Category Archives: Army

Prisoner Closeout Sale: 5 for 1!

There is not one former or present member of the military who does not have an opinion about Bowe Robert Bergdahl.

As you are probably aware, Bergdahl was the last missing soldier in the war in Afghanistan.  His release from Taliban captivity was a result of the White House exchanging  five Taliban detainees that were held since 2002 at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.  You notice that I said that the White House was responsible for this exchange, as apparently none of the members of Congress were notified before releasing the five Taliban prisoners.  This is supposedly required by law, but it is certainly not the first time this administration has circumvented the law.  The required procedure was to notify Congress 30 days before the exchange.  This did not happen.

All the White House wanted was a huge, widely publicized photo opportunity with Bergdahl’s parents that would give all of America a warm, fuzzy feeling.    ‘Look what we did.  We got an American fighting soldier released after a five year captivity!’  What the White House got was an unanticipated firestorm.

Young Bowe Bergdahl had a non-conventional upbringing.  He was homeschooled.  He received a GED certificate through the College of Southern Idaho by the time he was in his early 20s.  As an adult, Bergdahl studied and practiced fencing and martial arts before switching to ballet classes at the Sun Valley Ballet School in Ketchum, Idaho.  He never owned a car.  He rode his bicycle everywhere.  He spent time in a Buddhist monastery between 2007 and 2008.

He joined the Army in 2008, and he was assigned to the 25th Infantry Division.  He was described as a  ‘focused loner’ by his fellow platoon members.  He told a fellow soldier before their pending deployment to Afghanistan, “If this deployment is lame, I’m just going to walk off into the mountains of Pakistan.”

Apparently, Private Bergdahl did exactly that.

It is obvious in emails that he sent to his parents that he had become disillusioned by Army life in general and with his deployment to Afghanistan in particular.  In part, one of his emails read, “The system is wrong.  I am ashamed to be an American.  And the title of US soldier is just the lie of fools…….. I am sorry for everything here.  These people need help, yet what they get is the most conceited country in the world telling them that they are nothing and that they are stupid, that they have no idea how to live………..There are a few more boxes coming to you guys.  Feel free to open them, and use them.”  According to a fellow soldier, those boxes contained Bergdahl’s computer and other possessions.

Bergdahl went missing on the night of June 30, 2009,  five days after sending that email.

A Pentagon investigation in 2010 concluded that there was “incontrovertible” evidence that Bergdahl walked away from his unit.  Bergdahl wrote emails to his parents that he was both disillusioned by the war effort and bothered by the treatment of the Afghan people by American soldiers.  According to The New York Times, a military investigation revealed that on the night he went missing, he left a note in his tent that said he was leaving to start a new life.  The letter said that Bergdahl wanted to renounce his citizenship.  However, according to Senator Saxby Chambliss, the White House said that there was no note during a meeting with Congress on the release of Bergdahl.

Are you beginning to see the inconsistencies in the accounts of this event?  The White House says there was no note expressing his desire to renounce his American citizenship, but The New York Times says that there was indeed such a note.  Hmmmm.  Senator Chambliss said that there was no note during the meeting with Congress, but numerous legislators have indicated that Congress was not notified of the five Taliban detainees being exchanged.  Double Hmmmm.

After Bergdahl’s capture by the Taliban, there were numerous propaganda videos released.  One of these shows Bergdahl helping the Taliban with bomb-making and infantry tactics.  The Pentagon dismissed this as Taliban propaganda.

The military made numerous attempts to locate Bergdahl.

CNN has reported that, according to soldiers involved in the operations to find Bergdahl, at least six soldiers were killed.  A spokesperson for the Pentagon has said that it is impossible to confirm whether anybody’s death was directly linked to the search for Bergdahl.

So after much negotiating over an extended period of time, on May 31, 2014, Bergdahl was released by his captors.  The release was brokered by the American, Qatar and Afghanistan governments with the Taliban in exchange for the five Guantanamo detainees.  These detainees are to be in Qatari custody for at least one year.

