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Monday, September 8, 2014
9/11: A Perspective, Thirteen Years Later
Contemplating the thirteenth anniversary of the 9/11 Islamofascist attack on America, I continue to wonder why our nation is so divided about the War on Terror?
 
I was in high school during WWII, and I don’t remember any major disagreements between Americans about the war, whether we should be fighting it at all, or if we brought the Pearl Harbor attack on ourselves, or whether we should take the fight to the Japanese. It was abundantly clear that to allow them to hit us again on our own turf was unthinkable.   
 
FDR famously memorialized December 7, 1941 as “a date which will live in infamy”.   There was no hesitation about what our response should be, nor do I remember any equivocation during the conduct of the war, which did not end until after we dropped A-bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.   Everyone understood that we were in a fight for our very existence. A fight we did not start and for which we were not prepared, but surely one we had to finish, or we would have ceased to exist as a nation. It was a simple proposition: They win, we lose, live or die. That’s the nature of wars. You can’t fight wars in a half-hearted or politically correct way.   For all the talk about the Geneva Convention, they are not regulated by some sort of Marquis of Queensbury rules, and everyone understood that.
 
So, what’s different now, some 73 years later?  
 
For starters, our politics: We continue to be divided over whether the War on Terror is a real war or some sort of regional conflict or if, in fact, it’s a war at all, as opposed to criminal activity that more properly falls within the purview of the justice system.
 
A clear understanding of who the enemy is: In past wars, everyone knew who the enemy was. That was still true during the “Cold War” with the Soviet Union and communism in general. But today, not everyone seems to fully appreciate or agree that we are fighting an enemy that transcends national boundaries and whose motivation is based on their religious beliefs, that their ultimate goal is to convert or subjugate entire world to their religion or kill all those who refuse. Islamic Fundamentalists are waging war on a wide variety of fronts, Boko Haram, ISIS, Al-Qaeda, The Taliban, Islamic Jihad, is a partial list.
 
Letting the military run the war: During WWII, we let our military make the essential decisions about how the war should be fought. MacArthur was given a free hand to wage the fight in the Pacific. And, it was pretty much the same for Eisenhower in Europe. We lost Vietnam because our political leaders interfered with the conduct of the war, with disastrous consequences. 
 
Acceptance of the nature of war: Recognizing that war is brutal, that no quarter is given and that it cannot be conducted in a politically correct way. During WWII, Americans did not question the necessity of fighting with no holds barred. The objective in past wars has always been to bring the enemy to their knees, striking against centers of production and destroying their ability to produce weapons. That invariably caused civilian casualties. As terrible as that may have been, it was generally accepted as necessary. London and many Russian cities were almost totally destroyed by the Germans, and many German cities were almost bombed out of existence by the allies. Loss of life on both sides, both military and civilian, was massive, totaling in the millions.
 
Agreement on the meaning of the term, “giving aid and comfort to the enemy:” Supporting our enemies during times of war has always been considered treasonous. We went astray during the Vietnam War, as exemplified by the Chicago Seven and the likes of Jane Fonda. But, during WWII there was no doubt what the term meant. Today, there don’t seem to be any limitations on the behavior of American citizens or media, including releasing classified information to the public.
 
Wars are messy: For all the strategic and tactical planning that goes on during wars, the fact is that both sides are constantly maneuvering to gain the advantage, and their moves are always changing. Dwight Eisenhower, the Commander of Allied Forces in Europe said, “In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”
 
Recognizing that wars often last for many years: Many Americans are showing signs of fatigue in the process of what promises to be a fight that could last for a generation. The Brits didn’t pull their troops out of Northern Ireland for almost 40 years of fighting with Irish terrorists. Many Americans appear to have the mistaken impression that wars are waged in the time span of a T.V. show or a movie, while the reality is that they may last for decades.
 
America has not been placed on a “war-time” footing: In general, we don’t seem to be deprived of anything because we are at war. For many Americans, there has been little or no direct consequence affecting their personal lifestyles, careers, education or other aspect of their lives: no significant shortages, no rationing, no military draft. Indirectly, of course, everyone has been affected by massive government spending to finance the effort. And, although our individual freedoms have been curtailed somewhat by the Patriot Act, it doesn’t appear to be unreasonably limiting them. There are those, of course, such as the ACLU, who argue otherwise, but I don’t believe it’s possible for us to protect ourselves adequately without also limiting our rights to some degree. Unlimited freedoms are simply not possible in wartime.
 
As we approached the sixth Anniversary of 9/11, Cal Thomas wrote in Townhall.com, “‘Why didn’t we see 9/11 coming’ was a question frequently asked in the aftermath of that terrorist attack. And the answer should be, because we forgot the attacks preceding that one, or brushed them off as inconsequential aberrations so we could get back to watching the stock market go up and obsess about Bill Clinton’s pants coming down. By not remembering those earlier attacks, the reasons behind them and the intentions of the terrorists and those who trained and incited them, we put ourselves in further jeopardy…Not to remember 9/11, is to forget what brought it about. That can lead to a lowering of our guard and a false sense of security…”.
 
That’s what concerns me most as I contemplate another anniversary of 9/11, that the attack has not become a battle cry, like “Remember the Alamo,” exhorting Americans to never forget that we are at war, that we must not only remain vigilant but that we must respond directly to the threat of Islamofacists everywhere, at home and abroad, or we risk becoming just another footnote to history.

