I did something that neither the President or Vice President of the United States are willing to do. I went to the border in Texas to learn and see with my own eyes what is going on. And to be blunt, it is far worse than I imagined — for everyone. The only people profiting from what is currently happening at the border are the human traffickers and drug cartels. Everyone else — on both sides — is a loser if this situation persists.
Here’s what I saw with my own eyes and heard with my own ears when I went to Del Rio, Texas — a town of about 35,000 people about 150 miles west of San Antonio along the Rio Grande. Local law enforcement are overwhelmed and over run. The local sheriff’s department was never intended to be a border security force. Their job is to enforce the law within the county, not monitor the border. They are stretched thin and only have four deputies to spare along almost 120 miles of border. That means one deputy to cover about 30 miles.
But even the US Border Patrol is overwhelmed. They have been put in an impossible position. Border walls are no longer being built. Technology to help border agents has been turned off. So they are left to patrol the border as best they can and even they believe they are only catching between 1/2 and 1/3 of those racing across the border.
Imagine living in a town of 35,000 people and having four times that many people flooding across the border in the space of only a few months. And that is only a low-ball estimate. Even the Border Patrol agents said that probably double to triple that many are actually crossing the border. But that they cannot count them all because so many evade detection.
I attended a townhall meeting where locals came to express their concerns. The auditorium was packed and many people were standing along side and back walls. For more than two hours a parade of local citizens — a slight majority of whom appeared to be people of color — came forward to the microphone an in a couple minutes told their experience. Here’s what I learned:
Dozens and dozens of locals described how illegals had damaged their property, broken-in to their homes, sheds, and cars. I listened for more than two hours as they described how their families and children are now living in constant danger and fear.
Some of those who spoke were descendants of the original Mexicans who wanted to be free of the despotism of Gen. Santa Anna. Their ancestors defended and died at the Alamo. Others joined Sam Houston’s army that ultimately defeated the Mexican army and won Texas’ independence. Some of the speakers came to America legally in the last decade or so and spoke English with an accent. Not that any of that matters, but the point, is, it was a diverse audience with a diverse background, but they were all united in one thing — the current situation is unbearable and must be fixed.
They described how difficult it is to make ends meet even in better times — but that when there is a constant stream of trespassers damaging your property, destroying your fences, allowing your livestock to escape, stealing your vehicles, and putting you and your children in fear for their lives and safety, it just isn’t worth it.
They described vehicles — stolen by human smugglers — driven recklessly and dangerously and colliding with locals — causing serious injuries. Several speakers referenced a young girl and her father who miraculously survived but suffered life changing injuries due to a head on collision with a human smuggler driving a stolen car.
They described having to hide inside their homes as a group of more than a hundred illegals streamed across their property in the dark of night.
A woman painfully described how her sister — who works as a house keeper at a local hotel which has been used by federal authorities as a place to house illegals before they are sent to other parts of the United States. This woman tearfully told us that her sister was brutally raped on the job.
They all had their own story, but they all expressed a sense of betrayal. And they also had a sense of anger and frustration that when they express their concerns, all too often, they are labeled as haters or intolerant and that they are ignored as if they don’t matter.
A woman of hispanic descent holding babies and speaking in an accent described how she and her family had come to America legally years ago to have a better life and become an American. She spoke with pride of their home in America and the life that they had built here. But then she asked why she and her family don’t matter, why their rights to freedom and the pursuit of happiness are now irrelevant.
Even Democrats told us that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and their policies are the primary cause of their problems. In Washington, we are used to partisans covering for their fellow partisans now matter how absurd the defense. But reality has forced this sort of blind partisanship to the side.
But it isn’t just the locals in Texas who are suffering. Many of those coming across the border are doing so because they’ve been invited to. But they, too, have become victims of the human smugglers and drug cartels who make them indentured servants and who threaten with physical harm and death their remaining family who serve as collateral for the cost of being smuggled across the border. These remaining family members live the rest of their lives under constant fear that the cartels and human smugglers will pay them a visit because of a late payment. Simply stated, our current policies are allowing human smugglers and drug cartels to flourish and profit and with those profits, they will not be building hospitals and schools. Instead, they’ll be building armies to expand their human smuggling operations and militarizing the border.
The Biden-Harris administration says it is working on root-causes. But stamping out poverty in central America and around the globe, is not something that will happen this year or even this decade. America has spent literally trillions of dollars in the past generation to stamp out poverty and made little impact. So if they do as well in the rest of the world as they have in the US, 50 years from now, we will still be discussing the root causes of the problem and debating how many more trillions must be spent to fix it.
But for people on both sides of the border that will be very sad news — a constant flow of crime and fear for generations to come and a perpetual stream of cruel and inhuman treatment from human smugglers and drug cartels. This is what I saw. This is what I heard. It was heart breaking. These are the cruel results of the ill-conceived and poorly thought out policies of the Biden-Harris Administration. False narratives won’t fix the problem. People on both sides of the border need solutions. And a secure border is where it all starts.
California’s high tax, generous welfare state policies, and the dominance of progressive politics have combined to create an environment causing voters to leave the state at can only be described as an alarming rate. For the first time since statehood in 1850, California is losing rather than gaining a congressional seat as a result of the decennial census and the ensuing reapportionment of the 435 districts in the U.S. House of Representatives among the 50 states. It’s an alarming reality for the state Ronald Reagan and his sunny optimistic brand of growth-oriented conservatism once called home.The economy is in the doldrums, and not just because of the strict lockdowns instituted by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. Even with that, the state budget surplus for 2021 is projected to exceed $75 billion which, instead of being returned to the taxpayers through tax relief, is likely being socked away for the day when it’s needed to bail out the generous social welfare programs and government employee pensions the Democrats trade in exchange for votes to keep them in power.“California used to be a place where everyone wanted to live, but now California has become a place where people want to leave,” Brandon Ristoff, a policy analyst with the California Policy Center told Center Square driven out by “bad policies on the economy, education and more.” State-to-state migration data recently released by the U.S. Department of Internal Revenue (IRS) shows a net loss of nearly 70,000 households plus – which works out to about 165,000 taxpayers and their dependents – between 2017 and 2018.If that’s not bad enough, lawmakers in Sacramento now must worry about the impact of their departure on future budgets since they took nearly $9 billion in adjusted gross income with them when they left, The Epoch Times reported.Like New York City, California working hard to drive its tax base out of the state. Longtime residents are retiring elsewhere. Younger voters are leaving to pursue job opportunities in other states. Major businesses are relocating. Too many people, especially those who make up the middle class, are adversely affected by the high cost of living there – especially the housing market which is soaring to unaffordability for so many people – are now finding the Golden State an impossible place to live.Where are they going? Texas and Nevada – which have no state personal income tax, and Arizona – where the governor and members of the GOP-controlled state legislature are exploring ways to get rid of it.
-Texas experienced a net inflow of 72,306 taxpayers and their dependents, and a gross income boost of some $3.4 billion.
-Nevada welcomed 49,745 California taxpayers and their dependents, along with a gross income of $2.3 billion.
-Arizona saw an estimated 53,476 Californians relocated to Arizona, bringing with them around $2.2 billion in gross income.
