Last week the President informed the congress he was going to ask for a half a billion dollars to “train and provide weapons to rebels in Syria when they have been vetted and determined to be friendly to the U.S.” My question is based on millions spent to train Iraq soldiers and provide them with our latest equipment and then have those same soldiers rip their uniforms off and dropped their weapons as they ran from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria soldiers makes us think this mercenary plan will work? What makes President Obama think we have the talent and experience in our military and intelligence organizations to determine potential rebel fighters in Syria that won’t find them following the same path of the Iraq soldiers by taking the training and the weapons and then turning on us?

The rationale is pretty clear, the President of the United States would prefer to turn over our foreign policy decisions to “mercenaries” and hope we as a country can avoid taking actions as a leader in the world. I guess if we are incorrect in our vetting of the Syrian rebels and they turn on us we can next go to the French Foreign Legion to acquire people to fight our foreign policy battles. Come to think of it the Foreign Legion would probably have been a better first step with mercenaries.

Charlie, Charlie, Charlie

Charles Rangel personifies what is wrong with our politicians. His career encompasses just about every evil a political party and candidate/elected official can contain. It begins with race followed by evasion of the law, gentrification, congressional chairmanships and low moral character. Before my democrat friends cry foul this is not about their party but rather about a corrupt system that allows a person of low moral character and obvious violations of the law to be elected over and over.

Witness the New York Times coverage of Representative Rangel’s 11 counts of ethical violations including failure to pay taxes, solicitation of charitable donations [for his own charity] and failure to report his personal income. His actions brought dishonor on the house, and yet he was re-nominated as the democrat representative for the 13th district of New York. If you are not from the Manhattan area of New York you might scratch your head and ask why would the public re-nominate a public service with a terribly flawed moral character for another two year term in congress [assuming he wins in November of this year,] making it his 23rd consecutive terms in the congress.

So hear is the story. The 13th district has historically been a black community. It made sense that no white or Hispanic candidate could effectively court the predominately black community. It reminds me of a line from a citizen in the city of Detroit Michigan when asked why he wasn’t voting for the white candidate for mayor said; better my black devil than your white devil. As in many communities the growth and shift in population [in this case white and Hispanic] started to threaten the constituency Charlie had and now he faces a Hispanic community that probably will unseat him in the 2016 election because they want their own representation that understands their feelings about local and state issues. Of course gentrification means money and it is conceivable although not likely that the Hispanic community will have to accommodate the power that comes with money from those trying to gentrify the 13th district. Finally it may leave the black community as a true minority in a district that they have dominated for over 50 years.

There is more of course, Rangel obusied his power as chair of the ways and means committee using his position to intimidate corporate organizations to donate funds to his sponsored charities with questionable book keeping methods. He failed to pay federal taxes claiming he didn’t know what the tax laws were. Didn’t know what the laws were, he voted for them! He had off shore homes that he had not declared because he didn’t want to pay taxes on those properties. Now when the ethics committee reviewed the 13 charges of ethics violation [eventually he was convicted of 11 of those charges] he walked out in rage shocked that the committee would have the temerity to question his actions.

Finally the democrat party for 46 years of more had tolerated Rangel’s indiscretions and illegal acts and continued to support him financially as well as with endorsements. Why? Because he controlled a solidly black district and delivered their votes to national democrat candidates and on issues the party wanted to win. Do I suggest that the republicans wouldn’t do the same things, absolutely not? It is the nature of our political system that race, money, shifting population, ethnicity and party political objectives over come ethics and the good of the people. Charlie Rangel’s career is the poster child for the sick political power in our country.

Military Advisors

A few months ago I lost a friend and business associate Ray Shonbak to cancer. I first met Raymond when I recruited him from a TV station in Portland Maine to work in local sales at the GE TV station in Denver then called KOA-TV. Ray was a gentlemen and a man of some courage that I believe began when he was a “military advisor” in Vietnam.

Ray told me that while the advisors were not to be armed they in fact were armed. He also told me they were supposed to train the South Vietnam soldiers but they were actually recruiting twelve man assassination teams among the South Vietnamese. Once the title of advisor was dropped and we had a large number of troops into Vietnam and he could officially be armed he continued with the kill teams. One story that totally surprised me was when Raymond said he was sent to South Korean jails to recruit murders and rapist to serve in his Vietnam kill teams for a limited number of months in exchange for their freedom, return to Korea and wiping clean their criminal records. He was also under direction to make certain the Koreans serving in his kill teams did not make it through the prescribed number of months they needed in order to return to their country. Raymond never lied to me in the many years I counted him as a friend and business associate so I believe he actually did his job with his kill teams.

Raymond was recruited by mercenary organizations after being wounded twice in Vietnam and returning to the U.S. completing his second tour of duty. Instead he went to university, graduated and became very successful.

My opinion is that military advisors in Iraqi will start with 300 offering a chance for kidnapping, paying ransom and beheadings. I also believe 300 will become thousands.

One Cross

As I watched today’s TV coverage of the celebration of D-day I was almost overwhelmed, mesmerized if you will by the thousands of crosses in the graveyards surrounding Normandy France. I’m certain that millions of other Americans joined me in that feeling of sadness and pride for the men who defended our freedom that day and in many more battles to come. There is however a danger in emercing ones self in the unending row of crosses and that is what these men sacrificed as individuals.

In my mind it is more appropriate to concentrate on one cross and remind myself of the sacrifice each individual made during the invasion of Normandy and subsequent battles both won and lost.

When you think of one cross you think of limbs lost, wounds that affect the soldiers family and the rest of his life and of course death, the ultimate commitment to ones country.

I ask you when you see the newsreel pictures, the individual photos and hear the recounting of battles lost and won that you think of those events in the context of individual experiences. Think of each individual’s commitment to our country’s way of life, a country best described by others around the world as; the leader of the free world.

Not what bureaucrats want to hear.

The VA must be redesigned. The services should be reduced to only illnesses or injuries directly related to military service. Aging issues and genetic disorders should be paid for and service for through Medicare or Medicaid.

Using the rules set forward here we can redefine and greatly reduce the role of the Veterans’ Administration. In addition to following these rules the VA could provide medical vouchers to veterans that can be serviced in traditional hospitals for war wounds that don’t require special equipment or research.

Research units that currently exist in the VA should be stewarded and expanded to deal with injuries caused by wartime armaments.

The changes proposed here will results in a reduced bureaucracy and lower costs of operations. I await your questions.