice President in the dark. I heard in a news report today that Gen. Flynn knew he was under surveillance. If that’s true, the first thing he should have done was immediately make the President and Vice President aware of what he was doing and saying, but apparently he didn’t.

Throughout my 43-year career in the military and as a Department of Defense civilian I’ve seen this happen too many times. A military officer or civilian official decides he has the skills or rank to meet with Russian or Chinese officials on his own for the purpose of improving U.S.-Russia or U.S.-China relations. He allows himself to believe that there is no requirement to take someone else along or report his contact to the FBI or his superior to ensure that nothing in the meeting or conversation comes back to bite him.

Three individuals I know were convicted and went to jail because of their contacts with Chinese officials. Others were harshly counseled or their careers were ruined. As the senior country director for China in the office of the Secretary of Defense, I met with Chinese attaches and diplomats on a regular basis. I even had one defect to me in my office. I either took someone along to lunches and meetings with them, or I reported my contacts to the FBI. I knew never to say anything to a Chinese official I didn’t want my boss reading back to me.

I have no doubt that Gen. Flynn is a patriot and had nothing but the best intentions. His service to America has been exemplary. We have not yet seen a transcript of the phone conversation between Gen. Flynn and the Russian ambassador, and I doubt we ever will given how it was obtained, so we don’t know if he gave the ambassador assurances about what the Trump Administration might do after the election on U.S. sanctions on Russia or if the subject only came up tangentially. Personally, I would be surprised if it was the former. Gen. Flynn has enormous staff experience and knew that staff officers don’t make such commitments to foreign governments. Despite accusations by Democrats, it’s also highly unlikely that President Trump told him what to tell the Russian, otherwise, there would have been no reason to lie to the Vice President.

Serving at the highest levels in the national security establishment is a high honor and rare opportunity to serve your country. In that sense, it can be extremely rewarding. At the same time it often is like walking on a wire over an alligator pit. When you slip and fall there is no forgiveness and there are no second chances.

Filed under: China-Taiwan, Military, National Security, Uncategorized, , , , , , , ,

WITH ALLIES LIKE BARACK OBAMA WHO NEEDS ENEMIES

obamanetanyahu

Approximately 14 million Jews exist in the entire world. Forty-two percent of them live in Israel. Forty percent of them live in the United States. This only partially explains why U.S.-Israel relations have been so tight over the years since Israel became a state in 1949. The plight of Jews in the Holocaust and Jewish-Americans staunch support for Israel also are major factors. Still, negative anti-Israel attitudes are not uncommon among Americans. Working in the Department of Defense for 23-years, I encountered many people who believed Israel didn’t deserve the treatment it received from the U.S. Government, reflecting similar segments of public opinion. Until President Barack Obama came along, however, no U.S. president had been so outright anti-Israel.

It’s possible to argue persuasively that there are several reasons for this. Barack Obama ascended to the presidency believing that his “magic” could cut through the decades of intransigence in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Then he came face to face with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who took office three months after Barack Obama. Like most Israeli prime ministers, Netanyahu was a no-nonsense pragmatist undazzled by Barack Obama’s proclaimed “charm and brilliance.” He didn’t ask “How high?” when Obama said jump. Their relationship was strained from the outset. Netanyahu understood that President Obama was competence challenged and that the president’s policy approach to the problem was flawed.

Another popular explanation is that President Obama is pro-Muslim and anti-Israel. From his apology tour in 2009 to his support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt to his over indulgence of Iran to his rejection of the term Islamic-jihadist terrorism, he has demonstrated his affinity for the Muslim world on numerous occasions. Is it any wonder that so many Americans, as many as 40 percent in one survey, believe he is a Muslim?

Finally, I have no doubt that President Obama truly believes that Israel settlements are the main roadblock to peace and although his principal purpose in abstaining from the vote on the UN resolution condemning them may have been to stick a finger in Netanyahu’s eye, he likely believes that ultimately he’s doing Israel a favor.

Ever since the Camp David Accords achieved through the efforts of President Jimmy Carter, the prevailing rationale behind U.S. policy toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the belief that a negotiated settlement is possible by Israel trading land for peace, and even though this almost happened when Yasser Arafat was leading the Palestinians, it remains a distant mirage. When the peace process fell apart because Arafat couldn’t accept the best deal from Israel he was ever going to get, it proved that Palestinians have no intention of living side by side with Israel in a “two state” solution.

