Sunday, February 28, 2010
Secretary of State Clinton leaves today on her first trip to South America as a member of the Obama administration. The purpose is to try and gain support for new sanctions against Iran aimed at stopping the development of a nuclear capability. It is generally feared around the world that Irans nuclear development program is not for peaceful use, but rather for a nuclear weapons arsenal.
At the present time we are not at any direct risk in United States proper from the arsenal of missiles that the Iranians currently have operational. But that does not mean that at some point in the future they will not have the capability to reach us directly, or one of our military installations around the world. As an example, the United States currently has over 10 military installations in Germany, approximately 3800 km from Tehran.
As indicated in the chart below, Iran will have the ability at some point, possibly in the near future, to reach there with a ballistic missile that may contain a nuclear warhead if its development efforts continue to move forward unabated.
Should Iran, as expected, continue down this path to becoming nuclear armed, the United States as well as our allies will be at risk. The recent, successful launch of satellite technology capable of guiding an ICBM raises the stakes even higher. Currently, for an ally such as Israel that lies only 1700 km from Tehran, the risk of Iranian missile attack already exists.
This is why it is critical to deal with Iran now in a way that will insure that they never gain this nuclear capability. Diplomacy, sanctions and rhetoric are seemingly not the way. Military action will be necessary at some point to take the capability out. The problem with delaying this inevitability is obvious.
Iranian Missile Capability
SRBM: Short-range ballistic missile
MRBM: Medium-range ballistic missile
ICBM: Intercontinental ballistic missile
One kilometer equals .62 miles
O-operational D-developmental U-unknown
Designation Alternate Name Class Payload Range (km) Status
Fateh A-110 Mershad;Zelzal-2 SRBM Single warhead 210 O
Ghadr-110 IRBM 1800 U
M-11 variant DF-11 SRBM Single warhead 400 U
M-9 variant DF-15 SRBM Single warhead 800 U
Shahab-1 Scud B SRBM Single warhead 300 O
Shahab-2 Scud C SRBM Single warhead 550-600 O
Shahab-3 MRBM Single warhead 1300-2500 O
Shahab-4 MRBM Single warhead 2000-3000 D
Shahab-5 IRBM Single warhead 4000-5000 D
Shahab-6 IRBM Single warhead 6000 D
Zelzal-1/2/3 SRBM Single warhead 125/200/300 O
Information courtesy of MissileThreat.com
Photo courtesy of Bloomberg
Article from Examiner.com
Friday, February 26, 2010
Only in Washington, where there seems to be absolutely zero accountability for actions that we shall call questionable to downright illegal, can the leader of the House Ways and Means Committee commit tax indiscretions and maintain his post.
In the real world, something that most politicians know little about, a leader is responsible to know and to take the heat for the actions of underlings. In the case of Charlie Rangel, Representative of New York, his rationale rings hollow. His statement, that "members of congress should not be held responsible for actions of their staff" is insulting to the American people who pay his salary.
Nowhere else in industry can you make this statement and be taken seriously, let along hold onto your job or your position as the leader of one of the most important committees in Washington.
From the Examiner
Thursday, February 25, 2010
At 10:00 AM at Blair House, the so-called summit on health care reform is set to begin. The majority of Americans are not behind this legislation, particularly at this point in the economic cycle. But this fact will not deter the clowns of this circus, aka our politicians, from pressing forward in this made for T.V. event. With the 2010 elections right around the corner, the purpose here is not specifically for any substantive debate, but for politicians to put their best foot forward for the constituents to see.
What Does The World See?
Regardless of what constituents back home may think at the end of this six hour sitcom, the world and world leaders see a country with pressing economic problems, national security problems, deficit problems and employment problems, spending precious time with worthless public relations stunts.
We have national debt that may be in jeopardy of losing its sacrosanct triple A rating, homeland security that is being tested every day, a real unemployment rate that is probably pushing up on 20% and deficits that at some point will make those country's funding it to have second thoughts.
Send in the clowns? Don't bother, they're here!
From the Examiner
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
On a day when President Obama rolled out his newest version of healthcare reform (which the CBO cannot score due to lack of detail) costing close to $1 trillion dollars, what better time to read a story written by well known investor and partner of Warren Buffet at Berkshire Hathaway, Charlie Munger.
