September 17, 2011

The Hockey Player and the Space General

My interest was piqued when I learned that the Obama administration had pressured (unsuccessfully) an Air Force general to change his testimony before a Congressional Committee. According to the most common reports (Daily Telegraph article), Air Force Space General William Shelton was more or less ordered to state before the committee that any conflict between LightSquared's proposed satellite-based 4G network and our nation's GPS network could be resolved within ninety days.

Obviously, there is a profound problem when industrialists are able to convince the President of the United States to use his position to benefit a particular commercial enterprise. This is crony capitalism in all its ugly, corrupt infamy. But that's not what struck me. The part that leapt out at me was the fact that if Lightsquared went ahead with its project there could be a profoundly negative impact on American's GPS system. Not only does the GPS system help you navigate your car and find your way through the trackless wilderness, it also helps cruise missiles find their targets. Tactical integration with the GPS system is so complete that in today's American military it even guides portable anti-tank weapons and bunker-busting mortar rounds. Most important of all, it keeps our troops from getting lost in the mountains of Afghanistan and the deserts of Iraq.

President Obama and his team have done many stupid things over the past three years. (The one thing they did do right was eliminating Osama bin Laden by sending Seal Team Six into his compound in Pakistan. By the way, that mission was completely dependent on the GPS system for success!) The "evil industrial-defense complex" is one of the boogeymen they raise up when convenient to prove that their policies are more moral than the Republican platform. One of the subtexts to the healtcare debate was, "why can we spend $2 trillion on defense and not on healthcare?" As a minimum, the current administration is oblivious to the necessity of protecting our defense infrastructure. Sometimes they are downright antagonistic. So when they double-down trying to convince an Air Force General to ignore his primary mission and allow a "minor" interference with that infrastructure I sit up straight and pay close attention.

The first question that comes to mind is, "Who is LightSquared?"

LightSquared is a telecommunications start up funded by a fellow named Philip Falcone. Philip spent his childhood in a small town in Minnesota where they grow up playing hockey the way Brazilian children grow up playing soccer. As a result, he landed a hockey scholarship to Harvard and leapt from small-town Minnesota to a world of money, glamour, and prestige. After Harvard he played hockey in Sweden until a "leg injury" forced him out of professional sports and into the world of business. Eventually he founded a hedge fund called "Harbinger Capital". Curiously, one of his first major takeovers was the New York Times. According to a 2009 report at the investor research site Seeking Alpha, he now owns less than 2% of the New York Times while he has expanded his holdings in SkyTerra to 63.8%. SkyTerra is now known as LightSquared, the driving force behind the administration's attempt to change the testimony of General Shelton.

I have dug as deeply as I can into Harbinger Capital, LightSquared, and Philip Falcone. Other than an obvious and inconsequential tie to Huawei, I don't find any connections between the former hockey star turned billionaire and America's most noteworthy enemies. At this point, with the information I've dug up, I think it is safe to conclude that this is not some backdoor attempt by China to interfere with America's defense infrastructure. This is a good thing, but it implies something even more frightening.

Philip Falcone stands in a position to seriously compromise our country's ability to defend itself. If he proceeds, our defense structure and struggling space program will both suffer break downs in their communication and geolocation systems. This will greatly benefit China, the Taliban, Al Qaeda, Syria, Turkey, and any number of other nations we are very likely to find ourselves at war with in the very near future. Assuming, naturally, that nothing comes along which convinces Turkey to stop supporting efforts to break the Israeli blockade of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Although Philip Falcone knows this perfectly well, he still insists on proceeding with his satellite-based 4G mobile phone system, stooping so low as to convince the current administration to pressure an Air Force General to change his testimony.

But he's not actively seeking to undermine our defense infrastructure. Oh, no. Sadly, it's even worse. He just doesn't care.

September 13, 2011

MSNBC debate vs. CNN debate

Political theater! That truly is the best way to describe what we are seeing in these two debates. In the first debate it was not about the candidates against each other, it was about the candidates presenting a unified front against the network. In last night's debate the priority seemed to shift into high drama with maximum entertainment value. They sparred, they tossed mild insults, and while they stopped short of mudslinging (except for one accusation of "treason"), they still bickered over constitutionalism and the meaning of "conservative".

