Sunday, January 18, 2015

Can You Tolerate A Government that Lies to You?

“The social contract is nothing more or less than a vast conspiracy of human beings to lie to and humbug themselves and one another for the general good. Lies are the mortar that bind the savage individual man into the social masonry.” H.G. Wells

We Americans put up with an awful lot of plain old evil in our society; but there is one thing that we simply will not tolerate—that is a government that tells us lies. Lately, the American people have had a very strong suspicion that the government has been lying to us about the scandal at the IRS, the Fast and Furious scandal, and the debacle at Benghazi, Libya. It has been very hard to know just how many of our suspicions have been true, because of the skillful way the administration has covered up the facts.

Under the Freedom of Information Act, the large majority of governmental information is supposed to be available to the people; but the executive branch has worked hard, time and time, again, to keep important information away from the public and from legislators who need the information in order to design laws. Congressional committees have had great difficulty getting information out of the executive branch. Some legal watchdog groups like Judicial Watch have had better success in getting the President and his helpers to turn over information; but even they have had huge difficulties obtaining information. Following is a list of excuses the administration has used to deny information to people who need it:

“You can’t have it because of ‘executive privilege.’” “You can’t have it because it is in an ongoing investigation.” “You can’t have it because it is classified (by the President).” “You can’t have it because the effort to get it will be too onerous.” “You can’t have it because all of our computers crashed simultaneously.” “You can’t have it because there is no pertinent information there, anyway. Trust me.” “I only knew about that when I read it in the newspaper.” “That happened more than six months ago. Forget it.” “Nobody told me about that. I can’t be connected with that problem.”  “We’re putting that on hold; we’ll get it to you later (months later).” “We had no reason to believe the data was located there.” “If you want that information, you have to sue us for it.” And then…when they finally turn over some information, all the important data is blacked out! I ask you—is this freedom of information? There may be some truth to some of the above excuses; but, by and large, these excuses indicate cover-up of government failures.

“Transparency” in government has become a joke in this administration, despite the fact that President Obama promised before he was elected that if he were elected President, he would institute the most transparent administration in history.

Well, it seems that there will never be anything like transparency in this administration. Nevertheless, the American people seem to have suspected a deliberate cover-up of information that might be damaging to the administration; and they have acted on that suspicion. The electorate has placed in the House of Representatives the largest majority of Republicans in years; and they have elected ten more seats in the Senate than the Democrats occupy.

It is my personal opinion that the President should be impeached and replaced with someone who will be more honest with the American people.  

Friday, January 9, 2015

America’s Failed Foreign Policy

We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.  Winston Churchill

A recent Wall Street Journal article of 12-30-14 outlines pretty well the sad and desperate state of United States “foreign policy,” if that is what it might be called.

ISIL, or Islamic State, rose to dominate much of Iraq after its armed forces captured the northern city of Mosul in June, followed by a sweep toward Baghdad.

Islamic State’s rise was made possible not merely because the U.S. wound down its military presence in Iraq but because Mr. Obama chose to eliminate that presence. Under intense pressure from the Pentagon and our regional allies, the White House later in the year committed useful if limited air support to the Iraqi army battling Islamic State. Without question, the U.S. was behind the curve, and with dire consequences.

Islamic State’s success has emboldened or triggered other jihadist movements, despite Mr. Obama’s assurance that the war on terror was fading.

Radical Islamists are grabbing territory from U.S. allies in Yemen. They have overrun Libya’s capital and threaten its oil fields. Boko Haram in Nigeria, the kidnappers of some 275 schoolgirls in April, adopted the ISIL terror model. U.S. allies in the Middle East, such as Saudi Arabia and Jordan, are struggling to cope with the violence spreading out of Syria and Iraq. Mr. Obama can only hope that the Afghan Taliban do not move now to retake Kandahar after he announced this week with premature bravado “the end of the combat mission.”

