National Drunk Dial Congress Day!

By Piper Bayard and Jay Holmes

Since Congress is out fighting on the playground again instead of doing the job we hired them to do, we here at Bayard & Holmes have stepped in to make sure “essential” duties are not ignored. One of those is the ever more difficult task of keeping up moral in America. To meet that burden, we have declared October 17 to be National Drunk Dial Congress Day.

For those of us who actually have to work to keep up with “essential” matters in life that don’t include the “essential” golf courses and “essential” fitness clubs where you will find our congressmen during the shutdown, we found this delightful web site for you called . . .

Canstock Man in Bar on phone while drinking

DrunkDialCongress.org

Yes, this is for real. Piper checked it out for us. You leave your number at the web site. Within a minute or so, your phone rings. A man’s voice says, “Is this government shutdown making you want to drink? When I drink, I like to tell people what’s on my mind.” Then you will be transferred to the office of a random member of Congress. The rather liberal group Revolution Messaging is behind the site, but supposedly both Democrats and Republicans receive calls.

Piper’s message to her random congressman? “Every one of you yahoos needs a good spanking. Stop putting your parties above the American people.”

We would be honored if you would take a moment to join in the fun and Drunk Dial Congress with us today. Please tell us below what you will tell the random slacker you are sent to during your Drunk Dial Opportunity. Please keep it PG-13, and let Congress be our target, not our fellow commenters or any actual Americans. Let’s band together and recognize the true enemy in this situation — partisan politics.

1-800-ZAPP-ASS: Sparking Congress into Action

By Piper Bayard & Jay Holmes

Are you feeling abused by your political system? Disgusted with your congressmen and elected officials? Ready to move to Central America to find some semblance of organized government?

Fear not! Bayard & Holmes stand ever prepared to turn your problems into our opportunities. We are proud and excited to bring you our latest ingenious program calculated to lower your stress and increase your happiness. We call it 1-800-ZAPP-ASS. Here’s how it works. . . .

For a meager donation of $1.99, you can dial or text 1-800-ZAPP-ASS and deliver an electric shock to the Political Offender of your choice—congressmen, elected officials (no Executive Privilege applies), or a fervent, annoying, neighborhood political party radical. You can even use this device to zapp some sense into social media ranters, or those college kids still young enough to know everything who come to our doors, clipboard in hand, and tell us how misguided we are in our political views.

Actual photo of Political Offender  hit by 1-800-ZAPP-ASS

Actual photo of Political Offender
hit by 1-800-ZAPP-ASS

All proceeds will be placed in a special fund to assist those affected by the government shutdown, along with the growing numbers of unemployed people and their hungry families who are so desperate for work they are now studying Mandarin or Phillipino in the hopes they will be re-hired for their own outsourced jobs some day.

Sound amazing? But wait! There’s more!

The top 12 most-zapped Political Offenders will win all expense paid vacations to Camp Cheerful Summer Camp for Adults in the beautiful blue Caribbean on the coast of Cuba.

Our highly trained Happiness Specialists will be waiting for your favorite Political Offenders with a very special fun activity designed just for them. We call it Politicalboarding.

With Politicalboarding, the Political Offenders are restrained in a room together where they are subjected to each other’s company. Then, they sit through 72 non-stop, fun-filled hours of Ted Cruz filibustering, only interrupted by diaper changes and electric shocks when their eyelids droop. After that, the Political Offenders will be forced to stand at attention until they have memorized each one of the over 2,500,000 words in the Obamacare statutes and regulations.

No worries! This is nothing like waterboarding. In fact, Political Offenders at Camp Cheerful aren’t even given water.

Once they can recite Obamacare like a Baptist Circuit Preacher quoting the Holy Bible at a tent revival, the Political Offenders will be treated to a sumptuous banquet of gluten-packed, dairy-packed, sugar-loaded, freeze dried, GMO whole wheat bread crust and a draught from the local sacred spring of Baca Podrida (translation “Rotting Cow”).

After their meal, the Political Offenders will be strapped to chairs and turned upside down in a dunking booth. Then, since Baseball is not only our religion but the All-American Sport, major league hopefuls will practice their throws. Just so you know, this isn’t waterboarding, either. It’s Strategic Dunking.

Text, phone, tweet, email, or FaceBook now and contribute your $1.99 to zapp Congress into action. Let’s remind these self-serving bozos who exempt themselves from everything from NSA spying to Obamacare that we have a special interest, too. We call it “America.”

If you would like to suggest anyone to receive a shocking wake up from 1-800-ZAPP-ASS, please feel free to do so below. However, in the interests of delicacy and the fact that social media platforms take years to build and can be destroyed in seconds, please only refer to your Political Offenders by clean and clever code names.

Now, now! No crowding, and no personal attacks on each other in the Comments Section. We’ll leave that sort of unethical, unprofessional behavior to the politicians.

Syria–Mumbling, Frowning, and Arms Shipments

By Jay Holmes

When we last published an analysis of the war in Syria in April 2013, this was where things stood:

  • Various factions of Islamic fundamentalist-branded gangs had hijacked the conflict.
  • Russia had announced its continuing support for Assad.
  • Turkey’s own Islamic-brand despot Recep Tayyip Erdogan (a.k.a. Yippy) was criticizing the American interventionist approach to the Mideast circus while loudly demanding that the US immediately intervene in Syria to save Turkey from the chaos. Erdogan mumbled this nonsense while simultaneously explaining that Turkey’s archenemies, the “dastardly and disgusting Kurds,” were really always their good friends–good friends with oil to sell.
  • Iran was directing its always-adventurous Hezbolalalalala branch employees to strike against Syrian rebels while continuing the ongoing campaign of murder and mayhem in Lebanon.
  • The Iraqi government, though unable to govern in Iraq, was growing more helpful in assisting the Iranian-backed Shia factions in Syria.
  • Not to be outdone by the Iranian Mullahs, the Gulf petrol-sheiks were sending cash and arms to Syria to counter Iranian goals. The petrol-sheiks were not altogether certain to whom they should hand over the cash and weapons, but they didn’t let that delay their shipments.
photo by James Gordon wikimedia commons

photo by James Gordon
wikimedia commons

If this all sounds too complicated to fit into an Italian comic opera, remember that while it seems too absurd to be real from a distance, the view from the streets in Syria and the refugee camps is far less comical. The 1.25 million-person-sized elephant in the in the Mideast room—the refugees from Syria—are not enjoying their long vacations. If the Syrians that left Syria for Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan are less than thrilled with their lives, their countrymen at home have still less reason to celebrate. In Syria, rival factions frequently execute children for the crime of having been born in Syria.

