February 29, 2016

Presidential Candidates Lack Humility and Lots More

By Donald G. Mashburn

As we head into the third month of this turbulent election year, our hopes are fading that a presidential candidate will emerge that can restore pride in our country and inspire us as a leader. Alas, that hope is shrinking with every passing debate.

On the Democratic side, we expected Hilary Clinton to run since she has been preparing to run ever since she and Bill moved out of the White House. We expected her to bring her underachieving record as secretary of state, with her failures during the terrorist attack on the Benghazi Embassy, and the following cover-ups of failure to provide military help to the besieged embassy, and her lies to the families of those who died at Benghazi.

Her duplicity may not have reached its zenith in the Benghazi Deception. What may finally prove Hilary Clinton’s undoing, and become a scandal too big to hide is the discovery of more than 2000 classified documents on her personal email server that she used in violation of State Department regulations.

The number of top secret communications, and the sheer volume of classified documents, may finally even force even her liberal media enablers to conclude that Hilary Clinton simply does not have the judgment and discipline to serve as president.

In the early going, her opponent, Bernie Sanders, filled the role of a token competitor, but no one ever expected a worn out Socialist, totally disconnected from any reasonable financial reality, to be a serious contender to head what in the past has been the strongest nation in the world. But the seriousness of the email matter, and what seems to be an escalating investigation, may eventually make Sanders the “only-one-left-standing” choice for the Democrats.

As for the GOP, its huge field – 17, in the early stages – of Republican hopefuls gave us hope that of all that talent we could find someone with strength and character to lead the country out of its economic Slough of Despond and perform a Spinal Transplant on its National Will.

After seven years of Obama Overspeak, all but the numb-from-the-neck-up realize that neither glibness nor an unlimited volume of words can substitute for a president working for the nation’s best interest.

Many thought that anyone in the huge GOP filed would make a desirable replacement for the feckless, indecisive Obama. After all, the loaded GOP field had four sitting governors, five former governors, four sitting senators, a former senator, two business people, and a doctor. Surely we could find a leader in all that experience and talent.

Unfortunately, all that talent has been mainly obscured by the bluster and braggadocio of Donald Trump and the sycophantic enablement of the television media that lavished more free time on the casino-hotel magnate than any other candidate. And in most cases, more free exposure for Trump than for all the other candidates combined.

Trump has provided no in-depth plans on how he can do what he claims he will do. He pours out words in huge streams, with no details. “I will build the greatest wall the world has ever seen.” He even boasted, “I will be the greatest jobs president God ever created.” How can even the most congenital blowhard make such a claim?

The alternative to Trump must come from Gov. John Kasich (OH), Sen. Ted Cruz (TX), and Sen. Marco Rubio. All of these would be a superior choice to Trump. Kasich has good experience in Congress and from two terms as governor of Ohio, but has failed to attract any substantial support. Both Cruz and Rubio are among the sharpest presidential candidates we have seen. Cruz is thought to be perhaps the best mind in the group.

Both Cruz and Rubio excel in speaking on their feet. Yet in the early primaries, Trump, with his bombast and wild claims about what “he” would do has locked in some 25-to-35 percent of the votes, while the rest have been spread over rest of the candidates.

The field has now been reduced to four. But if Trump pulls off major victories in the major “winner take all” states, we may be faced with a GOP nominee that a majority of voters don’t want. However, if Ted Cruz (who at this writing trails Trump by fewer than 100 delegates) can win in some significant states later, it could be a real contest right down to the convention.

If Trump wins in Florida, Michigan, and a few other states, he will be hard to stop.

Which would mean the GOP has blown what has been its greatest political opportunity in our lifetime to rescue the nation.

Apple Seems to Value Dollars Above Duty

By Donald G. Mashburn

The refusal of Apple Inc. to help the FBI unlock a dead terrorist’s iPhone raises important questions about a nation’s will, common sense, patriotism, and just how does a huge corporation view its loyalty to its country of origin, and to its profits.

More succinctly, does Apple value dollars above duty, and does its CEO and directors put profit above patriotism?

Some background: On December 2, 2015, Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, both armed, barged into a holiday gathering in San Bernardino, CA, and began firing. Their murderous attack left 14 people dead and 21 wounded, including many of Farook’s co-workers. In later shootouts with police both were killed. Farook was born in the U.S. of Pakistani parents; Malik was a Pakistani citizen that Farook met in Saudi Arabia and at some point married.

In the shooting aftermath, the FBI recovered three iPhones belonging to the two killers, two of which were destroyed. The one remaining iPhone, believed to be Farook’s work phone, had been encrypted, and efforts of the FBI to unlock it have been unsuccessful.

The FBI has received a court order to seek Apples help in unlocking the encrypted phone. The FBI has admitted that in their effort to open the iPhone, the phone’s password had been reset. Apple has refused to lend its expertise to the unlocking effort.

Apple claims that helping the FBI work around the encrypted password and the self-destruct features Apple built into the cells phone would amount to building a “backdoor” to every phone Apple produces. The FBI, however, insists it only wants Apple to disable the self-destruct feature that Apple built into the phone so that after so many tries at trying to guess or decrypt the password the data inside self-destruct or are destructed.

So who’s right? The answer is so simple that almost any American citizen can come up with it. Common sense tells us that it’s more important to do what is best for the U.S. and its 300-plus million citizens. The rule of law, the ability of the legal authorities to solve terrorist’s crimes that cause death to large numbers of its citizens, must outweigh company profits.

As for Apple, its CEO Tim Cook seems to prize Apple’s competitive position above the nation’s efforts to effectively combat terrorism. Cook recently told ABC News that he believed he was “making the right choice” by refusing court orders to help the FBI unlock Farook’s encrypted iPhone.

The terrorist attack carried out by the two terrorists was so senseless and bloody that civilized people can’t imagine any rational reason not to exhaust every effort to obtain any additional information on other possible terrorists or acts of terrorism planned.

But all of that has apparently been lost on Apple CEO, Tim Cook, who said that helping the FBI unlock the iPhone, and obeying the court order, would “set a precedent that I believe many people in America would be offended by.”

Cook did not mention how the families of the 14 innocent dead victims and the 21 wounded might feel about it.

FBI Director Comey feels that asking for Apple’s assistance is not unreasonable. In a recent statement, he said, “We don’t want to break anyone’s encryption or set a master key loose on the land.” In his statement, he also insisted that decisions involving national safety from terrorism should not be left in the hands of “corporations that sell stuff for a living.”

The terrorists hate our very philosophy of individual freedom, and the initiative and energy that grows from such freedom. Corporations should know at least that much about international terrorism. Especially if the corporations were formed in America, and grew and thrived in this bastion of freedom, freedom to innovate, prosper, and grow into the huge firm that is Apple.

So if Tim Cook is capable of rational thought, he will put his and his company’s duty ahead of his concern for dollars, and patriotism ahead of profits.

Man’s duty should be to God, Country, Family, in that order, and nowhere in that short list can one in good conscience place corporate profits or goals.