Last night Romney and Perry went back and forth over healthcare, but in the end, Michelle Bachman made them both look like big government holdouts walking in the footsteps of Woodrow Wilson and FDR. Jon Huntsman was less a candidate than a petty troll slinging accusations of "tyrant" and "treason" and in my opinion coming off less savory because of it. Huntsman was a particular disappointment last night. During the MSNBC debate he came across presidential, referring over and over again to his many successes as governor of Utah. Last night he referred to his role as governor from time to time, but spent most of his short outbursts denigrating the other candidates.

Rick Perry came out poorly last night as well. While he avoided the gentle buffoonery that was both endearing and annoying and won G.W.Bush both of his elections, he still came across more misplaced cowboy than serious candidate. Every single one of the other seven candidates brought up his use of an Executive Order to force twelve year-old girls in Texas to receive the HPV vaccine, pointing out that not ony did it violate the rights of both parents and the girls, it made millions for his friends at Merck. Perry did apologize and stated that his use of an Executive Order was misguided, but his attempts to defend himself against Michelle Bachman's, "as a mother of three daughters" stance were weak and quite frankly, buffoonish in a very bad way.

Herman Cain went back to his career in business over and over again. Offering detailed examples of genuine solutions to severe problems with over-regulation and over-taxation. Until Newt Gingrich brought up GE's CEO sharing the podium with President Obama during the address to the joint session of Congress last Friday and reminding everyone that GE not only received $5 billion in federal money in 2010, they paid $0 in taxes. Newt definitely came out looking the most educated and polished of all eight candidates, but lacked the Tea Party resonance of both Bachman and Cain.

In the end, Herman Cain and Michelle Bachman ruled the night, but neither came across as perfect. Probably a good thing, actually. After Barack Obama's polished, slick, messianic campaign in 2007-2008, any candidate who looks too perfect will immediately be accused of hiding something. Every candidate on the stage came across as a flawed champion of some kind, but the flaws each exhibited were different. The only candidate who may have sunk their own ship last night was Huntsman with his "treason" remark. That definitely stank of sour grapes. Likewise, Romney and Perry pretty much sank each other with their constant bitter sparring. In the end the only thing they really achieved was to make one another both seem like big government, central-planning professional politicians having more appeal with Democrats than Republicans.

The differences between the two debates are what I found the most disturbing. Those differences left me feeling both debates were scripted, staged events rather than genuine intellectual comparisons of dissimilar platforms. I have not felt this deeply suspicious of the entire American political process since the Bush vs. Gore campaign of 2000. Even worse, before last night I had begun to feel we had finally returned to a real campaign with real people competing to prove their worth to lead our nation. This sudden sense of deja vu is profoundly disturbing for me.

I'll still vote when the primary rolls around on May 8th here in Ohio. Come November, I'll still vote against Barack Obama, even if by some bizarre, nightmarish miracle Ron Paul sweeps the primary. I'm no longer certain, however, that we can reverse the grinding, relentless trend toward a one world dictatorship. This is a very uncomfortable place for me to be. It is a place I haven't been since I shook Jim Renacci's hand at the 2008 Wayne County Fair and hit him with direct questions about upcoming votes on the floor of the House of Representatives.

Last night's debate left me feeling we have moved one step back in the direction of a Biblical armaggeddon rather than one step further away.

September 11, 2011

Some things cannot be forgotten, even if we want to

Sobering numbers** (no terrorists in these numbers, just victims):

2966 victims in total
2639 American citizens
327 foreign nationals from 53 countries
247 people on four planes
343 NYFD firefighters
23 NYPD police officers
37 Port Authority police officers

No. I will never forget. I don't know about anyone else, but I can't forget. It replays in my mind at least once a day, sometimes several times throughout the day. Every time someone mentions New York, it is the first image that comes to mind. When I see a television special on firefighters, it replays inside my head. Whenever I see the CNN logo, it leaps up from my subconscious. It is one of the last images my brain retrieves as I am falling asleep at night.

I was in Tokyo. My wife called from work asking me if I was watching CNN. I wasn't.

"Something has happened in New York," she said, sounding puzzled. "It seems to be important. The World Trade Center is on fire."