© 2013-2014 Harris R. Sherline, All Rights Reserved
 
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Thursday, August 28, 2014
John Kerry, Patriot or Fraud?
“On February 1, 2013, John Kerry was sworn in as the 68th Secretary of State of the United States. The Secretary of State, appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate, is the President’s chief foreign affairs advisor. 
The Secretary carries out the President’s foreign policies through the State Department, which includes the Foreign Service, Civil Service, and U.S. Agency for International Development.” (Source: The U.S. Department of State website.)
 
On the surface, Senator Kerry appears to be highly qualified for this important post, but appearances can be deceptive, and there is at least one consideration that I believe should have given the President reason to re-think his appointment. 
 
So, you may ask, what’s the problem?
 
Think about this: in the past John Kerry has told blatant lies under oath.
 
So what, you may ask. What politician hasn’t done that?
 
However, consider the following commentary by a U.S. Marine:
 
A MARINE IN IRAQ RESPONDS TO SEN. KERRY
 
John Kerry said, "You know education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well, and if you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."


As a candidate for lieutenant governor in 1982, John Kerry assured the voters of Massachusetts that he wasn't seeking the position as a mere "stepping-stone" to higher office. But just one year into his four-year term, he announced his candidacy for
the US Senate seat that Paul Tsongas was vacating because of illness.
 
Few people held Kerry's broken commitment against him. In part that was because nobody had believed it in the first place (all candidates for lieutenant governor seek the position as a stepping-stone). But it was also because everyone knew what Kerry
knew: If he passed up the chance to run for the position Tsongas was relinquishing, it might be years before it opened up again. So Kerry jumped into the Senate race and won. Sure enough, the seat has been occupied ever since.
 
For nearly 28 years Kerry had been a senator, and in all that time no Massachusetts Democrat has ever seriously challenged him in a primary. (He faced token opposition from a little-known Gloucester lawyer in 2008). Yet once speculation began that
President Obama might name Kerry to a Cabinet post, three Democratic congressmen — Edward Markey, Michael Capuano, and Stephen Lynch — quickly let it be known that they were interested in taking his place, raising the likelihood of a knock-down
primary.
 
A Senate bid by any of them would undoubtedly trigger in turn a lively primary fight for the House seat (or seats) being vacated. Otherwise, none is likely to face more than weak opposition for his party's re-nomination — especially not from incumbents lower
down on the food chain, hoping someday to move up. The last time a member of the Massachusetts congressional delegation lost a primary battle was 20 years ago, when Marty Meehan of Lowell ousted Concord's Chet Atkins. Before that it hadn't happened
since 1970.
 
Ours isn't the only part of the country where incumbency-worship runs deep. West Virginia sent Robert Byrd to the US Senate for 51 years, and Daniel Inouye represented Hawaii in Congress since it became a state in 1959. Charleston, S.C., has had the same
mayor since 1975. No matter how unpopular Congress is said to be, more than 90 percent of House members seeking re-election generally keep their seats; in that respect Nov. 6, 2013 was typical.
 
Yet American politicians didn't always assume that incumbency was meant to be for life. Most of Kerry's Senate predecessors served one or two terms and moved on; the endless reigns of senators like Ted Kennedy (46 years) and Henry Cabot Lodge (31 years)
were historical anomalies. Yes, there is always the possibility of electing someone so exceptional that his talents and experience make him irreplaceable. But the odds are overwhelmingly against it. Far better for officials to come and go, serving a spell in government,
then heading back to real life.
 
"Representatives ought to return home and mix with the people," Connecticut's Roger Sherman argued during the Constitutional Convention in 1787. "By remaining at the seat of government, they would acquire the habits of the place, which might differ from those
of their constituents."
 
George Washington could have been president for life, but he voluntarily stepped down after two terms. He could be trusted with power precisely because he could let it go. Most of today’s politicians can't bear the thought of giving up the authority with which we
trust them. And we, to our discredit, are rarely willing to take it away.
 
In popular wisdom, one-time presidential runner-up Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) was nominated by President Barack Obama for Secretary of Secretary of State. But a group that was credited with helping to thwart his presidential bid considered re-organizing to
take him down once again.
 
The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a group formed of military veterans who served alongside Kerry, worked to bring attention to the senator’s anti-war activities following his military service and to raise doubts about the truth of Kerry’s own accounts of his
conduct during the war and his overall portrayal of events in Vietnam.
 
Dozens of vets who, like Kerry, served aboard swift boats in Vietnam, prodded the then-presidential candidate to release his complete military records. And they castigated him for giving testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971
about American war crimes in Vietnam – “glorification of body counts,” destruction of villages, and numerous atrocities – all of which, the veterans said, were exaggerated or falsified.
 
While the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth officially disbanded as a political organization in 2008, former members say they were furious at the prospect of Kerry as Defense Secretary.
 
The organization’s co-founder and spokesman John O’Neill, a swift boat veteran who authored the bestselling Kerry expose “Unfit for Command,” hedged at questions on the subject from Sean Hannity of Fox News.
 
“To make (Kerry) secretary of Defense or secretary of State would be a disaster to our national security,” O’Neill said on the Nov. 15 show. “It really would be a total forfeiture of the loyalty that we owe the troops in the field.”
 
When Hannity asked if the Swift Boat Veterans would reunite, O’Neill said, “we will do the very best that we can.”

Weymouth Symmes, former national treasurer for the group and biographer of its founder, Rear Adm. Roy Hoffmann, told Human Events that any political activity was still in the planning stages.
 
“There’s nothing formal,” he said. “There’s been a lot of discussions. But nothing official, nothing as a group.”
 
