By Fr. George Welzbacher
November 4, 2012
It seems to me that of all the elections held in my lifetime by far the most important is the one that is upon us. America's voters are faced in this election with issues of crucial significance. Ranking high among these issues are: 1) the recent unprecedented assault by the executive branch of our government upon freedom of religion and freedom of conscience, freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution's First Amendment, freedoms now subjected to an assault that threatens the very existence of our nation's Catholic schools, hospitals, and institutions of charity; 2) our government's plunge into a seemingly bottomless abyss of debt; 3) the gutting of our military might; 4) the looming bankruptcy of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security; 5) the transfer of control over medical care in the U.S.A. to bureaucrats not answerable to Congress; and 6) the urgent need for tax and regulatory reform, to provide the clarity and predictability that widespread investment in small businesses requires - and on which in turn the creation of a multitude of jobs depends.
Here in this Pastor's Page I have discussed several times the massive threat to our Catholic schools, hospitals and charitable institutions that recent governmental dictates have posed. No need, I should think, to air those comments yet again. And with respect to the gutting of our armed forces may I refer you to the two appraisals I have reprinted in this week's bulletin, one by a senator of independent political status who frequently caucuses with the Democratic Party, and the other by a respected conservative analyst, on the consummate madness that inspires the current and the projected slashing of our military budget. That said, today I will restrict my remarks to the grievous immorality of burdening our children, for the sake of maintaining present levels of consumption, with staggering debt.
Our national debt has burgeoned from TEN TRILLION DOLLARS (accrued over the course of many generations, from 1789 to 2008) to the current level of SIXTEEN TRILLION DOLLARS, a dubious achievement racked up JUST IN THE LAST FOUR YEARS. Though this new debt is of almost unimaginable size, let's try to bring it down to something we can visualize. A billion is a thousand millions, and a trillion is a thousand billions. Let's suppose that we're in a huge armory or in an unused airplane hangar, where we find ourselves in the midst of an immense assembly of several thousand desk-size tables. On each of these tables stands, in neat stacks of ten, one row after another of poker chips. Let's narrow our focus to just one of these tables. This table, like all the rest, has a hundred STACKS of chips, ten to a stack. Each single chip represents a million dollars. This table-top array will thus represent a billion dollars ( a hundred times ten = a thousand, with each unit valued at a million, thus reaching the sum of a thousand millions, a.k.a. a billion). To reach the aggregate sum of a TRILLION we need a THOUSAND SUCH TABLES. To reach the sum of SIX trillion we obviously need SIX THOUSAND SUCH TABLES, EACH table displaying chips to the value of a BILLION dollars. Let's pull the camera back for a panning shot of this whole huge scene to give us a picture of SIX TRILLION DOLLARS - SIX TRILLION DOLLARS NOT OF WEALTH BUT OF DEBT, NEW DEBT, DEBT ACCRUED IN SLIGHTLY LESS THAN FOUR YEARS! AND INTEREST ON THIS DEBT WILL HAVE TO BE PAID. Current interest rates for the U.S.A. are artificially low, but they will inevitably rise in time. And THIS IS THE BURDEN, the principal with interest, that we are strapping on the backs of our children, to pay for the reckless extravagance of the PAST FOUR YEARS. CAN SUCH PROFLIGATE IRRESPONSIBILITY BE INDEFINITELY MAINTAINED IN GOOD CONSCIENCE?
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My Line on Defense-No More Cuts
By: Joe Lieberman, Independent Senator from Connecticut
Friday, October 26, 2012
The Wall Street Journal
There is broad consensus that when Congress reconvenes in November, it must act to prevent SEQUESTRATION. That is the $500 billion CUT in defense spending scheduled to go into effect on January 2, which all parties agree would be catastrophic for our national security.
But as we contemplate proposals to ward off sequestration, we must not lose sight of a larger truth: Our armed forces are ALREADY under UNPRECEDENTED strain because of the $487 billion in defense cuts imposed by the Budget Control Act LAST YEAR.
This budget reduction is delaying critical modernization programs and forcing our military to slash manpower and force structure.
That is why, in the post-election session of Congress, I won't support any debt-reduction package that requires our military to accept further cuts.
The reductions in military spending that we have already accepted weren't driven by improvements in the strategic climate facing our country. Contrary to claims that the "tide of war is receding" [claims that lie at the heart of the RECENT Benghazi catastrophe and its subsequent reporting], our national-security threats are becoming MORE complex and no less demanding or urgent.
We have made significant progress in recent years against al Qaeda's leadership in Pakistan. But the group's Islamist extremist affiliates and allies have made inroads elsewhere - including Yemen, Syria and Mali, where al Qaeda's North African branch has established a haven in a vast swath of territory. In the Persian Gulf, Iran's pursuit of asymmetric capabilities (including missiles, mines and submarines) is compelling us to EXPAND our naval and air presences there, NOT draw them down. Then there is the Asia-Pacific region, where China's double-digit GROWTH in military spending and assertive behavior against neighbors (including U.S. treaty allies) is unsettling the regional balance of power.
