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Monthly Archives: January 2009
Not long ago Maryland was regarded as a business friendly state and its steady growth and efficient administration was admirable. Practically every state is now struggling because of the economic decline but the change in Maryland has been especially abrupt. The key reason is the November 2007 enactment of the largest tax increase in its history ($7 billion), and the addition of regulatory burdens on businesses.
Despite the huge tax increase, Maryland has gone from a $1 billion surplus in 2006 to a $1.9 billion deficit in 2009. This is due to significant spending increases, a failure to curtail the growth of government and disappointing revenue from state income taxes. Maryland’s budget is currently $3 billion higher than Pennsylvania’s, and over $1.5 billion higher than Virginia, two states with much higher populations and land territory.
Maryland has experienced a remarkable drop in just one year. In the rankings of the best states to do business, Maryland went from the 24th to the 45th position according to the Tax Foundation. The states rated worse than Maryland are Rhode Island, Ohio, California, New York, and New Jersey, and all of them have experienced huge economic declines as businesses either flee or fail to expand.
According to the “D.C. Examiner’:
“Decades of empirical research prove that economic growth in high-tax states consistently lags behind states with lower tax burdens. The 10 states with the lowest taxes also attracted almost 10 percent more new residents during the last decade than their high-tax counterparts.
“Just last year, 144,000 people fled from California’s punishing taxes, the highest state-to-state migration in the U.S. The ramifications of losing revenue-producing businesses and highly-skilled workers to lower-tax states should by now be apparent even to big-spending governors like Maryland’s Martin O’Malley and California’s Arnold Schwarzenegger – long-term economic decline.”
Most Marylanders live within 45 miles of the state line and can shop elsewhere, including some who enjoy tax-free shopping in Delaware. Many other states have already learned that you cannot tax your way into prosperity. Hiking taxes might provide a spike in revenue in the short term, but over the long haul they devastate an economy.
Michigan ranks as the 12th worst state for business and it has done little to slow the outbound migration of its residents. In fact, they have done the opposite by imposition of additional regulatory burdens.
The neighboring state of Indiana has responded by erecting billboards near the border encouraging Michigan and Illinois residents to, “Come on IN for Lower Taxes, Business and Housing Costs.” The story in all of the high tax states is similar, and their decline has been rapid and astonishing. In the 1960s they were judged to be among the most business-friendly states because of light tax burdens. That helped attract a steady stream of businesses and residents and produced robust economic growth.
The rapid growth of state and local government – whose employment increased by 15 percent from 2000 through 2006 alone in the high tax states – has created a huge public work force not about to vote for eliminating its perks and benefits.
The residents of these states continue to flee and they are doing so at a record rate. The implications are staggering. People are the basis of all economic development. It is people who create, produce, employ, work and generate wealth.
The process of decline is now beginning in Maryland, but it can be reversed. If Maryland restores its business friendly reputation its residents will not be lured by “opportunity states.” During the recent campaign then Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) said it was patriotic to pay higher taxes. Now residents of Maryland can consider themselves as among the most patriotic in the nation.
Guantanamo Bay: Obama’s First Mistake? – Commentary by Gregory Hilton
WASHINGTON, D.C. – On his second full day in the White House, President Barack Obama signed three executive orders concerning the treatment of enemy combatants. The orders will close the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba within a year. In making the announcement the President said, “Under my administration, the United States does not torture. We will abide by the Geneva Conventions.” During the campaign he referred to the Guantanamo facility as a “sad chapter in American history,” and promised to close it. He has now taken the first step to fulfilling that promise.
Although exact figures have not been revealed, 779 detainees are known to have passed through the camp and about 530 have since been released. About 245 detainees are still held there.
The new executive orders also close the CIA’s overseas detention facilities and directs all future interrogations to follow the Army Field Manual. This last order in effect revokes the Bush administration legal re-interpretation of interrogation methods permitted under the 1949 Geneva Conventions.
