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Monday, August 29, 2016

How much is at stake this time around, as opposed to previous presidential elections?

With roughly two months left before the nation goes to the polls to elect a new President, I can't seem to find anyone who hasn't already made up their minds.  But the national polls continue to remind us that most people don't trust either major candidate, and that anywhere between seven and fifteen percent have yet to make a decision, one way or the other.  I assume that some folks are stuck wrestling with the old cliche, "the better of the two evils".  The dilemma they face is trying to decide just which one deserves that less-than impressive designation.  Regardless, this election is tremendously important, probably the most significant presidential election of my lifetime.  For those persons who have not decided who to vote for, and for those who have, lets take a minute and review the more pivotal issues involved in this election of 2016.

The issue that should be most important to Americans, is the selection of Supreme Court Justices.  For years, it appeared that the Conservatives on the Supreme Court would be in the majority indefinitely.  Unfortunately, a few Justices who were selected by Republican Presidents, have proven to be liberal in their interpretation of the Court's job (preserving the Constitution as opposed to re-writing it), and have voted as Progressives.  It has been hypothesized that the next President will have the opportunity to fill as many as five seats on the Supreme Court, depending on the likelihood of a second term.  The next President will be in a position to dictate the ideology of the Supreme Court for decades to come.

How important to you is the issue of Immigration?  This topic is not confined to persons entering the United States legally or illegally.  The ability of a nation to defend and protect its borders is directly related to the safety of its citizens.  What about Amnesty?  Do you have an opinion regarding the legalization of twenty million persons who live in the United States illegally?  The two candidates have very.different opinions on the issue of Immigration.  As you read this blog, the Obama Administration is settling thousands and thousands of refugees from Syria here in the United States.  The laws have been thrown aside in order to facilitate this process, almost as if the Administration does not want these new arrivals to be properly vetted.  The United States spends billions of dollars every year on Border Enforcement, yet we no longer deport people.  Why not just disband the Border Patrol and use the money somewhere else?

Entitlements and Social Security are two terms that have been used ad nauseam by both candidates in this election.  Social Security is bankrupt and has been for some time.  The various Administrations and Congresses of the past half-century have played kick-the-can with this issue.  We have a record number of Americans on Disability, a record number of Americans on Food Stamps and other assistance, and a record number of Americans taking advantage of unemployment benefits.  On top of this crisis, certain Senators and Congressmen continue to milk the system to create unnecessary multi-million dollar projects in their home states or districts, just to build up votes for the next election.  Whoever wins this election has an obligation to all Americans to find a fix for Social Security, which pours out way more money than is collected.

Taxes: we are in dire need of a simplified tax system.  Both candidates seem to agree on this.  The divide comes when discussing what would be the best way to tax Americans.  One candidate believes that the rich should pay more taxes, which would pay for all the new give-aways she promises (no mention of prioritizing and paying down the twenty trillion-dollar debt Obama will leave).  The other candidate talks about lower taxes for businesses, so more money is available to hire more employees and improve overall performance.  Don't let yourself be fooled about rich people not paying taxes.  Persons making $500,000 per annum and more PAY OVER 51% of taxes, and 46% of Americans pay NO TAXES whatsoever.  We don't need more money, folks.  We need to be smarter and more accountable with what we already collect.

Foreign Affairs and the military.  One candidate speaks in depth about supporting the military and guaranteeing good health care for our veterans.  The other candidate rarely speaks about Foreign Affairs at all, which is odd, govern her experience as Secretary of State.  Are you concerned about Veterans and healthcare?  Do you believe that the military needs to be modernized?  How do you feel about the terrorist threat?  Do you believe that ISIS and Al-Qaeda can be contained, which is the intention of one candidate, or should we work to destroy terrorist groups altogether?