Some policymakers still refuse to believe tax rates matter, that they have no incentive effect. Economist Arthur Laffer – developer of the famous “curve” that bears his name – proved they do. California has a state-local effective tax rate of 11.5 percent, the 8th highest in the nation in 2019 according to a recent Tax Foundation study. The effective state-local tax rate in Texas is 8 percent, in Nevada, it’s 9.7 percent, and in Arizona it’s 8.7 percent, making them (in order) 47th, 45th, and 29thout of 50.A 2018 Cato Institute report also showed the relationship between state-local tax effective rates on out-of-state migration. Tax-related motivations could be inferred from the Census Bureau data, The Epoch Times reported, citing the think tanks’ observation that some of the questions asked of people choosing to relocate show the incentive effect at work.“The Census Bureau does not ask movers about taxes. But some of the 19 choices may reflect the influence of taxes. For example, people moving for housing reasons may consider the level of property taxes since those taxes are a standard item listed on housing sale notices. Similarly, people moving for new jobs may consider the effect of income taxes if they are, for example, moving between a high-tax state such as California and a state with no income tax such as Nevada,” CATO said.If California doesn’t change its ways soon, it may find it has taxed its way into default. Illinois and New Jersey are in similar straights. There’s a lesson here for Democrats and Republicans in Washington who, despite the apparent end of the pandemic, still spend like there’s no tomorrow. If they continue to do that, there won’t be.
The mythological allegory of Pandora, the Greek equivalent of the Biblical Eve, the first woman on Earth, was created by Zeus as a new punishment for mankind, because of Prometheus’s theft of the fire from Heaven. According to Hesiod’s Theogony, the Gods provided her with beautifully evil gifts to be mendacious, obstinate and weird. As Eve was forbidden by God to consume the fruit of the “tree of knowledge” of good and evil, Pandora was not allowed by Zeus to open her gifted box ever. Again, as in the case of Eve, Pandora could not resist the temptation and opened the box. Her disobedience resulted in the escape of all the illnesses and deprivations that the Gods hid in the box.
Correspondingly, the gods of the fledgling Hungarian democracy, namely the voters, have since 2010 given absolute powers to a Young Democrat/Christian Democrat coalition and its leader Prime Minister Viktor Orban to steer the historically ravaged ship of the country into the safe harbor of a future free from evil. Yet, the trust of the voters has been betrayed one more time in Hungarian history. Viktor Orban and his party the Young Democrats have used their absolute powers to cage democracy and simultaneously to unleash all the evils of a destructive totalitarianism.
Domestically, Prime Minister Viktor Orban has pursued a form of government that he defined in his speech in 2014 at Tusvanyos illiberal democracy. Pursuant to his definition, illiberal democracy is the idea of “Christian liberty,” which he equates with placing the common good above the traditional liberal values of individual freedoms. According to him, this “Christian liberty” is under unrelenting attack both from within as well as from the outside. In his opinion, Hungary as an illiberal democracy must endure undeserved onslaughts by those who push a post-nationalistic and post-Christian globalist agenda. Thus, combining the adjective illiberal with the general political term democracy, Viktor Orban introduced a dangerous authoritarian ambiguity into the Hungarian, European and global discourse. On the one hand, he has rendered Hungary a victim of his own misplaced righteousness vis-a-vis all those who disagree with his convoluted understanding of democracy. On the other hand, he has designated himself as the sole defender of the common good, including the absolute arbiter of individual and societal morality.
Equally significant is the fact that Viktor Orban owns the entire Hungarian media market. His and his party’s disinformation propaganda campaign has disseminated lies about Hungarian as well as regional history, has created confusion about past and present relations among the various ethnic groups, and fostered the false sense of revisionism in the ethnic Hungarians across the neighboring countries. In this context, especially alarming and outrageous have been his repeated references to “being the prime minister of 15 million Hungarians.” To add fuel to the fire of the ever present ethnic grievances that have been rooted in the peace treaties of World War I, Viktor Orban’s purely political investment strategies and his militaristic bravado have only aggravated the long-existing ethnic tensions in Central and Eastern Europe.
Clearly, Viktor Orban’s version of illiberal democracy can be characterized by its lack of civil society and by a corresponding totalitarian overreach of the political, economic, financial, religious, cultural and educational powers of the authoritarian one-party state. Its common denominator is the irrational and self-defeating nationalism that fails to correctly gauge Hungary’s place and role in the region as well as in the European continent. To add insult to injury, this sick Hungarian nationalism is intertwined with a non-existent Christian identity, because Christianity does not capture the political realities of today’s Hungary.
Essentially, Viktor Orban’s totalitarian regime is an extremely radical oligopoly, in which a very small number of firms are totally subordinated to the political decision making of a single individual, namely, the Prime Minister Viktor Orban. In this absolutely centralized oligopoly, there is only very restricted competition and creativity, because the entire economy is owned by the Prime Minister himself. Since the economy is under the rule of a single political despot, entry to the Hungarian markets is limited to the Prime Minister’s closed circuit of trusted individuals. In this manner, Hungary is a semi-Feudal political and economic construct that is practically closed to effective as well as meaningful political, economic, intellectual and spiritual developments.
Today, amidst Viktor Orban’s totalitarian power grab and failures, his party is flailing and on the defensive. The Young Democrats’ unity is shattering and they are in mounting disarray. Less than a year from now, both the Prime Minister as well as his party will be forced to account for the shameless plunder of the national wealth that they have foisted on the Hungarian people for over a decade.
By now, the majority of Hungarians are thoroughly fed up with the all powerful corruption and the limitless squandering of the national wealth by incompetent thugs masquareding as genuine businessmen and responsible politicians. The time has come for a new political course that will steer the country toward genuine democracy and free markets. Therefore, it is also time for the opposing majority , all across Hungary, to take back their country and truly improve the lives of the citizenry by pursuing political freedom and existential prosperity for every single man, woman and child.
This awakening to the disaster that is Viktor Orban and his Young Democrats Party must also extend to the ruinous foreign policy of Hungary. Although Hungary is a member of NATO and the European Union, Viktor Orban has done everything in his limited powers to undermine the unity of both organizations. In the case of the European Union, his main motivation has been to protect his corrupt regime from the oversight and scrutiny of Brussels. Secondly, he single-handedly has prevented the European Union from imposing punitive sanctions against China and Russia. Again, his reason has been to protect his corrupt dealings with both countries.
Concerning NATO, his close personal relationships with Presidents Putin and Xi have presented extremely serious security threats for NATO. Presently, Budapest has become the major spy hub in Europe for Moscow as well as Beijing. His latest decision to build a large campus for China’s Fudan University is an open invitation for President Xi Jinping to establish a permanent foothold in the middle of Europe.In Hungary, the united opposition must find a way to show the really corrupt and destructive character of the Orban regime and present a coherent vision of moving the country closer to NATO and the European Union. In the same token, the United States of America and all the member states of the European Union must unite in helping Hungary to find its way out of the Orbanian cul-de-sac. Jointly, they also must assure that the national wealth that has been stolen and embezzled so brazenly from the Hungarian people in the last decade be returned to them, and that individuals who committed those crimes be called to full account. Only with such solidly unified assistance will Hungary be able to really rejoin the Free World of democratic nations.
We defeated the Soviet Union during the Cold War because our economy was relatively strong and they could not keep up. We didn’t bomb them into submission. We didn’t invade them. We simply grew economically at a rate that they could not keep up with. China hopes to do that to us. The question is will we cooperate with their goals and place ourselves in their grasp? The answer is — only if we are stupid.
