Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Arlen Specter's Party Switch

Today Senator Arlen Specter, R-PA, announced his decision to switch to the other party. Specter has consistently voted with Democrats in the Senate and was a known target for the switch by the Democrats on behalf of Barack Obama.

So be it.

Senator Specter is up for re-election in 2010. He is facing a serious challenge from Pat Toomey. Specter is down in the polls by more than 20% according to a Rasmussen poll released on 4/24/09. Specter began his career as a Democrat when he ran for Prosecutor in Philadelphia, calling himself a "Kennedy Democrat." He turned on the Democrats as a means of political expediency. Now he turns on the Republicans. He claims the Republican party left him. He has proven to be not just a social liberal but also a fiscal liberal by casting his vote for the Obama spending bill, with only two other Repubicans in the Senate. Seems he left the party himself.

Toomey is the former president of Club for Growth, a group promoting anti-tax positions. Specter's unfavorable numbers rose when he became one of only three U.S. Senators to vote for President Obama's massive spending bill, full of earmarks. Rasmussen Reports called Specter's numbers as "stunningly poor" for a long time politician. 55% of voters have an unfavorable opinion of Specter.

Specter, fearing loss in the Republican primary, began running an ad this month blaming Toomey for supporting privatization of social security and limiting oversight of Wall Street as a congressman. Specter certainly sounds like a Democrat by his own advertisement.

Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) is chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee and he released the following statement:

"Senator Specter’s decision today represents the height of political self-preservation. While this presents a short-term disappointment, voters next year will have a clear choice to cast their ballots for a potentially unbridled Democrat super-majority versus the system of checks-and-balances that Americans deserve.”

That sums it up nicely. Specter decided to put his own political survival over the best interests of his own party. He claims he was a strong Republican for the past 30 years. He certainly enjoyed riding the coattails of Ronald Reagan's popularity and being in the majority thanks to Reagan. Now the times are tougher and he bails.

Good riddance. Let's see how long the glow lasts with the Democrats. Can anyone say "Jim Jeffords"?

Moving On Only For Conservatives

Remember the inception of MoveOn.org by billionaire socialist George Soros? It was all about moving on from the sex scandel that led to the impeachment vote on former President Bill Clinton after he was caught lying to the feds about it. Now, more and more, it seems moving on is only to be done by conservatives, especially as it pertains to the homeland security and national defense decisions made by George W. Bush while he was in the oval office.

It would appear that the left wing of the Democratic party is now determined to bring our country to the status of a banana republic. When President Bush came into office in January, 2001, Republicans were told to stop criticizing actions of the Clinton administration as they led up to the Bush years. Republicans were ridiculed for blaming Bill Clinton for everything.

Fortunately for the Clinton administration, President Bush was not inclined to go after his predecessor about anything. Much could have been made, for instance, about the blind neglect of our national security and the effect it had on the onset of the tragic events of 9/11/01. The Clinton administration was much more concerned with domestic agendas over foreign policy. And then they simply let the clock run out.

President Bush did not have the luxury of devoting the bulk of his energy to domestic policy. The terror attacks of 9/11/01 completely changed his presidency into that of a war presidency. Unlike the Clinton administration and now the Obama administration who both came into office and decided to ignore Republicans as they rammed through legislation, the Bush administration went out of its way to work with liberal Democrats like Ted Kennedy and Tom Daschle on domestic policy.

As is the pattern in a banana republic, now the Bush-hating left would like to continue on with hearings and prosecution of those who kept our country safe after an historic terrorist attack. They would like to reward the Bush administration for making hard legal decisions at a time of monumental national distress by trying to politicize legal opinion. A banana republic prosecutes the previous leadership as the new one emerges. It is all for political vengeance. This is the Democratic party today.

President Obama de-classified CIA memos that deal with methods of interrogation used since 9/11/01. The very Democrats who did not raise a concern over any of the methods used on alleged terrorists in custody now feign total innocence. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi says she wasn’t told about the use of waterboarding, for example. Yet, in 2007 the Washington Post ran a story about a briefing held in 2002 for members of the Intelligence Committees in both Houses of Congress, on which Pelosi sat.

So, if testimony is to be taken from the previous administration on the methods used to keep our country safe, we must also question, on the record, the Clinton administration and so forth. Clinton was the president who signed into effect the rendition used today. Clinton was the president who signed off on countries who are far more aggressive than the U.S. to question prisoners.

To politicize legal decisions, as President Obama has now left the door open for despite his tepid denials, and to run to the CIA headquarters the day after allowing the CIA memos to be made public and reassuring the agents that they were not to be targets of investigations as a CYA for his own poll numbers, the President is encouraging political discourse at its lowest form. He has yet again proven to act in one way as he proclaims otherwise.

The presidential candidate who campaigned on “moving on” and leaving the past in the past, the man who would be post partisan and bring everyone together, is a sham. He is the lowest sort of politcian after all. President Obama shows himself to be more concerned about his own image to the far left than to the safety of our country.

Cross Posted at: www.motherofallconservatives.com, where I am proud to be a weekly contributor.

Monday, April 27, 2009

You May Live In Texas If...

This was in my newsletter from Memorial West Republican Women this month. I think we can all use a chuckle or two. Forget about the over dramatization of the swine flu - it's not the plague, folks - and enjoy a grin or two.

Courtesy of Jeff Foxworthy:
If someone in a Lowe's store offers you assistance and they don't work there, you may live in Texas.

If you've had a lengthy telephone conversation with someone who dialed a wrong number, you may live in Texas.

If you measure distance in hours, you may live in Texas.

If the speed limit on the highway is 55 mph - you're going 80 and everybody's passing you, you may live in Texas.

If you find 60 degrees "a little chilly", you may live in Texas.

