Thursday, August 9, 2012

Remembering the Significance of VJ Day 

By: Marvin Folkertsma  /

Remembering the Significance of VJ Day
Consider this fictitious scenario: In the summer of 1950, President Thomas E. Dewey faced a national security crisis of extraordinary proportions—one that his advisors agreed likely would define his presidency. After beating his Democratic opponent in 1948 by a comfortable margin, Dewey received news that Soviet-backed armies in Korea, Hokkaido, and Northern Honshu had mounted a massive invasion of Southern Honshu, with the goal of unifying Japan under a single government. He knew that American occupation forces—under strength, dispirited, and still fighting insurgencies loyal to the emperor in Kyushu and Shikoku, as well as other scattered parts of the former Japanese empire—were hardly in a position to resist.

Although he based much of his election campaign on a “Truman Lost Japan” platform, he now lamented the fact that the war dragged on through the spring of 1947 instead of ending in the summer of 1945. That brought in the Russians, who took over all of Korea and carved out an occupation zone in northern Japan, transforming it into one of their notorious “people’s republics.” The United Nations could do nothing—the Russians had the veto—and Americans were sick of war. What was the United States going to do? Use atomic bombs to stop the invasion? Unthinkable! Especially not with the Russians also having tested an atomic weapon during the previous fall.

The new American president slumped in his chair in the oval office, disconsolate—and angry. China, Russia, Korea, and now probably Japan—all communist dictatorships. Where else would Joe Stalin press his advantage? In Europe again, against Germany? Central Asia, perhaps? Iran? Pakistan? Victories whet imperialist appetites. And America was losing the Cold War. If only that novice Harry Truman had acted as tough as he talked…

Of course, the fact that Truman did, spared us this nightmare version of an early Cold War alternative history. In fact, in the months leading to the actual surrender of Japan, which occurred on 14 August 1945 (Washington time), a variety of morbid statistics on estimated casualties haunted the president’s thoughts. On Okinawa alone, American casualties ran to 75,000. And a horrendous battle it was—replete with flamethrowers torching caves filled with suicidal Japanese soldiers and terrified Okinawan citizens, tanks attacked by enemies with bombs attached to their heads, endless mortar and artillery bombardments—it was the worst battle in a war that had also included Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Iwo Jima.

Then there was the kamikaze. From April 6 to June 22, when the island was finally declared secure, the Japanese staged 10 big attacks involving 1,465 aircraft, inflicting tremendous damage, in terms of ships sunk, lives lost, and morale depleted. Indeed, historian Max Hastings notes in his superb account, “Retribution,” that “For the sacrifice of a few hundred half-trained pilots, vastly more damage was inflicted upon the U. S. Navy than the Japanese surface fleet had accomplish since Pearl Harbor” [italics added]. What was the number of aircraft available to Japan to defend the home islands against an American invasion? Answer: 10,000. Half of those were kamikaze. That’s not to mention suicide boats, human-torpedoes, human-bombs, and swimmers with bombs.

No doubt pondering this information worsened the soul hollowing-out nature of casualty estimates for an invasion of Japan, which President Truman had been receiving since August 1944. The most recent figures from the last week of July 1945, were provided by General George C. Marshall and entailed the loss of anywhere from a quarter million to one million Americans. Likely, Japan would lose all of its nearly three-quarter-million man army in the region, along with millions of civilians. For numbers like these, the word “intolerable” barely gnaws on the edge of one’s imagination.

Which of course brings to mind the way the war actually ended, with the dropping of two atomic bombs, the Russian invasion of Manchuria, Emperor Hirohito’s dramatic radio message to his people, and the signing of the surrender terms on the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945. In the final analysis, by the emperor’s own words, it was the atomic bombs, and not the Russian invasion of Manchuria, that forced the issue: “The enemy has begun to employ a new and most cruel bomb, the power of which to do damage is indeed incalculable, taking the toll of many innocent lives. Should we continue to fight, it would not only result in an ultimate collapse and obliteration of the Japanese nation, but it would also lead to the total extinction of human civilization.”

So the greatest war in history finally came to an end. And not just to an end, but to the best conclusion that could be expected, considering the circumstances. And for the millions of lives, Americans and Japanese alike, saved by Truman’s decision, no better expression of relief can be found than in the words of notable historian and former combat soldier, Paul Fussell: “For all the practiced phlegm of our tough facades we broke down and cried with relief and joy. We were going to live.”

