• 3 Views from Fonzi’s Foxhole

    The Enemy Gets a Vote

    Nineteen years ago a distinguished Harvard professor of International Affairs, Samuel Huntington, published a book called “The Clash of Civilizations and Remaking of World Order.” In it he described the historical enmity between Western Civilization with its Judeo-Christian heritage and its 1400 year conflict with the Islamic empire. Liberal academics dismissed his thesis even as today we watch his predictions unfold with uncanny accuracy. Huntington described Islam as a militant, missionary religion spread by violent conquest, intolerant of any religious or philosophical rival. When confronted by Christendom, also a missionary, monotheistic religion, permanent conflict was inevitable. Unlike polytheistic religions, neither religion had room for accommodating the other.

    For 1000 years both were evenly matched with major wars establishing an armed peace with continuous friction until around 1700. The rise of Western economic and military supremacy resulted in the temporary decline of the major Islamic states bordering the Mediterranean Sea. The Napoleonic Wars and French conquests in the region further weakened Islamic power culminating in the collapse of the Ottoman Turk Empire at the conclusion of WWI.

    Our short sense of history has led most westerners to assume that the current state of international affairs is something new. Reality is that it is simply a return to the near continuous state of war that has existed between the Islamic world and the West since the 7th century. As Huntington pointed out, between the 18th and 20th centuries, there were 92 Western versus Islamic conflicts where the West acquired Muslim territory (which was previously Jewish or Christian territory conquered by Islamic armies) and another 69 conflicts where Muslims regained that territory between 1920 and 1995. Between 1820 and 1929 fifty percent of religious inter-state wars were between Christians and Muslims. The difference today is that 19th century Western military superiority was near absolute. Current conflicts are fought with near military parity but Muslims use the “Dark Age” tactics of total war routinely practiced in the 7th century where neither sex nor age was given quarter and no distinction was made between combatant and civilian. Terrorism against non-Muslims is codified and acceptable.

    That is why last week the Islamic State in Syria (ISIS) cold-bloodedly executed 200 Syrian children. It is why they executed a five-year old girl and a six-year old boy in Iraq, routinely torture children, including use of crucifixion; it is why girls and women are sold into sexual slavery and the few who escape relate their experience of being gang-raped multiple times a day. This barbarity will continue unabated as long as we are unwilling to stop it.

    What happened in Paris last Friday will happen again, almost certainly in America at some point. It will not stop until we stop it. France has declared martial law and bombed ISIS targets provided by American intelligence. If we had the intelligence, why didn’t WE bomb it? President Obama has authorized few military strikes, about seven to 10 a week with restrictions prohibiting any chance of civilian casualties. The result is that ¾ of our airstrikes return without dropping bombs. ISIS isn’t afraid of an America led by President Obama.

    France is reportedly considering sending a ground expeditionary force to fight ISIS. Iran has warned that if ISIS approaches within 25 miles of the Iraqi/Iranian border, they will intervene with ground forces in Iraq. Russia has landed in Syria with a Brigade-sized force for the first time in forty years. The stage is being set for a major regional war.

    Without consulting the enemy, Obama declared the Iraq war over, the country stable and abandoned the field. What he left behind collapsed and ISIS emerged. Since 2013, it has seized territory comparable in size to Britain and has spread across North Africa and into the Arabian Peninsula. Its tentacles reach deep into Europe and ISIS openly boasts of coming to America. Obama asserted he will do nothing militarily beyond current operations nor will he re-evaluate his decision to admit thousands of un-vetted refugees to American shores. Half of these refugees are young men of military age from throughout the Middle East. The FBI and Homeland Security stated they have no capability to vet them for security.

    What we need is a leader with the character of a Churchill, a Thatcher or Reagan. We cannot afford a replay of Chamberlain or the obstinacy of a Gladstone. We can’t afford the isolationism of Rand Paul or the indifferent shallowness of President Obama nor the gross incompetence of Clinton.

    President Obama seems concerned about his presidential legacy; he shouldn’t be as it’s already written in the blood of thousands of innocents. I’ll leave you with this thought from the Book of Proverbs: “Like a muddied spring or a polluted fountain is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked.”

