The Perfect Rifle

Herschel Smith · 06 Nov 2014 · 8 Comments

Rifles and their advocates are in the news and blogs these days.  It doesn't take a handgun to perform home defense.  A man using a rifle recently detained three burglars until police arrived.  It could have been any type of rifle. Rifle Shooter Magazine recently did a piece on the best bolt action rifles of all time.  Brad Fitzpatrick covers a number of the ones you would expect to see, including the Remington 700, Winchester model 70, Weatherby and so on.  But he includes one…… [read more]

Concealed and Open Carry on College Campuses

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 7 months ago

Texas isn’t doing so well on the campus concealed carry front, with the proposed legislation stalled after two democrats pulled their support.  But Arizona is doing better with legislation having passed that allows legal carry on campuses, and the legislation awaits the Governor’s signature.  Amusingly, note the hand-wringing in the Boston Globe.

The Arizona legislature passed a measure yesterday hat (sic) would force colleges and universities in the state to allow properly-licensed students and staff to carry firearms — concealed or in open view — while walking or driving through campus. If signed by Governor Janice Brewer, a supporter of gun-owner rights, Arizona will join Utah in redefining the notion of marksmanship on campus. It is no longer just about grades.

As compromise to opponents in the state senate, the Arizona bill was strategically narrowed from an earlier version that would also have permitted concealed firearms in dorms, classrooms and other campus buildings. Meanwhile, lawmakers in the similarly gun-lovin’ state of Texas are continuing to deliberate on such a broad proposal.

The shifting tide in at least one corner of America is a victory for Students for Concealed Carry, a national organization formed after the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre. But many faculty see it as as (sic) the makings of a hostile workplace. How comfortable would instructors be in handing out poor grades to students who may be packing heat? No wonder that the faculties at all three state universities in Arizona overwhelmingly voiced opposition to the guns-on-campus bill. Apparently, their voice of reason and concern was trumped by those calling for unrestricted gun rights.

Notwithstanding debate over the scope of the Second Amendment, it is important to consider the risks and benefits of permitting an armed campus. Although the interest of some in feeling protected against an armed assailant is clearly understandable, the likelihood of such incidents is remarkably remote.

On average, fewer than 20 homicides occur annually on college campuses around he country. Without minimizing the gravity of any loss of life, this annual victim count of is out of the tens of millions who study or work at institutions of higher education. Those who seek to enhance the safety and well-being of students would be better advised to advocate for increased resources for preventing binge drinking, drug overdoses as well as suicides, which together claim the lives of thousands of college students every year.

Given the low incidence of serious violence on campus and the high prevalence of substance abuse and depression among college students, it makes little sense to encourage gun carrying by anyone other than duly-sworn public safety personnel.

It is an unfortunate fact that college campuses are not violence-free. For that matter, few places are. Perhaps Arizonans who are so worried about personal safety that they would want to study with gun at hand should explore the risk-free alternative: an online degree from the University of Phoenix.

There are so many problems with this that it’s difficult to know where to start.  No one is calling for unrestricted gun rights.  Convicted felons still cannot have guns (I personally believe that it should be limited to felonies involving violent crime).  The sarcasm at the end of the piece is unbecoming of serious prose.  The author has limited his assessment to deaths, but ignored sexual crimes.  But possibly the most glaring error was noted by a commenter.

So if the likelihood is remarkably remote, what’s the risk?

Is it your claim that the likelihood is attenuated by law?

The paradox apparently doesn’t announce itself to the author of the post.  The risk is exceedingly small, but allowing concealed carry apparently increases the risk.  Note again.  The risk of injury, sexual assault and death is minimal with only the criminals carrying weapons, but if we allow law-abiding citizens who have sustained a background check, had their medical history examined for substance abuse and mental health problems (like I had to for a concealed carry permit application), and been through training on firearms safety to legally carry a firearm, the risk is exceedingly large.

How many professors really worry that students who are legally carrying will fire on them if they issue bad grades?  Really.  This isn’t rhetorical.  I’m interested to know if a professor really believes that someone who is legally carrying is a threat to their safety, and if so, why they aren’t themselves already carrying a weapon (because of the illegal carrying of weapons by criminals and the risk it poses)?

Al Qaeda Makes a Comback in the Pech Valley

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 7 months ago

From The Wall Street Journal:

In late September, U.S. fighter jets streaked over the cedar-studded slopes of Korengal, the so-called Valley of Death, to strike a target that hadn’t been seen for years in Afghanistan: an al Qaeda training camp.

