Military Preparedness?

Short answer:  Not so much!

It is difficult not to blame former President Obama for the state of military preparedness we have today; he was the Commander-in-Chief for the past 8 years.  The Washington Times stated: “U.S. military decimated under Obama, ‘only marginally able’ to defend nation.”

Our military leaders, granted they might have ulterior funding motives, opine that we would be very hard-pressed today to engage in major conflict on two separate fronts.  The present troop and equipment levels would be stretched, possibly past the breaking point, if we were to find ourselves involved on two battlefronts today.

Our military equipment has aged and the troops themselves have gotten older.  Funding for the military has been reduced over these past eight years and it is tough to make do with too few troops and aging equipment on a single major battle front much less spread over two distinct fronts.

We have much the same in terms of potential adversaries although they may be a bit more emboldened since they see our state of affairs, too.  North Korea is near the top of the list.  China could become a problem and holds a significant amount of our worldwide debt.  Russia sits watching us and our world issues.  The ISIS-type situations continue to exist draining power.

The Heritage Foundation’s “2015 Index of U.S. Military Strength” concluded: “The U.S. military is rapidly approaching a one-war-capable-force.  So it is supposedly able to handle a major war and then having just a bit of residual capability to handle other minor crises that might pop up…but it is a far cry from being a two-war force.”

The past eight years were not kind to our military so far as funding.  There is only so much tax-payer money to go around and the military was not an Obama favorite.  He would claim, of course, to have kept the military strong, but there seems much opposing opinion by both civilian experts and military people in addition to the evidence itself.

President Trump has certainly showed himself to be in favor of a strong military but he will have the problem of limited taxpayer dollars to go in many different directions.  It is shameful to bring politics into military preparedness, but that seems to be impossible to avoid.  We as a country tend to build up military forces and equipment levels under Republican leadership and then permit it to deteriorate under Democrat leadership.

The ideal troop levels from the generals’ perspective would be a total of 50 combat brigades.  We historically commit 21 combat brigades to one war.  We currently have some 33 brigades total, if that many.  If we were to find ourselves in two wars, we’d be far short of the desired 42 combat brigades and obviously would have no brigades in reserve should those be needed.  That is a precarious position given the state of affairs in this world today.

Brigades cannot be manned and equipped and trained in the blink of an eye so the depletion that has occurred over the past years cannot be easily erased by an incoming President no matter how supportive of the military he or she might be.  We do not, as voters, take these kinds of things into account as we should.  These kinds of things in a political debate would have the press and the Dems in a rage overnight and that rage would last right on through the election.  We all know it but these are the kinds of things one just doesn’t talk about except apparently in military studies and blogs.

President Obama did us and our military no favors while in office.  A President Hillary Clinton would’ve done us no favors in the military sense if she had gained the Oval office.  A Democrat-controlled Congress would’ve have been less-than-enthusiastic about defense spending increases.  These things are real.  They have been proved over and over again.  These are the really IMPORTANT things.  Without the ability to defend ourselves, we’d have no social programs to hand out this and that to all comers.

The world in which we live is not all nicey-nicey no matter how much we might hope for that.  Without a strong military to act as a deterrent we would be toast. And yet, we seem to have to bang people on the head every so often to remind them of this reality.  We are hated by many and it only takes one of the many to come after us in ways we’ve not even begun to think one country would do to another.  We measure every other country by our own standards too often without taking into account that not all are like us.

Military preparedness is critical to our future.  That is simply an unfortunate truth but it is one which cannot be ignored such as has been the case in the past eight years.

National Guard to Round-up Illegals?

A follow-on to the blog from yesterday dealing with the press conference that continues to stir up the angst of the “press” is the AP story reported by that very “press” that President Trump planned to call-up thousands of national guardsmen and women for the purposes of rounding up illegal persons currently in our country.

To the contrary, the Presidential order discusses the use of National Guardsman who have been specially trained if their use is approved by the respective state Governor since Guardsmen remain under state control unless and until ‘federalized’.  These people would have been under the command of the respective state Governors and the states would’ve been reimbursed by the federal government for services rendered.

This was an example of the “fake news” that the President decried during his press conference and which the mainstream media finally has to admit was falsely concocted or simply grossly misstated to the degree that it appeared intentional and aimed at the President as though it were factual.