With their eagerness to occasionally appear relevant, spokesmen for the international cash cow that we sentimentally refer to as the United Nations have since decided that they are certain at least 100,000 people have been killed in the war in Syria. They remain just as certain that they are uncertain what they should do about it, but if things continue at the current murderous pace, the UN might eventually escalate to having a spokesman demonstrate a “dark frown” to assembled journalists.

I am less optimistic than the UN. I will offer my own estimate of 130,000 deaths, but my own personal dark frown will do no more to prevent the next child execution in Syria than the dark frown that the UN will eventually demonstrate. Don’t rush them. The fine art of “grave concern and dark frowns” as practiced at the UN is a slow and well-financed process. It all takes time. They’re still busy bringing peace and happiness to Korea.

Since the spring of 2011, the Obama administration and its partisan pals in Congress have stuck to strong rhetoric and menacing finger waving as a foreign policy response to the Syrian chaos. The White House loudly proclaimed that the use of chemical weapons by Syrian despot Assad’s forces would constitute the crossing of a “clear red line” and the US would not tolerate it. Naturally, opponents of Assad were listening and soon started claiming that Assad had used chemical weapons.

The rebels’ vague hope that Obama would follow up his grandiose statements with grandiose action was not fulfilled. The White House instead responded by explaining that we were not certain that chemical weapons had been used. That doubt was honest enough a year ago, but the current balance of evidence indicates that doubt is not well-founded now. Not everyone is convinced, but on June 14, the US government announced that it had confirmed that Assad’s forces had, indeed, used chemical weapons.

It now turns out that when President Obama said “clear red line,” he really meant something more like “crooked dull pink smudge.” This month, the Democrat-controlled US Senate helped out the President by declaring that the US should support the Syrian rebels by shipping arms to them. The White House agreed and announced that it decided to help arm the Syrian rebels. The Senate quickly followed up its strategy statement with guarantees that it had received (apparently invisible and very magical) assurances that any US arms shipments to Syria would not fall into the hands of any people that were likely to shoot at Americans or American allies.

The Senate and its pals in the White House have not disclosed the nature of these magical assurances of a clean and predictable indirect intervention. Perhaps these weapons will include some of the safety devices that anti-second amendment lobbyists often demand. Perhaps the weapons will have magic chips that will prevent them from functioning when people that like shooting Westerners or Israelis are holding them. Perhaps a sensor would determine the degree of Islamic jihadi fervor before allowing the weapon to fire or detonate. No one is sharing that information.

The White House has not said what weapons the US will deliver. Like the Senate, the White House also has not mentioned precisely how it will ensure that such weapons will remain in the hands of the Syrian rebels and out of the hands of al-Qaeda and the other various sectarian migrant jihadi workers that are currently harvesting this summer’s crop of Syrian mayhem. The White House’s announcement to arm the rebels seems to be the result of a need to “do something” while not having any actual policy goals to follow.

The vast majority of the American public responded with a yawn. This lack of interest is easy to understand. With the looming war in Egypt between jihadi factions and the rest of Egypt, the continuing river of cash and US blood flowing into Afghanistan, and the continued drift toward third world poverty status for so many unemployed and low wage earning Americans, it’s tough for the US public to get too excited about Syria. Idealism is a hobby most easily practiced when life is comfortable, and for many Americans right now, life is not comfortable.

Europe is currently busy doing next to nothing about its own dazzling array of economic disasters and immigrant issues. The crowds of deeper-thinking-than-thou devout and loyal Obama admirers in Europe have painted over their “Obama is our Savior” signs with “Hang the war criminal Obama” messages.

Their respective governments, particularly France and the UK, have followed a “whisper” diplomatic policy concerning Syria. They mumble vague statements about chemical weapons and rush to demonstrate frowns for the media before the UN can upstage them. When the cameras are turned, they look to the West and whisper, “Obama, hurry up and get involved in Syria so that we don’t have to.” Their speech writers have already written their denouncements of whatever action the US might decide to take. Just fill in the blanks when the time comes. The US will be blamed for “creating a humanitarian crisis in Syria.”

Europe Frowning on Flag

While it’s easy for me to criticize the US administration for its lack of a meaningful foreign policy, it’s a bit tougher to come up with an approach they might sell to a disgusted American public. One highly-respected foreign policy expert recently published a suggestion that the US concentrate on improving education in the Middle East as a long-term strategy for reducing violence and despair in the region. While in theory it sounds like a great idea, many Americans would hasten to point out that before we reduce the slaughter of children in the Middle East, we might want to do something about the slaughter of children in regions such as Chicago. Before we attempt to educate Middle Eastern children, we might wish to achieve a minimal standard of literacy in places like Detroit, east L.A., and the halls of our Congress. While it’s concerning that Obama and Congress continue to rely on a strategy of “slow drift” foreign policy, it would be even more disturbing for them to pursue a “leap now look later” policy toward Syria. The combination of over a decade of wildly expensive and ineffective US intervention in the Middle East and the declining standard of living for working class Americans has left US politicians with a tough audience concerning foreign policy.

