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Friday, August 1, 2014

Obama military downsizing leaves U.S. too weak to counter global threats, panel finds

www.washingtontimes.com
Obama military downsizing leaves U.S. too weak to counter global threats, panel finds

** FILE ** In this May 1, 2014, file photo, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel speaks to reporters at the Pentagon. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

An independent panel appointed by the Pentagon and Congress said Thursday that President Obama's strategy for sizing the armed services is too weak for today's global threats.

The National Defense Panel called on the president to dump a major section of his 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) and write a broader strategy that requires the military to fight on multiple fronts at once.

It also said the shrinking U.S. armed forces, which are being downsized to fit that strategy and budget cuts, is a "serious strategic misstep on the part of the United States." The forces' numbers spelled out in Mr. Obama's QDR are "inadequate given the future strategic and operational environment."

The warning comes as Mr. Obama is under criticism from many Republicans and some Democrats for his standoff policy toward Syria and his limited response to a June offensive by an al Qaeda offshoot that has gobbled up swaths of territory in Iraq.

Congress authorized the panel of outside experts to review the QDR, a strategy for shaping the active and reserve force. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel appointed the co-chairmen: former Defense Secretary William Perry, who served under President Bill Clinton, and retired Army Gen. John Abizaid, who ran U.S. Central Command during the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq.

The panel's report said the past several years of budget cuts and mandated reduction in personnel and weapons have stirred deep unease among allies who would count on the U.S. in a crisis.

"Not only have they caused significant investment shortfalls in U.S. military readiness and both present and future capabilities, they have prompted our current and potential allies and adversaries to question our commitment and resolve," the report said. "Unless reversed, these shortfalls will lead to a high-risk force in the near future. That in turn will lead to an America that is not only less secure but also far less prosperous. In this sense, these cuts are ultimately self-defeating."

It calls the defense cuts "dangerous" as "global threats and challenges are rising." The experts point to China's and Russia's new territorial claims, nuclear proliferation by Iran and North Korea and al Qaeda's rapid rise in Iraq.

The panel knocks Mr. Obama's QDR for reducing the military's global mission from being able to defeat two enemies nearly simultaneously to defeating one and denying the objectives of a second. The report calls on Mr. Obama to expand this overriding mission statement.

"The international security environment has deteriorated since then," the report said of the QDR, which was released earlier this year. "In the current threat environment, America could plausibly be called upon to deter or fight in any number of regions in overlapping time frames."

Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon, California Republican and chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said the independent review shows the QDR was more concerned with justifying budget cuts than meeting global security needs.

"It is the same conclusion many Americans have already reached," Mr. McKeon said. "There is a cost when America does not lead, and there are consequences when America disengages. What the president fails to understand — which the report points out — is that a strong military underwrites all other tools our nation has for global influence."

On the two-war requirement, the panel said: "We find the logic of the two-war construct to be as powerful as ever and note that the force sizing construct in the 2014 QDR strives to stay within the two-war tradition while using different language. But given the worsening threat environment, we believe a more expansive force sizing construct — one that is different from the two-war construct but no less strong — is appropriate."

It proposes a new overriding strategy requirement that talks of taking on and stopping adversaries in multiple theaters of war.

The experts said both the Navy and the Air Force are too small.

"The Air Force now fields the smallest and oldest force of combat aircraft in its history yet needs a global surveillance and strike force able to rapidly deploy to theaters of operation to deter, defeat or punish multiple aggressors simultaneously," the review group said.

Cuts in the numbers of Army soldiers "go too far," the panel said.

The panel included national security experts who were in the Pentagon when some of the Obama administration budget decisions were being made. They include retired Marine Gen. James Cartwright, former Joint Chiefs vice chairman, and Michele Flournoy, who served as under secretary of defense for policy until 2012.

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

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The Hamas Plan

The Hamas Plan

Here is a picture that is making the rounds. I can't vouch for its authenticity. It purports to be the picture of a man who may or may not be the children's father, literally hanging them on what is reported to be his house in order to prevent Israeli forces from shelling his home.