OK. Refreshed? Now, let's get back to plotting world domination.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Leadership Institute Comes To Houston

The Leadership Institute hosted an all day workshop in Houston Saturday. Headquartered in Arlington, VA, the grassroots coordinator, Patricia Simpson, organized a full day of inspirational and knowledgeable speakers. The focus was on grassroots candidate training and campaign organization.

The speakers included Barry Aarons, Senior Fellow, Americans for Tax Reform and Adjunct Fellow, Institute for Policy Innovation. He was good speaking to campaign organization and tips about effective polling and political ads. He is a lifelong friend of Mrs. Joe Lieberman from his childhood in Bronx, NY and considers Senator Lieberman a dear friend. He is also close to Senator John McCain, as he is a long time resident of Arizona.

My favorite speaker was Joel Mowbray. If the name is not familiar, you would recognize him from all the msm and cable network channels as a political pundit and he is a columnist for Knight-Ridder Tribune as a nationally syndicated columnist. He distinguished himself as an investigative journalist by his expose on the State Departments' Visa Express program in Saudi Arabia and lead to the firing of Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs, Mary Ryan. He was also the first journalist in America to review the visa application forms of the 9/11 terrorists and he uncovered the fact that all 15 of them should have been denied. Joel was an excellent speaker because he is funny and engaging with his audience. Plus he gave us a couple of juicy insider gossip stories on MSNBC's Keith Olbermann and David Schuster. Yummy stuff.

The Leadership Institute was impressed about the number of attendees here in Houston. On a beautiful Saturday, more than 100 people turned out. Most were from the Houston metro area but some came from across the state. One woman I sat next to came in from Fort Worth. The woman on my other side is planning a run for Constable in her district.

Joel Mowbray told us several times that we are not normal. The small percentage of Americans who would consider spending a Saturday focusing on politics and campaigns makes us far from the normal American.

I like that.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Montana Delegation Says No To Gitmo Terrorists

President Obama fulfilled a campaign trail pledge and closed Guantanamo, on paper only, in his first days in office. The problem is what to do with all those pesky prisoners - the alleged terrorists wishing to kill us all in the name of their religion. There are 240 inmates now looking for a new home.

The 240 alleged terrorists, captured on the battlefield, won't be going back to their home countries because they are no longer welcome there. During the G20/NATO European apology tour of team Obama, pressure was put upon our allies to take some of these alleged terrorists. As with the rest of his agenda, Obama failed in placing any of the alleged terrorists, except for one. France said they will take one. The rest of the European countries asked, if these men are not so bad, why don't you just keep them in the U.S.? The Obama administration won't cop to that slap but it is early and resolute proof that traditional allies, the former friends of GW Bush, are now laughing at us. They are laughing at President Obama and his naive approach to foreign policy. They are laughing at his world view. Recently President Sarkozy, after warmly welcoming Obama to France, for the cameras, was quoted after the visit as describing Obama as "unoriginal", and "insincere", etc. You get the picture. No love lost there.

So, back to the good old U.S.of A. Seems the city of Hardin, Montana (population 3,400) has stepped up and offered to house the 240 alleged terrorists in their spiffy new jail sitting empty.
The City Council voted Tuesday on this fine idea. The vote was 5-0.

The city borders the Crow Indian Reservation. I don't know if the Indians had a vote. The jail was built two years ago and the city needs tenants. The construction loans - price tag $27 million - are in default.

But wait. "Not on my watch, " said Senator Max Baucus. Democrat Baucus and fellow Democrat Senator Jon Tester, along with Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg have all decided it isn't going to happen.

See, it's the details that get you every time. Where will these alleged terrorists go?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Obama Doctrine

The problem with a narcisstic president is that everything is all about him. The latest apology/I’m not G.W. Bush tour was a dismal failure. President Obama attended the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad. This summit was on the heels of the G-20 Summit in London and the NATO summit in Strasbourg, France. At both, Obama came away empty-handed. The goal was for this administration to ask for and receive agreement that Europe needs mega stimulus packages to combat the economic woes there and to ask for and receive additional troops to support our efforts in Afghanistan.

President Obama received a promise from France to take one prisoner released from Gitmo and NATO pledged some additional support in training military police, not troops on the ground. The idea of additional economic stimulus packages in Europe was soundly rejected by all.

The problem is President Obama thinks that by going to every gathering and apologizing for perceived greviences allows him to receive applause at the expense of his own country. Much has been written about all the love for the President. Unfortunately this does not translate to actions. President Sarkozy of France called Obama words like insincere and unoriginal. President Obama forgets that former President Bush had a good relationship with both Sarkozy and Germany’s Angela Merkel, the two European leaders Obama came to impress. By going out of his way to claim to be a different - read better - President than Bush, he insults them, too.
President Obama was all too happy to embrace the overtures from Hugo Chavez. Just last month Chavez called Obama an “ignoramus”. Chavez is quoted as saying he welcomes Obama with the same handshake he welcomed Bush eight years ago. We know what happened after that.

Obama sat through fifty minutes of ranting by Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega on the evils of America. Never mind that Ortega supported communist guerrillas in El Salvador and undermined other Latin America countries in the 1980’s. When asked for a response, Obama said, “I’m grateful the President did not blame me for things that happened when I was three months old.” Instead of listing the goodness of America, instead of thanking the military that makes the U.S. such a strong and safe country, Obama was happy not to be blamed in the rant of Ortega. Unbelievable.
Obama either doesn’t understand or just doesn’t care - his first duty is to defend the U.S. To defend our honor is part of the job description. It’s not about him, it is about America.

The Obama Doctrine is summed up by this quote from Time Magazine: “And so we’re still going to have very tough negotiations on a whole host of issues. In Europe, people believe in our plan for Afghanistan, but their politics are still such that it’s hard for leaders to want to send more troops into Afghanistan. That’s not going to change because I’m popular in Europe or leaders think that I’ve been respectful towards them. On the other hand, by having established those better relations, it means that among the population there’s more confidence that working with the United States is beneficial, and they are going to try to do more than they might otherwise have done.”