President Obama has previously called these methods torture, and Attorney General-designate Eric Holder used the same term in Congressional testimony this week. The new National Intelligence Director, Admiral Dennis Blair, says Guantanamo needs to be closed “because it is a damaging symbol.” The National Religious Campaign Against Torture, a coalition of 240 religious groups, said the new orders “allow the United States to again find its moral bearing.”
The Obama Administration also suspended legal proceedings at Guantanamo until the end of May in order to complete a review of all cases. The previous policy involved trying the remaining 245 detainees in front of military commissions. The prisoners can not be tried in U.S. courts because the information against them is classified and too sensitive for public distribution. A considerable amount of the evidence comes from foreign intelligence services.
The President has not yet determined the fate of the Guantanamo prisoners. The Bush Administration claimed the prisoners were “enemy combatants” who were never part of a regular army and did not wear uniforms. The also maintained these prisoners were not subject to the guarantees of the Geneva Convention, but this viewpoint was reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Two years ago in the wake of the Court ruling President Bush said he wanted to close the Guantanamo facility. However, Bush said it was not possible while the war on terrorism was continuing. Obama’s order also reverses all Justice Department legal memos written between September 11, 2001, and Jan. 20, 2009. These memos authorized waterboarding and many of them are still secret. All of the are now invalid.
The outgoing CIA Director, General Michael Hayden, and former Vice President Dick Cheney are in strong disagreement with the new Obama policy. “Those who allege that we’ve been involved in torture, or that somehow we violated the Constitution or laws with the Terrorist Surveillance Program, simply don’t know what they’re talking about,” Cheney said.
They both emphasized that waterboarding technique were only used on three suspects. One of them was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, al-Qaeda’s chief of operational planning, who divulged vast amounts of information which saved hundreds of innocent lives. He revealed Al-Qaeda’s plans to blow up the American consulate in Karachi, Pakistan, to fly planes into the towers of Canary Wharf in London, and the Library Tower in Los Angeles. The outgoing Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell says flexibility is needed to use some interrogation methods not permitted by the military.
All of this advice was rejected, and there has been no waterboarding since 2003. In fact, the practice was banned in 2006. A law was also enacted in 2005 mandating that interrogators follow the Army Field Manual.
Cheney vigorously defended waterboarding, which was initially ruled not to be torture by the Bush Administration. “Did it produce the desired results? I think it did,” Cheney argued. “Khalid Sheikh Mohammed … provided us with a wealth of information. There was a period of time there, three or four years ago, when about half of everything we knew about al Qaeda came from that one source. So it’s been a remarkably successful effort,” he said. “I think the results speak for themselves. Cheney went on to note “What are you going to do with the prisoners held in Guantanamo? Nobody has solved that problem.”
Many critics claim torture does not work, but the evidence is on the other side. For example, it was through the use of torture Philippine agents were able to make Abdul Hakim Murad reveal a plot to blow up 11 American airliners over the Pacific and to send another plane loaded with nerve gas into CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. Murad was to be the pilot of the Langley flight and he had completed 275 hours of flight time in preparation for the mission. He was caught after an accident in which a bomb he was making exploded in his home.
A very high percentage of the prisoners who have been released from Guantanamo have returned to terrorist activities. On January 13th the Pentagon revealed that 18 former Guantanamo detainees now have direct involvement in terrorist activities.
The group includes Said Ali al-Shihri, who was jailed in Guantanamo for six years, and has now resurfaced as a leader of a Yemeni branch of al-Qaida. He traveled to Afghanistan two weeks after the September 11 attacks, provided money to other fighters and trained in urban warfare at a camp north of Kabul. He was later wounded during a U.S. attack in Afghanistan and was captured in Pakistan. In 2007 Al-Shihri was released by the U.S. to the Saudi government for rehabilitation. The Saudi’s have been claiming great success with the rehabilitation program and over 700 radicals are now enrolled. They are all promised a house, car and job if they graduate.