Again I cannot vouch for the authenticity of this picture in any way, but if it is authentic, it presupposes one fact not present in the photo; namely that the person hanging the children on his house to prevent IDF forces from shelling it, KNOWS that Hamas forces are either launching rockets, mortars, or shooting at Israeli soldiers or civilians from somewhere NEAR his house, thus turning it into a Military target.

That part I can guarantee you is accurate because it is Hamas doctrine; to fire at Israeli civilians and soldiers from within densely populated neighborhoods, schools, hospitals and mosques. That is because their doctrine, as a terrorist army fighting a Western democracy, is to commit acts of terror against us, while claiming the mantle of victimhood for themselves. That quite simply is the way they fight; shoot from a neighborhood or near a school or hospital. If you kill our soldiers, or better still, our civilians, that's a victory. If we return fire and kill one of their civilians, however, that's the sweetest victory of all, and part of the world buys it, and in so doing, assures that there will be more babies to hide behind in order to create more scenes of dead children and wailing mothers. In that way they are not terrorists in the eyes of many well intentioned people in the west. They are a " Resistance" movement.

 

This war is Hamas's offensive. They had a plan and from their point of view it was a good one. Read any objective analysis you like from any objective source. They all say the exact same thing; Hamas was facing pressure from within. On the one hand they were unable, through a combination of greed and mismanagement, to pay forty thousand of their own workers and more importantly their soldiers. They were in fear of being ousted for the commonest reason any government is tossed aside by it's populace: their people's lives were miserable, they hadn't delivered on any of their promises.

And people were fed up. On the other hand, they were being pressured by even more radical groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda and Islamic Jihad for not being militant enough. So they decided an offensive against Israel, a new war, their third in five years, would both enhance their prestige and provide an excuse for the misery of their people. They would deliver a " divine victory" that would deal with both their problems.

And they had excellent reason to believe it would succeed. Because they had developed a secret weapon. Google "Hamas promises surprises" and you'll see them bragging about the "surprise" they have waiting for Israel and the world. It was the tunnels, or more precisely a network of dozens of tunnels, interconnecting and going beneath Israel's border, and coming up right next to, and, at times, inside Israel's farming communities along the border.

The original plan, we now know, called for a mass attack of hundreds of terrorists emerging from the tunnels on Rosh Hashanah, a time when each communal dining hall in the farming villages would be packed with as many as eight hundred people in each one, men, women and especially children who would be killed, maimed, drugged, handcuffed, and dragged back through the tunnels into underground prisons in Gaza. We know that because in addition to weapons, they were carrying handcuffs and tranquilizers. For Israel it would have been the biggest catastrophe in its history, quite literally the worst disaster to befall the Jewish people since the Holocaust.

How could Israel have counter attacked with hundreds of hostages, women and children in Hamas' hands? Hamas would have been able to say for every bullet you fire we will kill one child  -- and show you his mutilated body. We will execute him and post it on YouTube. What would Israel have done? What could it have done?

But there was one problem with that plan. It was so horrifically barbaric that the entire world would have been against Hamas. They had to find a way in which to turn such barbarism into " resistance" into the only way these victims of Zionist aggression could fight back against tanks nd fighter planes.

The answer was simple. Drag Israel into a war and then carry out a series of smaller terrorist tunnel attacks. Israel had traded 1000 convicted terrorists for one soldier. What would they trade for a few dozen women and children?

And how do you drag Israel into a war it will do anything to avoid? Simple again, kidnap And murder three school boys on their way home from school. Amazingly, and certainly to their disappointment, Israel didn't take the bait. Not one shot was fired into Gaza. Instead Israel searched frantically for the boys and rounded up every Hamas operative it could find in the West Bank.

When the kidnapping and murder of three boys didn't get a response, Hamas began its rocket attacks, and still Israel refrained from anything but the mildest response, bombing emptyHamas training camps and saying calm would be answered with calm. So Hamas ratcheted up the rocket attacks until Israel had to respond with an aerial campaign. After eight days and some 190 Palestinians killed, Egypt proposed a cease-fire. Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority  endorsed it, the US And EU welcomed it, the Arab League endorsed it... and Israel accepted it immediately and unconditionally.