We have left many important issues unmentioned, but I don't want to lose the few of you who have made it this far.  I want to leave you with this one request: if you believe strongly that your candidate is the right choice, please don't become complacent.  Encourage like-minded folks to get registered.  This election is way too important to be ignored by anyone.  Try and set a goal for yourself of convincing at least five people every week, to get registered and to vote.  The next time you are at the Post Office, pick up a handful of registration cards.  Every vote counts.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

It's time to lay off of Ryan Lochte.

*(I have recently discovered that creating my blog posts while utlizing my Ipad can result in additional characters added to the text, especially in the title line.  I apologize for the distraction, which hopefully has been addressed.)

The 2016 Rio Olympics waved goodbye to the world last night, as the flame began the initial leg of its next journey to Japan, for the 2020 Summer Olympics.  I assume the flame which will herald the commencement of the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchamg, South Korea, is also somewhere out there on the move.  When I realized today that the 2018 Winter Games are going to be in Korea, I was a bit surprised; Seoul, South Korea hosted the Summer Games in 1988.  To earn the honor of hosting two Olympic Games within thirty years seems a bit sketchy, but paying for it all can bankrupt a country, so if South Korea has the coin, who am I to complain?  Regarding the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo, a number of blogs dedicated to imternational sports have considered the probability that US swimmer and multi-medal winner Ryan Lochte will be denied the opportunity to compete.  Lochte will be 36 yrs old in 2020, but some truly gifted swimmers have been known to stay competitive into their 40's.  As a reminder, Lochte continues to receive an avalanche of criticsm and bad press relating to the scandal that became the top story of the games for roughly one week.  On August 14, Lochte called his mother from Brazil and told her that he and three other US swimmers had been robbed at gunpoint the night before.  Without rehashing all the leaks and claims and counter-claims, suffice to say that Lochte lied to his mother, who made the mistake of immediately repeating her son's story to the press.  Since the opening ceremonies, the international press has been straining at the bit, hoping for some criminal event involving an Olympic athlete, to justify concerns regarding Brazil's acknowledged crime problem.  Once the police interviewed the other three swimmers, it became apparent that Lochte had added certain elements and eliminated others, probably to make himself look better.  Eventually the other three swimmers were allowed to tell their stories, which did not necessarily discount Lochte's general claim.

The four swimmers were very drunk as they made their way back to their Olympic lodgings on the morning of August 14.  They attempted to open the door to what they believed to be a restroom, and one of the young men broke the lock.  They discovered that the door did not, in fact, lead to a toilet, so the four Americans did what most guys their age (any age?) would do in the same predicament: they availed themselves of some nearby shrubbery.  After urinating, the young men discovered that they had attracted the attention of two security guards.  At least two of the drunk Americans thought that the uniformed and armed guards were police officers.  A discussion ensued, during which a bystander attempted to translate.  He must have done a poor job, because both the guards and the athletes became angry.  All four Americans were convinced that they were being shaken down for money.  The security guard claims that he was trying to collect money for the owner of the broken door/lock.  It appears that Lochte was most vocal in insisting that no money was going to change hands.  A pistol was pulled, and, not surprisingly, the Americans quickly decided to give up the cash. How much money they gave is still unknown, as is the ultimate recipient of the cash.  Eventually, the Americans returned to their lodging.  The next day, Lochte's mother served up the story to the international press, and included all the details he had allegedly shared with her.  According to her story, and one that Lochte was to repeat later in an interview with Matt Lauer, the young Americans were in a taxi, and after stopping to urinate, were accosted by four men in police uniforms.  Lochte claimed that a pistol was actually pointed at his head.  So after comparing the two stories, its simple to see where Lochte embelished his version of the event.

