Tuesday, December 29, 2015

R's Born to Lose, Even To A Loser?

As long as our president is elected by the Electoral College and not the raw vote, odds continue to favor Demwits.  To offset this built in advantage, Gerrymandering has helped Republicans win and control Congress.  If this dichotomy continues ,we are likely to have divided government and the ship of state will continue to take on water, list and eventually sink as we elect more Obama types.

Hillarious benefits from this structural fact and thus, Republicans must nominate a candidate who can gain favor among the Latino population because the more Conservative Caucasian vote is declining and is not always dependable when it comes to going to the polls.

Trump may be the Party's Nominee but he is unlikely to win the necessary core number needed among Hispanics so Hillarious appears favored unless she is indicted, as she deserves to be.

Cruz is Cuban but Hispanics seem unenthused about him because he too is hard nosed on the immigration issue and, like Trump, has appeal among the very conservative of his party but turns off the Rockefeller Establishment types. So I suspect  Hillarious has the edge over Cruz, unless she is indicted etc..

There is no reason under the sun why Hillarious should win but the electoral odds favor her notwithstanding the fact that she is an unmitigated liar, is distrusted, is not likable and has no legitimate record of achievements.

Add to this, Obama's declining popularity, is no longer trusted and you would think, since Hillarious was his Sec. of State and implemented Obama's foreign policies which have proven disastrous and remains married to a man of questionable character who besmirched the Oval Office , this would preclude her from becoming president.

Then why do most pundits still believe Hillarious wins since most Demwit policies have proven miserable and costly failures? Part of the reason is the Electoral College favors large states whose citizens depend upon government benefits and other destructive welfare  policies which have supplanted opportunity and personal dignity.

The second reason is that liberals are emotional and are turned on by social issues which have come to be the tail wagging the dog.

A third reason is liberals feel good about themselves for embracing political correctness and cannot conceive aligning themselves with "heartless" conservatives who favor birth, bibles, guns , Pledge of Allegiance and freedom etc..

The conservative message, which embodies respect for the Constitution, adherence to laws, patriotism, sacrifice and respect for one's fellow "man," should sell. However, conservatives , like Israelis, lost the propaganda battle, for different reasons, eons ago. Until R's repackage their message and sell it in a more effective and technologically savvy way they will continue fighting an uphill battle.

This is why Republicans find it difficult nominating a president who appeals to their core conservative values and principles but feel compelled to go with bland half loafs, aka Dewey, Ford, Rockefeller, Dole, McCain and Romney. Not one of these candidates knew how to fight a politically astute battle because, though they all had some core principles, they proved they were always ready to compromise them away. What is there left to sell when you are not willing to die for it, so to speak?

Watching Republicans struggle over selecting a candidate from among a host of generally competent candidates to run against a thoroughly disreputable loser named Hillarious, is indeed sad but  history has proven  Republicans are better at losing than winning.

Once again R's seem to be proceeding in a fashion that should not reverse this trend. Are they just born to lose, even to a loser? (See 1 and 1a below)
Are House Republicans Finally Growing a Backbone?
It seems that way. In a stunning move, the House plans to vote on a bill that would defund Obamacare. Via Townhall:
Before the holidays, the Senate passed a reconciliation bill that guts key portions of Obamacare and defunds Planned Parenthood for a year. The use of the legislative tactic was discussed during the 2015 GOP Retreat in Hershey, PA last January. The Republican leadership finally got their act together and began drafting a bill by the fall of 2015; Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) promising the Senate would take up the measure as soon as it passes the House. This piece of budget reconciliation legislation, which only requires a simple majority to pass, easily cruised through the House (240-189), and went onto the Senate, where they did pass it by a 52-47 vote. The Senate version was different, so now it goes back to House, where this business is set to be settled as soon as members of Congress return from their holiday break (via The Hill):
This is great news. Due in part to President Obama's myriad foreign policy failures, the disaster that is Obamacare has managed to stay out of the news. This is bad for Republicans, who need to a domestic policy angle to bash Hillary Clinton with. By forcing Obama, and perhaps Hillary, to defend his signature legislation right before the State of the Union, they'll remind the American public just how bad healthcare has deteriorated.

The key here is formulating a plan. Republicans need a well drawn healthcare plan to take to the American people to suggest that they're not just bomb throwers. If they can convince the American public that their health care is in good, safe hands with the GOP, it should be smooth sailing to the White House. 

