• Views from Fonzi’s Foxhole

    Scaring Ourselves to Death

    Thirty-five years ago I held a county job as an emergency services coordinator. At the time Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant was under construction and environmental groups grasped at any opportunity to block opening of the plant. One tactic was to block any emergency planning and to attack anyone involved in the emergency planning process for a hypothetical nuclear power plant accident.

    The plant has been operational now for several decades without any of the dire warnings of disaster materializing. Failing in one objective, radical environmentalists seek any target of opportunity to justify an otherwise banal existence. Their latest and favorite target is once again oil. Never a popular industry in California since the 1969 Santa Barbara offshore oil spill, oil is again in the spotlight of those who propose the most extreme solution as the first and only solution to any perceived and often imagined problem. The current “crisis” is also an extension of the propaganda war against fossil fuels, so scaring people by the use of extremist terminology is just another tool in the larger campaign to de-industrialize America.

    The threat this propaganda campaign poses to the economic well-being of average citizens is quite real: do not be deceived; these people do not care one iota about the welfare of you or your family. They care nothing for the impact that ever-more severe restrictions on the use of fossil fuels, especially oil, will have on your livelihood or quality of life. They also don’t know what they’re talking about.

    The proposed rail line extension to the existing refinery in Nipomo, an extension of about 1 mile of track for a rail-spur, will serve to keep the local refinery operating at a productive rate. That refinery has been safely operating around 30 years and provides about 200 head-of-household jobs, many of which employ members of the local Hispanic community in South County. The facility also provides millions of dollars of local revenue that supports local businesses, schools and other local government agencies. However, none of this seems to matter to the privileged few who immigrated north and purchased homes near an industrial facility and now demand its demise. Extreme rhetoric is the norm and generating fear is the game.

    For instance, a recent propaganda blast sent out to publicize an upcoming environmental protest against railroad transportation of oil through the county refers to the “growing threat of oil trains” and glibly asserts that “there is NO safe way to transport extreme tar sands and Bakken crude oil.” A letter in last week’s paper referred to trains carrying oil as “bomb trains” and a column a few days later asserted the county and cities are unprepared to deal with a rail disaster involving Bakken crude oil. Both are incorrect and reveal a serious lack of knowledge about what is already transiting our communities and what risks we live with daily.

    I spent years in training in the transit of hazardous materials and my lowest concern was unpressurized oil tank cars. Yes, they do derail, but derailments are down over the last ten years. Yes, they do spill and sometimes burn, but less than one in five derailments result in a serious spill let alone a fire. The spectacular fire in Lac-Megantic Canada in 2013, involving multiple tank cars in a runaway derailment down a mountain was an outlier in that every engineering safeguard was ignored or neutralized by human error and violation of laws. It was a tragedy that claimed 47 lives but far more lives are lost in domestic airline crashes every year, yet do we demand cessation of air travel? No, we demand that authorities fix the problem, which they do as far as humanly possible. In point of fact, pressurized tank cars carrying natural gas that heats your homes and provides cleaner fuel for electricity generation at power plants (resulting in a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions since 1990) is of far greater concern. Many other hazardous products used by industry transit the rails daily; but you don’t notice them as their passing is unremarkable, unless you’re stuck at a rail crossing as a slow freight train passes.

    The assertion was made that local fire chiefs believe their agencies unprepared for a derailment involving oil tank cars; I doubt that. Every First Responder has minimal levels of required federal and state hazardous materials emergency response training; most have considerably more. Furthermore, local response agencies heavily depend upon automatic mutual aid even for routine structure fires, wildfires and any incident requiring more than a minimal response. It’s built into the “DNA” of California emergency services which has the most well-developed mutual aid system in America. We prove it every year during fire season. As President Roosevelt once said, “we have only to fear, fear itself.”

     

    Liberty is a Fragile Flower

    America is an idea as much as it is a country. It was founded on the beliefs derived from a rich Judeo-Christian heritage present in the English Magna Carta which placed limits on the power of a Sovereign Monarch. For the first time in a western document, the “Divine Right of Kings” was circumscribed by written limits that emphatically stated that the laws of God trumped any temporal authority.

    For the next eight centuries Englishmen fought to retain their rights as free men even as future kings or civil authorities attempted to re-capture and expand civil authority that placed increasing limits on the liberties of English subjects, expanding the power of government.

    The English civil wars were largely about attempts by a sovereign to impose religious belief upon unwilling subjects who revolted to preserve their freedom of conscience and religious practices. The emigration of many religious dissenters formed the foundation of original immigration to America, first by the Puritans, whom we refer to as the Pilgrims and later by other groups seeking to establish a homeland and religious sanctuary in the “New World.” I won’t even try to suggest that within the separate colonies religious freedom of conscience applied to all as each colony jealously guarded their founding faith at the expense of anyone else. In some colonies, death sentences were handed out to adherents of other faiths who dared proselytize for other than approved beliefs.

    The American Declaration of Independence acknowledged God in the affairs of men and the subsequent Constitution approved by Congress in 1789 enshrined religious freedom as among our first freedoms, as important as freedom of (political) speech, of the press and our right to peaceably assemble to petition the government. The Second Amendment, the Right to Keep and Bear Arms was placed just below the First Amendment as the ultimate guarantor of the people’s First Amendment Rights.

    I won’t pretend that the ratification of the Constitution by the 13 independent states ended the conflict. Over the last 239 years those who seek ultimate power to themselves have repeatedly found the Constitution to be an impediment to whatever agenda they pursued. Attempts to limit the rights of citizens began immediately and ceaselessly which is one reason why Benjamin Franklin stated, when asked by a woman, “What type of government have you created?” Franklin stated, “A Republic madam, if you can keep it.” Other founders stated that a Republic, with its written constraints upon government and division of power between three, co-equal branches of government, was best served by a “moral and religious people.” The implication is that people who acknowledge a power outside of and greater than themselves to whom we are ultimately accountable are more likely to recognize and accept constitutional limits on the power of government.

    We have seen many abuses of those limits, from the suspension of civil liberties in the Civil War by Lincoln, to harsh sedition laws under President Wilson during and after WWI to present-day suborning of free political and religious speech in the public square. Say anything perceived to be offensive today and you’re likely to lose a job or be publicly pilloried. That isn’t what the First Amendment is all about. For speech to be free, it has to be unfettered by state sanction or institutional reprisal. Ultimately, it means that we have to be tolerant of “intolerant speech” with the antidote to obnoxious speech not being censorship or reprisal but more speech of an opposing view.

    Unfortunately, the “politically correct police” have adopted censorship and reprisal as their first weapons of choice to silence views to which they disagree. Books are written today about the intolerant political climate that exists on college campuses, within the military and the corporate world. We are also seeing a dramatic increase of persecution of religious belief and practice with a U.S. Senator declaring that religious belief is protected insofar as it is practiced in church, but not in public. That’s like saying you have free political speech as long as you don’t participate in politics. Constitutional rights limited to your home aren’t worth much.

    A few writers in the last week have denied that religious persecution of Christians in America is occurring; I disagree and voluminous examples exist. One such case is the $135,000 fine levied upon Christian owners of an Oregon bake shop who refused to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple. I don’t agree with their stance; they’re in business to bake cakes and should bake them for everybody or nobody, or just make donuts. The fine however, was 27 times higher for them as Christians than prior cases and designed to bankrupt them.