Among the dozens of Arabs killed that day, the U.S.-led coalition said, were two senior al Qaeda members, one Saudi and the other Kuwaiti. Another casualty of the bombing, according to Saudi media and jihadi websites, was one of Saudi Arabia’s most wanted militants. The men had come to Afghanistan to impart their skills to a new generation of Afghan and foreign fighters.

Even though the strike was successful, the very fact that it had to be carried out represents a troubling shift in the war. Nine years after a U.S.-led invasion routed almost all of al Qaeda’s surviving militants in Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden’s network is gradually returning.

Over the past six to eight months, al Qaeda has begun setting up training camps, hideouts and operations bases in the remote mountains along Afghanistan’s northeastern border with Pakistan, some U.S., Afghan and Taliban officials say. The stepped-up infiltration followed a U.S. pullback from large swatches of the region starting 18 months ago. The areas were deemed strategically irrelevant and left to Afghanistan’s uneven security forces, and in some parts, abandoned entirely.

Strategically irrelevant to the campaign planners who focused their efforts on population-centric counterinsurgency and thus withdrew troops to redeploy in larger population centers.  Not strategically irrelevant to me.  Google the phrase Abandoning the Pech and see where TCJ lies in authority.  I have supplied a surrogate conversation between flag officers when AQ returns to the Pech (which would be  now), and argued that without hitting the Taliban’s recruiting grounds, fund raising and revenue development, training grounds, and logistical supply lines, the campaign cannot be won.  I have pleaded that we not abandon the chase, and that we kill every last Taliban.  Campaign management and I just disagree.

Continuing with the article:

American commanders have argued that the U.S. military presence in the remote valleys was the main reason why locals joined the Taliban. Once American soldiers left, they predicted, the Taliban would go, too. Instead, the Taliban have stayed put, a senior U.S. military officer said, and “al Qaeda is coming back.”

No, American commanders didn’t really believe that.  They fabricated the only narrative available at the time that had any hope of convincing the administration that the strategy would work.  As I pointed out, this argument was similar to the one deployed by the British to justify their retreat from Basra.  Continuing:

The militant group’s effort to re-establish bases in northeastern Afghanistan is distressing for several reasons. Unlike the Taliban, which is seen as a mostly local threat, al Qaeda is actively trying to strike targets in the West. Eliminating its ability to do so from bases in Afghanistan has always been the U.S.’s primary war goal and the motive behind fighting the Taliban, which gave al Qaeda a relatively free hand to operate when it ruled the country. The return also undermines U.S. hopes that last year’s troop surge would beat the Taliban badly enough to bring them to the negotiating table—and pressure them to break ties with al Qaeda. More than a year into the surge, those ties appear to be strong.

To counter the return, the coalition is making quick incursions by regular forces into infiltrated valleys—”mowing the grass,” according to one U.S. general. It is also running clandestine raids by Special Operations Forces, who helped scout out the location of the Korengal strike, U.S. officials said.

[ ... ]

Last year’s surge of 30,000 U.S. forces, authorized by President Barack Obama, aimed to inflict enough pain on the Taliban that they would negotiate a peace settlement on terms acceptable to the West. Coalition commanders and civilian officials were initially bullish about the new strategy’s chances, seizing on reports from Taliban detainees that a “wedge” was developing between al Qaeda and midlevel insurgent commanders. The insurgent leaders were said to be tired of fighting and increasingly resentful of what they considered the Arab group’s meddling in their fight.

The reappearance of al Qaeda fighters operating in Afghanistan undercuts those reports from detainees. “There are still ties up and down the networks…from the senior leadership to the ground level,” said a U.S. civilian official, citing classified intelligence.

Interviews with several Taliban commanders bear out that assessment. The commanders say the al Qaeda facilities in northeastern Afghanistan are tightly tied to the Afghan Taliban leadership. “In these bases, fighters from around the world get training. We are training suicide bombers, [improvised explosive device] experts and guerrilla fighters,” said an insurgent commander in Nuristan who goes by the nom de guerre Agha Saib and who was reached by telephone.

Of course the ties are still strong.  I pointed out one and a half years ago that the ideological ties were powerful.

… they have evolved into a much more radical organization than the original Taliban bent on global engagement, what Nicholas Schmidle calls the Next-Gen Taliban. The TTP shout to passersby in Khyber “We are Taliban! We are mujahedin! “We are al-Qaida!”  There is no distinction.  A Pakistan interior ministry official has even said that the TTP and al Qaeda are one and the same.

And topping off this disturbing report is the most disarming quote of all.

The problem, say officials, is that JSOC, with a global counterterrorism mission that gives it responsibility for strikes in Somalia, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan and other trouble spots, is already stretched thin. Relying on it to police Afghanistan’s hinterlands as American forces pull out may be unrealistic, some officials said.

