Sunday, May 15, 2011

Growing Up in the White House, and Other Matters.

1. Growing up in the White House. Guantanamo Bay was to be closed in Obama's first year in office. Two and a half years later, still open. Iraq, U.S. troops still there. Afghanistan, not only still there, but with a surge to boot. A surge, the same action Obama condemned when Bush opted for one in Iraq. Drone attacks on terrorist targets in the sovereign nation of Pakistan? Increased under Obama. No "due process" for the recipients of those attacks. And now, the death of Osama bin Laden. When he was shot dead he was unarmed. He was not given any Miranda warnings nor read any rights. He was not captured so that he could have a civilian (or even military) trial. No - just shot dead. According to Obama's counter-terrorism chief, John Brennan, bin Laden would be allowed to surrender only "if he did not pose any type of threat whatsoever," and if our troops "were confident of that," and if bin Laden had no hidden weapons, such as an IED. Or as one congressional staffer put it: "he would have had to have been naked" to avoid being eliminated.

So kudos to the Navy Seals for a well executed mission; and to the President for being willing to order the hit (that's what it was and clearly what it was intended to be). Although, it is curious that Obama was willing to use intelligence gathered in what he believes was an illegal manner, in order to accomplish his goal of killing bin Laden. If Bush had ordered the hit, we have had calls for his impeachment and trial as a war criminal. And while a few on the left have indeed criticized Obama, overall the criticism has been rather muted. The very liberal Maureen Dowd made no excuses for the killing of bin Laden in a piece in the 5/8/11 NY Times. Said Ms. Dowd: "The really insane assumption behind some of the second-guessing is that killing Osama somehow makes us like Osama, as if all killing is the same." Indeed.

2. Is it always about Obama? In listening to Obama's Sunday night announcement of bin Laden's death, I was struck by the number of times he used "I" in his speech (9, 10 if you include "my"). "I can report..." "I directed Leon Panetta..." "I was briefed on a possible lead..." "I met repeatedly with my national security team..." "I determined that we had enough intelligence..." You get the picture.

So I went back and read Bush's "Mission Accomplished" speech: 7 "I"s, 8 if you include "my" at the beginning of his speech: "My fellow Americans..." What was striking was the way in which he was demonstrating his own humility and appreciation of our troops when he used "I". "I have a special word for (the military)...America is grateful." It was not about him. In one sentence he used "I" three times - and still it was not about him: "When I look at the members of the U.S. military, I see the best of our country, and I am honored to be your commander in chief." It was about the military, and his humility in knowing that he is their leader. Quite a difference in both tone and attitude.

3. Still some growing up to do. Unfortunately, Obama still has much to learn. He remains hell bent on forcing the creation of a "Palestinian" state. This requires him to ignore the current instability in the Arab world. A leading contender for Egypt's presidency is already discussing the possibility of backing out of the peace deal made with Israel after the 1973 war. And now we have the "unity agreement" between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (the Fatah group). Hamas is listed as a terrorist organization by our State Department. Yet the P.A. receives $550 million per year in aid from the U.S. Will we continue to give such aid when it is illegal to give financial support to a terrorist organization? Under this deal Hamas is now part of the Palestinian government.

In 2007 the "Quartet" (the US, the UN, the EU, and Russia) said Hamas could only gain legitimacy by: recognizing Israel's right to exist, agreeing to respect existing agreements, and renouncing terrorism. Yet Hamas has not suffered any international repurcussions as a result of their murderous activities, so why would they adhere to any demands now? Hamas has killed more Israelis than al Qaeda has killed Americans, as a proportion of the overall population (according to Caroline Glick's 5/13/11 article on the Jerusalem Post online). Yet I do not hear Obama calling for a peace deal with al Qaeda (nor did bin Laden get any such overture). No; instead we are continuing our efforts to kill them and destroy their organization. So what's the difference Mr. President?