    Al Fonzi, Atascadero News article 20 November 2015

     

    Silent Night, Silenced Nation

    Christmas is a time for reflection, for family but especially for Christians, the celebration of the birth of the Messiah, the Savior of mankind. It’s a time of year when generosity seems to flow unfettered as I personally observed as a bell-ringer for the Salvation Army. Americans are incredibly generous from the smallest child giving a few coins saved to many, many people stuffing fairly large bills or sizeable sums of cash in the “Red Kettle” for charity. I also observed many acts of courtesy which seems to be more prevalent during the season.

    Naturally it is also a time for the skeptic and dedicated “Grinch,” the latter fearful of someone, somewhere being cheerful, to attempt to dampen down public enthusiasm. Take Cornell University for example: the University has put out a missive banning any mention or suggestion of Christmas, at least publicly, the colors red and green deemed particularly offensive to “someone” along with stars, Christmas trees or any other readily identifiable symbol of the Christian holiday, except of course in the absolute privacy of your personal living space. Since students usually have roommates in their dorms, I guess the mistletoe has to be hidden under your pillow.

    Many college campuses, especially those noted for their high tuition, self-identified as “elite” and adopting the language, mores and extreme forms of “political correctness” are especially sensitive to anything that harkens one’s thoughts to religion, especially Christianity or time-honored traditions. It makes one old enough to remember that it wasn’t always this way, evoking nostalgia for times past and saddened at what current and future generations are missing.

    America has radically changed over my lifetime. I wish I could say for the better but I think not. How much have we really lost? Enter into my time machine of old movies and a picture begins to form.

    A good place to start would be the 1947 classic film, “The Bishop’s Wife,” starring Loretta Young, David Niven and Cary Grant. It’s a simple story of a man with a problem, a neglected wife, Angelic assistance and how the world often interferes with the true spirit of Christmas. The story aside, the film reveals American innocence and accepted values that seem lost today. There isn’t a single episode of vulgarity, an untoward suggestion or an act of violence throughout the film, unless a snowball fight among children counts. The year this film was released is symbolic as it was the year when the Supreme Court launched its war on the American people to purge religious symbols from the public square. It was only three years prior that President Roosevelt called upon the nation to pray with him for the soldiers storming the beaches of Normandy on “D-Day.” Most people of faith considered that prayer answered, a gift we have apparently forgotten as the Court’s war on faith is almost complete. We could have reversed this at any time at the ballot box but nobody seemed to care enough to bother.

    Courtesy of the Courts, Nativity scenes disappeared from the public square; the first to go being the one in front of our local Post Office. Banning Christmas carols in schools was followed by proscribing any public declaration of faith, prayer or religious texts, especially Bibles. From restrictions of faith we’ve progressed to active persecution of children of faith, banning private prayers over lunch at school, Christian clubs, any mention of God and even threats by federal judges to jail students who dare mention God at graduation ceremonies. How far we’ve travelled; one has to ask, is the nation better off because of this?

    This week a principal in a New York school banned any mention of Christmas, Thanksgiving or reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Over Thanksgiving we were berated by commentators insisting “Thanksgiving was offensive to Native Americans.” Did anyone ask them? The Pilgrims were saved from starvation by local Native-American tribes who shared equally in the bounty of the Pilgrims at the first Thanksgiving. This was followed by fifty years of peaceful relations, not broken until more secular-minded immigrants arrived from Europe.

    Political correctness and militant secularism is robbing America of its heritage and hope for the future. The insistence upon “multiculturalism” and the debasement of America’s heritage, passed down via 500 years of Western Civilization, is not making America better. People don’t endure hardship and danger to escape to America and “its streets of gold” because they want to make it just like the hell-hole they escaped. They flee religious persecution, which for Middle Eastern Christians is fast becoming the new genocide; they flee hunger, poverty, war and horrors our children have been spared, so far.

    Christmas and its wonders are ours to lose. Nobody can steal it from us unless we are silent. Don’t let them! Merry Christmas!

    Al Fonzi, Atascadero News article 18 December 2015

     

    Memo to Congress: How to Defeat ISIS

    As Republicans, we’re supposed to be smart about national security but it seems more often than not lately, we’re taking a cue from the Democrats. ISIS is a major national security threat as evidenced by the recent terrorist attack that occurred in San Bernadino in December. It’s not as yet an “existential threat,” that is, a threat that can physically destroy the nation as can Russia and likely China, but it’s a growing threat that can inflict severe damage upon us. Remember, it took only 19 motivated men to destroy the World Trade Center complex (seven buildings), kill nearly 3000 Americans and cause an economic loss of over one trillion dollars to our economy once the “butchers bill” had been paid. We still haven’t fully recovered from that attack.