The US and Europe are making small and “low noise” efforts to find and assist legitimate Syrian rebels, but for the moment, those efforts have proven inadequate. For the moment, Assad will not be trying to sneak away from Syria. He and his supporters have staked their lives and fortunes on defeating the rebels at all costs.

In my opinion, strategies for supporting the Syrian rebels without violating our own national interests are possible, but they are not clean and easy. Those strategies would require the White House and Congress to make clear choices and act decisively. It would require them to place foreign policy concerns above 2014 election concerns. The degree to which US politicians will do that will determine whether or not the US will be able to impact events in Syria. For now, expect more mumbling and frowning.

Iraq — Ten Years Later

By Intelligence Operative Jay Holmes

Ten years ago this week, a US led coalition invaded Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein. While it is still a bit too soon to see the long term prospects for the post-Saddam Iraq, we have enough hindsight to make reasonable judgments about the overall effects of the Coalition conquest.

Previously, on August 2, 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait and conquered it within two days. Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein then declared Kuwait a province of Iraq and began a barrage of verbal threats against Saudi Arabia. The Iraqi army was then within short striking distance of Saudi oil fields. That mattered to the West for humanitarian reasons and because Kuwait and Saudi Arabia were, and still are, exporting oil to Western nations. Which reason mattered most depends on which Westerner or non-Westerner you ask.

On January 18, 1991, US-led Coalition aircraft and ships began an intense and very effective attack on Iraqi military assets. On February 24, the Coalition attacked Iraqi forces in Iraq and Kuwait for the purpose of liberating Kuwait and destroying the Iraqi elite Republican Guard divisions. By February 27, the surviving Iraqi forces in Kuwait retreated, and by the next day, all Iraqi forces near Saudi Arabia had been destroyed or had retreated north. The Coalition ordered a cease-fire.

The Coalition offered Saddam Hussein a truce based on his willingness to destroy all Scud missiles and to allow unhindered weapons and site inspections by the US and/or by inspectors from Coalition nations. Saddam quickly agreed to the terms. However, once the majority of Coalition forces were gone from the region, Saddam stopped cooperating with UN and Western inspection teams. Neither the UN nor the US could verify what WMDs remained in Iraq.

Saddam Hussein Playing Card public domain

On March 20, 2003, a US-led coalition invaded Iraq with the stated intent of removing Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein from power. A significant part of the US and British justification for that invasion centered on Iraq’s failure to comply with the terms of the 1991 truce. Given that Saddam Hussein’s military had already used nerve gas against Iran during the Iran-Iraq War and against its own Kurdish citizens, the US and some Western allies took the WMD threat very seriously.

When the US Coalition forces invaded Iraq, the US used its air supremacy, its superior mobility, and its superior training and leadership to defeat the numerically superior Iraqi military. The 300,000 strong Coalition made fast progress against the 375,000 demoralized Iraqi military, and on May 1, 2003, US President George Bush announced that combat operations in Iraq were over.

While the war against the Iraqi military was, indeed, successfully concluded, the difficult process of occupying Iraq had only started. “Peace” in Iraq would cost the US and its Coalition allies—the UK principle among them—far more in lives and treasure than the war did.

Most participants and observers on both sides of the conflict were confident that a US-backed coalition would defeat the Iraqi military. However, coalition military and political leaders had three critical questions on their minds:

  1. What will it cost us in lives to destroy the Iraqi military and Saddam’s regime?
  2. What will it cost Iraq in civilian casualties and oil production?
  3. What will it cost Coalition members in both domestic and international political capital?

Leaders in Washington, D.C. and London knew the answer to the third question would be determined by the answers to the first two.

According to a variety of US polls, on the morning of the invasion, over 70% of the US population approved the action. A general anger over the 9/11 terrorist attacks, in which Islamic jihadis murdered approximately 3,000 innocent civilians in the US, fueled that approval. Some of the approval was also fueled by the belief that Iraq still possessed WMDs, intermediate range missiles, sarin gas, and extended range SCUD missiles.

The few adventurous folks who targeted Iraqi chemical weapons facilities on the ground with the assistance of Kurdish allies probably won’t say anything except that they were on vacation some place else that month. The Iraqi war veterans who now suffer from symptoms caused by chemical exposure in the Iraqi tunnels and bunkers usually don’t say much either, and if they did, who would listen?

It was never a question that Iraq had WMDs. As mentioned above, Saddam Hussein’s military had already used nerve gas against Iran during the Iran-Iraq War and against its own Kurdish citizens. That is undisputed fact. Three conditions of the of the 1991 truce, as well as a UN mandate, were that Saddam get rid of the WMDs he had, that he not stockpile any more, and that he prove he was in compliance. However, Iraq routinely blocked UN inspection teams sent to verify that he was abiding by the terms of the treaty. This obstruction created the doubt that Iraq had disposed of its WMDs and ceased its WMD programs.

While blocking these inspections, Saddam continued to finance “secret” WMD programs in Iraq with illegally diverted “oil for food” funds that were administered by corrupt UN leaders. Saddam’s scientists and administrators, in their turn, stole most of the diverted money while sending false reports up the food chain to indicate a level of progress in their WMD research and production that did not exist. However, this façade was enough to convince Saddam that his scientists were succeeding in developing WMDs, including nuclear weapons. Intelligence agencies outside of the Iraq were seeing some of the same overblown progress reports to Saddam, and this created a confusing picture. In addition to those reports, a variety of other anti-Saddam parties, both inside of and outside of Iraq, were doing their best to tell the West whatever it needed to hear in order to get the West to depose Saddam.

Saddam staunchly denied possession of WMDs to the West and to the UN. Simultaneously, he waged an information war against Iran, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Syria, posturing and puffing up his WMD capabilities. He wanted to scare them. He succeeded.