You can access the entire bank of information here if you would like to see it for yourself: http://www.redstate.com/streiff/2017/02/17/associated-press-runs-fakenews-story-planned-roundup-illegals-national-guard/

We know there will never be a love fest between President Trump and the mainstream media.  We do, however, have the right to expect absolute truthfulness from the mainstream media.  My reading of this document left me with no question about federalization of the National Guard or elements of the Guard.  It is clear that states would authorize the use of state guardsmen and guardswomen who had been specially trained and that the states would maintain control over them and be reimbursed by the Feds for that use.

This AP story was one of two things: either terribly fact-sourced and reported OR intentionally printed in the form it was for purposes of attacking President Trump.  If you and I can read the document and reach the proper conclusion, why would an AP person not be able to do that as well?  If the AP did not have possession of the document it should not have run with the story.

While you and I might choose to avoid using the pejorative “fake news” it is easy to see that President Trump might’ve chosen the pejorative to get his point across.  This is a perfect example of what he has been claiming for some time.  Might it actually be the only substantiation for his claim of “fake news”?  That is certainly possible, however, this blatant expose’ of an actual false news report certainly seems to lend credence to his claims of such activity on the part of the press.

This is one example of a story that simply was not reported factually.  Have there been more or might there be more?  Who knows.  But this appears to be evidence that there has been at least one “fake news” report by the vaunted AP.

The credibility of the press has been seriously eroded so far as its treatment of President Donald Trump.  That doesn’t mean that the press will not cover President Trump any longer.  It does mean the press had better have its crap together before the story hits wires.  And it does mean that Trump has at least this example of actual “fake news” as he chooses to call it knowing that it aggravates the dickens out of the members of the nation’s press corps.

The raging dogs of the media would be well advised to tone it down a bit if it doesn’t want to find itself embarrassed yet again.  We rely on what we read and hear and see on television as being totally factual.  This example taints that forever so far as the press’s relationship with this President which didn’t exactly get off to a great start anyway.  And, it should make us consumers of AP stories aware that we ought to dig a little deeper if and when there is some so-called evidence presented that calls President Trump into doubt.

And they brought this onto themselves.  It cannot be blamed on President Trump even though he may gloat a bit over this episode.

Now He’s Gone & Done It…

Wow!  A simple press conference has juiced up his opponents…from the ‘mainstream media’ if there is a ‘mainstream media’.  President Donald Trump held a press conference yesterday.  I confess that I watched it.  I confess that I enjoyed the President’s free-wheeling back-and-forth with members of the press during the eighty minutes he spent taking their questions and responding to those questions.  I confess that I took some measure of delight in seeing the vaunted media mavens with the looks of horror on their faces…except when they had the “gotcha” looks going back and forth through the room.

Richard Wolf of USA TODAY has a paragraph that goes: “It was a spectacle for the ages – one that his most loyal supporters probably loved, but which political insiders have seldom, if ever, witnessed.  Taking questions from a hostile (my emphasis) press corps, Trump interrupted and belittled them repeatedly, then responded in blunt terms avoided by his predecessors.”

E.J. Dionne from the Washington Post led his article off with this paragraph:  “Let’s not mumble or whisper about the central issue facing our country: What is this democratic nation to do when the man serving as president of the United States has no business being president of the United States?”

Of course, this was probably to be expected.  After all, we went from a President in whose mouth butter wouldn’t melt to this misfit foisted upon us by the voters.  Just who do those voters think they are?  Do they think they make these huge decisions such as who will be the President?  They do so without even listening to those of us in the press who obviously know better simply because we are in the press corps.

We witnessed the apoplectic press yesterday in all its umbrage.  It was not a pretty sight.  President Trump was the same person I voted for, but the press corps was not the lapdog press corps that savored every word from the mouth of former President Barack Obama.  The experience in real life that these two men brought with them to this high position is remarkably different.  The immediate past president had virtually no experience but saw himself as the savior of the country.  The current president has a world of experience but not the kind of experience the press apparently believes is necessary if one is to be a good President.

The elitists that comprise too much of what passes for the press these days need to take a few steps back, breath deeply, maybe even put their heads down between their knees while doing so, and get a grip.  They talk about President Trump not being fit to hold the office he won fairly and squarely.  I would suggest they need to carefully look at themselves and perform a critical self-examination.  Many of us have already taken steps to move beyond being spoon-fed by the liberal media types.  If they persist in this kind of hysterical hyperbole, they’ll succeed in very nearly abolishing this “press” they revere over all else.  Had they not walked into that briefing room with huge chips on the shoulders looking forward to engaging with this buffoon that we idiots elected, maybe they could’ve gotten beyond themselves.

