"Whatever enables us to go to war, secures our peace." --Thomas Jefferson
Foreign policy is by no means the number-one issue for voters in this election, but national defense is, as John Adams put it, "one of the cardinal duties of a statesman." Taking a look around the world, particularly at continually emerging details about the embassy attack in Benghazi and the way Iran is applying Obama's campaign slogan, "Forward," to its nuclear program, it was a bad time for the president to have a debate on foreign policy.
Before we even get into the details, we'll just let former CIA chief and retired Air Force four-star Michael Hayden sum it up: "You had two men on stage. One was president. The other was presidential."
Indeed, Mitt Romney's goal Monday night was simply to be presidential. Unfortunately, that led to a few too many agreements with and pats on the back for Barack Obama, whether it was agreeing with the ready-or-not 2014 withdrawal deadline for Afghanistan or praising Obama that "it's wonderful that Libya seems to be making some progress." It was good that Romney followed our advice on Libya and didn't get bogged down debating the minutia -- that's for surrogates and others to handle -- but he should have made the larger point that the deception on Benghazi surely means Obama can't be trusted.
From a strategic perspective, Obama couldn't be more misguided, wrong and, in many ways, dangerous. For example, the president would like Americans to believe that al-Qa'ida died when he (actually the Navy SEALs) killed Osama bin Laden, though the murderous 9/11 terrorist attack in Libya proved this a farce. And he continues to conflate quitting the war in Afghanistan with winning it.
When it came to the military budget -- one of the precious few federal expenditures actually authorized by the Constitution -- Obama employed his usual strategy of deflecting blame. Massive automatic cuts are scheduled to hit the military budget come January through sequestration, but he said, "First of all, the sequester is not something that I proposed. It's something that Congress has proposed." And, he promised, "It will not happen." Well, the president does know a thing or two about skirting Congress to "get things done." Let the record show, however, that sequestration originated in the White House, and Obama signed the cuts into law.
He continued to distort the record, saying, "The budget that we're talking about is not reducing our military spending, it's maintaining it." In normal budget parlance, he might be correct. Politicians frequently speak of "cuts" that are in reality only reductions in the growth rate. However, his assertion in this case simply isn't true. As the Heritage Foundation notes, "Here are the numbers from his Office of Management and Budget from this year's budget request. In fiscal year 2010, defense spending was $721.3 billion in budget authority. Under the President's proposal, defense spending will fall to $566.3 billion in fiscal year 2014. This is a 21 percent reduction in just four years."
The president repeatedly accuses his challenger of wanting "to spend another $2 trillion on military spending that our military's not asking for," but Romney merely wants to stop Obama's cuts. Obama likes to claim that we'll save $800 billion by winding down the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, but rather than "investing" that money in bankrupt solar panel companies, perhaps we should upgrade our military capability. We're not of the opinion that every dollar spent on the military is sacred, but after two wars, our military's equipment could use some repair and replacement.
A prime example of needed spending is the Navy, which Romney pointed out "is smaller now than any time since 1917. The Navy said they needed 313 ships to carry out their mission. We're now down to 285." And if sequestration goes through, that number will shrink further. It was here that Obama struck back with his most childish, petulant response of the evening: "Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets because the nature of our military's changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines. And so the question is not a game of Battleship where we're counting ships. It's what are our capabilities."
While technology has changed quite a bit since Ronald Reagan's tenure, the fundamentals are the same. Reagan left us with a 600-ship Navy, because he understood that no matter the capabilities, a ship can be in only one location at a time, and peace in the world depends on the U.S. Navy being in many locations. Nimitz-class aircraft carriers remain the workhorses of the Navy, and Ohio-class submarines still serve as a nuclear deterrent, but we have fewer of both since Reagan left office. And the carrier Enterprise is being decommissioned in a month, and the Gerald R. Ford won't enter service until at least 2015 -- pending budget figures, of course. If the president wishes us to "pivot to Asia," we will need ships to patrol the Pacific.
Bottom line: To maintain our status as the world's lone superpower, we must have ships, and we shouldn't settle for parity with potential enemies.
Oh, and by the way, the military actually has more bayonets now than in 1917, but who's counting? They're quite useful, too. Just ask our Marines.
Foreign policy is certainly about more than ships and bayonets -- and as much as we hate to break it to the president, it's about more than putting more teachers in the classroom, too -- but President Reagan achieved "peace through strength." If there are indeed enough adults in the country to defeat Barack Obama on Nov. 6, Mitt Romney must restore fiscal sanity at home, in part so that we can cultivate relations with our allies and deter our adversaries with the sure military might of the United States. We've had enough of blaming the military for America's debt woes, and blaming America for the world's dysfunction.