1a  The Way We Were in 2015 - THE WEEK magazine,

How are we feeling?
Pretty dismal. 69% of Americans think the nation is on the wrong track, the most pessimistic we’ve been in four years, and 72% believe the country isn’t as great as it once was (Bloomberg Politics). 59% believe the economy is doing poorly (CNN/ORC), with 47% saying their family is scraping by, making only enough to pay bills and obligations. 19% say they can’t afford some basic expenses (NBC News). 61% believe the American Dream is broken and that only the wealthiest can now get ahead (The New York Times/CBS News), and 56% believe most children in the U.S. will grow up to be worse off than their parents (NBC News). But despite our troubles, we’re still proud of our country. 40% think the U.S. is the greatest nation on earth, while another 34% say it’s “among” the best.
Whom do we blame for our problems?
Washington politicians, mostly. 54% don’t like President Obama’s handling of the economy, and 59% think he’s dealt poorly with foreign policy. We’re also not that keen on government’s other branches: A record 50% disapprove of the Supreme Court’s recent actions, and 86% have an unfavorable opinion of Congress (Gallup). Indeed, 55% think “ordinary Americans” could do a better job of dealing with the nation’s woes than our current elected officials (Pew Research Center). 50% of Pennsylvanians would rather be represented by the groundhog Punxsutawney Phil than by their current members of Congress (Public Policy Polling).
How has society changed?
In some ways, we’re more accepting. A record 61% now support same-sex marriage (Washington Post/ABC News), 61% say it’s morally acceptable to have a baby out of wedlock, and 58% think marijuana use should be legal (Gallup). But religious intolerance is rising: 57%don’t like the idea of a Muslim becoming president (HuffPost/YouGov), and 56% believe Islam isn’t compatible with traditional American values—up from 47% in 2011 (Public Religion Research Institute). Our growing reliance on technology troubles many Americans. 73%believe our smartphones and other gadgets are making us lazy, 59% say they have a negative effect on literacy, and 69% think those devices are ruining interpersonal communication (Harris Poll). They could be right: 36% say they “constantly” check their smartphone, and 35%admit their phone is the first thing on their mind when they wake up (Braun Research).
What do we do for fun?
Kick back and watch a football game. 50% of Americans follow the NFL, more than keep up with any other pro sport (Mintel). For a lot of fans, watching sports is a religious experience.26% believe God plays a role in deciding which team will win a game, and 53% say the Almighty rewards athletes who have faith with good health and success (Public Religion Research Institute). Despite our love of sports on TV, 28% of Americans say they didn’t engage in any exercise or physical activity over the past year—the highest percentage since 2007 (Physical Activity Council).
What are we afraid of?
A lot. 83% of voters fear there’ll be a large-scale terrorist attack in the U.S. in the near future (Washington Post/ABC News), and 60% think it’s likely that terrorists are living in their hometown (Fox News). 63% are worried that they or an acquaintance could be a victim of gun violence (McClatchy/Marist), and 40% personally know someone who was fatally shot or committed suicide with a firearm (HuffPost/YouGov). 45% fear that the federal government could use a military exercise to covertly seize control of some states (Rasmussen), and 44%think machines with artificial intelligence could wipe out the human race (Monmouth University Poll). Sadly, many Americans can’t even shake off their worries and relax at the beach—38% are afraid a shark will eat them when they take a dip in the ocean (Ipsos).

Monday, December 28, 2015

Sexism Can Backfire on Hillarious! Jonathan Sacks - Thoughtful Writer! Tactical Victory But Not Strategic! ISIS Fears IDF!

Hillary has made a grievous mistake by playing the female card.

Now that she has accused Trump of sexism she has given him another distraction he can rant about but more importantly it calls into question her own conduct.

Did she know of Bill's peccadilloes and, if so, why did she tolerate them?  Doe this speak to her values?  Does this speak to her judgement?  Does  this suggest she is dependent and weak and afraid to lose the security of a marriage where her husband was unfaithful but president. Did she prefer living in The White House with an unfaithful husband who happened to be  president to being rid of this oafish Lothario?.

We know Lady Bird was confronted with these same issues as was Jacqueline.

Is the issue of Bill's infidelity a matter of his character?  How can Hillary live with a man who is the personification of sexism and make the charge she has? Why was Hillary unable to "satisfy" her spouse? Is Hillary more interested in women sexually than men?