    Liberty in America is under siege as never before. Suppression of religious belief and speech is only the beginning.

     

    Delusional Leadership

    The President claimed that his administration’s policies have “restored the U.S. as the most respected country in the world” and also that he (as president)” is more like having a Jew in the White House than any other president.” At least he didn’t refer to being more like “those people” when he referred to the American Jewish community.

    I always wondered what happened to “Baghdad Bob” after the fall of Iraq in 2003 (the guy claiming there were no American troops in Baghdad as a TV camera panned the image of an American M1 Abrams tank driving down the boulevard behind him). It’s obvious he got a job as the Obama Administrations’ Press Officer for alternate reality.

    Anyone paying attention to the news in the last six months would be hard-pressed to find favorable coverage of America under Obama’s leadership, although criticism of his lack of leadership, initiative or commitment to allies is widespread.

    For the record, the Polish Defense Minister stated last week that Russian forces currently being deployed along the borders of the Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia can conquer those former Soviet-bloc nations in little more than 48 hours. The same minister along with others openly questioned the commitment of the United States to defend the independence of those states, which are now part of NATO, given Obama’s vacillation in the face of naked aggression around the world.

    To review American foreign policy successes one needs to re-write the definition of success. The “Russian reset,” a Hillary Clinton initiative while she was Secretary of State, has resulted in a belligerent Russia under Putin who invaded without consequence the Crimea, conducts overt aggression with Spetsnaz forces in the Ukraine, engages in violent anti-American propaganda in Russian media and has embarked in a massive build-up of its strategic nuclear forces. Its conventional forces are also being re-equipped with asymmetric weaponry designed to counter most of the technological advantages of American technology and has conducted massive, no-notice military exercises along NATO country borders for the past 18 months. Other Clinton successes are Libya (now in chaos), Egypt (now boycotted by America after a coup tossed out its radical, Muslim dictatorship) and Yemen, touted as a success and reduced to civil war.

    China is building equally confrontational weaponry designed to neuter the U.S. in the Pacific while building island military bases far outside its borders in contested international waters, even in waters claimed by other States. This week it overtly challenged the right of American military reconnaissance aircraft to fly within international airspace China now claims to be its own.

    Obama’s Middle Eastern policy is a textbook case of appeasement as ISIS threatens to overrun Baghdad, not out of the realm of possibility due to Obama’s ineffective military response. Three-quarters of the aircraft assigned interdiction of ISIS targets return to base without dropping ordnance due to Obama’s overly restrictive rules of engagement, controlled directly from the White House. His obstinacy in refusing to consider effective use of ground forces is a prescription for defeat.

    The President claims to be the most friendly and supportive President of Israel in history, which probably explains why his popularity in Israel has dropped to about 15%. I think the Israelis know who is a true friend. Meanwhile the Obama State Department hints it will support a French resolution in the UN demanding Israeli withdrawal to the indefensible 1947 borders or face sanctions.

    As for Iran, Obama’s obsession with a nuclear treaty and diplomatic vacillation guarantees a nuclear-armed Iran within a decade. Virtually every credible analyst predicts Iran will acquire and deploy nuclear weapons within a fraction of that time and Obama’s policies will almost certainly lead to a regional and catastrophic war in the Middle East while paving the way for aggression in Europe and Asia. America respected? Not lately nor in the future if this “strategy of defeat” continues much longer.

     
    Written by Al Fonzi
    5th District Chairman, Republican Party, SLO County
    Past President, SLO County Lincoln Club
  • They act like they have an unlimited purse

    “They act like they have an unlimited purse.”  - Congressman Kevin McCarthy

    No, not the LA Dodgers. Instead, that’s a Southern California resident talking about liberal leaders in Sacramento and Washington and their willfully blind support of the flawed California High-Speed Rail project.

    California is a land with abundant resources that has given opportunity and hope to so many who came west to establish a new and better way of life. But the status quo is not always sustainable.

    Just because California is a land of plenty doesn’t mean we can waste our resources and taxpayer dollars. But that is exactly what is being done with California High-Speed Rail—a project that takes time and money away from what is truly needed, like drought relief.

    Since being presented to the voters, California High-Speed Rail costs have exploded, ridership estimates have shrunk, and speed projections have been questioned when analyzed by engineering’s brightest minds.

    At the same time, our state has endured the worst drought in a century that has been exacerbated by planning and judgment errors from government leaders. And years into the crisis, infrastructure and long-term solutions are nowhere to be seen.

    The big problem in California is that time and money that should be spent responding to the drought has instead been wasted on a boondoggle that California residents don’t even want .

    Residents up and down the high-speed rail route—from blue-collar suburbs to city centers—are coming out in protest to the project, which would negatively affect dozens of schools, churches, and parks along with tens of thousands of homes.

    But the negative impacts stretch beyond areas near the tracks. Current estimates state that the high-speed rail project will cost over twice as much as the original plan voters approved in 2008. Private investment that was promised remains nonexistent and Republicans in Congress are committed to not putting another federal taxpayer dollar to this flawed project.

    Last week the House of Representatives passed a transportation bill that blocks federal funding for the California High-Speed Rail project. Since taking the majority in the House, Republicans have been committed to ensure hardworking Americans’ tax dollars aren’t wasted on projects that don’t reflect today’s reality or tomorrow’s potential.

    But just imagine what could be done if the energy used in pursuit of this fundamentally flawed project was instead used to help relieve the drought. Water storage projects that never got off the ground could have actually been built and more water could be flowing to people’s homes, farms, and neighborhoods.

    Former Representative Tom Campbell has the right idea, and put it very simply in the OC Register : “California should take the money going to Gov. Jerry Brown’s train and use it to build more water storage.” If the governor did that, we could take advantage of the next rainstorms and the winter snow pack to make sure Californians get the water they need, not the train nobody wants.

    Sincerely,

    Kevin McCarthy

    Above is Reprise 0f Congressman McCarthy’s June Newsletter article

  • 3 Views From Fonzi’s Foxhole

    They Fought for This?

    In 1986 I visited an uncle on the East Coast who was a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division in WWII. He was one of a rare breed of men, one of the first of America’s paratroopers, the ones that learned to pack the parachutes with which they would later jump into combat. You had to learn your trade well; if you made a mistake you paid the price with your life, not somebody else. He learned quite well and made four combat jumps, his third being into St. Mere Eglise at Normandy on “D-Day,” June 6, 1944.

    Oddly, his family seemed to have little interest in his military past. I was serving in 10th Special Forces at the time and carried on the legacy of jumping out of perfectly good airplanes in flight. At the foot of my uncle’s bed was a trunk full of mementos from WWII. He told me he hadn’t opened it in 40 years. Within were a number of items from his airborne days, a fighting knife which he carried into France and a book written by the Mayor of St. Mere Eglise, given to my uncle by His Honor the Mayor at the 82nd Airborne 25th reunion at Normandy in 1969. At the end of our visit, my uncle gave me his mementos which are a cherished part of our family’s military service.

