Monday, January 25, 2010

A Commonwealth of Opportunity

On Saturday, January 16, shortly after noon, Robert F. McDonnell was inaugurated as the seventy-first Governor of Virginia, following in the footsteps of Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson. The day in Richmond was warm and sunny, in sharp contrast to the severe winter weather we have been having lately; the gods smiled that day.

Bob McDonnell took the forty-word oath of office with his hand on a Latin Vulgate Bible that was given to his great-grandparents in Ireland on their wedding day in 1876. William T. Bolling was sworn in for a second term as Lieutenant Governor, and Kenneth T. Cuccinelli took the oath of office as Attorney General. After the swearing in, there was a nineteen-gun salute from a large artillery battery, and a fly-over by four F-22 jets.

Having attended such an event for the first time, I was very impressed.

There were about 8000 people present. Dignitaries included seven former governors: Charles Robb, Linwood Holton, L. Douglas Wilder, George Allen, Timothy M. Kaine, Gerald L. Baliles, and Jim Gilmore. As I sat in the stands before the proceedings started while the Williamsburg Fife and Drum Corp. marched in and played, I noticed some of the people walking by: Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, nationally syndicated columnist Cal Thomas (one of my heroes), a four star army general and his one star companion, Republican Party of Virginia (RPV) Chairman Pat Mullins, former Lieutenant Governor and former RPV Chairman John Hager, evangelist Pat Robertson, Congressman Eric Cantor - minority Whip in the U.S. House of Representatives. I saw the seven (yes, seven) Cuccinelli children.

In his speech, McDonnell talked about the sweep of history that has played out in Virginia, starting in 1607 with the one hundred and four men and boys who established the  first permanent English settlement in America, Jamestown, that would ultimately spread from sea to shining sea as the United States of America, the richest, most powerful nation in the world. He made reference to the eight Virginians who have become President of those United States, and whose busts were behind him in the Rotunda of the state Capitol. He recounted how in this same state capitol, Robert E. Lee, the son of a Virginia governor and Revolutionary War hero, accepted command of the Commonwealth’s military forces as the young nation slipped into civil war. He noted that Abraham Lincoln walked these same streets pondering how to heal the torn nation after Richmond fell to the Federals in 1865, marking the beginning of the end of that catastrophic period in our nation’s history.

McDonnell also remembered that it was in this same capitol 125 years after the civil war that the grandson of a slave, L. Douglas Wilder, became the nation’s first African-American governor.

And on this day, as McDonnell put it, an average middle-class kid from Fairfax, a grandson of Irish immigrants, became the seventy-first governor of Virginia.

McDonnell then turned to the issues and stayed on a theme of opportunity founded in our country’s first principles. He talked about the government’s responsibility to provide equal opportunity to all, but recognized that it is not the government’s responsibility to ensure equal outcomes for all. He said all Virginians must have the same fundamental opportunities to work hard, live free, and succeed. He talked about “fulfilling Virginia’s promise”, and  creating “A Commonwealth of Opportunity”. He outlined plans to utilize innovation, privatization, and consolidations to deliver government services more effectively, thus reducing the size and cost of government. He restated his plan to make Virginia the “energy capitol of the East Coast” by utilizing the state’s coal, natural gas, nuclear power, and off-shore oil resources, which will create thousands of high paying jobs and increased tax revenues as well as meet the country’s energy needs. Educational opportunity will be expanded via charter schools and pay-for-performance for teachers. Finally, he said we must seize the opportunity to improve Virginia’s transportation systems by getting long overdue projects going and utilizing innovation, without raising taxes.

In closing, McDonnell said that people who say that America’s and Virginia’s best days are behind them are wrong. He said, “Let us heed the words of the Father of our Country, employ these eternal rules of order and right, and get to work for the good of the people of Virginia”.

Then the parade started. There were marching bands from around the state, colonial re-enactors, veterans groups, ethnic dancers, students, Boy Scouts , Girl Scouts, and others. Also, a group of Washington Redskin Cheerleaders alumnae marched by, in honor of one of their own, Maureen McDonnell, now First Lady of Virginia, who was a Redskinette in the 1970’s.

Saturday night, the Inaugural Ball was held in the Richmond Convention Center, with over 5000 tickets being sold. Governor and First Lady McDonnell had the first dance to “You’re Still The One”, sung by their daughter, Jeanine. They looked very elegant in his tuxedo with tails and white tie and her ice-blue evening gown. Very graceful, too. I wonder if they practiced.

One of the truly great and remarkable aspects of our form of government is that we have an orderly and peaceful transfer of power via elections. Outgoing Democrat Governor Tim Kaine has now turned the governorship over to incoming Republican Governor Bob McDonnell in a cordial and smooth transition. We do this better than any other country in the world. It was a privilege to be a small part of  the events.


Jessee Ring

Jan. 18, 2010

Monday, January 18, 2010

Obama and National Security

On Christmas Day, we had another “man caused disaster” when a Muslim fanatic tried to blow up a plane full of infidels heading for America. I’ll bet you thought it was a terrorist attack.