Indeed, however, President Obama may have done Israel and incoming President Elect Donald Trump a favor. By allowing the UN to remove whatever bargaining chips Israel had by declaring all Israeli settlements, including those in Jerusalem, as illegal, he destroyed any incentive Israel had for a negotiated peace. The Palestinians, emboldened by the UN will no longer seek a negotiated settlement trading peace for land. The UN says they don’t have to.

It’s time to stop believing that Washington, D.C., can discover the magic formula for peace. It should stop pouring U.S. taxpayer funds into the Palestinian National Authority, reduce U.S. funding for the UN and make it abundantly clear that the United States has Israel’s back by providing the military and economic assistance necessary. The UN, with President Obama’s help, has destroyed any chance for peace between Israelis and Palestinians for at least another generation.

Filed under: National Security, Politics, , , , , , , ,

Win a free copy of my novel ” Odds 300

Win a free copy of my novel ” Odds 300 to 1. https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/8335aeba2563aac5 http://ow.ly/i/oQTVS

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JOURNEY TO AN UNKNOWN DESTINATION

journey-cover

I just sent off the manuscript of my memoir, “Journey to an Unknown Destination: In the Company of Great Americans” to DoD for security review. Have any of you published a memoir. If so who was your agent and or publisher? My goal is to publish my book by the fall of 2017. Below is a synopsis of the book.

Life is a journey to an unknown destination, best traveled in the company of Great Americans. Ed Ross’ life is just such a story. This incredible no-holds-barred, first-person memoir reveals the good the bad and the evil of a 43-year career in the military and government, with stories of triumph, tragedy, murder, espionage, suicide, defection, terrorism, bureaucratic politics, sacrifice for love of country and associations with great Americans. He rises from a small child running free on the streets of Swissvale, Pennsylvania, to senior executive in the Department of Defense at home in the halls of power in Washington D.C. A highly decorated Vietnam War combat veteran, he fights the Viet Cong in some of the major combat operations of the Vietham War. As a case officer and counter-intelligence, counter-espionage special agent, he runs sensitive, deep cover operations against the Viet Cong, manages the U.S. Army’s clandestine intelligence operations in the Asia-Pacific Theater of Operations. A fluent and literate Chinese linguist, as a China/Taiwan analyst in the Defense Intelligence Agency and as a military attache’ to China he spearheads the opening of U.S.-China defense relations.

Medically retired from the U.S. Army in 1984 with life threatening end-stage renal disease, he receives a kidney transplant the following year and goes on to a 23-year career in Washington, D.C., as the Special Assistant for China in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, where he is the architect of U.S. arms sales to China and oversees sensitive U.S. arms sales to Taiwan. As Acting Deputy Assistant of Defense for POW/MOIA Affairs, he establishes the Defense Prisoner of war Missing in Action Office and leads the Department of Defense through the intense scrutiny of the American people, the media and the Congress of the controversy over accounting for MIAs in Southeast Asia. As Principal Director for Operations in the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, he led at the nexus where grand strategy and amorphous bureaucracy converged to train and equip friends and allies around the world

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DID HILLARY JUST HAND TRUMP THE ELECTION?

Hillary-Clinton

When the election is over Americans may look back on this weekend as the turning point when Hillary Clinton handed Donald Trump the election. First she said, “To just be grossly generalistic, you can put half of Trump supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables, Right? Racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic, you name it.” Translation: if you don’t vote Democrat you likely fall into one of these categories. Then while attending the 9/11 Memorial Ceremony in New Your she faints, stumbles and collapses, giving credibility to claims that is is not medically fit for the presidency.

In the first instance Hillary Clinton believes that 20 to 25 percent of American voters fall into this category. If you’re a Trump supporter, this may well include you. Attacking the candidate is on thing, but attacking voters is never a good idea. Independents in particular who may be leaning toward Trump are likely insensed.

In the second instance, Democrats and the liberal media no longer can argue that comments about Hillary’s health are part of some right wing conspiracy. Hillary most definitely has health problems. The debates, no doubt, have Hillary’s campaign managers worried sick. Should she faulted behind the podium in one of the three debates, it would be the nail in the coffin.

Of course, Donald Trump could do something equally as damaging, but a word of caution for Donald Trump. Don’t overplay your hand. Hillary has done enough damage to herself.

