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

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