For three days after the attempted bomb attack, President Obama said nothing. When he finally did speak, the first thing he said was that the bombing attempt was an isolated incident. Now we know that the perpetrator had affiliations with Al Qaeda, and Al Qaeda has claimed responsibility for the attack. We also now know that Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical American-born Yemeni cleric, was in contact with both the Christmas Day bomber and the Fort Hood killer! And yet the President’s initial statement was that the bombing attempt was an isolated incident. How could the President of the United States be so clueless? The fact that the President would make such a statement without any reason to think it is true, even though he has now backtracked on it, speaks volumes about his naivety on national security.

After the bombing attempt, Obama’s Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, said that “the system had worked”. She is also now backtracking on that. But again, you wonder how someone could make such a statement regarding an actual bombing attempt.

One year into the Obama administration, there have been two terrorist attacks on the U.S.: The Fort Hood attack that killed fourteen people and injured twenty-three others, and the Christmas Day attempt that came close to killing three hundred people.

Keep in mind that in Obama’s world, there is no such thing as a “global war on terror”, but rather there are “overseas contingency operations”. And his Secretary of Homeland Security won’t speak of terrorist attacks; instead, she calls them “man caused disasters”.

The Fort Hood massacre happened even though the perpetrator, an Army psychologist, had raised the concern of his superiors, peers, and patients about his oft expressed radical anti-American views. He tried to convert his patients to Islam. He gave a lecture to the medical staff about jihad. Yes, here was an Army officer openly spouting off anti-American venom over many months, and nothing was done about it.  The U.S. has become so lax on terrorism and national security that a Muslim radical was able to infiltrate the U.S. military and go on a killing rampage on a military base, in spite of his known extremist views!   Astonishing.

The Christmas bombing attempt happened even though the perpetrator’s father went to the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria twice to warn them about his son’s radical views and his desire to try to do something against the U.S. Yes, we were warned by his father, and it turns out that there is also a corroborating “paper trail” of his terrorist associations.

Think about the radical regime in Iran getting ready to nuke-up, and their threat to “wipe Israel off the map”, among other nasty things. There is every reason to believe that Iran will use the nuclear bomb if it gets it. Don’t forget about those missiles they are also developing. What is Obama’s response here? To cancel a missile defense system in Europe, and to threaten to “sanction” Iran. I’m sure the mullahs in Iran are quaking in their boots when Obama says he’s going to sanction them. That’ll show them that we are serious. That’ll let them know that they better not mess with us.

Think about North Korea, which already or soon will have nuclear weapons and is now also developing missiles with which to  send them around the world. Here is a regime that is so corrupt that it’s ordinary citizens are literally starving in the street so that the government can have all the money to develop nuclear weapons. What is Obama’s response? To send the evil North Korean dictator a personal letter begging him to talk to us about nuclear weapons.

Obama’s Attorney General, Eric Holder, has decided to treat one of the 9-11 masterminds being held in Guantanamo as a common criminal rather than an enemy combatant.. Mr. Holder intends to bring him right to New York City, only blocks from ground zero, to have a jury trial in civilian courts. Think about what kind of message this sends to other terrorists: Attack the U.S. and murder thousand of our innocent civilians, and we’ll handle you with kid gloves. When asked if he had consulted with the President before making this supremely important decision, Mr. Holder said no, but he had consulted with his wife and his brother! Let me make sure I understand this. Mr. Holder wants to give Constitutional rights to a 9-11 terrorist, give him a trial by a jury of his peers , bring him to New York City for the trial, give him a national stage to spew out violent, hate-filled rhetoric, but in his decision making process, Mr. Holder did not consult with the President, the Secretary of Homeland Security, anyone in the courts or Department of Justice, anyone in Congress, anyone in the military, the Mayor of New York City, the Governor of New York, or anyone else in the government, but he did consult with his wife and brother. This is incompetence beyond comprehension, and it is extremely dangerous with regards to national security.

The Obama administration wants to treat the Christmas bomber the same way. By so doing, Obama is sending another message to potential terrorists: If you attempt to blow up a plane and kill three hundred people over one of our cities, the first thing the U.S. government will do is read you your rights and give you a lawyer.

Obama is now, several days after the event, telling us that the Christmas bombing attempt was a “catastrophic breach” of security. Really.  How long did it take him to figure that out?

The response of the Obama administration to this catastrophic security breach is not to start an all-out military program to find radical Muslim anti-American terrorist wherever they are hiding in the world, and root them out before they are able to strike us. The response of the Obama administration is to talk about “connecting the dots” and to subject everyone in America, including grandmothers and children, to ever more intrusive and time-consuming searches before getting on an airplane. Never mind that every terrorist attack and attempt has come from a radical Muslim extremist. But we don’t dare target them; people in Asia or Europe or somewhere might not like it. Rather, we waste our effort on the 99.999% who pose no threat whatsoever.

If all of this sounds like insanity to you, you’re right. Here’s what you do about it. Start a special bank savings account, and put a few bucks into it every payday between now and November, 2012.  Then donate that money to the campaign of whoever runs against Obama.


Jessee Ring

Jan. 5, 2010