Most important of all will the press and media ask any of the above and explore Hillarious' femininity or whether, as First Lady and potential President, she is a role model for young women?

When you open a can of worms, thinking it allows you to shut down your opponent,  you may open a bigger issue than you contemplated and  which can backfire.  I daresay Trump will find a way to explore the issue because he has the natural instincts of a Gila Monster - which devour wounded animals weakened by its poisonous bite.

The 2015 run for The White House is only getting started and will get nastier and uglier as the days pass because what we are about to witness is a "soap opera" campaign which will speak to and reveal the basest instincts of our society and particularly two candidates whose personalities are ill suited to occupy the office they seek.

Relevant issues be damned on with the salacious and vulgar.

This from a friend who visited us in Thanksgiving and is a lawyer: "Dick,

First, I want to wish you and family a happy and healthy 2016.

Second, there is no way anyone is going to indict Hilarious. She should be indicted. She should have been indicted for obstruction of justice back in the 1990's when she concealed Whitewater docs that later showed up on a lamp table in the W.H. Using a private email server while Secretary of State was inexcusable. But no one will indict her because that is a political hot potato no one is willing to undertake. That is reality.

Third, she has no ethical mooring. She will ultimately mire herself in some sort of legal morass. An impeachable one. But I am afraid she will do that as President. The political scene is to me depressing. I really hope that you have a more positive outlook. C----"

My Response: "Thanks for your well wishes and Lynn joins me in wishing you and yours the same and more.

As for Hilarious, I believe the FBI agents will be objective and the head of the FBI is not one to be messed with either.  That said, I know I am in the minority.

Yes, when the documents appeared on the table she should have been indicted and even before.  Maybe I am too much a believer in right and wrong.  Time will tell.  If she becomes president I doubt The Republicans would take her down so we would have to endure whatever.

This nation is in a ditch and what will right the ship is anyone's guess.  Frankly, I believe our axle is beyond repair or our keel is .

Hope the New Year is one of good health. Me"
A dear friend and fellow memo reader visited over the Holiday with his lovely wife and three charming daughters and he brought me Rabbi Jonathan Sacks': "The Dignity of Difference."

We drove out to Tybee today and sat and read on the beach. I began this insightful book which Sacks; wrote it in 2002.   I have only read  The Prologue and two chapters but he is very prescient.  I had the distinct pleasure of hearing him speak in D.C several years ago via a TV link from London, his home.

Sacks begins  Chapter 2 entitled "Globalization and Its Discontents," citing two equally possible scenarios.  He espouses the theme that globalization is not new and can be destabilizing. Furthermore, capitalism's 'perennial gale' of creative destruction causes changes that also threatens. Often those who feel threatened may turn to religion as a source of stability.

In  Chapter 3,  "Exorcising Plato's Ghost," Sacks explores the thesis, that religion links man to God and thus, religion can only solve problems of a religious nature.  The politicization of religion has become a growing threat.  The resurgence of tribalism is also a fragmenting threat but so is universal-ism.  Man must learn to accommodate differences and until he does, and is not threatened by them, confrontation is unavoidable.

Though I have about 150 more pages I have this initial thought.  Yes, there is dignity in differences. However, when differences are so stark they can be threatening and when they involve cultures totally incompatible no amount of accommodation works because to do so challenges one's principles beyond what is acceptable..
Netanyahu to Europeans - tell your terrorist friends in Lebanon don't mess with Israel. (See 1 below.)
America out of the pan into the fire? (See 2 below.)
What to watch for. (See 3 below.)
The retaking, by Iraqi forces, of a major city is a "tactical" victory and should not be dismissed.  However, it is "tactical" not "strategic."  From a "strategy" standpoint, Obama continues not to have one. (See 4 below.)

ISIS fears Israel's IDF! (See 4a below.)
Obama remains delusional and continues to play the illusionist role. (See 5 below.)
Off to Orlando!
1) Europeans Caution Lebanon: Israel ‘Very Serious’ About Responding to Hezbollah Attack
By David Daoud

European diplomats have warned Lebanese authorities that Israel will react harshly to any attack by Hezbollah to avenge the death of arch-terrorist Samir Kuntar who was assassinated last week, Lebanon’s Naharnet reported, citing Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Qabas. 

According to the report, the diplomats categorized Israel’s threat to respond to any such action as “very serious.”