    It’s been 71 years as of last weekend since my uncle and his fellow “Band of Brothers” made their midnight jump into St. Mere Eglise as part of the spearhead to liberate Europe from the Nazis. Six hours later the infantry landed at Omaha Beach, Normandy, charging into withering fire from Nazi gun emplacements. “A” Company, 116th Regiment, 29th Infantry Division, a composite National Guard Division from Virginia and surrounding states led the first wave onto the “Dog-Green Beach” sector of Omaha Beach where German fire was heaviest and where the D-Day invasion suffered its worst casualties. A small town in Bedford, Virginia sent 30 of its sons with Company A; nineteen of them died within the first 15 minutes of the assault at Omaha Beach. Within the next several days, three more Bedford Boys paid the ultimate sacrifice at Normandy.

    As American soldiers parachuted into the night skies of Normandy and as young men charged the beaches of Normandy, President Roosevelt called the nation to national prayer. It went like this, abbreviated and edited :

    “Almighty God: our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion and our civilization and to set free a suffering humanity….Many people have urged that I call the Nation into a single day of special prayer; because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer…and O Lord, give us faith in Thee; faith in our sons, faith in each other and faith in our united crusade… With Thy blessings, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy…Thy will be done, Almighty God, Amen.”

    People knelt by their cars and prayed, traffic stopped, the nation joined the last President to ever call this nation into prayer during a national crisis.

    What a difference a few generations can make. In 1947, the Supreme Court issued its first of many rulings beginning the process of secularizing the public square. Within 20 years the nation had officially banned Scripture from classrooms and most public venues. Today, one would never know that the Judeo-Christian faith ever had any place in American life.

    In the last seven years, the Armed Forces has become increasingly hostile towards the Christian faith. General Boykins, highly decorated former commander of American Special Operations Command was fired and forced to retire early for expressing his Christian faith in church as have numerous other service-members who openly express their faith. President Obama surrounds himself with persons hostile to Christians, such as Mikey Weinstein, his senior advisor on religious affairs in the Pentagon, who once described devout Christians as “terrorists.” Obama’s VA attempted to ban religious services at the funerals of veterans (a policy overturned by a federal judge); an Air Force chaplain was fired for quoting a speech by President Eisenhower in a Base newsletter referencing the importance of faith to service-members. The examples are numerous.

    At the acceptance of our constitution in 1789, Ben Franklin stated that America’s government is designed for a “religious and moral people.” Seventy-one years ago, at a time of great national peril, Americans had no qualms about calling upon an Almighty and Sovereign God’s mercy; today we scorn Him. I find it hard to believe this is the America that so many paid such a high price to preserve.

    It’s Closer to Midnight Than You Think

    A hallmark of the Cold War was the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists “Atomic Clock” which purported to show how many minutes humanity was from destroying itself in a nuclear war. The closer to midnight on the clock, the closer we were to imminent destruction. It usually hovered around five to seven minutes to midnight with it being much closer during periods of dramatically increased tension between the superpowers.

    The clock went into obscurity after the demise of the former Soviet Union but if revived would likely be a few minutes to midnight today. I say that not out of imagined alarmism but from a lifetime of observation of world events and the “see-saw” scale of American military readiness vis-à-vis potential threats to the nation. At this point, I’m deeply concerned, as much so as my father was during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. We lived on top of a SAC Base (Strategic Air Command) with a Wing of nuclear-armed B-52 Bombers less than a mile from our house. Bombers took off constantly and we literally lived on “ground zero” in the event of a Soviet nuclear strike against the base.

    If one pays attention to other than reality TV and listen to the words of former high-ranking officials of the Obama and Bush administrations, your hairline would likely be receding faster than mine. In the last several months, more and more former officials are sounding alarms over the state of American military preparedness, which most kindly can be described as being in freefall.

    During my military career, not once did I observe the combat readiness of active component units drop to less than 90%. Today, nearly two-thirds of our armed forces are routinely reporting combat readiness rates of less than 70%, some considerably less than that. Not since the years of the Carter presidency have such deep cuts occurred in the military to the point when ships couldn’t sail and aircraft couldn’t fly. Troop levels for conventional war is on a path to drop to the lowest levels since pre-WWI; that’s right, I said World War I and 1916 not World War II, which was a little higher. As of a few months ago, commanding generals reported U.S. ground force levels to be down to only 33 battalions of operational combat troops, nearly two-thirds fewer than we had at the beginning of the first Gulf War in 1990-91.

    Our strategic deterrent forces, the intercontinental ballistic missiles armed with nuclear warheads, are being systematically drawn down to fit the requirements of the New START Treaty pushed by the Obama administration and his State Department. The drawdown will reduce nuclear targeting of America’s arsenal from over 400 targets to about six land-based targets. These deep cuts are being made even as Russia has engaged in a massive modernization and build-up of its strategic missile systems. Furthermore, the State Department insists that American adhere to the new treaty despite the Russian modernization and flatly refuses to support American modernization of its nuclear arsenal. This is occurring regardless of incontrovertible evidence that the new Russian programs pose an “existential threat” to the survival of the United States if not countered or unchecked. China is also modernizing and deliberately engaging in nuclear proliferation to hostile states, (such as exist in the Middle East) and is not subject to any of the arms control agreements we have with Russia. According to most military analysts, even liberal ones, the Chinese military build-up will allow China to challenge and defeat the United States in a regional conflict by the year 2020, if not sooner.

    In the South China Sea, China has engaged in a rapid military build-up and modernization of its submarine forces, ballistic missiles, modern stealth aircraft and power-projection capabilities.  They’ve also heavily invested in base infrastructure, creating artificial islands in territory contested and claimed by multiple nations, some of which are American allies. Last week, reconnaissance flights confirmed that the Chinese are militarizing some of these miniature islands by deploying long-range artillery and developing airbases for military aircraft. The last Asian power to so challenge America was Imperial Japan when they fortified Pacific Island bases, building airfields that would allow them to dominate major regions of the Pacific. The Battle of Guadalcanal was one such battle in 1942, that had we lost, the Japanese would have had air superiority over the sea lines of communication that defended Australia. The Chinese have embarked upon a program equally as ambitious and are not making any apologies. They have staked territorial claims over virtually the entire South China Sea, an area vital for U.S. maritime trade routes and openly boast of their intent to extend their sovereignty and influence even East of Japan, the Philippines and U.S. territories, such as Guam.

    On the European front, the Russians have made more aerial intrusions into NATO-country airspace and belligerent troop movements towards the Baltic and East European states than they did at the height of the Cold War. They’ve also conducted multiple and massive, no-notice military exercises involving nuclear rocket forces, hundreds of thousands of troops and hundreds of aircraft and ships over the last 18 months. Each exercise, called a “snap-check drill” by Soviet President Putin, has become larger and more belligerent than those that preceded it.

    While America is struggling with massive debt and devalued currency, we have little left for military readiness. Americans are going to have to soon make hard choices between re-building and maintaining a strong national defense infrastructure or be reconciled to being a third-rate power with the most tyrannical regimes on the planet maintaining overwhelming nuclear and conventional superiority for the indefinite future. Generations of Americans fought and died to preserve the Republic, which may not survive continued neglect of our National Defenses.

    Once Upon a Time in America

    Once upon a time we celebrated the entrepreneur, the men and women who were willing to risk all they owned and their reputations to build something, in this case, a nation. We even made movies about them, identifying with the hardship they suffered and celebrating with them when their work produced hard-won success.