By an ideology that is naive to the ways of international leaders, Obama “hopes” that by talking without pre-conditions to men who wish us ill, such as Chavez or Ahmadinejad, he is slapped with insults. Why did he not just do what the King of Spain did in 2007 and tell Chavez to shut up as he hogged the stage once again? Why doesn’t Obama forge ahead with the Columbia free trade agreement to reward that country’s efforts in improving human rights and labor conditions instead of the handshakes with Chavez, the proud socialist who jails journalists and grabs private lands for his own distribution goals?

For President Obama it is all about being loved. That is a pity. Obama’s aides claim by doing the apology tours he is planting seeds of new relationships. The question is what kind of relationships? We will soon know what blooms.

*Cross Posted at www.motherofallconservatives.com

Monday, April 20, 2009

Roxana Saberi Used As Pawn In Tehran

Roxana Saberi, an Iranian-American journalist was arrested in January for buying a bottle of wine in Iran. A Muslim theocracy, alcohol is banned in Iran. Ms. Saberi, 31, has lived in Iran for the last 6 years. I assume she was familiar with this law.

Unfortunately, Ms. Saberi's lack of judgment has placed her in the position of pawn between Iran and the U.S. Ms. Saberi is a dual citizen. She also had let her journalist credentials expire in Iran. President Obama recently reached out to the Iranian people by releasing a dvd with a speech to them, extolling the wishes of peace and kumbiya between our two countries. Obama has reached out to Ahmadinejad and that has fed the mad dictator's ego. The Bush administration had already begun talks with Iranian officials but not at the Presidential level. Obama will soon understand the validity of that approach. Making a loud point of doing things differently than the previous administration solely for the ability to say you are, is not effective foreign policy. It is schoolyard nonsense.

As a dual citizen, Saberi was an easy target. By letting her press credentials expire, she was committing a big mistake. Not to mention openly buying wine. Iran wants three Iranian s taken into custody in Iraq, in 2007, to be released. Iran claims these men are diplomats. The U.S. claims they have links to the Revolutionary Guards. Saberi is now a bargaining chip.

Saberi was tried in what is described in an unusually swift trial by in the Revolutionary Court as a security-related case. She received her verdict last Monday - eight years in prison for spying for the U.S.

Secretary of State Clinton said she was "deeply disappointed" and demanded Saberi's release. The Foreign Ministry originally charged her as working as a reporter without press credentials. Then the charge was changed to spying.

The justice system in Iran is controlled by Aytollah Khomeni, not Ahmadinejad. You'll remember Khomeni came into power in Iran due to the naive foreign policy of failed Democrat President Jimmy Carter. He, too, thought all he had to do was speak to those who wish us ill and everything would be worked out. He learned the hard way that foreign leaders in the middle east look at the world differently.

Saberi was raised in Fargo, N.D. She has worked for NPR, BBC, FOX News, and also here in Houston in the late 1990's. Her attorney vows to appeal the verdict and sentence.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Governor Perry Rallies Crowd With Bluster

The good news is that a recent Rasmussen poll shows that three-quarters of Texas respondents stated they did not want the State of Texas to secede. The not so terrific news is that three out of ten think it is written that Texas may secede.

Governor Rick Perry was a Tea Party speaker in Austin. Much has been made that these words flew from his mouth: "Texas is a unique place. When we came into the Union in 1845, one of the issues was that we would be able to leave if we decided to do that. My hope is that America and Washington in particular pays attention. We've got a great Union. There's absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, who knows what may come of that." That quote was taped by R.G. Ratcliffe, reporter for the Houston Chronicle. Chronicle columnist Rick Casey writes of Perry's speech in today's edition.

As the tape shows, Perry said "We've got a great Union. There's absolutely no reason to dissolve it." It was the end of the heralded blurb that implies Texas would have the option. This is on the level of a parent threatening punishment to a misbehaving child. Threats not to be followed through with any true action are just hot air. This was just some crowd inspiring bluster from the governor. Bluster caught on tape and played out nationally.

It's a bit embarrassing when your state's top elected official exaggerates for effect. Sure, some proud Texans were excited by such rhetoric but, truly, what's the point? Perry got the headlines he sought as tough guy. Let's remember, Perry is running for re-election. He is due some credit for refusing some of the stimulus package going to the states but is disingenuous to suggest he is refusing it all.

Recently, Controller of Public Accounts for the State of Texas, Susan Combs, spoke to a Republican Women's group to which I belong and she pointed out that in fact Texas will be receiving a good amount of stimulus money from Washington. This is looked upon as money sent to Washington by Texas taxpayers in the first place and if Texas refuses the money it will go to another state. The money Perry is refusing is the money going to unemployment benefits. In order for Texas to accept the funds, the state unemployment compensation laws would have to be changed. This would prove to be a future liability for Texas taxpayers when the federal funds run out.

I don't often agree with Texan Kinky Friedman but his reference to Governor Perry's Tea Party remarks included the characterization that Perry has "gone off the tracks a little bit." That is a good description. Friedman said, "You know, we tried that once. I would remind him that there was a great visionary hero named Sam Houston who traveled all over the state warning us not to do it - that it would cost great heartache and bloodshed."

Let's hope the governor chooses his words a bit more carefully next time.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

After the Tea Party

The Tea Party in Houston was a big success. As happened across the country, in all 50 states, organized rallies brought people of all political persuasions, and those not politically active, together in the common protest of government running wildly out of control. The crowd for the Houston rally was estimated at 8,000. There were other rallies in suburbs around the area, too. Not bad for a Wednesday afternoon.

Now that the Tea Party is over, what is next? Here's a suggestion: go to www.aftertheteaparty.com and find out how to stay involved on the issues you are passionate about.