That was Hamas' worst nightmare. Their over one thousand rocket attacks had done nothing, and yet their people's lives were even more miserable. They could blame the bad economy on Israeli bombing but at that point the destruction was not great enough to distract attention from their utter and complete failure, both in peace and in war. But they had the secret weapon that would allow them to commit the greatest terrorist attack ever perpetrated against the Zionist enemy. The Divine Victory at last!

So they launched a massive rocket attack as a cover for the terrorist tunnel attack they launched later in the day. Israeli forces however, detected, destroyed and drove back the few terrorists who were not killed into their tunnel and back into Gaza.

Then Israel realized the extent of the catastrophe it had just barely avoided. It had absolutely no choice but to launch a ground offensive to destroy the tunnels that were literally a dagger at the throats of our civilian population.

This is a war of Hamas's design and making. They are responsible for every single Palestinian death that has happened since then. Over a thousand of their own people whose deaths were completely preventable if they had accepted the cease-fire, and completely predictable by anyone who knows how they fight. Look at the picture. Terrorism wearing the mantle of victimhood.

Blood 'is on Obama's hands': Photos show illegal immigrants corpses

Blood 'is on Obama's hands': Photos show illegal immigrants corpses

  • Rancher shares grotesque photos with MailOnline, saying Obama bears the blame for a rising death toll amongillegal immigrants
  • Volunteer patrol network in south Texas has found 259 bodies in one county alone, maybe 20 percent of the actual body count
  • Border Patrol source concedes the agency has no idea how many are perishing between the border and official government checkpoints
  • Filmmaker says he warned Congress in 2007 that children were becoming drug cartels' newest pawns on the border
  • By David Martosko, U.s. Political Editor

    Dead bodies of illegal immigrants are turning up in south Texas as Central Americans pour across the U.S.-Mexico border, and a veterinarian who ranches cattle 70 miles from ground zero has the photos to prove it.

    Dr. Mike 'Doc' Vickers of Brooks County, Texas showed some of the grisly images to MailOnline, all of them far too grotesque to publish unedited.

    One picture shows a corpse propped up against a tree near his ranch in Brooks County, his eyes missing and dried blood cascading down his shirtless body.

    'This guy, obviously, had to lay down up against that tree, and that's where he died,' Vickers says in interview footage provided exclusively to MailOnline by documentary filmmaker Chris Dugard.

    Falcons native to the Rio Grande river valley 'plucked his eyes out before he was dead,' the animal doctor concludes. 'He bled out through his eyes, which tells me that he was probably in a coma but they were eatin' on him before his heart stopped beating.'

    SCROLL DOWN FOR VIDEO

    Two graphic for words: The body of an illegal immigrant whose eyes were plucked out by birds of prey as he lay dying -- Filmmaker Chris Burgard has published footage showing the uncensored images on YouTube

    Two graphic for words: The body of an illegal immigrant whose eyes were plucked out by birds of prey as he lay dying -- Filmmaker Chris Burgard has published footage showing the uncensored images on YouTube

    In one Texas county 259 bodies of illegal immigrants have been recovered since 2012, and local advocates suspect they are only finding one out of every five casualties

    In one Texas county 259 bodies of illegal immigrants have been recovered since 2012, and local advocates suspect they are only finding one out of every five casualties

    'Lots of people die out here': Dr. Mike Vickers and his Texas Border Volunteers group routinely find corpses on their south Texas ranches; his photographs are too graphic for MailOnline to show unedited

    'Lots of people die out here': Dr. Mike Vickers and his Texas Border Volunteers group routinely find corpses on their south Texas ranches; his photographs are too graphic for MailOnline to show unedited

    Dugard is working on a sequel to his 2007 documentary, 'Border,' which made a splash on the film-festival circuit years before illegal immigration swelled to what President Barack Obama now concedes is a 'humanitarian crisis.'

    When he filmed 'Border' in 2005, he said, 'we had to go out and find illegal traffic.'

    'This time it found us.'

    He screened his film on Capitol Hill back then, telling members of Congress that children were becoming pawns in Mexican drug cartels' smuggling operations into the U.S. homeland.

    'I am not surprised to find immigrants dying 70 miles north of the border,' Dugard told MailOnline, but 'I am surprised that nine years later it is still a secret to most of the American people.'

    'The Federal Government has long known about this,' he said, ticking off Texas and Arizona counties where human remains are continually turning up.

