Peace in the Middle East?

I read with some amusement that the Palestinians are trying to appeal to the Useless Nations to get what 90-plus years of terrorism has not produced to date – their own homeland.  Whether or not you believe that the Palestinians deserve their own territory is not the real thrust of this post, but some of the assumptions that go along with it.

The assumption is that if the Palestinians get their own place in the sun is that all hostilities in the Middle East will cease, and everyone lives happily ever after.  I don’t think anyone in their right mind really believes that, but there is that hope and spin.  Of course, Israel is the target to give up the land, although even if Israel concedes land, peace will not break out.  And that is if the Palestinians agree to anything, which is doubtful as the following video reveals (h/t to Woman Honor Thyself):

No, there are too many countries and organizations in that region that hate Israel for just existing.  Take Hamas, for instance.  Their published mission statement is to facilitate the destruction of Israel.  They will continue to bomb, terrorize, and attack until that country and its people are pushed into the Red Sea.  And they are not a country, but just one organization among many…  And then there is Iran with its fledgling nuclear program with a maniac at the helm.  Isn’t anyone else just a tad concerned?

I also noted that the critics panned President Obummer’s speech to the UN.  Gone are the days that he could make a speech and garner praise & acclaim.  The rest of the world now sees him for what he really is – an empty suit that makes pretty speeches.  Whatever happened to the promise of peace indicated by that Nobel Peace Prize?  Obviously, we’re not the only ones let down.

The UN is overwhelmingly represented by countries run by warlords, despots, & dictators.  I’m not surprised that the Palestinians are trying to strong-arm Israel through the international community to give them what they want, and I fully understand Israel’s reluctance.  There is no guarantee, definitely not through the UN, that any country or organization would honor treaties or agreements with Israel.  After all, such agreements have been broken in the past, and will continue to be broken as long as Israel exists.

Ten Years Later

Here it is, ten years after Islamic fanatics took over four planes and crashed them into the World Trade Center Towers, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania.  We still remember and mourn those that were lost in such a savage and senseless act.  Here’s how I remember that day [from Remembering 9/11]:

Sitting at my desk at another plant on assignment five years ago, I was finishing up some report when someone came in the office and announced that a plane had hit one of the World Trade Center buildings. I really didn’t think much of it at the time, and thought that some joy riding pilot in a Cessna got too close to one of the buildings, got caught in an updraft, and slammed into the building.

I finished up the report, and went out on the floor to check on the project’s progress, and I happened to see one of the TVs the company had set up for internal communications. Someone had put the feed from one of the national networks on the network, and I saw the WTC burning. I was stunned for two reasons – the first was that it was such a clear day, so how could someone accidentally hit one of the buildings. The second was that I just couldn’t understand how a small plane could cause so much damage. That’s when I saw the second plane hit…

Dumbfounded, I suddenly realized that the first plane was not a Cessna or other small plane, but a full-sized, passenger-carrying jet. I next understood that this was deliberate, because there was absolutely no way that two planes could hit the WTC buildings on the same clear day. Then there was the overwhelming sense of sadness, grief, hopelessness as the dawning of a new thought came to mind…

Terrorism, unlike anything that we have ever known, had come to America.

I watched, horrified along with the rest of the country, as the towers came down mere minutes from each other. I couldn’t understand that at the time – this was the last thing that I had expected. I had known that the Empire State Building had been struck by a B-25 bomber and had survived with minimal damage – why not a modern building? But that was not the case here – too big, too much fuel, too much heat – and the towers collapsed. And I wept openly as I watched the plumes of dust rise over the island of Manhattan.

Over the past ten years, we have seen the terrorists commit other horrendous acts of violence in this country as well as the rest of the world.  Homegrown terrorist wannabes as well as committed jihadists have committed murder and mayhem if they were not discovered first.

However, many terrorist leaders responsible for 9/11 and other atrocities have been killed or captured, and in many respects, terrorist activities have been curtailed.  Unfortunately, there is still various networks that are planning and plotting to cause mayhem and havoc to the innocent.

What is astounding to me is that there are still those that believe that the terrorists can be negotiated with.  Tom Brokaw wrote in this Sunday’s Parade Magazine:

We’re still armed and on the ground in two Muslim nations where we’ve fought for much of the past 10 years, but we still have not extinguished the rage of extremists. We need to be more effective in promoting the American ideal without using guns or drones.

Mr. Brokaw, I agree with you.  However, I’m also reminded of a conversation from a Batman movie between Bruce Wayne and Alfred:

Alfred Pennyworth: A long time ago, I was in Burma, my friends and I were working for the local government. They were trying to buy the loyalty of tribal leaders by bribing them with precious stones. But their caravans were being raided in a forest north of Rangoon by a bandit. So we went looking for the stones. But in six months, we never found anyone who traded with him. One day I saw a child playing with a ruby the size of a tangerine. The bandit had been throwing them away.
Bruce Wayne: Then why steal them?
Alfred Pennyworth: Because he thought it was good sport. Because some men aren’t looking for anything logical, like money. They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.