    There is a moral dimension to the ISIS threat of which we are responsible. We broke Iraq and destroyed the glue that forced that collection of “Tribes with Flags” into a semblance of a nation-state, however corrupt and violent it may have been. Our invasion in 2003 unleashed the hounds of hell upon the Iraqi people in the form of sectarian violence not occurring since the original emergence of Islamic armies from the Arabian desert in the 7th century.

    Culturally, Americans are an impatient people with a short attention span. This resulted in us soon tiring of a very difficult war launched via flawed intelligence, poor strategy and even worse execution. It was a military and political disaster compounded by an even greater disaster facilitated by a precipitous military withdrawal ordered against all military advice by President Obama. As a people, we’re really good at not learning from our mistakes! Before readers accuse me of not supporting the troops or lack of patriotism, let it be known that my military career spanned 36 years and three wars with duty in infantry, armor, Special Forces and intelligence units. I served in Iraq in 2004 with special operations units and directly on the coalition general staff. I was able to see the war up close and personal in a way few ever will. Simultaneously with my tour of duty, my oldest son also served in Iraq with the First Marine Division in a hellhole called Ramadi, in which his unit, the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines was directly supported by the late Navy SEAL Sniper, Chris Kyle, whose exploits were documented in the film “American Sniper.” This made the war very personal for me as our family was about as invested in winning this war as any family could be. My wife deserves a medal as most of the emotional stress fell upon her.

    What has happened since the withdrawal of American troops is not just disheartening, it’s infuriating, as none of it was necessary or inevitable. Obama, Clinton and the Democrats own this disaster and every barrel of blood of the innocents it produces. What is frustrating is to hear Republicans talk like Democrats, the original political party of retreat and defeat. Defeatism has been the Democrats’ specialty since the fall of Vietnam to a conventional invasion from North Vietnam, made easy by a newly-elected Democrat-controlled Congress cutting off all military assistance to South Vietnam. Their planes didn’t have fuel to fly nor their artillery ammunition to shoot. No wonder that the invasion of South Vietnam that occurred in April 1975, led by columns of North Vietnamese tanks, supplied by the former Soviet Union, easily conquered a neutered South Vietnam. No wonder also that our current Secretary of State, John Kerry, is lauded in a North Vietnamese military museum for his leadership in assisting the communist North in achieving their victory through his subversion of the American war effort at home. Honestly, there really is a plaque in North Vietnam honoring John Kerry. I’ve seen it. It’s pathetic but you’ll never hear about it in our media.

    What I’m referring to about Republicans is the half-steps they take when emulating Democrats complaining about “America being the world’s policeman” and discussing strategies that call for “Muslim boots on the ground.” Well, there are “Muslim boots on the ground” but the problem is they belong to ISIS. There is no effective indigenous military force in the Middle East, except Israel, capable of defeating ISIS or any similar organization without strong, U.S. leadership and material support.

    Since the end of WWII, there has been one and only one western power strong enough to consistently provide the leadership for Western Civilization against whatever dark forces are arrayed against us. That force is America, not Britain, not France nor Germany. All were left exhausted by two world wars and Britain spent the next thirty years watching a former mighty empire crumble to dust, as did their military. Britain and France together have fewer aircraft carriers than we used to deploy to the Mediterranean in the Sixth Fleet, which by the way, no longer really exists under Obama, except on paper.

    If you want to defeat ISIS, or any other military force 50,000 strong, ruthless, embedded within the urban civilian population and heavily armed, you can’t do it with airpower. You don’t have the targets, which is why 75% of our bombing missions return without dropping ordnance, especially when combined with extremely restrictive rules of engagement imposed by the risk-averse policies of the Obama administration.

    Defeating ISIS isn’t rocket science and dozens of American generals, colonels and lieutenant colonels, retired or active can lay out a strategy for victory. Victory is defined as the utter annihilation of ISIS, defeat in detail. If prisoners are somehow taken, they should be turned over to the local governments in which their crimes were committed to face Iraqi/Syrian justice, which will be swift and absolute. ISIS is a criminal organization which violates the laws of land warfare under multiple international treaties as a matter of policy. They boast about this and should be held legally accountable just as we once held the Nazis accountable, especially the fanatical members of the “SS” whose savagery against civilians knew no bounds. But I digress.