To address these challenges, the Obama administrations' "Defense Strategic Guidance" rightly pledges more rotational deployments across the globe to reassure our friends, deter our adversaries, and protect our national interests. But the truth is that our military is SIMPLY TOO SMALL TO DO everything that is being asked of it. While our forces' high operational tempo is less visible than it was at the height of the Iraq war, it is no less stressful on our service members and their families.
Consider that the Navy's 285-ship fleet is already slated to decline by nine ships by 2015. That means longer cruises with less time between deployments for ships to receive needed maintenance and for sailors to recuperate. Thus the USS John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group completed a seven-month deployment to the Persian Gulf in March, spent five months at home, then began an eight-month deployment in August. The USS Enterprise and USS Carl Vinson strike groups have faced similar schedules in the past two years-a pace that senior Navy officials have said is wearing out ships and straining crews.
The cuts already enacted are similarly causing the AIR FORCE to buy fewer planes despite persistent demands on its DECLINING force, which increasingly relies on aging aircraft produced during the Cold War. Under its budget for the coming fiscal year, the Air Force will procure the fewest aircraft since becoming an independent service 65 years ago.
For the ARMY AND MARINE CORPS, last year's cuts mean 92,000 troops FORCED OUT over the next five years, including tens of thousands of involuntary separations-layoffs, effectively.
Some people attempt to justify these cuts by arguing that our military won't face the same demands that it has over the past decade. But it is unwise to assume away dangers. One of the clearest lessons I draw from my 24 years in the Senate is that, despite our best efforts, events will inevitably take us by surprise - as did the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990, the 9/11 attacks, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Arab Spring. The only thing we can know about the decade ahead is that further strategic surprises lie in store.
That is why it is so critical for our military to be modernized and manned FOR THE FULL RANGE OF MISSIONS that it may be called upon to carry out in defense of our security, liberty and values. I fear that is NOT where America's armed forces are headed IF we CUT MORE from the defense budget.
We must put our country's fiscal house in order-but not at the expense of our security. Sequestration of both defense and nondefense accounts can and must be avoided by a bipartisan debt reduction package that deals with the REAL DRIVERS of our fiscal problem: entitlement spending and insufficient revenue.
PROTECTING the American people is the most important responsibility that the Constitution gives the federal government, and our defense budget's trajectory SIGNALS to the American people - and to our friends AND ENEMIES around the world - how STRONGLY COMMITTED we are to that RESPONSIBILITY.
That is why, when Congress reconvenes after the election, I will do everything I can to STOP the additional $500 billion in defense cuts. Because so much has ALREADY been taken from the U.S. military, I will oppose any deal that cuts one dollar more from our national defense. America's security cannot afford it. [Emphasis added].
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America's Capsizing Naval Policy
By: Mark Helprin
The Wall Street Journal
Monday, October 29, 2012
During the recent foreign policy debate, the president presumed to instruct his opponent: "Governor Romney maybe hasn't spent enough time looking at how our military works. [Mr. Obama himself has never served in the military]. You mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of the military's changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines. [Clear?]. And so the question is not a game of Battleship, where we're counting ships. It's what are our capabilities." [Precisely].
Yes, the Army's horses have been superseded by tanks and helicopters and its bayonets rendered mainly ceremonial by armor and long-range, automatic fire, but what, precisely, has superseded ships in the Navy? The commander-in-chief patronizingly shared his epiphany that the ships of today could beat the hell out of those of 1916. To which one could say, like Neil Kinnock, "I know that, Prime Minister," and go on to add that we must configure the Navy to face not the dreadnoughts of 1916 but "things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them," and "ships that go under underwater," and also ballistic missiles, land-based aviation, and electronic warfare.
To hold that numbers and mass in war are unnecessary is as dangerous as believing that they are sufficient. Defense contractor Norman Augustine famously observed that at the rate fighter planes are becoming complex and expensive, soon we will be able to build just one. Neither a plane nor a ship, no matter how capable, can be in more than one place at once. And if one ship that is in some ways equivalent to 100 is damaged or lost, we have lost the equivalent of 100. But, in fact, except for advances in situational awareness, missile defense, and the effect of precision-guided munitions in greatly multiplying the target coverage of carrier-launched aircraft, THE NAVY IS SIGNIFICANTLY LESS CAPABLE THAN IT WAS A RELATIVELY SHORT TIME AGO in antisubmarine warfare, mine warfare, the ability to return ships to battle, and the numbers required to accomplish the tasks of deterrence or war.
For example, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's diplomacy in the South China Sea is DOOMED to impotence because it consists entirely of declarations WITHOUT the backing of SUFFICIENT naval potential, EVEN NOW when China's navy is not half of WHAT IT WILL BE IN A DECADE. China's claims, equivalent to American expropriation of Caribbean waters all the way to the coast of Venezuela, are much like Hilter's annexations. But we no longer have BASES in the area, our supply lines are attenuated across the vastness of the Pacific, WE HAVE MUCH MORE THAN DECIMATED OUR LONG-RANGE AIRCRAFT and even with a maximum carrier surge we would have to battle AT LEAST TWICE AS MANY CHINESE FIGHTERS.