Joe Biden’s and Congressional Democrat’s plan to give the United States the highest corporate tax rates in the developed world will harm America’s economy, kill American jobs, and give China a leg up in their quest for world domination. If Biden and congressional Democrats get their way, our corporate tax rate would be substantially higher than Communist China’s rate. American workers would suffer the most as their jobs are exported abroad to lower taxes and lower cost nations.
But it isn’t just corporate income taxes that the Democrats and Biden want to raise. They also want to raised taxes on Global Intangible Low Tax Income (GILTI) to 21 percent. This has the effect of imposing a minimum tax and creates a stimulus program for workers around the globe, but not in the U.S. Biden’s plan would penalize American companies with a massively higher minimum tax and at the same time exempt foreign competitors. There is no good reason to hamstring American companies, kill off incentives for good paying jobs to remain in America, or make jobs our primary export. But that is precisely what the Biden tax plan would do.
Even the left-leaning Tax Policy Center agrees that Biden’s plan will make US companies easy targets for foreign companies — including those owned or controlled by the Chinese Communist Party. They concluded that “Biden’s proposal would likely reignite corporate inversions — transactions where US multinationals become foreign multinationals, usually through acquisition by a foreign company.”
The Tax Policy Center also acknowledges that “Biden’s platform argues that a greatly strengthened foreign minimum tax is needed to prevent US firms from investing and shifting profits offshore, where taxes are lower. These practices can lower US wages and tax revenue.”
So it isn’t just right-leaning economists who see this policy as dangerous and harmful. Biden’s tax policy simply is harmful to both the US and American workers. The primary beneficiaries would be foreign competitors — China in particular. China has to be rooting for this tax plan because it will play into their hands and make their plans of world dominance much more easily achieved. If you want to know what a world dominated by the Chinese Communist Party might look like, ask Hong Kong who is being brutally repressed or ask the Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities who are being held in concentration camps and raped and murdered because the regime doesn’t like them.
It isn’t very often that people think of tax policy as a national security issue, but in this case it clearly is. Having a strong and robust economy isn’t just good for American workers or American investors, it’s good for America’s national security. Exporting jobs and economic well-being only strengthen’s China’s hand and makes it easier for them to rule the world as is their stated goal.
We defeated the Soviet Union during the Cold War because our economy was relatively strong and they could not keep up. We didn’t bomb them into submission. We didn’t invade them. We simply grew economically at a rate that they could not keep up with. China hopes to do that to us. The question is will we cooperate with their goals and place ourselves in their grasp? The answer is — only if we are stupid.
The bottom line is the Democrat tax plan is to make American companies pay higher taxes than their foreign competitors. To make matters worse, Biden wants every country to impose a minimum tax on foreign earnings of domestic companies. Why would they do this? Because Biden is promising to keep the US minimum tax higher than other nations. What does that mean? President Biden is promising that he will make American companies and workers uncompetitive in the world marketplace. He is promising to make our tax code advantageous to communist China.
These are important questions: Why do Democrats in Washington, DC, led by Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, think it is a good idea to push the US corporate tax rate higher than communist China’s tax rate? Who will benefit from this policy? Are Americans ready to return to an era where American firms are regularly downsizing and moving operations abroad? Or selling their operations to foreign companies or governments?
America must maintain its strength — both militarily and economically — if it hopes to be the victor in the 21st Century. If America thinks it would be better if China is the victor, then by all means, back the Biden-Harris tax plan. But if you think the world looks like a more free and prosperous world with America as the world’s primary power, opposing the Biden plan is a good start.
Nearly two-thirds of voters say America’s problem with violent crime is on the rise while half the country says President Joe Biden is ill-equipped to deal with it.
A new Rasmussen Reports national found 65 percent of voters likely to cast ballots in the next election felt violent crime is getting worse while fully half – 50 percent – said the problem was beyond Biden’s ability to deal with effectively.
Homicide and other violent crimes have soared since the Black Lives Matter protests began in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death last May while in the custody of the Minneapolis police. Awareness of the problem is slowly permeating the national consciousness to the point famed political consultant James Carville recently penned an essay for the Wall Street Journal telling his fellow Democrats to get ahead of the curve by blaming the rise in the crime rate on former President Donald Trump.
The Rasmussen Reports survey found 72 percent of Republicans, 59 percent of Democrats and, 65 percent of voters unaffiliated voters agreeing violent crime in America is getting worse. It also found the issue transcending racial barriers as 67 percent of whites, 68 percent of black voters, and 57 percent of other minorities found themselves agreeing things are getting worse. Women, by six points, 68 percent to 62 percent, led men in expressing their fear things had worsened, a gap some experts suggest may have something to do with the differences in gender regarding the feeling of personal safety.
According to the Rasmussen Reports analysis, “Biden’s strongest supporters are least likely to think the crime problem is getting worse” yet, among those who give him the highest marks for job performance, 51 percent agreed the problem of violent crime was getting worse while just 18 percent said, “It’s getting better.”
Additionally, the polling firm said, “among voters who strongly disapprove of Biden’s performance, 89 percent say the violent crime problem is getting worse and only 3 percent think America’s crime problem is getting better.”
The reduction in violent crime to near historic lows – which not by coincidence began during a time when Republican mayors were in charge in NYC and Los Angeles – is attributed to “tough on crime, tough on criminals” efforts eventually repudiated by successors including current New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
These numbers suggest the GOP may have an opening it did not expect in the run-up to the 2022 elections. The 1994 crime bill, which President Joe Biden pushed through the U.S. Senate as its principal sponsor and floor manager, is widely regarded as having helped set the stage for the Republicans to retake control of the U.S. Congress for the first time in 40 years. With that in mind, Carville’s suggestions in his opinion piece – which is long on rhetoric and short on facts – comes across as an effort to help the Democrats find a way to inoculate themselves against the charge they are “soft on crime” before voters go to the polls.
This theory will be tested out in real life in Virginia in November when voters throughout the state will have the opportunity to elect a new governor, attorney general, delegates to the General Assembly, and other officials. In some communities, prosecutors and other local elected swept into office in a blue wave four years ago with the support of groups affiliated with George Soros who have pursued criminal-friendly policies like no cash bail will have to explain to an increasingly wary electorate why they should be re-elected.
The survey of 900 likely U.S. voters was conducted May 25-26, 2021, and has a sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95 percent level of confidence.
The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has been ramping up its military spending to meet its stated goal of replacing the United States as the world’s preeminent superpower. Many who seek to minimize the risk compare actual dollars spent on defense in hopes of proving the risk that China poses is minimal. But the truth is, once you adjust for the cost of things, China is approaching parity with the U.S. For example, the pay for military personnel in the U.S. is 16 times higher than in China.* Yet, China’s armed forces are approximately 2.2 million, whereas the US armed forces are only 1.4 million — roughly equal with North Korea in terms of manpower.
Moreover, China has long been engaged in high-tech espionage and steals a great deal of the latest and greatest technology from the US. We have foolishly allowed their spies — posing as students or business and cultural exchanges to gain access to our technology. So we spend billions developing new technology and the Chinese regime spends comparative chump change to steal it. These cost savings allow China to spend less, while building up its military more. This is one of the reasons China now has the worlds’ largest navy with over 360 ships — dwarfing the U.S. fleet of 297 ships.
China is also clearly seeking to exploit for its advantage the recent change in administrations. President Joe Biden has long been comparatively conciliatory toward the communist regime and has often downplayed the risks China poses. Moreover, Biden’s son, Hunter, has highly lucrative business dealings with major Chinese firms with strong ties to the Chinese Communist Party — that’s how business works in China. Even if there is nothing illegal about Hunter’s business dealings, it creates a troubling conflict of interest for the White House.