This Week's 'Alpha Jackass' Award
Two quotes earn the president this distinction this week:
"One thing I think Americans should be proud of: When Tunisians began to protest, this nation, me, my administration, stood with them earlier than just about any other country." --President Barack I-bama, conflating himself and the country
"You know, kids have good instincts. They look at the other guy and say, 'Well, that's a bulls--tter, I can tell.'" --Obama, using the typical tactic of socialist propaganda -- accuse your opponent of your own most prominent vulnerability
The BIG Lie
"[D]uring the entire section of the debate on the Middle East, Mitt Romney didn't bring up Israel once and I think it just shows he isn't committed to Israel as he says he is and has really only used the issue as a political opportunity." --DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Memo to Debbie: Romney mentioned Israel 14 times.
October Surprise -- 'Peace in Our Time'?
Depending on whom you believe, the Obama administration may have agreed to bilateral talks with Iran over the terror-sponsoring nation's nuclear program -- or not. The New York Times initially reported the talks as a done deal with huge foreign-policy benefit to the president, before changing its story following White House denials. The usual anonymous sources only muddied the waters, with some seeming to confirm while others downplayed or denied the story. The only person adding clarity was the president -- President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, that is. "If somebody thinks that he can bring the Iranian nation to the negotiating table and [to the resumption of] relations through ill temper and pressure, he is definitely wrong," he warned. "If they have such expectation, they should change their method and correct their behavior." This has been Iran's party line since 2004, and it doesn't indicate a nation eager to talk with its foremost enemy.
What possible motivation would Iran have to yield to pressure from the "Great Satan" and accept limits on its nuclear program with the enormous loss of face such an agreement would entail? Iran knows the UN will never authorize military action, a fact Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov emphasized earlier this week: "We will see to it that no [UN] resolution is open to interpretation like the one on Libya." Iran must know that Israel won't even bother to ask for UN permission. That leaves only the potential benefit of precluding unilateral U.S. action against Iran. But if Iran were willing to resist U.S. pressure even while that "warmongering cowboy" George W. Bush was making the decisions, that presents a serious challenge for the next U.S. president.
The whole thing smells of a White House desperate for any straw to clutch heading into the election and a Leftmedia equally desperate to throw a lifeline to the sinking candidacy of their Chosen One. Even assuming the Times' report were true, reasonable people might point to Iran's history of going back on its word. Iran promised to behave when it ratified the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and then spent the last decade ignoring that treaty's inspection requirements. Accepting a deal that weakens U.S. pressure in exchange for Iran's empty promises would undercut the last nine years of international efforts, reward Iran for its intransigence by making it an equal negotiating partner to the United States, and still not make it any more certain Iran had given up its nuclear ambitions.
The historical parallel to Munich in 1938 is chilling, and a new version of "peace in our time" may not be out of the question, given the Obama team's desperation.
The More Is Known About Benghazi, the Worse Obama Looks
The Obama regime's storyline on the 9/11 Benghazi attack further unraveled this week, leaving a trail of lies, incompetence and outright malfeasance that leads straight back to a criminally negligent White House. For weeks after the attack, in which it bears repeating that U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were murdered, Obama and his minions insisted that the attack was a spontaneous protest against an obscure and amateurish anti-Islam video from the Internet. Obama himself repeated this same line 14 days after the attack in a speech at the UN. But we now know that intelligence sources and official U.S. State Department emails definitively show that not only did the White House know within two hours that a terrorist attack was underway and not a spontaneous riot, but they also knew which terrorist group had claimed responsibility. Administration officials monitored the attack in real time via phone lines and drone video. In fact, the first email is time-stamped just 20-30 minutes after the attack began. This latest news proves that the White House knew the true story from the beginning and they used the video story to cover up the truth of Benghazi, all to shield Obama from the results of his own failed policies, and his phony campaign-stump claims that "al-Qa'ida is on the run."
While American diplomats and personnel fought the terrorists for seven hours, Obama's crack national-security team and the U.S. military simply watched and listened. U.S. fighters could have been on the scene in an hour offering support, and U.S. commandos within 3 hours, but no orders were given. A military-loathing, anti-American commander in chief sat on his hands while U.S. territory was attacked, a U.S. ambassador assassinated, and three other Americans murdered, and team Obama then devised a phony story to cover up for the disaster.
