The best memorial for our soldiers is victory and keeping our promises

My father’s war was waged with determination, skill, industry, sacrifice, pride and eventually the most destructive weapon ever used in war.

Obama at National Defense University. (Getty Images via WSJ)

My generation was tasked with stopping the falling dominoes of communism. Politicians dictated strategy, technology and even targets. That war ended with the April 30, 1975, big bug out.

Two years ago at the National Defense University, President Obama basically declared a unilateral end to the  “global war on terror.”

In a 7,000-word speech that covered reducing drone strikes, closing Gitmo and reciting a litany of terrorist attacks, Obama said:

“We cannot use force everywhere that a radical ideology takes root; and in the absence of a strategy that reduces the wellspring of extremism, a perpetual war — through drones or Special Forces or troop deployments — will prove self-defeating, and alter our country in troubling ways.

“So the next element of our strategy involves addressing the underlying grievances and conflicts that feed extremism — from North Africa to South Asia.  As we’ve learned this past decade, this is a vast and complex undertaking.  We must be humble in our expectation that we can quickly resolve deep-rooted problems like poverty and sectarian hatred.”

Poverty?

Osama bin Laden was the son of a billionaire Saudi construction magnate. Most of the 9/11 hijackers were well educated and well off.

In Vietnam they called it winning the hearts and minds, but nonetheless Obama calls for:

“For what we spent in a month in Iraq at the height of the war, we could be training security forces in Libya, maintaining peace agreements between Israel and its neighbors, feeding the hungry in Yemen, building schools in Pakistan, and creating reservoirs of goodwill that marginalize extremists.  That has to be part of our strategy.”

It worked so well before.

Obama addressed the Coast Guard Academy graduating class recently and told them one of the biggest threats to national security is climate change.

“Climate change constitutes a serious threat to global security, an immediate risk to our national security,” he said, “and, make no mistake, it will impact how our military defends our country.  And so we need to act— and we need to act now.”

He basically said denial of climate change as a threat is dereliction of duty.

He said this in the same week the Islamic State overran Ramadi in Iraq and Palmyra in Syria.

Obama seems oblivious to the potential for terrorists to use chemical weapons from Syria or nukes from Iran or North Korea.

This is Obama’s bug out.

Meanwhile, The Associated Press reports that a year after we heard about sick veterans languishing on waiting lists, Veterans Affairs statistics show that the number of veterans facing long waits has not declined, though Congress shelled out $16.3 billion to shorten waits for care.

Since this past summer, AP found that the number of vets waiting more than 30 or 60 days for non-emergency care is largely unchanged, while the number of medical appointments that take longer than 90 days to complete has nearly doubled.

The Obama administration can’t seem to figure out how to win wars or keep its promises to those who fight them.

People flee Ramadi (AP photo)

A Memorial Day reflection

“At a time in their lives when their days and nights should have been filled with innocent adventure, love, and the lessons of the workaday world, they were fighting in the most primitive conditions possible across the bloodied landscape of France, Belgium, Italy, Austria, and the coral islands of the Pacific. They answered the call to save the world from the two most powerful and ruthless military machines ever assembled, instruments of conquest in the hands of fascist maniacs. They faced great odds and a late start, but they did not protest. They succeeded on every front. They won the war; they saved the world.”    —       Tom Brokaw in “The Greatest Generation

Herbert Aubrey Mitchell

 

My father joined the Army when he was 16. He lied about his age.

He knew what was coming and was there when it came. He was in Pearl City that Sunday morning in 1941 when World War II began.

He spent the rest of the war hopping from island to island with his artillery unit. He said he chose artillery because he wanted to make a lot of noise.

I know he was in the Philippines about the time the survivors of the Death March of Bataan were rescued. The rest are a blur in my memory, though I recall him telling about how they censored letters home lest they fall into enemy hands and give away troop locations — you couldn’t write that the food was “good enough,” because the ship was at Goodenough Island.

He was a decorated hero, but said he refused to wear the Purple Heart so he wouldn’t have to explain exactly where the wound was located.

When he and his war buddies got to together they seldom talked about the fighting, only the antics, like climbing on the hood of a truck and stealing eggs out of the back of another truck as it slowly climbed a steep hill.

But one of his friends once let slip that Dad, a bulldozer operator, actually did that scene from a John Wayne movie in which the bulldozer operator raised the blade to deflect bullets while rescuing pinned down soldiers.

To hear him and his friends talk, it seemed like they spilled more beer than blood, but somehow still managed to win the war and save the world.

(Reprinted from a previous post.)