    To defeat ISIS requires a sufficient military ground force: I suggest the use of the U.S. III (Third) Corps out of Fort Hood, Texas, comprised of two heavy divisions and an armored cavalry regiment at a minimum. It could be reinforced by the use of the 101st Airborne Division, which is really an Air Cavalry Division with hundreds of helicopters, attack and otherwise, for use in highly mobile dessert warfare or supporting urban combat. It is a force of about 70,000 men which should be reinforced further with another four heavy divisions and Air Force Special Operations Gunship Squadrons for aerial firepower. Add in A-10s for close air support and you have rolling thunder that will crush anything ISIS has.

    To suggest that ISIS will simply blend in with the civilian population and disappear discounts the visceral hatred the civilian community has for ISIS fighters. As occurred in the previous surge and the Sunni uprising, the civilian population is very likely to assist Iraqi and American intelligence units to locate and identify ISIS terrorists.

    When accompanied by Iraqi troops in support of American forces you have a military steamroller that will bury the Caliphate. A blocking force of the Jordanian Army and Air Force in the north, possibly with Turkish assistance will put an end to any hope of escape by ISIS.         Captured foreign fighters would be turned over to the host nation suffering ISIS atrocities, regardless of citizenship, including Americans. If you want to halt ISIS recruiting on the internet, let “wannabe warriors” watch a few ISIS foreign fighters take the walk of 13 steps up an Iraqi gallows, begging for their lives, not dying as martyrs in combat but despised as cowards and murderers. That should take some of the glamor and ardor away for ISIS membership.There is a legal component that is essential. ISIS is a criminal organization guilty of crimes against humanity and war crimes. Anyone who has served with ISIS, supported them in any way, materially or otherwise, is equally guilty and should be hunted down worldwide. We will extradite them to the country of their crimes just as we hunted down and extradited Nazis for seventy years after the end of WWII. With no place to hide and severe sanctions on any nation granting them asylum we can purge the earth of this scum.

    Finally, there is an ideological component. Only a better idea can defeat an idea. We have to be willing to acknowledge what the threat is and who threatens Western Civilization. We are in a 1400 year-old conflict between Western Civilization and Islam, specifically, the radical, fanatical form of Islam manifested in the armies of the 7th century best represented today in the Wahabi and Salafi sects of Islam. As a faith, Islam is not monolithic nor does it have a single central authority. Theological authority is dispersed among regions, Mullahs, Imans and Mosques worldwide, each pronouncing new interpretations of the Koran with Hadiths regulating the lives of Muslims according to whatever Koranic authority decides to postulate. It is generally divided among Sunni practitioners (from which the Wahabi and Salafi sects emerged) and Shia Muslims with many offshoots and subsets. Both are hostile to non-Muslim faiths but the Sunni/Wahabi and Salafi sects are the most violent, intolerant and confrontational sects that comprise about a third of Islamic adherents.

    Finally, we have to acknowledge the facts on the ground and to be willing to aggressively and psychologically defend Western Civilization from the threat militant Islam poses to all, but particularly to women. No apologies are necessary to Islam whatsoever and any politician engaging in such rhetoric betrays a 2000 year old struggle to defend God-given rights to the individual, such as personal freedom, dignity and the rule of law over tyranny. Islam recognizes no such individual rights but only the duty of the individual to submit to the will of God as interpreted by the Koran, whether you believe it or not. A victory of Islam over Western Civilization ensures a return to the status of chattel for western women, in addition to the end of art, music and culture as we understand it. It is a threat as existential as nuclear war and with results that will leave us all almost as destitute.

    So please, no more nonsense about a few Special Forces troops or a more intense air campaign; military half-measures and war on the cheap are doomed to fail. This is war and there will be casualties on both sides. “Freedom isn’t free” is not a cliché, it’s quite real for families that suffer the ultimate sacrifice. This is a long war and it’s absolutely necessary for us to display the political will & moral courage to fight it and fight to win, for it is truly a fight to the death.

    Al Fonzi, Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army, (Retired) January 4, 2016      

  • Apathy: Destroyer of Liberty

    Our founders were wise beyond measure. They gave us a Republic organized upon the lines of personal freedom with written limits on the powers of government. This gift of liberty came with only one real caveat; it works only as long as we we’re engaged in the affairs of government. If anything would kill it and reduce us to serfdom, it was apathy and lack of moral character.