The media in this country showed their true colors again - much as we saw during the presidential campaign as they cheered openly for Barack Obama - and dismissed or tried to ignore the protests of ordinary Americans fed up with the continued growth of government that reaches into their lives every day, with no end in sight. Those on two losing cable networks decided it was amusing to turn the words tea bag into a sexual joke - just like the juvenile male view of candidate Obama and thrills running up their legs over him. Professionals all.

Susan Roesgen, of CNN, is coming under fire on the Internet at YouTube for her obnoxious "interview" with a protester in Chicago yesterday. She decided to berate and debate him, as he held his toddler daughter, instead of allowing him to answer her question. She was all about accusations and condescending statements. Then she cut away when those around him objected to her exercise in vanity. She tossed it back to the studio while remarking that the Tea Parties were promoted by "right wing, conservative FOX". Professional.

CNN is behind FOX, and even MSNBC now in ratings for cable networks. Gee, wonder why.

The common theme that comes from the White House related by Press Secretary Robert Gibbs is that these protests don't amount to much. He claims the President isn't even aware of them. Really? If President Bush was said to not be aware of citizen's opinions, especially with the numbers of these protesters, he was accused of being out of touch. Double standard? Gibbs hopes the media will completely drop coverage, of course. This president is still in his honeymoon stage and it is unusual, to say the least, for such massive protests to being occurring around the country opposing government policy.

The Tea Parties, despite what the media would have you believe, were non-partisan events. Many refused to allow politicians to speak, preferring ordinary people to deliver the messages. Politicians, like my Representative John Culberson, attended and came to listen, not speak, as he said to the organizers.

People of all political persuasions and non-political people attended Tea Parties. Many groups organizing to attend insisted that signs not reflect anti-Obama messages. I am a contributor on the website www.motherofallconservatives.com and there is a Wii giveaway for the most clever sign used at a Tea Party. The rules state that an entry cannot reflect anti-Obama sentiments or cheap shots. They may be clever but that was not the point of the rallies.

The rallies were not the brainchild of FOX. The rest of the msm decided to label it as another "right wing" activity. So be it. The people won. The movement began on the Internet. The traditional media is no longer a driving force when people are inspired.

Go to www.foundingbloggers.com and watch the crowd and "reporter" Susan Roesgen as they interacted after the CNN camera stopped filming.

Last night, as I watched local coverage on the late news here in Houston, I was pleasantly surprised. The channel I was watching, an affiliate of NBC, did an unbiased report. The reporter showed some clips from the gathering downtown and mentioned the numbers. She read a statement from the Harris County Democrat Party in rebuttal to the success of the event. Their statement included the Democrat talking points of the day. They included the riff that it was just more evil Republicans at work. The reporter, after reading the statement, said that in fact it wasn't just Republicans represented there yesterday. She spoke with many who identified themselves as Democrats.

Those who dismiss these protests as partisan or Republican events are missing the boat. It is about policy and taxation. It is about freedom. Fiscal conservatives are in both parties.

Hey, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs! Are you listening?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The American Legion Responds to DHS

Are you attending a Tea Party in your town today? Do you attend any rallies expressing your opinion on public policy or federal laws? Are you a returning veteran from the Iraq or Afghanistan wars? Congratulations. You are now considered to be a rightwing extremist by the Department of Homeland Security.

A report was published and distributed by the Department of Homeland Security to "federal, state, local, and tribal counterterrorism and law enforcement officials". The report is labeled as an assessment and the date on it is April 7, 2009. The title? "Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment." Nice.

The faceless bureaucrats behind this piece of work are referred to as "the Extremism and Radicalization Branch, Homeland Environment Threat Analysis Division", in coordination with the FBI.

"The DHS/Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) has no specific information that domestic right wing terrorists are currently planning acts of violence." According to an article at World Net Daily, though there is no specific information to cause heightened alarm, the office blames the state of our country's economy and the election of the first black American President as the sources of aggravation that may push "right wing extremists" over the edge.

The assessment admits that membership in known extreme groups has declined and that there has been no increase in violence. Yet, the agency insists it will be working with state and local "partners" to track regional increases.

Most heinous is the part of the report that claims veterans are an increased law enforcement risk. The agency claims the extremists are recruiting and radicalizing returning veterans. The FBI reports only a minuscule number of incidents of violence involving returning veterans yet the flag is raised and the group is targeted by the agency.

A response from the American Legion came in letter form to Secretary Janet Napolitano:
Secretary Janet Napolitano
Department of Homeland Security
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Washington, DC 20528

April 13, 2009

Dear Secretary Napolitano,

On behalf of the 2.6 million-member American Legion, I am stating my concern about your April 7 report, “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence and Recruitment.”

First, I want to assure you that The American Legion has long shared your concern about white supremacist and anti-government groups. In 1923, when the Ku Klux Klan still yielded unspeakable influence in this country, The American Legion passed Resolution 407. It resolved, in part, “…we consider any individual, group of individuals or organizations, which creates, or fosters racial, religious or class strife among our people, or which takes into their own hands the enforcement of law, determination of guilt, or infliction of punishment, to be un-American, a menace to our liberties, and destructive to our fundamental law…”

The best that I can say about your recent report is that it is incomplete. The report states, without any statistical evidence, “The possible passage of new restrictions on firearms and the return of military veterans facing significant challenges reintegrating into their communities could lead to the potential emergence of terrorist groups or lone wolf extremists capable of carrying out violent attacks.”

The American Legion is well aware and horrified at the pain inflicted during the Oklahoma City bombing, but Timothy McVeigh was only one of more than 42 million veterans who have worn this nation’s uniform during wartime. To continue to use McVeigh as an example of the stereotypical “disgruntled military veteran” is as unfair as using Osama bin Laden as the sole example of Islam.

