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Saturday, March 2, 2013
Profiles In American Leadership
Today’s poor examples versus history’s great ones
It seems like everyone all of a sudden is learning about something that has been looming for nearly 18 months – sequestration. That awkward word is Washington-speak for draconian, across-the-board cuts to federal spending mandated in 2011 because the unduly titled “super committee” in Congress failed to make more targeted spending cuts.
Some officials in Washington will tell you we don’t have a spending problem. (Boy, they must be drinking something good!) But when you analyze the cuts set to kick in today, you learn that they represent only a 2.4 percent decrease in the growth of the federal budget. Actual spending still will increase!
The cuts will be only $85 billion a year; the United States truly borrows that much in a month. The Federal Reserve also is printing money and buying mortgage security and treasury bond debt to the tune of $85 billion per month.
So what is all the hoopla about sequestration?
On Tuesday in Newport News, Va., President Obama decried the idea of sequestration. He never mentioned that the idea sprang from his White House. Instead, he highlighted all of the presumably terrible consequences for federal programs that could happen because of budget cuts.
As I watched this performance, I asked myself, “Is this the new face of American leadership?” I remembered when I was a military commander and wondered what my unit would have thought of me had I stood before them and complained about how bad things were.
What if that day before we crossed into Iraq in 2003 I stood before our battalion and screeched about how we would die, how great the enemy was and how we were not trained sufficiently to win. Where would the inspiration be?
Could it be that with the election and re-election of President Obama, we as a nation have forgotten what resolute leadership looks like?
While watching the recent confirmation hearings of CIA Director-designate John Brennan, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, I asked myself: “This is it? This is the best we have as the greatest nation the world has ever known?”
Just this week, new Secretary of State Kerry was over in Germany yucking it up before telling an audience, “In America people have the right to be stupid.” Is that leadership?
True leaders from American history
My years in the military taught me that leadership has five components: courage, competence, commitment, conviction and character. We studied many profiles in American leadership, and I would like to share a few with you.
Could you see any of our current elected officials at Valley Forge, Pa., during the American Revolution, encouraging a ragtag Army to hang on as George Washington did? Do we even teach our kids about “The Swamp Fox” Francis Marion and his exploits during that war?
How often do we study why Francis Scott Key wrote “The Star-Spangled Banner” because of the courage of the men at Fort McHenry, Md., who kept our flag flying despite the constant British naval barrage? Or what of the courage of those men who stood stalwart under the command of Gen. Andrew Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans?
Do we know why Confederate Gen. Thomas Jackson received his nickname “Stonewall” at the First Battle of Bull Run (or Manassas, depending upon which side people fought)? And who was that single figure at Little Round Top, a professor of rhetoric who gave an order that saved Day 2 at Gettysburg, Pa.? (In case you missed it in history class, the answer is Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain.)
How many Americans remember that when Germans surrounded the entire 101st Airborne Division in December 1944 in Bastogne, Brig. Gen. Anthony McAuliffe responded to the call for surrender with one word: “NUTS!”?
Consider the Battle of Guadalcanal when, between August 1942 and February 1943, U.S. Marines looked out and saw that their naval support had departed. Did those Marines quit? No, just remember the young lieutenant colonel named Lewis Burwell “Chesty” Puller who inspired his Marines and the resolve of Sgt. John Basilone.
I served in Korea in 1995, and those were some of the coldest winters I have ever encountered. But that cold pales in comparison to the extreme conditions at Chosin Reservoir in November-December 1950, when the Chinese Army surrounded our forces. Did the American leaders surrender or complain? No, they vowed to attack in any direction.
The first full encounter between U.S. military forces and the North Vietnamese Army came in the La Drang Valley. Lt. Col. Hal Moore withstood odds of one American to every five Vietnamese and defeated the enemy – exploits of the 1st Cavalry Division’s 7th Cavalry Regiment made famous in the book and movie “We Were Soldiers Once and Young.”
In Mogadishu, Somalia, two brave Delta Force snipers landed to protect one downed and injured U.S. Army pilot. Master Sgt. Gary Gordon and Sgt. First Class Randy Shughart exemplified the highest standards of courage – an 18-hour battle to ensure no man was left behind. And last year, we saw former U.S. Navy SEALS disobeying orders to save and protect Americans at a consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
Leaders lead in adversity, too
See, leaders lead, and they do so when the goings are tough. As a matter of fact, they thrive in adverse situations. Has America forgotten leadership – men who challenged us to go to the moon or told an evil empire to tear down that wall?
We need to share profiles in American leadership to inspire the next generation because I fear that our schools shall not, and the current crop of individuals in positions of leadership are nothing more than imposters.