First, as far as healthcare reform goes, the American people have made their feelings clear. They do not want it, or more accurately they do not want it as proposed. At the same time, the American economy, already drowning in debt, cannot afford it. These facts, however, do not deter the Obama administration from pushing forward, at a time when the true focus of government should be on jobs creation and homeland security.
Back To Charlie Munger's Story
Now Charlie Munger is certainly not a story teller by trade, but he is an extremely concerned citizen. The story he writes paints a very dark picture of a place called Basicland. Basicland happens to possess a past and present that very closely mirrors that of the United States. At one time a great and thriving superpower, greed and irresponsible government pushed it to the brink of economic collapse. So much so, that the name of Basicland was eventually changed to Sorrowland.
Now is the fate of Basicland destined to be the fate of the United States as Charlie Munger implies in his story? Is there anything that the average citizen can do to stem this tide of governmental irresponsibility? We have the power of the vote of course, but will that be enough when those that go to Washington, even fiscal conservatives, get caught up in the process that can turn good men bad. Does the future need to be so bleak?
I am going to provide the final paragraph of the story, but if the citizenry of the country wants to try and avoid this outcome, I would recommend reading from the beginning:
"...As it worked out, the politicians ignored the Good Father one more time, and the Basicland banks were allowed to open bucket shops and to finance the purchase and carry of real securities with extreme financial leverage. A couple of economic messes followed, during which every constituency tried to avoid hardship by deflecting it to others. Much counterproductive governmental action was taken, and the country's credit was reduced to tatters. Basicland is now under new management, using a new governmental system. It also has a new nickname: Sorrowland."
Read the entire story at Slate.com
Saturday, February 20, 2010
If he says it, it must then be correct right? This statement comes only one day after IAEA, the anemic nuclear watchdog arm of the United Nations that is certainly not wont to say much of anything substantive, said that Iran is working on a warhead capable of delivering a nuclear device.
This days after Iran resumed uranium enrichment, one key component in the making of a nuclear device. This months after a report from The Times of London that it had documents dated 2007 stating that Iran was close to completing work on a neutron initiator, the trigger for a nuclear bomb. And so it goes and goes and goes.
"We had said many times that our religious beliefs consider the weapons as symbol of destruction and deems them forbidden and prohibited. We have no belief in atomic bomb and will never pursue it."
Homeland Security, Job One
With Iranian actions speaking louder than words, those country's with so much to lose by Iran's potential nuclear capability have words, yet seemingly no action. Will the administration begin to back up it's "no Iranian nukes" rhetoric with action that stands a chance of stopping this nuclear train before it has left the station. Once it has left, there will be no turning back.
From New York Homeland Security at Examiner.com
Photo courtesy of Google Images.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
The Drum Major Institute for Public Policy predicts that due to its large deficits, the MTA will likely be forced to once again raise fares while providing reduced service in 2011. The fare increase is estimated to be $.35, bringing the cost to $2.60 for a single ride, while the monthly unrestricted ride MetroCard would be over $100. This fare hike could end up costing a family of four more $2,000 a year above the current level. For those living pay check to paycheck, this increase could be the straw that breaks the camels back.
Helplessness and Hopelessness
It is definitely a stretch to take the potential increase in fares and tie it to a potential increase in the threat to the security of the people of New York. On the other hand, some of what will drive an individual into a radical lifestyle, is the fact that there is no other hope in their lives now, or projecting into the future. Charismatic leaders use this to offer those in distress another way.
Is New York Susceptible?
When the cost of going to work becomes prohibitive, what is the carrot that will keep people working. If at the end of the week, net of expenses, taxes, insurance, etc, take home pay becomes irrelevant, what is the driving force that keeps people coming back? If expenses rise at a rate much faster than income, with the result greater levels of indebtedness with no light at the end of the tunnel, where do people potentially turn? If the hope of a future begins to fade and feelings of hopelessness become the norm, do individuals then become open to the rants and direction of radical leaders? I believe that it very well may.
Again, tying potential terrorism to a hike in subway fares is a stretch. But as one event after another piles up, maybe it isn't that far of a stretch.