Meanwhile, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the alleged video maker, the Obama administration's scapegoat for inciting the Benghazi attack, is still being held at the Los Angeles Metropolitan Detention Center without bond for a parole violation. Nakoula's next court date is Nov. 9, which just happens to be three days after the presidential election. Very convenient for Team Obama, but what's another injustice when retaining power is the end game? Obama and his fellow miscreants simply must be removed from power.
Department of Military Correctness: 'Not a Terror Attack'
Reiterating its utter disregard for national security, for our men and women in uniform, and for the truth, the Obama administration, via the Pentagon, announced that it won't label as a terrorist attack the Fort Hood massacre of 14 Americans, including an unborn child, perpetrated by a radical Islamist. Instead, the Pentagon will cling to its description of the murderous anti-American rampage as "workplace violence." The classification means that the victims and their families will be denied the same compensation other wounded warriors receive, such as disability payments or Purple Hearts. In a lame excuse to 160 victims and family members, the Pentagon cited its reason as the "ongoing court martial proceedings of Major Nadal Hassan," suggesting that labeling the event a terrorist attack might somehow undermine the integrity of the court proceedings.
We're not buying it, and neither is national security law expert Mark Zaid, who finds the stated reason "difficult to believe." According to Zaid, "If that [were] the case, then how in the world would the Pentagon prosecute any terrorism case?" Indeed. Of course, as is so often the case with the Left, there's the stated reason and there's the real reason. And the latter, as the Heritage Foundation's James Carafano writes, undoubtedly relates to the fact that "acknowledging that terrorism is alive and well looks bad for the Obama Administration's rhetoric, which has portrayed Obama as having vanquished Osama bin Laden, thus ending the 'war on terrorism.'"
Obama's choosing to preserve his narrative over standing up for our troops by calling terrorism by its true name is, as one soldier wounded in the attack accurately stated, disgraceful.
From the 'Non Compos Mentis' File
Last weekend on CNN, the network's founder, Ted Turner, made a sickening statement. Here's the dialogue and video link:
Piers Morgan: You made the point to me in the break there, more American servicemen have --
Ted Turner: -- are dying now --
Morgan: -- from suicide --
Turner: -- from suicide over there than are dying in combat.
Morgan: That's shocking, isn't it?
Turner: Well, what -- no, I think it's t-- I think it's good, because it's so clear that we're programmed and we're born to love and help each other, not to kill each other, to destroy each other. That's an aberration. That's left over from hundreds of years ago. It's time for to us start acting enlightened.
Government and Politics
Hope 'n' Change: He Has a Plan!
Barack Obama announced he was running for re-election a full 18 months ago, and, finally, with two weeks to go until Election Day, he formally announced his plans for a second term. On Tuesday, after the third presidential debate, the Obama campaign released a glossy-covered 20-page booklet called "The New Economic Patriotism: A Plan for Jobs and Middle-Class Security" that outlines his plans for a second term. They printed 3.5 million copies, distributing 1.5 million to field offices around the country.
Watch as the president couldn't find his plan ... literally.
The booklet is heavy on photographs of Obama and light on substance, and it reads like a hastily written document of rehashed and discredited soundbites from the campaign trail. It borrows heavily from Obama's promises from his first campaign that never came to fruition. Among the list of second-term plans are hiring 100,000 more public school teachers (you may have heard that a time or two), offering more temporary tax breaks to companies that hire new workers, and training two million workers for new jobs. The president also promises to broaden the base for domestic energy production, and, of course, "ask" the wealthy to pay a little more in taxes. Sticking it to the wealthy is, of course, the meaning behind his Orwellian title, "The New Economic Patriotism."
Obama said all these things in 2008 and he won. Will it work again when he's the incumbent and has a record? Instead of focusing on the economy, he spent his first year in office ramming through the single worst law of his time, ObamaCare. Meanwhile, his call to raise taxes on the top 2 percent of taxpayers will raise at the most $80 billion in additional revenue per year. With trillion-dollar annual budgets that are projected throughout this decade, that won't even come close to funding the government that's already in place, let alone the "investments" Obama is calling for in the next four years. Worse, those tax increases will undercut what little economic growth we have and send us spiraling into recession again.
Also touted in the booklet is expanded energy production, but Obama has been at war with coal, slowed the granting of oil and gas exploration permits on public lands and stopped the Keystone XL pipeline in his first term. Only a fool would believe he'd make a 180-degree turn on energy in his next four years.
