Monday, June 16, 2014

Iraq Update

I can't stop thinking about it but I don't know what to think about the situation in Iraq right now.

Photo Courtesy:
The photo above shows Iraqi soldiers led by this militant group ISIS to an open field where they were shot and killed, execution style.

In all, they're saying 1,700 Iraqi Shia air force recruits near Tikrit were the victims.

Disheartening? Yes.

Frustrating? Absolutely.

Now, it sounds like our nation may even consider working with Iran in hopes of saving Baghdad.

ISIS in Iraq
Photo Courtesy: The Guardian

It's really tough for me to separate the sacrifice of all the good folks our nation has already lost for their "freedom" and the concept of cutting our losses. 

If you have any thoughts that are well thought out, I'd love to hear them. Every time sometime pops up on the news now I really don't know what direction my mind wants to go. It's incredibly sad that the blood and sacrifice we've spilled into that nation have apparently been erased in less than a decade.

Friday, June 6, 2014

70th Anniversary of D-Day

General Dwight D. Eisenhower's message sent just prior to the invasion at Normandy 70 years ago today (June 6, 1944):

General Eisenhower speaking to troops during World War II.

"Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force! You are about to embark upon a great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you.   
The hopes and prayers of liberty loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers in arms on other fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.
Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened, he will fight savagely.
But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man to man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our home fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to victory! 
I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory!
Good Luck! And let us all beseech the blessings of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking."

Hard to imagine a world in which the allied forces didn't storm and win Normandy. Things could be a lot different --- a lot worse if not for their courage.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Credit to Obama Where It Is Due

I had a fairly introspective Memorial Day.

It was a quiet morning at a local cemetery followed by an afternoon with the family and some reading.

I've been thinking a lot about the military, imperialism, and the concept of building an empire. You might remember, I mentioned a couple posts back the "New Empire of Debt" book that I'm reading. It has led to a lot of reflection on the past couple decades as well as decisions made in my personal life about finances, investments, and the future.

The End of American Imperialism

Then, it kind of hit me as I was watching some coverage of President Obama visiting troops in Afghanistan.
President Obama in Afghanistan. Credit:
During the "W" era and Bush presidency we did a lot of things as a nation that weren't exactly fiscally responsible. We started a war on a unknown enemy that can't be quantitatively described or defined: terrorism.

Our country spent billions to send troops to police the world. And by "spent", I of course mean "borrowed".

Actually, the cost of Iraq and Afghan operations cumulatively is about $1.5 trillion.

But you knew all this.

Here's what kind of struck me the more I thought about the issues involved: So far, Barack Obama hasn't given into the temptress that is imperialism.

Source: Associated Press
Despite political pressure, we really didn't do much in Syria --- at least not to our previously set standards. We didn't put our men and women's lives on the line there and we didn't sacrifice nearly as much treasure.

Ukrainian troops in an airborne combat vehicle. Source:
Russia/Ukraine is a similar situation. You had political pressure from all over telling the President it was time to jump in, take more authoritative action and ramp up the military presence in the Ukraine.

He didn't.

Now, Putin has backed off with the Russian military backpeddling toward the motherland.

There is now new Ukrainian president.

While things aren't back to "normal", there is certainly a good chance at sustainable peace.

I'm not saying that President Obama hasn't spent the money other places. Health-care, unemployment benefits, etc. are bills that we're going to be saddled with as entitlements mount. I'm not attempting to paint Obama as the great "budget-balancer".

4 More Years of George W. Bush?

But while I rip Obama for the economy and other doomed policies, on the foreign policy front he has been able to resist the temptation that most of his predecessors as POTUS were not.

In fact, it seems a vote for McCain back in 2008 would have led to a little different result. Unless the Arizona Senator is just playing a role and party-puppet in his questioning a president of the other party.

Courtesy: CBS News
McCain says we should have gotten involved in Syria.

McCain says we should be more involved in Russia.

It seems in some ways, the election of John McCain absolutely would have been like another 4-years of George W. Bush --- at least on the foreign policy side.

That's not to say Russia isn't still a threat and that military action may at some point be unavoidable but as of today, it sure doesn't seem that escalation is in the cards for that part of the world.

So, credit to Obama for resisting the urge to grow the empire, spend the money, and drop the bombs at a time when we really don't need the casualties, bill, or distractions.

That's worth something, right?

Monday, May 26, 2014

Enjoy Your Memorial Day Everyone

Thank you for your sacrifice in the name of freedom veterans.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Nothing to See Here!

Thanks for the photo.

"No no no. Don't look at the economy.