Note: Man flies airplane into building in Austin, Texas housing an IRS office. Alledgedly saying in a note that "violence is the only way", the pilot had severe financial problems in his business. In addition to flying the plane into the building, he had set his home on fire with wife and daughter still inside.
Helplessness and hopelessness!
Photo courtesy of Google Images.
Although the Garden in New York would be an appropriate venue for this fight, it instead goes on over the airways with verbal fisticuffs between the current and former Vice Presidents over the way that terrorism should be, and has been, fought within this country and around the world.
Whether it is the fact that the Obama administration until very recently considered our terrorism problem to be an overseas contingency operation, the fact that terrorists are being offered the protections of our legal system as if a shoplifter, that interrogation is limited to the time it takes for Miranda rights to be read, that a one in five recidivism rate for released terrorists is somehow alright, former V.P. Cheney has been sparring with now V.P. Joe Biden in a very public forum.
Dick Cheney Seems To Have Won By TKO
Cartoon courtesy of Bob Lang.
From the New York Homeland Security column at Examiner.com
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Actions Speak Louder Than Words
Speaking at an all-woman college in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned that if Iran develops nuclear weapons, an arms race in the Middle East could ensue.
Her words: "Everyone who I speak with in the Gulf, including the leaders here and leaders elsewhere in the region, are expressing deep concern about Iran's intentions."
Her warning, speaking of nuclear arms proliferation in the region should Iran develop this capability:
"If Iran gets a nuclear weapon, that hope disappears,because then other countries which feel threatened by Iran will say to themselves, 'If Iran has a nuclear weapon, I better get one, too, in order to protect my people. Then you have a nuclear arms race in the region."
Administration actions since the December 31, 2009 deadline for Iranian acquiescence to the deal to ship uranium out of the country for enrichment have been few, other than rhetoric aimed at getting nations such as China to sign on to the idea of stiff sanctions. In the meantime Iran continues to move forward without as much as a hiccup.
Words unnecessary. Actions required!
Photo courtesy of Google.
Monday, February 15, 2010
Homeland security in New York has one meaning when the name is mentioned. Keeping the citizenry safe from terrorist attacks of any kind. Now, however, that President Obama has opened up the potential to raise taxes on what his administration deems to be the middle class, home security will be questioned as well.
With the economy in extremely poor shape and people fighting just to make ends meet, is a tax hike the answer to exploding budget deficits, or is cutting the budge more of the answer? The academics now running Washington, and our lives by extension, had better learn a lesson from history before they start down the tax hike path again.
ACLU Representing Man in Suit Against TSA, Philly Police and FBI
Could the same happen in New York?
The purpose of the story is not so much as a commentary on the specific case of Nicholas George, but more as a warning of the way in which groups like the ACLU seek to limit the way in which the war on terror is allowed to be prosecuted.
Nicholas George, back in August of 2009, tried to board a plane going from Pennsylvania to California where he went to college. Agents reportedly initially noticed what was termed as erratic behavior before reaching the security checkpoint. Then, while doing an inspection of him and his carry-on luggage, found the following: Arabic-English flash card with the translation for words such as bomb, terrorist and explosive, a Jordanian student I.D. card, a passport which showed passage through Egypt, Ethiopia, Malaysia, Indonesia and Sudan as well as two stereo speakers. He was detained for additional questioning, and is now suing the TSA, Philadelphia Police Department and the FBI.
Now each of the items discovered by agents when taken separately might not raise any flags, but taken together created enough suspicion to have him detained and questioned for five hours before being released. The ACLU complaint maintains that he was held without being Mirandized and subjected to abussive interrogation, and that this search "may actually make us less safe, by diverting vital resources and attention away from true security threats."
Now while his treatment may have been somewhat excessive, particularly if he was handcuffed for two hours, the ACLU, in taking this case, will only to serve to make people tasked with trying to ferret out those whose intent is to cause harm to mass numbers of innocent people, to think twice and consider possible legal action against themselves rather than common sense "police" work. They will instead focus on people such as the man in the picture above. He may not pose much of a threat, but there will be no ramifications if they do. This is not what the public wants!