 

 

 

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JOURNEY TO AN UNKNOWN DESTINATION: In the Company of Great Americans

Beside Birddog at Vung Tau Apr 67

If you wonder why I haven’t posted anything on this blog recently, it’s because I’ve been writing my memoir for the past several months. It will still be a while before it’s published, because I’m having several people review the manuscript before I submit it to the Department of Defense for security review. Like everyone else in government who had a Top Secret security clearance, I signed a non disclosure agreement that requires me to submit any book that deals with what I did in government for review before I can publish it. Since many of you who know me or worked with me over the years are in the book, I want to keep you up to date as we move forward. To whet your interest, here’s the synopsis.

Synopsis

Life is a journey to an unknown destination, best traveled in the company of Great Americans. Ed Ross’ life is just such a story. This incredible no-holds-barred, first-person memoir reveals the good the bad and the evil of a 43-year career in the military and government, with stories of triumph, tragedy, murder, espionage, suicide, defection, terrorism, bureaucratic politics, sacrifice for love of country and associations with great Americans. It begins with a small child running free on the streets of Swissvale, Pennsylvania. Drafted into the U.S. Army in 1965, he becomes a highly decorated artillery observer with the 9th Infantry Division in Vietnam, where he comes face to face with the reality of death. Recruited by U.S. Army Military Intelligence, he becomes a clandestine case officer and returns to Vietnam as a covert intelligence operative, running sensitive, deep-cover operations against the Viet Cong. Following his second tour in Vietnam he serves as the chief counter-intelligence/counter-espionage in the 500th Military Intelligence Group, Hawaii, responsible for the Asia-Pacific Theater of operations. Studying Chinese at the Defense Language Institute in Anacostia, Maryland, and the American Embassy School for Chinese Language and Area Studies in Taichung, Taiwan, becoming fluent and literate in Chinese, he receives his master’s degree at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, and is assigned as a senior China analyst in the Defense Intelligence Agency, Washington, D.C., where he writes Defense and National Intelligence Estimates on China and Taiwan that help change the course of history. As a U.S. military attaché in the People’s Republic of China, he opens the door to U.S.-China defense relations. Medically retired from the U.S. Army in 1984 with life threatening end-stage renal disease, he receives a kidney transplant the following year and goes on to a 23-year career in Washington, D.C., as the Special Assistant for China in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, where he is the architect of U.S. arms sales to China and oversees sensitive U.S. arms sales to Taiwan. As Acting Deputy Assistant of Defense for POW/MOIA Affairs, he creates the Defense Prisoner of war Missing in Action Office and leads the Department of Defense through the intense scrutiny of the American people, the media and the Congress of the controversy over accounting for MIAs in Southeast Asia. As Principal Director for Operations in the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, he led at the nexus where grand strategy and amorphous bureaucracy converged to train and equip friends and allies around the world. A novelist and a columnist, he is a prolific writer.

Check back for updates.

Filed under: Books, China-Taiwan, Movies-TV, National Security, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Transplants, you’ll never forget it

The Transplants, you’ll never forget it. http://ewross.com/transplants.htm

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HILLARY CAN RUN BUT SHE CAN’T HIDE

grandma-hillary

By now, if you pay any attention to politics, you know that on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace President Obama signaled to the Justice Department and the FBI what he expects the outcome of their investigation into Hillary’s email server should be. Mrs. Clinton should receive nothing more than a mild slap on the hand for carelessness. Since then, even those who have been predicting Mrs. Clinton would be indicted have begun to back away from their prediction.

Hillary Clinton is the one and only hope to ensure that the policies Barack Obama put in place will continue for another eight years. President Obama has no intention of following in the footsteps of George W. Bush and retiring to a quiet life, out of the media’s attention. With Hillary in office, Barack Obama will be nearly as omnipresent in the media as he is now. Neither will he stop apologizing for America or saying that “there is no difference between capitalism and communism.” He has a thousand and one reasons for preventing the Justice Department from indicting Hillary Clinton.

People who know FBI director James Comey say that he’s not the kind of man to yield to President Obama’s will if the evidence calls for more than a mild rebuke. And among the 100 or so FBI agents on the case, you can be sure they won’t remain silent if they believe their investigation has been subverted.