Your report states that “Rightwing extremists were concerned during the 1990s with the perception that illegal immigrants were taking away American jobs through their willingness to work at significantly lower wages.” Secretary Napolitano, this is more than a perception to those who have lost their job. Would you categorize union members as “Right Wing extremists”?

In spite of this incomplete, and, I fear, politically-biased report, The American Legion and the Department of Homeland Security share many common and crucial interests, such as the Citizen Corps and disaster preparedness. Since you are a graduate of New Mexico Girls State, I trust that you are very familiar with The American Legion. I would be happy to meet with you at a time of mutual convenience to discuss issues such as border security and the war on terrorism. I think it is important for all of us to remember that Americans are not the enemy. The terrorists are.

David K. Rehbein
National Commander
The American Legion

If President Obama was sincere in his claims of bringing more open government and preserving freedom of speech to American citizens, he would demand the firing of the employees responsible for this report. Harassing citizens for holding political views is not true to our basic freedoms.

Remember when the anti-war protesters were screaming about dissent being patriotic? The anti-war protests were attended by people of all walks of life and political persuasions. The same is true of other protests, whether they are the Tea Party protests, illegal immigration protests, or pro-life and pro-choice rallies. It is hard to imagine all of these participants being labeled as "right wing extremists". These are all basic human rights. Aren't both those on the left and right concerned about human rights? Does that make a person an extremist?

The Department of Homeland Security was not needed when it was created. It has proven to be exactly what critics of the department's creation predicted - another giant, out of control government agency. It is a disgrace.

West Africa Has Hostage Issues, Too

The Phillips family in Burlington, Vermont experienced a particularly sweet Easter Sunday with the good news of the rescue of Captain Phillips. Thanks to our U.S. Navy and the excellent marksmanship skills of its snipers, three Somali pirates are dead and one is in U.S. custody. The U.S. Captain is free from his hostage nightmare and safe, arranging his trip home.

There is much back and forth over the wisdom of armed or unarmed transport of goods through dangerous seas. Transportation companies contracted to deliver humanitarian aid and also regular commerce face the dilemma of paying exorbitant insurance rates and assuming liability for loss of cargo and life or simply training crews to battle pirates using methods without traditional weapons.

Let me give you another perspective on African piracy- the prespective of a wife married to an engineer on oil drilling rigs in international waters, as well as domestic. My husband has 30 years experience traveling the world and has three separate experiences with hostage situations in West Africa. Yes, West Africa deals with piracy of a bit differently.

During the 1990's, hostage taking in West Africa revolved mostly around the Nigerian crew taking control of offshore oil drilling rigs and demanding ransom in the form of higher severence pay as the drilling rig was out of the hole - meaning drilling was completed. My husband's experiences all take place in Nigeria.

The first incident occured much like the second incident. Both were while he was working on a drilling rig for American drilling companies. The oil rigs were American owned and the crews were mostly American, with the addition of the Nigerian workers. The procedure used by the pirates was to overtake the oil rig as the relief crew came onboard. The pirates were the actual Nigerian workers coming to work.

With a double crew of Nigerians to boost their numbers against the American crew, they would shut the oil rig down and demand higher severence pay with the threat of death to the Americans.

The first incident lasted 10 days for my husband and his crew. It was resolved by the American drilling company paying off the Nigerian workers. The second incident, this one about a year later, was resolved the same way.

Only one woman was onboard with the Americans on the first drilling rig and she was a technician doing some testing for a service company - Schlumberger. She was strong up until about the 6th day and then had a meltdown, which, who would fault her for that? Food was running low and there was no end in sight as far as the hostages knew. During the second incident, no women were onboard.

The third incident was different. About five years after the last hostage situation, my husband was able to put his experiences from the previous two into an offensive rather than defensive response. Again, keep in mind this is an American drilling rig and an American drilling company involved. Unarmed. Once onboard, anonymous notes written to drilling management were found for several days. The demands were for an increase in severance pay for the Nigerians at the end of the job, about $15,000 additional for each Nigerian crew member plus a 27" color television for each Nigerian crew member. My husband sat with the decision maker of the drilling company and explained the actions that he knew would be coming as the crew attempted to take over the drilling rig. He explained that first, as the relief crew came onboard it would coordinate with the crew leaving to outnumber the others, that they would be out of the hole and the well would be safe. Then they would make their demands and hold the oil rig by threatening death to the Americans until their ransom was paid.

This time, by going on the offense and being prepared for the take over of the drilling rig, it was avoided. Upon completion of the drilling, the rig manager took the helicopter to the oil rig that should have had the relief crew of Nigerian workers to the oil rig offshore. The rig manager is based onshore. The crew to be replaced remained on the drilling rig. The Nigerians were on the pipe deck of the drilling rig waiting to go up to the heliport, bags packed. The bags contained clubs they had smuggled onboard. The Americans lined up between the pipe deck and the helideck. They prevented the Nigerian workers from rushing the helicopter when they realized their relief crew was not onboard for reinforcement. Many service workers were unaware of what was going on. My husband and the EMT were off to the side observing the actions. The line of beefy, no nonsense Americans was impressive. The rig manager told the Nigerians that the relief crew wasn't coming out to the rig, that they were to get on the helicopter and go back in. When they got to shore he would talk to them about a higher severence pay. After much squabbling, the Nigerians relented and went back to the base onshore.

Now, fast forward to today. Last week my husband returned from Nigeria. Eight years have passed since his last trip there. This time he was based onshore as a member of management of a crew of Nigerian workers. He was there for two months. A major difference is that now the American companies drilling offshore are arming their oil rigs by using Nigerian Navy and military personnel. The Nigerian contracters are hiring the local people through relatively unarmed private Nigerian security companies.

Neither is a perfect solution in a dangerous imperfect world.