Here is another inconsistency with this story.  The Afghan government has indicated they did not know about the five Taliban detainees being released!  Who are these detainees?  The names are not important but their positions are.  They are the Taliban army chief of staff, a Taliban deputy minister of intelligence, a former Taliban interior minister, and two other senior Taliban figures.  Holy crap!   No wonder the Afghan government is upset!

It is obvious that no notice was given to Congress.  So the White House response?  When President Obama signed the bill, he released a signing statement saying that the restriction interfered with the president’s executive power as commander-in-chief.  The White House released a statement acknowledging that the release of the Guantanamo prisoners did not comply with the law but cited the president’s signing statement, and ‘unique and exigent circumstances’ as justification.  Doesn’t the law apply to everyone?  Even the POTUS?  A year ago, Jay Carney (then spokesperson for the White House) had assured the press that the decision to free Bergdahl would only be made after consulting Congress, in accordance with said law.

In addition to circumventing the law in this entire matter, the White House has been accused of ‘negotiating with terrorists.’

But in true White House cover-up fashion, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said that the release should be considered a ‘prisoner of war exchange’ since the Taliban Five were members of the government of a sovereign state, and that, “We didn’t negotiate with terrorists.”

Did you hear that?   Especially all those military members who have served in Afghanistan?  Those people shooting at you where not terrorists!  Those roadside bombs were just fireworks gone awry!  Those Taliban guys were just the product of a bad childhood!  OH MY GOD!  I am going to have to look in my Hammond Atlas of the World for the country of Talibanistan!  A sovereign state?  Their sovereign state is any country in which they can displace the existing government and impose their will!

Time Magazine has published an article stating that the Taliban are “not really a ‘terrorist’ enemy as we commonly understand the word.”  What exactly does that mean?  They shot at you.  They try to kill you.  They consort with other terrorist groups that try to inflict as much carnage on America as possible.  Exactly what would make the Taliban ‘not really a terrorist enemy’?

I have a theory as to why the White House did an exchange for Bergdahl.

Firstly, what mother does not want her son returned from a war zone.  This is understandable.

Secondly, I believe that the White House is attempting to be proactive in the eyes of the military after the fiasco at Benghazi.  White House inaction needlessly resulted in the deaths of heroic Americans.  ( I appreciate that Secretary of State John Kerry offered, then recanted his offer to be questioned about Benghazi by a Congressional committee.  He was not the Secretary of State at the time.  It was Mrs. William Jefferson Clinton.)

Thirdly, I believe that the White House really thought that their actions concerning Bergdahl would bring a myriad of accolades and positive publicity upon the administration before the midterm elections.  That has not worked well for them.  They should have consulted the Pentagon before trying to turn this event into a media frenzy.

Lastly,  I believe the POTUS wanted to take a step toward closing Guantamo.  This was one of his first term campaign promises.  Hopefully, he did not intend to reinforce the Taliban.

What about Bowe Bergdahl?

Well, Sgt. Bergdahl (promoted after capture) is somewhere between European military and American military hospitals being evaluated for his physical and mental condition.

His ‘hero welcome’ parade and reception have been cancelled in his home town in Idaho, supposedly for security purposes.

The White House is under fire concerning this situation and is attempting to do the ‘back pedal shuffle.’  Jay Carny, the White House press secretary, has suddenly resigned.

The military has already concluded that Bowe Bergdahl willingly left his post in Afghanistan.  He is a deserter.  If they determine that he is directly responsible for the deaths of other servicemen attempting to rescue his sorry ass, I know of five vacated cells in Guantamo Bay, Cuba.

We are not done hearing about Bowe Bergdahl, or the Taliban Five any time soon.

PS  Since writing this blog on D-Day, there is an unsubstantiated rumor that the US government exchanged prisoners, and paid monies for Bergdahl’s release.  One Taliban leader has already indicated that his organization intends to kidnap more Americans, because he did not know that ‘they were worth so much.’  Do you think any ‘common sense’ was utilized in the handling of this situation?

Corporation Appreciation Week!

I have recently become intrigued by Senator Al Franken’s (D-MN) claim that, ‘Corporations are not people.’   Who knew?