Saddam gambled. He and most of the other oil-producing Islamic nations pressured the West to stay out of Iraq. Saddam thought that petroleum bargaining chip, combined with the threat that his modified extended range missiles could reach as far as Paris, would keep the US from “pulling the trigger” and launching an attack on Iraq. He was wrong and that bad bet cost him a trip to the gallows and the lives of his two sons.

During the Iraqi War, Coalition forces quickly found the banned Scud Missiles but found little remaining WMD equipment. The few sarin gas artillery shells and the nerve gas manufacturing equipment that were discovered did nothing to overcome most of the public’s perception that “there were never any WMDs in Iraq.”

While Saddam and his regime were easy to dispose of, creating something like a “government” in Iraq to replace the old Baathist regime was far more difficult. The US would pay dearly for the occupation process. In fact, “process” might be the wrong term. Much of the US/UK strategy for the occupation seems to have been based on wishful thinking and a strategy of “spend and pray.”

In a live broadcast interview on April 23, 2003, USAID administrator Andrew Nastios said the rebuilding of Iraq could be accomplished for no more than $1.7 billion dollars in total. He missed by a bit. Before the end of 2003, the cost of the Iraqi occupation had increased to about $1 billion per week. By 2007, the costs had escalated to $2 billion per week.

Visitors to Iraq today would likely wonder precisely where that $2 billion a week went. While the variety of contractors, both US and foreign, will reassure us that every penny was well spent, not being one of those contractor folks, I am a bit less satisfied with the results of the expenditures. If you are a family member or loved one of the nearly 4,500 US troops or 312 British troops who were killed, you might be too busy remembering that fallen soldier to wonder about the money. If you are a family member of one of the 90,000 injured Coalition soldiers, then you might simply be too busy wondering about your own expenses to think about Iraq. But even if the money doesn’t matter to you, and the dead and injured are not directly related to you, it’s still worth wondering why we achieved so little at such a high cost in lives and treasure.

Unfortunately, we are not likely to permanently avoid war in the future. For one thing, as we reach the tenth anniversary of the “Shock and Awe” show, we remain involved in Afghanistan where we are burning more cash and lives to prop up an unlovable hoodlum in the person of Muhammad Karzai. For another, the White House has just stepped up its rhetoric against Iran. So while the Iraq War is over for us, questions about how we managed it remain critical.

Even at the time of the Iraq invasion, my greatest concern was that we were likely to invest heavily in lives and money without demanding anything from whatever group that we would prop up as an Iraqi government. My fears have been realized. How could I have imagined such a thing, you ask? Easily, Viet Nam should have taught us all better. Apparently, it didn’t.

While we spent generously and the Coalition troops fought effectively and efficiently, we have demanded very little from the Iraqi leadership to whom we relinquished control. While the various concerns of the many different Iraqi Peoples deserved consideration, we allowed the Iraqis to muddle along and call the shots while we paid the bills. That was nothing short of insane.

How insane? About a trillion dollars and 4,500 lives insane from the US point of view. The view from the Iraqi side of the equation is much worse. The Iraqi government, the Coalition, and the UN have no idea how many Iraqis were murdered during the chaos that plagued the US occupation. The estimates range from 110,000 to 600,000. The 600,000 figure seems wildly high to me, but 200,000 seems possible. The vast majority of those Iraqi civilians were murdered by Iraqi insurgents and foreign jihadis rather than by Coalition forces. Nonetheless, that’s still a level of human loss that should not be ignored.

If we weren’t willing to take charge during the occupation, then we simply should have shot Saddam when US Army Special Forces troops ferreted him out of his fox hole and then gone home. If we weren’t willing to be seen as being in charge in Iraq while providing some stability for a representative government to form, then we should not have stayed for more than the year that it took to destroy Saddam’s forces and hunt down his key Baathists pals.

In all major theories of war, including the various theories of guerrilla warfare and terror operations, one of the leading critical principles is “the principle of the objective.” Without a clear and viable objective in mind, one cannot achieve anything meaningful in a war.

In my opinion, and I won’t claim that it’s a humble one because I’m an opinionated old SOB and I know it, we failed to identify and pursue a clear objective in Iraq. We succeeded within the year in our original objective of removing the threat against ourselves and our allies by removing Saddam. Those who love to say Saddam never posed a threat to the US have ignored history and must not be paying for the petroleum they consume. But having achieved that objective, we stayed in Iraq while presumably hoping that someone in Baghdad would generously provide us with a plausible objective while we waited for democracy to break out. When we left in 2011, we were still waiting for that democracy. We’re still waiting now, but at least we no longer spend $2 billion a week for the privilege.

To be fair, what exists in Iraq today is probably, from the Western perspective, slightly less horrible than the Saddam regime. From the perspective of most Iraqis, life under the tyrant Maliki is far better than life under the tyrant Saddam Hussein. The Sunni backed kingdom of Saudi Arabia might not agree. The Iranians are thrilled to have a Shia in charge in Iraq, but they are learning that not all Shia believe Iran needs to be the one Islamic Caliphate.

And now we can add a couple of new factors to the Iraqi equation. Turkey has decided that those “disgusting subhuman” Kurds in Iraq have oil and are therefore lovely folks. Turkey finds itself talking to the Iraqi government in Baghdad less and less, and holding hands with the Kurds more and more. But let’s not forget another important neighbor of Iraq. Syria is in turmoil, and the violence is increasing. Iraq’s Maliki regime is supporting Iran’s ally Assad in Syria.

The US, NATO, and Turkey are in no hurry to start an air campaign against Assad. Iran backs some anti-Assad fighters as a hedge against the Syrian dictator. However, Iran needs Assad to stay in power and remain a major concern to the West for as long as possible. If the West is busy being concerned with Syria’s recent attacks against Lebanon and Turkey, it is less likely to invest the considerable military assets and massive political capital required for a meaningful military strike against Iran. Iran is free to pursue its nuclear dreams.