The campaign's sudden interest in producing a second-term agenda, or rather a shiny brochure to distract the media, indicates that talking about his record is something Obama wants to avoid. He hasn't earned a second term, so he first hoped to defeat Mitt Romney by demonizing him as an out-of-touch elitist, while relying on his own rhetorical magic from 2008. But that hasn't worked. Many are beginning to see Obama's real record, while Mitt Romney has proven to be a formidable candidate with a real plan of his own, not the caricature the Left made him out to be. Voters should view the booklet as akin to a D-grade term paper written by a college student the night before it was due.
This Week's 'Braying Jackass' Award
"Well, the math stuff I was fine with up until about seventh grade. But Malia is now a freshman in high school and I'm pretty lost." --Barack Obama
No wonder his economic recovery is the worst since the Great Depression.
From the Left: UN to Watch for Voter Fraud?
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), a United Nations affiliated group, will be bringing 44 observers from its offices to monitor American elections on Nov. 6. The group includes representatives from Germany, France, Serbia, Kazakhstan and other nations, and they will fan out to polling places in several battleground states to keep an eye out for incidences of potential voter fraud and intimidation. OSCE was invited to observe the U.S. elections by a number of leftist groups, including the NAACP and the ACLU, who claim that there is "a coordinated political effort to disenfranchise millions of Americans -- particularly traditionally disenfranchised groups like minorities." Traditionally?
The organization has no jurisdiction over American elections, and it's been completely impotent in its attempts to support democratic institutions and human rights in countries that are legitimately in need of help. But that's to be expected when its commissions are populated with representatives from thugocracies like Syria and Iran. Besides, if there's any real threat of voter fraud -- and there is -- it's from Democrat political machines like those that run Chicago, Philadelphia and other major cities, where the motto is "vote early and vote often." On top of that, stories of early voter fraud cropped up this week in Florida, Colorado and Michigan, while the son of Rep. James Moran (D-VA) just resigned from his campaign post after being caught advising an undercover reporter how to commit voter fraud.
In related news, Barack Obama held a little-publicized conference call with a group of black preachers last week that included his own well-known America-hating preacher of 20 years, Rev. Jeremiah Wright. It's part of Obama's low-key campaign strategy to drum up support among the black ranks, which seem less motivated to support him than in 2008. Obama will garner 95 percent of the black vote in any case, but lower turnout could hurt. He needs black religious leaders to get out the black vote because, in this election, his margin for victory is too close to take any vote for granted.
Mourdock Says Life Is Precious, Left Screams in Terror
Indiana Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock found himself embroiled in controversy this week after answering a question during a debate with his opponent, Democrat Rep. Joe Donnelly. The question was about abortion in the case of rape, and Mourdock answered, "I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from God. And, I think, even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen."
Predictably, the Left, always looking to divert attention from the Obama economy, waxed hysterical, comparing Mourdock to Missouri's Todd Akin and decrying another example of the GOP's supposed "war on women." This was nothing of the sort.
Unlike Akin, who was just plain wrong in his comments, Mourdock was expressing the entirely defensible view that life created by rape is no less precious in God's eyes -- the very thing Akin should have said. Indeed, after the debate, Mourdock added, "God creates life, and that was my point. God does not want rape, and by no means was I suggesting that He does. Rape is a horrible thing, and for anyone to twist my words otherwise is absurd and sick."
Mourdock's real "offense" was two-fold: He acknowledged God as the giver of life, and he used that to deny the "right" to the Left's ultimate religious sacrament of abortion. The episode further underscores the need for Republican candidates to be prepared for this "gotcha" question, as it is a minefield if approached without the greatest of care.
Billy Graham and Clint Eastwood Back Romney
The Rev. Billy Graham recently purchased ads in Ohio urging people "to vote for candidates who support the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman, protect the sanctity of life and defend our religious freedoms." Sounds like a plan to us, but Obama-supporter Rev. Markel Hutchins rejected this biblical premise, saying, "I think one of the things that we know is that Reverend Graham is at a very seasoned and elder stage of his life so we have to wonder how much of this is genuinely coming from Billy Graham and how much is being fed to him and propositioned and heaped upon him by those who are around him. For example, his ultraconservative son, the Reverend Franklin Graham."
In other words, don't argue the points, just imply that Graham is senile.
Speaking of people written off as senile, Clint Eastwood says to vote for Romney because Obama hasn't gotten the job done. He's right.