At issue here, however, is not just whether sufficient evidence exists to prosecute Hillary (I believe it does); it’s whether or not the Justice Department believes it would get a conviction. It’s not unusual for the FBI/Justice to decide not to prosecute a case, even if they believe the subject of an investigation is guilty, when it believes it’s not likely to get a conviction. Consider the egg allover Comey’s face if that happened.

On the other side of the ledger, if Clinton gets away with nothing by a slap on the hand, the apparent cover up will make Watergate look like a man wearing a hat to cover up his bald head. Richard Nixon knew the rules applied to him, he just broke them anyway. Hillary believes the rules don’t apply to her.

Whatever the outcome Hillary has a big problem. If she’s indicted, it’s the end of her campaign for president. If all she gets is a slap on the hand, the details of the FBI investigation will leak out in the middle of the general election campaign. The liberal media may want to sweep all that under the rug, but I doubt they’ll be able to do that. Once the general election campaign begins negative political ads reminding Americans of Hillary’s dishonesty, poor judgment and lack of achievement will fill the airways; and the email scandal will loom large in the presidential debates. Hillary can run, but she can’t hide.

Of course, every presidential election is a contest between the nominees of the two major political parties. As Will Rogers once said, “It’s a good thing that only one of the son-of-a-bitches can win.” Democrats will be equally if not nastier in attacking the Republican nominee, who will have his weaknesses, and American demographics tend to favor Democrats. Nevertheless, Hillary is not the politician her husband is, and Americans may decide that she is not above the rules.

Filed under: Politics, , , , , , , , ,

FIXING THE VA HEALTH CARE

VA PHOTO

Why is it that no matter how much national media attention problems at the Veterans Administration receive, serious problems affecting the care of millions of veteran’s health care persist?

Most recently, while long delays in wait times for veterans at VA health care facilities continue, problems mount with the Choice Card, intended to allow veterans to seek private medical care if VA is unable to provide it within a month of being requested, or if there is no VA facility near their homes. The program, opposed by senior people at the VA because they believed it undercut their reputation, is under siege because the VA has not paid millions of dollars to doctors. The result is the hounding of veterans who have used the card by bill collectors.

According to investigative reporter Like Rosiak writing in the Daily Caller, citing the Miami Herald, “A survey of non-VA hospitals in Florida, for example, found VA owed more than $100 million in unpaid claims for services provided to veterans under the Choice Card program. Sixty percent of the hospitals described the problems in getting paid as inexplicable, with their claims mysteriously getting lost. A growing number of doctors across the country are refusing to treat patients using the Choice Card for fear of never being paid.”

What will it take to give veterans the health care they deserve?

They way I see it, three problems are at the root of this scandal. First, is the nature of the federal bureaucracy. Firing incompetent or simply lazy federal employees is an enormous challenge. As a former senior executive in the Department of Defense I can tell you that the time and effort it takes to fire these employees is such a disincentive that most supervisors simply transfer the employee or ignore the problem. The result is a level of incompetence exists in the federal government that is not tolerated in private industry.

Even so, the VA has made progress on this front. According to Government Executive magazine, “The VA has fired 400 more employees this year so far than in 2014, according to Secretary Bob McDonald. McDonald said VA has fired 1,500 employees this calendar year compared to 1,100 people last year – a 36 percent increase. The former head of Procter and Gamble added that 2,280 employees have been terminated since his confirmation as VA secretary in July, and that the department has proposed disciplinary action against 300 workers for ‘manipulating scheduling.’” The VA has a workforce of roughly 330,000 employees. The question is, is this enough?

Second, health care, in and of itself, in the United States is fraught with difficulty. Costs are out of control. The demand for health care is on the rise while the number of doctors available is rapidly decreasing. In the case of the VA, 14 years of war has created a large number of physically and mentally disabled veterans. This compounds the increase in the demand for healthcare by a greying American population. Obamacare has only exacerbated this for Americans in general and driven some veterans to the VA system who otherwise may not have needed VA care.

Third is gross mismanagement by the VA leadership. Even after Congress gave the Secretary of Veterans Affairs the power to fire underperforming senior executives, very few, if any, have been fired. The VA has approximately 400 Senior Executive Service employees, but firing SESs has been difficult. In January and February of 2016, the VA lost three successive personnel decisions under this new authority, leading the VA Secretary to propose shifting the employment jurisdiction governing all VA SESs from Title 5 (Government Organization and Employees) to Title 38 (Veterans Benefits) of the United States Code.