The next day, Lochte was contacted by Brazilian authorities, who were not happy that the four swimmers had decided not to call the police.  All four claim that Lochte made the decision not to call the police; given how drunk they were, Lochte was concerned that reporting the event might cause them trouble with both the US Olympic authorities and the International Olympic Committee.  Lochte already has his plane ticket in hand before the morning of the 14th.  The Brazilians did not take his passport or request that he stay in country, so he returned home in order to keep up with a pre-existing schedule.  He DID NOT desert his three companions, as the press continues to falsely claim.  Actually, the media and the entertainment industry have been growing fat on this scandal.  After the 2012 Olympics, Lochte became a bit of a celebrity.  He was given a reality show (which failed), and contracts with Speedo and Ralph Lauren.  With his all-American good-looks and his physique, the media started following Lochte and reporting on his personal life.  In the run-up to the Rio games, Lochte was receiving more press than Michael Phelps.

No doubt Lochte exaggerrated the events of that evening, probably because the actual event doesn't leave anyone looking very "brave".  But what are the most important elements of this story?  The four young Americans were held at gunpoint until money exchanged hands.  The rest is just noise, although to Lochte, it's very expensive noise.  He has been dropped by just about all of his sponsors, including Speedo and Ralph Lauren, and in all likelihood will be "persona non grata" with the International Olympic Committee.  Today, the day after the closing ceremonies, CNN continually ran stories and commentary that accused Lochte of being a liar, a thug, and a criminal.  One CNN guest compared Lochte to the recent controversial police shootings in the United States, claiming that instead of targeting innocent African -American young men, the police should be arresting Lochte!  MSNBC was more of the same, and Al Roker at NBC, who is a buffoon on a good day, loudly exclaimed that Lochte wasn't being punished enough.  The Huffington Post, which like most leftist garbage media, jumps at the chance to kick an American before an international audience, annointed Roker "the internet king", for his comments about Lochte.  The hypocrisy is so thick and so typical.  Before the Olympics, Roker fawned over Lochte, as did all the US media.  Here is a news flash: the Ryan Lochte that now serves as the media's kicking boy, is the same Ryan Lochte that was repeatedly built up and shoved down our throats after the 2012 Olympics.  Anyone who watched even five minutes of his reality show could deduce that Lochte was not the sharpest tool in the shed, or the one most likely to make good decisions.  On the morning of August 14, Lochte thought he was omnipotent, because that is what he had been led to believe ad nauseam.  When it came time to tell the story, Lochte embellished it and delivered something more sexy and intersting that the real event.  He delivered the goods, exactly as he was trained to do.  Ryan Lochte, who on August 13 was the all-American golden boy, became the lying, embarrassing, thug who abandoned his comapnions to take the blame for his actions.  What are we talking about here?  Four young men, very drunk after a night of celebration, made some bad decisions.  The media jumped at this opportunity; they printed every leak, every bit of innuendo, and every attempt to try and convict not only Lochte, but his three comapnions as well.  The press, media and entertainment industry continue to find ways to reach new lows.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Some thoughts on the Olympic scandal.

The 2016 summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro have been a tremendous success for the United States, at least as far as athletics go.  The international competion that takes place every four years has a way of bringing together people of disparate backgrounds.  I stood amongst a group of people watching the semi-final men's Volleyball match between Italy and the US (eventually won by Italy, 3 sets to 2) at a McDonald's this morning, and noticed a businessman, a teacher, and a construction worker, all focused together, trying to will the US team to victory.  The fervor with which the people of Rio support the Brazilian athletes is an example of how people can come together and forget the difficulties of life for a while, long enough the share pride in their nation.  Since the collapse of the Soviet Union/Commenwealth of Independent States, the US has had little competion, when it comes to overall medal count.  No doubt this encourages some folks to root against the US athletes, and the events of the last week indicate that this negativity can exist off the courts as well.