    One such movie made in 1953 was “Thunder Bay” with Jimmy Stewart in the lead as a petroleum engineer convinced that he could find a way to make offshore oil drilling pay. He and his partners risked everything to bring in the first offshore well while extolling the virtues of oil and how it was essential to building a great nation and providing the life-blood that ran the engines of our economy. His protagonist was Gilbert Roland, playing the part of a Louisiana shrimp fisherman angry over the intrusion of a bunch of “roughneck” oil men into his fishing grounds, convinced they would destroy the shrimp beds and likely run off with his girl, (which they did in the latter case.) I won’t tell you the end but was typical of the movies of the era when we celebrated those who risked a lot to build a lot.

    There’s a propaganda war going on in America today and the movies being made today vilify modern industry. When was the last time you saw any movie in which the entrepreneur was portrayed in a positive light, especially if it involved anything to do with developing raw materials into a natural resource, or worse, making a profit?

    Fossil fuels, especially oil, are particularly hated with lots of fear feeding the flames of discontent. It’s ironic that the protesters don’t fail to take advantage of living in an industrial society, where oil is the lifeblood of our economy. Every single product on every shelf is there today because of oil, used in its transportation to market or in its manufacture, even as a component in virtually everything we wear. Without oil, the food we take for granted to be in a grocery store would likely not be grown or available, with all of us living a life of virtual subsistence. Women’s liberation would be a memory as a six day work week and 12 to 16 hour day would be the norm, hard manual labor replacing that of labor-saving machines. The term “washday” was a reality for our great-grandmothers with laundry taking an entire day or more per week as it was done by hand. Food would be expensive for most, especially high-protein diets; in Britain in 1890, many rural residents subsisted on cabbage and onions with little variety. Oil-based fertilizers and mechanization dramatically improved the quantity of food produced and lowered its price; people began to live longer and healthier lives.

    We’ve come a long way and are somewhat spoiled, expecting gas at the pump and the lights to turn on with a flip of a switch. Our water is purified by machines run by oil-produced energy. Third world countries depending upon wind and solar energy envy the reliability of our abundant, reliable and cheap energy. Reliability of lighting is essential during surgery, yet many countries are forced to rely upon generators for back-up power when their unreliable “alternative energy sources” fail, as they frequently do.

    A recent letter-writer asserted that the oil rail spur in Nipomo would increase pollution by the use of diesel locomotives pulling oil “bomb trains.” In fact, the locomotives are diesel-electric and use an electric tractor motor as the primary driver of the train; the diesel engine powers the electric generator on board that actually moves the train. If trains are not used, the oil will be transported by truck, approximately 10 tractor-trailers per rail tank car. You do the math and figure out how much more pollution that will generate.

    No technology is 100% safe and accidents can occur but a spill of oil is far less hazardous than many of the products already routinely transported through our county via rail and truck. Firefighters are intimately aware of hazards transiting our county and oil is not one that would keep them awake nights. Spectacular incidents like the derailment in Lac-Megantic, Canada in 2013 (47 dead) was an outlier incident in which human stupidity overcame every engineering safeguard. The critic asserted that derailments are increasing but actually have steadily decreased over the last decade. Derailments are expensive and bad for business; dumping a product on the ground isn’t improving a “bottom-line.”

    No doubt any defense of oil will raise protest but the use of fossil fuels, especially oil, is a moral choice and imperative to sustaining our economy and quality of life. I’ve more to say in making the case for fossil fuels, but that’s for next time.

     
    Written by Al Fonzi
    5th District Chairman, Republican Party, SLO County
    Past President, SLO County Lincoln Club
  • All Politics Is Local

    It has been said, for good reason, that “all politics is local.”  And we sure are seeing that here in SLO County, as the reconfigured Board of Supervisors is already moving our county in the right direction.

    Do you want to make an impact on local politics?  If the answer is yes, the BEST POSSIBLE THING you can do is become a member of the Lincoln Club.

    We are the only political group in SLO County that devotes almost 100% of our money to local Republican campaigns.  Our board is all-volunteer.  Our operating costs are minimal.  We take the money collected from our membership dues, and we allocate it to candidates.  In 2014, we had tremendous success.  2016 will be tougher and we must build our coffers.

    Join our group now at www.slolincolnclub.org.  It takes just minutes.  Make a difference.

    Thanks,

    Jordan Cunningham, SLO Lincoln Club President

    P.S.  Stay tuned for details on a social event, a “membership mixer” if you will, in the fall.

  • 2 Views from Fonzi’s Foxhole

    Will We Ever Learn? – View 1

    Memorial Day has passed for another year. This week we honored our fallen service members at the “Faces of Freedom” Veterans Memorial in Atascadero and the memories of loved ones. The family of Aviation Machinist Mate 2nd Class (AVM2) Don Henderson laid a wreath in his memory. He was a WWII veteran who served on the USS Helena, a light cruiser assigned to the Southwest Pacific in 1942-43. The Helena was sunk on July 6, 1943 by Japanese “Long-Lance torpedoes” fired from an enemy destroyer in the Battle of Kula Gulf, located in the central Solomon Islands.

    AVM2 Henderson was not on board at the time; he was on home leave and shocked to read in the papers of the loss of his ship and second family.

    The story of Helena’s loss actually began around 15 years before when the Washington Naval Treaty was signed, limiting the numbers of surface combatants permitted by the United States, Britain and Japan. Ostensibly hailed as a guarantor of peace by limiting naval armaments in the Pacific, the treaty instead ensured Japanese local superiority in capitol ships, such as aircraft carriers and battleships. The Japanese had 10 aircraft carriers to our 3 in the Pacific, the British none, as neither the British nor our government wanted to spend the money to build permitted ship numbers or quality. The Japanese Navy built to the maximum allowed and more. American adherence to the treaty became an end in itself to the detriment of American lives at the outbreak of war in 1941.

    A pinch-penny mindset enveloped the Navy and all services as they desperately strove to maintain an ever-smaller military structure under increasing assault by a Congress driven to strip the military to its bare bones. The Navy Bureau of Ordnance, responsible for the development and deployment of the Navy’s arsenal, was particularly miserly in its allowance for the development of weapon systems for its ships. The story of the American Mark-14 torpedo has become a classic case of weapons development malfeasance with dire consequences for the seaman depending upon them to work. In combat, they failed spectacularly, failing to detonate at a rate of 50% or more when fired at enemy ships. They wouldn’t detonate at all when fired at a 90 degree angle to a target ship and only 50% of the time when fired at a 45 degree angle, a much harder shot in combat. The result was disaster when U.S. submarines and motor torpedo boats attempted to challenge the Japanese landings in the Philippines with no enemy ships sunk. The Japanese landings occurred almost intact but for American and Filipino shore batteries. For the first 18 months of the Pacific War, we sent submariners to sea with torpedoes that wouldn’t explode half the time. Early in the war, often fighting outnumbered and outclassed, we lost more than a few sailors and ships as a result. The Bureau of Ordnance insisted the problem was with the men, not the material. Finally, they tested the torpedoes and found a serious defect in the magnetic exploders of the warhead.

    Why did it take so long to find out? It cost money to run live-fire tests in the 1920’s and 30’s, so the Bureau of Ordnance “assumed” the design would work and NEVER TESTED the MARK-14 Torpedo under live-fire conditions before they deployed it.

