Saturday, April 30, 2005

Vietnam 30 years later, tyranny continues.

Fire of Liberty

Here's a prime reason why America's Service men bled and died in the jungles and rice patties of Vietnam from 1964 to 1975. While people will argue with you until they turn blue that the Vietnam War was a nationalistic war against colonialism and the US had no reason to interfere, they seem to forget that the masters of Vietnam are indeed communists who have dragged the people of Vietnam through their tyrannous hell. I just hope that what this nation sacrificed in Vietnam has not left the hearts of the people in Vietnam. After reading this:
"It was time to leave," Duong said. "I had to give my children the opportunity to escape the intimidation, the pressure. I wanted to give them a fresh start."
I think the Fire of Liberty burns brightly in the souls of Vietnam's populace because freedom is a desire of all mankind. One day the people of Vietnam will enjoy the freedoms we take for granted here in the US.

Also see this Op/Ed by Thomas P. Lipscomb in The New York Post on Vietnam some thirty years hence. Lipscomb lays out a good argument on why the Vietnam War was more beneficial to the defeat of Communism and the spread of freedom throughout the World than what most people let on in the media and history books.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Euro-Atlanticists Sentiments

Fire of Liberty

While the US print/T.V. media seems to be obsessed at pointing out that the US has angered the various leaders in Europe with its actions in Iraq and its utter disregard for European sensitivities, they fail to realize that a larger percentage of European population who still see themselves as Euro-Atlanticists who completely embrace the US as a partner for the "good fight." Luckily Olivier Guitta has written a wonderful piece over at Tech Central Station on the enormous flood of individuals who abstain from the "kick America" crowd with the likes of Spain's PM Zapatero or France's President Jacques Chirac. The Euro-Atlanticists include people like the former Spanish PM Jose Maria Aznar, former French PM Edouard Balladur, Matthias Doepfner (CEO of Germany's Axel Springer), and former Spanish foreign minister Ana Palacio. All of these individuals are only a smidgen of individuals in Europe who understand that the US is a force of good that when it teams up with the Europeans becomes an even greater democratic champion. This individuals would rather enhance this special relationship that has existed since WWII rather than through a wedge between the US and Europe like Messrs. Chirac, Zapatero and Schroeder intended to do during the run-up to or during the Iraq war. I hope the Euro-Atlanticist will have greater impact on Europe and knock some sense into the other numskulls before it's too late. After reading this, I'm more impressed about the abilities of the Euro-Atlanticists :
Palacio argued that Zapatero is a poster child for socialism of the 1930s. Indeed she added that "Zapatero sees Europe as a counterweight to the US" and is very close to Chirac's stance of siding with the non-aligned nations. For Palacio, it is stupid to pretend that "you have to choose between Europe and America… If we build a European identity just to be a counterweight to the US, then Europe may end up being Eurabia."

Indeed with around 20 million Muslims living in Europe and having trouble integrating, Europeans are facing a crisis of identity. Like Holland just realized, after the murder of Theo Van Gogh by a Muslim extremist on November 2, 2004, multiculturalism has been a blatant failure. "We have to defend our common Western values," Palacio says. "We cannot compromise on these values." She then cited the example of equal rights for men and women: "I am sorry, the Sharia may say whatever the Sharia may say but in Europe equal rights mean equal rights and this principle can not be declined according to culture."

It is refreshing to see that some Europeans dare to be courageous and clear on these thorny issues.
Well done.

Foaud Ajami & Bernard Lewis: A Dynamic Duo on the Mid-East

Fire of Liberty

With the Fire of Liberty burning in nations like Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon due to the actions of the US and the promotion of democracy, the Middle East has seen a dramatic change from the status quo that once existed. This overwhelming embrace of democracy would never have come to fruition had the White House not sought the advice of Professor Fouad Ajami and Professor Bernard Lewis who are two preeminent professors on the Middle East that understand that autocratic regimes are what keeps countries saddled in chaos and prevents the blossoming of democracy.

After some three years of fighting the War on Terror and the spread of freedom into Afghanistan and Iraq and the subsequent Cedar Revolution, the advice of Ajami and Lewis seem to have been more than a chimera that their critics had foretold. Well the fine professors have had time to digest the actions these past years and have published too extensive articles in the May/June 2005 issue of the foreign policy journal Foreign Affairs.

In an effort to save your time and mine, I'll just provide the links. Here's Professor Fouad Ajami's article "The Autumn of the Autocrats," and here is Professor Bernard Lewis's article "Freedom and Justice in the Modern Middle East." So enjoy these great but extensive articles.

EU Constitution: A Dutch Roadblock?

Fire of Liberty

Check out this Leader in The Times on why the people in the Netherlands are trending against the proposed EU Constitution. I guess they have heard enough of the EU paup and are generally inclined to finally say enough is enough. Luckily the people in France and the Netherlands have a say in the EU Constitution unlike the people of Germany.

John Bolton: A Diplomatic Rock

Fire of Liberty

Max Boot has an interesting column in yesterday's Los Angeles Times on the Bolton nomination fight which has broken out in the Senate's Foreign Relations Committee. While he admits he doesn't see eye to eye with some of Bolton's policies or choices, Boot still recognizes that Bolton possesses the qualities that most effective diplomats need to have in order to get things accomplished. I'd say Boot compiled a pretty good column especially after reading these paragraphs:
But do we really want to add nastiness to the list of disqualifications? If we did, America's most effective diplomatists would have been kicked out of office. Dean Acheson, Henry Kissinger, Jeane Kirkpatrick, James Baker III and Richard Holbrooke, among others, were all tough customers. Those are exactly the qualities you need in dealing with the hard cases who rule much of the world. No milquetoast need apply for the post of U.N. ambassador, or any other demanding diplomatic job.