The Europeans stressed to their Lebanese counterparts that it mattered little to Israel whether a Hezbollah attack targeted Israeli positions in the Golan Heights, the Shebaa Farms (Har Dov) or any other location. Israel would retaliate anyway, they stressed.

They emphasized that Israel’s state of general military mobilization is currently much more sensitive than it was prior to the Second Lebanon War in 2006, and that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government appears more willing to wage a major war in Lebanon in the face of a provocation by Hezbollah.

Since the assassination of Samir Kuntar last week in the Damascus suburb of Jaramana, widely attributed to Israel, Hezbollah’s Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah has issued repeated threats against the Jewish state, promising retaliation.
2) America has jumped from the Middle East frying pan into the fire
By Ted Belman

In the wake of 9/11, the Bush administration struggled to define the enemy and to decide how to defeat it.
Even though 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis and Saudis were involved in the planning and financing of the attack, President Bush allowed the Saudis to fly out of the country in the following 24 hours when all other air traffic had been shut down.

No doubt that Bush had decided to maintain good relations with the Arabs, and Saudi Arabia particularly, just as the US had done for half a century. This policy led Bush to say on Sept 17, 2011 to the Islamic world, “The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam.  That’s not what Islam is all about.  Islam is peace.  These terrorists don’t represent peace.  They represent evil and war,” in a speech as sycophantic as any President Obama has ever delivered.

On a different policy tack, Bush said on the evening of 9/11, “We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.

On Sept 20/11 Bush spoke to the Joint Houses Congress emphasizing both tacks:

“The enemy of America is not our many Muslim friends. It is not our many Arab friends. Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists and every government that supports them.
“…any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.”

And so began the bifurcation of Islam into the peaceful Muslims on the one hand and the radicals who hijacked the religion on the other.

Gareth Porter, national security policy analyst, wrote in 2008:

“Three weeks after the September 11, 2001, terror attacks, former US defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld established an official military objective of not only removing the Saddam Hussein regime by force but overturning the regime in Iran, as well as in Syria and four other countries in the Middle East, according to a document quoted extensively in then-under secretary of defense for policy Douglas Feith’s recently published account of the Iraq war decisions.

“Feith’s account further indicates that this aggressive aim of remaking the map of the Middle East by military force and the threat of force was supported explicitly by the country’s top military leaders.
“Feith’s book, War and Decision, released last month, provides excerpts of the paper Rumsfeld sent to President George W Bush on September 30, 2001, calling for the administration to focus not on taking down Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda network but on the aim of establishing “new regimes” in a series of states by “aiding local peoples to rid themselves of terrorists and to free themselves of regimes that support terrorism”. [emphasis added] (snip)

“Rumsfeld and deputy secretary of defense Paul Wolfowitz wanted to take down included Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan and Somalia.”

“Bush had not approved the explicit aim of regime change in Iran, Syria and four other countries proposed by Rumsfeld.”

The Iraq war was not going well by 2006 so Bush appointed the prestigious Iraq Study Group (ISG) headed by James Baker to assess the situation. The ISG Report released in 2007 concluded that assessing stability was “elusive” and the situation was “deteriorating,” recommended, inter alia, “that all of Iraq’s neighbors (including Iran and Syria) must be included in an external diplomatic effort to stabilize” Iraq.  Bush decided not to follow the recommendations and instead, to back the surge as advocated by General Patraeus and Sen John McCain. It met with considerable success.

The ISG went outside its mandate to pontificate, without analysis or explanation, that the Arab/Israeli conflict is “inextricably linked” to the situation in Iraq and that:

“…there must be a renewed and sustained commitment by the United States to a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace on all fronts: Lebanon, Syria, and President Bush’s June 2002 commitment to a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine. This commitment must include direct talks with, by, and between Israel, Lebanon, Palestinians (those who accept Israel’s right to exist), and Syria.”

It offered no suggestion of how any of the final status issues would be resolved or why there should be any expectation that the Palestinians can or will give up their irredentist views on borders, settlements, refugees and Jerusalem.
n January 2009, President Obama was inaugurated. One of his first calls to foreign leaders was to President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, to whom he vowed to engage immediately in pursuit of a permanent Arab-Israeli settlement.

