Tom McLaughlin

A former history teacher, Tom is a columnist who lives in Lovell, Maine. His column is published in Maine and New Hampshire newspapers and on numerous web sites. Email: tommclaughlin@fairpoint.net

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Clueless Commander


Israel’s enemies and our enemies are the same. Why doesn’t President Obama know this? This guy is supposed to be brilliant? Either he’s clueless or he’s conspiring to turn our biggest ally in the Middle East over to our mutual enemies. I cannot think of any other reason why he would make a major speech saying Israel must return to its 1967 borders. Doesn’t he know this would invite still another invasion of Israel by the hostile, Arab-Muslim countries which surround it? They’ve already invaded three times: First in 1948, then again in 1967, and still again in 1973. These countries didn’t want peace with Israel. They wanted Israel gone.The Amin al-Husseini, Palestinian Mufti of Jerusalem, cooperated with Hitler during WWII, recruiting Muslims to serve in Himmler’s SS to kill Jews during the Holocaust. During their attempted 1948 Arab invasion of Israel, Nazis were recruited to kill Jews again. At least some Palestinian Muslims were advised to get out of the way because the invaders intended to kill Jews and it would be nasty, so thousands left for Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt lest they get in the way. They expected to return when the Jews were all killed, but it didn’t work out that way. Those pesky Jews, with their backs to the wall and fighting for the first time in two millennia for their own homeland, prevailed over much larger invading Arab armies whose humiliation was intense. Afterward, they had all those Palestinian Arab refugees in their home countries to whom they’d bragged about their military prowess. These hapless Palestinians were now homeless and unwanted even by their fellow Arabs. Arab Muslim humiliation was so intense they invaded again in 1967, but again were defeated by scrappy Jews. This time though, Israel retained the West Bank from the invading Jordanians, the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from invading Egyptians, and the Golan Heights from the invading Syrians. Even though those countries invaded Israel again in 1973, Obama wants Israel to give those strategic lands back to the invaders as a way to “achieve peace” in the region? What planet does he live on?Yours truly at the Temple Mount (taken from Palestinian East Jerusalem)

After 1967, Jews were in possession of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount - their holiest place - for the first time in 2000 years. Constructed on top, however, was the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, as an “in-your-face” gesture to Christians and Jews more than 1200 hundred years ago. Nonetheless, Israeli allowed Muslims to maintain control over their shrines on top, and were content to worship at the Wailing Wall below the Temple Mount in the back - all that remains of Herod’s Temple. Now President Obama expects Israel to give it all over to the radical Muslims in Hamas who are dedicated in their very charter to destroy the Jews. Is he crazy?Church of the Nativity

If Israel went back to the pre-1967 borders as Obama insists, not only would Israel become indefensible, Hamas would also control the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Old Jerusalem. Those are the holiest sites in Christendom, where Christ was born, where he died and where Christians believe he rose from the dead - sacred places for 1.5 billion people around the world. What could we expect with radical Muslim control of these sacred sites if it becomes a Palestinian state?Church of the Holy Sepulcher

In 2002, Muslims assaulted the Church of the Nativity - oldest Christian Church in the world and held it for 39 days. It is located in Bethlehem, of course, which is in the West Bank. Radical Muslim Palestinians shot it up, ransacked it, urinated and defecated inside and held Christian clerics hostage. When I was there in May, 2007, it still hadn’t been completely cleaned up.

Israelis know what their Muslim enemies have planned for them even if President Obama doesn’t, and they won’t go like sheep to the slaughter as they did under the Nazis. Radical Muslim Iran is building nuclear weapons to “wipe Israel off the map,” but Israel has had its own nukes for fifty years. Does Obama really think Israel is going to lay down and die to appease Muslim pride?

