Necessary Questions: What Should Be Addressed at the SoD Hearings (but Won't)

Posted by SPBrooker on January 29, 2015 at 4:19 PM

Ashton Carter is the Obama Administration nominee for Secretary of Defense to replace the incumbent Chuck Hagel this year. If confirmed, Carter will be the fourth SoD to serve in the Obama administration, his confirmation dependent on hearings to be held in early February. When Hagel underwent confirmation hearings in 2013, the world was facing multiple crises though today the global situation is to put it bluntly, far worse. If the Hagel confirmation hearings proved anything, it showed that existing, real defense and security concerns are largely ignored in favor of political pandering on the part of the Senate Armed Services committee. Given the number and severity of threats facing the U.S. today, I sincerely hope the range of questions asked will be different from 2013 though I'm not optimistic. With that said, I present the topics I believe should be addressed at the hearings but which most likely won't be in any meaningful way.

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Sarah Palin, Once Upon a Time

Posted by Keeley on January 27, 2015 at 1:15 PM

Sarah Palin is described as being a politician, commentator, and author. Can you be all three at the same time? It's a little tricky but it can be done, and has been done, and is being done. The truth about Sarah Palin, however, is that nowadays she's a very successful entrepreneur who does a little commentary to support her business as an author, and who once upon a time was a politician. Who can forget the SNL appearances? They may have been helpful for SNL ratings and Palin's career as a commentator/author/media personality, but did not help the GOP at the ballot box. Progressive, as in left-wing, media critics like Princeton's Dr. Robert Kubey lambasted her appearances for being wrong contextually despite her affability and poise. But Kubey is the academic who wants UNESCO sponsored media skepticism taught from grade school up so that American children turn to alternative news sources, perhaps like Al Jazeera, to glean the whole truth. Kubey, in his Huffington Post piece back in 2008, naturally praised the media savvy displayed by the Obama campaign.

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Oil: Saudi Arabia's WMD and Weapon of Economic Revenge

Posted by SPBrooker on January 22, 2015 at 2:03 PM

The price of oil on the commodity markets has been dropping precipitously over the past several months to over 5-year lows. This poses many positives and negatives. OPEC member states control over 40 percent of the world's oil production and while the laws of supply and demand have a considerable influence on prices, they can be manipulated by this cartel. While there are logical economic reasons OPEC is allowing the price of oil to fall, there are also sinister aims which are not as immediately apparent; or which the U.S. media is limiting coverage of.

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Russia: More Dangerous Than Before

Posted by SPBrooker on January 20, 2015 at 3:51 PM

Russia is off to a bad start in 2015. It's suffering from a currency crisis brought on by a combination of economic sanctions, free-fall decline in the price of oil, and economic stagnation. Its actions in Ukraine have made friends such as Belarus somewhat nervous while states in Eastern Europe such as Poland are rallying against an increasingly aggressive and unpredictable Kremlin. Like the old saying, an animal is most dangerous when cornered and wounded and this can be applied to Russia. Add to this equation the fact that Russian President Vladimir Putin remains immensely popular despite economic setbacks, there is little reason to believe Russia will suddenly change its ways.

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Out of Focus on Terrorism

Posted by Keeley on January 16, 2015 at 10:41 AM

Senator Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., got it almost right when with he stated "the best I can say about him is he's unfocused," on Fox News, referring to the president's policy of releasing Guantanamo detainees who are likely to rejoin terrorist groups like ISIS as they head back to the Arabian peninsula. President Obama is not merely unfocused when it comes to terrorism today in the world, he's out of focus. As in where the heck is he? What belief system could possibly justify releasing hardened terrorists - the worst of the worst in Rumsfeld's words - back into society? When they head straight back to the Arabian peninsula where they will likely join ISIS or rejoin Al qaeda? Even a majority of Democrats opposed closing the facility in a recent Gallup poll, and with the latest terror scare in Belgium, thwarted for now thank God, the timing of the continued releases is not awkward, it's obscene.

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Not Fatalism in the Face of Fanaticism

Posted by Keeley on January 12, 2015 at 5:51 PM

The policemen in Paris arrived on push bikes, and quickly retreated. Three of them, in response to a commando-style attack by at least three heavily armed terrorists, almost certainly from Al Qaeda or ISIS. The target was satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo and survivors said the masked attackers spoke perfect French and had a list of people they meant to, and apparently did, kill. Soon afterwards the emergency response teams with their sundry vehicles arrived, after the attackers had executed a wounded policeman begging for mercy on the sidewalk, and fled. But the first response was men on bicycles, and this for a target that had been threatened in recent days and had suffered an arson attack previously. France is no stranger to terrorism, especially Paris. For decades they have endured waves of terrorist attacks, most in recent decades having to do with islamic terrorism. The country was on high alert these past days and had thwarted several attacks according to President Francois Hollande himself. Men on bicycles is not much use, however, in thwarting heavily armed commando-style terrorists.