Thanks to him, President Truman, and millions of other brave men and women, so are we.

The Rich Pay Their Fair Share in Taxes — And Then Some 

By: Jeff Jacoby / Townhall Daily

The Rich Pay Their Fair Share in Taxes — And Then Some

"We should ask the wealthiest Americans to pay a little more," he urged a White House audience last week. "We're talking about folks like me going back to the tax rates that existed under Bill Clinton.… And here's the thing -- there are a lot of well-to-do Americans, patriotic Americans, who understand this and are willing to do the right thing, willing to do their part to make this country strong."

An Obama campaign ad summarizing "President Obama's plan" drives the point home succinctly. "Wealthy Pay More," the on-screen title says; "Middle Class Pays Less."

Meanwhile, the union-funded activist group Americans United for Change is out with a quarter-million-dollar preposterous accusation that Mitt Romney "has not paid taxes for ten years," thanks to the "many tricks" for avoiding taxes that "people who make as much money as Mitt Romney have … at their disposal."

Few things get liberal Democrats salivating like populist red meat. But if voters generally shared the left's weakness for soak-the-rich nostrums, Nancy Pelosi would be speaker of the House, the Occupy movement would be riding high -- and Republicans would still wince at the memory of Ronald Reagan losing the White House to Walter Mondale in a 49-state landslide.

But voters, by and large, don't yearn to see the wealthy stripped bare by the tax collector. In a new nationwide poll, Gallup asked Americans to rank a list of policy proposals for the next president to address. Respondents gave highest priority to "creating good jobs," "reducing corruption in federal government," "reducing the federal budget deficit," "dealing with terrorism and other international threats," and "ensuring the long-term stability of Social Security and Medicaid." Raising taxes on the wealthy placed last. Even among

Obama supporters, no issue on Gallup's list was deemed less important.

Blasting the wealthy for not paying their "fair share" in taxes may rev up what Howard Dean called "the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party." But measured by any reasonable yardstick, rich Americans pay their fair share. And then some.

One reasonable yardstick might be the average rate paid when all federal taxes -- including not just income taxes but also payroll taxes -- are considered. The Congressional Budget Office reported last month that in 2009, the top 20 percent of taxpayers paid an average of 23.2 percent of their income in federal taxes -- more than double the 11.1 percent paid by the middle quintile, and 23 times the 1 percent paid by the lowest quintile. Even within the top 20 percent, average tax rates rose with income: The richest 1 percent paid 28.9 percent of their earnings in federal taxes.

Or perhaps a more reasonable yardstick would compare the share of federal taxes paid with the share of national income earned. The CBO ran those numbers too. In 2009, the bottom 20 percent of taxpayers earned approximately 5 percent of the nation's income but paid just 0.3 percent of all federal taxes.

Households in the middle quintile, which earned almost 14.7 percent of national income, paid only 9.4 percent of federal taxes. Yet Americans in the top quintile, who earned 51 percent of the nation's income, paid a whopping 67.9 percent of all federal taxes.

And the much-demonized 1 percent? They took in 13.4 percent of all income in 2009 -- and shelled out 28.9 percent of all federal taxes.

Reasonable minds can debate whether income inequality is good, bad, or neutral; whether "fair" tax rates should be flat or graduated; whether income-redistribution is a legitimate function of government. But what's clear is that wealthy Americans pay plenty -- far more than plenty -- in taxes. Maybe that's why voters aren't clamoring to make them pay even more.

Former Ohio-based Muslim cleric: People worldwide "thirst for the blood of the Jews"

From: Jihad Watch

Sultan has previously said that "every Muslim who meets a Zionist is entitled to kill him." He is the former imam of the Ohio mosque attended by the famous convert from Islam to Christianity, Rifqa Bary, and her parents. And what do you bet that when he was there, local politicians and non-Muslim clerics courted his favor, certain that he was a "moderate" and anxious to prove their multiculti bona fides?