    Historically, most people live under tyranny in one form or another. We’ve done fairly well, surviving 239 years with only a couple of nasty bumps. Before we indulge in congratulations we should pause and reflect that the average life-span of a Republic is about 200 years, after which, self-indulgent decline seems to rot societal structure from within. When that happens, apathy towards those who rule or aspire to rule is widespread with disaster not far away. Self-government is hard, requiring perseverance and dedication to finding the truth. Most importantly, it requires citizens to hold those in power accountable.

    Over the last seven years, Americans have endured a prolonged state of war, economic dislocation, loss of international prestige and trust of our allies with contempt from our enemies. We have choices to make and we will make them in the next year. We will live with that choice for at least four years afterwards, assuming the Republic survives.

    I remember the Watergate hearings in the 1970’s and how the public was riveted to televised hearings regarding the malfeasance of the Nixon regime, ultimately caught in a cover-up to obstruct justice. Democrats led the charge but Republicans were equally outraged, ultimately voting to hold a Republican president accountable.

    Since 2012, one scandal after another has surfaced with federal employees abusing their authority, violating the rights of citizens and obstructing the investigations initiated by congressional oversight committees. I never thought I’d witness federal officials refusing to provide documents under subpoena to Congress let alone actually destroying them after an official subpoena was issued. Yet, just that has repeatedly occurred, as federal officials exercise their 5th Amendment rights to refuse to testify before congress and then deliberately destroy potential evidence, with seeming impunity. It happened with the IRS, it happened again with the State Department regarding the Benghazi hearings that attempted to assign responsibility for the deaths of Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans in Tripoli in 2012.

    Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, now presidential candidate, danced through the recent hearings with accolades from the national press corps for sidestepping her personal responsibility, any responsibility really, for the death and destruction inflicted upon American national interests.

    The chaos in Libya occurred on Clinton’s watch; the Libya policy that overthrew the Libyan dictator was hers and she spared no effort in accepting its initial apparent success. Then she walked away, ignoring the chaos that ensued.

    Remember the 2008 presidential campaign of a phone call at 3:00 am and “who was going to answer the phone?” Clinton berated Obama as being unqualified to deal with those “crisis in the night calls.” As it turns out, nobody answered the phone, especially Clinton.

    Prior to that deadly September 11, 2012 terrorist attack on the consulate in Benghazi, the ambassador made over 600 requests to State Department HQs in Washington for additional security assistance. He was turned down even with multiple attacks on the consulate and the diplomatic facilities of other countries in the months preceding September 11th. After the overthrow of the Libyan government, the record reveals virtual total silence from Clinton.

    After the attacks killed the ambassador and three other Americans, “the lie” became official government policy, the lie that said a video instigated the attack, not terrorists. Any official challenging “the lie” experienced career-ending reprisal, as did the Libya Deputy Chief of Station, Gregory Hicks, demoted by Clinton for truthfully testifying to Congress about the events of that night in Benghazi.

    That lie was personally spread by Clinton, directly to the parents of former Navy SEAL Ty Woods and communications technician Sean Smith as their caskets were off-loaded from military aircraft to waiting hearses. “The Lie” was spread further by Administration hacks for weeks, though Clinton knew it was a lie from the day of the attacks. She said so in e-mails and phone calls to her daughter, to the Libyan President and to the Egyptian Foreign Minister in the first 24 hours after the attack.

    The question for Americans is what is the character of a politician that could look a grieving parent in the eye and lie to them as their son’s casket is being carried home? It’s the mark of the most venal of politicians that engages in deliberate deception for political purposes. If we don’t hold Clinton accountable, the shame is as much ours as any she should bear.                           

    Written by Al Fonzi
    5th District Chairman, Republican Party, SLO County
    Past President, SLO County Lincoln Club
  • View From Fonzi’s Foxhole – Unite or Die

    Watching the republican debate last night on CNBC confirms to me that Republicans, more than ever, need to unite and cease the ideological intra-party warfare. We are conservatives all in one form or another as compared to the Democrats, who are extreme by any definition and captured as a party by the most ideologically rigid and mean-spirited elements of the “American Left.” These people do not love America or Americans. They are “tyrants-in-training” and will adopt the harshest possible measures to destroy political opposition to their agenda, restrained only by what remains of rule of law in an increasingly lawless administration. While that analysis may seem harsh, one only needs to read their literature and their commentary, not to mention listen to their words when they think nobody is listening. They’re dangerous to the Republic and to any freedom-loving individual who would dare defy their plans to “fundamentally change America.”