    The Japanese Navy worked under no such assumptions. When told Pearl Harbor was too shallow for aerial torpedoes, they conducted extensive experiments and tests until they solved the problem with devastating effect on our battle fleet at Pearl. They did the same with their surface torpedoes, the Type 93 “Long Lance” developed in 1935. Its range was 11 to 22 miles with an underwater speed of nearly 60mph. Its warhead of 1080 lbs was larger and more destructive than any of our own torpedoes. The Helena was struck by three of these weapons, the first of which tore off the Helena’s bow, two more hitting midsection. The Helena sank in about 20 minutes, carrying over 400 crewmembers to their death. Another 200 sailors were trapped on the upended bow and drifted for nearly 11 days before rescue.

    Naval surface combat in the Solomon Islands in 1942-43, including the famous sea-battles of Savo Island off Guadalcanal, was the most ferocious of WWII. In two battles off Guadalcanal in 1942, we were repeatedly bested by the Japanese Navy, suffering some of the worst losses of the war with 8000 casualties at sea, four times the number of Marines lost on Guadalcanal.

    Today, the armed forces are under increasing pressure to reduce costs and eliminate ships; again we are told treaties, such as the Iranian nuclear treaty will protect us even as our military capability steadily shrinks.

    Will we ever learn?

                                                                                    

    Democrat Control In California – View 2 

    As you know, California is ruled by one political party, the Democrats. They control every state office and have a virtual lock on both houses of the legislature and the courts. Republicans fight an almost doomed fight every day and will continue to be in the minority as long as the “conservative base” spends more time condemning our own elected officials for failure to maintain ideological purity than they do the Democrats who are actually governing the state. There is very little local control remaining for local officials. If you fired half the county staff or any city staff, not much would change. You would just be remotely governed by the multiple state agencies, boards and commissions and their staffs, who are making the policies, writing the rules and enforcing compliance via heavy fines on businesses, individuals and communities. Jerry Brown advocated “regional government” during his first term as governor in the 1970′s; he has achieved a good part of his goals of elevating decision-making to regional governing agencies that are not elected and virtually unaccountable to voters. The plastic bag ban is a classic result; an unpopular decision made “for the greater good” by a board not directly accountable to voters in any one jurisdiction nor any county legislative body. Air pollution, water conservation and quality, building within “coastal boundaries” are the most egregious examples of state intrusion into local decisions. The State takes most of the gas taxes collected and redistributes them to urban areas leaving city and county governments without sufficient funds to repair roads. The State took the redevelopment money collected by local governments with the consent of local businesses to redevelop or improve blighted areas and re-directed it to urban areas where the Democrat Party voter base was concentrated. They impose mandates for compliance with whatever regulation is passed and demand that localities pay for it out of ever-shrinking revenues. This is the result of one party rule and it will continue as long as too many listeners to conservative information outlets refuse to recognize that the problem isn’t the people they elect, but themselves via their apathy and insistent demands for “perfect ideological conformity” on every issue. Thus, “self-styled Progressive-liberal democrats” win every election and laugh in derision as we tear each other apart like a pack of wild dogs fighting over a bone.

    Written by Al Fonzi
    5th District Chairman, Republican Party, SLO County
    Past President, SLO County Lincoln Club
  • Views From Fonzi’s Foxhole

    Doubling Down on Denial

    It is a rare day that a member of the Democrat Party’s congressional delegation and I  agree, but in the case of Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D) Hawaii, she is spot on in her evaluation of what needs to be done to fix our broken Middle Eastern policy in Iraq.

    Gabbard is the first Samoan American, female member of Congress, with two prior tours of duty in Iraq with the Hawaii Army National Guard. She is quite critical of President Obama’s policy regarding ISIS, Iraq and “leading from behind.”

    On national news programs last week she laid out her analysis and recommendations of what should be done. She blamed the rise of ISIS and similar groups to the U.S.-backed overthrow of Quaddiffi in Libya with only a naïve hope in “Arab democracy” which actually consisted of radical Islamists ensuring there was one vote, one time. The same misguided policies inspired the disruption of the Asad regime in Syria with the follow-on civil war, extension of false hope to anti-Asad insurgents (no U.S. assistance was forthcoming) and the rise of ISIS in Syria.

    What occurred in Syria led to the rise of ISIS in Iraq with absolute inertia by the U.S. State Department and refusal by the Obama administration to take any meaningful action to check the advance of this murderous terrorist army into Iraq. Subsequently, we have witnessed the genocide of religious minorities in Iraq in areas captured by the ISIS army. War crimes have become the order of the day with each week presenting ever more heinous atrocities. The much-vaunted airstrikes against ISIS have been spectacularly ineffective according to most intelligence reports emerging from the area as ISIS knows when the strikes will occur and take shelter among the civilian population, knowing that Allied aircraft will not attack if civilians are present.

    Gabbard was harshly critical of Obama’s steadfast refusal to accurately identify the enemy or the nature of the threat from ISIS, which is Islamic to its core, the most radical version of 7th Century Islam as manifested in the Wahabi sect of Islam. This sect is practiced and exported from Saudi Arabia, which bans all other religions from its borders, sentences critics to 1000 lashes administered in doses of 50 per week and instead of ice cream flavors specializes in public beheadings of criminals. From the perspective of ISIS, the Saudis are too liberal.

    In the last week author Graeme Wood published a lengthy article in Atlantic Magazine titled “What ISIS Really Wants” and pulls no punches about its background and objectives. It cites distinguished Islamic scholars, including Princeton scholar Bernard Haykel who is considered among academics to be the leading scholar on the ISIS theology.

    Reading his article is chilling, as the objective of ISIS, according to Haykel, is to kill vast numbers of people, millions of people, starting with Jews and Christians, but especially those they consider to be apostates. An apostate is any Muslim not sufficiently adhering to the ISIS interpretation of the Koran. First on the list are Shia Muslims, all 200-plus million of them in the Middle East.  Terror is the strategy of choice; it results in quicker capitulation of religious communities that refuse to submit to Islamic domination. ISIS has been quite efficient in accomplishing its terrorist objectives to date and dominates an area approximating the size of the British Isles. In one year they have expanded their numbers from a few thousand to nearly 50,000 with hundreds more arriving from around the world weekly.

    The Obama response is to aggressively deny that ISIS is Islamic, an absurdity echoed by administration officials from virtually every government department, regardless of Egyptian President al-Sisi or King Abdullah of Jordan’s statements that ISIS is absolutely Islamic, representing a medieval interpretation of the Koran but armed with modern weapons. Last I heard both President al-Sisi and King Abdullah were lifelong Muslims; they should know.

    ISIS has a millenarian philosophy, an apocalyptic vision to bring about the end of the world and a global Islamic caliphate. Martyrdom is an objective, not a consequence for most of its members, making them extremely dangerous in combat. Many of their fighters wear explosive suicide vests to avoid being captured alive. Recognizing the immediate and long-term existential threat, being willing to call it what it is, an extremely dangerous Islamic sect, is the first step in developing a strategy to defeat ISIS. Prominent democrats such as Leon Panetta, Hillary Clinton, even Chris Matthews of MSNBC agree on this point.

    Gabbard called for a military response, including ground troops, accompanied by appropriate political, counterterrorist and information campaigns to destroy ISIS. I agree. A strong military ground campaign could end in months what otherwise will be drawn out for years with unpredictable and dangerous long-term consequences if we hesitate.

