How Do You Lock A Tree

So this is one of the craziest things in Washington, D.C. 


There is a tree with a lock on it. 


Yes, with a Master Lock on it. 

Hidden in plain site. 


It has letters and numbers or symbols on each button. 


Have you ever seen anything like that before?


Uh, what do you think that is:


– A lock to prevent the tree from being stolen?


– A Maxwell Smart (shoe) phone?


– A surveillance device in the tree bark or along the limbs?


– A secret compartment?


Hmm, is there something locked in the tree?


What could it be?  😉


(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)

It’s Fight or Surrender!

This is why President Reagan was able to “tear down that wall” and win the Cold War. 


He was a true role model for leadership and what a President is. 


– Faith in G-d.


– A strength of convictions.


– The Integrity that touches hearts. 


– Courage to carry forward. 


– Pride in our nation.


– Judicious use of our might.


Go USA! 😉

Fall Of The Wall – Take 2

fall-of-berlin-wall

I thought this was cool this week when at a local university in Downtown, Washington DC, they did a reenactment of the fall of the Berlin Wall. 


The division between East and West came tumbling down on November 9, 1989 ushering in the end of the Cold War.


The students graffitied the wall with things they disliked like fascism, socialism, high taxes, a PC culture, censorship, and poverty. 


Later, they added Neo-Nazi’s, corruption, and more.


By the afternoon, they knocked down the wall in the playful reenactment.


I found it hopeful to think that we can do the same in real life.


With President-elect Trump, perhaps there is the opportunity for new and better relations with Russia. 


Rather than escalating tensions and pointing new more advanced nukes at each other and encroaching ever closer toward confrontation, we can stop the madness. 


Truly reset the mindset of conflict and instead work together and walk it back. 


With respect for each other, there is enough world pie for everyone.


Tear down the wall, and build trust, respect, and peaceful relations again. 


No nonsense peace through strength and cooperation is the sane way forward–the alternative would be disaster!


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Countdown To Nukesville

nukes

So I keep reading and hearing about Russia preparations for nuclear confrontation with the West and the overall risk rising greatly:


– Investing in new advanced nuclear weapons, such as stealth nukes that can destroy an area the size of Texas or France


– Adding hundreds of new warheads


– Moving nukes to the European doorstep of Poland and Lithuania


– Flying Russian bombers within 40 miles of California coast


– Pulling out of non-proliferation agreements, including producing new intermediate range nuclear cruise missiles 


– Violating security pacts to destroy plutonium stockpiles


– Skipping the nuclear security summit


– Conducting massive civil defense drills


– Threatening asymmetrical and painful actions against the West, including first strike


– Building new bases in Ukraine, Syria, and now eyeing Cuba and Vietnam


– Building dozens of new underground bunkers


– Entering a new arms race with the U.S. 


Well perhaps this is all just saber-rattling bluster and party-rallying political rhetoric.


The real question is if this is all talk, then why all the costly actions being made?


Self defense experts always say never pull out a weapon unless you seriously intend to use it, so are Russia’s intentions to simply counter the West or is it going to go way beyond that. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Defeating Terrorism Not Optional

Military

So in today’s New York Times Sunday Review, David Rieff provides some insights on the state of terrorism that we are living with. 


Two very concerning points he makes:


1) A resignation that not much can be done: There are limited security resources, but infinite points for terrorists to strike. As he says, “Not all these attacks can be stopped….there is no way to police every subway station, cafe, and public square.”


2) Many of our leaders are in convenient denial or disengaged: They see the daily terrorist attacks and their response is a rote rejoinder to either join for a brief memorial, slough it off altogether, or even make a joke of it (as if murder is a laughing matter). Rieff repeats even a recent interview with President Obama where he makes light of the impact of terrorism in that doesn’t pose “an existential threat to the United States of the world order.” Unless of course, it escalates and involves weapons of mass destruction or potentially taking out significant portions of our nation’s critical infrastructure.


This just seems so different that how our nation has raised itself up in past conflicts and to win them: 


In World War II, the Allies were committed to defeat Nazi Germany, and they did, including through D-Day, one of largest and bloodiest invasions in history. 


President Reagan helped win the Cold War, by labeling the Soviets the “evil empire” and setting America on a major military buildup, one that the Soviet Union could not afford and eventually withdrew from. 


After 9/11, President Bush vowed that we would get Osama Bin Laden “dead or alive,” no matter how long it takes, and eventually we did!


Over and over, the odds were not great and the stakes were enormous, but a positive attitude and the commitment to win took us a long way. 


In contrast now a attitude of defeatism has set in with Rieff declaring that “the stark truth is that the number and lethality of terrorist attacks are far likelier to rise than to diminish in the near future,” and as he quotes the French Prime Minister Manuel Valls as saying, “Times have changed, and we should learn to live with terrorism.”


