By Colonel George Seiler, USAF (ret.), Ph.D., (Thursday, August 10, 2017)
We have elections to let the people, the US citizens, voice their opinion in the form of a vote. For many years I have professed that we overthrow the current government with ballots, and not bullets. The US was one of the few countries where the loser did not have to get out of town. The loser could even still display the bumper sticker of his losing candidate, and not worry about his windows getting shattered, or his car burned and vandalized. It was OK to express your opinion, and after the election, the two parties blended together to make America flourish, make a better life for the kids and grandkids, expand the family living quarters, save up for a new car, or college. Become a journeyman at a trade, like electrician, HVAC, auto maintenance, new buildings, new roads and bridges. Politics was at least 2 years away, and the Presidential election was 4 years away.
In the interim, people respected the office of the President. It was taught in our schools to do so. We rallied for or against policy, legislation bills, changes in treaties, new treaties, American involvement on the world front to keep us safe.
This country is in the most disruptive turmoil since the end of the Vietnam War. The most visible antagonists seem to be the President on one side and the media on the other. By “media”, I mean everyone from news organizations to comedians, to movies, to the theater. Everyone who has access to any form of media seems to have a grudge against the President. On the other hand, his so-called “counter-punching” especially through his tweets, adds fuel to the fire with nearly every tweet. (Fighting for the national soul by “tweeting” should at the least tweak our sense of humor.)
So, why not? At least more than the usual suspects are passionately involved in political dialog. A whole new population is suddenly watching every step the media will let them see. A side effect of this newfound political passion, however, is the abandonment not only of objectivity, but even of common sense. At the extremes, we have attempted assassinations, riots and domestic terrorism. Less dangerous perhaps, but nearly as disturbing is the utter contempt many on both sides hold for the other. This is not the America we want to live in.
What has happened to us? How did we come to this sorry state? What we have at this moment in American history is a clash of cultures, a true culture war. It did not happen overnight. This “war” has been brewing for a long time. What is different about today is its eruption into the open, into everyday life and discourse.
In this April 6, 2017 file photo, Chinese President Xi Jinping, left, smiles at U.S. President Donald Trump as they pose together with their wives for photographers before dinner at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
By Lawrence J. Fedewa – – Monday, May 29, 2017
Half of China’s public believes that military conflict between China and the United States will occur within the next 10 years. This is one finding of the 2017 U.S. China Public Perceptions Opinion Survey, (the “Survey”) published by the Committee of 100 (C100) during its annual conference, held last week in Washington D.C.
The C100 is a national organization of prominent Chinese Americans, founded in 1990 by superstars I. M. Pei (architect) and Yo Yo Ma (musician) “to promote the participation of Chinese Americans in all fields of American life and encourage constructive relationships between the people of the United States of America and Greater China”.
The Survey is a veritable treasure chest of information about American and Chinese public perceptions on a host of major issues – and the C100 brought it to the attention of Members of Congress and high-level staff at the State Department and the White House last week. The findings are based on face-to-face interviews with 3,696 Chinese respondents and telephone interviews with 1,018 Americans, using the most advanced methods of survey science and techniques. This report reflects also my face-to-face interview with Mr. Charlie Woo, who led the Survey effort. Mr. Woo’s day job is co-founder and CEO of Megatoys, Inc. in addition to his prominence in many civic and community causes in his hometown of Los Angeles and nationally. Keep Reading
Today’s worry is about a topic which is critical but slipping under the rug again — namely, our cyber security leaks like a sieve, and all anyone does is rail at the leakers. Who is responsible for all these leaks? Who is supposed to be plugging the holes?
As always, comments welcome. Thank you for your support.
Atty. Gen. Sessions should empanel grand jury to probe intelligence leaks
From Snowden to WikiLeaks to Clinton to Russians, the sieve is troublesome
By Lawrence J. Fedewa – – Monday, April 17, 2017
An extraordinary scenario is taking place right out in the open, and we all seem to be missing it. The subject is the utterly incompetent protection our “intelligence community” (as they like to be called) is providing for the nation’s most precious secrets.