It is apparently wrong, in their minds, for us voters to enjoy this President for some of the differences he brought to the White House, for the breath of fresh air after the stifling elitism that pervaded the White House for the preceding eight years.

If I am to judge the quality of the person we just elected to the office of President of the United States based upon the nature and source of complaints, then that is what I’ll need to do.  At the moment, President Trump is far ahead of the mainstream media and the elites that pontificate about his demeanor and qualifications.  We’ll see how that continues, but these two media folks are off to a bad start in my book.

First Serious Call? For Resignation?

President Donald Trump is certainly a polarizing individual and seems to enjoy being such.  It serves to draw attention to him and to his ideas and positions.  I read a piece by Richard A. Epstein in the Defining Ideas publication of the Hoover Institution which raises the question of a Trump resignation.  That can be found here if you’re of a mind to read it: http://www.hoover.org/research/time-trump-resign

My first inclination was to skip this piece since the Hoover Institution sits close to San Francisco and actually describes itself as a conservative organization.  The author describes himself as a classical liberal so I was hooked.  His writing is quite captivating even if one disagrees with its premise.  He has solid credentials whether or not one chooses to agree or disagree with the writing.

The writing is not quite two pages in length but has some pros and cons about where we were under the Obama Administration, and where we would’ve likely been had Hillary Clinton prevailed.  He assails the progressives’, such as Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), attacks on Judge Neil Gorsuch.

Epstein is quick to highlight the positive aspects of the Trump Administration even though he does not believe the President has gone about his job in a statesmanlike manner to this point.  He cites an “immoral flirtation with Vladimir Putin”, and questions the idea that we should run positive trade balances with all our trading partners around the world.

He concludes with the following:

Hence, I think there is ample reason to call for Trump’s resignation, even though I know full well that my advice will not be heeded.  And this welcome outcome will not happen so long as the attack against him comes solely from progressive Democrats.  Sensible Republicans should focus on the threat that he represents to their plan, and recall that the alternative is no longer Hillary Clinton, but Mike Pence.

Finally, Epstein points out that while miracles happen, a Trump transformation isn’t likely going to be among them.  I admit this isn’t what one typically finds in my blogs, but it did seem to me to be an important and well-stated critique of President Trump.  Epstein ends the writing with this:  “Unfortunately his excesses could power a progressive revival.”

Palace Intrigue…

It didn’t take very long for all the behind-the-scenes leaked information to hit the news.  The Trump White House is apparently filled with intrigue if the rumor-mongers are to be believed.  Trump is supposed to, according to this leaked information, be ready to fire the Press Secretary.  He is also apparently unhappy with several other members of his staff if we are to believe the rumors.

The biggest problem with all this is the simple fact that Donald Trump is not the darling of the media and the media will have its way, or so it thinks, with this interloper.  We do not have a clue as to what we should believe or what we should pooh-pooh.  Maybe we ought to simply disregard all the ‘scandals’ and wait for actual occurrences.  Maybe the media is simply creating “altcontroversy” in its angst over the fact that we voters were dumb enough to elect this man as our President.

I do not recall ever having to wait very long to learn where now-President Trump stood regarding any of the people with whom he interacted, and certainly with any he had on his personal staff.  Maybe we are witnessing a ‘tempest in a teapot’ created by those who await the explosions they just know are about to occur.

In the meantime, this new President of ours is getting on with getting on.  He is wasting no time making key decisions and dealing with issues as those arise.  This man is not timid in his use of personal power.  He’s had a lot of practice.  This man will conduct himself as he sees fit and not as the press tries to tell him to act.  If he is dissatisfied with a member of his staff, I suspect that person will be counseled and then ultimately sent packing if the dissatisfaction continues.  President Trump is able to make decisions without a lot of back-and-forth anguishing…and he certainly needs no help from the press or those who would leak palace intrigue.

Will there be some staffing changes?  I suspect that will happen.  There will probably be a few people in the several hundred that he’ll be relying upon regularly who will simply not work out for whatever the reason.  Whether that is on him or on them.

This man has run large organizations and he knows what he wants and how to go about assuring that he gets that.  His actions may not mimic those of past Presidents.  Given some of those past Presidents, I’d say President Trump is wise to make his own decisions on staffing.