You will find much information at: http://www.oyibosonline.com/ concerning the atmosphere in Nigeria. You may be surprised to know there are hundreds of ex-pat hostages awaiting their release in Nigeria, onshore, as I write this. The hostage taking has moved onshore and regularly occurs as a means of conflict resolution between company management and workers.
Hostage taking and piracy solutions on a failed continent will not easily be resolved.

cross posted at http://www.motherofallconservatives.com/

Monday, April 13, 2009

Joe Biden's Blarney

Former G.W. Bush administration staffers are pushing back on some of V.P. Joe Biden's latest whoppers. My question is, where were these people when President Bush most needed them? Each and every time a falsehood or a story made up completely was allowed to circulate and gel within the media, the communications team from the former president's White House response was benign. Control of the message was lost at an early date and they never really caught up. So much history has been re-written in such a brief period of time. We will know soon enough how successful the new administration will be.

"State Secrets Privilege" is a nifty term. President Obama has now decided to keep and perhaps expand Bush policy on wiretapping and gathering information as it pertains to national security. You may remember that candidate Barack Obama was a very vocal critic of President Bush's security measures, though they kept our country safe from further attacks since the time of 9/11/01. After securing the defeatist element of the far left, he veered a bit more to the center as the election grew closer so as to appeal to more learned voters.

Now the far left is aghast, aghast I say, that the Chosen One has proven again to be just another politician. Once in office and fully briefed as to the facts of a dangerous world, Obama realized the war on terror is real and not just a conservative President's fantasy.

Seems, though, that V.P. Biden hasn't fully understood the acknowledgement of the nod towards former President Bush. Recently he has taken to telling an old anecdote he first rolled out in 2004. Serial plagiarist Biden enjoys elevating his own personal reputation by telling a story that has him spending time alone with former President Bush and dressing him down for failing to lead in a way that would entice others to follow. It's a plain and simple lie but makes for a good story for old Joe. "That's just Joe" was the consistent response during campaign days when he was caught uttering nonsense or offensive remarks. Lots of opportunities for that response to be used, too.

Jay Carney, Press Secretary for Biden says the V.P. stands by his story. Carney, former Time Magazine guy, will not provide reporters with any proof of this meeting. Bush aides have called it as it is - a complete fabrication to puff Biden up. Karl Rove, Andy Card, and Ari Fleischer all have gone on record to say this dialogue never happened.

With Biden's proven history of plagiarism, it is hard to take his stories as anything more than efforts to prop himself up. He is a legend in his own mind. As Vice President he must feel the need to prove himself relevant.

Biden must also be under the delusion that he is Commander-in-Chief. Last week he felt entitled to instruct the newly installed Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu not to attack Iran. As the Obama administration pursues talking to the Iranian leadership, Israel has shown renewed impatience with the terrorist threat. Indicative of continuing on the path of trying to reason with the unreasonable, Richard Holbrooke, envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan and Dennis Ross, senior advisor for Southwest Asia have both hired Iranian experts.

Perhaps V.P. Biden will find himself sharing the stage more and more with Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on the blarney count. First Schumer caught flak for stating as fact on the Senate floor that ordinary Americans don't care about 'all those porky parts' in the budget. Continuing on in Chuckie world, over last weekend on a talk show, Schumer declared the Reagan policies of traditional values and strong foreign policy over.

Good to hear a liberal declare his desire to end strong national security measures. How could that possibly be important in the present state of the world around us? And, conservatives already know that liberals are far too intellectual of beings to care much for traditional family values.

Joe Biden and Chuck Schumer. Quite a pair of thinkers there.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Obama Exaggerations Turn to Lies

When the President of the United States makes speeches, even speeches overseas, and he exaggerates to make his point, where does the exaggeration end and the lie begin? Unfortunately, within our own country, the fawning press usually is too much in agreement with President Obama's oral embellishments to bother to make the distinction.

For example, as he played celebrity president during his first trip to Europe and Turkey as President, when some of his enthusiastic fans described him as a rock star and the most popular of the leaders at the G20, Obama deferred to the president of Brazil. He uncharacteristically humbled himself and stated that, in fact, the Brazilian president is the biggest star on the world stage. This was a curious gesture, too, given the fact that President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is on the downward slide in his approval ratings. In his own country, industrial production is down, unemployment is up and recent polls show a distinct drop in approval.

Plus, President da Silva (known as Lula) openly blamed the world's economic crisis on "white people with blue eyes". Quite a racist comment yet was there any criticism from the Obama administration? No. Obama bestows top celebrity status upon him while both were at the G20.

President Obama, while speaking to Turkish students, falsely stated that President Bush did not believe in the validity of climate change. This lie was uttered to prop up his own theories on the issue. In fact, as early as 2001, Bush produced guidelines for greenhouse gas reduction and put forth measures in his very first State of the Union address to combat growing concerns. Every year after that, the issue was addressed. President Obama didn't just exaggerate to make his own point, he lied.

President Obama called the Iraq war a "distraction" while abroad. With 130, 000 troops still on the ground and a history of denying the success of the mission, he made a quick stop there on his way back to Washington. He previously said the surge would not succeed and he, along with now Secretary of State Clinton, said General Petraeus was not capable of making the surge a success. While in Iraq, Obama was very careful not to say the war has been won, the victory due to the very military he diminishes at every turn.

Not only did President Bush and General Petraeus, along with our magnificent military, bring a growing democracy into the Middle East, all signs point to continued progress. What did Obama receive in return for his backhand praise to our troops? When he was trying to get agreements from other countries to take prisoners that will be released from Gitmo, only France came forward and then they only agreed to take one prisoner. One.

John Dickerson, in Slate, is one who is beginning to put the exaggerations together. Obama stated to the Turkish students, "Some of my reporter friends from the States were asking, 'How come you didn't solve everything on this trip?" According to Dickerson, that was never asked of him by anyone. It was a lie. This was to deflect those who realize Obama failed to produce anything but making a good appearance on this trip overseas.