In February, the crisis in Ukraine began and worsened quickly, as Vladimir Putin’s Russian forces occupied Crimea. Next came the Russian incursion into eastern Ukraine, with a Malaysian airliner shot down in July, killing 283 passengers. Through it all, Mr. Obama refused the pleas of Ukraine and staunch allies such as Poland to provide the Ukrainian army with the basic means to defend itself. He limited his support to non-military supplies, such as battlefield food rations.

The danger is that Mr. Putin, supported at home by a massive anti-U.S. propaganda campaign, will next move on Moldova or Estonia, even in the face of Western economic sanctions. The collapse of world oil prices has intervened to force Mr. Putin to confront his own weak economy, but the threat of Russian expansion remains.

President Obama’s attitude toward foreign policy is encapsulated in one of his recent remarks on NPR “I believe in diplomacy, I believe in dialogue, I believe in engagement.” He said Iran could be “a very successful regional power” that is “abiding by international norms and rules.”

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Duplicity and Guile of the American Left

“Full of wiles, full of guile, at all times, in all ways. Are the children of men.” Aristophanes 450-385 B.C.

We are seeing so called “political” activity in the United States, which is nothing less than pure hypocrisy and deception carried on by left-leaning politicians now settled firmly in the Democrat Party. The Democrats have lied and deceived (to wit, think about red lines, “you can keep your doctor,” Obamacare will save the nation money, etc., etc.). The best example of this duplicity is the recent damage that has been done to our foreign policy by the political maneuvering incident to the wars in which we have engaged in the Middle East. A brief review of this shameful behavior is in order.

Following the end of the Iran-Iraq War in 1988, the UN issued no less than 16 resolutions requiring Saddam Hussein to relieve the stresses on his people by providing them with food, medical supplies, and other goods needed for decent living. Saddam consistently ignored those resolutions; and the result was a final warning in the form of UN Resolution 1441UN Resolution 1441, requiring Iraq to respond favorable to the previous resolutions or suffer severe consequences. Still, Iraq did not quit the persecution of Iraqi citizens.

The First Gulf War was waged against Iraq from 8/90-1/91 by the United States and 34 other nations. That war was carried out under United States leadership of 34 participant nations because of Iraq’s invasion and annexation of Kuwait. George H. W. Bush was President at the time.

The United States went to war against Iraq again in 2003, this time as a move to remove the regime of Saddam Hussein. “Liberal” or “progressive” politicians criticized this second Iraq War of 2003 begun under the administration of George W. Bush. The claimed criticism of that second Iraq War was ostensibly because President Bush had decided to go to war “unilaterally, deceptively, and in haste,” or, in the words of John Kerry, the war was “the wrong war, in the wrong place, at the wrong time.”

The facts of the situation, however, were quite different from the left’s formulation. The policy to remove the regime in Iraq by force did not originate with either Bush president; it was put in place by Bill Clinton when he signed the Iraqi Liberation Act in November of 1998. That Act was designed to change the dictatorial and tyrannical regime in Iraq subsequent to the end of the Iran-Iraq war. That war had been fought to a standstill between 1980 and 1988. The war had cost over 1 million deaths and had been prosecuted by Iraq partly through the use of nerve gas and mustard gas—weapons of mass destruction.  Iraq had killed over 100,000 Iranians and Kurds with those weapons.

The Iraqi Liberation Act of 1998 was passed by the House on a vote of 360 to 38; and it passed the Senate unanimously; it was signed by President Clinton. John Kerry, among other Democrats in the Senate, was in full-throated support of the Act. In December, President Clinton ordered the implementation of Operation Desert Fox, which consisted of a huge barrage of 450 cruise missiles and multiple bombs from B1 bombers, aimed at military targets inside of Iraq. That attack destroyed vast amounts of military infrastructure in Iraq.