    These extremists are relentless, focused and well-organized. As we saw in Wednesday’s Republican debate, their media allies are fully mobilized to support them by conducting a campaign to undermine, discredit or personally destroy any and all Republican candidates, doing whatever it takes. Our continued infighting will only serve to aid their campaign and it’s time we put our disputes aside and recognize that a “House divided against itself cannot stand.” America is in as great a peril from the subversion within as it ever was from any external threat. If we fail to unite, then the warning given by the Founders to “Unite or Die” will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    Written by Al Fonzi
    5th District Chairman, Republican Party, SLO County
    Past President, SLO County Lincoln Club
  • When Government of the People, Isn’t

    The phenomena of Donald Trump and his Teflon-coated political campaign is producing panic in the political establishment and political commentators, questioning the driving force behind his popularity, though it’s blatantly obvious to any third-grader.

    Government in America is no longer “of the people, by the people and for the people” which is in mortal danger of perishing from America. We’ve become an oligarchy, ruled by despotic, unelected, unaccountable government agencies and arbitrary bureaucrats and we’re angry!

    On a small scale, we experienced it locally several years ago when an obscure agency, the Integrated Waste Management Authority (IWMA) banned plastic bags without consent or a “by your leave” from the voters. The IWMA is composed of elected officials from cities, county supervisors and community services districts but does not represent any single electoral district. Most people never heard of them. In fact, they were previously low-key enough to ignore. With barely a whisper, they decided to do “what was good for us” and enacted a legal ban, complete with fines and jail time for offenders, before the public even knew what happened.

    This happens continuously in California and across the nation with obscure local agencies enacting enforceable dictates upon unsuspecting citizens until they run afoul of some regulation and hauled before an inquisition with little legal recourse. On a State or National level such an experience can be devastating, especially financially, with levied fines of tens of thousands of dollars for the smallest of infractions, even if innocent. Running afoul of the Environmental Protection Agency, the IRS, the Corps of Engineers or Fish & Wildlife for an environmental offense can and often does bankrupt people. Stories abound of unsuspecting citizens obtaining local and State building permits and suddenly confronted with draconian fines and threats of imprisonment as an EPA agent decides that their locally approved driveway is suddenly a threat to the “three-spotted louse-wart” spotted half a mile away.

    Last week, the California legislature refused to pass SB 350, which imposed unreasonable restrictions on the ability of Californians to drive their cars; it arbitrarily raised energy and fuel costs via regulations on the energy industry. The Democrats in the legislature revolted, realizing that the poor, working-poor and middle class would be severely impacted by SB 350. They joined Republican legislators in opposition, but Governor Brown, taking a leaf from the Obama playbook, stated he would impose the goals of SB 350 anyway via regulations through the State Air Pollution Board. We don’t elect those people; the governor appoints them. The ultimate effect will be to raise the price of gas by many dollars per gallon, forcing the public to cut their driving by half, whether they want to or not.

    In California we often vote on constitutional amendments or initiatives, such as Proposition 8 to defend traditional marriage. Prop 8 won but a federal judge, who was gay, ruled it unconstitutional, even though the U.S. Constitution has not a single word giving the federal government jurisdiction over marriage. The 10th Amendment dictated such power was delegated exclusively to the States. Governor Brown and his Attorney General refused to appeal the decision, thus millions of California voters saw their votes nullified on the whim of three lawyers. A county clerk in Kentucky is being pilloried for refusing to issue marriage licenses for gay marriages on grounds of religious conscience, which is supposed to be protected by the First Amendment. She requested a religious accommodation to simply replace her name with that of the “Commonwealth” or the governor. The “establishment” refused and insisted she violate her conscience, “or else.” Today, her critics piously state “The law is the law, but was it always?

    In 1850 Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Act, which compelled everyone to assist in the apprehension of fugitive, run-a-way slaves. Failure to assist could cost you your property and your freedom. An accusation of being an escaped slave was sufficient to compel a free black man or woman of a northern free state to be transported to the South in chains, without legal recourse. Northerners revolted, used violence against “slave-catchers” and assisted free blacks to escape to Canada. About 20,000 free northern blacks fled to Canada for political refuge, most remaining till this day even though the Civil War emancipated American slaves.