Interestingly, Iran turned down its patented “death to America” rhetoric this week and seems willing to talk. How much of that shift is a response to the economic pain of UN and US sanctions, and how much is a strategy to buy time to assemble a nuclear weapon, is tough to guess at this point. If you happen to live in Israel, you can’t be enjoying this card game at all.

Not everyone will agree on whether the 2003 Iraq invasion should have occurred at all. Many who agreed at the time have changed their minds. What most of us can easily agree on is that the White House and Congress mismanaged the occupation. If we are to learn anything, and if the sacrificed Coalition soldiers and Iraqi civilians matter at all, then we are obligated to examine the Iraq occupation dispassionately and apolitically so that we can do our best to avoid such hideously expensive mistakes in the future.

Snowquester – Magic Bullet for World Peace

By Piper Bayard and Jay Holmes

Last week, Washington, D.C. shut down due to a threat. No, not a terrorist threat. The threat of snow.

Frosty disappointedimage by Square87, wikimedia commons

Frosty disappointed
image by Square87, wikimedia commons

A snow storm predicted to drop 5” – 10” of Frosty’s essence was moving into the area. In the end, Frosty was disappointed with an inconvenient slush. However, Bayard & Holmes, ever on the alert for original ways to make our world a better place, noticed that for a day, things were looking up for our country. For a whole day, the same government that brings us fat-cat banker relief acts, TSA gropes, warrantless searches of American citizens on our highways, and increasingly more hostile political, racial, and religious division actually did no harm to the nation.

In light of that remarkable event, Bayard & Holmes has founded the First Do No Harm Foundation for World Peace. We are currently accepting donations for the purpose of purchasing snow making machines and stationing them at strategic locations around Washington, D.C. Every time the children aren’t playing well together, we will turn on the snow makers to shut them down and give them a cooling off period. Sort of a Congressional Time Out.

But why stop there? We have already contacted the Defense Department about re-fitting retired B-52 and B-1 bombers with snow making equipment that would allow them to carry this peaceful mission to other parts of the world.

What’s that, Kim Jong Un? You say you’re going to send nukes south of the border? One Snowmageddon coming right up. Old Kimy Boy will be enjoying a week of relaxation while he roasts marshmallows in one of his deep underground bunkers. From what we see of Kim ther’s no shortage of snack food in North Korean bunkers.

What’s that, Iran? You want to become the sole Islamic Caliphate and bury the West? Looks like you’re the one buried now. Just to help the Iranian regime enjoy the snow from heaven we’ll sell them some curly toed snow-shoes. And Hugo Chavez? No worries about him. He’s finding out Hell didn’t really freeze over when he was elected president of Venezuela.  Should his replacement thug become too annoying and start financing Colombian terrorists again Caracas residents would be treated to their first snow storm since the last ice age.

This is win/win all the way around. Aging snow bunny pacifists will have delightful new adventure tourism destinations for winter fun all year round, and the military can give the tantruming toddlers of the world the discipline they need. And the best part? Americans will have a training tool to use on our nation’s leaders. Who knows? Maybe we’ll luck out, and Congress will throw a Donner Party. There’s more than one way to trim the fat in DC.

Attack on the Capitol!

By Jay Holmes

What if a terrorist group managed to detonate a bomb in the Capitol building? In the War on Terror, one of the most obvious targets in the United States is our nation’s iconic Capitol building. If terrorists did manage to bomb the Capitol what would the reaction be?

image by Raul654, wikimedia commons

image by Raul654, wikimedia commons

Most readers will likely remember that on 9-11, the Capitol was saved from a terrorist attack. Not by the US military, the intelligence services, or any law enforcement agency, but rather by unarmed passengers on United Airlines flight 93 when they resisted the al-Qaeda criminals that had hijacked their flight. Thanks to their courage, flight 93 was stopped from crashing into the intended target, the US capitol.

Undoubtedly, some members of the Department of Homeland Security spend their hours considering the possibility of another attack on the Capitol and work to prevent it. They’re too late to prevent it. It’s already happened, but it’s best that they keep it from happening again. As much as I dislike about half of our congressmen, I don’t want to see them attacked again.

Many in the USA may have long forgotten that a gang of violent foreigners already succeeded in attacking our Capitol.  Which Islamist radicals managed to pull it off? Can you remember? Let me give you a couple of hints. They were not Islamic. They were English, and they succeeded.

In 1814 during our poorly planned and ill-conceived War of 1812, British soccer fans dressed in red uniforms similar to those of the British Army invaded Washington DC and expressed their displeasure with American literature by setting a bonfire in the still uncompleted Capitol using books from the library of Congress.  Even back then, congressmen knew what British soccer fans were like and they mustered the good sense to leave the premises before those fans arrived. After roasting some unpalatable English food over the fire, the British soccer fans departed. Fortunately for the US, British taxpayers grew tired of the higher taxes and loss of trade with the USA that the war had provoked in Great Britain, and in 1815, Great Britain signed the Treaty of Ghent, promising to keep their soccer fans on their side of the Atlantic.

Fortunately, no British tourists have behaved quite so poorly since that terrible night in 1814. Unfortunately, other folks have not been quite as well behaved in the Capitol since then.

If some members of the press feel a bit abused these days by the current administration, they should feel lucky compared to 19th century DC reporters.  If we don’t count the vicious fist fights that occurred between congressmen in the 19th century, then the next attack occurred on February 28, 1890 when the tall, muscular ex-congressman William Taulbee of Kentucky assaulted a small and very sickly journalist by the name of Charles Kinkaid.   Taulbee had previously assaulted Kincaid in public, but the local authorities ignored the attacks. Taulbee harbored a raging grudge against Kinkaid because the journalist had exposed an extramarital affair between him—a married, ordained Methodist minister and congressman—and a female employee of the US patent office. Taulbee’s wife was less forgiving than Hilary Clinton and sent him packing. The conservative voters that he represented with a conservative platform were less forgiving than modern voters and Taulbee had to resign.  On February 28, 1890 when Taulbee attacked Kinkaid on the east stairs of the House Chambers, Kinkaid shot him in self-defense. Taulbee died a few days later. Supposedly, the blood stain can still be seen on the east House stairs.