On the video sent to Iran, Obama said in his last press conference last month, according to Dickerson, "We did a video, sending a message to the Iranian people and the leadership of the Islamic Republic of Iran. And some people said, 'Well, they did not immediately say that we're eliminating nuclear weapons and stop funding terrorism.' " Dickerson points out no one said that. It was a lie to encourage patience with his foreign policy tactics.

Dickerson notes "It is in domestic political battles with Republicans, however, that the president's exaggerations may be sharpest. They are intended to make his opponents look foolish. "Some of what's been said in Congress is that there seems to be a set of folks who just believe that we should do nothing," he said of Republicans during the debate over the stimulus bill. Almost no one was suggesting that nothing be done. Writing in the Washington Post, he offered another cartoonish view, saying that his opponents believe "that we can ignore fundamental challenges such as energy independence and the high cost of health care and still expect our economy and our country to thrive."

What we come away with, from the Obama trek to the G20, NATO Summit, and Turkey before the stop in Iraq, is that President Obama does not intend to get beyond candidate Obama mode. He intends to continue on and hopes to win re-election for a second term. This is the result of his inexperience as a leader and certainly as an executive. He promised to be the post partisan president. He promised to be the post racial president. Both claims were exaggerations. Now they are just lies.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Spring Break In Havana

Six spring breakers representing the Congressional Black Caucus in the House spent five days visiting with Fidel and Raul Castro. This was heralded as the first meeting with Fidel by American officials since 2006, when it is believed his health took a turn for the worse.

The U.S. has no embassy in Havana as we have no official relationship with the Communist country but there is an office named the U.S. Interests Section is located there. A spokesman confirmed the visit.

The members of the entourage were led by Rep. Barbara Lee, (D-CA). You may remember her as the only member of the House of Representatives to vote no to the action in Afghanistan after the attacks of 9/11/01. All of the visitors were Democrats.

They left Cuba without talking to reporters. They also left Cuba without talking to political dissidents.

What is it with the Congressional Black Caucus and their trips to Cuba? In February 1999, Maxine Waters, (D-CA) led a delegation there. In January 2000 and again in May 2000, more members went to visit Fidel.

Following the leadership of President Obama, the delegation felt free to do some America bashing while there. One member said, "despite Obama's electoral victory, American society continues to be racist. He added that Obama represented the only opportunity that nation had to move on and leave behind all the wrongdoings accumulated by former governments." That from a piece at Breaking News online. So, the U.S. is portrayed as racist to a Communist dictator by an American elected official and just for good measure, some bashing of previous administrations. Have no fear, Cuba, Obama, the Chosen One will save you.

"One of them expressed that it was necessary to take advantage of this historical moment, when the presence of a black President in the White House coincides with a current of opinion that is in favor of normalization of relations."

President Obama has recently been quoted as in favor of lifting some of the restrictions of the embargo in place. Currently there are restrictions on trade and travel to the country. Cuban Americans are not in favor of this action, by the way. An influx of more tourist dollars and trade deals would fatten the wallets of the Castro brothers and their cronies but not the average Cuban.

What is with the Congressional Black Caucus licking the shoes of the Castro brothers? What's in it for them? Pay backs? I thought a main concern of the Caucus was human rights. There are none in Cuba. Fidel is fond of imprisoning critics and killing them at whim. There is no religious freedom - Cubans are not allowed to even have a religious book, whether a Bible or other, to even be out in the open in their own private home. It is an imprisonable offense.

The group sang the praises of Fidel and Raul because they "let" them worship on Palm Sunday. Interesting. Too bad the ordinary Cuban has no such freedom.

Jules Crittenden has a good post about the grand tour of Cuba for these congress people.

This is kind of incredibly ill-conceived jaunt by members of the Congressional Black Caucus is a direct result of the kind of groveling and apologetic speeches President Obama delivered in Europe and Turkey. By trying to be the Chosen One for the world, believing all his professional marketing hype from his Chicago cronies, Obama provides much entertainment for those he is trying so desperately to impress. President Bush, the one Obama is so desperate to distance himself from, had strong ties with President Sarkozy and with Germany's Angela Merkel. Neither are eager to embrace Obama. Obama makes hay over his emerging relationship with Russian leaders and the Chinese. Bush also had good relations with them but the far left - including Obama - were quick to criticize those good ties.

Words matter. Celebrity candidates fall far short on leadership, both domestically and internationally.

Monday, April 06, 2009

President Obama's Grand Tour

One of the few journalists to deserve the respect of his audience, Jake Tapper of ABC News is a whiz on Twitter. From yesterday's appearance in Turkey, Tapper traveling with the President tweeted, "More "sorry about Bush" language: "I know there have been difficulties these last few years... that the trust that binds us has been strained."

Also, "Many Americans have Muslims in their family, or have lived in a Muslim-majority country - I know, because I am one of them." "U.S. is not a war with Islam...our partnership with the Muslim world is critical rolling back a fringe ideology."

These are quotes from Obama's speech to the Turks. He made a big play about going to a Muslim nation and making a "major" speech in his first 100 days. This satisfies that campaign promise. It also means absolutely nothing.

President Bush, after the murderous attacks of 9/11/01 made gesture after gesture of outreach to the Muslim communities across our country and abroad. He was completely clear that we are not a nation at war with a religion. We are a nation at war with those who preach jihad and wish us dead. Somehow, that message was never any big news from our media.

On his first trip to Europe as President, Obama was determined to make a clear distinction between himself and former President Bush. He thinks it will ingratiate himself with the rest of the world. He is incredibly naive for an educated man. Some common sense and dignity would suit him well.