It’s not clear what a Kerry swift boating sequel would even look like. With the advent of new media, advocacy is more complex and varied than it was in 2004. Moreover, the veterans’ task this time would not be so much to inform the American electorate as
to  strategically lobby the senators voting to confirm Kerry. That was an uphill task to begin with: most conservative senators were more concerned with preventing U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice from ascending to the top spot in the State Department than with
a Kerry nomination, and codes of collegiality generally dictate that senators confirm the nomination of one of their own.
 
Nevertheless, at least one veteran connected to the Swift Boat efforts is advocating the use of tactics employed in the recent election, from TV ads to SuperPACs.
 
 “I can tell you I am personally appalled at the thought of John Kerry as secretary of defense,” Symmes said. “I suspect that will be the position of the vast majority of the Swifties and POWs who were involved with (Swift Boat Veterans for the Truth) in 2004
and after.”
 
© 2014 Harris R. Sherline, All Rights Reserved
 
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Thursday, August 28, 2014
This War Is For Real!
America is now facing the most serious threat to its existence since WWII.

The seriousness is compounded by the fact that there are very few Americans who think we can possibly lose the War on Terror and even fewer who realize what losing really means.

First, let's examine a few basics:

1. When did the threat start?

Many will say September 11th, 2001, but as far as the United States is concerned, the answer is 1979, 22 years prior to September 2001, with the following attacks on us:
• Iran Embassy Hostages, 1979
• Beirut, Lebanon Embassy 1983
• Beirut, Lebanon Marine Barracks 1983
• Lockerbie, Scotland Pan-Am flight to New York 1988
• First New York World Trade Center attack 1993
• Dhahran, Saudi Arabia Khobar Towers Military complex 1996
• Nairobi, Kenya US Embassy 1998
• Dares Salaam, Tanzania US Embassy 1998
• Aden, Yemen USS Cole 2000
• New York World Trade Center 2001
• Pentagon 2001.

(Note: During the period from 1981 to 2001 there were 7,581 terrorist attacks worldwide).

2. The attacks happened during the administrations of Presidents Carter, Reagan, Bush 41, Clinton, Bush 43, and now Obama.
 
We cannot fault either the Republicans or Democrats as there were no provocations by any of our presidents or their immediate predecessors.

In each case, the attacks on the US were carried out by Muslims, who are 25% of the world’s population.

3. Hopefully, the Muslim Religion is peaceful, but that is really not material. There is no doubt that the predominately Christian population of Germany was peaceful, but under the
dictatorial leadership of Hitler (who was also Christian), that made no difference. You either went along with his administration or you were eliminated. There were 5 to 6 million
Christians killed by the Nazis for political reasons (including 7,000 Polish priests). 
(See http://www.nazis.testimony.co.uk/7-a.htm).

Almost as many Christians were killed by the Nazis as the six million Jews who were killed in the Holocaust, but we seldom heard of anything other than the Jewish atrocities.
Although Hitler kept the world focused on the Jews, he had no hesitancy about killing anyone who got in the way of his exterminating the Jews or of taking over the world, German,
Christian or any others.

It is the same with the Muslim terrorists. They focus the world on the U.S., but kill everyone who is in the way - their own people, or the Spanish, French or anyone else.
 
The point is that, just like the peaceful Germans were unable to protect anyone from the Nazis, no matter how many peaceful Muslims there may be, they are no protection from the
terrorist Muslim leaders and what they are fanatically bent on doing - by their own pronouncements - killing all "infidels."
 
I don't blame the peaceful Muslims. What would you do if the choice was shut up or die?

4. So who are we at war with?

There is no honest response that it is anyone other than Muslim terrorists. Trying to be politically correct and not acknowledging this conclusion can be fatal.
 
There is no way to win if we don't clearly recognize and say who you are fighting.

Given that background, there are two important questions:
1. Can we lose this war?
2. What does losing really mean?

We can definitely lose this war, and the major reason is that far too many Americans simply do not fathom the answer to the second question, “What does losing mean?”

For one thing, it means we would no longer be the premier country in the world.  But, regardless, the attacks will continue.
 
Remember, the terrorists want us dead, not just quiet. If they just wanted us quiet, they would not have  increased the number of attacks against us over the years.
 
I believe their plan has clearly been to attack us until we become completely submissive to them.

As a result, we would no longer receive support from other nations: for fear of reprisals and because they would see that we are impotent and cannot protect them.

In addition, they will pick off the other non-Muslim nations, one at a time, which will become increasingly easy for them.

If we lose the war, our production, income, exports and way of life will all vanish. Who would trade or deal with us, if by doing so they were threatened by the Muslims,
                 and if we can't stop the Muslims, how can anyone else?

The Muslims have no doubts about what is riding on this war, and therefore are completely committed to winning it.
 
We had better know it, too, and become committed to winning at any cost as well.

However, until we recognize the costs of losing, we cannot unite and really put 100% of our efforts into winning.

If we do not, we will defeat ourselves by refusing to recognize the enemy and their purpose, but if we are united, there is no way we can lose.
 
However, if we continue to be divided, there is no way we can win!

Here are a few examples of why many Americans simply don't comprehend the life and death seriousness of this situation.

Although all of the terrorist attacks were committed by Muslim men between 17 and 40 years of age, the Obama administration refuses to allow “profiling.”
 
Does that sound like we are taking this situation seriously?

I blame those Americans who blithely assume we must always be “Politically Correct,” even during times of conflict.

This does not mean that some of our politicians or media people are disloyal. It simply means that many of them are oblivious to the magnitude of the situation we are in
and the direction the Muslim terrorists have been pushing us, particularly in recent years.

Remember, the Muslim terrorists stated goal is to kill all infidels, not just in the United States, but everywhere.