What is the solution? Until all three of these problems are adequately addressed, veteran’s healthcare at the VA will not substantially improve. Perhaps with a new administration more progress is possible. A new National Security Management System introduced by the Bush administration to better rate employees on performance was quickly junked under federal employee union pressure when Obama came to office. Congress and the new president have their work cut out for them.

 

 

Filed under: Healthcare, , , , , , , , ,

EL TANGO DE SANGRE

tango

As if President Obama couldn’t top the absurdity of the image of him standing with Raoul Castro in front of a five-story high image of Che Guevara in Cuba, the pictures and videos of the President with an Argentine tango dancer in Buenos Aries in the wake of the Brussels attacks takes the cake.

I visited Argentina in the late 1990s as part of an official Department of Defense delegation. As is customary, after an obligatory late-night Argentine beef dinner our hosts treated us to a tango show where the head of our delegation was given the opportunity after the performance to dance with one of the alluring female tango dancers. The professional tango dancers were terrific. It was a wonderful experience which I will always remember. I often used to joke with my colleagues that I should take a few months off and go to Argentina to study the tango, if only my wife would approve.

Nevertheless, set aside the question of whether or not the President of the United States should allow the cameras to capture him with a tango dancers leg wrapped around him. The fact that this took place in the wake of a horrible terrorist attack in Brussels likely aimed at Americans makes me scream, “My God, what was the President thinking.”

As a long list of commentators already have said, President Obama should have cut short his Latin America trip when he was in Cuba and gone back to Washington, D.C. to meet with his senior national security advisors. Terrorist attacks in Europe are not background noise, the new normal or not America’s problem.

Beyond behavior I believe was wholly inappropriate when blood still staines the floor of the airport and subway in Brussels, President Obama couldn’t help again apologizing for past U.S. policy. Why the President of the United States keeps apologizing to countries that can’t begin to approach what America has done for the world bewilders me. Argentina in particular has nothing to brag about. Between the succession of dictatorships, the Juan and Evita Peron regime and providing a safe having for Nazi’s, I think they should apologize to us.

I long for the day I can aging be proud of my president. Unfortunately, given current circumstances, it doesn’t appear that day will come any time soon.

Filed under: The Presidency, , , , , , ,

PRESIDENT OBAMA AND CHE GUEVARA

CheandObama

The picture of President Barack Obama standing with Raoul Castro in front of a large image of Che Guevara speaks volumes. At the very least, Pres. Obama’s advance team is incompetent. At worst, the President has no problem identifying himself with one of the most brutal communist murders in modern history, something no American president should ever do.

As Michael J. Totten write in World Affairs, “The truth about Che now has its boots on. He helped free Cubans from the repressive Batista regime, only to enslave them in a totalitarian police state worst than the last. He was Fidel Castro’s chief executioner, a mass-murderer who in theory could have commanded any number of Latin American death squads, from Peru’s Shining Path on the political left to Guatemala’s White Hand on the right.”

Wherever you stand on the U.S. official recognition of Cuba, President Obama’s management of foreign affairs during his time in office has only two possible explanations. Either the President is totally ignorant of foreign affairs and therefore incompetent in the management of them or President Obama has more sympathy for America’s enemies than he has for America.

While many argue the latter is more the case than the former, I tend to believe that both are equally at play. His ignorance of foreign affairs gives him a false sense of reality about American’s enemies, as evidenced by his dealings with Russia and Iran. At the same time, his revulsion, passed down to him by his father, of Western colonialism, and his experience with the pro-socialist/communist views of his mother, forged his world view.

We can’t climb into Barack Obama’s head, so it’s not possible to know what mixture of incompetence and anti-Americanism affect his foreign policy decisions at any given time. I speculate, however, that Pres. Obama will cherish the photo of him standing in front of Che’s image with Raoul Castro. If you believe Pres. Obama has done just about all the damage he’s going to do to America, he’s not done yet. God only knows what he has up his sleeves for the next seven months. And after the election, regardless of who becomes our next president, Barack Obama will be ever-present in the media underpinning his legacy.