Bolton has been an effective diplomat and bureaucratic operator precisely because he has not tried to win any popularity contests. He has fought for his beliefs, and usually prevailed. In 1991, for instance, he helped push for repeal of the U.N.'s infamous "Zionism is racism" resolution. More recently, he has marshaled an impressive coalition behind the Proliferation Security Initiative designed to stop the spread of nukes. And he did it not by being polite but by being forceful and persuasive.
As I noted yesterday, this continued Borking of Bolton will provide a strong message to future political appointees and current individuals in places like the State Department and the Defense Department not to step out of line or push tough ideas that go against the grain. Luckily, we have individuals like Max Boot who are always mindful of past US diplomats and how they were deemed too bold but made a great career out of being so bold. I just hope the blokes in the Senate will push Bolton through for a floor vote because we truly need a forceful but competent Ambassador like Secretary Bolton. Hurry up though, we're burning daylight.

Also, here's an article from the Winter 1997/98 issue of The National Interest by John Bolton, which gives you some insight in how he views our role in foreign policy. You might be surprised.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Vietnam 30 Years After Fall of Saigon

Fire of Liberty

This is a great Op/Ed by Jonah Goldberg in today's USA Today on the upcoming 30th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War. With the thirty year mark of the end of this war in Southeast Asia, Goldberg notes how the columnists and reporters have salt and peppered their columns and articles on the current fighting in Iraq with their zany "Vietnam Again" theory. Just read below how Jonah laid these inane theories to rest:
Regardless, Vietnam is part of our cultural DNA now, and it will probably never be fully erased anymore than the Civil War or WWII will be. Right or wrong, silly or legitimate, that's the reality. And that's fine. If people want to argue about the Tet Offensive forever, so be it. But it is history.

But it's not particularly useful history. Ask military experts about the similarities between Vietnam and Iraq (or Afghanistan), and their eyes roll. Vietnam was a state-to-state war and had vastly more support from its Communist benefactors than Iraqi “insurgents” could ever receive from Syria and Iran. Indeed, in Vietnam, the insurgency phase of the war was largely over by 1965.

In Iraq, meanwhile, it's nothing but insurgency now. But, unlike the Viet Cong, Iraq's insurgency is ideologically diverse. Some are terrorists seeking to impose a pan-Arab theocracy, some are looking to restore the secular bacchanalia of fear they enjoyed under Saddam Hussein, and others are just gangsters. Vietnam was a jungle war that started against the French in the 1950s. Iraq was a desert war that permanently toppled Saddam's regime in a month. The technologies in play are incomparable. The terrain, the political will and ideologies behind the efforts, the cultures — almost every single point of comparison doesn't add up — save the common bravery of America's military. Perhaps most important: Casualty rates are vastly different.
Well done Jonah. I'd also like to give a hearty thanks to the Soldiers who defend us against the various jackals who mean us harm and the Vietnam Vets who gave their blood, sweat, and life in the jungles of Vietnam. As the son of a Vietnam vet and the nephew of two other Vietnam Vets I truly understand the saying, "All gave some and some gave all."

On the Links in Afghanistan

Fire of Liberty

Here's a good article by Steve Kelley in today's edition of The Seattle Times on the re-emergence of Afghanistan's national Golf Course. It's great to see that a nation which endured a ten year occupation/war with the Soviet Union, a protracted Civil War between varying Afghan tribes as well as the tyranny of the Taliban to finally get back to a sense of normal. Though most people probably think Golf is a sport that is miles away from this mountain nation, they tend to forget that prior to the ravages of war this nation was a modern nation that had amenities like hotels and golf courses like this one. Just read a little snippet of what Kelley wrote in this great piece:
This course is a metaphor for Afghanistan. It is the story of the country, really, condensed into nine holes of golf.

It may be chewed up and littered by the devastation delivered by all of the wars. But it is surrounded by beauty that robs your breath. And with the Taliban government gone, hope now glimmers for Kabul golf, just as it does for all of Afghanistan.

"I believe we will make a beautiful golf course again," Afzal Abdul said as he walked the course with me.

He estimates he needs about $200,000 to restore the irrigation system, buy mowers and make his course the lush, green gem he says it was in the 1970s.

"My wish is for our golf club to look like American golf clubs," he said.
I love to read good things like this every once in a while. Afghanistan has taken enormous leaps forward since they were freed by the US forces and the steely determination of the Afghan people. I wish Afzal Abdul and fellow golfers all the luck in their development of this golf course and hope they expand it to 18 holes.

China's Religious Tyranny

Fire of Liberty

Jason Lee Steorts has an excellent piece over at National Review Online on the horrific conditions that Christians endure in China. What's even worse is the fact that the Communist tyrants in China have made it their mission to wipe out any practice of religion while also serving as a member of the UN Commission on Human Rights. So along with the likes of Cuba, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Sudan, and Zimbabwe, the PRC is the member of an organization that condemns other states for actions they condone. Just look at this one account in China:
On April 5, Fu testified before the commission about, among other things, the imprisonment of Cai Zhuohua. Cai is a Chinese pastor who, in September 2004, was arrested for printing Bibles without permission from the Chinese government. (I reported on his arrest in the January 31 issue of NR.) According to Fu, Cai has been tortured in prison, and the judge presiding over his case has just sent him back to the police for another round of "interrogation." The idea is to make him confess to a crime that carries a long prison sentence.

One of the Chinese police's favorite torture devices — and one that has probably been used repeatedly on Cai Zhuohua — is a kind of electric baton. Bob Fu owns such a baton, smuggled out of a Chinese prison. He took it to Geneva after obtaining permission from the secretary of the UNCHR to conduct a demonstration of it during his testimony. This demonstration consisted of Fu's holding it in the air over his head and turning it on for six seconds.

Predictably, the Chinese delegation went berserk, its members claiming that the demonstration made them feel threatened. (One is left to wonder how they would feel if the baton were actually used against them.) They then demanded that Fu be booted from the proceedings. The commission's chairman, obliging chap that he is, agreed. Fu was escorted from the building and stripped of his U.N. badge. His baton was also seized, and has not been returned.
And people question why we need John Bolton in the UN. This body needs a good kick in the pants or we'll continue to see this nonsense go on day after day.