Look over here! It's the Super Bowl Champs with me, the Prez!"

Bloomberg has an interesting look at sports as a political refuge.

They say "political refuge", I say "diversion".

Seems President Obama has been busy chatting with the Seattle Seahawks, taking in Little League games in the D.C. area, and even visited Cooperstown and the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Never mind everything at Veterans Affairs right now.

Also, please don't notice that unemployment claims are up once again.

Go Seahawks I guess.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Good Guys vs. Bad Guys (with Guns)

I've posted about John Stewart before.

I hate to admit it, but I don't hate the guy or the show as a whole.

In fact, I watch it fairly often when I'm at home for the replay at 7 p.m. (Sorry, the first-run 11 p.m. is far too late for my lifestyle!)

It's a little preachy and often comes out pretty "progressive" for my personal taste.

But I think he's good at what he does.

With this latest commentary about the whole Chipotle situation... we pretty much agree. At least once you get through his snark and mocking of gun owners of the first 1:30 of the segment:

But wait, there's more.

It seems Stewart also had to weigh-in on "Smart Guns".

Apparently a gun shop owner in Maryland was getting threatened by 2A supporters because he was willing to sell Smart Guns.

I don't get it. It's probably the same class of gun owners that caused the uproar at the Dallas Chipotles.

Personally, I'm not a fan of Smart Guns but death threats to a gun shop owner for carrying a product isn't exactly what we need to be projecting as a community.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Stupid Chipotle... Irresponsible Open Carriers?

I wasn't going to write anything about this.

After all, when Starbucks had to go forward with a pseudo-statement that asked gun-owners not to be idiots and open-carry into their coffee shops, I thought we were all on the same page.

Now, open-carry idiots in Texas are forcing Chipotle to do pretty much the same thing.

Unknown Source on the Photo. Sorry.

"The display of firearms in our restaurants has now created an environment that is potentially intimidating or uncomfortable for many of our customers" - Chipotle
ABC News also quotes Moms Demand Action in their story:
Erika Soto Lamb, a spokeswoman for the group, said she thought the move by Chipotle was a "bold statement," especially considering its previous stance of complying with local laws.
Was this really a "bold" statement? I mean, Chipotle is a business. They sell food. With, what, say 40% of the population completely freaked out by guns, let alone "scary looking" Armalite rifles do you blame them for asking gun owners not to bring the firearms into the restaurant with them?

Once again, the dollar speaks more loudly to corporations than The Constitution. Why can't we learn this lesson as a community?

Sebastian at PA Gun Blog is one of the gun owners who has spoken out about this repeatedly and even tried to mount a counter campaign to the Moms Demand action over the weekend.
Unfortunately, the responsible actions of many couldn't make up for the showboating of a few tactical fanboys. Now, my lunch options are further limited if I listen to the pleas of many of my 2nd Amendment supporting brothers and sisters. Although, I'm not sure that the free market side of my mind can blame Chipotle for their actions following the display we saw in Texas over the weekend.

Don't be stupid.


While this will surely help my diet that damn Chipotle cilantro rice will surely be missed.

Debt and Depression - The New Empire of Debt

I'm in the middle of reading "The New Empire of Debt".

I'm sure you've realized, we're broke as a nation and so far, this book does a pretty thorough job of explaining the why and how of the situation.

I'll spare you the majority of the details in this 350-page saga but essentially, the spirit of empire-building intoxicated our leadership and at about the time of Woodrow Wilson's presidency, we got on the gravy-train of printing money that we'll never get off. It's the same story with great empires of the past such as the Romans, Mongols, etc...

I'm not saying the authors are wrong.

But, damn. It's depressing.

As a younger guy with minimal personal debt, is there something we should be doing as individuals to get ready for this collapse? I know prepping is one outlet folks lean to and I've done some of that. But, in all seriousness, if we are in a place where we need to have our own food, water, and safety for an extended period of time I'm not sure if I trust myself to be militant enough to protect what is mine.

Further, should we be convinced that at some point in the coming decades we will be forced to lower our expectations from thriving to merely surviving? It sounds somewhat petty, maybe a little immature, but if we don't have "hope" to cling to and our best days are behind us, what's the point?

(Please note, this use of the word "hope" and use of the word "hope" in any political campaigns past or present are merely coincidental and absolutely do not indicate an endorsement!)

I find the prospects depressing. I know a lot of you think it's worth fighting for here on the homefront through education and political awareness but I'm not convinced it's a battle that can be won. Looking around our communities, seeing the type of people we share society with, I just don't see the drive, personal ambition, and desire to get off the government teet.

So, where do we go?