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Gohmert vs. Boehner Speaker Challenge

Posted by bigtex on January 5, 2015 at 8:10 PM

Yesterday, Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-Texas) publically challenged House Speaker John Boehner for a new Congress as Speaker igniting political emotions from all sides. While some GOPs are joking that Boehner will get the Democrat vote, it could cause more problems than solutions for the GOP.

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The GAO's Smooth Descending Line

Posted by Keeley on December 31, 2014 at 8:39 PM

A 50 year fiscal hangover for state and local governments is what is being predicted by the GAO, (Government Accountability Office), as reported by Watchdog.org's Eric Boehm. And the solution,as always, is some mix of tax increases and spending cuts. But that smooth, decades long declining slope is just a prediction. The actual data up to 2014 in the GAO-produced graph is much more interesting than the predictions, with sharp changes in the graph when policy and/or economic conditions change. That can give you cause for hope or fear, depending on your views of future policy and future economic conditions in America and how they might impact local and state governments. But when predicting, the easiest, and the most reasonable thing to do is to assume away policy changes and merely show how local and state finances will evolve given some broad assumptions, mainly assuming that things will roughly stay the same as they are at the current time.

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U.S. 3rd Quarter GDP Best Since 2003

Posted by Christine & John on December 26, 2014 at 6:40 PM

I am happy that the economy is picking up and I notice my liberal friends are escatic. They feel vindicted, even if it took four years longer than it should have. But I noticed an interesting couple of headlines, to wit - U.S. 3rd Quarter GDP Best Since 2003. It has been more than ten years since the economy was so good, but I don't recall the same euphoria among lefties in 2003.

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Blood on whose hands

Posted by Christine & John on December 23, 2014 at 8:10 PM

Anti police protestors in NYC, Al Sharpton and Mayor de Blasio are not responsible for the killing of the cops in New York any more than Sarah Palin and conservatives were responsible for the shooting in Tucson, or the Tea Party was responsible for any violence at all. I hope our leftish friends will remember this next time they go nuts.

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Looking for real leadership

Posted by Christine & John on December 22, 2014 at 10:50 AM

Barack Obama and Eric Holder have a unique opportunity. They are among the two most successful blacks in world history. Until recently, President Obama has avoided being identified too closely with black issues. Eric Holder embraced race from day one. Both now have a chance to be real leaders. Holder called for an honest discussion about race. Let's have it. Let's have one robust and truthful enough to offend everybody.

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Constitutional right to protest

Posted by Christine & John on December 18, 2014 at 4:08 PM

Americans have the Constitutional right to protest peacefully It is a right, but it is a neural one, i.e. not all protests are actually right or useful and some are bad. I support the rights of people to protest "police violence." I exercise my right to say that they are mostly wrong. I would do nothing to encourage them.

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Obama did good on Cuba

Posted by Christine & John on December 17, 2014 at 12:12 PM

Cuba is an economic basket-case run by decrepit old men, using a decrepit a old ideology. Back in the Kennedy Administration, before most people alive today were born, Cuba was a forward operating base for the Soviet Union. It was the tip of a Soviet spear and was dangerous for that reason. Cuba itself was no threat and when the Soviet empire collapsed so did most of the threat of Cuba. The bankrupt country and bankrupt ideology was kept on life support by Venezuelan oil. Today, Venezuela is also a basket-case and oil prices are dropping. Cuba has no place else to go. We should be magnanimous in victory.

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Lighten up 2

Posted by Christine & John on December 16, 2014 at 7:20 AM

I wrote a similar post a few months ago, but I see this as a persistent problem that perhaps deserves regular consideration. Our Western Civilization is threatened less by the big but uncommon disasters than by daily little criticisms and second guessing, amplified by threats from the media, lawyers and even the authorities. Let me explain with a few examples

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To Drone or not to Drone

Posted by Keeley on December 15, 2014 at 6:05 PM

Is a model airplane an aircraft? The FAA is saying yes lately, appealing a ruling by a National Transportation Safety Board administrative law judge. The ruling in question dealt with the case of a man in Charlottesville, Va. who used a 56-inch wingspan radio controlled plane, in essence a drone, to film a commercial. He was charged with operating the aircraft too close to pedestrians. Ridiculous you say? Perhaps not, in view of the fact that there have been 25 near misses between drones and commercial planes, around airports in the U.S. since June 1st. Another near collision with an airliner recently occurred near London England. So the FAA is planning to put restrictions in place that will severely limit the operation of drones, essentially cutting off any opportunities for their commercial use. Restricting them to less than 400 feet of altitude and perhaps requiring visual contact between the drone and the operator would make it impossible to use them for any other than, well, model-aircraft style outings at your local private airport, or go-cart track, on a Saturday morning.

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