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Posts Tagged ‘Heritage’
May 22nd, 2013 at 11:17 am
Benghazi, in Short Form and in Long

The Heritage Foundation has a strong 2-minute video about the Benghazi affair, well worth watching. And I have a 2,000-word piece that explains, in detail, why it really is a scandal, and why the media is, as usual, focusing on the wrong things. An excerpt:

In both Fast and Furious and in Benghazi, the result of the administration’s incompetence (or worse) was that people died. (Lots of people.) When an administration tries to cover up the real reasons people died, that alone usually makes it a scandal by the usual Washington Post/establishment media standards. When the administration threatens or punishes those who try to correct the record, it’s more than a scandal; it’s almost always criminal.

What the Post calls conservatives “obsess[ing]” over Benghazi is actually, by all prior standards, an eminently reasonable insistence that corruption be outed and reversed. The State Department’s mendacious, 12-step emasculation of the Benghazi talking points, for political purposes related to maintaining an already ongoing lie about an Internet video, is just one part of a long series of Libya-related actions that together amount to a serious corruption of our political system.

If there was nothing to hide, why was Mr. Hicks so maltreated?

May 2nd, 2013 at 8:06 pm
Obama’s Regulatory Legacy To Date: 131 New Major Regs Totaling $70B

With the first half of President Barack Obama’s regulatory legacy behind us, the folks at Heritage tallied up the cost thus far – 131 new major regulations totaling $70 billion.

Major regulations are those imposing a cost on the economy of at least $100 million or more each year.

In 2012, the two biggest profit-killers were (1) a joint EPA-Dept. of Transportation rule to boost fuel-economy standards that will result in an average new price increase of $1,800.00, and (2) an EPA Utility MACT regulation designed to shut down coal plants by making it cost prohibitive to meet new emissions standards.

On deck are the literally hundreds of regulations spawned by ObamaCare and the Dodd-Frank financial reform law. Since those are still working their way through the bureaucracy, it’s too early to estimate what their financial impact will be. One this is certain, though; they won’t be cheap.

Get a copy of the entire report, Red Tape Rising, here.

February 7th, 2013 at 12:21 pm
Rand Paul’s Really Ignorant Paragraph

There is much to commend, and there are some things to question, about Rand Paul’s big foreign policy speech yesterday at Heritage Foundation. The overall idea of using George Kennan-like “containment” for Iran or for jihadist Islam in general is, well, problematic , although there are plenty of elements of his speech that are at least somewhat sensible. It is a good thing to have discussion of such issues, and there is much value in having people make a thoughtful case against over-eagerness for military intervention. Those of us who tend a little more towards interventionism (”tend” being the key word, rather than “strongly favor”) do need to be challenged about the dangers of using military force.

Nonetheless, a fuller discussion of Paul’s speech would require more space and time than is available for me this morning. One paragraph, however, was so tendentious, so … well, civility requires that I withhold the most accurate words… anyway, so wrong as to demand response.

Here’s the passage at issue:

In the 1980s, the war caucus in Congress armed bin Laden and the mujaheddin in their fight with the Soviet Union. In fact, it was the official position of the State Department to support radical jihad against the Soviets. We all know how well that worked out.

Let’s leave aside for now the insulting, utterly asinine, sickening, inexcusable use of the phrase “war caucus” to describe those (including Reagan!) who supported the mujaheddin against the Soviets. That word choice alone is almost entirely disqualifying for its purveyor to ever be president.

Instead, let’s just look at a little history here — because the ignorance evident in this paragraph is truly astonishing. One would be hard pressed to find even a single historian, whether right, left, or center, who would argue anything other than that the Soviet failure in Afghanistan was not just a huge factor, but probably an essential one, in the Soviets’ ultimate loss of the Cold War. The mujaheddin did much to help bleed the Soviets dry, at a comparatively negligible cost to the United States (for smuggled military hardware and some intelligence). “We all know how well that worked out,” said Sen. Paul, dismissively, of the work of our “war caucus” to support the mujaheddin. Yes, we do: It played a key role in helping us win the Cold War. Anybody who doesn’t understand that is either foolish or invincibly ignorant.