    In modern context, should a doctor be forced to violate his conscious and be mandated to perform abortions, late-term “partial-birth abortions” or participate in assisted suicide should that become the law? Should we eliminate Conscientious Objector status for those faced with compulsory military service who’ve declined direct participation in combat? At what point do we deny who we are and who we’ve always been?

    Trump reflects the growing anger of an abused, ignored American electorate. Government ignores this anger at its peril.

    Written by Al Fonzi
    5th District Chairman, Republican Party, SLO County
    Past President, SLO County Lincoln Club
  • Nine Minutes to Catastrophe

    Intelligence operations almost always make good copy and sometimes exciting movies. The reality is somewhere between with tedium, patience and determination becoming the most decisive factors. Seldom do intelligence operations resemble a “Mission Impossible” scenario, but occasionally they’re close.

    Navy nuclear attack submarine crews are unlikely James Bond characters but engage in incredibly dangerous and vital operations. During the Cold War one such crew penetrated the fleet anchorage of the Soviet Northern Fleet and tapped into an undersea cable, capturing the most closely held secrets of the Soviet High Command for several months. The operation was a spectacular success until the Soviets got wise from Washington leaks via high-ranking political types trying to score points with the media. The Glomar Explorer operation in the Pacific to recover Soviet nuclear missile warheads from a sunken sub off Hawaii was another case of “blown cover” by the press. Loss of secrecy costs money (Glomar Explorer cost millions) and could cost lives, such as an entire Sub crew when engaged in dangerous operations. One of my peers lost his life in East Germany in 1985, executed by the KGB when his operation was leaked and penetrated by Soviet counterespionage. Thus when I hear about a high-ranking politician acting in a totally irresponsible and arrogant manner in the handling of military or diplomatic classified information, I do a slow burn.

    Former Secretary of State Clinton’s use of an unsecure server and e-mail put herself and the nation at extreme risk as diplomatic communications and military operations are always the highest priorities for intelligence collection. Diplomatic communications reveal “Intent,” the “Holy Grail” of intelligence collection. We can count tanks and planes all day, but having insight into foreign intentions is the key to sound foreign policy decision-making. If they’re reading your mail they have you at their mercy, in war, diplomacy or trade. Every intelligence analyst will confirm that ALL cabinet-level officers and their aides are targeted by multiple foreign intelligence services. We can safely assume virtually all of Clinton’s conversations as Secretary of State are archived in Russian, Chinese, Iranian and North Korean intelligence databanks. She put your families at extreme risk for her own nefarious reasons.

    That brings me to the Iran nuclear agreement under review by Congress. Hopefully, they will garner the votes to override a presidential veto and kill the agreement as it’s worse than a very bad agreement.

    We were promised inspections “anywhere, anytime” by the White House, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Energy and other key negotiators as recently as April 2015. There is no such provision and the Ayatollah’s and Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander says all military installations are permanently off-limits. The agreement also ignores the four American hostages still being held by Iran and lifts the embargo on conventional weapons and ballistic missiles.

    The only use for a ballistic missile is to put a weapon of mass destruction on top of it, like a nuclear weapon. Iran’s ballistic missile program already has the ability to conduct space launches of small satellites into orbit; now they can refine their missiles, increasing range and accuracy with impunity. They are also already violating existing sanctions: They sent the commander of the Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani, to Moscow, contravening a travel ban under current sanctions to negotiate arms transfers from Russia to Iran. The Quds Force clandestinely operated in Iraq to kill and wound over 1000 American troops during the last decade. Soleimani’s mission was to expedite the delivery of prohibited S-300 anti-aircraft/anti-ballistic missiles to Iran from Russia. The S-300 is a game-changer for the Israeli and American military. It’s a quantum leap in capability, greatly increasing the risk to aircrews launching strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities.

    For the Israelis, the situation is extremely grave. The Obama administration has made it abundantly clear they have no intention of ever exercising a military option against the Iranian nuclear program. The Israelis were left out in the cold as the window of opportunity for a successful airstrike against Iranian nuclear sites diminishes. The Iranian nuclear “agreement” with President Obama allows Iran to eventually become a legally armed nuclear state by the next decade without internal change to their apocalyptic foreign policy requiring the annihilation of Israel. Half the world’s Jewish population lives in Israel. The flight time of a ballistic missile from Iran to Israel is nine minutes. In nine minutes Iran can murder more Jews than Hitler murdered in nine years.

