We Will Defeat ISIL Just Like We Defeated Al Qaeda… Yeah, that’s the ticket!

As a person who has already expressed his misgivings about the Administration’s strategy to fight terrorism as a long counter-terrorism effort, this Duffel Blog post, We Will Defeat ISIL Just Like We Defeated Al Qaeda, is way too funny. Here it is included in its entirety.

Barack Obama Official PortraitThe following is an op-ed written by Barack Obama, President of the United States.

Just over a decade ago, under my predecessor, our forces embarked on a campaign to fight the Global War on Terror after Al Qaeda terrorists attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Our military performed flawlessly in Afghanistan, routing the Taliban and Al Qaeda, and ultimately, denied the terror group a sanctuary from where it could attack us again.

Today we stand secure, knowing that Osama bin Laden is dead, and his organization of Al Qaeda is decimated, unable to operate anywhere on the earth. And with our strike against Iraq, we have deposed a dictator and brought peace and freedom to a Middle Eastern country.

Now, I was critical of the Iraq war in 2003 and strongly opposed it for many years. I felt at the time that our actions in a country where we had limited understanding of the culture could see U.S. soldiers standing in the crosshairs of a sectarian divide between Shia and Sunni.

Fortunately, that didn’t happen.

The war came to a close, and by all accounts, it was a rousing success. Our American Army defied the naysayers who likened the conflict to a Vietnam quagmire. The comparison was laughable of course, considering our involvement in Vietnam was almost two years longer than in Iraq.

But sadly, a new terror group has emerged. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, a band of brutal thugs who have overtaken parts of Syria and Iraq, could potentially attack us at home again. Much like our medical professionals who have found a cure for cancer, we will find a cure for the cancer of ISIL.

While I don’t wish to arouse fear and hysteria amongst the public, let me be clear: ISIL is a threat to every interest we have and it is beyond anything we have ever seen. It has an apocalyptic end-of-days vision that threatens our very existence.

So that’s why I have ordered an extremely limited engagement against ISIL forces and am assuring the American people that we will not put boots on the ground. We are clearly at war with these extremists, and when faced with an enemy of such dangerous magnitude, it is the only choice we have.

You may have heard my primetime address where I outlined my strategy to degrade and defeat ISIL. In the speech, I used our efforts in Somalia and Yemen as models for what we can achieve. With drone strikes over the past few years, we have completely destroyed Al Shabaab in Somalia and AQAP in Yemen, although we’re still trying to figure out what that acronym stands for.

I’d like to highlight a few more points here to assure the American people that we will win this war against these terrorists — at some point in the future which may be three to four, or even maybe six to seven years from now, but it’s kind of hard to say at this point — and the threat will be diminished.

First, we will begin conducting airstrikes inside Syria at a time and place of our choosing. Under the direction of Gen. Lloyd Austin at Central Command, the military will target key militant facilities, armament, and weaponry, until they smarten up and completely blend in with the local populace.

While we bomb ISIL, which is fighting against the Free Syrian Army, Jabhat al-Nusra, and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad — who we don’t want to support because he’s a war criminal but we’re kind of supporting him but nevermind that — we will support moderate elements of the Free Syrian Army, which is fighting ISIL, Jabhat al-Nusra, and Assad.

We will take great pains to not enter someone else’s civil war, because that’s a first class ticket to failure.

Second, we will train moderate Syrian rebels and Iraqi security forces to take the fight to ISIL. As our experience has taught us in Iraq, the key to winning a war in the Middle East is to train up locals to “own” the battle and take charge of their future. In Mosul, we saw how our training efforts truly paid off, as Iraqi Army units bravely held ground when attacked by militants.

Our troops have long shown what can be achieved with shifting objectives, no strategic foresight, andvigorous support from the American people who don’t have to sacrifice anything. I call on each and every American to tie a yellow ribbon around a tree, bake an American flag cake, and support the troops who are fighting for your freedom.

In closing, I must stress that our war on terror began with Al Qaeda, but it did not end there. I pray that we soon reach our limited objectives in time for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential run.

Thank you, and God bless America.