     

    Reporters and War

    I can’t remember his name but the Vietnamese Saigon Bureau Chief for Time Inc., which formed the information hub for major news outlets in the Vietnam War was a North Vietnamese intelligence officer with the rank of colonel. Time staffers were shocked to learn this as they prepared to evacuate Saigon in April, 1975 as North Vietnamese troops were entering the city; the colonel showed up in his office in the uniform of a Colonel in the Army of North Vietnam. For ten years he had used his position to shape the interpretation of events for dissemination to the world press. The Russians, who trained North Vietnam’s intelligence operatives, are very good at this and have a formal doctrine for disinformation operations which are incorporated into every major operational plan.

    As for other reporters, the press pool in Vietnam tended to hang close to Saigon or major bases in reasonably secure areas. For every Joe Galloway who went in harm’s way with the troops (he jumped on a helicopter and went into the Ia Drang Valley in the middle of the 7th Cavalry’s fight at LZ X-ray) there were 20 or 30 others who spent their time in bars and brothels, taking their stories from information provided by others.

    I also remember a discussion after the war about the role of the press in war. A prominent CBS reporter, I believe it was Dan Rather, insisted that even if they knew of information that would save the life of American troops, such as an ambush set up in a certain area, they would not share that information as it might compromise their role as journalists.

    In WWII the press were war correspondents and knew who the good guys were. After WWII, the press began to take on a different attitude and distanced themselves from their nationality and strove so hard to be viewed as “neutral” that they left their moral compass behind. I also believe that once the fight was an ideological fight between the East and West, their leftists sympathies with socialists and communists prevailed over their duty to report the truth. The public was no longer presented black and white pictures of conflict but muddled versions of news events. For instance, the 7th Cavalry fight at LZ X-ray, which was a tactical victory of U.S. forces over the North Vietnamese Army, (1800 enemy dead and disruption of a major NVA base area) the press emphasis was upon the 66 US fatalities and the 165 wounded and the human cost of that battle. The Army didn’t help much by emphasizing enemy dead over larger objectives and using MacNamara’s insistence on quantifying progress (enemy body counts) the Army threw away any strategic advantage gained by that fight.

    The first Gulf War in 1990-91 changed that equation somewhat as reporters embedded with units and became empathic with the soldiers they accompanied. Also, Saddam Hussein was easy to dislike and his handling of the media was extremely stupid, with exceptions like Peter Arnett who self-destructed by his over-the-top hostility towards the U.S. led coalition.

    The worst reporting I’ve seen since Vietnam was coverage of the war on terror, especially in Iraq as media hostility towards President Bush colored everything that was reported. It went a long way towards turning the American people against the war if not the troops, even as the military had begun to turn the war around with the surge.    Unfortunately, once the public turns against a war it manifests into political change that elects a political opportunist like Barack Obama. We will experience the adverse consequences of this for decades to come, even to the peril of the survival of the nation as the public has been immunized against involvement in foreign affairs even as new threats of strategic magnitude are emerging.

     
    Written by Al Fonzi
    5th District Chairman, Republican Party, SLO County
    Past President, SLO County Lincoln Club
  • Tax on Services?

    If you think about it, much of your daily life already involves paying taxes to the state government. Whether earning income or eating out or buying gas or shopping online — you pay taxes in one form or another to the state. In fact, California has the highest state sales tax rate and the third highest cumulative tax burden in the nation, according to the nonpartisan Tax Foundation.

    Now, Sacramento politicians are scheming to reach even deeper into our pockets. Under the guise of “modernization,” State Sen. Bob Hertzberg has proposed Senate Bill 8 to expand the 7.5 percent state sales tax to services. The list of productive activities that would fall victim to this services tax is staggering: agriculture, construction, auto repair, plumbing, legal and accounting services, Internet usage, even yoga and Pilates classes. Taking classes at the gym, hiring a plumber, getting your car fixed, or talking to an accountant — would cost you almost 8 percent more overnight.

    Make no mistake: This tax scheme would be disastrous for our fragile economic recovery. The increased costs to the consumer would be a dagger to the heart of the middle and working-class family budgets. This is not the time to take nearly 8 percent more from family budgets when we are still recovering from the Great Recession. This is particularly true in a community like ours, where many of us either own or work at small businesses that would bear the brunt of a services tax.

    And given Sacramento’s record of being less than forthright, taxpayers should be skeptical of grand tax schemes. Remember the gas tax increase that was supposed to go to infrastructure? Or the “temporary” Proposition 30 increase in 2012, which some politicians are already scheming to make permanent? SB 8 is a similar bait and switch. It is billed as “tax modernization,” but it would increase taxes overall by $10 billion a year, one of the largest increases in California history.

    A rational tax system seeks to minimize taxation on productive activity such as providing useful services, in favor of taxing activity that imposes external costs. Taxing services does exactly the opposite.

    Fortunately, we have some examples from which to learn. Several states enacted a services tax and then quickly repealed it when it proved economically harmful and unpopular — including Florida (1987), Massachusetts (1990), Michigan (2007) and Maryland (2007). California should take heed. Consumers, businesses and families should collectively say “no thanks” to Sacramento’s latest tax scheme.

    Jordan Cunningham
    President, SLO County Lincoln Club

  • View From Fonzi’s Foxhole

    Take Courage and Be Not Afraid – View 1 of 3

    As I write this nearly 4 million French men and women are taking a stand for mankind, defiantly demanding that their right of freedom of expression, of belief and the dignity of every freedom-loving man and woman on the planet be preserved against the threat of Islamic Jihadist terror. World leaders from France, Britain, Germany and Mali, whom the French recently assisted to destroy an Islamist terrorist army, marched arm-in-arm in Paris in solidarity against Islamic crimes against humanity. Ironically, even the Prime Minister of Israel was present and alongside him was the President Abbas of the Palestinian authority. Conspicuous by his absence was the President of the United States or any Cabinet-level American representative. Our ambassador attended the march and Attorney General Holder was in France but did not attend any demonstrations.

    Contrast this with the French response to the assassination of President Kennedy 50 years ago. French President Charles de Gaulle flew to America immediately and was present, front and center, in solidarity with America through Kennedy’s funeral.

    The murder of a dozen journalists who made their living being obnoxious to virtually everyone should concern anyone who values freedom. It’s not a “left-right” issue. It’s about the willingness to live in a society where the speech of everyone is protected, especially those who use the print media which is the least restricted venue for speech, political, religious or otherwise. Nobody should be able to tell you what you may or may not read.

    America has a problem; we are confused about the First Amendment. I attended a lecture at Cal Poly last year in which Robert Spencer of “Jihad Watch” spoke. Spencer is a walking encyclopedia regarding the worldwide Islamic Jihad against western civilization and made his case well, unapologetically answering the most hostile questions from students. A number of students, marinated in university “political correctness,” walked out as soon as Spencer began to speak. One confused college senior insisted that Spencer’s remarks violated the First Amendment, not understanding that the First Amendment actually protected, not prohibited, unpopular speech.

    National media, who should be the stalwart defenders of the First Amendment are sending muddled messages, including FOX News as well as the usual suspects like the New York Times, the AP and TV networks. They declined to publish the political cartoons that generated the murder of the “Charlie Hebdo” editorial board last week by Islamic terrorists for fear of violent reprisal. In essence, “they contributed to the second murder” of the Charlie staff, in the words of a French journalist, giving a moral victory to tyranny.