Has Sean Spicer done a good job as Press Secretary?  He has so far as I am concerned.  I have enjoyed his style and his methods.  I like his intentional disrupting of the old status quo by calling on people who’d otherwise not have been called on, or certainly not at the beginning of a Press Conference.  Was this suggested by the President?  Who knows?  But it was definitely a demonstration that there was a new President in town.

These few weeks have been somewhat refreshing.  They have been a downright wondrous occurrence when compared to the act that just left this stage.  I doubt that this Presidency will ever be adjudged as having been ‘stuffy’ or ‘tiresome’.  True, there may be some re-dos but that is to be much preferred over keeping poor choices on simply to maintain the appearance of calm control on the part of a President.

We seem to forget that we wanted a new show in the White House.  We voted for a new way of conducting the nation’s business.  Members of Congress would be wise to recognize this, too.  It would be interesting to start a pool with the winner being the person who could accurately predict which staid old know-it-all member of Congress will be the first to be dressed down publicly by this new President.

I watch as the Democrats do their special ‘slow-walk’ using lofty language about this and that and how the debates need to be done in due time without necessarily hurrying just because the President wanted something down quickly.  I am waiting for the first time that one of the old-school Dems is invited into the Oval Office and given the old “what for” by this new President.  I doubt the press will give us any of the back and forth of such a meeting but I do expect there will be at least one of those, and sooner rather than later.  There is much that needs to be accomplished and I doubt that slow-walking for the sake of politics is something that will get a welcome by our new President.

Politicians of all stripes have the ability to see things one way when they’re in power and another way when they’re out of power.  That is the nature of the beast.  This President is in politics for the first time (even though he started at the top of the ladder) and he has promised to accomplish a lot on behalf of those of us who put him that position.  I believe we will see a careful but very effective use of political power, and I believe we’ll see it sooner rather than later.

Political Ebb & Flow…

The political realm is a constantly changing thing and it makes one almost dizzy trying to stay tuned into the change that occurs.  About the time we think we have gotten a grasp on the current situation, that situation has evolved into a different situation.

There are 536 (100+435+1) prime time players and untold tens of thousands of lesser players whom we typically don’t know but that exist all across the spectrum.  Those lesser players vary in clout across that wide spectrum.  I talked about the House Freedom Caucus a short time ago and about where and how it will make itself felt.  These 32 members of Congress are believed to be considerably more conservative than many of the other so-called conservatives, and they are excited whenever they can insert themselves strategically to the angst of others.  That has occurred and makes the job of the Speaker of the House more difficult.

At the same time, the Democrats recognize the duress of the Republicans and seize on those opportunities to make life even more miserable since that is about all they can accomplish given their numbers.  President Trump, of course, adds a new element to the mix given his non-typical approach to the Presidency.

When these kinds of games are being played we citizens are the last thing that anyone in a national office thinks about.  The game is, at that point, all about them and how much power they can exert.  It is about face time before the folks at home and about the wielding of power by some who have little opportunity to wield true power.

We can liken this, if we stretch our imaginations, to the fights between the beasts of the jungle.  When one, for example, has been wounded by another, the wounded one is besieged from all quarters even by the less strong animals since it is the only time they can make themselves felt.

This, unfortunately, is what Congress and our country’s leadership can be like.  Politics certainly has the capacity to be seen as a “blood sport”.  And the people who engage in these activities are some whom we’d never have expected to be able to do such a thing.  We may have had the opportunity to shake the hand of a person who has suddenly turned into a vicious political animal.  We may have had the opportunity to attend a local meeting conducted by one or more of these.  Deals are made in times such as this in order to gain an advantage at the time.  Those deals also have to be honored in the world of politics and that sometimes is reflected in a vote we never thought a person would take.  For the most part, that person likely doesn’t enjoy the position but felt that the prize won earlier was worth the agony of having to vote a certain way today.

When we see a person vote contrary to what we thought they’d ever do, there is probably a deal lurking somewhere that caused this vote to be cast.  Political deal-making could sometimes put pit bulls to shame given the carnage figuratively left behind.  This is no place for a Casper Milquetoast.

We might also liken these situations to the frenzy of sharks when they sense blood in the water.  It is ugly; it is a time to get as far away as is possible if you don’t want to lose a valuable body part.