    'Local officials who deal with collecting the bodies are so overwhelmed financially that the cost of coroner inquests on each case is dramatically affecting their budgets.'

    Vickers, 64, told MailOnline on Wednesday that since 2012 his organization, the Texas Border Volunteers, has counted 259 dead bodies in his native Brooks County alone, including those of children.

    'And we're probably only finding 20 per cent of them. A lot of people die out here.'

    'We find a hell of a lot of women,' he said. 'Three of the last ones who have died on my ranch have been women. We found a dead 12-year-old boy on my neighbor's property.'

    Some have the good fortune to find Vickers and his crew.

    'We've rescued some small children, quite a few,' Vickers recalled. 'One boy, 11 years old, was left behind 8 or 9 miles off the highway. He had no idea where he was.' The border volunteers gave him water and arranged for U.S. Border Patrol agents to pick him up.

    'I've seen families out in my front yard under a tree,' he said, 'with little bitty toddlers with them.'

    The group of about 300 amateur patrolmen go out in teams of up to 40 armed men at a time for 4- to 5-day patrols, reporting to Border Patrol agents and Texas Rangers on where the immigrant traffic is heaviest.

    In nine years of scouring south Texas, no shots have been fired.

    Vickers carries an M4 semiautomatic rifle with a 30-round magazine for his encounters with armed drug-runners on his ranch

    Vickers carries an M4 semiautomatic rifle with a 30-round magazine for his encounters with armed drug-runners on his ranch

    Gang-bangers: Vickers and his group intervened to save this tattooed drug-runner's life although he was armed when they found him

    Gang-bangers: Vickers and his group intervened to save this tattooed drug-runner's life although he was armed when they found him

    Exhausted and alone: Underage illegal immigrants are trekking across treacherous terrain by the hundreds, some of them never living to see a Border Patrol agent

    Exhausted and alone: Underage illegal immigrants are trekking across treacherous terrain by the hundreds, some of them never living to see a Border Patrol agent

    The closest U.S. Border Patrol station, at Falfurrias, Texas, is about 4-1/2 miles from Vickers' 1,000-acre ranch. 

    An official in the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency confirmed that in the month of June more than 4,000 illegal immigrants were apprehended at or near that checkpoint.

    About 82 per cent of them were so-called 'OTM' border crossers – 'Other Than Mexican.' 

    More than 400 were children.

    The federal government doesn't keep statistics on how many dead immigrants' bodies are recovered, the DHS official told MailOnline.

    Women and children: The Texas Border Volunteers group regularly rescues border crossers who walk to the point of dehydrated exhaustion, and some turn up on their doorsteps

    Women and children: The Texas Border Volunteers group regularly rescues border crossers who walk to the point of dehydrated exhaustion, and some turn up on their doorsteps

    He conceded to MailOnline that 'we don't know how many people are dying without reaching us, just like we don't know how many people are making it past the checkpoint without being detected.'

    Most come from Central America and pay human traffickers known as 'coyotes' between $5,000 and $8,000 each to be smuggled into the United States.

    Many don't make it alive.

    'The fact is, they're all homicides,' Vickers said. 'These people pay coyotes who are affiliated with drug cartels big money to be brought here and dropped off at the checkpoint. And they go through our private property to avoid detection.'

    'And the coyotes, a lot of times, by the time they get to the checkpoint, or even north of the checkpoint, run off and leave them. And you know, they'll point at a light up north, one of those radio towers, and say, "Just keep walking toward that tower. Houston's 20 minutes away".'

    Houston is a 280-mile drive from Falfurrias.

    'They've already duped them of their money,' he explained. 'And then some days later they're still walking around in circles up here with no water. And you know, a lot of them die.'

    'A lot of coyotes don't leave them, but they put them on a fast pace. We're talking 3 to 4 miles per hour, through all this deep sand and all this brush, and real, real treacherous terrain. And if they can't keep up, they'll beat on them a little bit and tell them, "We're just going to leave you here to die." And they do.'

    Vickers, a small-time cattle rancher who spends most of his days as a veterinarian caring for his neighbors' livestock, will play a significant role in Dugard's next movie.