William Taulbee, image public domain

William Taulbee, image public domain

In 1915, in response to the US declaration of neutrality in World War One, German immigrant Erich Muenter, aka Frank Holt, detonated a bomb in the Senate visitor’s waiting room. Fortunately, the bomb detonated at 11:50 p.m. and nobody was killed. The next day, Muentner shot and badly injured JP Morgan Jr. Muentner was arrested and committed suicide in his cell. Whether or not it was an “assisted suicide” is unknown.

For the next 39 years, peace reigned on Capitol Hill. Then, on March 1, 1954, Puerto Rican Nationalist terrorists Lolita Lebron, Rafael Miranda, and Andres Cordero fired shots from the House gallery and wounded five congressmen. Fortunately, they were captured before they were able to kill anyone. Unfortunately, they were captured alive and were brought to trial. They got long sentences, but Cordero was released from prison in 1978 due to terminal cancer. His fellow assailants and a co-conspirator were released in 1979 by President Jimmy Carter as part of a plan to gain the release of US prisoners in Cuba.

The next gang of terrorists that managed to carry out an attack against the Capitol was a group of very odd and incompetent criminals that called themselves the Weathermen. On March 1, 1971 a bomb they set exploded at night in a men’s rest room in the Senate and nobody was injured. The Weathermen carried out several bombings in the US, and their apologists claim that they never hurt anyone. That’s simply not true.  When they bombed a San Francisco police station, one policeman was killed and one was badly injured. Fortunately, the Marxist Weathermen managed to kill more of their own members than they did their intended victims when a nail bomb they were constructing exploded in their Greenwich Village apartment in New York City and killed three of them.

On November 7, 1983, a Weathermen splinter group calling themselves the Armed Resistance Union bombed the US Senate at the now traditional 11 p.m. capitol bombing hour. They were apparently unaware that the fighting was over in Grenada, as they were demanding an end to the “brutal US War in Grenada.” Fortunately, by adhering to that important 11 p.m. bombing schedule, nobody was hurt.

Unfortunately, the next attack on the Capitol was not as harmless. On July 24, 1998, a mentally ill man by the name of Russell Weston entered the Capitol and murdered two Capitol policemen. He explained that he was saving the US from being destroyed by cannibals. Weston had been previously diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic after repeatedly threatening neighbors at his home in Montana, but he had been released after 51 days in a mental institution without adequate follow-up treatment. After the shooting at the Capitol, he was found to be incompetent to stand trial and he is still in a federal institution.

So if you visit our nation’s Capitol, arrive early because the security measures will slow you down a bit. Be patient. The security is justified.

More Groping, Less Education, and a Fire Tzar. Where Will the Sequestering End?

By Piper Bayard

Just released! Holmes and I used our special connections (a telephone call to each other for a snark session) to uncover the White House plans for dealing with the new $85 billion budget cuts. This is what we discovered.

image from wikimedia, public domain

image from wikimedia, public domain

The TSA has drafted a new, more cost-effective security procedure. Instead of TSA agents conducting pat-downs at airport security, the TSA now asks that passengers please grope the person in the security line immediately behind them before they board any planes. If anyone has religious or common sense objections to that procedure, they will instead be allowed to grope themselves, but only if a TSA agent is watching.

In light of education cuts, education in America will now be Pay Per View through Amazon. Since my teens assure me that fifty percent of their classmates only show up at school to do their drug deals and practice sex ed techniques in dark library corners, this should reduce education expenses by fifty percent. It will also have the complimentary effect of reducing local police budgets, as our officers will no longer be called on to arrest 5-yr-olds who threaten to shoot bubbles at their classmates.

To address the impending nationwide reduction of firefighters, President Obama today signed 52 executive orders banning lighters, matches, and Beyoncé videos. He also appointed a cattle woman from Chicago named Mrs. O’Leary as his new Fire Tzar to establish yet another over-paid bureaucracy devoted to studying the source of fire violence.

Holmes and I, shocked and awed by this approach to governmental thrift, have already drafted a letter to Congress proposing that America recoup that $85 billion cut by discontinuing the tens of billions we give in foreign aid to countries that hate us and harbor people who try to kill us. We would also downsize Michelle Obama’s lavish, non-stop, taxpayer-funded vacation to two weeks a year, which is what the few taxpayers left in America have to enjoy. We would suggest that, like America’s shrinking middle class, Michelle spend that two weeks cleaning out the basement and having a garage sale, but since we taxpayers own her furniture and china, we don’t want to give her that idea.

What are your thrifty suggestions for trimming our expenses?

Egypt’s President Morsi–Between the Crocodiles and the Leopards

By Jay Holmes

Today, from the Western point of view, we see continuing strife in Egypt centered on the basic issue of theocracy vs. democracy. The simple interpretation of that strife indicates that Egyptian President Morsi, his Muslim Brotherhood backers, and their sympathizers constitute approximately half of Egypt’s population, and that their secular opposition constitutes the other half. Each side in the theocracy vs. democracy struggle claims to represent more than 50% of the Egyptian people. Given the lack of democratic institutions in Egypt, it may be impossible to know if one side or the other actually has a 50%+ majority. While the question of any majority in Egypt is unanswerable for the present, one thing that remains certain is that Egypt remains divided, and that whichever side is in the minority, it is a very large minority.