The second Iraq War was carried out because the missile attack begun in the Clinton years had been unsuccessful in unseating Saddam in Iraq; and the hostile actions against his people and neighboring nations had continued. When Saddam refused to comply with all 16 UN Resolutions, President Bush went to Congress and obtained authorization to use force against Iraq. Both houses of Congress approved this authorization; and that vote included a majority of Democrats in the Senate. President Bush also got an authorization from NATO, and he formed a coalition of 40 nations to carry out the war. The American people were told that the war was necessary in order to assure the world that Saddam did not have any weapons of mass destruction, which were believed to exist by the UN Security Council. Congress voted to support the war based on the National Intelligence Estimate provided by the intelligence community of the United States in October of 2002.

No new weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq; but that country had already demonstrated its ability to use those WMD’s in the form of chemicals against Iran in the previous war.

Although the Democrats had approved the second Iraqi War, they turned against the President within three months of the onset of war. Democrats had charged that the Second Iraq War had been started by President H.W. Bush without consultation and in undue haste. Making the decision to go to war in Iraq was a process that had taken 10 months. Every significant authority was consulted, and agreed that force was necessary. Yet, once U.S. troops actually entered Iraq on March 19, 2003, it took only 3 months for the Democrats to betray them, and to betray the President, by turning their backs on the war they had authorized and supported. Public opinion had turned against President Bush and the government for prosecuting the war; and the only apparent reason for Democrat opposition was purely political.

I think that America absolutely has to quit sending deceivers and liars to Congress and to the presidency. Our nation deserves better than that.   

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Progressives in New York Border on Anarchism

The movement of Progressives and other leftists in New York and Washington is very dismaying to me. The Wall Street Journal has spoken out against protests against the police, as noted by a quote below. I seems to me that the American left is asking for anarchy—that is exactly what we will get if we trash our police departments.

In urban America, the police walk a line between civilization and mayhem every day. Yet since the Garner and Brown episodes, the progressive leaders in New York and Washington have talked and behaved as if the police are society’s main problem.

Eric Holder has sent federal agents to second-guess grand juries and “reform” local police as if he assumes these police chiefs and prosecutors are biased. The New York City Council staged a “die-in” as fallen victims of police.

And progressives have failed to denounce protestors who have disrupted civic life, rampaged through stores, and even assaulted police who tried to arrest law-breakers. All of this has contributed to a public climate of suspicion and hate against police in which a man like Ismaaiyl Brinsley can in his deranged mind think it is justified to stalk and execute two cops on the beat.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Rebuttal to Senate Intelligence Committee Report

Yesterday I posted a blog, which outlined the characteristics of the recent Senate Intelligence Committee report having to do with enhanced interrogation techniques used by the CIA prior to their discontinuation in 2009. The blog sought to say why the Democrat members of the Committee opposed the techniques and the reasons the Republicans on the Committee opposed the report. Now, however, I want to express my own opinion of the released report.

I believe that the report was obviously political in its essence. In spite of all the ethical, high-minded, patriotic rhetoric coming from the Committee Chairwoman, Senator Dianne Feinstein, I don’t believe a word of it. The document was obviously meant to draw one last gasp of criticism against the administration of President George W. Bush before the Republican-dominated Senate and Congress is seated. The publishing of that report would never be allowed by a Republican Senate.

Any government report that is endorsed by only one party with the total objection of the other party is highly suspect of being a partisan, political, statement and not a well-rounded and well thought-out piece of truth finding.

Critics of the report ably point out that the report was submitted to the public without giving a good consideration to the CIA’s statement; and the majority members of the Committee (the Democrats) did not even attend most of the 60 hours of meetings with the CIA designed to explain their side of the questions being considered. The report was published  without first submitting it to the Intelligence Community for fact checking.

The real damage done by the report, however, is the damage it has done to the function of the CIA and other intelligence agencies that seek to keep our nation safe from terrorist attack. No reasonable intelligence agent is going to take any risks to his own safety from damage meted out by government liberals or any other members of the “blame America first” bunch for doing his job of finding terrorist offenders and bringing them to justice. That report has put an end to covert action necessary to run an effective intelligence agency.