Editorial: Nevada must challenge efforts to close off more land from productive uses

What do you call a system in which a person living in a far-away mansion dictates how vast swaths of land may or may not be used and the local peasants have no say in the matter whatsoever?

According to Nevada Republican Congressman Cresent Hardy, paperwork has already been prepared for President Obama’s signature that would declare 704,000 acres of federally controlled land in Hardy’s district a national monument, closing the land to most beneficial uses.

The so-called Basin and Range National Monument would cover the Garden and Coal valleys — larger than the state of Rhode Island — on either side of the Lincoln and Nye County border. Local elected officials oppose the designation, which is authorized by the 1906 Antiquities Act.

A year ago Nevada’s senior Democratic senator, Harry Reid, introduced a bill that would ban oil and gas drilling and mining on 805,100 acres of land in the same area. His effort has since been joined by Democratic Rep. Dina Titus, whose district is in the urban core of Las Vegas.

Purportedly Coal and/or Garden Valley

The draft proclamation prepared for Obama’s signature states, “All Federal lands and interests in lands within the boundaries of the monument are hereby appropriated and withdrawn from all forms of entry, location, selection, sale, leasing, or other disposition under the public land laws, from location, entry, and patent under the mining laws, and from disposition under all laws relating to mineral and geothermal leasing …”

In January, Nevada’s four Republican congressional representatives announced that they were introducing the Nevada Land Sovereignty Act of 2015, which would prevent the president designating or expanding national monuments by executive action without Congressional approval.

Obama has designated eight monuments so far. This past year Obama designated as monuments, despite local opposition, the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument in California and the Organ Mountain-Desert Peaks in New Mexico. Bill Clinton did the same in 1996 by creating the 1.8 million-acre Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument in Utah with only 24 hours notice. The designation was so unpopular in Utah that he announced the decision at a ceremony in Arizona.

Upon learning of the president’s plan, Rep. Hardy said he was “appalled and deeply concerned about the national security implications” of the move, because the Air Force uses the area for training.

Hardy managed to attach an amendment to the Defense Department budget that protects national security-related activities on or above land associated with a Military Operations Area. He noted that training exercises often require deployment of troops on the ground to coordinate attack simulations.

“Yet the draft proclamation only included a provision for unimpeded operations in the air above the proposed monument. No language was included to protect the vital training that occurs on the land below. This is an unacceptable oversight. …” Hardy said in a statement. “We must protect America’s national security, and that means ensuring that our military has guaranteed access to land located beneath or associated with Military Operations Areas for essential training and readiness activities.”

That move by Hardy should correct a serious oversight, but the delegation needs to pursue with vigor efforts to give local residents a say in how the land in their region is used.

When the Nevada lands bill was introduced, Republican Sen. Dean Heller said, “Currently, with a quick stroke of the pen, the executive branch can lock up millions of acres of public land without consulting the public or their representation in Congress.”

And Republican Rep. Mark Amodei remarked, “There is no good reason for major land-use decisions in Nevada to be done in secret without input from the local community and their elected representatives.”

Just what the land needs to be protected from has never been stated. Besides, the federal bureaucrats already control the land and can deny permits for any use they deem inappropriate or disruptive.

Nevada’s delegation should move swiftly and attempt to block the monument designation and lead Congress in repealing the Antiquities Act entirely.

Oh, yes, that system mentioned above is called feudalism.

A version of this editorial appeared this past week in most of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel,  Sparks Tribune and the Lincoln County Record.

The Las Vegas newspaper has a story on this topic today.

A creek runs through Coal Valley. (R-J photo by Jeff Scheid)

 

What, oh what, to call politicians who flip-flop on an issue in a single day?

I can’t decide if they are dithering dolts or vacillating varlets or wavering wastrels.

Eight Republicans this week voted against amending a Senate bill to allow concealed carry permittees to carry their concealed weapons on college campuses, but seven of them later joined as sponsors of a new bill (Assembly Bill 487) that would accomplish the same thing, according to the Las Vegas newspaper account today. The Assembly vote against the amendment was 24-18.

Can’t tell whether they grew new spines or were kicked in the butt. The paper lists the seven changelings as Assembly members James Oscarson, Jim Wheeler, Melissa Woodbury, Derek Armstrong, Chris Edwards, Stephen Silberkraus and Lynn Stewart. Majority Leader Paul Anderson, who also voted against amending the Senate bill, is not listed as a sponsor.

On Friday conservative activist Chuck Muth sent an email missive listing the eight Republicans who voted against the “campus carry” amendment along with their phone numbers. He called them shameful and quoted another conservative activist, Tony Warren, as saying, “Remember these names. They are not worthy to serve as our representatives. Damn them to HELL.”