Bolton Mania

Fire of Liberty

Here's a good piece by Bill Kristol in The Weekly Standard on the continued Borking of Secretary John Bolton nomination to the UN in the Senate's Foreign Relations Committee. Kristol argues that as long as the Democrats continue this tactic and the Republicans on the committee continue to allow it, future nominees will be mired in the act of watching their back instead pushing forward bold and effective policies. America cannot settle for the status quo of a "no-risk" amongst the various appointees in places like the bureaucratic State Department and Defense Department because we live in dangerous times where bold initiatives and thinking outside-of-the-box are greatly needed.

Also check out Jonah Goldberg's syndicated column on the Borking of Bolton.

Oh Canada

Fire of Liberty

According to this article in The Financial Times, the atmosphere seems to be very tense in Canada's Parliament for PM Paul Martin and his Liberal majority. It seems that their Conservative Opponents will team up with Bloc Quebecois and push for a no confidence vote after Martin has decided to scrap tax cuts and increase the federal budget. While the tax cuts and increased spending are motivators for a no-confidence vote, the Conservatives and Bloc Québécois also have a bevy of other reasons to call this vote. See here:
The budget has been widely seen as a possible vehicle for opposition parties to push through a no-confidence vote and trigger a general election. The opposition has been emboldened in recent weeks by a scandal involving the abuse of federal funds earmarked for advertising and sponsorship programmes in Quebec during the mid and late 1990s.

Witnesses at a judicial inquiry have testified that millions of dollars were siphoned off by advertising and public relations agencies friendly to the Liberals and that funds were funnelled to campaign organisers and perhaps to the party itself.

Opinion polls point to falling support for the Liberals, with gains for the Conservatives and New Democrats and, in particular, for the separatist Bloc Québécois.

The Conservatives and the Bloc have a combined total of 153 seats in the House of Commons just short of a majority of the 308 MPs. The Liberals and New Democrats together control 151 seats. The outcome of a no-confidence vote could thus hinge on three independent MPs. There is one vacancy.

If the government does fall, an election would probably be held in late June.
I guess it's about time for change in the halls of government in Ottawa. As with most parliamentary systems, your party can implode via a no- confidence vote if you don't have a large majority and are racked by scandals. After years of scandals under Jean Chretien and Paul Martin, I think that the Canadian people are ready for change. We'll see what happens.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

ISG can't Rule Out Syria

Fire of Liberty

Yesterday the MSM has jumped on the liberal bandwagon of "See, I told you so," with the recent report by the Iraqi Survey Group that states that they have been unable to find any WMD in Iraq. (Don't forget that Saddam had six months to destroy anything he wanted before we attacked) Well this article in The Washington Times might wipe that smirk off their faces. It seems the ISG can't rule out the possibility that these weapons might be in Syria.

A Great Tribute

Fire of Liberty

Here's a great tribute by National Review Online's Kathryn Jean Lopez to the brave men and women in the military who defend our nation and help spread the Fire of Liberty in far off places like Afghanistan and Iraq. While we have a small number of individuals who make it their life's work to disparage these brave souls or their mission out of vile hatred, you have millions upon millions of Americans who thank God they have such brave people defending them. So keep up the good fight. There's more people here in the heartland who love ya.

Bolton: A Powerful Diplomat

Fire of Liberty

Here's a great Op/Ed in The Boston Globe by Thomas M. Boyd on Secretary John Bolton. While a select few like Barbara Boxer, Chris Dodd and Joe Biden have made a great deal of besmirching Secretary Bolton by focusing on all of these wacky accusations by Democratic partisan s, they fail to point out how effective John Bolton has been as a diplomat. Luckily, Secretary Bolton has people like Boyd and the facts behind him. See for yourself:
After standard State Department cables were seemingly ignored when they arrived at foreign embassies overseas, Bolton took matters into his own hands. Starting in the summer of 1991 and continuing well into the early fall, Bolton arrived at his office early each morning and began calling ambassadors around the world, as well as here in Washington, one by one, each time using his keen mind and reputation for bluntness to their full effect. Citing from memory Senator Moynihan's Nov. 10, 1975, contention that ''The United States declares that it does not acknowledge, it will not abide by, it will never acquiesce in this infamous act," Bolton refused to accept their excuses and their schedule conflicts and called repeatedly until he talked on multiple occasions to virtually every ambassador whose country would be called upon to cast a vote. In time, his perseverance began to winnow down the naysayers.

By late fall, the entire State Department had come together, and success, literally unthinkable only a few months earlier, had become a probability. By the time the tally was finally taken, on Dec. 16, 1991, the UN's General Assembly repealed Resolution 3379 (Zionism = Racism) by a vote of 111-25 (with 13 abstentions and 17 delegations absent or not voting). American leadership was restored to the General Assembly, and this stain on the prestige of the UN had been removed. But more important, a terrible wrong had been righted, and a critically important and historic principle had been vindicated.
John Bolton should be confirmed soon so he can get to work on reforming the tarnished halls of the UN. If some Senators could just stop their "pay no attention to the man behind the curtain" routine, we'd be better off.

Providing a Check on the Terror Masters

Fire of Liberty

I'd say this will provided a greater check on the actions of terror states like Syria and Iran. Hopefully the deal will be pushed through with no opposition in Congress.

Bush's Energy Policy: Securing America

Fire of Liberty

I guess President Bush has been reading Victor Davis Hanson's domestic policy recommendations. According to this article in The Financial Times, the President will introduce several energy policy initiatives to help ease the energy burdens on the American citizenry. The two biggest proposals are for the expansion of nuclear energy and building of new oil refineries on abandoned military bases. Just think how much a shot in the arm that the opening of new oil refineries will provide to the communities who were devastated from losing their military installations. Even better, the actual housing of these refineries in abandoned bases will also provide an added layer of security. If the military installations are still in workable conditions with its high security fences and guard posts, the refineries would only need a small security contingent to be secure from would be terrorists. As for nuclear energy, it has a greater shelf life and doesn't emit deadly fossil fuel exhaust into the environment like natural gas and coal fired power-plants.