"Egyptian Cleric Sallah Sultan: People Worldwide 'Thirst for the Blood of the Jews,'" from MEMRI, n.d.:
Following are excerpts from two Friday sermons delivered by Egyptian cleric Sallah Sultan, the founder of the Ohio-based American Center for Islamic Research. The sermons aired on Al-Aqsa TV on July 27 and August 3, 2012. 
Sallah Sultan: I travel all over the world, and I met supporters of Al-Aqsa, of the prisoners, of Jerusalem, and of Palestine – people who thirst for the blood of the Jews, and who are eager for the promised war against the sons of Zion, until Palestine is liberated in its entirety. .
Under the previous [Egyptian] regime over 30,000 Zionists entered Egypt every month, defiling its land. The Egyptian police were forced to protect them, while they were getting drunk and picking fights. .
There was a great scandal, when [alleged Israeli spy] Misrati and some Jews entered Egypt, in order to commit all kinds of crimes here: counterfeit dollars, taking photographs of military bases, girls with AIDS seducing young Egyptians in order to infect them, and the vilest act of all – for the price of one Egyptian pound Misrati and his gang would seduce young Egyptian boys from Cairo, Alexandria and Upper Egypt. They took young children who did not know any better and sodomized them.
Click here to see the video of this speech here:
To my blog followers...

There will be no Op-ed today due to a personal matter.  My Op-eds will return tomorrow.  Thanks.
Obama's Bad Aim
Published on

Romney has proven remarkably resistant to Obama's negative attacks.  While they are freezing the race in its current pattern, they are not eroding the Republican vote share.  The GOP candidate needs to rebut these attacks by pointing to the good deeds he has done at Bain Capital, but the larger question is why aren't the Obama negatives working better?

I believe that they are poorly aimed.  If you believe all the garbage about Romney that the Obama campaign is broadcasting, what do you have?  You've got a candidate who only cares about the rich.  You'd have to believe he's hard-hearted and not conversant with the difficulties the average family faces.

That's not the real Mitt Romney.  But neither is it a portrait of a candidate you can't vote for.  You don't have to be warm and fuzzy to be a good president.  You don't have to feel the pain of every American.  You've got just to be a competent, smart, energetic, activist who has the right answers for the economy.  And there's nothing in the Obama barrage that would disabuse anyone of that notion of Mitt Romney.

Look at the negative campaigns that have worked at the presidential level.  Each succeeded in depicting the target as a threat.  Barry Goldwater, in 1964, came across as a man who might plunge the world into nuclear war.  George McGovern, in 1972, was portrayed, successfully, as someone who would denude us of our military defenses.  Walter Mondale, in 1984, was a man who would raise taxes to new heights.  Mike Dukakis, in 1988, would release dangerous criminals back onto the streets where they might rape and kill again.  John Kerry, in 2004, wasn't up to protecting American in the war on terror.  His concern for civil liberties and his weakness, the negative ads suggested, would make another 9-11 more likely.

But what is the threat that Mitt Romney represents in the Obama ads?  That he'll give tax breaks to rich people?  That he'll salt away money in his off-shore accounts?  There's no threat there.  No looming danger.  No worst case scenario.

Why not?  Because Romney is too elusive a target to make him a threat.  He'll repeal Obamacare, but people want that.  He'll cut government spending but that will reduce the deficit and that's popular.  Obama can accuse him of gutting Medicare, but Romney has explicitly distanced himself from the intial Ryan Plan and embraced only the amended version that lets people keep their current Medicare if they wish.

The price Obama has to pay for his dismal record is that he can't win merely by painting his opponent as hard hearted and out of touch.  His supposed hands-on understanding of the problems of America's families hasn't done them much good as unemployment continues and economic growth slows.

Romney, on the other hand, has failed to transform his negative attacks on Obama's record into personal shortcomings.  It is not enough to say that Obama's programs haven't worked and that he has not kept his promises.  You must then say that he is incompetent and hasn't a clue about what to do.  Romney needs to show that Obama is, indeed, an "amateur" as Bill Clinton allegedly called him, in over his head, with no solutions.

Romney needs to ask what skills Obama brought to the job of saving the economy?  He's a lawyer, after all, and a community organizer after that.  The failures of the Obama record need to become evidence of his incompetence for them to have their full effect.

Oddly, even as both campaigns get more vicious, none is going for the jugular.  Obama paints Romney as remote, cold, and out of touch, but not as a danger or a threat.  Romney says Obama has bad ideas and ill conceived policies but he doesn't go the next step and call his competence in economics into question.

But Obama has a problem.  Romney is really not a threat and Obama really is incompetent.