It is clearly not in the interests of the U.S. to downplay the risks and pretend that China’s threat isn’t real. And China isn’t just a threat to the U.S., they are a threat to the entire world. They don’t intend to simply be a major economic and military power. They mean to rule and dominate the world with an iron fist.
If you don’t believe me, look at how China deals with those it perceives to be dissidents. Look at how it treats Hong Kong. Look at how Chinese health officials who warned of the COVID-19 virus were punished or mysteriously disappeared. Look at the death camps and “re-education camps” and how China tortures, murders and rapes the Uyghurs and other “dissidents.” If China achieves its stated goal of control and domination, it will be a brutal reign of terror and oppression.
Beyond raw military power, China also seeks economic supremacy. World shipping is an interesting case study where China seeks to dominate and is well on its way. The global trade fleet is about 41,000 ships. China builds about 1,300 new ships each year. The U.S. builds only 8. China is now the dominant player in ship building and in owning and operating and controlling ports around the globe.
The good news is that China does not, and cannot, dominate U.S. domestic shipping because the Jones Act stands in their way by requiring that ships used to transport goods between two or more American ports, must be American ships with American crews.
The Jones Act was passed shortly after World War I to ensure that the U.S. had sufficient shipping capacity, trained mariners, and a ship building and ship repairing capability necessary for our national security needs. But in the 21st Century, the Jones Act turns out to be a big help in stopping China’s attempts to dominate U.S. domestic shipping.
Imagine if there were no Jones Act, and China could simply underbid the competition and gain an economic stranglehold on the U.S. and even world shipping markets. Also imagine Chinese ships sailing up and down the 25,000 miles of inland water ways in America with spies and high tech spy equipment intercepting communications at will.
After being caught unprepared for WWI, the Jones Act seemed pretty necessary in 1920. But 101 years later in 2021, the Jones Act is even more necessary as one of many important ways America must stand up to the PRC and say, “Your oppression, aggression, and brutal domination are not welcome here!” The Jones Act may not have been written with China in mind, but it is exactly what we need to prevent their expansionism into America’s inland waterways.
Led by Florida’s Marco Rubio, a group of GOP senators said Friday they would be reintroducing legislation intended to force other countries to take a hard line on Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and other terrorist groups whose mission is to bring about the destruction of Israel.
The Palestinian International Terrorism Support Prevention Act, which already has the support of almost a dozen of Rubio’s GOP colleagues, is a call for tough measures against Israel’s opponents that runs counter to the softer approach being taken by the Biden Administration.
“As these terrorist groups continue to show zero regard for the loss of innocent lives and threaten our ally, Israel, I’m proud to reintroduce this bill which seeks to impose sanctions against foreign nationals and governments who are actively providing material support to these groups,” Rubio said. “We must hold accountable the individuals who are aiding the terrorist activities of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.”
The legislation under consideration requires the imposition of sanctions on countries, individuals, entities, and governments that provide support to anti-Israel terror groups and requires the U.S. president to send to Congress an assessment regarding America’s foreign allies’ diligence in choking off the stream of terror dollars that finance activities such as the recent weeklong rocket attack waged by Hamas against civilian Israeli targets.
“As our ally Israel continues to stand its ground in the face of ongoing terrorist attacks, we must step up to hold these terrorist groups and their enablers to account,” Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, who was one of the bill’s earliest co-sponsors said in a release. “It’s incumbent on responsible nations to do their part to prevent material support from reaching those who desire to destroy our ally. This bill sends a clear message that anyone who aids Israel’s attackers will face stiff consequences.”
“During the recent Israel-Gaza conflict, Hamas launched thousands of rockets intended to kill Israeli civilians. Hamas, a terrorist organization supported by Iran, also put the lives of Palestinian civilians at risk,” said Maine U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, who added the proposed legislation reaffirms “the United States’ commitment to combatting global terrorism.”
“Israel is one of our closest allies and deserves our support in countering these persistent threats to its security,” North Dakota GOP Sen. John Hoeven, another principal sponsor of the bill said. “Our legislation will sanction those who support terrorism against Israel while holding accountable those nations that do not take seriously the threats posed by Hamas and other terrorist groups.”
“America will always stand unapologetically with our great ally, Israel, and against all that wish it harm,” Florida Sen. Rick Scott said. “I’m proud to again join Senator Rubio on this important legislation to clearly demonstrate the United States’ intolerance for violent terrorist groups like Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad and hold accountable all who support them.”
Joining Rubio as additional original co-sponsors of the Palestinian International Terrorism Support Prevention Act are Kansas GOP Sen. Jerry Moran, Indiana’s Todd Young, and Mike Braun, Iowa’s Joni Ernst, John Boozman of Arkansas, Cindy Hyde-Smith, and Roger Wicker of Mississippi, Oklahoma’s James Lankford, Tennessee’s Marsha Blackburn, and Bill Haggerty and Josh Hawley of Missouri.
America’s financial elite is helping to finance America’s prime strategic adversary.
As a new, more skeptical consensus about America’s economic relationship with Beijing emerges in Washington, Wall Street is growing more tightly integrated with China than ever before. The disconnect highlights one of our nation’s biggest vulnerabilities in our confrontation with China over who will determine the course of the 21st century.
American capital markets are the most open, liquid, and valuable in the world. They are also increasingly a source of funds for China’s most strategically important companies. Chinese companies that produce surveillance technology and weapons of war that could one day kill Americans finance their investments with Wall Street capital.
Historically, both Republicans and Democrats have been weak when it comes to identifying and correcting these kinds of problems. Politicians in my own party have too often been reluctant to intervene over concerns about the “free market.” But things are changing. Faced with the catastrophic impacts of deindustrialization, which has choked opportunity for the American working class, and a growing reliance on an authoritarian regime, more of my colleagues in the GOP have awakened to the dangers of economic policymaking that prizes short-term economic efficiency over all else.
American capital markets are increasingly a source of funds for China’s most strategically important companies.
But just as many Republicans have grown more skeptical of big business’s cozy relationship with Beijing, large swaths of America’s financial and corporate sectors are making a play for a new base of political support—this time complete with deep-blue, progressive social stances on hot-button issues in our politics.
It’s the height of hypocrisy. U.S. corporations with lucrative business ties to the Chinese Communist Party will boycott states here over anti-abortion laws, while Beijing systematically sterilizes Uyghur women. They routinely inflame divisive race issues within the U.S. while marginalizing African American actors or erasing Tibetan characters to keep Chinese audiences happy.
And in instances when the U.S. government has acted, our financial sector, fearful of losing out on a lucrative investment opportunity, often intervenes to protect state-tied Chinese firms. For example, after the Trump administration called for the delisting of Chinese companies tied to Beijing’s military from the stock market last fall, it was Wall Street that initially went to bat to ensure that three Chinese telecommunications firms complicit in state censorship, China Telecom, China Mobile, and China Unicom, were spared. (After several reversals and a failed appeal process, the three ended up recently delisted.) And just this month, the Biden administration allowed one of China’s biggest companies, Xiaomi, to relist on U.S. exchanges.
Democrats should be skeptical of the opportunistic progressive social stances in our finance and tech sectors. The presence of a diversity and inclusion czar does nothing if a company is profiting off of slave labor in Xinjiang.
