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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

How much longer is this nonsense going to continue?

In 2003 and 2004, I served in Iraq as a CIA Operations Officer.  The focus of my career was intelligence collection, so when I learned that former soldier Bradley Manning was serving in Iraq as an Intelligence Analyst for the U.S. Army when he committed treason, I couldn't help but feel a professional connection to the story.  In 2010, Specialist Manning leaked over 750,000 sensitive and classified documents to WikiLeaks, an online organization that is dedicated to publicly disseminating classified material.  There is no doubt in my mind that some of the information leaked by Manning eventually compromised sensitive operations and contacts.  Its very possible that people were thrown in jail or even executed after their confidential association with the United States was disclosed in the documents leaked to Wikileaks.  It's impossible to exaggerate the seriousness of his actions, and probably just as impossible to gauge how much damage was done.  The US government does not classify information without justification; it is vital to protect the identity of persons who provide us with valuable national security intelligence, and just as important to keep secret the details of military operations.  Unfortunately, our history includes a number of persons who have chosen to betray their country.  In 1953, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were executed after having been found guilty of leaking information on our Atomic Energy program to the Soviet Union, and former CIA Operations Officer Aldrich Ames is serving a life sentence for providing secret information to the Russians.  I fully expected the U.S. Army to adjudicate Manning's Court Martial with the seriousness that his crime demanded.  Actually, Manning managed to avoid a life sentence, as the Court, while convicting Manning of seventeen charges, chose to acquit on the charge of "aiding the enemy", and decided that a thirty-five year sentence was appropriate.

Following the Court Martial, I looked forward to no longer hearing about Bradley Manning.  Sadly, the drama was just beginning.  When the story first took hold, the media latched on to the image of  homosexual Manning trying to survive bullying by his fellow soldiers.  Could the stress and pressure of daily harassment been part of the reason he chose to commit treason?  Eventually, homosexual Manning morphed into transsexual Manning, which made him even more of a victim in the eyes of the media and the left.  I still have problems reconciling myself to the reality that following his conviction as a traitor, the U.S. Army paid for prisoner Manning to have gender reassignment surgery.  Who made this decision, and why?  How can anyone justify using taxpayer dollars to address a personal problem of a convicted traitor?  And yes, it is a personal problem.  Anyone who is unfortunate enough to suffer from gender dysphoria is suffering from a personal condition.  You and I can be sympathetic if we choose, or ignore it all together.  Either way, its still the personal problem of the individual in question.  How can the U.S. Army justify paying for this procedure?  The US taxpayer wasn't responsible for Manning being born in the wrong body.  Instead of taking it up with the Joint Chief of Staff, Manning should have addressed his issue to God, who, from my perspective, is the only one responsible for the original decision.  If and when Manning decided to have the surgery, there seem to be plenty of wealthy celebrities who support his situation.  How about THEY pay for the surgery......

Regardless of my opinion on the matter, the US Army paid for prisoner Bradley Manning to become prisoner Chelsea Manning.  The circus didn't end with Manning's transformation.  Before leaving office, President Obama decided to spit on the persons whose lives were destroyed by Manning's actions by commuting his sentence.  Today Chelsea Manning is a free woman, with, no doubt, a nice million-dollar contract with a New York publishing house.  Two weeks ago Manning took to social media to brag about being named a "visiting fellow" by Harvard University.  Following criticisms from many influential and respected persons with connection to Harvard University, the decision was made to rescind the honor.  I wonder if the taxpayer can get a reimbursement for the sex-change surgery that we funded?

While we suffered through the Bradley/Chelsea Manning drama, something else was occurring involving the US military.  Soldiers were being prosecuted at an alarming rate for decisions made during battle, a disturbing and unprecedented event in the history of the Armed Forces.   Just as the Obama Administration has attempted to paint the law enforcement community as being infected with bigots, it has also gone to great lengths to prosecute members of our Armed Forces, most of the time on questionable evidence.  All the while, many veterans were facing one difficulty after another trying to get treatment.  Its obvious that President Obama was opposed to both the conflict in Iraq and the war in Afghanistan.  But his opposition is a political issue, and I find it reprehensible that he never took real action to assist our veterans as they returned from overseas deployments. Its not just an issue of the heroes who return home with terrible injuries.  The conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have left many soldiers dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD).  We haven't done nearly enough for these men and women who went to war, putting themselves in harm's way, to protect our freedoms and way of life.  I'm pleased that a real effort is underway to fix the problems at the Veteran's Administration, and that long-awaited treatment is becoming more readily available, but we must do more.  We have to be diligent regarding the mindset that the previous Administration adopted, including the marching orders given to the Justice Department and the Pentagon, encouraging the domestic prosecution of our soldiers.  I can't think of anything more shameful than these heroes being obliged to defend themselves at home, after defending themselves against terrorists day-in and day-out during overseas postings.