It's about time that the White House stepped up the campaign for an effective energy policy. This legislation has lingered in Congress for far to long and the American people are hurting because a gaggle of Senators are standing pat and shouting "no." Have they heard of 2006?

Christianity's Reviver

Fire of Liberty

Thomas Bray has a great column in the April 24, 2005 issue in The Detroit News on Pope Benedict XVI. As Bray notes, the task of stabilizing the Catholic Church will require a lot of heavy lifting but has to be done to ensure the survival of Europe and Western Civilization. Just read some of Bray's fine work on this subject:
When you drive out the priest, though, what you get is the witch doctor. Both John Paul II and Benedict XVI had close encounters with the great witch doctors of the 20th century, Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler. Ultimately both were overcome, but at horrendous cost. Would a Europe -- or a United States -- bereft of faith find the moral courage today to make similar sacrifices?

Battling the dictatorship of relativism won't be an easy task, particularly for a 78-year-old pontiff in a church which, as then-Cardinal Ratzinger admitted, has a good deal of "filth" in its own ranks. Among other things, Catholicism may be paying a price for having been the officially established church in many European countries. Thinking it had a monopoly on religion, it grew fat, careless and corrupt, leading to a severe reaction against all religion -- unlike in the United States, where religion has mostly been a private matter and intense competition among churches is the rule.
I hope that Pope Benedict XVI can muster the strength to resuscitate the glory of Christianity in Europe. From reading his writings, I can ensure that he will be able to muster a considerable revival in Europe.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Democracy Promotion in the Americas

Fire of Liberty

US Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen has a wonderful Op/Ed in today's Washington Times calling for democratic reforms in Cuba. While the Cuban people will not be free until El Hefe is buried six feet under, the call for democratic reforms is still a start in the right direction. As with the Middle East, people in our own backyard also share the same desire to live in freedom and enjoy God's unalienable rights that all American's enjoy. It's refreshing to see members of Congress like Lehtinen, Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart , and Senator Mel Martinez picking up the megaphone for the people in Cuba and revealing the plight they endure under Castro. Just read what the brave Congresswoman wrote:
Yet, we continue to hear voices denouncing the embargo. Some call for more trade with this repressive regime. Others frolic with the idea that tourists enjoying the crystalline waters of Varadero Beach, building luxury resorts where Cubans are denied access, and flooding the island with dollars, will bring freedom and democracy to the Cuban people.

Not far from these pleasurable locales, men are dragged down the stairs of one of hundreds of Castro's notorious jails, thrown in squalid cells, beaten, and tortured. Women are raped, humiliated and beaten. Not far from the pristine beaches, the people of Cuba remain prisoners in their own island.

As for the future of Cuba, the children are forced from infancy to prepare for the defense of the country and its regime. Parents who follow their conscience and try to shape their children's values and education are considered enemies of the state and are arrested or persecuted. Those parents whose love for their children supersedes any individual concern for their safety are punished by the Castro regime and punished for violating Castro's laws.
Awesome. I just wish Senator Chris Dodd and his friends would wake up to these realities and campaign for the end of Cuba's national nightmare. Well, we can still wish can't we?

Iraq is Turning

Fire of Liberty

As always, Ralph Peters has another great column in the April 22, 2005 edition of The New York Post. In this one, Peters notes that the terrorists who have flooded into Iraq at the behest of Osama bin Laden have slammed into a brick wall better known as the US military and the Iraqi citizenry. I'd say that Osama's pleas actually provided the needed honey to attract the flies (terrorists) to a fly-paper trap. Just take the words of Peters on this phenomenon:
The media hailed the recent assaults on the Abu Ghraib compound and a Marine base on the Syrian border as proof of the terrorists' growing sophistication. In fact, the attacks were relatively crude attempts, impressive only in comparison to previous ineptitude. And they failed disastrously, costing our enemies dearly yet again.

Such attacks are a forlorn hope. They grasp at the only strategy left to those who oppose a free Iraq: a renewed effort to kill enough Americans to make Washington throw in the towel. Islamist terrorists, especially, dream of one dramatic, catastrophic strike. They don't know what else to do.

Meanwhile, there's been a dramatic increase in citizen cooperation with the new Iraqi authorities and a crucial rise in tip-offs about terrorist and insurgent activities.

With their mad pursuit of carnage, our enemies — and Iraq's — are winning the battle for us. Every day, they alienate more Iraqis, even as Baghdad's improving security forces assume ever-greater responsibility for their own country. We just need to stay the course.
Peters demonstrates that if we keep our noses to the grind-stone and fight the good fight, we can eventually overcome any obstacle that our enemies throw before us. Iraq may be a long way from being Switzerland but its better than an Iraq ruled under Saddam.

UK Race Closer Than You Think

Fire of Liberty

While Tony Blair and Labour are flying high after reading latest polls in the UK press which show them commanding a large lead over the Tories, this piece in The Financial Times might bring them down a few thousand feet. See what the FT has to say:
But when MORI asked the same question of people who said they were "absolutely certain" to vote, the lead contracted to just two points, with Labour getting 36 per cent of the vote and the Conservatives 34 per cent.

The difference between the two poll samples shows how important it is for Mr Blair to ensure that his supporters put aside unhappiness with his decision to take Britain to war in Iraq and vote for him on May 5.

Winning with a 10-point margin would secure a 148-seat majority in the 646-member House of Commons.

A two point lead would reduce Labour's majority to 84.
It just goes to show you that you should never count your chickens until they've hatched. (Trust me, I have a mess of chickens in my yard) Expect some surprises on the May 5 election.