The report’s findings of errors could have been used effectively by the government to correct errors without publishing it to the general public and overseas observers and, thus, stirring up a firestorm of criticism against American intelligence agencies. This report should have been used in another way. But…politics comes first!   

On top of all that, production of the report absorbed no less than $40 million of tax-payer money!!

If any of my readers have not read yesterday’s blog, I would suggest that you go to http://manringen.blogspot.com and go the blog dated 12 December 2014.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Is It Torture or Justice?


“…peacefulness in the face of a grave wrong that could only be stopped by violence would be a sin. Defense of one's self or others could be a necessity, especially when authorized by a legitimate authority.” Saint Augustine
 

The news is full of articles today about America’s C.I.A. interrogation tactics. We learn there is a great difference of opinion about the effectiveness of the C.I.A.’s methods of getting information out of “detainees” at various facilities around the world. How can we know who is right?

Several things can be certain: These “detainees” are not regular prisoners of war. They have targeted thousands of our own civilians and killed them—3000 at one time on 9/11. They have killed their own people by the hundreds and probably more. These “detainees” are not uniformed military soldiers; and in the history of warfare, non-uniformed combatants like these would have been summarily executed as spies and saboteurs. At least one of the detainees worked on the attack of the USS Cole.

How have we treated them? After costing the lives of our own soldiers who captured them, they were “read their Miranda rights?” (Miranda rights are rights for the American people. The captured killers, not being American citizens, do not have any legal rights under U.S. law.) Next, their “legal cases” were transferred out of military courts into the civilian courts—supposedly because military courts are more likely to be too harsh on them. Lately, the government has been transferring the prisoners out of Guantanamo into various places—the last cohort of prisoners were sent to Uruguay—does that make any sense?

Senator Diane Feinstein, in her report believes that interrogation techniques were “cruel, inhuman, and degrading.” Far be it from us to do anything “degrading” to people who randomly murder 3000 innocent Americans!

The Democrats (only) on the Senate Intelligence Committee  issued the recent report on how the torture procedures of the C.I.A. has been so unfair and vicious to these “detainees.” The committee report has specified that

1)      Enhanced interrogation techniques were not an effective means of gaining useful information. The most efficacious method of getting information out of detainees was to confront them with information already known by the intelligence community.
    
  2)  Conditions of confinement were more harsh than represented by the C.I.A.

3)      C.I.A. provided inaccurate information to D.O.J. about the techniques being used.

4)      C.I.A. actively avoided Congressional and executive oversight of its use of interrogation techniques.

5)      C.I.A.’s activities impeded the other intelligence agencies from doing their jobs effectively. Their work even impeded the oversight of the agency’s own Office of Inspector General.

6)      CIA detained people who were not legally authorized for detention.

7)      C.I.A. gave inaccurate information about its interrogation techniques to the media.

8)      CIA ignored criticisms of its activities by internal operatives.

9)      CIA did not evaluate the effectiveness of its interrogation procedures.

10)      Other countries that hosted the detention centers put pressure on the U.S. to quit coercive interrogation techniques.

Ex-Vice President Cheney and other members of the Bush administration, along with a large majority of the American people believed, after the 9/11 debacle that America should protect itself as a top priority; and coercive techniques for getting information out of perpetrators of terror from al Qaeda should be used if necessary. No holds were barred by the American population as a whole, during that stressful time. It has also been true that no organized terror strike against America has taken place since 9/11 thanks to the diligence of the Central Intelligence Agency.

A minority view of Republican committee report by Senators Chambliss, Burr, Risch, Coats, Rubio, and Coburn has asserted:

Minority members were largely excluded from contributing to the final report because they were not given enough opportunity to review the report. Majority members did not consistently attend the meetings set up by the CIA to explain their interrogation techniques. And…CIA’s response of 6/27/13 was largely ignored. The committee, itself, decided not to interview relevant witnesses. The committee report has cost the taxpayers $40 million to complete; and it has no recommendations for further action.