    In the filmmaker's footage, Vickers shows a photo he took of a gang-tattooed drug runner who was armed but dehydrated when the Texas Border Volunteers stumbled onto him, near the point of death from heat exhaustion.

    'We actually saved this guy's life,' he said.

    'After we got the "pistolero" treated, we went another 300 yards and found this guy,' he says, pointing to a picture of a badly decomposed corpse. 'He wasn't so lucky.'

    Coyotes and their prey: U.S. Border Patrol agents captured more than 4,000 illegal immigrants like these men in the month of June in the land near Falfurrias, Texas -- including hundreds of children

    Coyotes and their prey: U.S. Border Patrol agents captured more than 4,000 illegal immigrants like these men in the month of June in the land near Falfurrias, Texas -- including hundreds of children 

    CLICK HERE FOR CHRIS DUGARD'S UNCENSORED FOOTAGE

    Dugard also saw an Urdu-to-English dictionary that Vickers picked up near his ranch, dropped by 'a coyote leading a group of Middle Easterners into our country.'

    And Chinese immigrants, paying up to $50,000 each to be smuggled into Ecuador and then into the United States, are now numerous enough that the federal government has added Mandarin translations to signs at emergency stations dotting the Texas border region.

    But it's those 'OTM' aliens, especially the hundreds of unaccompanied minors crossing every day along the length of the U.S.-Mexico border, who have turned illegal immigration into relentless front-page news.

    Reid: House border bill DOA in Senate- Some Bipartisanship

    Reid: House border bill DOA in Senate
    By Ramsey Cox - 08-01-14 11:41 AM EDT

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said even if House Republicans get the votes necessary to pass its emergency border spending bill, there isn’t enough support in the Senate for the “wrong-headed” measure.

    “The House appears to be getting from bad to worse as the House Republican Majority hunts for votes,” Reid said on the Senate floor Friday. “House Republicans will vote to deport children that have been living in the U.S. for their entire lives, all in a pathetic attempt to appease the Tea Party.”

    House Republican leaders arescrambling to get enough votes to pass their $659 million bill that aims to address the influx of immigrant children being detained at the U.S.-Mexico border. They’re hoping to hold a vote Friday before leaving for the five-week August recess.

    Democrats oppose immigration reforms Republicans are considering attaching to the spending bill, including amending a 2008 human trafficking law to make it easier for authorities to send back children from Central America to their home countries.

    Some Republicans have also proposed sending more National Guard troops to the border and deporting "dreamers," undocumented children who were brought to the United States by their parents before 2007.

    “If the House does pass a bill, I can’t imagine it could be cleared on either side over here,” Reid said.

    On Thursday, a $2.7 billion proposalfailed to gain enough support to advance in the Senate, meaning Congress won’t address the issue before leaving town.

    President Obama originally asked for $3.7 billion to provide legal services and temporarily house and feed the thousands of children fleeing Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.

    Denial Is Not A Strategy: Isis Persecution Should Not Be Met With Silence

    We’re not talking enough about the situation for Christians in Mosul, Iraq. I am guilty of this, too. Yes, my pastor is sending out reminders for us to pray for our brethren in the region. Yes, we include petitions for the ancient Christian community there, which has now been wiped away, in our prayers. We discuss their plight in Bible Class. But the world is not speaking much about — much less thinking much about — what this religious cleansing means and what we should be doing about it.

    Why is the West so afraid of Islam?” asks Micheal Brendan Dougherty, suggesting that fear of Islamic radicalism is shutting us all up:

    We’re not talking enough about the situation for Christians in Mosul, Iraq. I am guilty of this, too. Yes, my pastor is sending out reminders for us to pray for our brethren in the region. Yes, we include petitions for the ancient Christian community there, which has now been wiped away, in our prayers. We discuss their plight in Bible Class. But the world is not speaking much about — much less thinking much about — what this religious cleansing means and what we should be doing about it.