“We do not have an intelligence problem. We have a capacity problem. We generally know the places they are, how they are operating,” said the senior U.S. military official, speaking of al Qaeda. The problem “is our ability to get there and do something.”

As I have pointed out for years, the high value target program is a failure.  It won’t work.  Nor will swooping in with SOF troopers to conduct raids in the middle of the night based on poor intelligence and no local “atmospherics” whatsoever (no atmospherics because there are no U.S. troops there).  Of course we have a capacity problem.  Kinetics needs to be conducted by everyone, and everyone needs to be off of FOBs, living among the locals, including SOF troopers.  We have discussed this at great length.

But the same, tired, worn out paradigms of SOF troopers conducing raids, general purpose forces serving as policemen, most of the troops tied to huge bases, and begging the criminals Hamid and Wali Karzai to go groovy on us are still employed, hoping that good governance can turn Afghanistan into Shangri La.

But it isn’t working, and AQ is returning to the Hindu Kush.  Can we jettison the failed strategy in time?

Prior:

Taliban Massing of Forces category

Abandoning the Pech Valley Part III

Abandoning the Pech Valley Part II

Abandoning the Pech Valley

Korengal Abandoned, Pech River Valley Still Problematic

Powerline Blog Calls It Quits On Afghanistan

BY Glen Tschirgi
3 years, 7 months ago

Normally I enjoy reading the posts by John Hinderaker at Powerline, but his recent post is an exception.  With a strange bit of melancholy or resignation, John argues that it is time to pack up and quit Afghanistan.   I will detail this in a bit, but suffice it to say that I found most of his arguments shallow and unpersuasive.

Even so, I would not bother making John’s post the subject of my own, but for two things that alarm:  (1) Powerline has one of the highest levels of readership in the blogosphere, so its opinions reach a lot of people, aggravating the damage;  (2) this recent post seems to be indicative of a growing opinion among conservatives (as shown by the large, positive response it has received so far).

So here goes.

Here are the reasons supplied by John Hinderaker for calling it quits.   After stating that he supports the initial attack to chase Al Qaeda out of its bases in Afghanistan, he sees the ensuing efforts differently:

Since then, for going on nine years, we have pursued a somewhat half-hearted peacekeeping/democracy policy in Afghanistan. The Bush administration was right, I think, not to devote excessive resources to Afghanistan, which is virtually without strategic significance compared with countries like Iran, Iraq and Egypt. Moreover, the country’s human natural and human raw material could hardly be less promising.

Afghans are not just living in an earlier century; they are living in an earlier millenium. Their poverty, cultural backwardness and geographic isolation–roads verge on the nonexistent–are hard for us to fathom. They are a tribal society run by pederasts whose main industry is growing poppies. If our security hinges on turning this place into a reasonably modern, functioning country, we are in deep trouble. But I don’t think it does; and, in any event, I don’t think we can do it.

In large part, our effort in Afghanistan has been devoted to protecting normal Afghans against extremists like the Taliban. But, as the current rioting in Kandahar, Mazar-e Sharif and elsewhere reminds us, there there may not be a lot of daylight between the Taliban and more moderate Afghan factions.

For Hinderaker, Afghanistan and its people are pretty worthless, to put it bluntly.  No “strategic significance compared with…Iran, Iraq and Egypt.”  The country is devoid of raw materials or human potential.  In his view, it is such a backward, black hole of inhumanity that any change is hopeless.   Even Obama, presumably, wouldn’t try to sell his snake oil there.  The rioting there over the Koran burning is proof of sorts, he says, that the country is hopeless.

I hate to say it, but this is just lazy, generalized thinking.

It is very tempting thinking, however.   There is certainly alot of things about Afghanistan that repulse our cultural sensitivities and it is indeed easy to see the depths to which the country has sank and believe it has always been this way, but this is not a reason for leaving, in and of itself.   It is just letting our prejudice show.  It is hard to remember as far back as the 1960′s, but Afghanistan had a functioning monarchy with a tolerable standard of living in Kabul and prospects for reform and political rights up until the communist takeover in 1978.   What Afghanistan has become, after 30 years of war, brutal totalitarian rule and the importation of strict, Islamic codes, is not what is has always been nor its eternal fate.

As for the claim that Afghanistan has no strategic value, that is at least a debatable point.  If we had a coherent and consistent foreign policy that looked at the broader interest of the U.S. in the region, Afghanistan has significance.   If, for example, we had a foreign policy that recognized the dire threat that the Iranian regime poses to the entire Middle East (and beyond), the ability to stage forces on both sides of Iran— in Iraq and Afghanistan– would enable the U.S. to effectively aid insurgents and opposition groups in Iran.