According to Maggie Michael of the Associated Press, Al-Shihri was “an alleged travel coordinator for al-Qaida, he was also accused of meeting extremists in Mashad, Iran, and briefing them on how to enter Afghanistan. Al-Shihri, however, said he traveled to Iran to buy carpets for his store in Riyadh. He said he felt bin Laden had no business representing Islam, denied any links to terrorism, and expressed interest in rejoining his family in Saudi Arabia.”
His return to terrorism is not an uncommon development for the former detainees and the Saudi program. Al-Shihri is now with a group which has been implicated in several attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Yemen’s capital Sana. Yemen is rapidly reemerging as a terrorist battleground and potential base of operations for al-Qaida and is a main concern for U.S. counter-terrorism officials. Al-Qaida in Yemen conducted an “unprecedented number of attacks” in 2008 and is likely to be a launching pad for attacks against Saudi Arabia, outgoing CIA Director Michael Hayden said in November.
The most recent attack, in September, killed 16 people. It followed a March mortar attack, and two attacks against Yemen’s presidential compound in late April. Yemen was also the site of the 2000 USS Cole bombing that killed 17 American sailors. The Pentagon also said another 43 former detainees have “a plausible link with terrorist activities” according to its intelligence sources.
Earlier today I had a feeling history was repeating itself when I listened to the testimony of former Senators Bob Graham (D-FL) and Jim Talent (R-MO) before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Graham is the Chairman and Talent the Vice Chairman of the Congressionally-mandated Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism. Graham previously served as Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
The Commission outlined significant dangers posed by terrorist group production of WMD, but apparently not too many people view this as an important subject. The room was not crowded, few Senators attended, and there has been next to no coverage in the news media since the report was completed last month. The only significant exposure they received was when Senator Graham was a guest on Stephen Colbert’s comedy show.
This has happened before. On January 21, 2001, former Senators Gary Hart (D-CO) and Warren Rudman (R-NH) released the in-depth report of their Congressionally-mandated U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century. The Hart/Rudman group said a hostile attack was increasingly likely on the U.S. homeland, and “America’s military superiority will not help us.” They warned of the dangers of terrorism and said rapid advances in information and biotechnologies would create new vulnerabilities for U.S. security.
The Hart/Rudman Commission was ignored and nine months later we were confronted with 9/11. The new report developed by Senators Graham and Talent is entitled “World at Risk,” and it calls for decisive international action. The Graham/Talent Commission members believe it is likely terrorists will use a weapon of mass destruction somewhere in the world by the end of 2013.
The first priority continues to be the potential use of a nuclear weapon by terrorists and rogue states. The report says North Korea has many ties to terrorist organizations and they already have at least 10 nuclear weapons. In addition, Iran has crossed numerous “red lines” set by the international community regarding weapons-related uranium enrichment.
They recommended increased security measures being devoted to Pakistan’s uranium and plutonium stockpile. The seizure of weapons grade material by terrorists would have enormous consequences, but they also emphasized the main threat comes from biological weapons.
The Senators briefed Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano on their findings. Senator Talent told them “We know the terrorists want to get these weapons, we know they have tried to get these weapons and we know they are sophisticated enough organizationally to acquire this capability.”
The Commission members supported the Bush Administration’s cross-border attacks against extremists along the Afghanistan/Pakistan border. The attacks were designed to stop the reconstitution of headquarters and training camps for al-Qaida.
Presidential Leadership: The Military Command Decisions of Abraham Lincoln and George W. Bush by Gregory Hilton (Part Two, George W. Bush)
Presidential Leadership: The Military Command Decisions of Abraham Lincoln and George W. Bush by Gregory Hilton, Armed Forces Radio Network, Part Two, George W. Bush. (This commentary was originally recorded in two 90 second segments. The complete transcript is below).
Welcome back. Earlier today I reviewed some of President Abraham Lincoln’s key command decisions. Similar to Lincoln’s experience, during the first four years of the Iraq war President George W. Bush also deferred to his generals. He went along with all of their recommendations but the situation in Iraq continued to deteriorate.