    Why is the West so afraid of Islam?” asks Micheal Brendan Dougherty, suggesting that fear of Islamic radicalism is shutting us all up:

    As comedian Penn Jillete elegantly pointed out, the way people avoid giving offense to Islam amounts to a damning condemnation in itself. It is perhaps the worst Western insult offered to Islamic people in the Middle East that we almost universally assume there’s not much point in asking them to recognize the human rights of Christians. We don’t even expect polite reciprocity. Italy is expected to welcome one of the largest mosques in the world, funded by Saudi Arabia. But no one can build even a modest church in Saudi Arabia. In Egypt, Christians can’t even repair a wall in a church without explicit permission from the sovereign. Qatar has laws that punish people who convert from Islam to Christianity with death, but there’s no planned boycott of their upcoming World Cup because of it. We watch ISIS blow up what many consider the tomb of the prophet Jonah and just sigh, helplessly. If silence permits Islamist persecution to grow and criticism only enflames its violent zeal, France’s gesture of solidarity with Iraq’s Christians has to be joined by many more countries in the West. It might as well start with the United States, which has played such a large role across this region over the last three decades while taking so little responsibility for the results.

    It’s time for more Americans to learn about what happened to the Christians of Mosul and think about what we can do to help.

    Human rights advocate Nina Shea wrote a piece everyone should read. She describes how the Sunni Muslim Islamic State group (ISIS) gave Christians the option of turning over their money and possessions, converting to Islam, or death. It’s a horrifying tale and an important piece.

    With temperatures in the area reaching 120 degrees, the last of the exiles left on foot, carrying only the small children and pushing the grandparents in wheelchairs. Those who glanced back could see armed groups looting their homes and loading the booty onto trucks.

    ISIS has set out to erase every Christian trace. All 30 churches were seized and their crosses stripped away. Some have been permanently turned into mosques. One is the Mar (Saint) Ephraim Syriac Orthodox Cathedral, newly outfitted with loudspeakers that now call Muslims to prayer. The 4th century Mar Behnam, a Syriac Catholic monastery outside Mosul, was captured and its monks expelled, leaving behind a library of early Christian manuscripts and wall inscriptions by 13th-century Mongol pilgrims…

    ISIS control over Iraq’s territory presents an enormous threat to the region.

    The religious cleansing of Mosul’s minorities is only part of the problem, but it is a grave crime against humanity, as well as a humanitarian catastrophe, that should no longer go overlooked in U.S. policy.

    I was recently speaking at a Lutheran church in St. Louis on the topic of religious liberty in the United States. The crowd was good enough to be more concerned about religious persecution abroad. After my speech, I was approached by an older woman. She’d taken public transportation for three hours to get to the church. And she had various messages for me, one of which I’ll share.

    She explained that she had been a Bible translator for a Lutheran organization in Liberia and had experienced civil war there. She said that two of her favorite verses were Acts 1:8 and Acts 8:1 and that she liked how they played off each other. Here they are, in context:

    And being assembled together with them, [Jesus] commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me[a] in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

    and

    Now Saul was consenting to [first Christian martyr St. Stephen's] death. At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.

    What she liked about these verses were that Jesus says that once His followers receive the Holy Spirit, they’re to go to “the end of the earth” but that they don’t actually scatter until the great persecution of the church. She tied that to the unrest she’d experienced in Liberia and how it had scattered Christians to live among new neighbors. We didn’t even discuss the amazing story of Saul’s conversion from persecutor to follower of Jesus Christ.

    I keep thinking about this woman and her joyful spirit in the face of horror. I keep hoping that there are some among the victims in Mosul, Iraq, who can view their persecution and displacement this way. For those of us who are Christian, we should prepare for persecution, since the Holy Scriptures tell us to expect it. My church body just sent out a noticeof bulletin inserts, articleshymns, prayers and Scripture studies related to persecution. In one,Alexey Streltsov, a pastor in the Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church, notes:

    The cross is widely recognized as the major symbol of Christian faith. In its original context, there was nothing noble about it: It served as a frightening reminder of the shameful execution reserved for the worst of criminals and enemies of the state. There is something profound about it being a special sign with which we as Christians have been marked at our Baptism. It does mark the shape of our Christian life. What is it? “Indeed all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim. 3:12). All. No exceptions. Persecution for the faith is not something that should catch any baptized off guard: It is inherent in the very nature of Christian faith.

    Radical Islamists have eradicated — for the time being — a Christian community that has worshiped in Mosul for nearly two millennia. That this ethnic cleansing was only accomplished for the first time this year after centuries of peaceful coexistence with Muslims should be a strong signal of the seriousness of this threat.