Filed under: National Security, Politics, The Presidency, , , , ,

WHY AMERICANS ARE FED UP WITH GOVERNMENT; AND WHY THEY’RE TURNING TO DONALD TRUMP

trump-rally

If you follow politics and the presidential election campaigns at all, you’ve read or glanced through dozens of articles about why Americans are dissatisfied with the government in Washington, D.C.. As someone who worked in the military and government in our nation’s capital for nearly 30 years, let me give it to you succinctly. The U.S. Government, whether run by Republicans or Democrats (but worse under Democrats) has come to see itself as above the American people and not a servant of them.

The plain and simple reason for this is money. There is so much money swashing around the Nation’s capitol that practically everyone who is elected to federal office soon realizes that their mission is to gain control of as much of it as possible. To do that they need to be reelected and to be reelected they need lots of donor money from people who want control of the government’s money by proxy. This above all is the principal reason Donald Trump is likely to win the Republican nomination and go on to become the 45th President of the United States.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not enemy of Wall Street or lobbyists or the big banks. Money is what they are all about and what they are supposed to be concerned about. I blame government for this problem. It’s people in government that let them get away with the highway robbery that are so often accused of. Money is power, and the aggregation of power is how political ideologies achieve their agendas. The reason government is worse under Democrats is because, unlike Republicans, Democrats tend toward totalitarianism. They want to control everything all the time.

An issue secondary to the money problem is competence. The amount of incompetence among politicians reaches biblical proportions. With a few exceptions, almost everything the federal government does cost twice as much as it should, is inefficient, and enormously wasteful. Despite all this, few are rarely held accountable. How many people have been fired over the rollout of Obamacare or abuses at VA hospitals?

I said there were exceptions. Often criticized and admittedly imperfect, U.S. foreign aid is one program that benefits the U.S. enormously at modest cost. It helped contain the Soviet Union, kept us out of numerous wars, won friends and influenced leaders in world capitals around the world. Why is it so criticized by many senators and representatives? Because the money doesn’t line the pockets of the donor class. The meager few billion dollars spread across the world don’t make defense contractors rich. Defense spending is a mixed bag. The weapons systems we have produced and fielded are what make the U.S. a superpower. Nevertheless, the Defense acquisition system is seriously broken.

Democrat and Republican voters ostensibly have different reasons for being fed up with the federal government, but they all center on the same problem—money. Democrats believe the federal government doesn’t take enough of it. Republicans voters believe the federal government takes to much. Democrats believe Republicans have blocked the President on spending and other issues. Republicans believe their elected representatives have given in too much to President Obama on Obamacare, spending, unconstitutional executive orders.

Along comes Donald Trump. He’s a multi billionaire and he’s never been elected to government office of any kind. Perhaps he’s immune to the money disease corrupting America? Perhaps not; but Americans have had enough of government that places it’s elected officials self-interest above the American people’s.

Filed under: Politics, , , ,

JUST WHAT DOES BARACK OBAMA BELIEVE?

ScaliaFuneral

I’m not one of those people who believes that Barack Obama is a Muslim, but I don’t think he’s much of a Christian either. Judging him by his words and actions, he comes across more as an agnostic—a person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God or of anything beyond material phenomena; a person who claims neither faith nor disbelief in God. President Obama has expressed an affinity for the Muslim call to prayer he heard as a child growing up in Indonesia, but that doesn’t make him a Muslim nor does it demonstrate a belief in Allah.

I cite three points, which you may or may not accept, in support of my argument.

Barack Obama sat in Rev. Jerimiah Wright’s church on and off for 20 years, more for political expedience rather that a deep faith in Jesus Christ or a belief in the teachings of the Bible, one can argue. President Obama needed a way to relate to the African American community in Chicago, because his own background was that of an atypical African American. The activist Trinity United Church of Christ provided him the credibility he needed to become active in the black community and Chicago politics. The fact that he claimed that he never heard all the outrageous, racists comments Rev. Wright made about White America is wholly believable. We don’t know how often Barack Obama and his family went to Trinity United on Sunday, but if we did, my guess is that he went a lot less that you would have expected him to.

During his campaign for the Presidency in 2008, Obama’s went to church occasionally, but after the election the President and his family rarely saw the inside of a church. This is not that unusual, as many U.S. presidents have avoided going to church on Sunday. Also failure to attend church regularly doesn’t mean you’re not a Christian. By itself, this argument doesn’t mean much. When taken into consideration with my other two points, however, it is revealing.