This man, and the ACLU in particular, should pick their battles as patriots first, and as attention seeking, publicity starved people and organizations second! Protect those that truly need protection against real civil liberties abuses, not in an attempt to hinder the prosecution of the war on terror.
Photo courtesy of Google images.
Saturday, February 13, 2010
In a scene eerily reminiscent of the troop level decision in Afghanistan, the Obama administration cannot come to terms with choosing a venue for the terror trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, or the type of court he should be tried in, criminal or military. The Attorney General Eric Holder had originally made the decision of criminal court in lower Manhattan, but a firestorm of criticism that began after Mayor Bloomberg switched positions to oppose this has made the President vacillate.
Homeland Security A Political Football?
Yesterday both Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and Eric Holder did not rule out the potential for a military trial versus a criminal trial. What does this inability to come to an informed decision in the first place say about those in charge? What does the inability to stand firm in the decision made regardless of opposition say to the rest of the world in terms of the resolve of the President?
Robert Gibbs, in explaining why the President is inserting himself into the process had this to say:
"Obviously there are efforts on Capitol Hill through legislation to restrict either the type of or the venue of a trial for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his co-conspirators. That, by definition, involves the White House and ultimately the president."
"So, since this effort has moved from strictly a Justice Department decision to something that's in the legislative arena, the White House — and by definition the president — are involved."
Finally, Holder had this to say:
"At the end of the day, wherever this case is tried, in whatever forum, what we have to ensure is that it's done as transparently as possible and with adherence to all the rules. If we do that, I'm not sure the location or even the forum is as important as what the world sees in that proceeding."
What the world sees is definitely a concern. Not only regarding this trial, but in the way national security decisions are handled. These decisions are not political footballs used to pander to a liberal base, but the game of life used to execute the primary responsibility of the White House, protecting the people of the United States!
Photo courtesy of Joy Erickson
From the New York Homeland Security column at Examiner.com
Their point is that this is a violation of religious rules concerning modesty. The solution, in the age of terrorists bringing explosives on board planes hidden inside body cavities, would be for anyone that considers body scanning to be an unacceptable intrusion, to drive, take the bus or a train to their destination.
These modes of transportation do not yet have the level of security built-in as does the airline industry. As those who wish to kill us become more sophisticated in their techniques, we need to become more intrusive in order to stop them.
This is the statement issued by The Fiqh Council of North America:
“It is a violation of clear Islamic teachings that men or women be seen naked by other men and women,” reads the fatwa issued Tuesday. “Islam highly emphasizes haya (modesty) and considers it part of faith. The Quran has commanded the believers, both men and women, to cover their private parts.”
Body Pat Downs
A solution that has been suggested would be for pat downs for those religiously opposed to body scanning.
My question to that would be the following. If I have an explosive surgically attached to my insides, how will a pat down discover it?
The answer is it wouldn't which brings us to the crossroads of homeland security and public safety versus political correctness. Let us hope security wins out.
From the New York Homeland Security column at Examiner.com.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
There are many types of terrorism in the world as we know only too well. There is the kind that kills people and destroys property. There is the kind that seeks to destroy the environment. There is cyber, bio, state sponsored, nuclear and narco terrorism.
Finally there is the kind that is right out front, legitimate and at first extremely useful to the victim. In the early stages there is euphoria as the situation appears to good to be true. Then there is benign ignorance, then some inklings of concern and finally the awareness that a huge hole has been dug, with few options as to how to climb out.
This terrorism develops from one entities reliance on another entity for a significant portion of its financial well being. This is exactly the situation between the United States and China.
At first it might be product driven as cheaper sources of labor and products become available. While this has undermined the United States ability to manufacture and has created a significant loss of jobs, the cheapness of the product was to much to pass up.
The next step in the process is financially driven as China has become prosperous while the United States has floundered, requiring massive sources of capital to stay afloat. China now has the advantage of leverage, with the economic stability of the United States virtually in its hands. Further, there is now a limit to the pressure the United States can bring to bear on China for actions deemed critical, such as the imposition of sanctions on Iran to attempt and halt that country's nuclear weapons capability.
Finally, the United States is in the position where not only is there no leverage against China, but in a few keystrokes on a computer China could metaphorically bring the United States to its knees.