    ISIS is on the march and other radicals will take notice. We may not wish we had to confront this evil, and there is much room to discuss how to confront this evil, but we can’t continue to ignore it as we have.

    Last Refuge of a Scoundrel Obama’s ‘economic patriotism.’

    Last Refuge of a Scoundrel
    Obama’s ‘economic patriotism.’
    Last Refuge of a Scoundrel

    When he’s in trouble, President Obama changes the subject to the economy. And in speech after speech, he utters some version of this line: “We know from our history, our economy does not grow from the top down, it grows from the middle up.”

    This is a puzzling statement. I don’t know what it means, much less whether it’s true. I asked a number of economists and they were no help. “I have no idea what it means,” Douglas Holtz-Eakin, the former director of the Congressional Budget Office, says. “I am unaware of any literature supporting the proposition,” Kevin Hassett, the American Enterprise Institute economist, says.” My conclusion: It’s gibberish.

    But it’s not the only thing that makes the president’s speeches on the economy so egregious. He gave nine of them in July. They were full of untruths, contradictions, demagoguery, exaggerations, and odd policy solutions.

    His current obsession is American companies that don’t bring their overseas profits home to avoid paying taxes. There’s a reason they don’t. Not only are U.S. corporate rates the highest in the developed world, but no other major nation imposes taxes on foreign profits. Instead, taxes are paid to the country in which they are earned. And that’s it—except for American firms, whose current government would increase their taxes and make them less competitive with their corporate rivals.

    Obama is especially angry at “unpatriotic” companies that merge with foreign businesses, move their headquarters overseas, and pay taxes there and not in the United States. “They’re basically renouncing their citizenship and declaring they’re based somewhere else, just to avoid paying their fair share,” he said in his weekly address last Saturday. They’re exploiting “an unpatriotic tax loophole.” But they pay taxes on profits made in the United States, and the so-called loophole is legal.

    Tax relief on foreign earnings is not uncommon. American citizens working overseas are eligible for the “foreign earned income exclusion”—$96,700 in 2013, indexed for inflation. They also can deduct housing expenses. Are these tax breaks unpatriotic? Obama hasn’t said.

    There’s a simple way to repatriate profits: cut the tax rate. In 2005, corporations were offered a onetime rate of 5.25 percent on foreign profits. More than $300 billion was brought home. Today, American companies are sitting on $2 trillion in overseas profits. But cutting their tax burden substantially appears to be anathema to Obama. 

    The president often claims he’d like to reduce the corporate tax rate of 35 percent. A 28 percent rate has been suggested, but Obama has done nothing to make it happen. Besides, a reduction that small would be unlikely to prompt a wave of repatriation.

    Meanwhile, Obama wants to aid the middle class. And he has some unusual ideas about how to do it. “So far this year, Republicans in Congress have blocked or voted down every serious idea to strengthen the middle class,” he said in Austin, Texas, last month. “They’ve said no to raising the minimum wage. They’ve said no to fair pay [for women]. They said no to unemployment insurance for hardworking folks .  .  . who have paid taxes all their lives and never depended on anything and just needed a little help to get over a hump.”

    These are three of the president’s pet proposals, but how they would aid the middle class is a mystery. Raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would kill 500,000 or more jobs, according to the CBO. Fair pay? There’s already an Equal Pay Act on the books. And the effect of extending jobless benefits to 99 weeks, which Republicans opposed, would be to keep more people unemployed, not help them find middle-class jobs.

    In his speeches, Obama insists he’s on the side of entrepreneurs. But his notions about helping them are peculiar. “If we’re focused on making sure that child care is accessible and high-quality, that frees up a whole bunch of potential entrepreneurs,” he said in early July. One can only imagine if Bill Gates or Steve Jobs had been saddled with child care duties. No Microsoft? No Apple?

    Even entrepreneurs need government, Obama believes. “Typically throughout our history, the way [the economy has grown from the middle out] is that the entrepreneurship and drive and energy and focus of the American people is then combined with some collective efforts through our government to give people a shot.”

    Obama is fixated on a role for government in everything. All the states and many cities have a development office to lure new business and find private financing for projects. Governors travel overseas to recruit companies to their state. They’ve been doing it for decades.