Was The War In Afghanistan A Long Counter-Terrorism Effort?

mini-meLast weekend I heard one Administration supporter after another correcting journalists that the fight against terrorism is not a war but a long counter-terrorism effort. Okay, how is that different than that Mini-Me war in Afghanistan? I grew up during the Vietnam War and the Afghanistan War is giving me those same vibes. There is nothing that inspires fear and loathing in me more than administration officials talking about long counter-terrorism efforts and limited wars. I heard it before. If we embrace the Clausewitz thought that war is policy by other means then we have to conclude the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were not one of our shining foreign policy achievements if our objective was a long term reduction in terrorism. Like Vietnam the war in Afghanistan has struggled to find the political objective for us being there for over ten years. Since we continue to struggle with our political objectives in Afghanistan, why should we expect a long counter-terrorism effort to have a different outcome? All you need to do is ask yourself two simple questions, what was the objective for the war in Afghanistan and did we accomplish it. With a foreign policy stuck on stupid I guess it is not surprising that we have even less international support for our fight against terrorism than we did with our previous wars in Iraq! I understand the sentiment to avoid mentioning the word, war, but the war in Afghanistan can probably be best described as a long counter-terrorism effort that failed. Without any significant policy changes it is a sign of insanity when you keep doing the same thing over and over again and expect different results.

The Future Of Offshore Wind Farms Is In Question

Although Breitbart is typically not a source I would consult for information on wind farm projects, I think that this article, FLAGSHIP GERMAN OFFSHORE WIND FARM PROJECT HUMILIATED BY TECHNICAL FAULTS, provides a good summary of the state of the wind farm projects in Europe. This article does not mention the technical problems but I suspect the biggest problem for these big wind generators is the bearing technology is not good enough. I first heard about the bearing problem in the article, Bearings: The Achilles Heel of Wind Turbines. This sounds like an engineering technology problem that is not going away fast enough to avoid big political problems for  wind technology supporters.

Offshore wind farm

by DONNA RACHEL EDMUNDS 12 Sep 2014

Germany’s flagship Bard 1 offshore wind farm has been described as “a faulty total system” as technical problems continue to plague the project, casting major doubts on the feasibility of large scale offshore projects.

The wind farm was officially turned on in August last year but was shut down again almost immediately due to technical difficulties that have still not been resolved – and now lawyers are getting involved.

The wind farm comprises 80 5MW turbines situated 100 km off the north German coastline. The difficulty facing engineers is how to get the electricity generated back to shore. So far, every attempt to turn on the turbines has resulted in overloaded and “gently smouldering” offshore converter stations.

Built at a cost of hundreds of millions and costing between €1 and €2 million a day to service, the project is estimated to have cost €340 million in lost power generation over the last year alone. And if the problems with the technology are deemed not to be the fault of the operator, German taxpayers will be on the hook for the running and repair costs, thanks to the German Energy Act 2012.

Tomato Pie

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I made this tomato pie yesterday using this recipe from Simply Recipes. This is the time of the year we get creative with tomatoes and this meal was simply delicious!? I blanched some ripened tomatoes from the garden and removed the seeds and skin. Removing the seeds and liquid is the key lesson I learned from the first time I made this dish. Otherwise the dish gets too sloppy. While I was baking the pie crust I coarsely chopped the tomatoes and tossed them with some fresh cut basil leaves and some chopped red onion. If it looks like a very appealing tomato salad you are half way home. Next I added a splash of mayonnaise to two cups of shredded cheese in a mixing bowel and then mixed it with a little bit of Tabasco and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. By now the pie crust is ready and you can assemble the pie. After thirty minutes of baking you should have something like this picture.