Having a presence in Afghanistan also gives the U.S. a key leverage point and access to Pakistan.  Like it or not, nuclear Pakistan is a major threat to the U.S. so long as it teeters on the edge of political instability and the possibility of the Islamofascists getting their nukes.   The U.S. has a natural affinity with India that could be cultivated into a strategic partnership in the region as a counterbalance to China and the growing Islamofascist threat in Pakistan.   Afghanistan is valuable to that partnership as well and we could be doing much more to involve India.

Hinderaker believes Afghanistan is worthless, a view not shared, however, by Alexander the Great, the Mongols, the Muslims, the  Tsarist Russians, the British Empire and the Soviet Union.

I think that the heart of the problem for Hinderaker and other conservatives when it comes to Afghanistan is the notion of “turning this place into a reasonably modern, functioning country…”   In many circles, you can add in “democracy” to that list.   This has been the great mistake of our involvement in Afghanistan.

Our first and primary goal in Afghanistan should always have been to establish security, period.   Without security first, every, other goal is like piling up sand on the beach.   Security against the Taliban and Al Qaeda is a limited, achievable goal.   It is measurable victory.  And, once established, it creates the necessary space and stability for the kind of investments and social reforms that, over the long term, can make a real difference in the development of the country.  The problem for the U.S. has been that we have been way too ambitious, trying to establish security and establish a democratic government and re-build their infrastructure and make it into a “modern, functioning” country.

This is analogous to a man, near starvation, who is rescued and then force-fed a king’s banquet: it will kill him.   His shriveled stomach is not ready for that.   After such deprivation, he needs a little bit at a time, slowly and carefully. Afghanistan is the same way.   After over twenty years of ruin and oppression, we cannot descend upon the country and begin force-feeding it with hundreds of billions of dollars in aid for every conceivable project, no matter how well-intentioned.   We have almost literally been killing Afghanistan with kindness.   Funny how they don’t appreciate it.

The mistake that Hinderaker makes is looking at the process and concluding that the entire enterprise is worthless or hopeless.  They seem to have gotten discouraged because all of our ‘force-feeding’ has not brought a miracle cure.   Their answer, to throw the hapless man back in the desert to starve again, is absurd.  Rather, they should see our actions to this point in Afghanistan as the excessive blunder it has been.

If the U.S. had been single-mindedly pursuing security and the elimination of the Taliban since 2001, we might well have drawn down our troop levels there to some border outposts to interdict insurgents from Pakistan while leaving the interior to ANA forces that would have had almost a decade of solid training by now.   Even if you view the ANA as a hopeless project, at the very least we would have had time to establish local militias that would keep the peace in their locale and govern themselves.   We would not have diverted billions of dollars to a corrupt, central figurehead like Karzai.  All of these things feed the disenchantment that Hinderaker and others feel.

But just because mistakes have been made– even terrible mistakes– should not give way to careless analysis and spotty observations.   It should, instead, be a call for better policy.

When Hinderaker turns to the consequences of quitting Afghanistan his view is rather limited:

Is there a danger that if we leave, the Taliban will re-take control and, perhaps, invite al Qaeda or other terrorist groups to join them? Yes. However, it it not obvious that, after what happened in 2001, the Taliban will be quick to make its territory, once again, into a launching pad. If they do, one would hope that drones, bombs and perhaps the kind of small-scale insertion of troops that we mounted in 2001 will be an adequate response. In any event, when it comes to harboring terrorists, I am a lot more concerned about Pakistan than Afghanistan.

The war in Iraq is over, and has been for some time. Our mission there has been a success; how important a success depends not on us but on the Iraqis. For a predominantly Arab country, Iraq is doing well. At this point, we have done about all we can do. Our troops are no longer in a combat role, and we should bring them home, and honor their victory, on schedule.

There are several problems in these paragraphs.

First, as John admits, it quite possible (I would say likely) that the Taliban will allow Al Qaeda and its affiliates to set up shop again in Afghanistan.  For him to say, however, that we should “hope that drones, bombs and perhaps the kind of small-scale insertion of troops… will be an adequate response” is fanciful.

Those “drones” and “bombs” have to come from somewhere.  If we pull out, there will no longer be any bases from which to fly the drones and the “secret” bases in Pakistan will likely be closed down as well once it is clear to the Pakistanis that we are done.   As for the “small-scale insertion of troops,” I assume he is referring to the SOF and CIA teams that partnered with the Northern Alliance forces and rained down smart munitions on the Taliban positions.   Trouble is that there will be no Northern Alliance forces for these teams to partner with if we pull out.