If he does, he truly lives in La-La Land. His proposals won’t lead to peace in the region. Instead, they’ll make a wider, more devastating war more likely. It’s time for Obama to become our former president.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Borrow, Spend, Collapse


Gas prices are going up. Food prices are going up. Unemployment is going up. The national debt is going up. Earnings for most Americans are either going down or are stagnant. There are fewer and fewer high-paying manufacturing jobs because the federal government has allowed companies to move factories overseas where people work for less, then ship their products back without paying protective tariffs. Nice for them, but tough for working people here. At the same time, feds look the other way while millions of illegal aliens pour over our southern border to either work cheap and drive down wages, or to go on every form of public assistance and drive up government spending still further.From Gateway Pundit

This is serious. Most people know it cannot go on much longer or everything will collapse. Some voted for President Obama because they believed the “hope and change” rhetoric, but regret it now. Many formed into Tea Party groups all over the country and took over the US House of Representatives. They’re looking for a 2012 presidential candidate who has courage enough to tell the American people that we have to put all this into reverse and that it’s going to be painful for millions of us, but that there’s no other way to avoid complete collapse.

Trouble is, there are millions of other Americans who have allowed themselves to become dependent on government handouts of one form or another. Some of them know the gravy train cannot go on forever and entitlements must be cut, but they’ll only support cutting the programs other people use, not the ones they use. Few would support politicians who would cut across the board. Do these government addicts comprise a majority? It’s close, and we’ll just have to see. If they do, America as we’ve known it will cease to exist. The country our children and grandchildren grow up in will be vastly different. The “can-do” America will have irreversibly transformed into the “I-can’t-do-it” America that expects government to do it instead.From Joshua Kennon

The federal government spends three dollars for every two it gets in taxes. It has already borrowed so much that interest payments are about as high as our defense budget, and most of those in Congress want to raise the debt limit and borrow still more. When our Chinese creditors balk at lending any more money, government just prints it. The US Federal Reserve under Ben Bernanke has increased the money supply by well over a trillion dollars in the past few years. Every dollar it prints makes the ones in all of our wallets and in all of our bank accounts less valuable. This “quantitative easing” as Bernanke calls it, is just another way government takes money from us - and from everyone else in the world whose assets are in dollars. That’s why other countries want to abandon the dollar and use some other as a base currency.From Washington Post

At supermarkets and gas stations, most people use credit cards. If they can’t pay off their balances each month, they realize they’re going further into debt and they have to cut back in some way or the interest will kill them. Either it’s driving less, getting a smaller vehicle, changing the way they eat, or whatever - they must cut back or their household will eventually collapse.

We’ve all known irresponsible relatives and neighbors who have ignored this reality and fallen apart. Now we see our government - and many of our states - doing the same thing and taking us all down with it. If a credible candidate shows up on the scene with the courage to run on a platform of drastically cutting government - including entitlements - he or she will move into the White House.

If not, we’ll continue on the road to ruin.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Gutsy Decision?


“This is a Viet Cong captive being waterboarded,” I said to the class after fast-forwarding through a videotape from Stanley Karnow’s “Vietnam: A Television History.” We were studying the Vietnam War in the context of the Cold War.

“You can see that South Vietnamese intelligence officers have placed a cloth over the captive’s face and are pouring water on it. This gives the captive the feeling that he is drowning as the water goes into his mouth and up his nostrils when he tries to breathe.” After viewing the whole clip, I asked: “Does this look like torture to you?”

Each had watched intently but none would offer an opinion. Then I explained that after we captured the third-highest-ranking official in al Qaeda, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, he was waterboarded and gave up information that eventually led to the killing of Osama Bin Laden. “And,” I told them, “Khalid Sheik Mohammed planned the September 11th attack for Osama Bin Laden.”

I waited for that to sink in and said, “Is this torture?”

“It was worth it if it led us to Bin Laden,” said a boy.

“Okay,” I answered, “But is it torture?”

He shrugged his shoulders.

“Well, Khalid Sheik Mohammed wasn’t a prisoner of war. He was a terrorist, so I don’t think the Geneva Conventions apply to him,” said another boy.

“Is it torture?” I repeated.

“I don’t know,” he said. “Maybe.”

“Left-wing journalist Christopher Hitchens agreed to be waterboarded to see what it was like,” I explained. “He said it doesn’t simulate drowning: ‘You are drowning, or rather being drowned. . . . Believe me, it’s torture.’”
I played the Hitchens clip from Youtube.