America is the last bastion of defense.

We have been criticized as being 'arrogant,' a that charge is valid in at least one respect, in that we believe we are so good and powerful and smart that we can win the
hearts and minds of those who attack us, and that we can defeat any opponent, even with both hands tied behind our back.

Unfortunately, if we don't recognize this, our nation as we know it will not survive, and no other free country in the world will survive if we are defeated.

Finally, name any Muslim country throughout the world that allows freedom of speech, freedom of thought, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, equal rights for anyone
(let alone everyone), equal status for women, or that have been productive in any single way that contributes to the good of the world.

This has been a long way of saying that we must be united in this war or we will be relegated in the history books, similar to the self-inflicted fall of the Roman Empire.
 
That is, if Muslim leaders will allow history books to be written or read.

Democracies don't have their freedoms taken away from them by some external military force. Instead, they give them away, politically correct piece by politically correct piece.

Unfortunately, they are giving those freedoms away to those who have shown that they abhor freedom and will not allow them to continue once they are in power.

Yet, we continue to hear about the "peaceful Muslims."

It’s always easy to find fault with our country, but I believe it is painfully obvious that we must UNITE!
 
© 2013-14 Harris R. Sherline, All Rights Reserved
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Friday, July 18, 2014
A World Without Israel
A World Without Israel President Obama’s ill-considered statement that the state of Israel should return to its 1967 borders reveals his abysmal lack of knowledge about this tiny nation, which has perhaps had a greater impact on the world in general than almost any other society, particularly those of the Arab states. The stated goal of Hamas is to wipe Israel off the map and drive all the Jews into the sea. But, what would happen if Israel were destroyed and all the Jews killed? An article by Rabbi Ephraim Shore, Israel: “Defying the Odds, Amazing facts about Israel,” provides some important information about this issue. Israel is the 100th smallest country, and has about 1/1000th of the world's population. It is only 62 years old, 7 million people strong (less than Virginia), and smaller in size than New Jersey, surrounded by enemies, under constant threat and possessing almost no natural resources, and yet… Relative to its population, Israel is the largest immigrant-absorbing nation on earth. It has absorbed 350% of its population in 60 years. Israel is the only country in history to have revived an unspoken language. Since the founding of the state, Israel has won more Nobel Prices per capita than any other country other than Switzerland. It has more laureates in real numbers than China, Mexico and Spain. Counting from the founding of the State of Israel in 1948, three countries (East Timor, Iceland and St. Lucia) have won one or two Prizes each but because their populations are between 170,000 to 1 million they technically have more awards per capita. Israel has received 9. Israel has the 8th longest life expectancy (80.7 years), longer than the UK, US, and Germany. Israeli films were nominated three years in a row for the Academy Award's Best Foreign Film. Environment Israel is the only country that entered the 21st century with a net gain in its number of trees, even more remarkable -- in an area that's mainly desert. The United Nations Forum on Forests, 20 April 2009, noted that during the past 50 years, Israel planted over 260 million trees, covering over 1000 square kilometers. And, the Sustainable World Capital Report, November, 2009, noted that Israel is desalinating 75% of its waste water, operating the world’s largest desalinization plant. Over 90% of Israeli homes use solar energy for hot water, the highest percentage in the world. Israel will be the first country to host a national electric car network. Israel is ranked in the top five Cleantech countries of the world. Israeli companies are producing the largest solar energy production facility in the world. Science & Technology Israel leads the world in the number of scientists and technicians in the workforce, 63% more than the U.S. It also has the most physicians and engineers per capita. Israel's scientific research institutions are ranked 3rd in the world. Israel is ranked 2nd in space sciences. Israel produces the 3rd most scientific papers per capita, and the most in stem cell science. More Israeli patents are registered in the United States than from Russia, India and China combined (combined population 2.5 billion). It leads the world in patents for medical equipment. Israeli companies invented the drip irrigation system, discovered the world’s most used drug for multiple sclerosis, designed the Pentium NMX Chip technology and the Pentium 4 and Centrium microprocessors, created Instant Messenger (ICQ), and Israeli cows produce more milk per cow than any other in the world! Business Israel has the 3rd highest rate of entrepreneurship among women in the world. Kansas City-based Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) and Tel Aviv University’s Faculty of Management observed that for every 100 Israeli men who start new businesses, 64 Israeli women also begin a new economic enterprise. This compares to 60 in the U.S. and 51 in Canada. October, 2000. Israel has attracted the most venture capital investment per capita in the world, 30 times more than Europe. Israel has more NASDAQ-listed companies than any country besides the US -- more than all of Europe, India, China and Japan combined. In proportion to its population, Israel has the largest number of startup companies in the world. In absolute numbers, Israel has more startups than any country other than the U.S. Defying the Odds Israel is the only country whose indigenous population returned to its native land after 2,000 years of forced exile. Perhaps those who so ardently want to see Israel destroyed should be careful what they wish for. © 2014 Harris R. Sherline, All Rights Reserved
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Friday, July 18, 2014
It’s All About Me
We’ve become accustomed to the ego-centric style of our President, but a December 22nd (2012) article by Daniel Halper, “Obama Uses Funeral Service to Talk About Himself,” clearly illustrates the extent to which he considers himself to be the center of the Universe. Halper reported that “Obama used the funeral for Hawaii Senator Daniel Inouye to talk about himself. In the short 1,600 word speech, Obama used the word ‘my’ 21 times, ‘me’ 12 times, and ‘I’ 30 times.” I realize that he won two elections and that he will continue to occupy the White House for another two years; but frankly, he has reached the point where his speeches are so predictable, especially his penchant for lecturing everyone else, that I no longer listen to him. Obama campaigned on bringing people together, something he has never done in his professional life. Instead he has divided us along philosophical lines, separated us, and then tried to realign America’s leadership into a new and different power structure. In a December 26, 2012 article titled, “Obama Golfs for the 90th Time as President,” Keith Koffler noted, “After an hour of hiking, President Obama Monday got down to the serious business at hand, heading out to golf for the second day in his first three days of vacation. He was back on the course at Marine Corps Base Hawaii.” With this game, Obama reached a new milestone, having gone golfing 90 times in less than three years as president. That’s about three months of golf, given that the excursions generally take about five hours, much of the useful portion of the day. “What’s more, it’s the 32nd time he’s been on the links this year (2012), a record for the president. His 32 outings eclipse the 2010 mark of 30 and is far ahead of his 2009 tally of 28 rounds as president…” As of January 3, 2014, Obama had played 160 rounds of golf since taking office. “Aside from a man who appears to be on perpetual vacation, what else has Obama accomplished?” In a December 2011 commentary, the Boston Herald observed about Obama’s interview on T.V.’s 60 Minutes: “It is amazing what ends on the floor of the cutting room. When 60 Minutes interviewed President Obama, they edited him out saying that he is the 4th best President.” “He seems to think that he has accomplished so much that he ranks himself ahead of all the U.S. Presidents except Johnson, FDR and Lincoln.” That means he believes that he is a better leader than George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, Harry Truman and Ronald Reagan? Who knew he was so great? “President Obama is