    America and the West must confront reality. Our President has a romanticized notion of Islam and refuses to allow our intelligence or law enforcement agencies to confront the seriousness of the Islamic terrorist threat. As New York City’s Mayor prohibits his police from monitoring mosques known for advocating violence, Obama’s politically-correct policies have abolished all references to Islamic terror, Jihad or the use of “Islam” and “extremist” terms together by law enforcement and intelligence agencies. He refuses to acknowledge that a third of “world Islam” subscribes to the most violent interpretation of their faith, adhering to a 7th century vision of Islamic subjugation of the world by violence. They number about 300 million people worldwide and are capable of putting an army three times the size of the American armed forces in the field. They are inflicting havoc across the Middle East and Africa, killing over 2000 civilians in terrorist violence just last week alone. Their savagery knows no bounds: this morning they used a 10 year-old child suicide-bomber to murder dozens in Nigeria.

    The justification for committing these atrocities is generated in part by Islamic blasphemy laws promulgated by Islamic scholars. Their message is accepted not just by ordinary Muslims but even by western educated Muslims. Among American Muslims educated at Harvard and Columbia, 58% believe that criticism of Islam shouldn’t be permitted under the First Amendment; 45% believe that there should be criminal penalties, such as exist in Canada and parts of Europe for “insulting the Prophet” or Islam. Another 12% believe that “blasphemy” against Islam or Mohammad should be a death penalty offense. Other surveys reveal that these views are widely held by as much as 80% of the international Islamic population.

    In France and Britain, significant portions of major cities, especially London and Paris, are “no go zones” where westerners tread at their peril. Non-Muslim women in western attire are attacked by “religious police” and injured in neighborhoods where police dare not venture and shadow governments enforcing Islamic Sharia law have been set up.

    Political-correctness is like Cobra’s venom, paralyzing our political will to confront barbarism, suffocating free-speech and destroying our birthright of liberty.

    When A Nation Asks Too Much – View 2 of 3

    Over the weekend Roberta and I went to see “American Sniper,” the Clint Eastwood film that portrayed the wartime experiences of Chris Kyle, a Navy SEAL (Sea, Air Land) special operations sniper who was credited with more “confirmed kills” than any other sniper in U.S. military history. Kyle’s story is poignant as he was killed not in combat but after his departure from the Navy, being shot to death on a firing range by a Marine Corps veteran suffering from severe psychological problems. His wife has appeared on a number of TV news programs and allowed Eastwood and the key actors playing both Kyle and his wife to have access to his e-mails and letters while he had been deployed.

    Chief Petty Officer Kyle served four tours of duty in Iraq during the worst part of the war; the movie clearly depicts the severe impact those tours of duty had upon him and his family. Kyle’s experience and the military’s requirement for compulsory multiple deployments by individuals confirmed to me the volunteer military is a failure; there are sound reasons why America should return to compulsory military service, the “draft.”

    Since 1973, Americans have been spared the requirement to serve “In Harm’s Way.”  Today, few of the governing elites even know someone in uniform, which was totally unknown to us. Everyone was expected to serve and until Vietnam, most did.

    Military service is now rare outside of the small towns of America as far too many Americans don’t know anyone in the military. Military service is still revered in many parts of the country but it is a regional phenomenon with large sections of New England, locales such as the Bay Area and other enclaves of the “American elite” being relatively untouched by America’s military expeditions over the last generation.

    The result is a severe disconnect between those who serve and fight the wars and those who remain behind and benefit from the sacrifices made on their behalf. That isn’t the case in Atascadero, let me make that clear, but it is quite relevant in the halls of our major institutions, such as academia, the media, corporate boardrooms and those who govern the nation. The cost levied upon those who serve is severe.

    The Israelis have a theory about how much courage any one man has and they believe it to be limited. I would tend to agree as what happens as a service member repeatedly deploys is that they become tired, physically, emotionally, often experiencing long-term psychological distress. In combat, they make mistakes, usually fatal for themselves or others. If they survive they need a lot of recuperation to sufficiently adjust and function in the civilian world.

    In WWII we rotated our combat pilots out-of-service to rear areas for a set period regardless of the desires of the pilot. They were forced to undergo long periods of rest, re-training and especially debriefing to capture their experiences to be passed on to pilots in training. The Japanese had no such rotation system and by 1944 about three quarters of their best pilots were dead. The remaining pilots were outgunned and outfought as the majority of their combat pilots had less and less experience and were extremely fatigued.

    Our Infantry units fought as intact units and were rotated in and out of combat as intact units. When they were chewed up by major engagements they were replaced by new units, with survivors sent to the rear for prolonged rest, retraining and refitting. You can only do this when you have a plentiful supply of manpower; unfortunately, prolonged or high-intensity warfare quickly renders volunteer militaries unsustainable. Britain experienced this in WWI and eventually was forced to resort to a draft to sustain the drain of heavy casualties on their volunteer Army.

    In Vietnam we abused this process by sending individual replacements to fill out battle losses, losing the camaraderie essential for maintaining high morale. Soldiers went to war alone, often dying alone as the “new guy” was isolated by his peers until he proved himself. That took several months and most casualties take place among “new guys” in their first months and among “old guys” during the last months of combat service. They were tired; tired men become overconfident and make mistakes.

    In the movie “American Sniper” this becomes evident by Kyle’s third tour of duty. He and his comrades are overconfident, failed to use proper cover and took casualties. In Kyle’s autobiography he admits as much when he states he felt “invincible.” The poignant scene of returning home, head in hands, accompanied by five flag-draped caskets drives the point home. Kyle’s fourth tour is worse. Men only have so much to give; as a nation, we are asking too few to give too much.

    The Shadow of Crisis Has Passed, Really? – View 3 of 3

    Last week I did something that I knew I would regret, I watched the President give his State of the Union Address. This address, like many before it, was detached from reality. Sadly, this does not bode well for America, regardless of how you define yourself politically or economically.

    I was startled to hear President Obama emphatically state that the “shadow of crisis has passed,” implying that the world is safer, we are making progress with a grand alliance against the forces of barbarism, our economy is strongly rebounding. None of this is true and many commentators across the political spectrum have called him to task for ignoring the cold, hard facts before him.

    Let’s look at the international situation. On September 20, 2014, the President declared great progress against the Islamic State in Iraq (ISIS) and the threat of al-Qaeda terrorists has been greatly diminished. He cited Yemen as an example of success and again implied during the State of the Union speech that all was well. Last Friday, anti-American, Iranian-backed hardline Islamic rebels overthrew the government of Yemen and arrested Yemen’s President, an American ally in the war against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Our entire anti-terrorism program in Yemen and the Arabian Peninsula has collapsed with hardline, Islamist extremists now in charge.