Muth included this detail of the events:

Our good friend Janine Hansen at Nevada Families reported on another aspect of this shameful display of betrayal and cowardice yesterday.

Assembly Speaker-of-the-Weak John Hambrick called for a voice vote on the SB175/AB148 hybrid gun bill.  He ruled from the chair that the vote was too close to call and ordered a “division of the house.”

A division of the house simply means everyone who supports the bill stands up and the total is counted, and then everyone who opposes the bill stands up to be counted.

The problem with that is that each individual legislator is allowed to escape casting a RECORDED vote in the official record.

So conservative Assemblywoman Michele Fiore – God bless her – stood up and asked for a roll-call vote.

Hambrick ruled her out of order and rejected the request.

Fiore than asked for a one-minute recess – a request that rarely, if ever, is denied.

Hambrick rejected her request.

(“So he (Hambrick) was in league with the anti-gun rights Republicans,” ((Janine)) Hansen wrote. “This is a disgrace!!! Why elect Republicans when they betray us on the most basic liberty issues like self defense?”)

Darned good question.  But back to Fiore…

After being shot down by Hambrick, the Las Vegas Republican immediately left the Assembly chamber and headed to her office where she called the lead lawyer at the Legislative Counsel Bureau (LCB), Brenda Erdoes, to ask if Hambrick really had the power to deny a request for a roll-call vote and/or one-minute recess.

But to give you an idea of just how paranoid and unhinged some folks are in Carson City about Fiore, apparently somebody thought she might have left the chamber to go get her gun and was afraid she’d come back and shoot the place up.

So, I’m told, legislative police were called to the first floor to secure the Assembly chamber and block Fiore from returning to her seat!

Un-freaking-believable.

Eventually, Fiore was allowed back on the floor and later in the day rose and issued a statement, FOR THE RECORD, identifying by name the eight Republicans who turned tail and ran when the heat got too hot in the kitchen and sold out campus carry supporters.

The Review-Journal reported that Republican Assembly Judiciary Chairman Ira Hansen criticized the creation of the new bill as an effort to gain “political cover.”

“And that is a huge mistake politically, and it was the wrong thing to do, and they abandoned their own party’s base,” he is quoted as saying of the votes against the campus carry amendment. “And now what they want to do, is come back when it is not going to make any difference and they know it, and have me go through the whole hearing process again as we already did on (AB)148, to give them political cover.

“And I think it stinks, and I think we had a shot if they would have stuck to their guns. …

“So they chickened out, they caved in on the whole issue and now they want to come back and pretend like they are going to be the heroes and resurrect the bill.”

Michele Fiore speaks on the Assembly floor Friday. (R-J photo)

The Reno newspaper account simply said:

Fiore stormed out of the chamber after that vote was taken when Speaker John Hambrick, R-Las Vegas, refused to call for a roll call vote on the issue or stop the floor session for a brief time out.

She later returned and apologized.

Muth just posted a follow-up this morning under the headline: “Who Shot Campus CarryA Muth’s Truths Investigation – Part I.”

In this posting Muth notes that Gov. Brian Sandoval does not want a campus carry bill to make it to his desk and force him to veto it and suggests certain Republicans are trying to protect him.

 

A tax by any other name would smell as sour

You can call it a margin tax. You can call it a modified business license fee based. You can call a commerce tax. It is still tax on businesses based on gross receipts, which is what 80 percent of the voters defeated in November.

On Thursday Gov. Brian Sandoval unveiled his latest iteration of this proposal hike tax more than a billion dollars.

“For the privilege of engaging in a business in this State, a commerce tax is hereby imposed upon each business entity whose Nevada gross revenue in a taxable year exceeds $3,500,000 …” the bill says, then listing tax rates that vary according to the type of business.

NPRI pulled the rates out of the bill:

The proposed rates are:

  1. Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting: .063 percent
  2. Mining: .051 percent
  3. Utilities and telecommunications: .136 percent
  4. Construction: .083 percent
  5. Manufacturing: .091 percent
  6. Wholesale trade: .101 percent
  7. Retail trade: .111 percent
  8. Air transportation: .058 percent
  9. Truck transportation: .202 percent
  10. Rail transportation: .331 percent
  11. Other transportation: .129 percent
  12. Warehousing and storage: .128 percent
  13. Publishing, software and data processing: .253 percent
  14. Finance and insurance: .111 percent
  15. Real estate and rental and leasing: .25 percent
  16. Professional, scientific and technical services: .181 percent
  17. Management of companies and enterprises: .137 percent
  18. Administrative and support services: .154 percent
  19. Waste management and remediation services: .261 percent
  20. Educational services: .281 percent
  21. Health care and social assistance: .190 percent
  22. Arts, entertainment and recreation: .24 percent
  23. Accommodation: .2 percent
  24. Food services and drinking places: .194 percent
  25. Other services: .142 percent
  26. Unclassified business category: .128 percent

I wonder if the Las Vegas newspaper will change its mind about endorsing Sandoval’s tax grab since publishing is among the highest taxed entities. And that money comes right out of the profit margin, if there is any.