Second, if the U.S. pulls its forces out as John suggests, there is very little likelihood that those forces will ever return again.  Even if the U.S. was capable of flying in sorties of long-range bombers and sending in cruise missiles, Al Qaeda has learned a thing or two since 2001 about nullifying the effects of long-range munitions.   Al Qaeda can expand into the remote areas of Afghanistan where the U.S. will be increasingly helpless to affect.  With the bombing option of little use, what chance is there that the American people will want want to re-commit troops after having gone through the national trauma of pulling forces out in disgrace? (And I dare anyone to say that doing so at this juncture would be anything other than a U.S. humiliation).  It is not going to happen.

Third, are we willing to face the unbelievable humanitarian crisis that will result when the Taliban regain control of Afghanistan?  Are we willing to accept into the U.S. as refugees the hundreds of thousands of Afghans that Hinderaker denigrates as “pederasts” and “tribal” and hopelessly backward?  We still have an ugly spot on our national honor from abandoning South Vietnam to the communist killers.    Anyone remember the Boat People?  The world well remembers how we abandoned the shia in Iraq to Saddam’s mass executions and tortures in 1991.   Are we willing to endure yet another flag of shame in Afghanistan?

Finally, the view espoused by Hinderaker and others is incredibly short-sighted.  Our best hope of eliminating Al Qaeda or keeping them disrupted is by having troops and bases in Afghanistan that allow us at least the option of ground action against their sanctuaries in Pakistan.   The only reason that we can even contemplate leaving Afghanistan is because we have not suffered any large-scale attacks since 2001.  That is remarkable in itself and should be kept in mind when contemplating withdrawal.

Our continuous presence in Afghanistan, while extremely problematic, deeply flawed and poorly run, gets at least some credit for keeping Al Qaeda on the defensive and ill-prepared to mount another large-scale attack against the U.S.    If, God forbid, Al Qaeda should pull off another 9/11-type attack and we can trace its origins to the Pakistani FATA camps, do you think we will want U.S. combat forces right next door in Afghanistan to go in and wipe out every, last camp and terrorist hideout?   You bet we will.   But if those forces are gone, our ability to make Al Qaeda pay (and to force our will upon Pakistan if they resist us crossing the border) is neutered.

(I cannot in good conscience leave off here without at least commenting on John’s statements above about Iraq.  As Herschel Smith has said on more than a few occasions, the U.S. achieved an incredible feat of arms in 2006-2007 by taking it to Al Qaeda and Sadr’s illegal militias only to risk most of those gains by hastily agreeing to a status of forces treaty with Iraq that severely restricted our forces there.   Since Obama’s election, the U.S. has been withdrawing troops at a pace that further jeopardizes our hard-won gains in security there.   Too much American blood and treasure has been invested in Iraq for us to simply throw up our hands and say, “Well, it’s up to the Iraqis now.  Good luck, we’re outta here!”  Iraq can and should be a major ally of ours in the most crucial spot in the Middle East.   We should be doing everything we can to ensure that we have a continuing military presence there as well as increasing diplomatic and economic ties.   We still have troops in Germany and Japan, for crying out loud.   How much more important is it to have troops or at least air bases in easy reach of Iran and the Persian Gulf — not to mention Syria and Israel?)

If the post by John Hinderaker is a real indication of the trends of conservative thinking (or the thinking of the public in general) then the U.S. is in big trouble in the world.

Can we save a few bucks from the budget by calling it quits in Afghanistan?  Sure, but even Hinderaker admits that the cost is comparatively small change.

Let me emphasize here that I do not advocate an unlimited and unconditional engagement in Afghanistan.   I have said before that if the U.S. is not serious about winning there, if we are simply using the precious lives of our combat forces as a political game or in some half-hearted program to get re-elected, then those forces should come home.   But the rational response to bad policy and poor management is not to shut everything down and hide under the bed at home, it is to recognize the problems and do something about it:  throw out the policy-makers and bad managers and implement a better approach.

It saddens me to think that John Hinderaker has gotten so discouraged with our Afghan policy that he would rather hide under the bed than use his considerable intellect to advocate for a better way.

Fighting in Barawala Kalet

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 7 months ago

From an ABC News Report:

This appears to be in Kunar near the Pech Valley.  We seem to be of two minds, with our abandonment of the Pech Valley, and our simultaneous boasting of clearing operations (thanks to reader Šťoural for the reference).  We want to turn over FOB Blessing to the ANA, but send in U.S. troops because they can’t clear insurgents.  There is a paradox in the narrative because there is a paradox on the ground, and there is a paradox on the ground because there is a paradox in the strategy.