Thus Obama was following the recommendations of the ISG, which Bush declined to embrace. He argued as Baker did that the Arab-Israeli conflict was inextricably linked to the Middle East and proceeded to not only force negotiations on Israel but to put his weight behind the ’67 lines as the future border subject to swaps and the division of Jerusalem. He also disavowed the Bush letter of ‘04 to PM Sharon, in which Bush recognized that the settlement blocs would remain with Israel and that the conflict would be settled according to UN Security Council Resolution 242. He went so far as to force Israel to freeze construction east of the ‘67 lines, including in Jerusalem which Israel had annexed three decades earlier. All previous administrations had allowed for normal growth in settlements within their approved borders.

By December 2011 Obama fulfilled another campaign promise to withdraw the remaining US troops from Iraq. The vacuum created undid the achievements of the surge and allowed for the rise and dominance of ISIS.
Obama also turned to Rumsfeld’s plan of regime change, which Bush declined to endorse.  What Rumsfeld had in mind was to support the opposition in each country and help them depose the dictators. What Obama decided to do was to replace the dictators who were secular with the Muslim Brotherhood or other Islamists.

Remember that Rumsfeld proposed his plan before the victory in Iraq turned sour. What was learned was that there is no unified opposition and no desire for democracy. Obama ignored this lesson and believed that the Muslim Brotherhood could impose itself on all the opposition thereby creating stability.

In December 2003, Libya renounced its possession of weapons of mass destruction, decommissioning its chemical and nuclear weapons programs.  It also paid reparations for the downing of the Pan American plane over Lockerbie. Gaddafi also abandoned terrorism. As a result relations with the U.S. and the EU improved considerably. He managed to rule his country well and provide for his people.

Nevertheless Obama, together with Britain, France and Qatar, decided he had to be deposed. A trumped up charge of an impending massacre was sufficient to justify military action  to remove his regime and ultimately bringing about his death. Libya has not returned to stability, as the various tribes keep fighting for turf.  Yehudit Ronen in Middle East Quarterly reports:

“Nor has the violent chaos stopped at Libya’s borders. With groups tied to the global jihadist community stepping into the fray in strength, political-religious militancy and a sea of sophisticated weaponry has spilled over to Libya’s African and Arab neighbors, with dramatic implications for Europe as well. Anti-Western terrorist organizations affiliated with the global jihadist community have been the chief beneficiaries of the turmoil, destabilizing bordering areas and, in turn, injecting strong doses of belligerence and terror back into Libya.”

Obama delivered a major speech to the Muslim world in Cairo in June 4/09, dubbed “A New Beginning, in which he favored the Muslim Brotherhood, which was a banned party in Egypt, over President Mubarak. A few months later he pressured Mubarak to step down and forced early elections, which favored the Muslim Brotherhood.
Mohammed Morsi, representing the Muslim Brotherhood, was elected president in June 30/12. He lasted a year in office until the military, headed by Gen El Sisi, the man he put in charge, took over and arrested him and once again banned the party. This did not go down well with Obama, who was counting on the Muslim Brotherhood to rule the country. Obama is working to reinstate them somehow and is not supporting El Sisi, just as he didn’t support Mubarak. El Sisi then turned to Russia and Israel, further distancing America.

The third secular dictator that Obama decided to depose was Bashar al-Assad of Syria. At first the Obama administration tried to broker a peace deal between him and Israel. This effort was short-lived.

After the civil war in Syria started, Obama called for his ouster and promoted the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamist, Erdogan, to lead the opposition. That did not go well. Erdogan, Obama’s “best friend,” started with a grandiose buildup and goals but has met one defeat after another. He is now excluded from any role in Syria or Iraq and has made Russia into an enemy. Obama is no longer at his side. And we stopped hearing from the Muslim Brotherhood.

Russia is now in charge and running the show in Syria. Obama has become a bit player. He is still mouthing platitudes in support of a peace process and a unified Syria.  There is no way that Iran or Russia will agree to elections because the Alawites, who are the backbone of the Syrian regime, are only about 20% of the population. But they would agree to severing Alawite Syria from the rest. Russia wants to retain her naval base on the Mediterranean and her airfield nearby.  Iran wants to keep Alawite Syria as an ally because the Alawites are Shiites and because it gives them a land connection to Hezb’allah who are also Shiites.

It remains to be seen what Russia and the US and the Sunnis will do with ISIS and whether Iraq is also broken up into three parts; one for the Kurds who already enjoy autonomy, one for the Shiites who represent 60% of the population and one for the Sunnis. Thus Sunni Iraq and Sunni Syria can get together if the parties agree.
Russia and Israel have cut a deal respecting each other’s sphere of influence in Syria.