More fundamentally, Wall Street advances the goals of the CCP with its investment in China, which needs American capital to grow its economy. As China has evolved from an export-driven economy to one reliant on state-led investment, it needs foreign investment to help pay for its debts. Investing in China funds the Chinese companies powering Beijing’s economic strategy and industrial policy.
In 2019, the United States became a net investor in China for the first time in history. How did this happen? The answer lies with the fund managers. As China has “opened” its market to American financial companies and sought the listing of its businesses on American stock exchanges, the portfolios of American investors have been increasingly invested in Chinese companies. Many well-meaning Americans may inadvertently be propping up a genocidal regime because Wall Street does it for them.
Furthermore, Chinese firms listed on U.S. securities exchanges are widely shielded by their government from the full oversight of American financial regulators, putting teachers’ pensions and retirees at risk.
Thankfully, there are legislative solutions that both Republicans and Democrats should be able to support. First of all, we should ban any U.S. investments in Communist Chinese military companies. This is part of the reason why I first introduced my Taxpayers and Savers Protection (TSP) Act in 2019—to ensure the retirement savings accounts of federal workers and service members didn’t end up invested in Chinese companies tied to the People’s Liberation Army or engaged in human rights abuses.
In instances when the U.S. government has acted, our finan-cial sector often intervenes to protect state-tied Chinese firms.
Similarly, no Chinese company on the U.S. Department of Commerce Entity List or the U.S. Department of Defense list of Communist Chinese military companies should be allowed to access U.S. capital markets—a move that could simply be accomplished by passing my American Financial Markets Integrity and Security Act.
We can also require increased scrutiny of activist investors in companies tied to national-security work or supply chains—particularly ones related to China—through my Shareholder National Security Awareness Act. Finally, we must ensure that Chinese companies, the only ones in the world that routinely skirt U.S. regulatory oversight, are no longer welcome to publicly list on U.S. stock exchanges.
Americans from across the political spectrum should feel emboldened by the growing bipartisan awakening to the threat that the CCP poses to American workers, families, and communities. As we deploy legislative solutions to tackle this challenge, Democrats must not allow our corporate and financial sectors’ leftward shift on social issues to blind them to the enormity of China as a geo-economic threat.
I leaned against an oak at the side of the road, wishing I were invisible, keeping my distance from my parents on their lawn chairs and my younger siblings scampering about.
I hoped none of my friends saw me there. God forbid they caught me waving one of the small American flags Mom bought at Ben Franklin for a dime. At 16, I was too old and definitely too cool for our small town’s Memorial Day parade.
I ought to be at the lake, I brooded. But, no, the all-day festivities were mandatory in my family.
A high school band marched by, the girl in sequins missing her baton as it tumbled from the sky. Firemen blasted sirens in their polished red trucks. The uniforms on the troop of World War II veterans looked too snug on more than one member.
“Here comes Mema,” my father shouted.
Five black convertibles lumbered down the boulevard. The mayor was in the first, handing out programs. I didn’t need to look at one. I knew my uncle Bud’s name was printed on it, as it had been every year since he was killed in Italy. Our family’s war hero.
And I knew that perched on the backseat of one of the cars, waving and smiling, was Mema, my grandmother. She had a corsage on her lapel and a sign in gold embossed letters on the car door: “Gold Star Mother.”
I hid behind the tree so I wouldn’t have to meet her gaze. It wasn’t because I didn’t love her or appreciate her. She’d taught me how to sew, to call a strike in baseball. She made great cinnamon rolls, which we always ate after the parade.
What embarrassed me was all the attention she got for a son who had died 20 years earlier. With four other children and a dozen grandchildren, why linger over this one long-ago loss?
I peeked out from behind the oak just in time to see Mema wave and blow my family a kiss as the motorcade moved on. The purple ribbon on her hat fluttered in the breeze.
The rest of our Memorial Day ritual was equally scripted. No use trying to get out of it. I followed my family back to Mema’s house, where there was the usual baseball game in the backyard and the same old reminiscing about Uncle Bud in the kitchen.
Helping myself to a cinnamon roll, I retreated to the living room and plopped down on an armchair.
There I found myself staring at the Army photo of Bud on the bookcase. The uncle I’d never known. I must have looked at him a thousand times—so proud in his crested cap and knotted tie. His uniform was decorated with military emblems that I could never decode.
Funny, he was starting to look younger to me as I got older. Who were you, Uncle Bud? I nearly asked aloud.
I picked up the photo and turned it over. Yellowing tape held a prayer card that read: “Lloyd ‘Bud’ Heitzman, 1925-1944. A Great Hero.” Nineteen years old when he died, not much older than I was. But a great hero? How could you be a hero at 19?
The floorboards creaked behind me. I turned to see Mema coming in from the kitchen, wiping her hands on her apron.
I almost hid the photo because I didn’t want to listen to the same stories I’d heard year after year: “Your uncle Bud had this little rat-terrier named Jiggs. Good old Jiggs. How he loved that mutt! He wouldn’t go anywhere without Jiggs. He used to put him in the rumble seat of his Chevy coupe and drive all over town.
“Remember how hard Bud worked after we lost the farm? At haying season he worked all day, sunrise to sunset, baling for other farmers. Then he brought me all his wages. He’d say, ‘Mama, someday I’m going to buy you a brand-new farm. I promise.’ There wasn’t a better boy in the world!”
Sometimes I wondered about that boy dying alone in a muddy ditch in a foreign country he’d only read about. I thought of the scared kid who jumped out of a foxhole in front of an advancing enemy, only to be downed by a sniper. I couldn’t reconcile the image of the boy and his dog with that of the stalwart soldier.
Mema stood beside me for a while, looking at the photo. From outside came the sharp snap of an American flag flapping in the breeze and the voices of my cousins cheering my brother at bat.
“Mema,” I asked, “what’s a hero?” Without a word she turned and walked down the hall to the back bedroom. I followed.
She opened a bureau drawer and took out a small metal box, then sank down onto the bed.
“These are Bud’s things,” she said. “They sent them to us after he died.” She opened the lid and handed me a telegram dated October 13, 1944. “The Secretary of State regrets to inform you that your son, Lloyd Heitzman, was killed in Italy.”
Your son! I imagined Mema reading that sentence for the first time. I didn’t know what I would have done if I’d gotten a telegram like that.
“Here’s Bud’s wallet,” she continued. Even after all those years, it was caked with dried mud. Inside was Bud’s driver’s license with the date of his sixteenth birthday. I compared it with the driver’s license I had just received.
A photo of Bud holding a little spotted dog fell out of the wallet. Jiggs. Bud looked so pleased with his mutt.
There were other photos in the wallet: a laughing Bud standing arm in arm with two buddies, photos of my mom and aunt and uncle, another of Mema waving. This was the home Uncle Bud took with him, I thought.
I could see him in a foxhole, taking out these snapshots to remind himself of how much he was loved and missed.
“Who’s this?” I asked, pointing to a shot of a pretty dark-haired girl.
“Marie. Bud dated her in high school. He wanted to marry her when he came home.” A girlfriend? Marriage? How heartbreaking to have a life, plans and hopes for the future, so brutally snuffed out.
Sitting on the bed, Mema and I sifted through the treasures in the box: a gold watch that had never been wound again. A sympathy letter from President Roosevelt, and one from Bud’s commander. A medal shaped like a heart, trimmed with a purple ribbon. And at the very bottom, the deed to Mema’s house.
“Why’s this here?” I asked.
“Because Bud bought this house for me.” She explained how after his death, the U.S. government gave her 10 thousand dollars, and with it she built the house she was still living in.