Regular readers know exactly where I stand.  We chase the insurgents into their safe havens, kill them and stay there to prevent their return.  We do it with enough troops to accomplish the objective, and we don’t pretend that bringing governance will cause the Taliban to cease and desist from their nefarious aims.  Then we send more troops to chase the ones who remain alive into their safe havens, and we kill them.  We don’t capture them because that’s ineffectual in counterinsurgency, everywhere and every time it has been tried.  We kill them – all of them.

But our strategy just hasn’t matured enough to know what our aim is.  I’ve decided on a strategy – and ISAF management hasn’t.  I may be wrong, but at least I’ve decided.

Prior: See Taliban Massing of Forces Part III for smart, knowledgeable and insightful comments from my faithful readers (some of who have been in the Kunar Province).  I am truly thankful for them.  They make this site worth reading, and certainly my prose does not.

Rapidly Collapsing U.S. Foreign Policy III

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 7 months ago

From The New York Post:

When  President Obama made his Cairo speech two years ago, apologizing for nearly everything America had done in the Mideast since Jimmy Carter, some of us worried that the goal was nothing less than terminating US influence there. Two signal events last week at either end of that volatile region suggest that’s exactly what’s happening.

The first was the decision to pull US ships and planes out of combat operations in Libya and to leave the rest to NATO unless the rebels are on the brink of destruction. The second, even more disturbing, was the report that, at the height of the anti-government demonstrations in Bahrain two weeks ago, the Pentagon ordered our ships and personnel at our naval base there to clear out, leaving only a skeleton staff.

Our naval base at Manama is the biggest in the region. It’s the home of the Fifth Fleet, the guardians of Persian Gulf stability, and plays host to successive US carrier groups that keep watch over a hostile Iran.

Yet it seems the administration was ready to hand the place over to any anti-American or pro-Iranian demonstrators poised to take over in Bahrain, until the Saudis finally intervened and sent in troops — thus saving our strategic bacon as well as their own.

Now, let’s grant that this administration’s Libya policy hasn’t been well thought out. Our pulling back there might be cutting our political losses. Let’s also grant that the Navy says our Fifth Fleet ships were headed for naval exercises in Oman and strenuously denies any bug-out from Bahrain — all appearances to the contrary.

Is this for real?  One word: CENTCOM.  Without this basing and the Fifth Fleet, CENTCOM force projection would be impossible.  This administration apparently doesn’t even understand the most rudimentary aspects of how world peace is maintained and U.S. security is achieved.  It’s disarming, really, and one is left at a loss for words.  This is so poor, so sophomoric, so dangerous, and so reckless that the report should be false, except that it represents administration thinking.

Prior:

Rapidly Collapsing U.S. Foreign Policy II

Rapidly Collapsing U.S. Foreign Policy

Democrat Response to Rep. Ryan Spending Cuts: Burn The Witches!

BY Glen Tschirgi
3 years, 7 months ago

Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan went on the Sunday news shows last weekend to preview Republican plans for the 2012 Federal Budget (not to be confused with the current combat over the 2011 Budget that Democrats refused to pass last year).

Ryan made it clear that the 2012 Budget sets out on a very ambitious path to cut over $4 Trillion from Federal spending over the next 10 years in an effort to reduce the size of the Federal government and get spending back in line with revenue.

My concern here is not to talk about the specifics of Ryan’s budget ideas.  Afterall, the proposed budget is not expected to be released until later this week.  Instead, I want to highlight the preliminary salvos being fired by Democrats attempting to “prepare the ground” for the Budget Battle of 2012.

Here is the Associated Press reporting on Rep. Ryan’s remarks as well as the Democrat response:

In an interview with “Fox News Sunday,” Ryan said budget writers are working out the 2012 numbers with the Congressional Budget Office, but he said the overall spending reductions would come to “a lot more” than $4 trillion. The debt commission appointed by President Barack Obama recommended a plan that it said would achieve nearly $4 trillion in deficit reduction.

Ryan said Obama’s call for freezing nondefense discretionary spending actually locks in spending at high levels. Under the forthcoming GOP plan, Ryan said spending would return to 2008 levels and thus cut an additional $400 billion over 10 years.

Ryan tells the interviewer, in general terms, that the proposed budget will include things like premium supports for Medicare and Medicaid, a bifurcation of treatment for those 55 and older who would continue under the present approach and those younger who would be put under a new, cost-savings approach.   Ryan previewed ideas such as block grants to the States for Medicare/Medicaid to allow each State to decide how to deal with their citizens on a local level;  a statutory cap on discretionary federal spending;  a revision of the tax code to broaden and simplify its implementation; no new tax increases.

The reaction by Democrats?  About what you would expect:

Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the top Democrat on the Budget Committee, slammed Ryan’s plan in a press release Sunday. “It is not courageous to protect tax breaks for millionaires, oil companies and other big-money special interests while slashing our investment in education, ending the current health care guarantees for seniors on Medicare, and denying health care coverage to tens of millions of Americans,” Van Hollen said.

Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia was skeptical that Ryan’s proposal could achieve its targets without damaging social programs. He also questioned whether reductions in defense spending and seeking more revenue through tax reform would be part of the plan.

“I don’t know how you get there without taking basically a meat ax to those programs who protect the most vulnerable in the country,” Warner said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“I’ll give anybody the benefit of a doubt until I get a chance to look at the details,” he said, “but I think the only way you’re going to really get there is if you put all of these things, including defense spending, including tax reform, as part of the overall package.”

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., part of a six-member group of Republicans and Democrats forging their own budget proposal, said that the lawmakers would be looking for “real balance” in Ryan’s plan and wanting all options considered.

“I think we’ll come at it differently,” Durbin said on “Meet the Press” on NBC. “The idea of sparing the Pentagon from any savings, not imposing any new sacrifice on the wealthiest Americans, I think goes way too far. We have got to make certain that it’s a balanced approach and one that can be sustained over the next 10 years.”

This knee-jerk reaction by Democrats– that “the Rich” are not paying their “fair share” and must be subject to “new sacrifice” — puts me in mind of that classic scene from Monty Python And The Holy Grail:

Democrats have the very same kind of medieval thinking when it comes to economics and tax policy.  Just as the villagers in The Holy Grail are determined to have their “witch” to burn, even if it means dressing someone up to look like a witch and making the most absurd claims of the woman’s evil deeds, Democrats in Congress are determined to burn the Rich regardless of the efficacy or, indeed, the great harm that it causes to the economy.

In this video by The Center for Freedom and Prosperity, Dan Mitchell explains how this type of witch hunting is so wrong-headed and, ultimately, damaging to our economy:

One thing to highlight in this excellent video is the fact that we live in a global economy that will always favor those who can move their capital elsewhere.   Professor Paul Rahe, in volume 1 of his book series, Republics Ancient & Modern, he notes that eighteenth century writers recognized that, “the invention of the bill of exchange [was] a turning point in world history.” (page 47).  The French philosopher, Montesquieu, noted that the effect of the bill of exchange was to allow the merchant class to avoid the arbitrary and confiscatory policies of the monarchical rulers of Europe by sending their assets to other, less oppressive states.  As a result, a veritable revolution in politics occurred because, for the first time, rulers’ decisions were checked by the ability of these merchants to vote with their movable assets.  (Ibid).

The same phenomenon applies today, but Democrats (and protectionist Republicans) just don’t get it.   They look at factories and jobs moving overseas and, rather than look squarely in the mirror at our anti-business, anti-manufacturing policies fomented by left-wingers still living in the 19th Century as the cause, they vilify the owners as “un-American” or unpatriotic or just evil.   The reality is that America will continue to shed jobs and capital until we stop demonizing “the rich” and start implementing policies that make it easier for businesses to stay in the U.S. and thrive.

Democrats in Congress, if the AP article is any indication, seem prepared to continue on their idiotic quest to “burn the witches” of our economy, not because there are witches, but because they know it offers a grotesque but satisfying spectacle to a constituency that they have carefully cultivated to feed upon envy, hatred, resentment and victim-status.

Congressmen like Paul Ryan and his colleagues in the Senate must not for one moment give in to this vile practice when it comes to hammering out the 2012 Budget and beyond.

I Renewed My NRA Membership Today

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 7 months ago

So I renewed my NRA membership today.  Regular readers know that I had struggled with this issue, and in fact had begun asking salient questions around four months ago.  Brave warriors of the NRA did yeoman’s work trying to defend the NRA’s unofficial endorsement of Harry Reid, but in the end there was no excuse worthy of the argument.  To have sold out the honorable reputation of the NRA for Harry Reid’s having thrown a few dollars at the Clark County Shooting Park while ignoring the fact that he gave us SCOTUS justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor is petty and embarrassing.

So what changed my mind?  Well, there are good winds blowing, at least for the moment.

President Barack Obama’s op-ed column in the March 13 Arizona Daily Star invited all sides of the gun-control debate to a series of meetings in Washington.

Two problems: The President invited the NRA to the summits — which declined to attend — but neglected to extend invitations to other influential Second Amendment advocacy groups, such as the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) and the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA).

CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb said it was odd that the CCRKBA, nor its sister organization, the SAF, were invited to the meetings — especially since it was the SAF’s Supreme Court challenged that resulted last summer’s McDonald v. City of Chicago ruling that solidified the Second Amendment’s protection of an individual civil right.