Mohamed Morsi Trinitresque wikimedia

Mohamed Morsi, image by Trinitresque, wikimedia commons

Another important factor in the ongoing Egyptian revolution is the identity and personality of Egypt’s President Morsi. While Morsi was marketed as a “reformer” and a “moderate,” he has demonstrated that he is neither.  Thus far, Morsi’s only attempts at reforms have focused on reforming Egypt into his own personal dictatorship while trying to consolidate his own personal power. From outside of Egypt, it may appear that Morsi is in charge and running the show in that country. From inside of Morsi’s office, the view might be more complicated.

Morsi needed backing from the Islamic Brotherhood and the religious leaders of Egypt to obtain power. Now that he has succeeded in that goal, he is unable to exercise that power without the direct influence of the Egyptian clergy. If Egypt’s Sunni religious leaders were to turn on Morsi, he would be left with approximately zero percent backing. I assume his family and closest friends would still be in his corner, but it would be a very lonely and dangerous corner. Without the backing of that Sunni leadership, Morsi’s power would evaporate like a droplet of water in the Egyptian Desert. Morsi has no choice but to keep the Egyptian clergy happy.

What Morsi now has to come to terms with is the fact that he is dealing with a group of people who specialize in being unhappy and hard to please. In fact, being unhappy is the second most popular hobby amongst Sunni religious leaders. Their first most popular hobby is being demanding. Have fun with that Mr. President.

The recent, well-publicized torture and murder of Egyptian anti-Morsi activist Mohammed El-Gendy while in police custody has become a clear symbol of the lack of reform in Egyptian government and the lack of human rights that prevail in Egypt. While police brutality in Egypt seemed to be on the decline after Morsi’s election, El-Gendy’s torture and death are by no means an isolated case. Morsi is claiming to be investigating El-Gendy’s death, but the half of Egypt that does not support him is unconvinced that any meaningful investigation will take place.

The Egyptian military and police apparatus are not traditionally Islamic institutions. They have a history of clearly secular leanings. And why wouldn’t they? Who needs a cleric to obey when you have fighter jets and well-made tanks on your side?

The clearly secular history of Egypt’s military and police forces lead us to an obvious question. Why have Egypt’s secular military and police protected Morsi and their old enemies in the Islamic Brotherhood?

We could ask Morsi, the military, or the police, but it’s unlikely that they would answer the question sincerely. My best guess is that Morsi and his religious bosses made a deal with those powerful institutions. That deal would have to center on the police and military maintaining positions of privilege in exchange for protecting Morsi and the Sunni leadership. For that deal to remain in place, Morsi must not attempt to reform the military or police by reducing their power and privilege.

Anyone care to guess on what will happen in the investigation of El-Gendy’s death? At best, a scapegoat will be found and barbecued. We should not expect more than that as long as Morsi remains in power. If he turns against the military or police, no amount of prayers and support from the Sunni leadership will keep him from suffering an untimely accident.

The recent state visit to Egypt by Iran’s least skilled actor, President Ahmadinejad, has provided us with great theater. Unlike the audiences in London’s Cockpit Theater, the audiences in Egypt and Iran are not at all in agreement as to precisely which drama they have enjoyed.

If we ask Ahmadinejad and his masters, or even if we don’t ask, they will quickly tell us that audiences were enthralled by his brilliant and triumphant visit to Egypt, and that it heralds a new day of Sunni cooperation and understanding with the great and wise Shia leaders in Iran. They will tell us that Egypt and Iran are quickly becoming great allies in the struggle against the evils of the non-Islamic world. About all this proves is that the Iranian theocracy is not incapable of comedy, albeit accidental comedy.

If we ask the Egyptian Sunni leadership what drama they watched, they would explain that they didn’t watch, but rather took center stage in the play. That they scolded Ahmadinejad for Iran’s interference in the internal affairs of Gulf states and for their continuing persecution of the Iranian Sunni minority. And that is what they did.

If we ask Morsi what occurred, he will tell us that Iran has promised economic assistance to Egypt, and that the two countries have laid the groundwork for a strong friendship. He would blush as he said those words.

If we ask Morsi’s opponents what occurred, they would tell us that we have seen yet more proof that Morsi is anti-Western, and that the USA is idiotic for sending Morsi F-16 fighters. Many members of Congress are agreeing with that view this week.

F-16 Fighting Falcon

F-16 Fighting Falcon. President Obama has sold four of these to Morsi and the

Muslim Brotherhood. He has promised them sixteen more.

image by US Air Force

Morsi might be the dictator of Egypt for the moment, but he is a dictator who stands on a thin-edged wall with crocodiles on one side and angry leopards on the other. One slip, and all his problems in this world will be over.

The Islamic Brotherhood, with the acquiescence of Egypt’s military and state police apparatus, holds a strong position in Egypt. It will not be easy for those Egyptians who seek human rights and democracy to wrestle that power away from Morsi and his theocratic masters. One strategic disadvantage that plagues the reformers is the simple fact that police and judicial reform are an essential part of their agenda. Yet, without those basic goals, as Morsi has proven, any reform would be meaningless.

The cards are stacked against Egypt’s reform movement, but Egyptians have proven to be resilient. As events in Tunisia and Libya have demonstrated, the dictator does not always win.

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‘Jay Holmes’, is an intelligence veteran of the Cold War and remains an anonymous member of the intelligence community. His writing partner, Piper Bayard, is the public face of their partnership.

You may contact them in blog comments, on Twitter at @piperbayard, on Facebook at Piper Bayard, or by email at bayardandholmes@bayardandholmes.com.

© 2013 Jay Holmes. All content on this page is protected by copyright. If you would like to use any part of this, please contact us at the above links to request permission.

Is America Headed Toward Firearms Confiscation?