Asked about the outcome of his trip to the G20 and NATO meetings, Lally Weymouth of Newsweek said his remarks - the constant drip of swipes at the former President - were a bad move. Weymouth is no mouthpiece for the loyal opposition. Also, Nile Gardiner of the Thatcher Center for Freedom and a Brit, said it is as though Obama is not only President of the U.S. but also trying to be President of the European Union. He said it is not just an insult to Bush but also to American soldiers who died to free Europe throughout the decades and tribute should be paid to those lives sacrificed. Instead, Obama goes to London and Paris and talks of America's arrogance, of America's "dictating" to the world, etc. As though trying to win a Mr. Congeniality contest, Obama went to the G20 looking for more financial bailout commitments from European countries. They declined. They told Obama he is mistaken in his huge bailout plans. They told Obama their countries had already done all they could do and do not expect more out of them.

Obama went to the NATO conference - the 60th anniversary of the organization - and asked for military commitments in Afghanistan and for help with taking in some of the prisoners to be released from Gitmo. He was refused all but 1,000 additional British troops and some help with training military police forces.

The world laughs at a President who wants to be "just like everyone else". There is no respect garnered from Arab nations as the President of the United States makes the faux pas of bowing to a Saudi king. The Queen was polite enough to laugh off and go along with Michelle Obama's blunder of putting her arm around her. Even George Bush didn't do that and he was a blood relative. Those intellectual and smooth Obamas sure do make some odd mistakes.

Maybe they are just tone deaf. Maybe they are just not learned on basic protocol. There are people available in Washington to help them. As Charles Krauthammer pointed out, it is the same man who used Roman columns as props in Denver that now goes around the world preaching humility. It is all just a bit too much.

Dick Cheney answered a question posed to him about the Obama foreign policy. Cheney answered that he thought it made the U.S. less safe. David Axelrod, marketer and Obama top aide, said Cheney is not a statesman. The incredibly thin-skinned Obama entourage - especially for being Chicago machine politicians - noted that President Bush was more than gracious and helpful in the transition period and that Bush wished President Obama well, and that Axelrod believed his sincerity. Yet, Obama takes shots at the former administration to tell Europe he is the new guy, Mr. Cool. This new bunch are very low on character and poise.

Not the first time Obama has thanked President Bush for a goodwill gesture with nasty remarks. He did the same in his last book as he recalled being a new Senator. He was invited to the White House and President Bush went over to him and offered some friendly advice. Obama mocked him in the book.

Class. Keep it classy, Obama.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Senator Cornyn Votes No to Obama Budget

Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) is voting against the $3.6 trillion budget being placed before the Senate. He wrote an op-ed for the Austin Statesman and, simply put, says the budget taxes too much, spends too much and borrows too much.

"This budget will reduce opportunities for people looking for jobs. Nearly three-quarters of all new private sector jobs are created by small businesses. In Texas, we understand that small businesses are the employment engines of our economy, and so we have put in place policies that encourage entrepreneurs to invest in our state and create more opportunities. As ABC News reported last week, only three of the top 39 job markets in the nation gained jobs last year. All three are in Texas."

His amendment offered and rejected by Senate vote would have required 60 votes in the Senate to increase taxes in future budgets. It didn't pass in a Democratically controlled Senate. Obama's budget raises net taxes by $1.4 trillion over the next decade.

Senator Cornyn also pointed out that Obama wants to limit deductions for charitable donations. This may cost charities $4-$9 billion nationwide. Recent studies have shown it is conservative leaning voters who donate most to charity. A basic political philosophy between the two parties is that conservatives strive to encourage people helping others. Churches across the country do heavy lifting for the poor and needy. Liberals look to "the government" for solutions.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Why is Barney Frank Still There?

Seriously, what is wrong with Massachusetts? Why do the good people of Massachusetts keep re-electing Rep. Barney Frank and allowing him to represent them in Washington, D.C.? Not only is the man utterly corrupt and had a heavy hand in destroying the economy of our country, he is a punk. Plain and simply put, he is a punk. A 69 year old punk.

From The Hill online:
"House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank was in quite a mood on the floor of the House today -- questioning the sanity of Texas Republican John Culberson and other conservatives over their opposition to the new AIG bonus bill.
Frank grabbed the floor when Culberson blasted Democrats for passing the stimulus, which permitted AIG to lavish billions on executives after the de facto federal takeover." And, then for good measure, Frank said of the attacks from Republicans that it was part "of a psychological disorder I am not equipped to diagnose."

Politician - diagnose yourself. Republicans could argue that it is a psychological disorder to allow Big Daddy, aka The Government, to jump into every aspect of our lives as Americans. Rep. John Culberson is my district Representative in Washington. I am very familiar with his political philosophy as it relates to fiscal responsibility and he is a stalwart conservative. I have no doubt Barney Frank doesn't understand the man.

Barney Frank has a lot of nerve to criticize any other member's mental health. With a heavy speech impediment that brings mockery, a tendency to the dramatic hissy fit, and a newly found desire to reincarnate Joe McCarthy with his demands for the names of AIG employees who received bonuses so that he can publicly expose them and thus, literally put them at personal risk due to death threats on the executives and their families, Barney Frank long ago lost any semblance of a mature, reasonable lawmaker. The man is a joke.

Frank was in a sex scandal a few years back - his boyfriend was running a prostitution ring out of their townhouse basement. Yet, he was re-elected. He refused to work with the last administration on reforming Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the mortgage regulations in general. He enriched his campaign coffers with lots of money from these very entities. He and Maxine Waters - also enriched by the banking/mortgage fiasco as her husband was on the Board of Directors of a bank receiving a Frank-approved bailout package- can be viewed on youtube extolling the virtues of the viability of Fannie and Freddie. Yet, he was re-elected.

Wake up, Massachusetts. You are almost rid of Sen. Kennedy. It's enough you have some of the others. Cut Barney loose. We'll all be thankful.