Steadfast and Loyal,
Allen B. West
Woodward: White House 'Code: You Better Watch Out'
By Todd Beamon
“They got caught and — this is an old trick — make the conduct of the press the issue rather than their conduct,” Woodward told Fox News’ Sean Hannity Thursday night. “The biggest story in Washington is the town itself. What a craze it has become.”
Woodward, an associate editor for The Washington Post, told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Wednesday that he received an email he interpreted as threatening from a top White House official — since identified as Gene Sperling, economic adviser to the president — regarding Obama’s actions on the upcoming sequester.
In the Feb. 22 email, Sperling said, in part: “I do truly believe that you should rethink your comment about saying that Potus asking for revenues is moving the goal post. I know you may not believe this, but as a friend, I think you will regret staking out that claim.”
Woodward told Blitzer on Wednesday: “It makes me very uncomfortable to have the White House telling reporters that you are going to regret doing something that you believe in — and even if you don’t look at it that way [as a threat], you do look at it.”
But on Thursday, Woodward declined to describe Sperling’s email as a threat — “I just think that’s a mistake,” he told Hannity — but did say that the word “regret” was “coded” to mean “you better watch out,” which could be interpreted as a threat.
More broadly, Woodward, 70, said the Sperling email reflected an Obama White House that took being questioned seriously — and would hit back this way when being challenged, particularly by greener journalists.
“The problem is there are all kinds of reporters who are much less experienced, who are younger — and they’re going to get roughed up in this way,” he told Hannity. “I’m flooded with emails from people in the press saying, ‘This is exactly the way the White House works. They’re trying to control and they don’t want to be challenged or crossed.’”
He added that the press had grown more partisan and even less questioning of the president, whom he called “the father of the sequester.”
“We live in a hyper-partisan era — extreme partisanship. There are also a group of people — MSNBC — a lot of people who support Obama, who believe he can do no wrong,” Woodward said. “I believe in the First Amendment, and we need to bring this back to the center so we can have a reasoned discussion about it.”
The White House also has been very successful at controlling the press, Woodward said.
“The barriers have come up,” he told Hannity. “We know less about what’s going on.”
Sequestration and Stupidity
By: Oliver North / Townhall Columnist
According to administration spokesmen and supporters, the sequestration means reduced agricultural inspections and the prospect of tainted food, cuts in childhood immunizations and more ill kids, long delays at airport security checkpoints, air traffic disruptions and dangerous vulnerabilities on our frontiers and ports of entry as U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents are furloughed. And of course, fewer police, firemen and park rangers on duty means that lawbreakers are going to run rampant in our communities and that forest fires will threaten us all.
Supposedly, we also will have to live with dirtier air and water and the prospect of an environmental catastrophe. Even our weather forecasts -- and warnings about hazardous storms in the midst of an era of "climate change" -- will be adversely affected. In short, just about everything we count on the federal government to do for us is coming to a screeching halt.
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano issued an alert that "the nation will be less safe."
Attorney General Eric Holder warned us that the "cuts" will mean fewer FBI agents to apprehend criminals and that "prosecutors will have to let criminals go." Secretary of Education Arne Duncan even took time off from his celebrity basketball duties to tell a Sunday talk show that teachers in West Virginia "are getting pink slips."
But none of that is true -- unless the administration wants it to be so. FBI and Border Patrol agents won't be laid off -- but the rate of hiring new ones may be slowed. Prosecutors aren't going to let criminals go free. And even the pro-Obama editors at The Washington Post couldn't find a single West Virginia teacher put out of work by the sequestration.
There is only one part of the sequestration that will have an immediate adverse effect on the safety and security of American citizens: the rigid reductions in operations and maintenance funding for our armed forces. Military personnel won't be fired or furloughed. But civilian employees and contractors supporting our troops in the field and providing medical care for our wounded will be. Congress and the White House could fix those problems by giving the Department of Defense and our intelligence services flexibility in where they make cuts. They should do so immediately.
Meanwhile, just so we all know that bizarre behavior is not the sole purview of the executive branch, the U.S. House of Representatives has joined the race for D.C. dunce. On Feb. 28, the House passed the Senate's version of the Obama administration's expanded Violence Against Women Act.
Left-leaning pundits proclaim that the new law will somehow provide additional protections for American Indian women, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender people and immigrants. In short, you are covered by this "new protection" as long as you can prove you are not a heterosexual white male.
Congressional and Obama administration proponents apparently want us to ignore that the new law adds $650 million in spending to the already bloated federal budget. Nor has anyone noted an obvious inconsistency: While we're passing new laws to protect women, we're putting them into U.S. military ground combat units. Perhaps fear of prosecution will prevent enemy combatants from raping our female soldiers and Marines on the battlefield.