The promises the military made to Bush never materialized, and domestic opposition to the conflict was becoming widespread. Bush repeatedly said his Iraq commander, General George W. Casey, Jr., “will make the decisions as to how many troops we have there,” but by the Fall of 2006 the President had lost confidence in both Casey and his boss, General John Abizaid.
American casualties were continuing to climb in Iraq. The 2006 elections resulted in a tremendous win for the Democrats and they captured control of both the House and Senate. The major issue in the 2006 campaign was the Iraq war and the pressure on President Bush to pull back was tremendous. Republicans lost 36 seats in the House, and if Bush had campaigned on increasing the number of troops in Iraq the GOP losses would probably have reached 55 seats.
Bush’s approval rating was at rock bottom but he dramatically opposed popular opinion by deciding to increase the number of troops and to implement a new population centric counter insurgency strategy. This is now known as the surge. It included 5 brigades (20,000 troops) and was announced by President Bush on January 7, 2007. The next day the President went to Georgia to meet with the soldiers who would soon be leaving for Iraq.
Behind the scenes the surge was opposed by Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, former Secretary of State Colin Powell and the top commanders in Iraq. On the CBS program “Face the Nation,” Powell said “the surge can not be sustained” because the Army was at the breaking point. Powell claimed a surge had already been tried in Baghdad and had failed.
The opponents also included practically all of our senior military commanders in the Pentagon. In mid-November of 2006, President Bush told General Peter Pace he wanted a new strategy and a significant surge of forces in Iraq. Pace, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, immediately assembled his colleagues to discuss the President’s plan.
The opposition to the Bush proposal included General Peter Schoomaker, the Army Chief of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, the Chief of Naval Operations, and General George W. Casey, Jr., the Commander of Coalition Ground Forces in Iraq. Schoomaker said a surge would not transform the situation and “our forces are already stretched to the breaking point.” The Army chief said the idea “worried the hell out of him.” Casey felt a civil war was beginning in Iraq and American troops should not be in the middle. Admiral Mullen thought the troops would provoke violence rather than quell it.
General Pace informed the President of the JCS’ adamant opposition, and to quell the anger Bush agreed to a direct meeting at the Pentagon where he could hear the JCS viewpoint. It did not sway him. If a surge was to occur the JCS said it should be limited to two brigades, but Bush insisted on five.
The report of the Iraq Study Group (better known as Baker-Hamilton) was released on December 6, 2006 and called for an immediate “phased withdrawal” of U.S. forces. This would have been a complete reversal of Bush’s plan.
Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) agreed with the recommendations and said withdrawals should begin in the Spring of 2007. The new Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid (D-NV), introduced legislation calling for a complete U.S. withdrawal by March of 2008, and said Iraq was “the worst foreign policy mistake in the history of this country.” Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) called the surge “Folly,” and his colleagues Joe Biden (D-DE) and Hillary Clinton (D-NY) were in agreement with him.
All of the withdrawal recommendations were rejected by the President who was continuing to move in the opposite direction. The surge also required major personnel changes.
The first to go was Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld who resigned under pressure in early December. It was also not possible to have an Iraq Commander opposed to the new policy, and this meant General Casey had to be removed. He was kicked upstairs and succeeded Schoomaker as Army Chief of Staff. Bush then reached well down into the Army ranks to promote the pro-surge General David Petraeus as Casey’s successor in Iraq.
The surge opponents also included Lt. General Ricardo Sanchez, Casey’s predecessor as Iraq commander from June 2003 to June 2004. Sanchez called the surge a “desperate” move and said “The best we can do with this flawed approach is to stave off defeat.” He went on to say the United States was “living a nightmare with no end in sight.”
In November of 2005, Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), the current Chairman of the Defense Appropriations Committee, introduced a resolution calling for the redeployment of troops from Iraq as soon as practicable. Murtha had the behind the scenes support of General John Abizaid, the Commander of the United States Central Command, from 2003 until March of 2007. In December of 2006, Abizaid told Bush directly that “our forces need to get out of Iraq.” He said a surge would only increase Iraqi dependence on Americans.