“He kept his promise all right,” Mema said in a quiet voice I’d never heard before.
For a long while the two of us sat there on the bed. Then we put the wallet, the medal, the letters, the watch, the photos and the deed back into the metal box. I finally understood why it was so important for Mema—and me—to remember Uncle Bud on this day.
If he’d lived longer he might have built that house for Mema or married his high-school girlfriend. There might have been children and grandchildren to remember him by.
As it was, there was only that box, the name in the program and the reminiscing around the kitchen table.
“I guess he was a hero because he gave everything for what he believed,” I said carefully.
“Yes, child,” Mema replied, wiping a tear with the back of her hand. “Don’t ever forget that.”
I haven’t. Even today with Mema gone, my husband and I take our lawn chairs to the tree-shaded boulevard on Memorial Day and give our three daughters small American flags that I buy for a quarter at Ben Franklin.
I want them to remember that life isn’t just about getting what you want. Sometimes it involves giving up the things you love for what you love even more. That many men and women did the same for their country—that’s what I think when I see the parade pass by now.
And if I close my eyes and imagine, I can still see Mema in her regal purple hat, honoring her son, a true American hero.
Congressional GOP urges Pentagon to ditch radical politics in training materials
Troubled by an influx of critical race theory into the military, a coalition of veterans and congressional Republicans are demanding the Pentagon stop placating left-wing activists and focus on national defense.
A July 2020 film by the United States Air Force Academy football team endorsing Black Lives Matter and “antiracism” education prompted retired Lt. Gen. Rod Bishop to speak out against the school’s administrators. Military academies, the 34-year Air Force veteran said, should remain politically neutral, particularly at a time when Black Lives Matter protests have led to riots and violence throughout major cities across the country.
“Rather than e pluribus unum, rather than teamwork, rather than cohesion, we’re being taught an ideology which seeks to divide us based on the color of our skin,” Bishop told the Washington Free Beacon. “I’ve flown into combat zones. It didn’t matter if my copilot was black or not. How are we better for teaching all the elements of critical race theory?”
Bishop’s complaints were ignored by academy leadership. They heard similar stories from veterans at other schools and bases. Cadets spoke about running into books by Malcolm X and other radicals in a new “Diversity and Inclusion Reading Room” at the school, which did not return a request for comment. That experience led Bishop and Scott to start an advocacy group called Stand Together Against Racism and Radicalism in the Services. In under a year, STARRS boasts a membership into the hundreds, including dozens of officers and retired military officials.
“There’s a culture of fear within the military now,” Bishop said. “On the one hand, it’s okay to cheer on Black Lives Matter [on a military base], but if you speak out against this Marxist ideology you’ll be relieved of your duties. Ask yourself, ‘Is this what China and Russia are concerned about?'”
Many Republicans in Congress share similar objections to the injection of radical ideologies into the armed forces. On Wednesday, 30 of them called on Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to “take action to fight back against the creeping left-wing extremism in the U.S. military.” Republicans in the House and Senate expressed alarm at the firing of U.S. Space Force Lt. Colonel Matthew Lohmeier, who criticized the “neo-Marxist” agenda infiltrating the military. House Republicans are demanding the military change course from its focus on diversity. With a growing threat from China, they argue, the military must remain focused on winning wars rather than appeasing fringe left-wing activists.
“The military’s long history of standing above politics has made it one of the most respected institutions in America and enabled our armed forces to both defend the Homeland and serve as one of the bulwarks of our constitutional order,” wrote Rep. Matt Rosendale (R., Mont.). “That legacy is now in jeopardy.”
The Pentagon did not respond to a request for comment.
Announcements from senior Biden administration officials about new programs to crack down on right-wing extremism within its ranks have sparked outrage from Republicans. During his confirmation hearings in January, Austin told the Senate that the Pentagon’s job is to “keep America safe from our enemies. But we can’t do that if some of those enemies lie within our own ranks.”
Rep. Randy Weber (R., Texas), who signed the letter to Austin, said the imposition of critical race theory from top military brass is more damaging than the social media posts of individual soldiers. He called on other members of the military and the public to speak out and pressure the Pentagon.
“Patriotic Americans cannot stand idly by watching the politicization of our armed forces. George Washington—first a general, then a president—relinquished his commission before entering office,” Weber wrote. “A truly visionary leader, he recognized the perils of a politically-biased military. Our men and women in uniform are not lab rats in a social science experiment.”
What makes this war different—and disturbing
Israel has battled Hamas four times since the terror organization seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007. Each battle unfolds the same way: Hamas launches rockets at Israel’s civilian population, Israel bombs Hamas targets, and the fighting continues until terrorist infrastructure is sufficiently degraded so that the rocket fire stops for a few years. Israelis call it “mowing the lawn.” The last major clash was in 2014. In its origins, order of battle, and strategy and tactics, Operation Guardian of the Walls, which began May 10, resembles these previous flareups.
So what’s different? Just about everything.
The region has changed. In 2014 the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, legitimizing the nuclear program of Israel’s archenemy Iran, was a gleam in John Kerry’s eye. Its adoption the following year, and America’s withdrawal from the agreement in 2018, realigned the Middle East along the axis of Iranian power. The result was an Arab-Israel détente formalized in the 2020 Abraham Accords. From a regional perspective, the Palestinian cause is less important than Iran’s ambitions.
Israel has changed. In 2014 Benjamin Netanyahu was at the outset of his third term and led from a position of strength. His indictment on corruption charges in 2019 initiated a political crisis that has led to four elections (and most likely a fifth) in the space of two years. On the eve of the latest violence, Israel’s bewildering politics became even more surprising when two of Netanyahu’s rivals enticed an Arab Islamist party to join a coalition government. That effort collapsed when the rockets blazed. The subsequent outbreak of intercommunal violence in cities with large Arab-Israeli populations is a reminder of Israel’s pressing domestic challenges. The security issue unites Israel. Just about everything else divides it.
America has changed. In the summer of 2014, Barack Obama was a lame duck, the Republicans controlled the House and were on the verge of winning the Senate, and Donald Trump was the host of Celebrity Apprentice. Obama’s dislike of Netanyahu and willingness to expose “daylight” between the United States and Israel was no secret. But anti-Israel invective was limited to the fringe. And anti-Israel media bias was nowhere near as bad as it is today.
Then came the Great Awokening. The dialectic of Black Lives Matter and Donald Trump drove the nation into its current obsession with race, culminating in the protests, riots, vandalism, cancellations, and iconoclasm that followed the murder of George Floyd one year ago. The Trump years brought a revolutionary fervor to American politics, radicalizing the left and burdening the rest of us with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her anti-Israel, socialist “Squad” of congressional Democrats.
The Squad shares an all-encompassing woke mindset that collapses individuals and events into a reductive binary of oppressor and oppressed. When the Squad looks at Israel and Hamas, it cannot see anything other than Critical Race Theory. And so this emboldened left draws disgustingly false equivalences between American racial minorities and Palestinians. It slanders Israel as an apartheid state. It demands America stop a planned weapons sale to Israel in the middle of our ally’s offensive against terrorists supplied by Iran. It says President Biden is “taking orders” from the Jewish prime minister.
What the Squad lacks in numbers it makes up for in noise. Its members exploit social media, show up on MSNBC, and amplify the hostility to Israel already thick on college campuses and in progressive enclaves. Its allies fill the op-ed pages with similar dreck, catering to the audience for politically correct, left-wing clickbait. The polemical onslaught is false and obnoxious. But it gets results, driving an Israel-shaped wedge into the Democratic Party and forcing Biden to step up his calls for a ceasefire.