The NRA declined the invitation but responded to Obama’s op-ed with an open letter on March 15 by Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre and Executive Director of the NRA Institute for Legal Action Chris Cox. The letter said Obama says one thing (i.e. the Second Amendment guarantees a person to bear arms) and acts another way (i.e. setting in place regulations restricting gun rights), and ripped his administration for being “under a cloud for allegedly encouraging violations of federal law.”

“We suggest that you bring an immediate stop to BATFE’s ‘Fast and Furious’ operation, in which an unknown number of illegal firearm transactions were detected – and then encouraged to fruition by your BATFE, which allegedly decided to let thousands of firearms ‘walk’ across the border and into the hands of murderous drug cartels,” the letter alleges. “One federal officer has recently been killed and no one can predict what mayhem will still ensue.  Despite the protests of gun dealers who wished to terminate these transactions, your Administration reportedly encouraged violations of federal firearms laws…”

Gottlieb, on the other hand, said he would love to speak with Obama during the meetings, which began on March 15 at the White House and will continue through the end of the month. He “would be eager to talk with the White House, especially about the ‘Project Gunrunner’ and ‘Fast and Furious’ scandals, where federal agents helped facilitate gun sales to suspected gunrunners,” he wrote in CCRKBA’s response to the President’s op-ed.

As Gun Rights Examiner David Codrea noted in his March 15 column on examiner.com, the ways the NRA, SAF, and CCRKBA — and other Second Amendment advocacy groups — reacted demonstrates “that the ‘gun lobby’ is not the monolith the media often portrays it to be.”

But Blogosphere Buzz Examiner Bill Belew in his March 16 column asks if the NRA, SAF, and CCRKBA aren’t going to the President’s gun summits, what pro-Second Amendment groups are?

Analysis & Commentary

This is a strong statement by the NRA against Obama’s “summit,” and Chris Cox made an equally strong statement against the proposed recapitulation of the ban on high capacity magazines.  In seventh grade I had a teacher who posed the following dilemma to us.  Six of us are on a life boat, and there is no hope of immediate rescue.  Five can be kept alive if they vote and decide on who gets to be the one who is killed as food for others.  Then there were five who were starving, and the five turned into four, and so on.  You get the picture.

All manner of compromise, argumentation and judgment of worth occurred over the next hour.  When it came my turn to talk (after I was called upon), I refused to play and said that “It’s the devil’s game, and I won’t play the devil’s game.  God is sovereign, and if He decides that today is a good day for me to die, then I die.  There are worse things than dying, such as dying and then facing your maker having just been guilty of murder.  So I won’t play your dumb-ass game.”

It was a hard year for me, and the teacher and I had many run-ins, but I didn’t compromise.  Compromise is usually thought of in today’s culture, with it’s lack of moral foundation, as the “art of politics,” or some such inanity. Rather than being artful, it’s what gave us the massive debt our country now faces.  Compromise gave us a country addicted to social programs and redistribution of wealth, and compromise gave us an out-of-control ATF (who also wants to ban the import of things such as Saiga shotguns, something I’ll be weighing in on shortly).

But compromise is the devil’s game, and he wants more than anything for us to play it.  Compromise is even more effective than a frontal assault, because it masks true intentions and buries real circumstances in a subterfuge of details, codes, argument and hand-shaking.

Wayne LaPierre held strong on Obama’s compromise summit, and since there is no reason to trust that Obama wants anything more than to solicit the NRA’s support on stricter gun control and thus undermine any objections to his nefarious plans, there was no reason to go at all.

But what about Second Amendment Foundation and the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms?  The NRA is the most powerful lobby on earth, and there is no reason that it should kowtow to anyone who is aiming for the dissolution of gun ownership rights.  The temptation is always there, but the NRA shouldn’t succumb to it.  Similarly, it’s a dastardly road, this quest to be important, significant or big.

I understand the desire of the SAF and the CCRKBA to be involved and even invoked when firearms rights are discussed.  But when the desire for significance overwhelms good judgment and causes a pro-second amendment foundation to want to meet with an enemy of the second amendment, that foundation has lost its focus as much as the foundation that stands firm now against Obama but abdicates its responsibilities later when enough money is floated, or in other words, when Harry Reid starts another shooting park to get the NRA endorsement.  I love my RRA Elite Car A4 and my Springfield Armory XDm .45, and I use them for personal and family defense (and recently put 400 rounds down range to practice for the day I hope will never come).  But I’ll find another place to shoot rather than take a handout from someone who eventually wants to take the guns away.  It’s called having values.

Compromise is the devil’s game.  It’s for people who have no values.  I have renewed by NRA membership for another year, and I’ll be watching them to see if we have any more compromises.  I can always terminate my membership in a year.

UPDATE: Thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the link!


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