David Brooks of “The New York Times” made the best observation of the President’s war leadership:“Bush is an outrageously self-confident man. Well, without that self-confidence he never would have overruled his generals. In fact, when it comes to Iraq, Bush was at his worst when he was humbly deferring to the generals and at his best when he was arrogantly overruling them.”
This is the Armed Forces Radio Network and I am Gregory Hilton in Washington, D.C.
Presidential Leadership: The Military Command Decisions of Abraham Lincoln and George W. Bush by Gregory Hilton – Part One, Abraham Lincoln
Presidential Leadership: The Military Command Decisions of Abraham Lincoln and George W. Bush by Gregory Hilton, (Part One, Abraham Lincoln). Armed Forces Radio Network. (This commentary was originally recorded in two 90 second segments. The complete transcript is below).
WASHINGTON, D.C. (AFRN) – President Barack Obama’s inspiring Inaugural ceremonies included many references to the legacy of Abraham Lincoln. The Inaugural theme “A new birth of freedom” came from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Obama began his campaign in Lincoln’s hometown, Springfield, Illinois.On Monday he visited the Lincoln Memorial, he took the oath on Lincoln’s Bible, his train ride and even the menu was similar to what was used for our 16th President.
This emphasis on Lincoln’s legacy is commendable, and Obama is close to matching Lincoln’s eloquence. Hopefully in the years to come he will also have the lonely resolve to match Lincoln’s leadership abilities. This will most involve critical decisions which will not be popular. In his address today the new President was off to an excellent start by warning of “our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age.” He even promised not to put off “unpleasant decisions.”
We do not know the future of the Obama Administration, but the new Commander-in-Chief is another war president who spoke today of defeating our enemies. U.S. forces in Afghanistan are in the process of being doubled, and the chant “Death to America” is still repeated on a daily basis by numerous terrorist organizations. Obama will have to meet military challenges and I hope he recognizes the strong parallels between the difficult command decisions of Abraham Lincoln and George W. Bush.
Both Lincoln and Bush had little military experience, they were confronted with significant domestic opposition to a war, and it took them years to find a commander who could implement a successful strategy. Both Presidents had to reluctantly learn military strategy. They read the current books and closely questioned the experts. They courageously had to overrule practically all of their advisers to implement plans which involved a major change in tactics. They made decisions which were not popular at the time, but were in hindsight were clearly in our nation’s best interest.
The Union Army was solidly opposed to Lincoln’s decision to remove the popular General George McClellan, who would become Lincoln’s opponent in 1864. Lincoln’s cabinet was against the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation which freed the slaves. Lincoln’s advisors emphasized the dangerous political consequences of an Emancipation Proclamation.
They felt the Civil War should focus on restoring the Union rather than abolishing slavery. Advocates of emancipation were set back in the 1862 election when Republicans lost 28 House seats. The cabinet vote was 7 to 1 against the Proclamation. The sole vote in favor came at the end of the discussion from Lincoln himself who opposed everyone and said “The ayes have it!” The Cabinet was also unanimously in favor of harsh post-War reconciliation policies for the South, and President Lincoln noted “You are all against me.”
Lincoln became a brilliant military strategist, but it took the President a long time to acquire that skill. Lincoln was in the forefront of advocating what became the modern military command structure. The Civil War’s final end game strategy was primarily the President’s plan, while battlefield tactics were left to General Grant.
Lincoln’s problem was that his initial commanders were reluctant to engage the enemy without having overwhelming force behind them. In the early years of the war the South made significant gains despite having far fewer troops and equipment. On the Antietam battlefield Lincoln told his commander, “General McClellan, if you don’t want to use the Army, I should like to borrow it for a while.”