Last weekend, decorated US swimmer Ryan Lochte's mother publicly announced that her son, along with three orher US swimmers, had been robbed after a night partying.  It didn't take long for the story to grow legs.  For all practical purposes, Brazil is a third-world country, with out-of-control unemployment, crime, poverty, and a huge separation in living standards between a small wealthy elite and the rest of the population.  Recently, the people of Brazil, fed-up with endemic political corruption, took to the streets.  The president has been impeached, and investigations into corruption seem to involve every political power.  This was the environment in which Brazil has pulled off a successful Olympic games.  Unfortunately, a segment of the population objected to the money being spent to build velodromes and other obsolete structures, when the majority of people, especially those living in the Favelas (look it up), live without electricity and running water.  Some Olympic athletes expressed concern about safety in Rio de Jameiro, so there wasn't much surprise when an Olympic athlete claimed that he and other athletes had been robbed after a night at a disco.

Now it appears that the story Lochte told to his mother and later shared with NBC news personality Matt Lauer, was full of false details (lies?).  Brazilian authorities, disturbed by the fact that Lochte and his companions did not report the incident, claimed other inconsistencies.  Lochte had already left Brazil, but authorities refused to allow the remaining three swimmers depart until the event had been thoroughly investigated.  Almost from the beginning, rhe international media was fed by leaks provided by various Brazilian authorities in the Police Department and the Department of Justice.  Initially, the Brazilian authorities claimed that although security personnel were on the scene, no weapons were pulled.  There is no doubt that a concerted effort was made to try and convict Lochte and his companions, before the other three had even spoken on the subject.  After Conger and Benz, two of Lochte's companions that night, were interviewed, they were greeted outside Police Headquarters by a crowd that was prepared for a lynching.  Their was a palpable anger being expressed by the people of Brazil, encouraged by the Brazilian press and law enforcement authorities.  Did anyone care that Conger and Benz were released without charges?

Lochte and the remaining individual in this mess, James Feigan, were threatened with being indicted. The Brazilian authorities claimed that the Americans lied when thry claimed that they were robbed.  But wait...since they didn't report the "robbery", what's the crime?  Simply put, the crime was having the nerve to falsely "report" a crime, in a country when crime is a huge problem.  The concern being that four American athletes reporting a crime might make people come to the conclusion that Brazil is a dangerous place.  Well, it IS a dangerous place.  So what actually happened?  Lochte claimed that  he and his friends took a cab home after a night out, and stopped temporarily to relieve themselves.  On returning to the cab, they were confronted by persons dressed as police, who proceeded to rob the four young men.  Lochte claimed that his wallet was taken and that a pistol was pointed directly at his head.  After the robbery, the four walked back to the Olympic compound, choosing not to report the incident so as to avoid "getting in trouble".

What actually occurred?  So far, the story that I can piece together is that the four young men were walking home from the disco, and stopped to use a restroom.  In attempting to open the door, they broke the lock.  What they thought was a restroom was actually something else, so they maneuvered behind some bushes and releived themselves.  At this point, 2 security guards arrived, and in a discussion involving money (and included a local who attempted  to translate), Lochte got angry and spoke back to the security guards.  A weapon was pulled, and all four Americans were ordered to sit on the ground.  The issue was eventually resolved with an exchange of money.

No doubt the four young men were quite intoxicated.  Is it possible that they mistakenly thought that the security guards were police officers, and the exchange of money (which has been described by Brazilian authorities as payment for the broken lock) was a robbery?  Lochte has apologized to a point, and we have yet to hear from the other three.  Feigan was allowed to avoid indictment by taking advantage of a Brazilian law which allows persons to make a donation to a charity as opposed to facing prosecution.  Of course, this clause can only be used if the alleged crime is minor.

Like most Americans, I'm very anxious to hear from the other three men.  The Brazilian press will be broken-hearted to see this scandal fade away.  For a week or so, the regular crime and controversy that dominate the headlines was replaced by four entitled, spoiled young Americans disrespecting the great nation of Brazil.  International audiences were able to look away from green swimming pools and kayakers running into sofas, and enjoy the spectacle of humiliated Americans.  It seems like humiliating Americans has been everyone's hobby for the past 8 years.  I long for the day when nations thought twice before insulting Americans and the United States.  I'm hoping that change is on the way.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Is Russia making preparations for a full-scale invasion of Ukraine?