correct that his administration will be noted in the history books, but it won’t be for being one of the greatest. It will be for being an even worse President than Carter and that’s not an easy accomplishment.” “This is more than just a difference of opinion. It’s an example of the extreme narcissism of the man who is currently leading our nation and, unfortunately, may well be recorded as the most divisive leader in our history. America has had 42 presidents since its founding, many of whom had to deal with significant challenges, but my sense is that historians in general will probably consider him to be one of the most ineffective leaders in the nation’s history.” “Rather than bringing people together, he has deliberately attempted to divide them in a series of attacks on those he perceives to be his political opponents during his speaking tours around the country.” If that’s Obama’s measure of greatness, then he may indeed be the fourth greatest president, but my sense is that most Americans will come to see it differently. “Divide and conquer may be the best strategy in war, but it is certainly the wrong way to unify the nation and gain the support he needs for his policies and programs.” President Obama’s approval ratings may be stuck in a sand trap, but that has not deterred him from sticking to his weekly round of golf. After teeing off Saturday at the private course in Florida where the movie “Caddyshack” was filmed, Mr. Obama hit the milestone number of 150 golf rounds in less than five years in the White House. The Secret Service loaded Mr. Obama’s golf bag emblazoned with the presidential seal into the motorcade Saturday morning to head to the private Grande Oaks Golf Club in Davie. Sporting a blue polo shirt, tan slacks and a cap, Mr. Obama spent five hours on the private course with former NBA star Alonzo Mourning, friend Cyrus Walker and former U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk. Mr. Obama wasn’t much of a golfer before he ran for president. His regularity on the greens started April 26, 2009. He played 27 times that first year in office, including seven rounds during his vacations on Martha’s Vineyard and Hawaii. In his second year as president, Mr. Obama played a little more, 31 rounds. He included a woman for only the second time when Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius joined on Oct. 10, 2010. Perhaps time on the links gave them time to discuss all the people they knew who would lose their insurance when Obamacare was implemented. Mrs. Sebelius also joined the president on the golf course on May 18. After 58 rounds in 19 months, Mr. Obama’s golf game improved. At the private Mid Pacific Country Club in Kailua, Hawaii, on Dec. 28, 2010, the club’s golf pro, Mark Sousa, remarked to reporters that the president’s “swing looks a lot better this year.” The president played even more in his third year in office — 34 rounds. Throughout his presidency, he has most frequently used courses at nearby Andrews Air Force Base and Fort Belvoir. White House trip director Marvin Nicholson, who has an eight handicap according to Golf Digest, plays with the president almost every week. The only times Mr. Nicholson is not on the course with the commander in chief is during the Christmas vacations in Hawaii. Vice President Joseph R. Biden, who had a handicap of 6.3 in 2011, according to Golf Digest, has been invited to tag along with his boss just six times in five years. (The golf magazine estimated Mr. Obama’s handicap at 17 two years ago. ) Other politicians who have played with Mr. Obama during his presidency include House Speaker John A. Boehner, former President Bill Clinton (twice), New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Virginia Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe. Mr. Obama put aside his weekly golf outings several times while running for re-election in 2012. His annual total fell to 19 rounds, seven of which were in the two months after he won a second term. Never having to run for office again has given Mr. Obama a free pass to spend every weekend on the golf course. In 2013 he had already passed his 2011 record with a total of 39 rounds of golf. This includes his whopping 27 holes played in one day at Andrews Air Force Base on Sept. 14. © 2014 Harris R. Sherline, All Rights Reserved
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Thursday, June 5, 2014
Diversity Policies Are Wrong
Just how long should America adopt policies that favor one group over another? The motives for this may be well intentioned but ultimately lead to unfair treatment of the groups they are intended to help. Instead of treating all minorities equally, the result is favoritism, caused by government policies that attempt to level the playing field. A November 2010 commentary by “Education Reporter” noted, “It is generally understood that ‘college professors and administrators touting the educational benefits of ‘diversity’ within a ‘given student population are referring to ensuring a certain proportion of ‘underrepresented’ racial minorities, particularly blacks. A recent study by two Princeton sociologists quantified the racial bias that elite universities demonstrate in their admissions policies, and also uncovered a bias against students who participate in "Red state" extracurricular activities.” “Researchers Thomas Espenshade and Alexandria Radford drew on the National Study of College Experience to analyze admissions data from eight elite colleges and universities, both public and private. The data represent 245,000 applicants from three separate academic years. Confidentiality agreements prohibit the researchers from naming the highly competitive schools, but the schools' statistical profiles fit squarely within the top 50 schools as ranked by U.S. News and World Report.” “At 576 pages, the Espenshade/Radford study is extensive, but Russell Nieli, lecturer in the Politics Department at Princeton University, extracted three salient findings in an essay posted at the Minding the Campus website. First, blacks have an extraordinary advantage over other applicants, other background factors being equal. "To have the same chances of gaining admission as a black student with an SAT score of 1100, an Hispanic student otherwise equally matched in background characteristics would have to have a 1230, a white student a 1410, and an Asian student a 1550," noted Nieli.” “Second, economic and educational disadvantages improve the odds of admission for non-whites, but don't help lower-class whites who would be the first in their families to attend college. Nieli observed that "lower-class Asian applicants are seven times as likely to be accepted to the competitive private institutions as similarly qualified whites, lower-class Hispanic applicants eight times as likely, and lower-class blacks ten times as likely." “The diversity that lower-class whites bring to campus is apparently not valued by elite institutions. Espenshade and Radford suggest that class-based affirmative action exists for every group except whites because schools want to reserve their limited scholarship funds for students who will improve their racial minority statistics. Nieli goes further in offering an explanation for why poor, equally qualified whites aren't even offered admission without financial aid. He surmises that schools don't want to lower their rating with organizations like U.S. News and World Report. Schools that accept students who don't end up enrolling because they can't afford elite schools without financial assistance lose points in ranking calculations.” “Third, the all-important extracurricular activities that give students an edge over their peers don't apply to Red State kinds of activities like 4-H. As a rule, students who participate in community service, the performing arts and organizations associated with "cultural diversity" are given preference by admissions officers, especially when applicants have held leadership roles or received honors. However, being an officer or winning an award with Future Farmers of America, 4-H, or high school ROTC lowers the odds of admission by a whopping 60 to 65%, according Espenshade and Radford. This finding, suggests Nieli, is difficult to explain "other than as a case of ideological and cultural bias." “New York Times op-ed columnist Ross Douthat (7-18-10) pointed out that the under-representation of working-class whites from conservative regions in the nation's top schools has important consequences: ‘Inevitably, the same under-representation persists in the elite professional ranks these campuses feed into: in law and philanthropy, finance and academia, the media and the arts.’ (www.mindingthecampus.com, 7-12-10)” © 2014 Harris R. Sherline, All Rights Reserved
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Tuesday, April 29, 2014
What’s The Problem With Fracking?
“To Frack or not to Frack,” that is the question.
 