Lincoln had to fire five Union commanders (Generals Irvin McDowell, George McClellan, Ambrose Burnside, Joseph Hooker and George Meade) before he found the winning formula in U.S. Grant. McDowell lost the first major engagement of the war at Bull Run. McClellan won at Antietam but did not strike a fatal blow against Robert E. Lee who he failed to pursue. Burnside was defeated at Fredericksburg, and Hooker was defeated by Lee’s army at Chancellorsville despite having a huge advantage in troops. Meade let Lee and the Confederate army escape after Gettysburg.
Over 620,000 soldiers were killed in the Civil War. President Lincoln would have lost his 1864 bid for re-election without the public jubilation which resulted from General William Sherman’s victory in Atlanta two months prior to the balloting. Many of these stories are best told in “Lincoln and his Generals” by T. Harry Williams (1952).
Guest Commentary by Gregory Hilton, Distributed by Matrix Media via WDHA 105.5 FM. (Editorial Note: This is part two of a two part 90 second commentary).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Bush presidency will be judged in large part by the outcome of the war in Iraq. Future historians are unlikely to be similar to the present partisan group. They will take a long term view and note that the Middle East truly began to change during the Bush era.
The conflict is far from over but the dominance al-Qaeda had on Iraq at the beginning of 2007 is clearly at an end. George Bush stood alone in advocating the surge strategy and it has been a clear success. The 22,000 troops which comprised it have already come home, and additional withdrawals will be occurring in the months ahead.
Two years ago war critics said our troops should leave Iraq immediately because the war was lost. Now they are telling us to leave Iraq because the war is won. Iraq’s future is not certain, but it clearly will not be the failed state the critics were predicting.
The best indicator is that the Iraqi GDP is now 30 percent higher than it was under Saddam Hussein. Foreign companies have already invested over $74 billion in new projects, and none of these investments involve oil.
Practically all businesses have now reopened, the refugees are returning in large numbers, and new construction projects can be seen everywhere. Street life is back to normal and the concrete blast walls have been removed. The suicide attacks have not ended, but the nation is safer than northern Mexico, and the homicide rate in Baghdad is less than Chicago.
The American drawdown is well underway and the Iraq army is standing up. U.S. forces will start leaving Iraqi towns and cities next June and they will complete their withdrawal by the end of 2011.
Iraq is clearly on the path to defending itself. The improved security situation can be seen in the graffiti on a bridge near Basra. A fleeing militiaman scrawled “We’ll be back;” and underneath an Iraqi soldier replied: “And we’ll be waiting for you.”
Other positive signs include oil production which is up by 400,000 barrels to 2.9 million barrels. Property values in Baghdad doubled in the past year. More and more women are driving cars. Christmas is now recognized as a holiday and Iraqi’s have the constitutional right to visit Israel, or any other nation.
Democracy is firmly taking root in Iraq, and the country will hold provincial elections in 14 of its 18 provinces on January 31. They first went to the polls in January of 2005, and national elections to determine the fate of Prime Minister Maliki will be held in December.
This transformation was possible because George Bush changed the world. Many of his predecessors were popular, but they did not respond to aggression with sufficient force, and their failure to use military power often emboldened our enemies.
If you do not believe me just ask Osama bin Laden. He spoke to TIME magazine about the October 3, 1993 botched raid in Somalia which resulted in the deaths of 18 U.S. soldiers. Four days later President Clinton pulled all American forces out of Somalia.
Bin Laden said this incident made him realize “more than before that the American soldier was a paper tiger and after a few blows ran in defeat.”
Other examples sited by bin Laden were the 1983 attack in Beirut, Lebanon when a 16 year old girl driving a bomb packed truck blew up the Marine barracks. The result was a total American withdrawal.
The terrorist also knew that the first Persian Gulf War ended after 100 hours, and Bill Clinton’s Kosovo bombing campaign resulted in no American casualties. The U.S. response was also muted after the African embassy bombings and the attack on the destroyer Cole.
There was nothing muted about the response of the Bush administration. The overwhelming enthusiasm for President Obama is encouraging, and this mandate will certainly help his foreign policy agenda. Our new Commander-in-Chief is leading the world’s only superpower, and perhaps he will be spared the scorn George Bush received at home and abroad.