And finally, in the midst of "austerity," we have our new secretary of state, John Kerry, on his all-expenses-paid grand tour of European capitals. This week, he announced a $60 million grant in "nonlethal aid" to the Syrian opposition. Where is this money coming from?
Kerry also is showing his independence from the White House. When Nobel laureate Barack Obama travels overseas, he prefers to bow to foreign potentates and apologize for America. Instead of apologizing in foreign capitals, Kerry prefers to insult us.
In Berlin, he told a young audience that in the 1950s, at the age of 12, he took a secret bicycle ride in the Soviet-controlled sector of the divided city. Apparently hoping the German kids don't know about his claimed exploits in Cambodia in 1968, he added, "I never made another trip like that." The German kids also laughed and applauded Kerry for saying, "In America, you have a right to be stupid." He should know. In the immortal words of Forrest Gump: "Stupid is as stupid does."
America's Fiscal Stupidity Mirrors Detroit
By: John Ransom / Townhall Finance Editor
Michigan’s Rick Snyder has appointed an emergency city manager to do for Detroit what Obama, Biden, the UAW, GM, Chrysler, the city’s council and mayor have not been able to even with a $80 billion bailout of the automotive industry.
“Snyder’s decision comes after a state review team report concluded last week that Detroit is in a financial emergency that it cannot fix on its own,” reports the Detroit Free Press. “The report detailed $14 billion in long-term bond debt and retiree pension and health benefits the city owes in addition to a $327-million accumulated deficit Detroit has been unable to tame. That figure could inflate by $100 million by July.”
The city has been powerless to stop plunging tax revenues. According to the Detroit News almost half of the city’s homeowners have not been able to pay property taxes:
“The News reviewed more than 200,000 pages of tax documents and found that 47 percent of the city's taxable parcels are delinquent on their 2011 bills. Some $246.5 million in taxes and fees went uncollected, about half of which was due Detroit and the rest to other entities, including Wayne County, Detroit Public Schools and the library.”
The article notes that delinquency is so bad that in one stretch of 77 blocks only one owner had paid their taxes.
And it’s not just that residents can’t pay. It’s that many of the taxpayers say they won’t pay taxes for services they aren’t getting.
More from the Detroit News:
"Why pay taxes?" asked Fred Phillips, who owes more than $2,600 on his home on an east-side block where five owners paid 2011 taxes. "Why should I send them taxes when they aren't supplying services? It is sickening. … Every time I see the tax bill come, I think about the times we called and nobody came."
Like America’s long decline into fiscal stupidity, Detroit’s problems didn’t have their start in the fiscal crisis of 2008. A combination union greed, corporate gluttony, short-sighted thinking from politicians at the federal, state and local level have combined to create a soup of fiscal insolvency.
Like most municipal and corporate emergencies, much of the problem starts with over-promising benefits to unionized employees and ends much later with institutions not being able to fulfill those promises.
“It needs to be said over and over again, this is a problem that started 50 years ago,” says former City Councilwoman Sheila Cockrel, a political consultant, reports the Free Press. “It’s a can that’s been kicked down the road for decades, and there’s no more can and there’s no more road.”
But at least the average American can take satisfaction that we have a thriving automotive industry, leading an American comeback in manufacturing.
CNBC reported this week that the average Americans family can no longer afford to buy new cars.
According to a report by Intrest.com, there is only one major city where the average household income is sufficient to buy a new car.
You guessed it: Washington, DC.
“According to the 2013 Car Affordability Study by Interest.com,” says CNBC via Yahoo Finance, “only in Washington could the typical household swing the payments, the median income there running $86,680 a year. At the other extreme, Tampa, Fla., was at the bottom of the 25 large cities included in the study, with a median household income of $43,832.”
Only the countries of Lichtenstein and Qatar enjoy higher per capita income than DC’s median income of $86,680 a year.
Thank goodness. All this time, I thought that the runaway federal spending was just fueling a sense of entitlement, privilege and contempt for us commoners amongst the people who run our government.
For those of us lucky enough to live in areas that service federal employees, as apparently the auto industry does, we can be confident that given enough union pull, our city could qualify for a bailout too.
Just like Detroit.
It’s working out so well for them.
Op-ed: The truth about sequestration that can't be toldBy: Diane Sori
Let's cut all the bull and tell it like it really is...sequestration is about out of control government spending and Barack HUSSEIN Obama's lie after lie after lie ad nauseum..and most importantly it's about the 'sponges' of our society who are bleeding us dry.