The "No" Party

Fire of Liberty

John Podhoretz has an excellent column in today's New York Post on the whole obstructions that the Democrats have been throwing at President Bush's nomination of John Bolton, his judicial picks and all of his domestic policies. In a well balanced look, Podhoretz provides a good reason why the Democrats should be wary about continuing this policy of obstruction. Overall, Podhoretz argues that the Democrats might think they can continue to be the party whose only answer to "no" on anything the President and the GOP controlled Senate put up they will continue to see their fortunes demise because they fail to propose positive policies.

Afghanistan on the Move

Fire of Liberty

Here's a good piece in The Guardian on how far Afghanistan has come from the horrible days of the Taliban. In particular the article focused on Habiba Sarobi, who is the first female governor in Afghanistan. It sure beats the days of the Taliban when women were forced to stay in their homes and wear the horrific burka or face the possibility of being stoned to death. Just watch the movie Osama to learn what Women and children endured during the Taliban tyranny. Even though the article seems to go into the weeds with some of its complaints about the lack of electricity, smooth roads, money and hotels (I guess the people at The Guardian expect a nation that has endured twenty years of war to become the Netherlands in a matter of years), you still have to admire how far Afghanistan has advanced with the aid of US Military and an effective Commander-in-Chief.

Monday, April 25, 2005

American Trends Away From Radical Secularism

Fire of Liberty

Michael Barone has a good column on why the United States will survive the secular storm that has watered down or destroyed the religious communities throughout Europe. Of all of Barone's arguments for why the United States, the one that caught my eye the most is the one on in which he correlated used the rise of birthrates to explain how a nation continues to remain a religious nation. Here's Barone's argument:
Who inherits the future? In free societies, each generation makes its own religious choices, but people tend to follow the faith of their parents. Secular Europe, with below-replacement birthrates among non-Muslims, could be headed for a Muslim future, as historian Niall Ferguson suggests.

In the United States, as pointed out by Phillip Longman in The Empty Cradle and Ben Wattenberg in Fewer, birth rates are above replacement level largely because of immigrants. But, as Longman notes, religious people have more children than seculars. Those who believe in "family values" are more likely to have families.

This doesn't mean we're headed to a theocracy: America is too diverse and freedom-loving for that. But it does mean that we're probably not headed to the predominantly secular society that liberals predicted half a century ago and that Europe has now embraced.
As I noted in previous posts, the Europeans are running the Western Tradition and Christianity into the ground with its ever-increasing devotion to secularism and relativism. Trust me, that's the main reason why the College of Cardinals selected Benedict XVI. The leaders of the Church know full well what awaits Europe if it doesn't stem the tide of these forces. One only has to look at the problems in the Netherlands to understand what awaits Europe some 40 to 50 years down the road. Hopefully the people in the US have seen the mess that is developing in Europe and have decided that freedom and our traditions are too precious to be thrown into the evil blackhole known as extreme secularism. We'll see. Luckily we have individuals like Michael Barone to provide such valuable insights on our culture and its trends.

Russia: Darkness at Noon?

Fire of Liberty

They say that you can take a man out of the KGB but you can never take the KGB out of the man. Well today, Russian President Putin has reaffirmed this adage in today's address to the Russian people. Just look at what the wily KGB Lt. Colonel had to say:
"First and foremost it is worth acknowledging that the demise of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century," Putin said. "As for the Russian people, it became a genuine tragedy. Tens of millions of our fellow citizens and countrymen found themselves beyond the fringes of Russian territory."
Aside from this scary statement, I guess the fact that the Soviet Union held its people at bay by guns, had massive lines for food and goods, and prevented its people from choosing their leaders, along with a lack of religious/political freedoms was something that the Russian people have missed these past years. While Putin has put on a good face these past five years, I think he's beginning to show his true colors. We've seen what he has done in Chechnya, just imagine what else he has up his sleeves. Expect further steps towards an heavy authoritarian regime under Putin. After all he's KGB.

Say yes to Tories, no to the EU.

Fire of Liberty

Here's an Op/Ed by William Rees-Mogg in today's edition of The Times on why the Tories should be shouting from the rooftops about how bad it would be to enter into a single currency or the EU superstate. Rees-Mogg suggest that this would provide the needed oomph to get over the Labour hill. Time is not on the UK's side on this one.

UK Identity at Risk: The Discontent of Multiculturalism

Fire of Liberty

John O'Sullivan has a wonderful piece over at National Review Online on the UK election and how both parties have failed to address the growing problems that have been created by the policy of multiculturalism. Here's a sample of O'Sullivan's work:
No great social transformation was needed on behalf of Caribbean immigrants who spoke English, who were Christian (often devoutly so), and who thought of themselves as British. But as immigrants from different cultures and different religions arrived in significant numbers, especially Muslim immigrants, somewhat deeper changes were proposed. Instead of seeking to acculturate these immigrants into British life and values (on the assimilationist "melting pot" model), however, a policy of multiculturalism was chosen. In other words British society had to change and adapt to enable these new cultural minorities to preserve their language, culture, religion, and other traditions.
One only has to look at our Southern border states and their experience with immigrants who we're catered to by the multiculturalism ninnies. While the immigration issue is considered a big issue in such a large nation like ours, I can only imagine what life is like on the British Isles with so many people who fail to find a common national culture. The authorities of the UK have got to take control or they will surely fail to retain their British identity and become another shell of a nation like other states in Europe.

Tories On Message: Will It Work?

Fire of Liberty

Michael Howard has presented his vocal opposition to the UK joining the single European currency. I guess he has seen the sclerotic economies of Germany & France and doesn't want England to have such high unemployment rates that these nations currently have. Just read what The Daily Mail reported on Howard's public denunciation of the euro:
"I don't want British business to be burdened with all the regulation and red tape that weighs down on business in continental Europe," he said.

"When you hear Gordon Brown going on about the need to make the European economy more like America's, you might think he agreed with me.

"The great irony is that he's actually making Britain's economy more and more like those of continental Europe.