I turned on CNN. The second plane hit about two minutes after I turned on the television. For the next 18 hours I stared in disbelief. I watched both towers implode. The one thought in my mind during that 18 hours was, "we trained them. Whoever did this, we trained them! Only someone we trained would have had the technical and logistical skill necessary to succeed."

I was not the least bit surprised when I learned it was a former mujahideen.

No, I don't think President Bush and/or Vice President Dick Cheney planned it and oversaw the operation as a false flag event. That thought never once crossed my mind. That would have required too many people and too many secrets. Believe it or not, our government is really lousy at keeping secrets. By the same token, right now somewhere in the world the CIA is training a terrorist. Oh, we aren't calling him a "terrorist". We're calling him a "freedom fighter". And today, that's what he is. Somewhere the CIA is training someone to fight against an unjust government that is oppressive, dictatorial, and murderous. It is, after all, the one thing the CIA does really, really well.

The problem is, once in awhile those guys get a taste for destruction. They enjoy it. When that happens and their current fight ends, they go looking for another one. Fidel Castro, for example, and his buddy Che Guevara. Osama bin Laden and the team leaders for each of the hijacking teams on 9/11 all benefitted from CIA training. When we train someone, we do it right. They are the best in the business and for some of them, it becomes their life's work. Once in awhile it comes back and bites us, but that is the price we pay for "nation building" and "bringing the light of democracy" around the world.

In the long run, we save American lives, tens of thousands, maybe even millions. The CIA and their work are quite possibly the main reason we haven't had another world war. Likewise, our men and women fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq for the past decade are the best in the world at what they do, bar none. They are the reason we haven't had another 9/11.

It is important to give credit where credit is due. It is important to learn from our mistakes. Maybe we should never have trained the mujahideen. Or maybe 9/11, as horrible as it was, is the price we had to pay in order to avoid a direct nuclear confrontation with the Soviet Union.

Life as a responsible adult is never a simple choice between good and evil. Almost every choice I have made since I turned eighteen has been a choice between the lesser of two evils. There are a lot of secrets I will carry to my grave. There are a lot of ghosts that haunt my nights. No, I had no hand in training the mujahideen. That particular ghost is not one of mine, which is partly why those towers burn so very brightly in my memory. I did know enough to recognize American handiwork, though. That was unmistakable. The telltale signature of American expertise is why so many conspiracy theories have grown up around 9/11. Yes, in far too many ways, it was our fault and we did it to ourselves. That does not mean we planned it and carried out, nor does it mean it was entirely avoidable.

We trained Osama bin Laden and his co-conspirators to fight the Russians. We armed them with weapons that were sometimes bought and sometimes stolen, or sometimes captured from Chinese-trained guerillas in South America. Our tax dollars gave Osama and his people the skills and tools they needed to drive the Soviets out of Afghanistan. When that war ended, they went looking for someone else to use those skills against. When we used Saudi Arabia as a launchpad to drive Saddam Hussein from Kuwait it gave them an excuse to turn and bite the hand that fed them.

Yes, we all share the guilt in those three thousand dead. No, it was not a secret conspiracy to topple America and bring on a New World Order. It had nothing to do with evil bankers, secret societies, Bilderberg, or the Council on Foreign Relations. It was much simpler than that. We trained a Saudi playboy to fight the Russians. Then we made him mad so he turned that training against us.

Life is like that. Sometimes our best intentions come back to kick us in the gut when we least expect it. I will go to my grave mourning everyone who died that sunny autumn morning. They were innocents from around the world going about their business in one of the finest cities mankind has ever raised. It is not fair that they had to pay such a heavy price just to avoid a nuclear confrontation between two arrogant superpowers. It is not fair that tens of thousands more have been killed, maimed, and wounded in revenge. Sadly, sometimes life is not about what's fair. Life is about what's necessary.

Bringing an end to Soviet occupation of Afghanistan was necessary. That defeat contributed greatly to bringing an end to the Soviet Union itself, which was even more necessary. It was not necessary for Osama bin Laden to destroy the World Trade Center, but he did it anyway. After he did, it most certainly was necessary to remind him the student had not surpassed the master. Not by a long shot.

I also still believe that it was not necessary to go into Iraq and topple Saddam Hussein, but we did it anyway. That debt has yet to be repaid. I fear it is coming due very, very soon.