As is so often the case, when people line up on opposite sides of an issue, the truth goes out the proverbial window.
 
NOOZHAWK reported that “The public turned out in force Friday morning (March 12) packing Santa Barbara County’s Board of Supervisors hearing room to speak out on local hydraulic fracturing operations in the oil and gas industry.

Fracking “refers to a procedure in which fluid is injected into cracks in rock formations to enlarge them, allowing more oil and gas to flow into a drilling wellbore, from which it can be extracted.”
 
“Environmental advocates are circulating a proposed ballot measure to ban fracking in the county...The are 23 offshore leases under the State Lands Commissions purview, 16 or which are actively producing oil and gas…Many of California’s oil leases were first permitted in the 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s, and have no end dates for production. By law, the state must allow production to continue for as long as those wells are active…The Coastal Commission cannot ban or put in place a moratorium on fracking absent an act of Congress or the Legislature…”

“In state waters, oil companies must apply for a coastal development permit for new wells, but since most of the fracking is taking place on older wells that were operating before the California Coastal Commission Act was put in place,” and “complicated legal issues exist about legal jurisdiction.”
 
Ronald Bailey, writing in Reason.com (July 5, 2013), noted “The Top 5 Lies About Fracking,”:
 
1. You can light your tap water on fire: “There are no indications of any oil & gas related impacts to your well water.”
2. Fracking fluid “could seep into groundwater and poison drinking water”
3. “Fracking increases air pollution”: Almost any industrial activity will involve the production of noxious fumes at least some of the time…” 4.
“Fracking causes cancer”
5. “Natural gas is worse than coal.”

Loren Kay, President of the California Foundation for Commerce and Education, noted in a Fox&Hounds article (March 26, 2014), “…no legitimate scientist or government agency has found a connection between advanced oil and gas extraction techniques and major seismic events…The real story here is that the documented safety record of oil production in California is exemplary.”
 
An April 10 article by Joe Armendariz, Executive Director of the Santa Barbara Taxpayers Association, “Making the case for use of fracking,” observed, “Because of hydro-fracturing and directional drilling, America is in the midst of an energy renaissance.”

“The rest of the world is way behind us with respect to these new technologies. By 2020, America will become a net exporter of oil and gas, as opposed to a net importer…Indeed, America’s energy revolution is having a profoundly positive impact for our nation’s economy.

Consider that over the last five years, half of our nation’s economic growth has come from the oil and gas industry. And it’s worth pointing out the average job in the oil and gas industry pays $75,000 to $80,000 per year.”