Obama got the P5+1 to arrive at the Iran Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.  He then went all in to get Congress to accept the deal. By most accounts, the deal was a horrible one even if honored by Iran. She will get the bomb in 13 years maximum. You will recall that the ISG recommended working with Iran to help solve the Iraq problem. That is exactly what Obama is doing.

In summary, then, Obama has been following the worst aspects of the recommendations of Rumsfeld and Baker though rejected by Bush. Bush wanted to retain an American military presence in Iraq. Obama withdrew completely. He also followed Bush’s lead in calling Islam a religion of peace and went one step further by refusing to identify the terrorists as Islamic. Bush contented himself with saying that the true Islam has been hijacked by the Islamists. Bush worked with the Saudis whereas Obama has thrown them under the bus and is engaging with Iran instead.

Bush promised to get rid of all terrorists and regimes that harbor them. Obama decided to take down Gadhafi, Mubarak and Assad to stop dictator-supported terrorism. But rather than support the opposition to replace them as Rumsfeld had proposed, he backed the Muslim Brotherhood, identified by Britain and others as an Islamic terrorist group. He ended up with chaos in Libya, the Egyptian army in control of Egypt, Russia now in charge of Assad, all of whom are threatened by ISIS and other Islamist groups who are fostering much more terrorism that the dictators ever did. He has put Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the Sinai in the crosshairs of both Iran and ISIS. The Dictators didn’t plan to conquer the West. The Islamists do.
So far everything the Bush and Obama administrations have done has made it worse for the West.

The US has not figured out who the enemy is nor how to deal with the threats.
Out of the frying pan, into the fire.
AUSA's Five Things: A Weekly Tip Sheet for AUSA Members
1 The Need for Speed
Joint exercises and prepositioning of heavy equipment in Europe are both part of a strategy to show nervous allies and potential adversaries that the U.S. Army can race to any conflict, said Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, commanding general of U.S. Army Europe. Speed is needed in troop movements and in recognizing the need to act, he said.

What to watch: U.S. strategy is based on the belief that showing preparedness could stop a crisis. “We don’t want Russians to miscalculate that we are not capable or willing to respond,” Hodges said, addressing tension related to Russian aggression in Ukraine.
2 Job Conversion
Approximately 32,000 military personnel—including 14,700 in the Army—were replaced by civilians from 2004 to 2010, according to a report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The Army averaged 1.1 military positions for every civilian, the lowest ratio of all of the services. The Marine Corps had the highest, with 2.6 Marines replaced for each civilian.
What to watch: The report talks about the possibility of replacing 80,000 additional service members, including 14,000 soldiers, with civilians. A basically one-for-one exchange like the Army has experienced would produce $3.1 billion in savings over five years. It is unclear if that is enough to attract support.
3 All Together Now
The Army continues to rapidly recruit and train soldiers to be part of its cyber force and is seeking junior enlisted soldiers willing to switch military occupational specialties. The force will be involved in cybersecurity but also have offensive capabilities.
What to watch: By October 2017, the Army is expected to have 41 fully operational Cyber Protection Teams, with every component involved. Plans call for 20 active, 11 Army National Guard and 10 Army Reserve units of highly trained soldiers.
4 National Security Trumps Jobs

In the last nine months, national security and terrorism have replaced job creation and economic growth as the top concern of Americans, according to a Hart Research Associates poll conducted for NBC News and the Wall Street Journal. Government spending and the deficit ranked third in both April and December surveys. In the December survey, the terror attacks in Paris and London ranked as the top defining news events of the year.

What to watch: National security concerns often translate into increased defense spending, but it is unclear whether this will happen in 2016. A bipartisan budget agreement reached in October caps the fiscal year 2016 defense budget at $548 billion and the FY 2017 budget at $551 billion—not exactly amounts that show deep national security worries.
5 Recalling World War II Innovation

The Army’s “Win in a Complex World” operating concept heavily depends on innovation in tactics, weaponry and leadership to maintain a healthy edge over any adversary. “The Army balances near-term requirements with future development investments to support innovation,” the operating concept says, stressing that experimentation is needed to address capability gaps and other challenges.

What to watch: The 2016 Army budget includes $7.6 billion for Army research, development, test and evaluation of weapons and equipment, with $470 million allocated to basic research. Also budgeted are rapid and small-business innovation programs to encourage speedy fielding of new ideas.