The 'sponges' of society, as in the ILLEGALS and welfare bilking sorts who breed like animals (my apologies to our four-legged friends) because the more children and dependents they have (and most of the time with different daddies) the more of our taxpayer dollars they get. The 'sponges' who get free medical care via the emergency room while 'We the People'...who have to pay through the roof for our health insurance...foot the bill for these people who think they are entitled to everything we have...things we've gotten through the sweat of our brows and hard work...while they sit in their comfy low cost or NO cost Section 8 housing...watching their large screen TVs getting untold numbers of channels with their satellite dishes hanging out the windows...talking on their free Obama-phones...drinking beer bought with food stamps...while the middle class suffers and has to pay for it all.
The 'sponges' of society are who sequestration is really all about. The 'sponges'...whose votes were bought and paid for by the man who wants to cut should NOT be cut areas of the budget (like the defense budget that will bear the brunt of half the cuts) in order to...and here's the truth...funnel those monies into even more freebies and handouts to assure future Democratic votes for 2014 and 2016...to reward them for their votes, some of which were cast over and over again.
This is the truth that Obama does NOT want told for if it became public knowledge that sequestration was about money shifting into his freebie and handout programs for the 'sponges' and NOTHING else, programs he calls entitlements, all hell would be break lose. And BTW, in case Obama doesn't get it Social Security and Medicare are NOT entitlements as 'We the People' pay into them throughout our working lifetimes....something the 'sponges' don't do.
Uh oh, was that just a drone flying over my house for speaking the truth about the lies told by a man whose focused goal is to dismantle our beloved country through scare tactics to gain public support for his anti-American agenda, and who uses the msm to spread his lies. BTW, kidding about the drones...for now anyway but who knows what the future might bring to those of us who speak out against our media anointed 'lord and savior'.
But I digress...back to the truth about sequestration...after a last ditch attempt meeting with Democrats and Republicans ended without any resolution to the supposed dreaded sequester, Obama spoke to reporters to discuss this standoff before yesterday's unscheduled press conference, Obama called the cuts “just dumb” (cuts which BTW he proposed...he owns them), and harshly criticized Republicans for their refusal to negotiate a package that includes 'some new revenue'...meaning 'taxes'. Thankfully, Republican leaders...who finally grew a set and stood strong...made clear to Obama that they had NO intention of caving to his demands that across-the-board cuts be replaced with what he called a 'balanced package' of spending cuts and additional tax increases' (remember, Obama already got his so-wanted tax hike on January 1st).
The 'sequester blame game' was Obama's driving force once again, and was the focus of his statement and Q&A session regarding the budget cuts. These cuts he said are "happening because of a choice that Republicans in Congress have made...they’ve allowed these cuts to happen because they refuse to budge on closing a single wasteful loophole to help reduce the deficit.”
LIAR...these cuts are happening because this miserable excuse of a president just doesn't get it or gets it but doesn't care about the basic principal of Economics 101...you CANNOT spend more than you take in...and you especially cannot keep handing out our taxpayer dollars to those who put NOTHING back into the coffers, who pay NO taxes, who bilk the system for everything they can get. And there are NO ifs, ands, or buts to that.
'Leadership by fear-mongering' as LTC Allen West calls it, and trying to scare the public is exactly what Obama tried to do in his statement, as he spoke about cuts to the Border Patrol, air traffic controllers, teachers, police, firefighters, emergency personnel, etc...but here's the kicker...other than the Border Patrol and air traffic controllers, NONE of these other folks are paid through the federal budget...they are paid by state and local municipalities and such.
The president of the United States...Barack HUSSEIN Obama...(I still gag on that one) doesn't know who gets paid by who and that in and of itself is scary indeed, because this man is steward of our economy and he has NO clue whatsoever about something as simple as who gets paid by the federal government and who doesn't.
Totally inexcusable and the msm didn't say a word about that faux pas or about how paying $5.7 trillion in interest on the national debt over the next 10 years helps the middle class...or about how tripling the amount spent on annual interest payments on the debt of $85 billion a year repairs the bridges he cited in yesterday's statement. And the msm refused to say a word about money spent on interest payments is money that can't be spent on education, infrastructure, or defense, or that all of this year's sequestration so called 'fixes' only apply to this year's cuts, and NONE of those cuts touch his freebies and handouts.
And the center point of that circle remains that it's the freebies and handouts that are bleeding us dry... and that until the freebies and handouts are cut...and cut drastically...budget crisis after budget crisis will continue to happen. And here's a last little bit of happy news...later this month Congress has to vote on a continuing resolution to fund the government for the rest of the year, because 26 days after the sequester takes effect the government runs out of money (oh dear what will the 'sponges' do if they don't get their free stuff), and around May 19th we’ll hit the debt ceiling crisis again, and another battle looms.
And so is life in Obamanation...hope the 51% are happy with what they caused on November 6th...they did this...they own it.