“They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with.  Some men just want to watch the world burn.”  Those last two lines, I believe, is the overriding reason why Islamic radicals and their terrorist brethren kill the innocents in the name of their religion to bring about their own version of heaven on earth.  The “rage of the extremists” cannot be quenched because it is not rational, nor does it respect the lives of fellow human beings.  This is why terrorists should not and cannot be negotiated with.

The civilized world is in a war that cannot and will not be won easily.  The hardest thing to eliminate is an idea, even if that idea states that in order to enter heaven, innocents not of your faith must be killed, but if those people that are of your faith get in the way, then they are automatically martyrs for the cause.  And that, my friends, is the last resort for people who have nothing to lose except their lives, and everything to gain in the next.  This is madness, at least to my mind.

Today is a day of remembrance for those who have been victims, for those who have lost their lives in fighting this horror, and why the fight must continue on.  Today needs to be a reason for us, the American people, to persevere in the face of those who wish us harm.  We must be…

…Americans.

Tom’s Place remembers all the victims of 9/11, and offers this remembrance to one of the victims, Klaus Johannes Sprockamp.

Nobody Noticed This Part of the Speech?

Watching the President’s speech to a joint session of Congress last night, I just about came unglued when I heard the following line from Obummer:

What kind of country would this be if this chamber had voted down Social Security or Medicare just because it violated some rigid idea about what government could or could not do?

My answer:  One that followed the Constitution that this country was founded upon.

In the statements preceding this statement, Obummer extolled the virtues of Abraham Lincoln and Congresses in the past that preserved the Union and built the infrastructure of the country with highways (real and virtual) and many of the public works projects from FDR on.  These projects, in my opinion, were within the Congressional purview of “public good” because they built the foundations that this country could grow upon.  Federally funded schools, I believe, are not.  These should be privately funded or funded by the States in which the schools reside.  This is a matter of debate, of course, of what the public good actually covers, but I do not think that setting up Federal public assistance program (Social Security, Medicare, or Obamacare) qualifies under the Constitution of “Public Good.”  But let me digress a little further…

On the subject of Social Security, let’s take a left-hand turn into what Social Security started out to be and where it is now.  FDR promised at the introduction of the Social Security Program (FICA) that:

  • Participation in the program would be completely voluntary.
  • The participants would only have to pay 1% of the first $4,100 of their annual income into the program.
  • The money that the participants elected to put into the program would be deductible from their income taxes.
  • The participant’s money would be put into an independent “trust fund” rather than the General Operating Fund, i.e., the money would only be used for funding the Social Security Retirement Fund, and not any other program.
  • The annuity payment to the retiree’s would not be taxed as income.

Now how much of the above still holds today?  For those of you who are having brain farts, the answer is:  None of the above.  And why is Social Security in trouble, especially now that participation if now mandatory for everyone?  Here are some clues for the clueless:

  • Lyndon Johnson with the Democratically controlled Congress (both House and Senate) passed the legislation that allowed the Social Security independent trust fund to be rolled into the General Fund, allowing Congress to spend the money for any and all programs (pork barrels were included).
  • The income deduction for contributions to Social Security were eliminated by the Democrats (can’t find the reference – yet).
  • President “Peanut Farmer” Carter signed legislation that allowed immigrants to collect Social Security payments at 65, even if the immigrant had not paid anything into the system.
  • Social Security annuities were immune from taxes until then Vice President Al Gore cast the “tie-breaking” vote in the Senate. Of course, “Uncle BIll” Clinton signed it, and the annuities are being taxed up to 85%, and that’s money that the taxpayer has put into the system for the government to take care of!

I know from my parents that they are pretty upset with the state of Social Security.  They paid into the system for all their working lives, and are receiving a mere pittance of what they put in.  They were fiscally responsible, and invested wisely, so they are OK, but it is absolutely criminal that the Government has taken away these funds from the People with a promise that has been reneged on.

And that is the crux of the matter.  When Obummer stated the above words, it reminded me of all of the above.  It also shows exactly what Obummer thinks – Government is the solution, he and Congress know better than the Founders of the Constitution, and that the Constitution is in their way.  Yes, the Constitution is “about what government could or could not do”, and Obummer is making the case that the Constitution can be ignored because the Constitution is an outdated document and doesn’t apply.  The problem is that what Government gives can also be taken away without regard for the individual.  This has been proven time and time again with not only our own government, but with governments around the world (past and present).  The Constitution provides for the protection of the individual while providing a mechanism (called “Amendments to the Constitution”) to address any future needs.  This is what Obummer wants to sidestep.

Why doesn’t anyone else see this?  I haven’t seen a single post or news outlet jump all over this, or am I the only one with the radar going?