The Russia of Vladimir Putin has a habit of telegraphing its intentions ahead of time.  Putin's foreign policy and its imclusion of Russia's military in one way or another, is all about aggression against his neighbors, intimidation, and force projection.  Although most analysts are closely monitoring Russian  military activity in Syria and on its borders with Ukraine, the truth is, every move Putin makes is primarily directed against the United States.  Sadly, everything Putin wants, he gets.  The United States has such week, reactive policies regarding Russia, that Putin must be very tempted to push the envelope one more time before the Obama Administration leaves office.  In fact, the recent Russian military buildup on its borders with Ukraine has all the indications of a full-scale imvasion.  It not only fits the Putin mold, but it makes sense geo-politically, at least in the way Putin has played the game lately.  One of the few cards we have left to play against Russia is our membership (and stewardship) of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).  This military force presents Putin with a potential enemy which would be very difficult to defeat with a conventional force.  There was a time when NATO was discussing a possible membership invitation to Ukraine, which would have really pissed off the folks in the Kremlin.  No doubt Ukraine, for defensive reasons alone, would have quickly accepted any such formal invitation, but no one in Kiev is waiting for the mail these days.  All Putin had to do was diplomatically complain and threaten a bit to put to flight the idea of Ukrainian membership in NATO.  Since then, Putin has demonstrated that Russia now calls the shots.  At one time, the Baltic Republics showed an interest in NATO, bit that issue has been run off the table as well.  The worst casualty of the willingness to let Russia dictate policy has to do with defensive strategy in Eastern Europe.  There was a time when NATO intended to deploy a missile shield in Poland and other Eastern European nations.  This device, if it operated as intended, ideally would destroy any missiles fired from Russia into Eastern Europe.  The Russians had no answer to the missile shield, so they threatened and blustered until that option also appears to now be off the table.  Why is Putin allowed to maneuver with such impunity?

On August 7, Russia issued formal complaints against Ukraine, accusing Kiev of attempting to either invade Crimea (!) or of trying to destabilize upcoming elections.  As proof, Russian television broadcast video of a handful of ragged so-called Ukrainian guerillas and a small cache of explosives and ammunition.  Staying true to their M.O., the Russian military was simultaneously building up its forces on its borders with Ukraine.  From August 7 -12, the Russian military deployed additional air and naval units, ground forces and military hardware on the border with Ukraine.  We believe this new military posture from Moscow is an indication that Russia intends to invade Ukraine before the Obama Administration leaves office, and a potentially less pliant government takes the reigns of power in DC.  Putin has everything to gain and nothing to lose.  The Ukrainian Army is in dire need of new equipment, parts, ammunition and training.  The Air Force appears to be in even worse shape.  The Obama Administration has continually refused repeated requests from Kiev for assistance, although some U.S. personnel have been detached to assist in training the Army.  Russia will steamroll the Ukrainian military, and the leaders of Europe, who follow behind Obama like a line of baby ducklings, will convene to discuss what sanctions to impose on Moscow.  Putin will permenantly eliminate the troublesome Ukrainians and their flirtation with NATO, the Baltic States will be cowered into acquiescence.

During the last 8 years, no matter what the issue or location, Russia has dictated the end game.  In Turkey, President Erdogan used the recent coup attempt that he very likely supported himself, to quash any pro-west sentiment, and then made nice with Putin.  Turkey's membership in NATO hangs in the balance, as do the missiles NATO has positioned in Turkey which are, we assume, aimed at Russia.  With Turkey and the Kremlin now best-of-friends, how safe are the U.S. military personnel still based in Turkey?  What about the U.S. military installations and aircraft?  All the while, U.S. foreign policy remains exactly how it was left by former Secretary of State Clinton: as a reactive, useless waste of taxpayer's money.  The only time we see Secretary Kerry is when he is stuck behind a bunch of media microphones, trying to explain how the ransom used to free U.S. hostages in Iran wasn't actually ransom, but part of a larger effort to repay Iran for a broken arms deal in the 1970s.  Sorry for straying a bit off-topic, but why are we repaying Iran for ANYTHING?  They remain the world's largest supporter of terrorism, so you can imagine where that money will end up.  This arms deal was in the 1970s; has Iran offered to compensate the family of U.S. citizen Leon Klinghoffer, who was killed by Iranian agents in 1985?  Has Iran paid any compensation for destroying our Embassy in 1979 and taking over one hundred Americans hostage?  Why is U.S. foreign policy always about placating the bad guys, Russia included?