“For those who care less about our economy and more about the environment, America’s phenomenal energy production renaissance has also allowed the United States to lower its carbon emissions more than any other industrialized country in the world – even as we are producing more petroleum products than any other nation, including Saudi Arabia…The reason is because hydro-fracturing has unleashed a natural-gas bonanza, and natural gas has replaced coal for America’s electricity generation.

Even environmentalists know natural gas emits 50 percent less CO2 than coal…”

“Because of these new technologies, America is running into oil and gas, not running our of oil and gas. In North Dakota alone there is more oil and gas than exists in all of Saudi Arabia. In the Marcellus shale formation in West Virginia these is over a 150-year supply of natural gas.”

Another observation about “fracking” noted: ‘Horizontal drilling together with fracking allows oil and gas to be produced from one well that might otherwise require dozens of wells. Fracking combined with horizontal drilling greatly reduces the footprint required for oil and gas operations.”

From my perspective, the question is not “to Frack or not to Frack,” but “Why are people trying to prevent it.”
 
© 2014 Harris R. Sherline, All Rights Reserved
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Tuesday, April 29, 2014
The National Day of Prayer
Thursday, May 1, is the National Day of Prayer.

Although it is not a National Holiday, when schools and government offices are closed, the day has been designated by Congress as a day when people are asked “to turn to God in prayer and meditation.”

Wikipedia notes that The National Day of Prayer is celebrated by Americans of many religions, including Christians and many denominations, including Protestants and Catholics, as well as Sikhs, Muslims, Hindus and Jews…(who) assemble in prayer in front of courthouses, as well as in houses of worship…Luncheons, picnics and music performances revolving around praying for the nation are also popular observances. Traditionally, the President of the United States issues an official National Day of Prayer proclamation each year as well.”

The origin of the event dates back to the Second Continental Congress, which issued a proclamation recommending “a day of publick humiliation, fasting and prayer” be observed by the “English Colonies” on Thursday, July 20, 1775, “and to bless our rightful sovereign, King George the Third…”

As Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army, George Washington acknowledged a second day of “fasting, humiliation and prayer” proclaimed by the Continental Congress to be held on Thursday, May 6, 1779.

“On April 17, 1952, President Harry S. Truman signed a bill proclaiming a National Day of Prayer must be declared by each following president at an appropriate date of his choice, and in 1983 Ronald Reagan’s declaration said, ‘From General Washington’s struggle at Valley Forge to the present, this Nation has fervently sought and received the divine guidance as it pursued the course of history.

This occasion provides our Nation with an opportunity to further recognize the source of our blessings, and to seek His help for the challenges we face today and in the future.”

The National Day of Prayer has been challenged in the courts, which ultimately held that “the President is free to make appeals to the public based on many kinds of grounds, including political and religious, and that such requests do not obligate citizens to comply and do not encroach on citizens rights.”

As Paul Harvey famously said, “And now you know the rest of the story.”
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Thursday, April 3, 2014
Can Liberals and Conservatives Ever Agree?
Liberals and Conservatives will probably never agree.  They might as well stop trying to convince one another.  Logic doesn’t work.  Facts don’t work. 
 
Egged on by the media in a constant chase for ratings, the two sides engage in a never-ending cycle of “gotcha.”  But no amount of arguments by either side will ever convince the other that their position on the issues that separate them is not the right one. 
 
Each is irrevocably convinced of the merit of its beliefs about values, ethics, morality, government, religion, that is, G-d or no G-d, education, national defense, energy, protecting the environment, economics, taxation and so on, ad infinitum. 
Both claim that the other side distorts the facts or just plain lies to support its arguments.  Who is to be believed in what has become the continuous propaganda war that is waged daily in the media, on the Internet, with email messages, the endless stream of communications that has become the hallmark of modern societies?
 
So, why do they bother to keep trying?  Neither side will ever convince the other, but they persist. What is it that they really want?  Is it just about political power and control of government?
 
Both sides assert that they target those who occupy the center of the political spectrum, reported to represent about one-third of the voters, but everyone knows that when the Left and the Right argue their respective positions they are primarily
“preaching to the choir,” who occupy the more extreme philosophical positions of their groups.
 
People tend to be more liberal when they are young, usually because they generally don't have a realistic appreciation of the costs and motivations associated with correcting the inequities and injustices they perceive. They are often more sensitive, perhaps less cynical than their elders, and want to improve conditions. But they are also less experienced, have not seen as many ideas tried and fail, and they have less understanding of human nature. They also usually have more faith in the "system,” as in government, and in the ability of those in power to make decisions for the many and to enforce them fairly.
 
As they gain experience and added years, people tend to become more conservative. It is only in their more mature years that they may have supplemented their education with sufficient experience to begin understanding the benefits of our nation’s capitalistic philosophy, and I suppose some of its limitations. Young people generally take too much for granted, but ultimately most of us eventually learn that nothing in this life is really either completely "black or white," or free.  Columnist Thomas Sowell, who started out as a Marxist, supported this when he said, “There was no book that changed my mind about being on the political left.  Life experience did that – especially the experience of seeing government at work from the inside.”
 
Most political beliefs are actually shades of gray, with questions and arguments on all sides of the issues.  All systems of government are predicated on economic philosophy. In the final analysis, it is the means by which a society organizes its productive capabilities and distributes that productivity that is really the underpinning of its political system. People somehow seem to separate politics from production (business, economics and property rights) in their minds. They aren't separable.
 