"Europe should be a market for British business, not an economic model."
Finally, the Tories are starting to talk like a party that wants to win (just refrain from calling Blair a Liar). I hope they can gain the big Mo and snatch a win from Labour. They just might by get a win if they keep up the good work.

Ballistic Missile Defense

Fire of Liberty

Here's a good editorial in The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on the need to continue the development of a ballistic missile defense in the US. They argue we're almost around the corner but just need a little more time to be fully operational. With North Korea and Iran having the an active ballistic missile program and with the possibility they have nukes, the appeal for such a system should be on the rise in Congress.

Syria leaves Lebanon: Is it an Illusion?

Fire of Liberty

Well it seems that The Cedar Revolution and the public outcry from the US and France for Syria's military and intelligence services to leave Lebanon might be coming true. According to this article in The Financial Times, only a small contingent out of the 15,000 Syrian troops/intelligence officers remain in Lebanon. Just read what the paper had to say:
In the last few weeks, dozens of Syrian posts have been abandoned all over the country. In the Bekaa valley, artillery and air defence positions were dismantled. Statues and pictures of the Assads have been taken away. Syrian army slogans have been blacked out on walls. Army trucks have been seen taking away furniture, files and even door and window frames.

In Shtaura, a busy commercial town that relies heavily on Syrian shoppers, one of the few remaining Syrian intelligence checkpoints was still manned yesterday. But the statue of Basel al-Assad, the son of Hafez who died in a car crash in the mid 1990s, was gone. "They came in the middle of the night, like thieves, to take it away. They knew that if they left it behind, it would be blown up," said Kamal Hayek, owner of a cafe.

"They tried to brainwash us, they tried to make Lebanon look like it was Syria, putting posters and statues of the Syrian president everywhere. It's a miracle they're gone but we had to pay a heavy price to get here," said Mr Hayek.
I think Mr. Hayek (How ironic that someone in Lebanon who talks about what freedoms they have lost to an oppressive government is named Hayek) pretty much lays out the grievances that the million plus people who showed up in Beirut last month to denounce Syria's occupation. Though it is amazing that the Syrian forces have effectively pulled up stakes in Lebanon, there are indications that the Syrians might be pulling the wool over the World's eyes. Thanks to the work of Olivier Guitta in this short piece over at The Weekly Standard, we learn that Syria's withdrawal from Lebanon is far from certain. Take a look:
TWO RECENT REPORTS in the Lebanese press suggest that there may be less to Syria's withdrawal from Lebanon than meets the eye. First, the daily Al Seyassah (a Kuwaiti paper which carries a Lebanese edition) reported that, according to sources close to the Lebanese Ministry of Interior, tens of thousands of Syrians have recently been naturalized. And among them are 5,000 Syrian Secret Service personnel. So, technically these officers are now Lebanese citizens with no reason to leave their "own country." Second, according to An-Nahar, one of the leading and oldest Lebanese dailies, dating from 1933, Lebanese police in Beirut arrested a Lebanese Army car occupied by two Syrian military officers. Meaning that Syrians can also infiltrate the Lebanese Army and pose as legitimate Lebanese.
So, I guess we shouldn't always base our news on what the Syrians want us to see publicly. Remember they are a terrorist state with an iron fisted dictator running the show thus anything is possible. Just ask the Iraqis if you want to know what a terror state can do when it sets its mind to do something.

China: Freedom on the Rise

Fire of Liberty

David Warren has a great column in The Ottawa Citizen on the clouds of discontent that the citizens of China have for their Communist Masters. Though the press has this obsession with attributing the current street demonstrations in China to Japan's textbooks and its actions prior to and during WWII, Warren notes that this anger is more than likely directed at the Politburo and their tyrannical paradise. Just read this selection from his column:
The government in Beijing had been feeding the demonstrations, with wild and selective government media revelations about the foibles and oversights of Japanese school history textbooks. But the chauvinism and xenophobia in Japanese school books is hardly a new story; foreigners have been moaning about it for generations. It was being pumped recently as a means to direct the anger of the oppressed masses away from the Communist government itself. This is the same device authoritarian Arab regimes have used -- letting steam out of their own oppressed masses by encouraging them to demonstrate against the United States and Israel.

That the Communist strategy has backfired is indicated by the sudden cancellation of fresh protests in major cities, and the deployment of huge numbers of soldiers in several provincial cities to begin intimidating the freely-assembling crowds. But as the Communists try to reign them in, the target of anger becomes the Communists.
I hope that the people in China will eventually roll these henchmen of evil up in the red carpet that they strolled in on some 50 plus years ago. No-one except a select few got it right about the implosion of the Soviet Union, maybe David Warren is an oracle on the demise of the Chi-Coms. Anything can happen.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

France EU Referendum puts Brussels in Panic Mode

Fire of Liberty

The bureaucrats in Brussels are quaking in their boots at the thought of France rejecting the 400 plus page phone-book known as the EU Constitution. Just look at what The Financial Times reported Romano Prodi, the former President of the European Commission, had to say about a rejection of the Constitution:
"There would be no more Europe. We will pass through a long period of crisis.

"The problem will not only be a catastrophe for France, but the fall of Europe."
I guess Prodi forgets that their already is a Europe (It has been around for half a millennia) and its made up of individual sovereign states. Though the supernatural United States of Europe that Prodi and his European pals envision might be put adrift, it doesn't mean that all is lost and Europe would dissolve like sugar in warm water. Bureaucrats like Prodi are only concerned about the EU because its one more way to develop the continent into a socialist paradise, which the students of '68 and various socialists like Prodi have always envisioned Europe would become.

It's amazing that when the people of France are clearly opposed to a treaty that would abrogate their nation's sovereignty as well as their own sovereignty to the huge ash-heap of humanity, the elites fall all over themselves to reverse the course of "naive" public. Maybe Prodi-an Italian-should respect the national sovereignty of the French and butt out of the EU referendum. They have read or at least tried to read this encyclopedia of a Constitution and just don't like the smell of the whole document. Maybe the people of Europe are smarter than the political/social elites pushing the EU Constitution. People don't run away from something in droves for nothing. So carry on with the "no" campaign and kill this leviathan before it's too late. Once you dissolve your nation's sovereignty for the EU, there's no turning back to the good ole days.