This unappeasable hostility is a problem for Israel, for America, and for the Democratic Party. It makes me wonder if the head of the DNC has checked in lately with his British counterpart. There hasn’t been a Labour prime minister since 2010 and Labour just experienced another drubbing in local elections. Labour’s current leader has been trying to salvage his party’s reputation from the wreckage of his far-left anti-Semitic predecessor Jeremy Corbyn. It’s a struggle.
Explanation? Under Corbyn, Labour went hard left, abandoning its traditional working-class constituency for progressive social and cultural issues that appeal to the university crowd and the Very Online but turn off everyone else. Corbyn opposed Brexit, supported high levels of immigration, embraced political correctness, and tolerated the worst sort of anti-Semitism in his campaigns against Israel. The Socialist International became the Socialist Intersectional (Jews excluded).
The same process is well underway here. Not content with tearing down America, and energized by the cultural revolution of 2020, the Jackal Bins turn their gaze on the Jewish State. Anti-Semitism dogged the anti-Trump Women’s March. Black Lives Matter, which recently tweeted its advocacy for “Palestinian liberation”—no mention of Hamas’ genocidal intent—supports the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib require no introduction. Comedian Trevor Noah irresponsibly likens Hamas to a powerless four-year-old. The haters can’t believe their success.
Someone needs to disappoint them. As long as Hamas remains in power, Israel will be forced to defend itself. The Jewish State’s position in American politics can’t be allowed to deteriorate further. Not just for Israel’s sake. For ours.
By now most armchair pundits and faux Mideast experts have chimed in on the violence in Israel and Gaza. Some of the most frivolous comments come from misguided hyper woke celebrities and athletes who seek to establish their expertise when they know virtually nothing. For example, Trevor Noah, on MSNBC’s Joy Reid show claimed “Jewish Supremacy” was the cause of the violence, rather than the thousands of rockets aimed at Israeli civilians. To be clear, they are not misguided for feeling sympathy for the Palestinians living in Gaza, but rather, they are cartoonishly misguided for blaming Israel for the suffering.
The Israel/Palestinian conflict is among the most vexing foreign policy issues. However, there is nothing complex about the need to recognize that Hamas deserves absolute culpability for the suffering of average Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. I say “average” because poverty, unemployment and illiteracy are rampant in Gaza, but not among the Hamas elite.
Hamas has a specific and obvious raison d’être — to kill as many Jews as possible. No mind reading is required to know this — it is Hamas’ explicitly stated goal. They spend most of their foreign aid money not on much needed infrastructure, COVID vaccinations, or education. Instead, their priority is building illegal smuggling tunnels from which they launch attacks, and unguided rocket technology from Iran to indiscriminately target Israeli civilians.
Hamas prefers using the money it receives from well-meaning nations including the US, and many European and Middle Eastern nations to launch attacks, murder homosexuals, oppress women, and prevent truly democratic institutions from taking root. If you doubt this, try going to Gaza when things settle down and attempt to form a new political party that supports equal rights for women and homosexuals and that actually seeks peace.
Before the George W. Bush years, Hamas was a rogue terror group with no official power. However, the unintended consequences of the Bush foreign policy of rightly condemning the PLO/Arafat regime for rampant corruption and an unwillingness to make peace, unfortunately led to the election of Hamas in Gaza. Thus, the only time Gazans were afforded an actual choice began Hamas’ reign of terror.
Since those faithful years, Palestinians have been living in a prison of their own making. In fact, a significant percentage of Hamas rockets fired at Israel did not even make it to Israel from Gaza, killing or injuring many Palestinians. This is, of course, of no consequence to Hamas leaders who see average Gazans as pawns to manipulate in order to maintain power. But it is even more troubling that liberal celebrities and media organizations don’t care and end up acting as a shield to the monstrous actions of Hamas.
No matter how pro-Palestinian one may be, to normalize the actions of Hamas, as so many liberal journalists are doing (and a few folks among the alt-Right), is to directly oppose and fight against the hope of a better future for Gazans.
As usual, support for Israel is nearly unanimous among the GOP. While some Republicans want foreign aid generally reduced across the board as a budgetary matter, none would disagree with Israel’s inherent right to self-defense.
This is juxtaposed to an increasingly hostile Democratic Party who once were part of the bedrock support of Israel. Now, its Middle East policy is increasingly driven by younger Democrats who are extremely woke and see Israel as the automatic aggressor, regardless of the facts. For some reason Hamas escapes any real blame.
Over the last few years of President Trump’s term, the world saw a flowering of new peace arrangements between Israel and Arab nations, including but not limited to the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Morocco. Amazingly, UAE officials have threatened to cut investment in Gaza if Hamas does not immediately commit to complete calm. They have admitted what many have known for some time, that Hamas policies are hurting the people of Gaza. This is a far more enlightened understanding than that of the Washington Post or foreign policy professors at Harvard University.
The irony is that during this time of immense political and security challenges facing Israel, it is the Republicans who stand steadfast with our ally Israel. As Democratic support for Israel continues to wane, even “pro-Israel” Democrats are more apt to criticize the GOP for “making the Israel issue political” rather than criticizing their own for being increasingly radical and woke while ignoring fact.
For Israel, the choice is the same today as it was decades ago when Golda Meir said: “If we have to choose between being dead and pitied, and being alive with a bad image, we’d rather be alive and have the bad image.”
Three recent events, two of them from the past week, haven’t gotten the news coverage they deserve as the Biden administration desperately pursues a rapprochement with Iran.
The first is the U.S. Navy’s seizure over the weekend of a significant weapons shipment. It contained “dozens of advanced Russian-made anti-tank guided missiles, thousands of Chinese Type 56 assault rifles, and hundreds of PKM machine guns, sniper rifles and rocket-propelled grenades launchers … [and] advanced optical sights,” the Fifth Fleet said in a statement.
The cache was destined for Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, whom the Biden administration recently delisted as a terrorist organization. No serious person believes the arms didn’t originate in Iran, though for obviously political reasons the United States Navy prefers not to state the obvious.
In neighboring Iraq, a prominent Iraqi political activist and critic of Iranian influence in his country, particularly the arming and funding of pro-Tehran militias, was gunned down—the latest in a series of Iran critics to turn up dead. The early reporting suggests an Iranian militia is to blame.
Finally, there is the escalating security situation in the Persian Gulf. After several years of tranquility along one of the world’s most important shipping lanes, Iran has returned to harassing American ships. In early April, one IRGC Navy boat harassed U.S. Navy and Coast Guard boats; weeks later, three IRGC boats got so close that the United States fired warning shots for the first time in years. Thirteen IRGC armed speedboats harassed U.S. ships on Monday again forcing them to fire warning shots.
In response, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said yesterday that “harassment by the IRGC Navy is not a new phenomenon.” That depends on the definition of the word “new”: This round of antagonistic behavior began a few weeks ago, after several years of comparative Iranian good behavior in the Gulf.
These events make clear that Tehran feels no pressure to demonstrate goodwill to the Biden administration, preferring confrontation and violence. It cannot be a coincidence that these events are unfolding in the midst of the administration’s campaign to reenter the nuclear deal.
No matter how many times the pattern repeats itself, JCPOA supporters refuse to learn that Iran repays engagement with contempt, not good behavior, and that the Iranians know a dupe when they see one. Looking at you, Rob Malley.