Following is a list of links that bear on the subject of enhanced interrogation techniques used by the CIA:

1)      Senate Intelligence Committee report on torture http://1.usa.gov/1D3JftU 

2)      Republican minority response to majority Democrat Senate Intelligence Committee report on torture http://1.usa.gov/1qrrxuu

3)      CIA response to Senate Intelligence Committee report on torture  http://nyti.ms/1zpD9zY

4)      Justifiable war theory http://bit.ly/1zYbO6a

5)      Justifiable homicide http://bit.ly/1vYkk6a

6)      Miranda rights http://bit.ly/1zgCT5l

Just because something bears the aspect of the inevitable one should not, therefore, go along willingly with it. Philip K. Dick

Ed and Nancy Manring

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Who Is Dominant in the World, U.S.A. or China?

In the United States’ recent “pivot to Asia,” we see our government reemphasizing the fact that our country needs to reassess our relationship to the Far East. A problem of political and military dominance in the area obviously exists.

We, Americans have steadfastly considered ourselves the saviors of the world, as concerning how a country should model itself. Henry Kissinger has recently emphasized in his book, “World Order,” that American exceptionalism seeks to show the world how a legitimate political arrangement should be manifest in all nations. He points out that a legitimate government must provide its people with influence in their government, a modicum of civil rights, and a free and open market for goods and services. It must also provide safety to its people by maintaining an effective military establishment. We see the United States as a “missionary” power filled with the righteous conviction that it must usher the earth to liberty and democracy.

The Chinese see themselves as an anti-missionary power convinced by their own bitter experiences of foreign domination that nonintervention in the affairs of other states is a necessary form of respect. The traditional Chinese view of world affairs is that China has the only proven model of national policy; the Chinese see their country as one that will eventually lead the whole world by setting an example of peace and non-intervention into the internal affairs of other nations. They have a vision of their nation’s eventual dominance, which will come about through their quiet and peaceful attitude built up by their concept of their own moral rectitude.

However, a look at the history of China reveals that the nation has hardly been a model of peace and nonintervention in the affairs of neighboring nations. The history of the Song dynasty (960-1279) and the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) shows that Confucian China was far from being a pacifist state. On the contrary, Song and Ming leaders preferred to settle disputes by force when they felt the country was strong, and in general, China was expansionist whenever it enjoyed a preponderance of power. As a regional hegemon, the early Ming China launched eight large-scale attacks on the Mongols, annexed Vietnam as a Chinese province, and established naval dominance in the region.

In the early fifteenth century, the Chinese dispatched seven spectacular voyages led by Zheng He to Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East, and East Africa. That Chinese fleet consisted of 27,000 soldiers on 250 ships-which allowed the Chinese to "shock and awe" foreigners into submission. The Chinese fleet engaged in widespread "power projection" activities, expanding the Confucian tribute system and disciplining unruly states. As a result, many foreigners came to the Ming court to pay tribute. Moreover, the supposedly peaceful Zheng He used military force at least three times; he even captured the king of modern-day Sri Lanka and delivered him to China for disobeying Ming authority.

No matter how the Chinese want to think of themselves as passive observers of the world scene, not intervening in the affairs of other nations, it is simply not so.

The American dream of victory for the American model rests in a belief that our enlightened self-interest in the name of the collective good on a shrinking planet will carry the day in foreign policy. What will matter above all is the capacity of the United States and China to avoid fatal misunderstanding. In a state of mutual incomprehension, clashing interests will escalate.

 http://nyti.ms/1vPW9Fb (This is the article by Roger Cohen in NYT 10-20-14. China Versus America)

The Myth of Chinese Exceptionalism by Stephen M. Walt 3-6-14 in foreign Affairs. http://atfp.co/1vQioLl