Labour: Losing a Fight on Immigration

Fire of Liberty

It seems that the argument I've been giving about the UK election revolving more around the issues of crime and immigration rather than education and whatever else Labour presents, is actually coming to fruition. The most obvious demonstration of this becoming a reality can be found in this Leader in The Daily Mail. Just see for yourself:
So we apparently have a Damascene conversion: the Blair who embraces an Australian-style points system for migrants; the Blair who promises a strengthened border police; the Blair who will lock up failed asylum seekers; the Blair who wants English language tests.

Miraculous? Yes indeed, if only he could be believed. But of course this isn't a serious attempt to take a grip. When it is difficult to recall a single occasion that he devoted an entire speech to immigration, it has to be asked why he is doing it now.

The answer is plain. He is badly rattled. The Tories have struck a resounding chord on this issue. Voters know that under this Government, Britain has lost control over its own borders. They see the system as a demeaning shambles.
Hopefully the UK public will demonstrate their anger at Blair's banal attempt to clear up a mess that his party has failed to fix so far. I think eight years is enough time for anyone to get their fill of Labour's benign neglect of domestic security issues like crime and immigration. People can endure only so much and then they will punish the government in charge, hopefully this will be the case on May 5th. We'll see. All I can say is for Howard and the Tories to keep up the good fight.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Aghanistan: A Good Post on the Frontier

Fire of Liberty

Amir Taheri has a great column in Friday's New York Post on why Afghanistan's President Karzai should form a stronger military/strategic bond with the United States. I particularly liked the following paragraphs:
It is clear that none of the regional powers is in a position to protect Afghanistan against predatory neighbors while it builds its democracy and acquires enough military strength and sociopolitical cohesion to defend itself. That task can only be assumed by an extra-regional power. Yet the European Union's natural tendency is to cuddle despots, not to stand up to them. NATO is also out because, plagued by internecine feuds, it is often unable to develop a coherent strategy. That leaves only the United States — hence Karzai's public appeal for a formal alliance.

But why should Americans commit themselves to a remote land with which they have little in common? The answer lies in President Bush's correct understanding that the most effective weapon in winning the war against terrorism is democratization. U.S. national security requires that the world's last remaining despotic regimes, where anti-Americanism provides the core of a sick ideology, be guided — and, when necessary, goaded — into democratization.

The United States has given Iraq and Afghanistan a chance to start democratization. It must remain committed to them for as long as it takes to make that process irreversible. Karzai has the vision, and the courage, to raise the issue. Later this year, we shall see whether Iraq's elected parliament will share his analysis. A positive response from Washington to Karzai's demand could also help the debate in Iraq.
Thanks to our valiant soldiers, special forces and the members of the Northern Alliance, President Karzai has been able to get his nation turned down the right avenue for success. After twenty years of hell, I think this is the least of things that we can provide to this burgeoning democracy. With the various jackals lurking around Afghanistan one can never be wary of seeking a burly night watchman like the US.

Air America: A Dead Horse

Fire of Liberty

Brian C. Anderson, author of South Park Conservatives, has a wonderful column in The Los Angeles Times on why Al Franken and the other fellows at Air America are currently in the ratings cellar and probably will stay their well into the future. It seems that talk radio has drifted to the right because it offers a medium to people who want to hear Rush say what they want to say but don't have the energy or the time to articulate what El Rushbo does so gracefully. As a consumer of talk radio, I prefer to listen to a pro-American broadcast that doesn't shrink to the blame America first crowd, who emerged shortly after September 11th 2001 and have tooted their horn ever since. Even the people at NPR never drop to the level that the "Michael Moore and George Soros is right" hosts that Air America broadcasts everyday. To truly understand the reason why Rush & Hannity rule the AM airwaves and Air America is gasping for air, just read these paragraphs by Anderson:
Yet even if we were to grant the premise that conservative talk radio can sometimes be crudely simplistic - a tough charge to make stick against, say, onetime philosophy professor Bennett or Clarence Thomas's former law clerk Laura Ingraham - how can anyone plausibly believe the right has a monopoly on misleading argument? Moreover, talk-show fans aren't dummies. Industry surveys show that talk-radio fans vote in greater percentages than the general public, tend to be college educated and read more magazines and newspapers than the average American. Successful talk radio is conservative for three reasons:

• Entertainment value. The top conservative hosts put on snazzy, frequently humorous shows. Kathleen Hall Jamieson, dean of the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg School for Communication, observes: "The parody, the asides, the self-effacing humor, the bluster are all part of the packaging that makes the political message palatable." Besides, the triumph of political correctness on the left makes it hard for on-air liberals to lighten things up without offending anyone.

• Fragmentation of the potential audience. Political consultant Dick Morris explains: "Large percentages of liberals are black and Hispanic, and they now have their own specialized entertainment radio outlets, which they aren't likely to leave for liberal talk radio." The potential audience for Air America or similar ventures is thus pretty small - white liberals, basically. And they've already got NPR.