By Piper Bayard

Currently, a great deal of misinformation is firing throughout the Cyberverse about gun control. Tempers flaring, insults flying, and people “unfriending” those who state even the barest, most uncontested facts from any source on any side of the issue. In an effort to wrest this topic kicking and screaming from the fear mongerers on both sides, I spoke with University of Colorado Constitutional Law Professor Richard B. Collins to get the straight skinny.

Firearms West Midlands Police wikimedia

image by West Midlands Police, wikimedia commons

Bayard:

Many people in the US are comparing the latest New York gun control laws to the laws of the UK, Canada, and Australia, where guns and gun ownership are highly restricted and regulated. They are concerned that the registration requirement will be enacted at a federal level, and that it will lead to confiscation. What, if anything, would prevent registration leading to confiscation from happening in America?

Collins:

America is the only country in the world with the constitutional right to own firearms at the federal level. Forty-four states also have the right to bear arms in their constitutions, and those state constitutions are not to be underestimated. The UK, Canada, and Australia never had the right to bear arms in their countries’ founding documents.

When it comes to confiscation, the confiscation question is, “Confiscate what?” If police find a nuclear device in your basement they can already take it, and we hope they will. The extreme image is that the government will confiscate handguns and rifles. I’m pretty sure that couldn’t be done. Even in Australia they couldn’t get the wherewithal to confiscate [rifles and most handguns 9mm in caliber or less], and, as I said, Australia has no right to bear arms in its Constitution. I am reasonably sure that if any US legislature had the political guts to try to confiscate guns, the Second Amendment and political climate would prevent that from happening.

A point of American law that gets ignored is that we already have legal limits on what guns we can possess. All kinds of legal limits. One example is the National Firearms Act of 1934, which banned the private use of machine guns.

Every country has a definition of a weapon so powerful that only the government can possess it. We have a line in America. In most other countries, the line is much lower than it is here; however, even the most stringent of countries do allow hunting rifles and [some] handguns.

Bayard:

In your opinion, do you believe the newly enacted New York gun laws will pass muster with the Supreme Court?

Collins:

More likely than not, they will. But I’m not at all sure. The seminal case is District of Columbia v. Heller. It is a case from D.C. with an opinion by Justice Scalia that is very pro-regulation. It does not stop people from having a gun at home to protect their houses, but once they walk out their doors, they can be regulated. New York law is very complex. In general, comparing the new gun laws in New York to the Heller case, I would say they will probably survive 2-1.

One possible issue, however, is if a federal employee falls under the requirement to report information about a patient who owns guns. According to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), no wellness or health promotion activity under that Act is allowed to require the disclosure or collection of any information relating to the ownership or possession of firearms or ammunition. However, nothing in Obamacare prevents a state or private health care worker from doing so.

Bayard’s Note:

The State of New York does not have the right to bear arms in its state constitution. This makes gun control a different ball game for them than for most of the other states. California, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, and New Jersey also lack any right to bear arms in their state constitutions. All other state constitutions have some provision for the right to bear arms. Also, in all other states, excepting Hawaii, Kansas, Massachusetts, and Virginia, the right to self-defense with a firearm is either explicitly protected as an individual right in the state constitution or it has been upheld as an individual right in case law.

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Richad B. Collins is a Professor of Law at the University of Colorado and the Director of the Byron R. White Center for the Study of American Constitutional Law. The short version of his resume contains six pages of accomplishments, each more impressive than the last. Notably, he worked with the Native American Rights Fund, argued numerous Supreme Court cases, published countless articles in law journals and reviews, organized several symposiums, was awarded a Fulbright grant and the the Smith Kline Beckman Award in Legal Education, and was a Visiting Professor at Wuhan University and Beijing University in China.

My profound thanks to Professor Collins for giving us the Second Amendment facts in this time of high passions around the right to keep and bear arms.

In a future article, we will discuss Professor Collins’ perspective on executive orders.

Pilgrim, As You Journey

By Piper Bayard and Jay Holmes

This is the week of the mass American pilgrimage. Thanksgiving, more than any other holiday, is the day we Americans travel home. It is the one holiday we all share, no matter what our religion. The day when we gather as families.

Some of us will have genuinely happy reunions. The stuff of Norman Rockwell.

image from Office of War Information 1942, wikimedia commons

Most of us will have mixed days. Something we have to hassle with a bit. Perhaps a family fuss getting out the door, and then putting up with Uncle Freddie’s bad jokes and Aunt Marge complaining that the dressing is dry. But once everyone settles in for the football, it’s all good.

For some, though, Thanksgiving can be a gut-wrenching ordeal. The hassles are extreme, and the holiday becomes an endurance test of dysfunctional abuse that demoralizes us and convinces us that we deserve nothing from life or ourselves but the crumbs of inadequacy, malcontent, and failed expectations.

Most people who persist in that brutal existence do so from habit and from the fear of change. But a brave few walk away into the unknown with the conviction that whatever lies ahead, it cannot be worse than the hell they left behind. They quit showing up for the beatings.

image by Christina Matheson, wikimedia commons

If you are having joyful reunions this week, we celebrate with you. Such family experiences are the source of strength that sustains us through life’s turmoil.

If you are biting your tongue in between hugs and laughter, we admire you for your tolerance and commitment. Such commitment is the foundation of civilization.

If you are suffering, our hearts and prayers go out to you in the hopes that one day, you will get out.

And if you are one of the ones who walked away, we salute you. You will be alone this week, or with close friends, or with people you barely know who have unfamiliar traditions. If you have persevered down your lonely path, you may even be with a new family by now, making Norman Rockwell jealous.

We know what it took for you to walk away, and we count you as our family. Your “not being there” didn’t come for free, and we honor the price you pay each day. It never gets easy, but it does get better. This song says it all.

Wherever you are in Life’s pilgrimage this Thanksgiving, Holmes and I wish you peace. We will see you back here on Monday, November 26.

Happy Thanksgiving!