Second, it is a myth that the United States “armed bin Laden.” False, false, false. It is also a falsehood to say that bin Laden was a major player within the mujeheddin or in the anti-Soviet war effort at all. Finally, it is false even to say that the Afghani effort against the Soviets was primarily, or even largely, about “jihad.” It was a defensive effort against armed invaders, not an offensive effort by “radicals” in the name of Allah. Sure, there were religious aspects to the motivations of the mujaheddin, who of course considered the Soviets to be “infidels,” but to say that the primary goal was to expand the reach of the Prophet is so absurd as to be laughable. The Afghani defense against the Soviets was, in truth, as close to being a nationalist, patriotic war as the diverse tribes of Afghanistan are ever likely to be involved in.

So every element of Sen. Paul’s paragraph was wrong: 1) Reagan was not the head of a “war caucus.” 2) The U.S. did not arm bin Laden.  3) The U.S. support had nothing to do with “radical jihad.” 4) The Afghani/mujaheddin effort as a whole was only tangentially jihadist. And 5) The war in Afghanistan that kicked out the Soviets worked out not badly, but very, very well for the United States, for the Western world, and for the hundreds of millions of people freed from behind the Iron Curtain and for millions elsewhere whose “non-aligned states” were freed from fear of the Soviets and thus could move more towards free markets and towards Western prosperity.

Finally, as a post-script, most knowledgeable people would argue that it was only after the Soviets left that the radical jihadists like the Taliban and bin Laden really gained ascendance within Afghanistan — and it was not because the United States helped arm the mujaheddin, but because we left so soon afterwards without providing reconstruction aid. While nobody would suggest that the U.S. should have done anything approaching “nation building,” it is certainly arguable — and the movie Charlie Wilson’s War, as well as congressmen I know personally, indeed did and do argue this — that humanitarian aid, of not-terribly-expensive sorts, might have gone a long way towards bolstering the society in Afghanistan, and towards bolstering more responsible elements therein, in such a way that the Taliban might not have been able to find anywhere near as much opportunity to operate.

The lesson then would be not that Paul-like isolation is the best idea, but rather that just a little involvement might have then, and often does, helped ward off future disaster.

Rand Paul makes a lot of sense on many domestic issues. But by virtue of this one paragraph alone, his big “coming out” exam on foreign policy earned an unambiguous grade of ‘F.’

November 21st, 2012 at 4:47 pm
Thankful for Armed Services

At a conference in Colorado earlier this week on defense and foreign-policy issues — a conference sponsored by the Heritage Foundation and the El Pomar Foundation — there was plenty of food for thought on a host of topics. But as we move into Thanksgiving, I’ll focus here on how we should give thanks — and more than thanks, give the right sort of assistance — to those, less than 1 percent of the population, who wear this nation’s colors while bearing arms to protect us.

One of the most galvanizing speakers at the conference was Col. David W. Sutherland (Ret.), former special assistant to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and now a full-time advocate for service personnel and veterans.

“We’re not victims,” he said. “We’re veterans. We don’t need pity; we need opportunity.” Veterans, he said, need “recognition and ‘connection’.”  They need education, employment, and access to health care. The approximately 50 percent of veterans who emerge unscathed from their service make better workers, have more education already, earn more money, and overall just make better citizens. But some 50 percent of veterans suffer from wounds physical or mental; they too can, and usually do, make more productive workers and citizens, but they need outreach from the community to help get them re-engaged with civilian life.

An average of 350,000 active-duty service members transition out of the military every year — but next year, some 1 million will do so. The Veterans Administration does a good job providing services to vets once the vets are in the VA system — but, alas, the average time for processing initial claims is an astonishing three years. Those just happen to be the three most important years during which a veteran either does or doesn’t re-engage productively. Obviously, in addition to improving the VA’s screening process to make it more helpful, more efficient, and in some cases less outright antagonistic, the VA should also do a much better job at helping veterans connect with the tens of thousands of non-profits and other agencies that provide all sorts of assistance, opportunities, etcetera.

Meanwhile, the rest of us can reach out to veterans by helping them navigate their return to civilian life. Business owners and human resources professionals, in particular, should recognize that  the training veterans receive and the character they build mean they often have far higher “upsides” as employees than the ordinary job applicant might offer — even if, on the front end, for those 50 percent who are somehow wounded by their experiences, it might take a little extra effort to integrate them into private-sector systems.

All of this is by way of poor summary of the gist of the powerful message, based on a galvanizing presentation, from Col. Sutherland. I’m actually not doing justice to the tenor of his message, which was far more upbeat than I can capture — far more focused on how veterans make superb assets to almost any organization or community.

So let’s be thankful for their service — and let’s show our gratitude by reaching out in every way we can to bring those veterans back more fully into our workplaces, our communities, our lives.

Happy Thanksgiving.