    Sunday, the Israeli Ambassador to the United States stated that Israel will have to act in its own interest, which in this case, is national survival. Facing a regime determined to destroy every Jew in the world, Israel will be forced to strike Iran first. Obama’s agreement leads not to “Peace In Our Time,” but paves the way for nuclear war.

     

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

    First printed in Atascadero News article 21 August 2015

     

  • Separating Wheat from the Chaff

    The political season is upon us once again as candidates almost too innumerable to count seek the presidency. Somewhere one can only hope that a leader will emerge who understands and lives the virtue of selfless service to the nation.

    Some are born to lead at least as we understand what it means to lead. Others are formed in the crucible of severe trials, arising at a moment of crisis when others despair or are broken by extreme stress. Once we had a ready supply of heroes and heroines, those who put themselves to the most extreme tests and persevered under incredible hardship.

    Our grandparents were fortunate in that the late 19th and early 20th century provided multiple opportunities for genuine heroes to rise to public recognition. One such man was Ernest Shackleton, famed explorer of the arctic regions. He participated in three major arctic explorations during which his ability to motivate his men and most importantly, keep them alive, became his reason for notoriety in the early 20th century. His second Antarctic expedition came within 97 geographic miles of the South Pole, whereupon, faced with the prospect of almost certain death of his men from starvation if he continued, he made the decision to turn back, even though it cost him the fame of being “the first” to reach the South Pole. A remark later attributed to him was that “it was his duty to bring his men out of the cold.” Another explorer achieved the honor of being “first to the South Pole” but Shackleton continued his quest for polar exploration.

    In his last expedition attempting to cross the polar seas his ship “Endurance” became trapped in sea ice and was crushed. He kept his men alive for another year under incredible conditions, even making a 720-mile voyage in an open lifeboat to obtain rescue for his men stranded on a rocky, polar island. He succeeded and obtained brief fame, but died in debt and obscurity until his exploits were given new life by historians long after his death. Shackleton is an icon of leadership under the harshest of conditions, putting the welfare of his men above his own at every turn.

    One hopes that those seeking the highest office in the land have similar qualities. Once upon a time we expected those in high office to demonstrate a lifetime of integrity, sacrifice and personal courage, both moral and physical. Teddy Roosevelt demonstrated personal courage in his leadership of the First Volunteer Cavalry in the Spanish American War as a Regimental Commander, personally leading his unit in a charge up the hills of San Juan under murderous enemy fire. Supported by the regular Army all-black 9th and 10th U.S. Cavalry, Roosevelt’s unit carried the day and made the Spanish positions defending Santiago untenable and led to a rapid ending of the war. Roosevelt inspired the nation and the Republican Party placed him on the “ticket” as Vice-President to William McKinley. President McKinley’s assassination placed Vice-President Roosevelt into the office of President. His trial by fire prepared Teddy as no experience could, as having faced death the machinations of mere politicians were hardly intimidating. Roosevelt stormed through the Washington establishment like a tornado in a chicken farm. His eldest son, Brigadier General Teddy Roosevelt III, modeled his life after his father, landing at Utah Beach at Normandy on “D-Day” in 1944. Insisting on sharing the hardships of his troops, he landed with the first wave of soldiers. He was killed in action, earning the Medal of Honor for his actions at Normandy.

    Thousands of men and women display extraordinary courage under difficult circumstances when the moment arises; most are quite ordinary people by worldly standards, not having great wealth, fame or even incredible skill. Something needs to be done and they act; most are never recognized, especially in military service.

    One such hero is Captain John Ripley, a Marine officer serving in South Vietnam in the Spring of 1972 during the North Vietnamese “Easter Offensive.” Approaching the Dong Ha Bridge, a North Vietnamese armored column was held up by a battalion of South Vietnamese Rangers advised by Ripley, who then proceeded to mine the bridge with explosives. For over two hours, while repeatedly exposed to fierce enemy fire, Ripley hauled 50lb explosive charges underneath the superstructure of the bridge, successfully detonating the charges and halting the enemy column of tanks. Ripley was given the Navy Cross and then quietly served out another 20 years of service until his retirement. Most Americans have never heard of him or a thousand others like him.

    Hopefully, we’ll look beyond the hype of political candidates and search for a life of integrity, personal sacrifice and candidates that accept responsibility for failure as well as success. Prayerfully, we’ll seek candidates that put the country before party and the nation before ego and ambition.

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

    First printed in Atascadero News article 7 August 2015

  • 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
  • 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