It was bad enough when a young contractor named Edward Snowden could steal millions of classified records pertaining to the plans, strategies, surveillance, identities, and reports of all types and pass these files to WikiLeaks founder, Swedish gadfly Julian Assange, who promptly disclosed the whole lot to the entire world (2013).
But this adventure foreshadowed the popular response to all the subsequent WikiLeaks. What happened were cries of righteous indignation – against whom? Against the keepers of these secret files, who allowed this to happen? Not at all. The outrage was against the little leaker, Mr. Snowden. The outrage was so intense and so universal that Mr. Snowden was forced into exile.
But surely, the primary sin was the work (or lack thereof) performed by our esteemed “intelligence community,” whose responsibility it is to guard the nation’s secrets against all comers. But they couldn’t even stop a young contractor.
The next big leak was at the hands of another young American, a transgender Army corporal named variously Bradley or Chelsea Elizabeth Manning, who perpetrated the largest public disclosures of military secrets in the history of the United States (2014). So, who went to jail? Manning.
What about those senior officials up and down the line of command whose incompetence allowed such a thing to happen? Not one was ever even accused, let alone indicted, of treason or even dereliction of duty. No wonder there have been further violations of our national security.
This time (2017), there is a casual admission by the FBI and the rest of the “intelligence community” that the Russians have systematically hacked into our national security data – although no public evidence has been produced to that effect. All the Washington wonks are assuming that the purpose of this intrusion was to trifle with the American election. Interestingly, that charge seems to assume that WikiLeaks obtained the Podesta emails from the Russians and used it to damage the Hillary Clinton campaign.
In the absence of compelling evidence to the contrary, this assumption is so much poppycock. In the first place, Mr. Assange himself maintains that the data were obtained from a disgruntled Clinton campaign worker. Secondly, this is not a far-fetched claim, based on the identity and type of little guys who pulled off much greater and more damaging disclosures in the past. Thirdly, the disclosures were true. No one has ever denied the authenticity of the material, damning as it was to Mrs. Clinton herself.
So, this whole house is built upon sand – there is nothing there but the angry musings of a defeated campaign trying desperately to blame someone else for their own failures.
But what about the cyber security which protects the nation’s secrets? Are we being informed that once again, there has been a catastrophic breakdown of that shield? Who is responsible for that?
We know that Barack Obama, in his last days in office, geometrically expanded the number of agencies (from one to 17) and people (unknown hundreds) who were to be given access to raw (unmasked) data. It has also been reported that Mr. Obama authorized continued access of Hillary Clinton and six aides to the same top secret material she had as Secretary of State, presumably right up to the election. This in spite of her obvious disdain for the laws and rules governing such access.
This cavalier attitude toward cyber protection clearly does not bode well for the state of the art. Further, there seems little doubt that the Obama Democrats spied on the Trump transition team. That is a violation of the law and Americans would like to see somebody go to jail this time, someone to keep Manning company.
But no one seems to be talking about these failures of the “intelligence community.” It is time to clean up the flagrant incompetence surrounding cyber protection of our national secrets. Those responsible must be held accountable, and a new team appointed to the task.
The new Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, should also empanel a grand jury to investigate the people and the reasons behind this breakdown to determine whether laws have been broken. Obviously, the FBI under the perpetually confused and confusing James Comey can’t handle the job.
If the likes of Snowden and Manning can penetrate our national security, surely the Russians, the Islamic State, North Korea and who knows who else shouldn’t have any trouble.
Here is the summary: In this episode, Dr. Larry discusses everything from American politics, to the retribalization of America, to our founding fathers fighting for American ideals; from the history of Islam and Christianity, to the fight against ISIS today. Buckle up and enjoy the show!
Here is one more round of the vigorous dialog going on in my family about Mr. Trump and his administration. These are all solid citizens whose sincere concern for their country is not simply a passing glance at current affairs, but a concentrated, pro-active effort to keep informed, to think and to talk about the state of the union. They represent many other patriots, perhaps half the country, and I respect their right to be heard.