I have no idea how either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will deal with Vladimir Putin.  As Secretary of State, in 2010 Hillary Clinton negotiated and signed the disasterous New Start Treaty with Putin, and Trump has praised Putin, seeming to not recognize the danger the Kremlin presents today.  Hillary has had her shot; I would rather take a chance on a new approach than continue the crippling foreign policy of the Obama Administration.  

Friday, August 12, 2016

Over 70 Republicans sign letter to GOP National Committee Chairman, urging him to not support Donald Trump.

The efforts of the Beltway Republicans to find a way of making Donald Trump disappear, continue.  This flock of Rinos (Republicans In Name Only) and otherwise liberal Republicans are determined to create a weekly media event, as their way of punching Trump in the gut, so to speak.  Yesterday it was announced that roughly 70 ex-lawmakers and former Republican staffers sent an open letter to GOP National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, urging him to forego using GOP funds to support Trump's candidacy.  There is so much wrong with this effort, its difficult to decide where to begin.

First and foremost, this issue is not about Donald Trump.  I will not discuss his issues, bad habits, speaking style or haircut.  This issue is about disaffected "lifetime" GOP bodies who are petrified that their permanent place among the DC elite might be in jeopardy.  Many of the so-called Republicans had announced their support for Hillary Clinton before the Republican Primaries were complete.  I have a few close Republican friends who are unable to bring themselves to vote for Donald Trump.  I absolutely support their decision, as much as I support the overwhelming decision of Republican voters to support Donald Trump (he was not my first or second choice either).  But there is a huge difference between not voting for Trump, and voting for Hillary Clinton.

I am thoroughly disgusted by any Republican who attempts to alter the results of the primaries.  The system performed as it should, and an impressive number of conservatives made their choice.  This is the U.S. electoral system; there are no "do-overs".  Do these people really think that they can replace Trump and not face an exodus from the GOP?  The people have spoken; if you don't like the choice, then stay at home or vote for the other candidate.

The truth is, this is a relatively small group of insidious political hacks who have FAILED comservatives over the past few decades.  Who are they to complain about Trump?  They failed us in 2008 and 2012, they allowed Obama to run wild and get just about everything he wanted, and they feel that they are justified in trying to overturn the choice of the people?  Priebus will ignore this most recent letter, as he has the preceding ones.  This election will end up being very close, with Ohio, Florida, Virginia and North Carolina being the most important prizes.  I have seen enough internal polling to believe that Trump can win all four.  I hope everyone finds some way to participate in the process, but at the end of the day, trying to overturn or ignore the 13,406,108 Americans who voted for Donald Trump, is about as un-American as having a candidate who should be wearing prison pinstripes instead of pantsuits.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Okay, Eric, just what is your problem with Hillary Clinton?