Economic Advice From The Chinese Military
Comments out of China Monday made by Maj. Gen. Zhu Chenghu and Maj. Gen. Luo Yuan and Senior Col. Ke Chunqiao includes the following, in response to the proposed United States arms sale to Taiwan:
Attacks could come "by oblique means and stealthy feints,"
"For example, we could sanction them using economic means, such as dumping some U.S. government bonds,"
"Our retaliation should not be restricted to merely military matters, and we should adopt a strategic package of counterpunches covering politics, military affairs, diplomacy and economics to treat both the symptoms and root cause of this disease,"
"China's attitude and actions over U.S. weapons sales to Taiwan will be increasingly tough," "That is inevitable with rising national strength."
The moves China will make, if any, remains to be seen, but it important to be aware that not all terrorism makes a sound or involves death, yet it can still be extremely painful.
From the Examiner
Photo courtesy of NewsTarget.com
Monday, February 8, 2010
This Thursday marks the day thirty one years ago when then leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini declared Iran an Islamic state, and so began the age of theocratic dictatorship that has survived to the present. Similar to May Day in Russia, this day has typically been for celebration and shows of strength.
This year, however, promises to be much different, with as many as 3,000,000 anti-government protestors (part of the green movement) expected to converge in the center of Tehran. They will be opposed by as many as 12,000 militia, as well as 500,000 pro-government supporters. In a statement, the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that Iran would "give all arrogant powers a punch in the mouth". He went on to say this of the people who continue to oppose the reelection of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad:
"It is now completely known that those who stood against the Iranian nation's choice in the election don't belong to this nation. They are either counterrevolutionary or are following in the steps of counterrevolutionaries out of ignorance and obstinacy."
Former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami said this:
"God willing, all Iranians will attend the 22 Bahman rally in a bid to show support for the revolution and people's rights..."
With the rhetoric of the government forces escalating as well as that of the opposition, the potential for violence is very real, if not certain. Will the Iranian government stop at nothing to beat the opposition down, and if so, how far is the opposition prepared to go in the fight? Could this be the true beginning of regime change in Iran? Or will it be a blood bath that pushes the opposition back underground?
All eyes will be on Iran this Thursday.
From the Examiner
After a decent couple of hours of a Super Bowl preview, CBS ran a live, softball interview between Katie Couric and President Obama that covered many of the areas of interest to the American public. The result; finger pointing and excuses.
Should the Christmas Day bomber have been read his Miranda rights after only 50 minutes of "interrogation"? According to the President, this 50 minutes was sufficient as we got actionable intelligence out of him. Did we get all of it? Most probably not, but the President seemed fine with that. Should the terror trial be held in NYC. Not if the police, the people and the mayor don't want it there.
Is that how a president makes decisions? By consensus or by the polls?
All in all, this was a platform for the President to place blame and give excuses for much of what has gone wrong in his first year.
The President, in recent statements has said that he did not adequately articulate the basics of the healthcare proposal that he and the Democrats in Washington tried to ram through. This is a bit surprising given the number of town hall meetings and television appearances by the President and his minions.
After the full-court press that was put on by Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and the rest of the administration, the President commented that he has been frustrated by the process. That the giveaways to certain states was not something that made him particularly happy. This seems disingenuous at best, a potential jumble of the truth to say the worst.
Some quick observations, but the end result is that this was merely more of the same. A friendly interview by the main stream media and rhetoric from the President lacking in any substance.
Saturday, February 6, 2010
The unconfirmed reports that Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud was killed has appeared to set in motion the jockeying among potential suitors for his position. This is evidence of the problem faced by the United States and the rest of the world in trying to eliminate the threat we face from fundamentalist terrorist organizations. The head can be chopped off, but there is no shortage of candidates to take its place.
This seems to be the delusion held by many that only one man can lead a movement that is so ideologically bent on the destruction of the west. The reality, unfortunately, is that there are many. Killing one does not destroy the movement, but may only slow it down temporarily if that.