After owning a small incorporated business for eighteen years, I was of the opinion that I was a ‘people.’  According to Senator Franken, I was not a people!

For the uninitiated, there were two reasons why I chose to incorporate my business.  The primary reason was to create a corporate umbrella that protected me from personal liability as the result of an event that could be construed as negligent in a court of law.  In a litigious society, this would be considered ‘good business practice.’  I am proud to say that in the eighteen years of being a general contractor, I was never involved in a lawsuit.  That record is a rarity in the general construction business!

Grandma P did not discourage me from starting my own business.  She just wanted assurance that we would not lose our house in a lawsuit as a result of the business.  Thus the corporate umbrella.

The second reason for forming a corporate structure was tax-related.  During my tenure as a business owner, the tax codes would change depending on who was POTUS and which party controlled Congress.  Some years it was advantageous to pay corporate taxes and other years, it was more advantageous for us to take the additional income and pay the personal taxes.   Because I was a small company, we are talking tax consequences (personal and corporate) of less than $5,000 per year.  I paid my very good accountant to keep both our personal and corporate taxes in line and to our advantage.  We did not mind paying our ‘fair share.’  We just did not want to pay the majority of someone else’s fair share.

My corporation was a small wholly-owned corporation.  As corporations get to mid-size and larger, they do not have the latitude that I enjoyed.

So why do corporations get such a bad rap?  We are all aware of corporate fraud and abuse.  These businesses are in the minority, yet the government demonizes all businesses.

I believe that corporations get a bad rap because they are in business to make a profit!  The word ‘profit’ has now become a bad word and a thing to be ashamed of.  As a result, some of the people involved with a corporation due to their education, diligence, experience, tenacity and ambition could actually become rich.  This is truly a nasty four letter word!  It is also the key word to create class envy between the ‘haves and have-nots’ as pandered by the liberals.  (The liberals keep chipping at the foundation of capitalism in an attempt to make this country socialistic!)

Keep in mind that if you do not own one share of stock and yet receive a pension, your pension fund most likely owns bonds and stocks in those darn, capitalistic corporations!  (If you are a pension- receiving liberal and hate corporations, you should show your disdain by forgoing your pension! Please forward your pension account numbers to this website for disposal!)

Here are three burdens that have been laid on corporations that have the audacity to be incorporated in the United States of America.

Obama Care (The Affordable Care Act)

If you have followed my blog, you know that I blame a large portion of our economic downturn on the passage of Obamacare.  Our Congress, because of the liberal dominance of both houses, forced through a bill that was unwieldy, unknown and expensive merely because the POTUS wanted it.  Do you remember when the POTUS stated that it would save the government money?  How many people really believed that?

US businesses were at a loss as to the costs of Obamacare.  I listened to the president of GE explain that after attending many fact-finding seminars.   Their best guess was that it would cost (not save!) 20%-25% of their payroll costs.  That is a boatload of money for any entity!

Remember Grandpa T’s Rule Number 2:  ‘Businesses are in business to make money.’

What businesses of all sizes did in response to the pending implementation of this law was to lay off  employees and implement hiring freezes.  Many of the ‘new hires’ were hired as part-time employees to circumvent the requirements of the Affordable Care Act.  The unemployment rate sky rocketed and, contrary to the latest employment figures, I do not believe we have ever fully recovered.  People lost their jobs, their homes, their cars and their dignity.  How was that for hope and change?

But alas, we have a scapegoat!  US businesses, not our government, caused all these problems.   As an aside, corporate America is doing well in that most major corporations have not yet fully implemented the Affordable Care Act.  Many businesses have been saving for its implementation since  passage in 2009.  Thus the record stock market indicators.  In the meantime, Government America cannot balance a budget and has placed our country trillions deeper in debt.