Jeremy Aguero again explains the convoluted tax plan put forward by the governor. (AP photo)

 

It is all about Obama all the time and into eternity

This is the definition of narcissism.

While talking about his effort to cut a deal with Iran that would prevent it from developing a nuclear bomb, Obama said, “Look, 20 years from now, I’m still going to be around, God willing. If Iran has a nuclear weapon, it’s my name on this,” he said. “I think it’s fair to say that in addition to our profound national-security interests, I have a personal interest in locking this down.”

Never mind that the U.S. and Israel might be smoldering heaps of ash, heaven forbid Obama’s name is tarnished.

Atlantic illustration

Newspaper column: The general theory of political relativity finds a growing divide in viewpoints

“Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment,” physicist Albert Einstein once observed of the stratification of our society. “Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions.”

The center keeps shifting to the left.

Illustrative of the shift is the way the media covers politics in Carson City. They describe as ultraconservative those who balk at the governor’s proposed increase in state general fund spending by $1.3 billion, while those Republicans who support him are moderates. Not liberals, moderates. That is the argot of the moment.

Albert Einstein

With the leftward shift, people have no qualms about saying that requiring gender specific bathrooms and locker rooms and showers in elementary school is “extreme” and “hateful.”

“I didn’t realize when I was growing up that I was a horrible segregationist because boys went to the boys bathroom and girls went to the girls bathroom. We want to maintain that,” Republican Ira Hansen was quoted as saying on this topic recently.

Things have changed, sir.

If you hint at the least bit of intolerance toward those who were once openly referred to as amoral, immoral or, heaven forfend, perverted, the tolerance lobby will beat the crap out of you — socially, legally and, occasionally, physically.

It doesn’t require a nuclear physicist to figure it out.

According to a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll, 47 percent of those surveyed approved of President Obama’s job performance. Among Democrats, 79 percent approved, and that was up 3 points from October. Among Republicans, only 7 percent approved, and that was down 4 points from the previous poll.

Divided and growing further and further apart.

Perhaps some of the credit or blame for the split in attitudes can be found in the news media trending away from the journalistic icon of the past century — objectivity.

In the late 19th century newspaper publishers changed their business model, which relied on income from selling copies of the paper and political patronage to one of relying on advertising revenue. Advertisers wanted the maximum number of eyeballs so papers dared not alienate any potential readers by being partisan.

Media of all types seem to be willing to show partisan stripes today.

There is also the Amazon Effect.

Computerized marketing works by reinforcing your previous choices by offering more of the same: “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought …” Click on a book by conservative radio talk show host Mark Levin and your helpful algorithm suggests books by Thomas Sowell, Newt Gingrich, Glenn Beck, Ann Coulter and Karl Rove. Type in the name of any liberal writer and you get the obverse of the coin.

A few years back the speaker at a national convention of newspaper editors was one of the gurus of computer-age marketing, Eric Schmidt, the chairman of the ubiquitous Google.

Schmidt noted that the computer can offer to broaden your exposure as well as narrow it. Obviously, for every synonym there is an antonym. It makes no difference to the machine.

The Google guy noted that, when people were given an option of “show me an opposing view,” two-thirds would never look at it.

Then there is the problem of hearing coherent messages above the cacophony of the information bazaar. According to Schmidt, from the dawn of human history to 2003 about five exabytes (a billion gigabytes) of information was created. He said we now generate that amount every two days. That was five years ago.

He also observed that of the news reporting in all those bytes, fully 80 percent of stories contained no original content, while of the remaining 20 percent, half came from newspapers.

Then, many don’t bother. A recent poll of Nevadans found 89.4 percent either did not know Sandoval supports the largest tax increase in Nevada history or mistakenly thought the governor supports keeping taxes low.

The explanation for why so many can observe the same event and reach different conclusions is outlined in my general theory of political relativity.

No observer is stationary. All are themselves in motion at different velocities, in different directions along the political spectrum from red to blue.

The theory goes something like this (e=mc²): The energy of one’s convictions equals the mass of one’s deductions times the speed of insight squared. Explosive.

A version of this column appears this week in the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel, the Lincoln County Record and the Sparks Tribune — and the Elko Daily Free Press.