Perhaps the primary difference between the political beliefs of the Left and the Right is their respective philosophies about human nature - about how people’s behavior is influenced or motivated. The Left generally believes it is wrong for individuals to accumulate what they consider to be “excess” wealth or to have income in “excess of their needs.”  In the extreme, their concept is that each individual should be able to take those things from the system that s/he "needs", while contributing "according to his (her) ability".
This is usually interpreted to mean that everyone should receive the same material benefits from the available resources and that those resources are finite, that there is only “so much” to go around, and that people can be convinced to put personal gain or advantage aside and act altruistically.
 
Those on the Left also believe the economy is a zero sum game.  If someone wins (earns or profits more than others), someone else loses.  On the other hand, those on the Right believe that additional “capital” is created by increasing or improving productivity and providing incentives.  Their concept is that when someone wins, usually by providing a product or service that others need or want - the income or capital of others is not diminished, but that more is created.
 
On the Right, they also believe that it is simply human nature for people to act in their own self-interest.  That self-interest is what motivates their behavior and that the economic system works best when it is structured around that reality.
 
“The success of the Plymouth colony can be attributed to the wisdom of the colonial leadership to recognize a failed experiment when they saw one. That experiment was socialism.  And, the rapidly approaching outcome was starvation, economic regression and total failure of the colony. “From each according to their ability and to each according to their need” simply did not work and could not work without government coercion.”
(From The Rant.us by Tony Ruboletta, Failed Experiment and Failing To Learn, 7/22/04).
 
The short answer to the question, “Can Liberals and Conservatives Ever Agree?” is no, not on their core beliefs.  Not only do they occupy opposite ends of the political spectrum, their core beliefs and worldviews are 180 degrees apart. 
However, what they often manage to do is compromise to achieve certain of their respective goals.   The saying, “Politics is the art of compromise,” is correct.   Just remember, you rarely convince the other side of the correctness of your beliefs about economics or human nature.  Only experience does that.
 
© 2014 Harris R. Sherline, All Rights Reserved
 
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Thursday, April 3, 2014
Cow Chips To The Rescue
It wasn’t very long ago that environmentalists and global warming advocates were warning us about the dangers of cow flatulence, that it is causing or at least contributing to global warming. 
The U.N. even got into the act, issuing a report that concluded cow flatulence is a greater threat to the atmosphere than automobiles.
 
It has been estimated that 9% to12% of the energy that a cow consumes is turned into methane, which is released either through flatulence or burping. A huge number of factors affect methane emission, including diet, barn conditions and whether the cow is lactating, but an average cow in a barn produces 542 liters of methane a day, and 600 liters when out in a field.
 
All this methane can add up to a significant amount. For example, Australia's 140 million sheep and cattle are estimated to produce one seventh of that nation's total greenhouse gas emissions, and America’s 100 million cattle are major contributors to the problem in this country.
 
Is this a valid theory, or was the idea just floated as a trial balloon to see if it would gain legs, as they say in the media biz?  Whatever the case, it didn’t stay in the news for long.  Perhaps because it never seemed to get past the LOL (laugh out loud) phase. 
 
A good example of the humor provoked by this issue, along with a healthy dose of common sense, was found in Jill Fallon’s post (December 14, 2006) to her Estate Vaults.com website, where she said, “We have met the enemy and it moos? 
Apparently the beasts of the field do nothing but wander around all day asking their brethren to ‘pull my hoof’.  Every time a cow feels a small sense of relief, a polar bear goes through the ice,” she added.
 
Cecil Adams, in his Straight Dope Classic, “Do cow and termite flatulence threaten the earth’s atmosphere?” dealt with the cow flatulence concern as far back as March 1989: “Now, you're probably saying, what the hey, cows have been around forever,
how come all of a sudden they're a threat? All we know is this: atmospheric methane has been increasing at the alarming rate of 1 percent a year, and something's got to be causing it. The world cattle population is thought to have increased in the last decade, and Lord knows the Brazilians don't feel like taking any more heat for torching the Amazon.
So hey, let's blame the cows.” (straightdope.com)
 
In other words, we have another largely insoluble problem that threatens to end life as we know it. Or do we?
 
In another example of jumping to conclusions without having all the information, in this case about cows, their manure is also considered a good potential source of energy, and many farmers are using the methane gas it produces to develop their own power source.
 
So, which is it: cow flatulence is causing global warming or cow waste may help save us from ourselves by providing a new energy source?
 
A recent Reuters story reported, “On a dairy farm in the Golden State’s agricultural heartland, utility PG&E Corp began…producing natural gas derived from manure, in what it hopes will be a new way to power homes with renewable, if not entirely clean energy…
As cow manure decomposes, it produces methane, a greenhouse gas more potent than carbon dioxide…Enter the Vintage Dairy project…methane can be captured and treated to produce renewable gas.”
 
“To tap the renewable gas from cow manure, the Vintage Dairy farm first flushes manure into a large octagonal pit, where it becomes about 99 percent water.  It is then pumped into a covered lagoon, first passing through a screen that filters out large solids
that eventually become the cows’ bedding….The covered lagoon, or ‘digester,’ is the size of nearly five football fields and about 33 feet deep.  It is lined with plastic to protect the ground water…The end product is ‘close to 99 percent pure methane’
according to BioEnergy Chief Operating Officer Thomas Hintz…” 
 
Once it is treated, enough gas to power about 1,250 homes “is injected into PG&E’s pipeline, where it will be shipped to a power plant in Northern California.”  (“California cows start passing gas to the grid,” by Nicholas Groom, Reuters, Mar 4, 2008)
 
Talking about cow flatulence may be good for laughs, but it turns out that it really is serious business, after all.
 
© 2014 Harris R. Sherline, All Rights Reserved
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