Opinion

Cadillac Tax Belongs in the Junkyard

By Janet Trautwein Cadillacs have never been less popular. President Obama just signed legislation that will delay implementation of the Affordable Care Act’s “Cadillac” tax, which will sock generous employer-sponsored health plans with a new 40 percent levy in 2020,…

A prankster may have been behind the closure of America’s second largest school district, after authorities in Los Angeles decided to take seriously an email message that New York officials dismissed as a hoax that lacked credibility.Voice of the People by James J. Devine

As America battles enemies who use terrorism as a tactic, the fight largely depends more on our response than their threat but recent history suggests the “Land of the Free and Home of the Brave” is being ruled by panic and fear.

Since Republican President George W. Bush Jr. botched the hunt for Usama bin Laden, launched an unwarranted invasion of Iraq and so badly destabilized the Middle East that a small number of religious zealots have emerged as a global power, American mistakes have piled on, making the problem worse with each step.

On September 11, 2001, 19 men armed with only box cutters were able to hijack four airplanes and steer three of them into key symbols of American military and economic power. Despite the horror of the al Qaeda attack on affected families, the loss of fewer than 3,000 people and a few buildings could have been absorbed with little impact on our larger society.

Instead, the crisis was politicized by Republicans, who ran roughshod over Democratic politicians who mounted little or no opposition to measures that were fundamentally unAmerican and ineffective.

Twice as many young Americans in uniform perished in combat while fighting people who had nothing to do with al Qaeda in numerous countries all across the Middle East region, compared to the number of victims on 9/11. Tens of thousands of US military troops suffered injuries and a million or more people in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere have been killed, including countless innocents.

That mass death and displacement is brewing new problems, as zealous militants seek to establish a new caliphate with a large and lethal arsenal that is being used to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity on a massive scale in Iraq and Syria.

The majority of those weapons were looted from Iraqi military stocks, which were manufactured and designed in more than two dozen countries, including Russia, China the USA and Europe.

“The vast and varied weaponry being used by the armed group calling itself Islamic State is a textbook case of how reckless arms trading fuels atrocities on a massive scale,” said Patrick Wilcken, a researcher on Arms Control, Security Trade and Human Rights at Amnesty International.

After capturing Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, in June 2014, the militants acquired a windfall of internationally manufactured weapons and military vehicles from stockpiles that they used to take control of other parts of the country, with devastating consequences for the civilian population in those areas.

Instead of treating these barbarians like criminals: isolating them, capturing them, putting them on trial and sentencing them for their crimes; they have been elevated in the public mind and accorded legitimacy and stature in the Muslim world as warriors against the West.

The result is that our foreign enemies grow stronger with every air strike, because in much of the world, the killing is perceived as an attack by Christians against Muslims.

On a domestic front, we raise perpetrators of Islamic religious violence to comic-book ‘super villain’ status while virtually ignoring those who commit acts of violence motivated by Christian religious zealotry, such as last month’s Colorado abortion clinic shooter or the racist who slaughtered nine people in a South Carolina church in June.

Common sense gun regulation and legislation that might prevent firearms from falling into the wrong hands is routinely bottled up or simply shot down, no pun intended.

Every Republican in the US Senate voted against a measure that would stop suspected terrorists from buying firearms legally. For reasons that defy logic, Americans typically invest more trust in Republicans when it comes to national security issues, where they have a record of abject failure.

Now, an empty threat closed the nation’s largest school district without as much as lighting a match.

President Bill Clinton said when sensible leadership is lacking, people will gravitate to politicians who sound strong, even if they are wrong. America is proceeding exactly as our adversaries wish and in direct opposition to our values.