Motives do matter: Obama finally engaged but why, really?

Howard Kurtz writes a piece in which he describes a more serious media covering a war president. He mentions Republican Peter King’s comment basically saying that we should all get together and support Obama. “What’s past is behind us,” he said. While I most certainly approve of taking the needed actions to eliminate a threat to peaceful people, I can’t simply dismiss the actions of the President leading up to this engagement nor ignore the obvious motives.

President Obama simply couldn’t be bothered to take any of this seriously. Until, that is, his polling numbers started falling like a brick knocked off the Washington Monument. Am I to believe that a man who casually dismissed the enemy as the “JV team” barely a month ago suddenly reassessed the threat all on his own? Sorry, don’t think so.

Obama may be doing the right thing, now, and I support the strikes against the Islamic State terrorists wholeheartedly, but he’s only doing it because he and his fellow Demand in office are trying to forestall the impending electoral damage heading their way. And as soon as that’s handled, they’ll go weak-kneed again.

Drones are not evil, they’re tools.

I have to admit to being a bit mystified about some of the debate ongoing about the use of drones in military, tactical situations. I have heard the alarm – hysteria, almost – over the use of drones and the attempt to turn them into the boogeyman of our era. Rand Paul famously said, during his 13-hour filibuster on the Senate floor, “No American should be killed by a drone on American soil without first being charged with a crime, without first being found to be guilty by a court.” Clearly not, but is the drone really the issue? I mean, if the same American were shot dead by a police officer when no charge existed and no indication were present that they were guilty of a crime, would we be OK with that? I don’t think so.

As in the debate on gun ownership, the drone isn’t the driving force, it’s the tool. Someone targets it, someone pushes the button authorizing it to engage its weapon systems, and that someone is the one responsible whether it’s a push of a button a continent away or the pull of a trigger at point-blank range. The issue is a matter of whether we’re OK with the idea that the President can unilaterally make a decision to kill an American citizen with no trial, no filing of charges, and no chance to confront his accusers. I shed no tears for terrorists who think blowing up a marketplace makes their point who get blotted out by a Brimstone missile. But when the target is an American citizen, my personal feelings aren’t the deciding factor. The Constitution is and the President has sworn an oath (yeah, I know – he doesn’t care that he did, but he did) to uphold it. He is required to treat Americans differently than enemy combatants on the battlefield. And that’s regardless of the weapon system he choses to use.

Budget framework gets cloture. Now we find out what's in it.

Apparently Nancy Pelosi ain’t the only one relying on the “we have to pass it so we can find out what’s in it” approach. After getting through a cloture vote in the Senate the word is coming out about one of the methods being used to get the deficit cuts Paul Ryan is touting. They’re cutting money out of military retirees’ cost-of-living increases.

I’m more than a little surprised about this. First, this framework winds up cutting less than the sequester would have and now it’s finding the cuts in military pensions? I’m having a hard time believing that was the place to cut back. Anyone look at the GSA’s convention funding lately?

DoD wants to retire the A-10 Warthog

With budget cuts being actual cuts for the military, DoD leadership has proposed to cut the A-10 Thunderbolt II, a.k.a. the “Warthog,” from the US arsenal. They claim that cutting the plane will save $3.9B a year and I’m not arguing that. What I am saying is that this is still a mistake.

The A-10 is a ground attack aircraft like no other. Designed explicitly to engage tanks (specifically Soviet tanks) in the 1970’s, this ship is the go-to asset for fast, accurate close-air support. It flew roughly a third of all combat sortees in Iraq and Afghanistan. During Desert Storm A-10’s were responsible for over 4000 enemy combat vehicles destroyed. In short, it is a very effective weapon system still relied upon by battlefield commanders today.

Adding to its allure: it’s cheap. It costs less than $10M a copy and can be maintained at a cost in the thousands per cycle as opposed to millions for other aircraft. By comparison, the aircraft touted as the replacement by the Pentagon is the F-35 Joint astrike Fighter. The F-35 costs $169M each and even the Pentagon concedes that it can’t match the A-10’s capabilities.

Part of the problem, here, is the same thing that has always hugged the Air Force: this plane is a relative slow mover in a high-speed-loving force and the nature of its mission is to take direction from grunts on the ground. But the fact of the matter is that the Warthog brings more to the mission than any other fixed-wing aircraft, is incredibly efficient at the task, and is far more cost-efficient than any other asset available. That’s the definition of a program you dona’t cancel

3rd Amendment case in NV

Well, you don’t run into this situation every day. Henderson, NV police are accused of violating the 3rd Amendment rights of a local family.

The Third Amendment, which forbids the “quarter[ing]” of “soldiers” in private homes in peacetime without the owner’s consent, is often the butt of jokes among lawyers, because it generates so little litigation. But the Amendment has come up in this ongoing Nevada case, along with the Fourth Amendment and state law claims

So the question that immediately comes to mind is whether the police qualify as soldiers under the Constitution. On its face, I would say no, but given the militarization of the police these days you could make the argument. Of course that might not be the real reason for advancing a 3rd Amendment case versus a 4th. Could be the notoriety of the approach is intended to garner wider attention?

WWII vet from Racine, WI dies just as he arrives for Honor Flight to DC

My family and I have become involved in Honor Flight, a system of flights being run from various places around the country for the purpose of bringing WWII vets to Washington, DC so they can enjoy the WWII Memorial and other monuments erected in their honor. With our WWII vets entering their 90’s and, frankly, with so many passing beyond us every year, time is of the essence. This story, then, caught my eye and just made me sad…

Walter Smith was thrilled when he learned he had been chosen to travel on Saturday’s Stars and Stripes Honor Flight to Washington.

The 91-year-old World War II veteran from Racine had been diagnosed with colon cancer four years ago and had been in and out of hospitals and nursing homes this year. But the honor flight motivated him to work hard on his rehabilitation.

In a cruel twist, Smith died Saturday morning shortly after his family arrived at Mitchell International Airport to drop him off.

Sergeant Smith served in Europe and in was in the 2nd wave of soldiers landing on the beaches at Normandy on D-Day. He was wounded in combat and was decorated with 2 Purple Hearts. The flag that was used to drape his coffin will be flown to DC on the next flight out of the Wisconsin area this September. I do plan on being there at the airport when they arrive. I’ll be sure to write about it again when it happens.

Remember on Memorial Day

Enjoy this day but remember, too, what the day’s about.

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Dear Lord Jesus and Mary, Mother of God,

Hold all these brave souls in the palm of your hand, comfort them and their families.

Send angels of protection, love, and comfort to all the service men and women still at war,
bring them home safely and comfort their families.

We ask all our prayers in Jesus’ name. Amen.