“So what do you think?” I asked. “Is it torture?”

“It’s all right if it was done on the guy who planned the September 11th attacks,” said a girl. “He killed 3000 people.”

Back in September I’d shown them a “Today Show” recording of the events of that day to give them a feel for what happened in 2001 when they were only four years old. “The Bush/Cheney Administration called waterboarding one of their ‘enhanced interrogation techniques,’” I explained. “Is that a euphemism for torture?”

“It’s all right if it’s against terrorists,” said another boy.

“Is it torture?”

“Yeah, I guess.”

“Open your books to page 885,” I said. “Look at the Eighth Amendment in the Bill of Rights.” I asked a girl to read it.

Dutifully, she read: “‘Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.’”

“Thank you,” I said. “The part where it says, ‘nor cruel and unusual punishments imposed’ is what I wanted you to see. Our country has a long tradition of outlawing torture, but that would be against American citizens.”

“Yeah,” said the boy. “These people were not citizens and they weren’t prisoners of war either. They were terrorists. They had no rights. It was all right to waterboard them to get information that would be useful in fighting them.”

“Obama’s CIA Director, Leon Panetta, said the information about who Bin Laden’s courier was - someone who carried messages back and forth between him and others in al Qaeda - came from Khalid Sheik Mohammed while he was being waterboarded during the Bush Administration,” I said. “With that information, the CIA tracked him down and began following him. He led them right to the house where Osama Bin Laden was living with three of his wives. Without waterboarding, the USA might never have gotten Bin Laden. Other officials in the Obama Administration, however, deny that.”

“So, who thinks it was all right to waterboard KSM?” I asked.

Half raised their hands.

“Who things it was wrong?”

Three hands went up.

“Eric Holder, Attorney General in the Obama Administration, is investigating our CIA agents who waterboarded KSM and two other terrorists while Bush was president. He’s trying to build a case against them for war crimes,” I explained. “That might be one reason other officials in the Obama Administration deny that waterboarding had anything to do with discovering where Osama Bin Laden was hiding.”

President Obama was interviewed about killing Bin Laden on “60 Minutes” Sunday night, but Steve Croft didn’t ask him any tough questions,” I continued. “However, Obama’s National Security Advisor, Tom Donilon was interviewed on “Fox News Sunday,” and Chris Wallace asked him, ‘Why is shooting an unarmed man in the face legal and proper . . . but [waterboarding] Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who is just as bad an operator, isn’t?’”


“Donilon said, ‘[Waterboarding] is not consistent with our values.’”

“Then Wallace said, ‘But shooting an unarmed man in the face is consistent with our values?’”

“Donilon said, ‘We’re at war with Osama Bin Laden.’”

“Wallace said, ‘We’re at war with Khalid Sheik Mohammed.’”

I played the above exchange for the class and asked, “Did Donilon answer Wallace’s questions to your satisfaction?”

“Not really,” said a boy.

Other students shook their heads.

“Another thing,” I continued. “Generals appointed by President Obama made new ‘rules of engagement’ for our soldiers fighting in Afghanistan - many of them former students from this classroom - under which our guys can’t shoot until they’re shot at first. And, if they’re shot at from a group of civilians, they can’t shoot back at all.”

“That’s ridiculous,” said another boy. Others nodded agreement.

“And now, even in cases where they capture Taliban terrorists who they’ve videotaped planting IEDs or ‘Improvised Explosive Devices,’ or ‘roadside bombs’ as they’re sometimes called, which have killed hundreds of our soldiers, and these terrorists have been tested to reveal explosive residue on their hands, they have to be released after 96 hours. Our soldiers know they’re going to plant more bombs and still they have to release them! This is discouraging to say the least, and it makes it much more risky our our guys.”

“Our Commander-in-Chief is putting our soldiers at risk with these rules of engagement,” I continued, “but his staff is telling us what a ‘gutsy decision’ Obama made by approving a strike on Bin Laden from the comfort and safety of the White House.”

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