Maulvi Noor Jamal Appears To Be Frontrunner
In much the same way that politicians in the United States go to rally's and kiss babies to gain favor with the electorate, Jamal reportedly appeared in a video in which two men and a boy were being flogged. A quote by a former resident of Kurram, Pakistan could be used as a campaign slogan:
"He kills humans like one will kill chickens"
Not exactly "I Like Ike", but yet additional anecdotal evidence, as if any were needed, of the scope of the problem that we face.
From the Examiner
Friday, February 5, 2010
Senator Kit Bond has issued a letter to President Obama, in which he protests the White House media briefing concerning the renewed cooperation of the Christmas Day terror suspect. Such a briefing says Senator Bond, serves only to alert our enemies with no other purpose achieved. In the case of Abdulmutallab, vital and actionable information was lost through the five week gap between the attempted plane bombing and his renewed speaking with the authorities.
Family Played A Key Role
While using the sudden urge of the suspect to talk as justification for treating terror suspects as criminals rather than enemy combatants, the reality in this case is that the family of Abdulmtallab played the key role in getting him to open up. By issuing Miranda rights less than an hour after capture, any immediate knowledge the suspect had as to terrorist locations, strategies and personnel is lost. Unless family can be counted on in every case to be there at the time of capture, ready and able to convince the captive to speak, the mirandizing of suspects puts the country in greater danger and goes against the concept of national security.
Some of the Senator's Comments
"...It is deeply disturbing to me that the Intelligence Committee would be advised of sensitive information, and told of the vital imperative to keep such information secret for the sake of national security, only to see this information – less than twenty-four hours later –broadcast to the world from the White House. This distortion of the congressional notification process suggests that other considerations are taking precedence over keeping timely and sensitive information away from our enemies.
Some have tried to use Abdulmutallab’s sudden cooperation as a justification for prosecuting this foreign terrorist in an Article III court, but I believe this development supports an opposing view. Because we treated him in this fashion, we followed Miranda and advised him of his right to remain silent, losing five crucial weeks for obtaining imminent threat information. Miranda is issued when statements from the accused are needed to obtain a conviction, but in this case we did not need his own statements as the chemical evidence he was wearing and over 200 witnesses would ably suffice; hence, the decision to Mirandize made no sense on a practical or strategic level. Additionally, Abdulmutallab’s family was key in gaining his cooperation, and in most cases the suicide bomber does not have a moderate Islamic family willing to work with the United States; in fact, the opposite is most often the case (as with the suicide bomber that killed seven CIA officers in Khost, whose wife applauded her husband’s actions)..."
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Senator Diane Feinstein: "What is the likelihood of another attempted terrorist attack on the U.S. homeland in the next 3-6 months,"
Dennis Blair, Director of National Intelligence: "An attempted attack, the priority is certain I would say,"
Video courtesy of NBC News
Iran Launches Satellite With Multiple Potential Uses
Iran launched a satellite today with multiple potential uses, including guidance of nuclear warheads. Once again, the world sits, watches and procrastinates while Iran puts into place the infrastructure for a nuclear strike.
Video courtresy of ITN News
From the Examiner
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
All of the back and forth should take us to this eventuality.
Cartoon courtesy of Robert Lang
From the Examiner
Monday, February 1, 2010
New York City is already ground zero in the War on Terror without bringing these five here.
The New York City Trial Idea Made Sense To Many For A Long Time
At the time this decision was announced, and up until quite recently, the trial in New York City idea had a good deal of political support despite all of the outcry against it. Not until this week, when Mayor Bloomberg finally came out against it (he was for it before he was against it), was the political cover removed, forcing other politicians to finally move to the point of view that the proper course of action would be to move this trial out of NYC.
Criminal court versus military tribunal is another topic altogether!
The Question I Ask Now Is Why They Want To Move The Trial?
The larger question for myself and for others is why our leadership originally came to the decision that they did? The reason at that time was political expediency. It was intended to appease the left by showing that the Obama administration is the polar opposite of the Bush administration. Fair, kind and willing to play on an uneven playing field no matter the potential consequences to the country.
Now why did the Obama administration change its mind, and come to the decision that should have been made in the first place?
The answer once again is political expediency.
Should the safety of the American public now and going forward be held hostage to the political winds blowing in Washington and in other legislative centers of power around the country? The people on Main Street know the answer to that one, but perhaps someone should make it clear to the politicians!
From the Examiner