Monday, September 18, 2017

On Capitol Hill, it's business as usual.

When Donald Trump won the 2016 Presidential Election, I believed that the Republican-controlled Congress would confidently pass the agenda that was responsible for dispatching Hillary Clinton and Company.  The issues that were most important to me- safe borders, immigration enforcement, rolling back unnecessary regulations, re-negotiating terrible Trade Agreements, and support for our veterans, were part and parcel of the platform that President Trump embraced during the election.  Given that those same issues are also traditional Republican concerns, I assumed that Majority Leader McConnell and Speaker of the House Ryan would have little difficulty corralling their respective Republican majorities and pushing aside the Democratic opposition.  Unfortunately, it just hasn't happened as I envisioned.  Although President Trump has been able to pass some of the agenda, he must be frustrated with the lack of urgency demonstrated by Congress.  Ten months into the Trump presidency, why hasn't Congress been more aggressive on implementing his agenda?

Most of the more prolific Republican members of Congress have voted in line with President Trump.  More accurately, they have voted as conservatives, which is what is expected by their constituents.  My Congressman, who has been in office over three decades, traditionally votes as a conservative, but I'm not ready to concede that his voting record this year is an indication of support for President Trump.  I think the same can be said for many of the more influential Republican Congressmen and women.  Voting conservative is something that is expected by their constituents, and not necessarily an indication of support for President Trump.  Since my district voted heavily in favor of Donald Trump, I expected my Congressman to take a leadership role in shepherding the Trump agenda through the House of Representatives.  He's been in Congress a decade longer than the Speaker of the House, and currently chairs the Science, Space, and Technology committee.  I can only assume that he wields enough influence to make a bold stand calling for unity behind our Republican President, and the issues that swept him into office.   On the contrary, since the inauguration, what I've observed is one Democrat member of Congress after another aggressively attacking President Trump and his policies.  Since the Republican Party has a forty-six seat majority in the House of Representatives, why is it always the Democrats who seem to control the debate?

For a Congressperson to be accountable to his or her constituents, it must take more than a positive voting record.  Our nation sits at a crossroads, and our elected officials must be ready to stand up and be heard, because the left has shown no hesitation in taking over the bully pulpit.  President Trump deserves a Congress that will use its majority to push aside the opposition and pass the legislation that will make our nation safer and our economy stronger.  For too many years, the polite, business-as-usual style of negotiating in the House of Representatives has allowed the Democrats to dominate the agenda, regardless of which party is in the majority, and every year, Congress seems to become less responsive to the people.  We need a Congress that tackles its responsibilities in a responsible fashion, and the last one to leave the Chamber turns out the lights.  Instead, we have a never-ending process of brokering, deal-making, behind-the-scenes negotiating, additional deal-making and still nothing gets accomplished.  This is not my idea of smaller government, folks, and any member of Congress who calls themselves a Conservative and has been in office more than a decade, needs to explain to me exactly what steps they have taken to make our government smaller, cheaper, and less intrusive on our lives.

The election of Donald Trump as the forty-fifth President of the United States was the first step taken by the American people in returning responsible, accountable leadership to Washington DC.  In order to provide President Trump with the legislative support he needs to make our nation safer, shrink the size of government, and grow our economy, we must elect a Congress which demonstrably supports the Trump agenda and is willing to toss aside convention when necessary and use the majority which was provided by the American electorate.  Its time to look beyond the Congressional voting record and ask the all-important questions, "what has my Congressperson actually accomplished, how dedicated are they to a smaller government, and just how aggressive is he or she willing to be in support of the Trump agenda?"