    It’s only been about two weeks since AQAP operatives based in Yemen launched the terrorist attack in Paris that claimed 16 lives in two attacks, one on a magazine’s editorial board who dared criticize or mock Islam (as they mocked all religions and politicians), the other on a Jewish Kosher Deli. World leaders united, marching in unison with over 3 million people joining them in Paris to protest a blatant attack on the core values of Western Civilization. Our President didn’t attend, nor did our Attorney General who was actually in Paris during the march. A Secret Service spokesman stated that they weren’t even asked about the President traveling to participate and the White House Chief of Staff later confirmed that he advised the President it wasn’t important enough for him to attend. Most insulting to common sense is the steadfast refusal of the administration, especially the President, to use the word “Islamic” in connection with the word “extremist,” “terrorist” or in any negative connotation whatsoever. This is despite the bold declaration of the French President and virtually every other world leader to have no qualms about identifying the connection between Islam and violent radicals who use their religion to justify mass-murder. At least a third of the Islamic world ascribes to this extreme and violent interpretation of Islam; with 1.4 billion Muslims in the world that’s approximately 400 million people. When attacks occur that should shock civilized people and normally does, this group celebrates time and time again by dancing in the streets and shouting praises to their god. Yet our President absolutely refuses to acknowledge any connection between radical Islam, the thousands of Imams and Mullahs preaching hatred of Jews, Christians, all non-believers in Islam and the millions of adherents to this belief system and the threat it poses to Western Civilization.

    Other threats are manifesting themselves in the East. Russia is modernizing their nuclear arsenal and announced a nuclear doctrine of dependence upon tactical nuclear weapons with early first use. These weapons are targeted against NATO and the United States. We have allowed our nuclear forces to atrophy and are precipitously drawing them down against the advice of senior military officers. We are a nuclear power no longer capable of constructing nuclear weapons as the facilities to do so have been closed on Obama’s watch.

    We are negotiating agreements with Iran without teeth or verification as they continue to develop nuclear capabilities. The President stated we had halted this ability but it’s not true.  The mainstream press pointed this out to no avail. Iran is fielding a new intercontinental ballistic missile capable of targeting America. Its’ range exceeds 10,000 kilometers and will be capable of deploying a nuclear warhead once they acquire a nuclear bomb.

    Economically, the President boasts of a great economic comeback, all three months of it. The reality is people don’t feel it as Middle-class family income has declined $5600 since Obama assumed office. His policies push us to emulate the socialism of the European Union with its structural unemployment averaging 22% and very high youth unemployment. In Spain, youth unemployment is 54%; in Italy 34%. High taxes, class warfare and massive spending are all he promises. You’d think after six years he’d learn something.

    The Greek poet and playwright Sophocles said it well: “All men make mistakes but a good man yields when he knows his course is wrong and repairs the evil. The only sin is pride.”

     
    Written by Al Fonzi
    5th District Chairman, Republican Party, SLO County
    Past President, SLO County Lincoln Club
  • Happy New Year!

    Looking back on 2014, we have many successes to celebrate.  Candidates we supported won mayoral, council, district attorney and supervisor elections all across the county.  We helped elect candidates that will implement our shared philosophy of limited government and personal freedom.  We showed once again that our Club is a major force in SLO County.

    If you were able to join us at the 2014 Christmas Dinner, thank you!  It was a great time and the event was a big success.

    Looking forward to 2015, we have much work to do.  We are dubbing 2015 as the “Year of Growth” for our Club.  Our foremost goal will be recruiting new members and increasing our influence in anticipation of the 2016 election season.

    So we need your help.  I challenge each member to recruit one new member in 2015.  Ask a friend that shares our values.  Joining is easy, it can be done at our website (www.slolincolnclub.org), or you can email any of our Board members for more information.

    Also, stay tuned for information on upcoming events available to members only.  Exciting things are in the works!

    Onward to victory,

    Jordan Cunningham
    President, SLO County Lincoln Club

  • The Constitution Isn’t a Suicide Pact

    This week we’ve witnessed Washington politics at its worst. I’m not referring to the efforts of “true believers” of both parties to scuttle the budget authorization for 2015 for ideological reasons. I’m referring to the blatant, self-serving hypocrisy that led to publication of a report detailing interrogation of prisoners captured in anti-terrorism operations 13 years ago.

    The revelations of the report aren’t news; all of this has been hashed over before, the program cancelled and prohibited by executive order of the President in 2009. What happened this week was a national confession to the world that the United States engaged in extreme measures to obtain information at a time of national crisis.

    What happened on September 11, 2001 was indelibly inscribed on the memories of most Americans, all the more so upon the consciousness of anyone directly engaged in intelligence collection and analysis. The underlying and only real purpose of any intelligence agency is to defeat the enemies of the nation by providing an edge, the inside track of a cunning and capable enemy, absolutely essential to the survival of the nation they serve.

    After “9-11” I was engaged for the next several months in preparing a series of briefings for senior military commanders in all fifty states regarding the level of threat posed by those who organized the September attacks. We brought together the nation’s leading biological warfare experts along with the incident commanders at “Ground Zero” and the Pentagon to help senior Commanders formulate practical response plans for an attack that every intelligence, military and federal law enforcement agency was certain would occur. Communication cables “burned up” detailing threats of the “next attack,” likely to be nuclear or a major biological incident in a U.S. city. We were preparing for 100,000 civilian dead “the next time.”

    In the greater Washington D.C. and Alexandria Virginia suburbs, civilians were being murdered by snipers, among the first was an off-duty FBI agent. Anthrax-laced letters showed up at the Capitol and other locations; an incident that eventually killed another five civilians. Those with security responsibilities were on a razor’s edge; political leaders demanded an effective response and a “blow-torch” was turned on every intelligence agency to produce “actionable intelligence.” By November American military units had invaded Afghanistan; Special Forces, CIA agents and Army Ranger units parachuted into combat as the Air Force blasted terrorist strongholds. Americans were wounded and some died, but they did so in the course of their duty to defend the nation and destroy its enemies. We promised them we had their back.

    This week we broke that pledge as Senator Feinstein released a report graphically detailing for the world the techniques used to break terrorist suspects and collect the small details that analysts use to create the mosaic of terrorist operations. The report was not “bipartisan” as not a single Republican signed on to its release. It was written by politically motivated analysts without interviewing a single intelligence operative directly involved in the interrogations. Every former director of the CIA and of every other national intelligence agency condemned the release of the report and the blatant lies by politicians denying their past approval of these operations. Feinstein’s report promulgated a national apology while endangering every past, current and future intelligence officer overseas by exposing intelligence operatives to any nation or political activist with an axe to grind. It provides the basis for international legal prosecution.

    To the Constitutional moral purist that applauds this action let me emphatically state that there is not one foreign intelligence agency in the world outside of the United States that does not engage in harsh interrogation of captives. They will deny it; it’s an unwritten code that nobody admits to spying let alone “torture” of captives, but they all do, even our closest allies. Only “leftist lawyers,” living in the fantasy world of legalism, have the luxury to pretend that courts keep nations safe from attack or that “torture doesn’t work.” The Nazis rolled up the entire British agent network in Holland in WWII through techniques “that don’t work.” As a Supreme Court Justice once stated, “the Constitution is not a suicide pact.”

    Feinstein’s report insures American intelligence officers will never trust their government again and will refuse exposure to legal jeopardy to obtain vital information. Foreign intelligence services will treat American agents like lepers, cutting off vital information only they can provide lest their sources and deep-cover agents be exposed.

    Worst of all, the American people will be placed in mortal danger. Should a nuclear weapon eventually be smuggled into a major city, don’t expect an intelligence officer to fall upon his sword by harshly interrogating a terrorist to save the neck of an ungrateful nation. You could, however, call a lawyer.

    Al Fonzi
    5th District Chairman, Republican Party, SLO County
    Past President, SLO County Lincoln Club