How can anyone agree with that–should we really resign ourselves to learn to live with random acts of violence, murder, and terror? 


Rieff ends with that “the best we can hope for is to hold on to enough of our humanity to have a chance of clawing back the rest when the war ends, as all wars do.”


I do not believe that this is good enough!


Not identifying the enemy, disengaging from global events or leading from behind, appeasement of sworn enemies, removing sanctions and releasing terrorists from GITMO, getting soft on terror saying it’s not so bad out there that “the birds were [still] chirping and the sun was out,“, and giving up on defeating it…is a losing attitude and proposition and one that will only result in more heartbreaking and innocent deaths. 


Dismissing or belittling the issue, defeatism, and jokes will not defeat terrorism, but a commitment to do whatever it takes to save lives and protect our nation will, as has been the case from Hitler to Bin Laden, and so it will be again. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Russia Outwits Us Again x 4

Globe

You can’t build the world from the backseat. 


Either we’re in it or we’re not. 


Instead, Russia has jumped into the driver’s seat, and we’re not coming out looking too good on the world stage. 


– In 2013 they took in and continue to shelter Edward Snowden, the former CIA employee who ran to Hong Kong after allegedly leaking oodles of NSA classified information.


– In 2014, Russia conducted a blitzkrieg and took Crimea from sovereign Ukraine (giving it a strategic port in the Black Sea), and are conducting a separatist war in the eastern part of the country. 


– In 2015, Russia enters the Syrian crisis and allies themselves with dictator, Bashar Al Assad (who has used chemical weapons on his own people), as well as with Iran and Iraq.


– Additionally, Russia is taking the lead role in the oil and mineral rich Arctic bolstering their presence and militarizing, including building new ice-breakers (while our Coast Guard has only one operational). 


Some people have said mockingly, “Well what should we do, start a war with Russia?”


And the answer is an unequivocal, no. 


But I assume they don’t want to start a war with the U.S. either. 


Rather, this is the Cold War Part II, where we are fighting by proxy in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and the Arctic.


If we want the world to be modeled on freedom, human rights, and democracy then we need to be able to stand up for those things that are important to us.


Yes, we have to care about what’s going on here at home too, but we don’t live in a bubble, although surrounded by oceans on the east and west coast, we can sometimes easily feel that way. 


It’s a big world–and it takes tremendous leadership to bring it along a good and noble path.


The leadership role will not stay vacant for long…it can be us if we want it, or else you might as well flip a coin on either Russia or China. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

A NATO In Shambles

NATO
For months and months now, we’ve seen Russia aggressing against the West and NATO cowering in fear of an escalation.



Russia is the largest country on Earth covering 9 time zones and they are truly a formidable bear. 



Recently, with the Russian blitzkrieg into Crimea, the West was taken by the surprise and the speed of the attack, as Russian helicopters, tanks, and soldiers violated the borders that were once Ukraine. 



At the same time, Russia attack planes and subs have been probing the skies and waters of Europe, and NATO has been feebly attempting to intercept them over and over again–always on the defense. 



Russia continues to upgrade their nukes and conducts nuclear games and brinksmanship, while the U.S. dismantles it’s Cold War arsenals according to previous START treaty.



Last week, with the U.S considering light arms for the Ukrainians, the Russians warned that would cause “colossal damage” to ties. 



When the U.S. threatened to throw Russia out of the SWIFT payment system, we were warned, “Russian response — economically and otherwise — will know no limits.



But as Lt. Gen. Frederick Hodges, commander of U.S. Army Europe, stated, “You can’t provoke them. They’re already on a path to do what they want to do.



While Russian Spetsnaz are pulling their country identifying insignia off their uniforms to make the world hesitate, question, and cower at those behind the masks, NATO is still grappling with plans on how to put together a simple rapid reactionary force of just 5,000 soldiers to get themselves together within 48 hours and then 25,000 troops within weeks. 



Uh, the battle or even the war may be over by the time our sleepy NATO gets it’s boots on and muskets loaded. 



In the age of fiber optics and ICBMs steaming across the networks and skies, taking days and weeks to mobilize is b*llsh*t!



NATO cannot even get but 4 of it’s 28 member nations to maintain the minimum 2% contribution to defense, because once defense is treated as belonging to the commons, the attitude is just let the others worry about it or the U.S. will provide the fallback for all anyway. 



While Russia only worries about Russia and moves in forward thrusts, NATO dances around trying not to get speared, because they theorize now it’s only Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova, and so we don’t want to antagonize the bear and end up being it’s next dinner. 



But the Great Bear is hungry for power and respect, and as NATO runs and pees it’s pants, the bear smells it’s prey and is in fearless chase. 😉



(Source Photo: here with Attribution to Crown, UK Defense Ministry)