And just what did the Hamas Prime Minister, Ismail Haniyeh, have to say about our killing of bin Laden? "We condemn the assassination of an Arab Holy Warrior." The one that orchestrated the killing of over 3000 Americans! So let's reward Hamas with a State. And the leader of Hamas, Khaled Meshal, not only refuses to renounce violence or recognize Israel's right to exist, but says the fight against Israel will continue even after they get their state. Abbas is no better as one of his senior aides, Nabil Shaath, said that demands that Hamas recognize Israel's right to exist and renounce violence are "unfair, unworkable and do not make sense." What does not make sense is that Obama is continuing on his quest to force Israel to commit suicide by giving up the West Bank and part of Jerusalem to create a terrorist state (along with Gaza) that will now likely be controlled by Hamas.

Israel celebrated its 63rd birthday today. The "palestinians" demonstrated against what they call the "Nabka;" (the "catastrophe" that they call the creation of Israel.) Israel today had to defend its borders from an attempted invasion by "palestinians" and their supporters at the Golan Heights, Israel's northern border with Lebanon, at Gaza and in the West Bank and Jerusalem. This was obviously a well-coordinated attack against the State of Israel. Look for tomorrow's editions of the main stream media to condemn Israel.

Just how much does Obama hate Israel? We will find out soon enough. Speaker of the House John Boehner invited Israeli P.M. Netanyahu to speak to Congress this week. Obama, however, decided it would not be a good idea to let Netanyahu set the agenda for any Middle East accord. So Obama plans on giving his speech on the Middle East first. Stay tuned.

4. More on Obamacare. As reported in the 5/9/11 Weekly Standard, Obamacare creates the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). Only there is nothing "advisory" about it. The Board will consist of 15 Presidential appointees (bureacrats) whose job is to reduce Medicare spending, beginning in 2014. The statute creating Obamacare gives the force of "law" to IPAB's decisions; not administrative regulations - but law. In fact, the statute provides that IPAB decisions can only be reversed by a super-majority vote (3/5) in the Senate. The IPAB "laws" require no congressional approval nor presidential signature. Constitutional? A case is pending.

So just how will IPAB go about reducing Medicare spending? In other words, what procedures and tests will be denied? Britain faces the same problem with spending by its National Health Service. They need to save $33 billion by
2015. So certain "routine" operations are being put on hold; those considered a "low priority." What might that be? Knee and hip replacements. (From the 4/7/11 Investors Business Daily.) This writer had bilateral hip replacements in 1992 and 1993 (six months apart). After walking with a cane for ten years, the pain had become unbearable. After my recovery, my quality of life improved immeasureably. No more cane. Minimal discomfort. Not something I would consider a "low priority" as I would have long since ended up in a wheelchair. But I guess under Obamacare some things will just have to go. After all, there are 45 million Medicare beneficiaries; and Medicare is expected to have $31 TRILLION in unfunded liabilities over the next 75 years. (From the 4/7/11 Wall Street Journal.)

One way to save some money is to make wealthier Americans pay more for their Medicare. Democrats are opposed. Yes, Democrats. They say it's unfair; as if taxing the "rich" was ever considered to be unfair by them. No, they want as many people as possible getting government handouts. The more people that get government benefits, the greater support there is for government involvement and control in our lives - just what the Dems ordered.

5. And if you do not trust the government, you will like this. This writer has a P.O Box at the local U.S. Postal Service branch. In April, I received a letter from the USPS advising that $44.00 was due by 4/30/11 to renew the box for a year. A check was dutifully sent. A call was received from the same USPS on May 5 indicating that I owed $2.00 more. The price had gone up and I better pay by 5/10/11or my box would be closed. Wow - 4 business days notice to comply. Not being that trusting of our government on matters such as this, I went to the branch on 5/7/11. I was already locked out of my box! I complained to one of the postal clerks that I was billed $44.00 and I paid $44.00 so why I was locked out? The USPS decided to raise the cost of my size box by $2.00 per year AFTER the $44.00 bills were already prepared, and which they allowed to go out. They had not accepted my check because I was $2.00 short, and had no way of knowing this. I suggested that no private business would operate like this for fear of losing customers; and if they did, they would probably be prosecuted by the government for false and misleading advertising.

In any event, I handed over the additional $2.00 with two singles. The system, however, did not accept it because it did not show the prior $44.00 payment, having refused my check. And where did they return my check to? To the locked box that I could not access! I am so happy that these people will now be controlling my healthcare.