Former DIA Chief Flynn Says Obama's Terrorism Strategy 'Is Not Working'

FILE - In this Feb. 11, 2014, file photo, Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. 

Michael Flynn testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington. Flynn, the three-star Army general who has headed the Defense Intelligence Agency for less than two years is being nudged aside amid conflict within the agency and between the general and leaders elsewhere in the intelligence community, a senior defense official said Wednesday, April 30. (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke, File)
The former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency blasted President Obama for downplaying the threat from Islamists and overstating our readiness due to an "allegiance to ideology" that skews decisions and policies that are at odds with what's happening on the ground.

Retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn decried the Democrats and media elites who focus on gun control and "Islamophobia" instead of religion. “It’s a cancerous form of radical Islamism and we cannot allow it to exist on this planet anymore,” he said.
Flynn made his remarks in an interview with the Daily Caller News Foundation:

While Obama has claimed “we’re on track” with fighting ISIS, Flynn says here, “we’re not on track.”

“His strategy is not working,” as he decries senior government officials who out of fear or self-interest, refuse to tell the president the facts.
Asked to connect the dots on releasing GITMO prisoners, Bowe Bergdahl and others, Flynn says, “Obama has made incredibly poor decisions that have made us less safe.”

As for the continuation of announced releases by the Obama administration of GITMO prisoners, which is under attack from Republicans like this, Flynn says in this video “we should be capturing, not releasing, more GITMO prisoners.” After release, Flynn says, these detainees are returning to the battlefield, picking up networks and providing a command and control capacity that works against the United States’ interests.

Flynn, having served in Afghanistan when Bowe Bergdahl left camp and in a position to know about the reassignments needed to find Bergdahl, says we “certainly shouldn’t be trading them [GITMO prisoners] for those like Bowe Bergdahl.”

Other topics discussed in the video are the mistake of invading Iraq, the disaster of toppling Libya’s leader, the error of allowing Pakistan and Syria to be safe-havens and using America’s military as a social experiment while allowing our readiness to decline.
Flynn says, “We are allowing the threads of this nicely woven fabric to be pulled apart.” He believes it will take more than one president after Obama’s term to right the ship of state for America to lead the world again.
Flynn left the DIA last year after clashing with other officials in the intelligence community over how the DIA should be reformed. As evidenced by this interview, he is blunt, candid and isn't afraid to challenge superiors when he thinks they're wrong -- attributes that did not endear him to administration officials.

He's absolutely right about the damage done to our foreign policy and standing in the world. No one trusts the word of the U.S. anymore, not after disappearing red lines and promises about what Obama could get from a nuclear deal with Iran -- almost all of which failed to make it into the final agreement.

That trust will take a long time to rebuild -- if it ever can be.


'The only country ISIS fears in the Middle East is Israel'
German journalist who spent days with ISIS told the 'Jewish News' that the jihadist group "knows the Israeli army is too strong for them."
A German journalist who spent 10 days with Islamic State says that the radical jihadist group that has captured wide swaths of Syria and Iraq is deterred by only one Middle Eastern country – Israel.

In an interview with the British Jewish News, Jurgen Todenhofer recalls his brief time behind enemy lines during which he spoke with ISIS fighters.

“The only country ISIS fears is Israel,” Todenhofer, a former member of the German parliament, told Jewish News. “They told me they know the Israeli army is too strong for them.”

The writer said that ISIS wants to lure British and American forces into Syria and Iraq, areas where it thinks it has an advantage.

“They think they can defeat US and UK ground troops, who they say they have no experience in city guerrilla or terrorist strategies,” he told Jewish News. “But they know the Israelis are very tough as far as fighting against guerrillas and terrorists.”

Todenhofer said that ISIS was “preparing the largest religious cleansing in history” and that he was “pessimistic” that the threat it poses could be neutralized. He added that the Paris attacks was just the first of “a storm” that is coming to Western cities.

“They are not scared of the British and the Americans, they are scared of the Israelis and told me the Israeli army is the real danger. We can’t defeat them with our current strategy. These people [the IDF] can fight a guerrilla war."

“In Mosul there are 10,000 fighters living among 1.5 million people in 2,000 apartments, not in one place – so it would be difficult [for western soldiers] to fight them. ISIS fighters are ready to die in a war against a western soldiers.”

Todenhofer said that ISIS plans to topple local governments while at the same time carry out terrorist atrocities abroad.