I've had more than a few friends and readers comment lately that my attacks on Hillary Clinton have become more frequent, and appear to be almost personal.  Its true I have been commenting on Hillary  regularly; she's running for president and her supporters should expect more attention.  But I would be disengenuous if I tried to comvince folks that my issues with Hillary Clinton are only related to the 2016 Presidential Election.  You see, I've spent my fair share of time as a Civil Servant.  In 1995 I became first an Inspector and then a Special Agent with the Immigration and Naturalization Service.  In 1999, I was hired by the Central Intelligence Agency.  I have lived in DC, and discovered more about the Federal Government than I thought possible.  As an Immigration Officer, I experienced the immigration issue first-hand; as a CIA officer, I worked with many different branches of the government, including the Department of State, the Justice Department, and the Department of Commerce.  Early on, it became clear to me that many of the problems of government can be dropped at the feet of both major political parties.  Senators and Representatives of both parties are obliged to start campaigning for their next term almost as soon as they arrive in DC.  Lobbyists have infested the Capitol Building on both sides of the aisle, which explains the seemingly insurmountable problem with Entitlements.  Regarding Hillary Clinton, my time as a Civil Servant closely coincided with her time inside The Beltway.  I remember when the Clintons left DC in the year 2000, and I remember her returning as a Senator from the State of New York.  Part of the time that Clinton was Secretary of State, I was working overseas very closely with State Department personnel.

I am very comfortable discussing Hillary Clinton's record as a Senator and her time as Secretary of State, but I've already made that argument on this blog.  Ironically, its not the New Start Treaty, Benghazi, or the Clinton Foundation that fuels my lack of respect for Hillary Clinton.  My core issue with Hillary is one of trust, or the lack thereof.  Hillary Clinton, unlike her competitor, has chosen to be a representative of the people of the United States, therefore she should expect to be held accountable.  In all the time that Hillary Clinton has been known to me, she has never been accountable to anyone or anything.  During her husband's first-term in the White House, Hillary Clinton drummed-up negative information on the existing White House Travel Office, just so she could replace the former employees with her friends and supporters.  The former staff of the White House Travel Office were summarily fired, and left to their own devices.  In comparison to other scandals, this one probably doesn't rank very high, but it provided the American people with a preview of the kind of elitist, "ends-justify-the-means" kind of personality we have been dealing with.

I don't know what bothers me more, the dishonesty or the lack of accountability.  Take for example the Congressional Hearings on Benghazi: Hillary loudly proclaimed that as Secretary of State, she was accountable for what occurred.  Then she launched into a blame-game, during which she did everything but accept responsibility.  What the American people wanted to hear was:

 "The Benghazi incident was a terrible reminder that our men and women working in warzones are always at risk.  We did not do a good enough job protecting our people, and because we didn't, four brave young heroes made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.  It is my job to investigate what went wrong and to make sure it doesn't happen again."

Instead, we saw blame flung in every direction, with some Hillary supporters going so far as to blame Ambassador Chris Stevens for being in Libya when he should have known the dangers involved.

Now, in the middle of a presidential campaign Hillary is finding it impossible to be honest.  FBI Director Comey did NOT say that he believed Hillary Clinton had been honest in her public statements regarding her email server.  Obviously this mess imvolved reams of classified material, and she knows it.  In a fair world, Hillary Clinton would not be running for president.  If she wins, we will be in the unenviable position of having a president with access to Top Secret and SCI information, who would not successfully pass a routine background investigation!  But Hillary's ego and her obsession with power will keep her in the game, no matter how much damage it causes.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

At the end of the day, it was just another Hillary Clinton speech, folks.

Last Thursday night, as I listened to Hillary Clinton's well-crafted and beautifully delivered acceptance speech, I couldn't help but consider the number of inspiring speeches that are born every four years during national convention week.  Honestly, this year I didn't listen with much conviction to either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump's speech.  Unlike so many these days, I don't look to political speeches to influence or entertain.  From the number of Hollywood celebrities that were paraded across the stage, one can assume that the Democrats believe that voters can be influenced by entertainers.  You can add that to the list of differences I have with Democrats; I don't give a rats ass how my favorite performers are going to vote.