Raising the Minimum Wage

Estimates show that raising the minimum wage would affect less than a million working Americans.  But if the minimum wage were raised to over $10 per hour, who will pay?  You will.  Who will suffer?  Those people currently working for minimum wage.   High school students, college students, retirees looking for additional income, moms who have young kids in school and anyone needing to save or supplement their income.  Now you are wondering if I have lost my mind by saying that these people will suffer with a pay raise.  Yes they will.  That is because, much like the pending implementation of Obamacare, businesses will lay off employees and implement hiring freezes. I heard one McDonalds franchisee say it best, “If I have to pay that much more for an employee, I will be looking to hire better qualified employees.”   I predict there will be layoffs aplenty as a result of this law.

Not one young person has life ambitions of getting a ‘minimum wage’ job.  But getting work experience is a desirable quality when looking for your ‘perfect’ job.  Less young people will have that chance.

A person receiving minimum wage has three choices.  They can get another, higher paying job.  They can receive an education or training that would qualify them for a higher paying job.  Or, they can refer to the time tested method of asking their employer for a raise.  If you are worth the extra money, you may very well get the pay raise.

Corporate Taxes

How many times have we heard the statement about corporations paying their ‘fair share?’  The implication is that they do not pay their fair share.  How many people know that our US corporations pay more than their fair share?  As a matter of fact, our US corporations pay the highest corporate taxes in the world!

The average global corporate tax rate is 23.48%.  The average European Union corporate tax rate is 21.34%.  The average South American corporate tax rate is 26.83%  Canada has a corporate tax rate of 26.5%  The US corporate tax rate?  40%!  Can’t you hear the chant?  “We’re number one!  We’re number one! U-S-A! U-S-A!’

It’s getting harder and harder to ‘Buy American’ when the government feels so compelled to ‘Tax American Corporations’ so harshly.

If a US company wants to move to Ireland, they would pay a  corporate tax rate of 12.5%  Driving a Japanese car?  Their corporate tax rate is 35%.  Their earnings are given a 5% tax advantage over American car manufacturers.

So, now that you are informed, do you still wonder why US companies are placing new facilities in foreign countries, thus moving their companies ‘offshore?’  Oh!  One more thing……our corporate tax structure does not include state corporate taxes.  Each state is different and that is why some businesses are moving from high-tax states to low-or-no tax states.

So there you have it.  Our US businesses pay the most corporate taxes in the world at both the federal and state level.  Our businesses have to deal with the expense of  idiotic legislation like Obamacare.  Many companies are now facing the possibility of a higher minimum wage.  And yet, our businesses that build buildings, create jobs, hire employees, purchase raw materials and are the foundation of our capitalistic democracy face continual scrutiny from the media and our government!

Are corporations people?

It is because of the heartbeat of a corporation in building buildings, hiring employees, purchasing raw materials and sharing its profits with stockholders that I do believe that a corporation is ‘people.’  Corporations are the heartbeat of our economy which allows us to enjoy the freedoms of a capitalistic, democratic society.

So, because of all the bad raps that corporations suffer from the media and from our government interference, I, Grandpa T, declare the first week of June as the First Annual ‘Corporation  Appreciation Week!’

Here are a few suggestions for gifts for your favorite corporation:

1.  Elect a government that can balance a budget and reduce our debt in the hope of reducing the US corporate tax rate.  After all, we acknowledge we are part of a global economy and we are tying the hands of our American businesses, making competition with foreign corporations nearly impossible.

2.  Abort Obamacare.  If this means gaining conservative control of the US Senate, so be it.  A bad bill from start to finish.  Two thousand pages of unread, yet approved garbage.

3.  Leave the minimum wage at its current level.  Yes, some will benefit, but more will suffer.

4.  Lastly, buy American.  They need the income to keep up with their taxes.

Did you know that just short of 50% of all Americans are on some form of government assistance?  If we could enact the four above suggestions, I believe we would have lower unemployment/underemployment and a terrific, real economic turnaround.

P.S.  Almost on cue, Medronic, Inc. of Minneapolis has announced it will be relocating its corporate headquarters from Minnesota to Ireland.  They have indicated that this is not for tax purposes.  Yet, they will be subject to a 15% corporate tax rate rather than a 40% tax rate.  They will also shed the State of Minnesota corporate tax.  This was announced within a week after posting this blog.