Here’s cousin Lee: “Hmmm, interesting conversation. Now let me see…. You wrote that we don’t support Trump ‘primarily because they don’t understand him and don’t agree with what they do understand, a lot of which comes from the heavily biased media’. Oh, I get it, we’re all confused by the “heavily biased media”. I have a question. Is this the same media that identified Dmitry Rybolovlev, called the Russian fertilizer king who paid Trump $100M for a Florida mansion that Trump bought for $40M….and then had it torn down?
“Is this the same media that pointed out that Wilbur Ross was appointed Commerce Secretary who just happens to be a major shareholder in the Bank of Cypress (after he was dismissed from Deutche Bank after they were found laundering roughly $10B in illegal Russian money, including from our friend Dmitry Rybolovlev) along with…..you guessed it, Rybolovlev?
“Is this the same media that also pointed out that Jared Kushner is in the midst of selling the office building at 666 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan for well over a billion dollars more than what was paid for it to a Chinese Billionaire, and the transaction must be approved by the Committee on Foreign Investment which includes……..Wilbur Ross?
“Oh yeah, and this is the same media that pointed out that the U.S. Attorney, Preet Bharara, who was suddenly fired by the Trump administration (after being told by Trump himself along with Attorney General Jeff Sessions that he could stay) and was in the midst of an investigation into Deutsche Bank as well as the potential involvement of Russians in the Trump campaign? And the same media that revealed the meetings by Mike Flynn with Russians regarding U.S. sanctions against Russia…..during the Trump campaign? And, well the list could go on but one last point, the same media that pointed out how Secretary of State Rex Tillerson received the Russian, Order of Friendship medal from Mr. Putin himself? You’re absolutely right, we simply don’t understand, but we will, oh we will.”
s/ Cousin Lee
My answer: While I note that a Clinton supporter throwing out rumors of corruption is a bit disingenuous (glass houses and all that), I do recognize that the hysterical Rachel Maddow and the other media you are following have used these types of accusations consistently
It all started with Speaker Paul Ryan’s conclusion that a House version of the Obamacare repeal could not get through the Senate without a filibuster by the Democrats. He wasn’t confident that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell could round up the 60 votes required to break a filibuster. But the Speaker has been around Washington for a long time. He figured out a way to get the repeal through both houses of Congress on a straight party line vote.
That left the replace issue facing a Democrat filibuster, but he calculated that he could win enough Democrats to break or even forestall a filibuster if he had enough momentum behind him. After all, by that time, Obamacare would be gone, all the tax savings would be in sight, and the Dems would not be able to explain to their constituents why they had voted against a continuation of at least some form of subsidy—even if it meant going into Medicaid or declaring a tax credit for their new insurance policies. With the momentum at his back, Ryan figured the Republicans had a good chance of winning everything. So, he gambled everything.
The speaker was always focused more on process than he was on content – a key mistake. His proposal was very clever, but very complicated. It was based on a three-phase strategy:
1) Shape the repeal in the form of a budget reconciliation bill, which needed only a majority of votes in both Houses. However, the reconciliation bill could not include any new legislation. Only changes to existing law could be included.
2) A feature of the Obamacare legislation was a delegation of almost unlimited authority to the HHS Secretary to change any and all regulations pertaining to the implementation of the legislation. With the reaffirmation of this authority, Dr. Tom Price, the new HHS Secretary, could virtually take apart Obamacare brick by brick. This was phase two of Ryan’s strategy.
3) Phase three was when all the good stuff – which requires new laws – could be voted on by both Houses and sent to him president for signature. Victory!
So, what went wrong? Ryan made some key assumptions which turned out to be wrong. The most basic mistake was his assumption that, because only a year ago the House and Senate had placed a comprehensive repeal and replace bill on President Obama’s desk (for veto), consensus among Republicans would be easily achieved.
That assumption should have been tested and accompanied by a national promotion which included all the key constituencies of the Republican Party, and the President should have been enlisted to spearhead the public debate. All this before the introduction of the bill. As it was, there was no consultation outside the small circle of the leadership, and no public consensus to fall back on when troubles arose. Quite the opposite: even the rank and file Representatives had not seen the proposed bill before it was introduced.
The second assumption that proved mistaken was that the House Republican Caucus would understand and trust the complicated process (called “regular order”) proposed by the Speaker. This could not have been farther from the truth.