Elsewhere in the region, the Hamas terrorist organization is demonstrating the same astute appreciation for weakness. A month after Team Biden announced its intention to restore U.S. aid programs to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza and resume funding for UNRWA, Hamas rockets are raining down on Israel. Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas is glorifying the behavior and encouraging the attacks.
The Biden administration pledged to revive aid to the Palestinians—and to jump back into the nuclear deal—to advance peace.
In both cases, the administration has been repaid with violence and humiliation.
For reasons seemingly inexplicable the May 2 10th anniversary of the successful U.S. raid on Osama bin Laden’s Pakistani hiding place passed almost without mention. Comments were made and the White House did issue a statement in the president’s name to mark the day but for the most part, it did not get the attention it deserved.
People have forgotten how devastated we were after a handful of terrorists working for bin Laden seized control of commercial airliners and flew them into Manhattan’s Twin Towers and the Pentagon, killing more than 3,000 Americans. As a nation, we vowed our dead would be avenged. A decade later, they were – and America justifiably rejoiced.
President Joe Biden’s observations on the anniversary were measured. “Ten years ago, I joined President Obama and members of our national security team, crowded into the Situation Room to watch as our military delivered long-awaited justice to Osama bin Laden,” he said. “It is a moment I will never forget—the intelligence professionals who had painstakingly tracked him down; the clarity and conviction of President Obama in making the call; the courage and skill of our team on the ground. It had been almost ten years since our nation was attacked on 9/11 and we went to war in Afghanistan, pursuing al Qaeda and its leaders.”
“We followed bin Laden to the gates of hell—and we got him. We kept the promise to all those who lost loved ones on 9/11: that we would never forget those we had lost, and that the United States will never waver in our commitment to prevent another attack on our homeland and to keep the American people safe.”
Indeed, and to give credit where credit is due, the successful assault on bin Laden’s compound was a military and political success for the Obama/Biden Administration. The president is right to be proud of his involvement in bringing it about – even if his recollection of what went on isn’t exactly spot on. You see, according to no less an authority than the former president himself, if Biden’s advice had been followed the raid on bin Laden might never have happened at all.
What the president neglects to say, what he has recrafted the narrative to obscure, is that he advised Barack Obama to wait to order the raid. “Joe weighed in against the raid,” Obama wrote in A Promised Land about the discussion of the mission the former chief executive eventually gave the green light.
“As had been true in every major decision I’d made as president,” Obama wrote, “I appreciated Joe’s willingness to buck the prevailing mood and ask tough questions, often in the interest of giving me the space I needed for my own internal deliberations.”
“Buck the prevailing mood”? It’s a damning description of the former vice president’s actions before the raid, even more so considering the “It was a win for the team” sentiments expressed in the official White House 10thanniversary statement.
This is not the first time Biden has been called to account for remembering things differently than others in the circle of influence advising the president on one of the most important acts he would take while in office. Not only that, but he was also – as National Review’s Dan McLaughlin has written – consistently wrong in his criticism of Bush-era efforts that led to bin Laden being found.
“One, the hard part was finding bin Laden, and we found him in large part due to Bush-era policies that Obama and the Democrats had criticized,” Mclaughlin wrote just before the anniversary. “And two, while Obama deserves the credit for making the decision to go ahead with the raid (after a fair amount of hemming and hawing), and most of Obama’s team went along with the decision, the historical record is quite clear that Joe Biden opposed it.”
It’s also quite clear that, if “WE” did follow bin Laden “to the gates of Hell” that Joe Biden was at the back of the pack. If he was even there at all. It sure looks like he is trying to claim credit for being one of the fathers – to borrow a word from Jack Kennedy — of an action he opposed. The president’s dissembling – something he does with disturbing regularity– deserves closer scrutiny. If we can’t trust him to be truthful about something that happened ten years ago, how can we trust him to be truthful about what he’s doing now?
A few years back, the Pentagon committed to an important upgrade of our military’s heavy-lift helicopter, the CH-47F Chinook. That was a smart decision as it kept costs under control while upgrading – in impressive ways – a proven and battle-tested workhorse.
While the helicopter’s distinctive look on the outside hasn’t changed, it is so much more advanced on the inside, with a list of new systems and capabilities that will keep it relevant for the next 40 years.
As the most capable heavy-lift helicopter on the planet, special operators who fly the most dangerous and demanding missions in the Army swear by the Chinook and trust their lives in it.
But over the years, the United States military has developed important weapons systems needed by our warfighters that are heavier than the old Chinook’s lift capacity. These new systems and equipment may need to be lifted into, or out of, battle space – one of the helicopter’s primary duties – so an updated version was planned and engineered.
The result was an effectively brand-new helicopter that will be able to do it all. It can fly farther, faster, higher and in more adverse weather all while lifting more than ever before (10 tons of supplies and equipment) — all at a comparatively low cost.
Simply stated, these upgrades cost a fraction of starting over and developing a new heavy lift helicopter from scratch and they give the U.S. military a new Chinook that can serve its needs for decades to come.
While the special operations variant is being updated, the Army’s variant also needs the same support.
If we don’t update the Army’s Chinook fleet, the military won’t be able to rapidly deploy new equipment to our warfighters and they will have to operate with lower ceilings and lower lift capacity.
Imagine being pinned down and needing support and not being able to get the tools you need because we chose not to update and upgrade our heavy lift helicopter. It makes no sense to tie the hands of future battle commanders or to endanger the lives of soldiers on the front lines by skipping this upgrade.
Yet, it appears that is precisely what the Pentagon is planning to do. Despite having planned to update the Chinook and having a path that is both financially supportable and makes the helicopter an impressive tool for another four decades, the Pentagon has zeroed out the Chinook upgrade program and appears poised to just use the aging fleet for another 40 years. That isn’t practical, realistic or wise.
Our fighting men and women deserve better than this and the American taxpayers deserve better as well. It also is dangerous to simply shut down the production of a platform that will be needed for the next 40 years.
Not only will thousands of high paying high tech manufacturing jobs be killed in the process, but the taxpayer will pay through the nose when the problems created by this shortsighted decision eventually need to be resolved.
Simply put, if the Pentagon opts to start over and develop a new heavy lift helicopter from scratch, the military could have another budget busting project on its hands that doesn’t outperform the upgraded Chinook.
On top of that, it would leave our troops in a real fix for another decade or longer while that development takes place.
Furthermore, if the military eventually opts to re-start the production of the Chinook and fire-up the production lines after having closed them down, it will have needlessly delayed the upgrades to our warfighters and added substantial costs to the taxpayer. Perhaps the Pentagon is trying to save a few bucks in the near term, but that will most likely guarantee significant costs down the road on a future fix for this temporary, shortsighted policy.
Congress has typically been very supportive of the Pentagon’s Chinook upgrade plans and is actually demonstrating rare bipartisan support for continuing the modernization program. For now, it appears it will take legislative action to make sure that the Chinook gets the planned upgrades that our warfighters need and that the American taxpayer deserves, absent any change in policy from the Pentagon.
Historically, the U.S. is almost always wrong in predicting where the next conflict will be. Our military needs a helicopter that can effectively operate across the spectrum of battlefield requirements now – not 10 or 15 years from now.
With China acting increasingly provocative, and Russia attempting to regain its prior military status, now is not the time to skip on upgrading America’s heavy lift helicopter. The Army needs to make the rational, reasonable, and cost-effective decision.