**(The numbers cited here are from WikiAnswers)

September 08, 2011

A Quick Response to the GOP Debate on MSNBC

Newt Gingrich came across stronger than I expected he would.

Michelle Bachman came across weaker, much to my disappointment.

Jon Huntsman did really well deflecting attention away from his time in China and onto his record as Governor of Utah.

Ron Paul came out better than I expected, but still not quite all there.

Rick Santorum looked more like a real candidate than I've ever seen him before.

Herman Cain came out really strong, but not very deep, offering real solutions but I'm not sure they are realistic solutions.

Mitt Romney performed as expected, neither gaining nor losing in my estimation.

Rick Perry gained a few points in my estimation, but I'm not ready to jump on the Perry bandwagon.

I really like how well the candidates shot down attempts by the moderators to create a pie fight. I thought everyone did a good job of presenting their platform and distinguishing themselves from one another without resorting to personal attacks. They did point out differences in one another's record, which is a good thing and important, but they never stooped to namecalling or mudslinging.

All in all, this was one of the most serene, balanced, and informative candidate debates I've ever seen.

I actually enjoyed it!

September 04, 2011

The ignorance of progressive scholars

Someone recently posted a link to a very interesting New York Times Op-ed written by Dr. Eliyahu Stern.

That article is here: Don't Fear Islamic Law in America
Dr. Stern's bio at Yale is here: Eliyahu Stern

Basically, Dr. Stern asserts that American objection to the implementation of Islamic law within Muslim communities is racist and has more in common with anti-Semitism in pre-WW2 America than it does with contemporary American culture. I strongly disagree with Dr. Stern's position and here is a very good example of why:

The Cutting Edge: Growth of Islamistan in Europe

Every European city and country that has allowed Muslim neighborhoods to set up Shari'a courts has now seen those neighborhoods become entirely separate countries which non-Muslim citizens are not allowed to enter. Every single one, there are no exceptions. Dr. Stern asserts that Muslims in America are different because they come mostly from Southeast Asia rather than Arabia, North Africa, and Persia. Such thinking is entirely delusional. The precepts of Shari'a are the same, regardless of which Islamic sect is implementing it. If Shari'a courts are allowed in American cities then sooner or later, and probably sooner, we will see exactly the same disintegration that Europe is right now experiencing. Dr. Stern also conveniently overlooks that the Muslim communities most intent on bringing Shari'a to America are Somali Muslims living in Minnesota, a community that has already been repeatedly linked to terrorist recruiters and radical imams.

For a more realistic look at what is happening around the world in relation to the rise of Shari'a and radical Islamist communities, I'd strongly suggest a visit to Soeren Kern's excellent and thorough website, "". It is neither racist nor anti-Semitic to point out that here in the real world wherever Shari'a is allowed to flourish radicalization quickly follows. In the vast majority of cases, when a Muslim community begins to demand freedom from the local legal system and the institution of Shari'a courts, there are radical imams and community leaders behind the drive. Objections of Muslim community members and non-Muslims in the surrounding community are overlooked, the neighborhood sets up a Shari'a court, and within two years the entire neighborhood has become a miniature Islamic country completely independent of the larger community that surrounds them. This has been true in every single case. There are zero exceptions.

To propose on the basis of "scholarship" that somehow America will be magically different is at best delusional and at worst, deliberately deceitful. It was just barely one year ago that I wrote, "The Final Unholy Alliance". Everything that I brought out has now come to pass. When I wrote that post dozens of people told me that even if I was right, it would take decades for European cities to experience that kind of disintegration. They assured me that there was no "secret conspiracy" between American progressives and radical imams to transform America into an Islamic country. Well, here we are barely a year later. Not only have hundreds of Muslim communities in European cities become divided, crime-ridden warzones, America's media and academics are both fervently denying the reality of life in Europe's oldest cities. Eliyahu Stern's piece at the New York Times is clear evidence of progressive academic support for radical Islamists seeking to bring Shari'a to America. Maybe it's not an "alliance" in the strictest sense of the word, but for some unspoken reason Dr. Stern and those who agree with him have definitely thrown their support behind terrorists seeking to create a global caliphate.