Many of our politicians at the national level find themselves in such situations every once in awhile.  I don’t believe that the majority of our national leaders like this side of their world, but they have little choice once they get off the airplane in D.C.  Then there are also those politicians who live for these figuratively bloody battles.  You can spot them easily.  They’re the ones that have a gleam in their eye as they close in for the figurative kill, and we can probably each name a few.  Coming from Wisconsin, I am proud to say we don’t have any of those people in our current elected group.  And it has been a long time since we even came close to this experience.

A Former Nevada Senator and a current New York Senator, both Democrats, come to mind, however.

Politics Before Country?

There is what seems a growing body of evidence that Democrats have decided that politics trumps (no pun intended) whatever might be best for our country.  We see the Democrat leaders sharpening their volleys of vindictive verbosity as opposed to oiling their weapons and putting them away until the next election cycle.  Liberal Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) can hardly contain his glee at this wonderful opportunity for more face time on TV.

All this is, of course, fueled by the left-wing media/press/judiciary all of which/who seem to be gleefully willing participants.  Talks about White House intrigue run as front page stories in some ‘rags’ that hope to eventually pass for real news publications if they can survive long enough to outlast others.  The Democrats in congress make no bones about their intentions and show themselves actually giddy over the possibilities that are going to be coming their way.

And, right on the heels of this evident approach come some of the Republicans who are still smarting over the election results and the fact they backed the wrong pony in the race to their apparent political detriment.  They may not actually qualify as RINOs (republicans-in-name-only) but they are showing their less-than-reliable-approach to party politics when the going gets a little rougher than they signed on for months ago.  A certain Arizona Senator is among the leaders of this group, as has been his apparent self-perceived calling in the Republican party.  The man is a great war hero but an unreliable conservative Republican Senator.  The earlier reputation, war hero, continues to fuel his victories when he has to again run for his Senate seat.

There is an almost daily flow of ‘rumors’ about this or that person who is now in the White House, and some of those likely come from dissident Republicans chafing because they aren’t in the White House as well as those Republicans who thought they’d find a spot in the Trump Administration and have yet to receive that call.  Most recent victim of this rumor mill is Reince Priebus, a good Wisconsin son.  He was only the national Republican Party head who engineered the political side of President Trump’s victory.

None of this ‘palace’ intrigue does anything good for the United States of America.  To the contrary, the palace intrigue actually brightens the outlook of the world’s tyrannical rulers while destroying the positive outlook of the rest of us if we permit that to occur.  Can’t you imagine Kim Jung Il sitting in his palace in North Korea as he watches the fools cavort in this non-communist country?  Might these shenanigans not serve to embolden this dictator who threatens nuclear annihilation?  And what about mainland China and its quest for domination over the nationalist Chinese on an island just a ways off the coast of China, even while it helps sustain the U.S. economy with loans?

Obstructionists have existed likely from the very first national election to this date.  They have gained power, however, with the advent of a press that can provide virtually instantaneous ‘news’ to the masses (that would be you and me).  In fact, obstructionists pose as members of this vaunted “free” press.  The press, early on, chose which of the candidates would receive the support of the bulk of its members.  Even with that tacit additional number of stealth campaigners, Hillary Clinton was beaten when three states’ voters who were in usually reliable Democrat voting states made decisions to go for Trump and not for Hillary.  Proudly, my Wisconsin is among those states.

Reportorial undies have been in a bundle since the votes were counted.  We watch press conferences and see the questions thrown at the Press Secretary.  Coincidentally, we see rumors that this Press Secretary has fallen from the favor of President Trump.  I suspect those rumors might have found their genesis from amongst the reporters attending these press conferences.  After all, this guy answered questions first from people who were not seated in the front row.  No one pokes a finger in the eye of “the press” and gets away unscathed, after all.

Just when we might’ve thought we could relax, the Democrat sharks circling in the water show us we can never relax.  The good news is that they are not sufficient in number, so far at least, to have a negative impact on much that happens except possibly for Supreme Court nominations where emotion and political threats can be a very powerful tool of ‘persuasion’ when applied deftly and punishingly by a Sen. Schumer.

Conservatives can never relax.  We must be constantly aware and constantly outspoken.  If one of our own strays from the conservative positions in which we observe and believe, we must call him or her.  We must be alert to opportunities to help make others aware of just what it is we believe is best for the country and why, and to engage in conversation vs. argument.  We must show our caring and concern and the fact that we are humans who can actually smile and be pleasant contrary to what others would have some believe about us ‘ogres’ on the political right.  In addition to being one, I know some conservatives, quite a few actually, and they are almost always very pleasant, and I know they hold their country only second to how they view God and their families.