    Page 1 of 2


    Bipartisanship Is Alive and Well, But Not in the Obama White House

    Bipartisanship Is Alive and Well, But Not in the Obama White House

    By Michael Barone - August 1, 2014

    Bipartisanship is dead. That's the conventional wisdom, and there's a lot of evidence to support it.

    But there's evidence to the contrary as well. On two important issues, veterans' health and job training, congressional Republicans and Democrats have, with little notice, reached constructive bipartisan agreements.

    These are both issues on which everyone agrees government should be involved. The country certainly owes something to veterans. And no one's proposing to eliminate job training programs altogether.

    But government is also not doing a good job on either. The Veterans Affairs Department scandals have revealed a culture of lying and incompetence that comes as little surprise to those who have been scrutinizing the agency for many years.

    And think-tank analysts both liberal and conservative have been concluding that government job training programs don't do much to prepare people for work or help them get jobs.

    The best job training, many experts agree, is a job. But job-training programs have appeal to voters, and they do probably help some not insignificant number of people move ahead.

    So there's an obvious need for legislation. And on these issues, as on so many others, Republicans and Democrats are in principled disagreement.

    Nevertheless, Senate Veterans Affairs Chairman Bernie Sanders and House Veterans Affairs Chairman Jeff Miller managed this week to come to an agreement.

    Sanders, a self-described Socialist, did not get all the money he wanted. And he accepted a provision that at least some veterans could get funds for medical treatment at private non-VA facilities.

    Miller, who has being doing dogged oversight work that was not much noticed until last year when the Washington Examiner's Mark Flatten began highlighting it, made concessions as well.

    The bill includes $5 billion for hiring more medical professionals and $1.7 billion for new VA facilities -- more than many House Republicans might like.

    The Republican-controlled House overwhelmingly approved the bill Wednesday on a 420-5 vote, and the Democratic-majority Senate is expected to pass it quickly as well.

    Both houses have already passed, the House by 415-6 and the Senate by 95-3, significant legislation reauthorizing and consolidating government job-training programs.

    It eliminates 15 existing programs, consolidates others, gives states more flexibility and attempts to orient job training programs to "in-demand skills."

    This represents some hard work at the subcommittee and committee level, notably by House Education and the Workforce Chairman John Kline and ranking Democrat George Miller.

    Miller, who is retiring from Congress this year, also helped to fashion the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act, working with a committee chairman named John Boehner. Both have shown that you can be strong partisans and still successfully negotiate bipartisan agreements.

    I doubt that these are perfect pieces of legislation, and I suspect that none of their lead sponsors would claim they are.

    There's always a danger that bipartisan agreements turn out to be mush and that negotiators put aside bolder reforms that would produce better results.

    But they probably represent at least incremental progress toward better policy. And they refute the conventional wisdom that bipartisanship is dead, even in this politically polarized Congress.

    What they also share in common is that the Obama White House seems to have had little or no involvement. Members of Congress and their staffs were left to do the hard work of analysis and negotiation themselves.

    When the Obama administration does get involved, this kind of bipartisan compromise doesn't seem to happen.

    Second-term presidencies are ordinarily a time when the stars are in alignment for bipartisan reforms. Examples include the 1986 tax law and the 1997 Medicare reforms.

    But not in Barack Obama's second-term presidency. The Obama administration has ignored House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp's tax rewrite, which would cut rates and eliminate many preferences.

    When Camp was negotiating with Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus, Obama removed the latter by appointing him ambassador to China. Baucus' successor Ron Wyden is a skilled bipartisan legislator, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the Obama White House have given him little running room.

    Even on the one tax issue, which Obama recognized as reform-worthy -- cutting the U.S.'s highest-in-the-developed world corporate income tax -- the administration has eschewed bipartisan discussion.

    Instead it's trying to make a campaign issue with a bill somehow barring companies from moving their corporate domiciles to lower-tax nations. Sort of like ordering water not to flow downhill.

    Some people like to denounce Congress for partisan legislative gridlock. But the real problem is at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. 


    Michael Barone is Senior Political Analyst for the Washington Examiner, co-author of The Almanac of American Politics and a contributor to Fox News.

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