Fixing The Affordable Care Act

One of the major problems I have with fixing the Affordable Care Act is that we are being led by a bunch of morons. Bob Laszewski said “about everybody believed about all of the states would establish their own exchanges” and what do most of the states do? We go from every state wants to set up an exchange to almost no state wants to set up their exchange. Doesn’t anyone see this as a major problem with making health care simpler, better, and more cost efficient? So these same folks have now focused their attention to preserving subsidies rather than making our health care system work better. Unfortunately preserving subsidies turned healthcare.gov into an unnecessarily complex, cost shifting system that requires an unknown number of IRS minions to enforce. Okay, we screwed up. Now is the time to fix it before we turn our health care system into a VA system on steroids. What would it take to make state exchanges work? State exchanges would require a simpler system that minimized development and ongoing costs. Fortunately for us states have limited budgets so complicated systems that do not add value to the customer is not an option. Streamlining or replacing the subsidy system with a simpler cost shifting system that could be implemented in a state exchange without much difficulty would be the first priority. It sounds simple. Instead we seem to be locked into a complex national health exchange we did not want and will most likely fail.

My own observation, having closely watched the original Obamacare Congressional debate, is that this issue never came up because about everybody believed about all of the states would establish their own exchange. I think it is fair to say about everyone also believed a few states would not establish their own exchanges. Smaller states, for example, might opt out because they just didn’t have the scale needed to make the program work. I don’t recall a single member of Congress, Republican or Democrat, who believed that if this happened those states would lose their subsidies.

Before the labor day fireworks in Cincinnati

My wife and I returned to Don Pablos in Newport to watch the Labor Day fireworks. I tried to duplicate the photograph I took of the Big Mac bridge five years ago. I think I like the older picture better. It took over an hour to get out of the parking lot but the food and service was better this time around.

Before the labor day fireworks in Cincinnati

The Folly Of Thinking You Can Fight Terrorism With Police Actions

It has been over a week since Joe Scarborough uttered these words, Obama saying he has no strategy against ISIS is a tactic straight out of “The Art of War”. I thought the the Obama administration had declared that the war on terror was “mission accomplished” and any future acts of terrorism would be best handled with either a shrug of the shoulders or an arrest warrant. In this law abiding world the wisdom of “The Art of War” was not necessary when arrest warrants would suffice. It is amusing to think this Administration might seek wisdom in their fight against terror from a book written two thousand years ago about battle strategies. To paraphrase Tommy Vietor, “Dude, the Art of War was more than two years ago!”

What intrigued me most about Joe’s comment was the idea that Joe and probably the most of the country thinks we are fighting a war on terrorism while the Administration seems to be locked into a police action strategy supplemented with a few extralegal drone attacks. Arguably the Administration’s greatest accomplishment in the battle with terrorism was when they ignored the legal issues with conducting a covert operation in Pakistan that killed Osama bin Laden. It is kind of amusing to think of a Pakistani police officer knocking on Osama bin Laden’s door and announcing we have a warrant for your arrest. Successful police actions are few and far between in the fight against terrorism. The inconvenient fact is that the Administration has a strategy to fight terrorism and they do not want to talk about it since most people would blame them for the four deaths in Benghazi. It was the Benghazi fiasco that convinced the public of the broad policy failure associated with the police action approach. Nothing condemns a policy faster than a dead ambassador. I think most of the country expected a terrorism policy that improved upon what we learned during the Bush Administration. What we got was an outright rejection of everything we learned over the previous eight years and a new strategy that can be blamed for killing the ambassador. The Administration seems to have gone back to the Clinton terrorism strategy and replaced cruise missiles with drone attacks. Unfortunately this Administration is having the same lack of success fighting terrorism as the Clinton Administration. There was a good reason that the Bush Administration chose to fight terrorism differently than the Clinton Administration. The Clinton strategy wasn’t working! As we approach the anniversary of 9/11 I think the people fear we have laid the groundwork to repeat this tragedy.

Tomatoes, Tomatoes, Everywhere

First Tomatoes From The Garden I am picking tomatoes and peppers once a day. I have tomatoes on the counter and in two refrigerators. On Sunday night I opted to vacuum seal and freeze a batch to see how they turned out. Canning is a longer process so I am hoping that this can be a quicker and tastier alternative. I hate to see good vegetables rot so I may end up vacuum sealing tomatoes and peppers every night this week.

Can We Start Talking About Gutting The Affordable Care Act?