“They are a very strong danger for Iraq, Syria, Jordan and Libya, while the West will be subjected to big acts of terrorism instead of a full blown ISIS war because they say they don’t want too many battles at the same time,” he said.

The Islamic State released a taped message on Saturday with a purported speech by it's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in which he threatened the Jewish state.

"We are getting closer to you day by day," said the message. "Do not think that we have forgotten about you."

"God caused the Jews of the world to gather in Israel, and the war against them has become easy. It is the obligation of every Muslim to carry out Jihad,"

"Jews, you will not enjoy in Palestine. God has gathered you in Palestine so that the Mujahadeen can reach you soon and you will hide by the rock and the tree. Palestine will be your graveyard," he said.

The audio message said air strikes by Russia and by a US-led coalition had failed to weaken the group.

"Be confident that God will grant victory to those who worship him, and hear the good news that our state is doing well. The more intense the war against it, the purer it becomes and the tougher it gets," Baghdadi added.

The authenticity of the message, posted on Saturday on Twitter accounts that have published Islamic State statements in the past, could not be verified.

It slammed Saudi Arabia's efforts to set up a coalition of Muslim nations to fight his group.

"If it was an Islamic coalition, it would have declared itself free from its Jewish and Crusader lords and made the killing the Jews and the liberation of Palestine its goal," the message said.
5) Obama’s Delusions
In his year-end interview with National Public Radio, President Obama continued to argue that the threat posed to us and our allies by the Islamic State is exaggerated, amplified by the media and that the president’s strategy is pretty much perfect.
“The truth is that the approach that we are taking is one that’s based on the best counsel and best advice of our top military, top intelligence, top diplomatic teams,” according to Obama. “And we are going after ISIL effectively. We are going after them hard. And we are confident that we are going to prevail.” The president continues to believe the Islamic State is contained, and you half-expected him to refer to it as the “jayvee team.” But no president could possibly be that foolish, right?
In the course of the interview, the president was self-critical only in this respect:
Now on our side, I think that there is a legitimate criticism of what I’ve been doing and our administration has been doing in the sense that we haven’t, you know, on a regular basis I think described all the work that we’ve been doing for more than a year now to defeat ISIL… And so part of our goal here is to make sure that people are informed about all the actions that we’re taking.
This is a persistent pattern with Obama. In assessing the unpopularity of his health-care reform, Obama believed he wasn’t pursuing an effective enough communications strategy, despite the fact that in the summer of 2009, it was “all Obama, all the time,” in the words of the Washington Post. He tried several public-relations offensives, but nothing worked. In September 2011, in an interview with Emmett Miller of BET, the president was asked what he would have done differently in the previous three years. Among the things the president said was this:
The other thing that you know as I reflect on it is that in the first year or so we spent a lot of time just doing the right thing and not worrying about selling what we were doing. And I think that the more you’re in this office, the more you have to say to yourself that telling a story to the American people is just as important as the actual policies that you’re implementing. And they’ve got to have a sense of where it is that we’re going to go, particularly during hard times.
This is always Obama’s explanation: He’s wonderful, his programs are fantastic successes, there’s nothing he has done wrong or needs to change. The problem is that the American people, slightly dim-witted and misled by the pervasive, suffocating dominance of conservative media in America, are blind to Obama’s stunning historical achievements. His only failure is that he’s focused too much on “just doing the right thing” and not enough on telling his story. You know Obama; he always spends too little time broadcasting his own world-historical achievements.
This is utter nonsense, of course, the delusional excuses of a narcissistic chief executive who constantly feels under appreciated. Obama’s failures are objective failures. They have nothing to do with a problem in communication; it has everything to do with a failure in substance, in conception and execution, in reality.
Yet Obama, operating in his own bubble, surrounded by courtiers and sycophants, believes in his own greatness. He not only doesn’t accept responsibility for his own missteps and mistakes; he cannot even process the information. It doesn’t compute. His mind is as brittle as his personality can be bristly. No one is to challenge the great and mighty Obama.
But the last seven years has been the curtain being pulled back on Obama time and time again. His failures are in plain sight, they are massive and multiplying, and yet our president is off in his own little world, where his strategy to defeat the Islamic State is going swimmingly, like clockwork, without a hitch. To watch this charade unfold is at once psychologically fascinating and utterly depressing. And dangerous, too.
The day Obama leaves the presidency can’t come soon enough.