During the evening, Clinton focused on the usual crowd-pleasing issues of her base.  We heard about discrimination, inequality and the poor.  You would think that as long as the Democrats had been around (and in power), they would have resolved some of these issues.  No doubt the trouble has to do with the evil Republicans, whose interests are to discriminate against anyone who isn't white and male, and to make the poor even poorer.  Not much new ground here.  But Hillary Clinton did discuss the serious issue of terrorism, and the importance of strong national security.  She acknowledged that the world has become a very dangerous place, which is ironic, given that the Obama Administration and Secretary of State Clinton are responsible in part for the mess we find ourselves in.

In 2010, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton helped put together the New Start Missile Reduction Treaty with Vladimir Putin an Russia.  If you google "New Start Treaty", you will find the usual dry but useful Wikipedia entry, and you will also find a decent number of commentaries on the Treaty.  Not suprisingly, the folks on the right think its a disaster and the ones on the left couldn't be happier.  In order to truly measure the positive versus the negative, its necessary to view the Treaty and its ramifications from a 2016 perspective.  Most people seem to have come to the realization that Vladimir Putin is a snake and can't be trusted.  The Obama Administration can argue that in 2010, he didn't seem to be such a bad guy.  Don't fall for this line.  The State Department and the Obama Administration was well aware with what and whom they were negotiating.  Since Putin has become the Big Man on Campus in Russia, he has yet to direct his government to abide by any existing treaty.  Sure, there are treaties in which the disagreements have been anticipated and par for the course, but there is no way that the Obama Administration can argue that Russia deserved to be trusted with our national security.  Basically, the New Start Treaty did away with our last remaining Ballistic deterent, and what did we receive in return?  The same NOTHING that we negotiated for with last year's Iranian Nuclear agreement.  The treaty has been couched to look like an agreement between Europe and Iran, but with Secretary of State John Kerry practically sitting in the laps of the negotiators, there can be no denying the fact that our fingerprints are all over this monumentally dangerous pact.

During the 2008 election, then-candidate Barack Obama announced that once he took office, he would bring U.S. troops home from Iraq.  At first, it appeared that possibly common sense had caused Obama to change his mind, but once the 2010 midterm elections looked in jeopardy, and it was time to shore up the leftist base, ordered the evacuation of U.S. troops to begin, and to continue without delay.  There was a problem; we had an agreement with the Iraqi government that called for the U.S. military to train all branches of the Iraqi Security Forces.  The Pentagon was very concerned with the growing level of violence in bordering Syria, which was complicated by the presence of a former Iraqi insurgency/terrorist group which had started calling itself "ISIS" (formerly "Al-Qaida of the Two Rivers" and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi).  Once U.S. personnel started to leave Iraq in droves, ISIS decided to return.  The reasoned correctly that the recently reconstituted Iraqi Security Forces would be in no condition to defeat even a much smaller, battle-hardened ISIS conventional force.  During the first major encounter outside Tikrit, the Iraqi troops abandoned their equipment and deserted the battlefield without firing a shot; ISIS was able to add the latest U.S. weaponry and ammunition to its arsenal.  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave full support to President Obama's decision to abandon Iraq, which left it open to invasion from the same scum that were responsible for the death of thousands of young American men and women in uniform.

What has been discussed above is just a sample of the events that took place when Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State.  She also presided over the State Department when the Arab Spring took us by complete surprise.  The year before the Arab Spring (up to two years after) are an example of complete and utter failure on behalf the diplomatic arm of the greatest nation on Earth.  You will find the Benghazi incident included in this time period.  We repeatedly saw Secretary Clinton accepting full responsiblity for the terrible performance of her State Department, and then going into great detail to explain how it really was SOMEONE ELSE'S responsibility.  I can assure you, I would have no problem defending my belief that Hillary was the worst Secretary of State of my lifetime.  She likes to brag about her foreign policy experience; I'm waiting for someone from the left to explain to me what it is that she has accomplished which merits "bragging" (my quotations).

During her speech, Clinton also heaped praise on President Obama for all the positive initiatives that he introduced, which saved our nation from economic collapse.  We will examine this brave statement, amongst others, later in the week.