Not until recently would CHINA have been so aggressive in the South China Sea, but it has a plan, which is to GROW; we have a plan, which is to SHRINK; and you get what you pay for. To wit, China is purposefully, efficiently and successfully modernizing its forces and often accepting reductions in favor of quality. And yet, to touch upon just a few examples, whereas 20 years ago it possessed one ballistic-missile submarine and the U.S., 34, now it has three (with two more coming) and the U.S. 14. Over the same span, China has gone from 121 to 71. As our numbers decrease at a faster pace, China is also closing the gap in quality.
The effect in PRINCIPAL SURFACE WARSHIPS is yet more pronounced. While China has risen from 56 to 78, THE US. HAS DESCENDED FROM 207 TO 114. In addition to parities, China is successfully focusing on exactly what it needs - terminal ballistic missile guidance, superfast torpedoes and wave-skimming missiles, swarms of oceangoing missile craft, battle-picture blinding-to address American vulnerabilities, while our counters are INSUFFICIENT OR NONEXISTENT.
Nor is China our ONLY potential naval adversary, and with aircraft, surface-to-surface missiles and over-the-horizon radars, the littoral countries need not have navies to assert themselves over millions of square miles of sea. Even the Somali pirates, with only outboard motors, skiffs, RPGS, and Kalashnikovs, have taxed the maritime forces of the leading naval states.
What, then, is a relatively SAFE number of highly capable ships appropriate for the world's richest country and leading naval power? NOT THE LESS THAN 300 AT PRESENT, OR THE 200 TO WHICH WE ARE HEADED, and not 330 or 350 either, BUT 600 AS IN THE 1980s. Then, we were facing the Soviet Union; but now China, BETTER suited as a MARITIME power, is rising faster than this country at present is willing to face.
The trend lines are obvious and alarming, but in addition we face a POTENTIALLY EXPLOSIVE accelerant of which the president is probably blissfully unaware, as is perhaps even his secretary of the Navy, who-as he dutifuly guts his force-travels with an entourage befitting Kublai Khan.... That is that whereas the American Shipbuilding Association (NOW DISSOLVED) COUNTED SIX MAJOR YARDS, CHINA HAS MORE THAN 100. Whenever China becomes confident of the maturation of its naval weapons systems, it can SURGE PRODUCTION and leave us as far behind as once we left the Axis and Japan. Its navy will be able to dominate the oceans and cruise in strength off OUR coasts, reversing roles TO ITS PLEASURE AND OUR PERIL-unless we attend to the Navy, in quality, numbers, and WTHOUT DELAY.
This will demand a president who, like Reagan, will damn the political torpedoes and back a secretary of Navy who, like John Lehman, will unashamedly and with every power of rhetoric and persistence REBUILD the fleets. The military balance, the poise of the international system, and the peace of the world require no less. Nor does America deserve less.
Mr. Helprin, a senior fellow at the Claremont Institute, is the author of, among other works, the novels "Winter's Tale" (Harcourt) and "A Soldier of the Great War" (Harcourt). His most recent novel. "In Sunlight and In Shadow, " was published earlier this month by Harcourt.
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As the countdown to election day continues, rumors are flying hither and yon about powerstorrn Sandy's being used as an excuse to delay the election. An official study published in 2004 by the Congressional Research Service concluded that while Congress may have constitutional authority to delay a federal election during a major emergency, the executive branch of the federal government, to wit, the president, has NO such authority whatsoever. May I share with you a brief editorial dealing with this matter from the Wall Street Journal for October 31st of this year.
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Delay the Election?
The Wall Street Journal, October 31, 2012
Weathering a powerful storm is always serious business, and so it has been this week with Hurricane Sandy tracing its devastating path across the northeast. But that hasn't stopped the silly speculation that next Tuesday's elections might, or should, be postponed on account of weather.
Asked by Politco's Roger Simon whether President Obama has the authority to delay the election, White House spokesman Jay Carney said, "I don't know." The correct answer is no, as a matter of law and good sense.
The first Tuesday after the first Monday in November was established by an act of Congress in 1845 as the uniform date for states to choose their presidential electors. Americans have stuck with the date ever since, along with whatever inconveniences the timing imposes, including the Civil War, the Great Depression and World War II. Somehow the Republic survives.
In 2004, the Congressional Research Service published a paper examining the possibility of postponing elections. It turns out that various allowances can be made to states in the event of emergencies or disputes to hash out the results of a Presidential election, at least in time for the Electoral College to meet in December.
But the CRS paper is unequivocal on one point: "There is no current constitutional authority residing in the President of the United States, nor the executive branch of the Government, to postpone, cancel, or reschedule elections for federal office in the various States." What power there is to do that resides with Congress alone.
The last time there was any serious question about postponing a Presidential election was in 1864, at the height of the Civil War. About which, said Abraham Lincoln, "if the rebellion could force us to forego, or postpone a national election, it might fairly claim to have already conquered and ruined us." A country that wouldn't surrender its democracy to an insurrection isn't about to surrender it to a storm.
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