Former Spanish Prime Minister José María Aznar does not believe it. After the Obama honeymoon the criticism will come, says Aznar, because military and economic power makes America, “the Rome of our times, a target of so much criticism. This comes with the territory, and President Obama and Americans will have to get use to it.”
Guest Commentary by Gregory Hilton, Distributed by Matrix Media via WDHA 105.5 FM. (Editorial Note: This is part one of a two part 90 second commentary).
Washington, D.C. — President George W. Bush heads home to Crawford, Texas on Tuesday as the second most unpopular chief executive in modern history. His approval ratings have been under 40% for two and half years, and his final CBS/New York Times score was a dismal 22%.
Last April “Harper’s” magazine had an article on the viewpoint of professional historians towards the Bush Administration. It was entitled “Worst. President. Ever.” The scorn for George Bush will continue for quite some time, and if you rate President’s by their current popularity, then he would be considered a failure.
I have no doubt history will be kind to President Bush. Warren Harding was a very popular president at the time of his death in 1923, and Harry Truman’s approval rating was below Bush’s when he left the White House in 1953. The verdict of history was reversed for both men, and the same thing will happen with Bush.
The reversal is already happening. President-elect Barack Obama is changing positions he took during the campaign and his new views are in alignment with the outgoing Commander-in-Chief. It is also apparent that the Bush Administration has a profound foreign policy legacy, and the war in Iraq is ending in a clear victory for the United States.
The short term political consequences of the Iraq War and the Bush Doctrine were disastrous for the Republican Party. In the years to come, however, the long term impact of President Bush’s foreign policy decisions will be enormously positive for our nation and the world.
Bush’s military deployments have already given 52 million people in Iraq and Afghanistan a chance for a better life, and positive change can already be seen throughout the Middle East. Primarily because of the outgoing President, Iraq has been transformed from a chief sponsor of terrorist organizations to a frontline foe of these groups. Libya’s nuclear weapons stockpile can now be seen in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Syria’s stranglehold on Lebanon has ended, and Kuwait has an elected Parliament, and women have the right to vote and hold office. The international community is more united than ever in confronting Iran.
The Bush Administration promoted human rights in the Middle East and throughout the world. Their smart sanctions against nations such as Belarus brought about the release of all political prisoners.
Another person recognizing the change is Walid Jumblatt, the leader of the Lebanese Druze Muslims, “It’s strange for me to say, but this process of change has started because of the American invasion of Iraq. I was cynical about Iraq. But when I saw the Iraqi people voting it was the start of a new Arab world.”
There were no attacks on American soil after 9/11 and in large part this is due to Bush’s Patriot Act and his creation of a Department of Homeland Security. His administration doubled foreign aid and quadrupled spending on malaria and HIV/AIDS prevention. The result is that over 10 million lives were saved, a record no other president can match.
I have been fortunate to encounter many wonderful people in my journey through life. Major General J. Milnor Roberts was always to kind to me, and his obituary is in today’s newspaper. He served on my Board of Directors for over two decades, and supported me when I really needed it.
I last saw him three years ago in the White House when President Bush signed the Defense Appropriations Bill. A painting of Theodore Roosevelt is in the Cabinet Room, and General Roberts told me of his memory of landing in Normandy with Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. on D-Day. Roberts was 26, Roosevelt was 61, and most of the soldiers were 19 and 20. Roosevelt insisted on being in the first boat to hit Omaha Beach despite the fact that he required a cane to walk. Roosevelt died a month later and is buried at Normandy.
Hopefully we will never forget the bravery of Milnor Roberts, Ted Roosevelt and the Greatest Generation who made so many sacrifices for our freedom.
Decorated WWII Veteran Was Chief of Army Reserve by Adam Bernstein, Washington Post
J. Milnor Roberts Jr., 90, an advertising executive promoted to the rank of major general in the Army Reserve who served as chief of Army Reserve from 1971 to 1975, died Jan. 2 at Virginia Hospital Center. He had a kidney infection and pneumonia.