Until the Progressives are willing to perform a seppuku on the Affordable Care Act, health care reform will be stuck on stupid. I hate to be brutally honest but there is not much left to gut when you look at all of parts of the Affordable Care Act that have been delayed. Since the Democrats wrote the bill by themselves, they own the Affordable Care Act problems and gutting the bill is preferable over a long prolonged death.  When the smarter half of the Democratic party drew that imaginary line in the sand, they were of the opinion that health care reform cannot not succeed unless we get a majority of the states to set up health exchanges. For both political and governing reasons this form of co-operative federalism depends on states being willing  participants. Without a majority of the states participating via state exchanges the backup plan of a federal exchange would transform the law  into a plain old federal power grab built on the shifting sands of administrative law rulings. This smarter half probably viewed the federal exchange scenario as a recipe for political and governmental disaster and extremely hazardous to their re-election. Unfortunately they were proven right. The healthcare.gov roll-out was a grim reminder that our federal bureaucrats are not as competent as we thought and if you want to create a really big problem, the first step is to make it a federal program. The problem we are faced with now is that we are ignoring our past mistakes. Ms. Greenhouse in her article, “By Any Means Necessary”, seems to think that we can safely ignore the legal problems and the lack of political consensus. In a way she is advocating the idea that laws do not matter if it impedes the society’s greater goal, health care reform. This is what I call the “even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while” management style or otherwise known as management by accident. This is the evil twin of the more successful management style employed by businesses called management by objective. The management by accident approach is based on the hope that if we have enough people stumbling around trying to fix things they think might be wrong then we will eventually fix all of the Affordable Care problems regardless of how badly the law was written or administered. All we need is money, people, and lots of patience with government failures. This might be an acceptable solution in the federal bureaucratic universe but it reminds me why the  healthcare.gov roll-out was such a miserable failure and why my insurance premium continues to go up despite promises otherwise. It should be amusing to see who gets the blame if the number of uninsured returns to historical norms this Fall. This is the Progressive’s proudest Affordable Care Act achievement.  Will we be reminded once again that the Affordable Care Act was a health reform in name only? If this is the Progressive idea of health care reform then would someone  “wake me when it’s over.”

Clueless Politics In Texas

The news channels were bubbling this weekend with the riots in Ferguson and the indictment of Governor Perry on two counts of abuse of power. These are sad and avoidable issues that left me confused. My morbid curiosity finally got the best of me after I watched the video video of Ms. Lehmberg’s arrest for drunken driving. Even though I lived in Texas for twenty years her behavior was appalling even by Texas standards so I was curious why she was still in office.  The best source for information about Ms. Lehmberg’s arrest was the Austin Chronicle article from last year titled, “What Happens Next?” I suspect everyone thought this would be the time when leaders in both parties quietly agree to show her the door and quietly clean up the mess. A temporary district attorney would be in charge until an election could be held in November of 2014. That doesn’t sound too bad but that did not happen. The best explanations for the Perry indictment is that the public integrity agency is the only tool left for Democrats to attack their political rivals if they cannot win in the ballot box.  Despite losing the appeal in the Tom Delay case and the continued allegations that this agency is overtly partisan, I guess it is not surprising that her office chose to double down on the issue and decided to indict Governor Perry for abuse of power when he threatened to veto her funds.  The image of a district attorney conducting public integrity investigations from a prison cell has to look bad to independent voters. With the Democratic party struggling at the polls, this effort makes them look both foolish, desperate, and vindictive. In this case Ms. Lehmberg and the public integrity commission were better off when people thought they were a bunch of fools. Now they have removed all doubt.

Update: I read that some of the people on the grand jury have come out to discuss why they chose to indict Governor Perry. I do not know if discussing grand jury deliberations with the press is illegal but it is ill advised with so many of the cool headed Democratic and Republican political operatives saying the legal foundations for the indictment are very “sketchy”. The jurors’  willingness to talk to the press makes a strong case that the district attorney and the jurors are too personally invested in this decision for the average person to believe that this was the result of a careful evaluation of the evidence. If a Republican governor cannot get a fair grand jury in Travis county solely because he is a Republican then it is time to move the responsibility for public affairs investigations to a different location with less partisanship. Sorry Austin you blew it! It is time for a change and you have no one to blame but yourselves. You abused it so now it is time that you lose it!