Around the Nation: Cash Is King, but It's Sitting on the Sidelines
With every election comes uncertainty, but the 2012 election has much more of a "wait and see" component than any other in recent memory. Even in 2008, when financial markets were in shock from a September meltdown, the feeling of crisis somewhat subsided once it became clear that big government would step in and "fix it" regardless of who won.
But the looming "fiscal cliff" of massive spending cuts and tax increases has placed the business world in a state of great worry and uncertainty this year. Add in the fact that GDP growth has slowed year after year for the past three (though it was up to a whole 2 percent in the second quarter -- to be revised down after the election?) and it's no wonder that companies that comprise the S&P 500 are sitting on $1.5 trillion in cash. That's surely enough to create millions of jobs, but it's locked away because these producers can't make economic predictions until they know who wins the election.
While many companies are exceeding rather paltry earnings expectations, experts worry that a potential business slowdown may affect the next several quarters. This will cause companies to hunker down even more and slow what little hiring and investment they still do to a crawl. The situation is dire, and truly the difference between a depression and happy days being here again rests in the hands of voters. Choose wisely.
Regulatory Commissars: Obama's EPA Steps in It Again
Modern infrastructure in most cities and towns is a wonderful thing: Every time someone flushes, the byproduct is transported through a network of pipes, treated to remove the solids and bacteria, and the effluent is released as relatively clean water. Unfortunately, a few times a year during heavy rains the system doesn't work as well and untreated sewage finds its way to rivers and streams -- a safety mechanism that protects homeowners from a messy backup into their basements.
But that's not good enough for the modern EPA, which has bullied 25 cities (and counting) into committing to spend billions of dollars on upgrading their sewer systems. That money has to come from somewhere, and more often than not it's from the pockets of municipal customers. Case in point: Lima, Ohio, a medium-sized city where annual sewer bills will rise from $333 to $872 thanks to a consent decree the EPA imposed on the town. Lima's average annual income of $26,000 won't increase quite as quickly as their bill.
With modern technology and prudent improvements, cities have reduced the amount of contaminants discharged during dry weather by 85 percent over the last two decades. But, using the Clean Water Act as its cudgel, the EPA demands ever more, to the eventual tune of $300 billion that cities just don't have. No one likes dirty water, but there's a point where diminishing returns fade to nothing and billions are wasted on a pipe dream.
More Unintended Consequences of Growing Our Fuel
It's been nearly a decade since ethanol was pumped into the energy marketplace through government edict. And while many in the agricultural industry have made a killing from the various mandates and subsidies, the typical food consumer has seen the price of food necessarily skyrocket, while gasoline also remains an expensive commodity.
Yet this growing demand for corn as a terribly inefficient motor fuel via the production of ethanol has increased its price to a point where those who depend on corn as animal feed are finding they can't profitably raise livestock and poultry any longer. In California alone, an estimated 100 dairy farms may go bankrupt this year due to increasing feed prices, and the resulting diminished supply promises to tighten the market enough to drastically increase the price of milk and many other dairy items.
The same goes for poultry producers, as growers are squeezed by the higher feed prices. Another California farm operation, turkey grower Zacky Farms, was forced into bankruptcy due to surging commodity prices and slack demand for poultry products over the last several years. That declining demand can be traced to increased retail prices.
There is, however, an "out" clause in the ethanol mandate in cases of national emergency, and six states, including major poultry producers like Maryland, Delaware, North Carolina and Arkansas, have called on the Obama EPA to waive the mandate under that clause. But the agency has taken no action and seems deaf to their pleas for help. No surprise there.
The Obama campaign is desperately trying to shore up the electoral map, as it watches numerous states slip back into the "red" column. These include North Carolina, Florida, Virginia, Colorado and even Nevada. Of course, Nevada has been harder hit than most by the Obama jobs crisis, so it's little wonder that they're hedging their bets after losing the Hope 'n' Change gamble of 2008. In one of their desperate efforts to keep the state blue, Democrats dispatched to the campaign trail a woman who testified to Congress about how her great need for birth control had become a financial burden. We're of course describing one Sandra Fluke, the former Georgetown law student who spoke Saturday in Reno at the local Sak 'N Save. Alas, only 10 people showed up, making her presentation a rather intimate gathering. It was somewhat better in Carson City, where word on the street is that more than a dozen people flocked to the event. But look on the bright side: If all the listeners chipped in, they could probably cover her feminine needs for a couple of years, and maybe -- just maybe -- she'd let the rest of us be.
Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!
Nate Jackson for The Patriot Post Editorial Team