Maj. Gen. Roberts was an Army combat veteran of World War II who participated in the Normandy invasion and the Battle of the Bulge. He served in five campaigns as an aide to Maj. Gen. Leonard T. Gerow. After the war, he became president of the Sykes advertising company in Pittsburgh while holding command positions in the Army Reserve. He settled in the Washington area after being named deputy chief of the Army Reserve in 1970. From 1975 to 1984, he was executive director of the Washington-based Reserve Officers Association.
Afterward, he was president and director of High Frontier, an advocacy group that promotes legislation for missile defense, and held leadership positions in other organizations supporting veterans and national defense. He and his second wife, Priscilla, hosted radio programs for Radio America and other outlets. In 2004 he led two tours to Omaha Beach in Normandy in which he recalled his wartime experiences.
James Milnor Roberts Jr. was a Pittsburgh native and a 1940 graduate of Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. He was a direct descendant of George Gibson, one of George Washington’s commanders at Valley Forge. His decorations included the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, two awards of the Bronze Star Medal, the Navy Distinguished Public Service Award, the Air Force Exceptional Civilian Service Medal and the Coast Guard Distinguished Public Service Medal.
In 1975, Maj. Gen. Roberts was inducted into the Reserve Officers Association’s Minuteman Hall of Fame — the organization’s highest honor. His first wife of 48 years, Virginia Sykes Roberts, died in 1995. Survivors include his wife of 13 years, Priscilla Bruce Roberts of Arlington County; four children from his first marriage, James M. Roberts III of Burke, Mary Lee Newman of Colorado Springs, Colo., Deborah L. Gillespie of Woodlands, Texas, and Todd Roberts of Benton, Pa.; and eight grandchildren.
Places are still available in the Charles G. Koch Foundation year long internship program, which starts in June. Additional information is available at http://www.cgkfoundation.org/associate-program
The program offers “recent graduates, promising leaders and entrepreneurs the opportunity to work on significant assignments within non-profit organizations while learning and applying Market-Based Management.” The Koch Associate Program is a very selective and competitively paid. During the year-long program, each Associate works in a full-time position with a market oriented think-tank or policy organization, while also receiving valuable management training in a seminar setting one day out of each week at the Foundation.”
Commentary By Gregory Hilton
Many articles have questioned the scientific data used to promote the global warming theory. Respected experts are on both sides of this debate, but it is still surprising to see such a strong anti-global warming article on the premier liberal website Huffington Post (below). Also surprising are the significant number of Huffington Post readers who agreed with the author. It will be very difficult for the Obama Administration to deal with a global economic crisis as well as an expensive program to combat global warming. My guess is that global warming proposals will be pushed to the back burner.
One reason for this is because global sea ice levels are now the same as in 1979. Earlier this year, predictions were rife that the North Pole could melt entirely in 2008. Instead, the Arctic ice saw a substantial recovery. In May, concerns over disappearing sea ice led the U.S. to officially list the polar bear a threatened species, over objections from experts who claimed the animal’s numbers were increasing. The bears have been increasing in population during the past few years and are now at optimum levels. Polar bear numbers are much higher than they were 30 years ago.
Of the 19 different bear populations, almost all are increasing or at optimum levels, only two have for local reasons modestly declined. World governments are being asked to spend trillions of dollars to combat global warming when there is still serious scientific debate about its causes. We are told that we must do this for the safety of the planet. Well what exactly is “safe”? There were over 34,000 automobile fatalities in the U.S. last year. It would be much safer if we got rid of all automobiles. This saving of 34,000 lives a year in America alone would be significant. Many people say that if we only save one life the effort is worth it. Do we really want to go back to walk or riding horses? It is also true that horses killed more people than cars.
“Safe” is a red herring. Safe is not disrupting the economies of the industrialized world to solve a problem that may not exist. Sea levels were hundreds of feet above where they are now millions of years before humans existed. Why do we insist that they must not rise above where they are now?