Finally, President’s Obama’s decision not to attend Justice Scalia’s funereal Mass speaks volumes. What possible legitimate excuse could the President have for not attending the funeral of a sitting Supreme Court Justice other than a national emergency. My guess is that the President placed little value on the institution of the Catholic Church, the ceremony or the person it was held to memorialize and honor. As the President of the United States, I believe Barack Obama had an obligation to represent all the people of America by attending the funeral. Why should the U.S. Congress consider the President’s nominee to replace Justice Scalia when President Obama has so little respect for the Supreme Court and those who disagree with him that serve on the Court?

Traditionally, we give Presidents broad leeway in deciding what ceremonies and events they chose to attend or participate in, and the media has largely given President Obama a pass on his refusal to attend Scalia’s funeral. Furthermore, in America we accept at face value whatever faith people claim to profess. If President Obama says he’s a Christian, we accept him as a Christian. Nevertheless, it would behoove the President to provide more evidence to demonstrate he is what he claims he is—a Christian. It also would behoove Hillary Clinton to do the same thing.

Filed under: Religion, The Presidency, , , , , , ,

HOW BAD IS IT?

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So many people are bloviating about politics these days on cable television, the radio and on the internet that Americans tend to pay attention only to viewpoints they agree with or they tune out completely. To make things even worse, the American higher-education system is turning out political dunces who don’t know what every eight-grader in public school knew 50 years ago. But now, however, our presidential candidates all agree things are really bad. That must mean they really are.

To attract attention, professional and amateur political commentators increasingly have resorted to extreme language. The left has accused the right of sins the Nazis and the fascists became famous for. The right has accused the left of totalitarian tendencies communists are known for. So when either side makes an extreme accusation, even when they’re true, they often get lost in the background noise.

The ongoing presidential campaigns, however, appear to be rising above the clammer of the crowed. Republicans and Democrats are telling us that the fate of the nation rests on the outcome of the November election. Little is new in this except for the fact that it appears truer now than any time since the Civil War. Although Democrats have been running the Federal government for the past seven plus years, they want us to believe that every ill that’s befallen the country is the fault of Republicans. Republicans tell us that President Obama set out to transform America, he’s almost done it, all we need is another Democrat in the White House to complete what he began. America will be done for. Don’t get me started on climate change.

Listening to the respective presidential debates this year should be eye opening. Bernie Sanders and Hillary outdid Republicans at Thursday evenings debate, portraying the United States in the direst terms. Sanders says, “Almost everyone is getting poorer.” “Ordinary Americans are worried to death about the future of their kids.” “There is massive despair all over this country.” “Seniors are cutting their pills in half…don’t have decent nutrition…can’t heat their homes in the wintertime.” “A rigged economic system and a corrupt political system have created a moment of serious crises.”

Clinton repeatedly agreed with Sanders that too many Americans are getting left behind. “‘Yes, the economy is rigged in favor of those at the top.” Her main critique of the Sanders critique was that it lacked identity-politics specificity, that it didn’t recognize the unique challenges of “really systemic racism” against blacks, of “hardworking immigrant families living in fear,” of women’s rights that are “under tremendous attack,” of “discrimination against the LGBT community,” even of the struggles in coal country and other downtrodden white communities “where we are seeing an increase in alcoholism, addiction, earlier deaths.’”

So how bad is it, really? Like everything else in life, that much depends on your perspective. Not everyone in America is suffering; and Americans have faced extreme adversity in the past (The Civil War, WWII, The Great Depression) and rebounded. What’s so bad this time is that the America most of us knew and loved growing up already has disappeared and likely is unrecoverable. Demographic diversity, pervasive technological change, political correctness and a culture of victimization have overtaken traditional American values and replaced them with values we do not yet fully understand.

Certainly, change frequently is a good thing. America was better after the Civil war when slavery was abolished. It’s taking 150 years and more to adapt to that change, but still we’re better off. The world is better off since World War II, and the US economy blossomed tremendously after the Great Depression. These changes have led us to believe that no matter what befalls America we will always bounce back better and stronger. What scares us now is that it looks more and more as if this time we won’t.

This election is a seminal one. There is a huge difference between Republicans and Democrats. Your country and your life will change for better or worse. It’s time to get out your bullshit detector and vote. Remember, we get the government we deserve.

Filed under: Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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