• Liberal bias in the old media. That's what birthed talk radio in the first place. People turn to it to help right the imbalance. Political scientist William Mayer, writing in The Public Interest, recently observed that liberals don't need talk radio because they've got the big three networks, most national and local daily newspapers, and NPR.
Yep, Air America is losing tons of blood and don't realize that Liberal Radio is a financial bust in a nation that has Rush Limbaugh and his 15 million a week audience. They're in such a horrible state for numbers that Air America has retained Jerry Springer to the airwaves. When you start asking for Jerry Springer to bring in the listeners, you are probably on you last leg. Maybe they should stop a look around and realize that the reason why they haven't gone far is that their Liberal Radio horse died.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Benedict XVI's Fight for Europe

Fire of Liberty

Here's a wonderful column by Gerard Baker in The Times on the election of Pope Benedict XVI. I'd say that Baker has laid out one of the best arguments for the Cardinal's picking Joseph Cardinal Ratizinger as the new Pope. In the same manner that Professor Bainbridge argued that the Pope will be a continuator of the Catholic Church in Europe, Gerard Baker does the same but adds a special emphasis on the name that the new Pope selected. Just read below:
In the days leading up to the conclave the buzzword, if the Holy Spirit can be said to have such a thing, was Continuator. The cardinals wanted to anoint someone who would represent continuity with the dead Pope's firm restatement of the church's doctrines and values. There was no one who better offered the prospect of a reaffirmation of that papacy.

The other clue lies in the new Pope's choice of name. The cardinals think long and hard about the choice of a papal nomen. It is intended as a clear signal of their intent. Much attention has focused on the previous 15 popes called Benedict. But it is worth remembering that the first St Benedict was not a pope, but the founder of the monastic order that bears his name. Benedict is the patron saint of Europe. His principal legacy-the Benedictines-was critical in planting the roots of Christianity throughout Europe in the dark, post-Roman period of the 6th and subsequent centuries. Without Benedict, Europe may not have been the centre of Christianity in the Middle Ages that made it the birthplace of modern civilisation.

The conclave clearly shared the view of John Paul II that Europe confronts another similar challenge-the lure of relativist, materialist secularism that is steadily stifling the Church in its birthplace. In choosing this Benedict, from the heart of Europe, they have demonstrated the Church's intention to meet this challenge, not with compromise and accommodation, but with the unbending affirmation of the universal, eternal truth.
I'd say well done Mr. Baker and hopefully Benedict XVI will make great in-roads in the resuscitation of the Catholic Church. Just don't expect anyone in the Church to loosen up on the Church's doctrine anytime soon just to suit the times. Now is not the time to paint with pastels, the Church must use bold primary colors to forswear its demise. I think that this will definitely be true after reading this piece by William A. Donahue, president of the Catholic League, in Thursday's edition of Newsday. It's great.

So expect a good showing by Benedict XVI, the fate of the Western Tradition and the Catholic Church in Europe depends on his work.

Reggie Foster: Latin's Conservator

Fire of Liberty

Here's a good article in today's issue of USA Today on Reggie Foster who is a professor and the Vatican's chief Latin expert and translator of all official texts in the Holy See. I really enjoyed the profile, especially the last paragraphs of the article. See below:
The Rev. Gary Coulter, 32, a pastor in Ashland, Neb., and an alumnus of two of Foster's classes, says that Foster is without peer as a Latinist. "Reggie may be a little rough around the edges," Coulter says. "But there is no better teacher of Latin in the world."

Foster demurs. "I'm trying to help people who want to learn Latin," he says with a shrug. "But there is only so much one man can do."

Unless that man is the pope. Foster notes that the newly installed Pope Benedict XVI, the former cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany, speaks excellent Latin. "The problem comes with those under him, the bishops, the priests, the seminarians," Foster says. "They don't have a clue!"

Though he recognizes it is unlikely, Foster says the language would get a great boost if Benedict XVI used Latin more than previous popes. "Latin is a beautiful and poetic language, and people would pay attention to it if the pope spoke the language, spoke it from his heart," Foster says.

He says he would be thrilled to see the pontiff go to New York and address the United Nations in Latin. "The pope could stand there before the nations of the world and say, "Vobiscum loquar lingua Latina! Haec mihi videntur facienda esse!' ("I am speaking with you in the Latin language! It seems to me that these things need to be done!')," Foster suggests.

His eyes sparkle, and he flashes a mischievous grin: "He could speak to them in Latin and tell them that if they don't like it, they can just go home!"
After reading this, I'd say that Reggie Foster is a must in the Holy See and a conservator of a glorious language that is the chain that links the Catholic Church with the Western Tradition. I just wish I had learned some Latin in college. I'll just buy a Latin/English dictionary out of respect for Foster and Pope Benedict XVI.

France in Panic Mode, Calls in Nicolas Sarkozy

Fire of Liberty

In an appearance before a crowded auditorium at Dauphine University, Nicolas Sarkozy (Leader of ruling UMP Party) presented his arguments for why France should vote "yes" on May 29. While you can read the jest of the presentation in this article in The Financial Times, I want to point out an interesting comment made by Mr. Sarkozy that is very startling. Here's what he said:
But the constitution's greatest benefit, he said, would be the creation of a permanent president of the European Council. "No system can work without someone who can incarnate and direct it. The first problem in Europe is that there is no boss.

"Europe will be more human, predictable and transparent with a permanent and full-time president as its head," he said.
I can't believe that someone who aspires to be a future leader of France would be comfortable in creating a new posts that would rule over French national interests. What's even worse is the fact he's advocating a permanent and full-time president, which to my knowledge wouldn't be elected. If this position is anything like other executive posts in Brussels, then this president will be appointed and wouldn't be held responsible for their decision's like other leaders throughout Europe. Though the French government is all gung-ho about the creation of a United States of Europe, I don't understand how giving up one's sovereignty for this supernatural body will gels with the French and their idea of Gaulism or it's famous insistence that France is the "Big Fromage" of Europe. Here's another reason why the French and the European people need to vote down the EU Constitution. They don't need a bureaucratic version of Napoleon running amok in Europe and dissolving the national sovereignty of the various states on the continent. So please vote no for the sake of France.

Immigration & Crime: Blair's Demise?

Fire of Liberty

While Tony Blair and his Labour allies have tried their best to either avoid questions on illegal immigration into the UK or present the Tories as nutty nativists, Michael Howard has answered these questions on the BBC. During an interview session on BBC 1, the aspiring Tory MP candidate was more than willing to discuss an effective but sane immigration policy. Here's what The Daily Mail reported on Howard's appearance on the show:
Mr Howard said: "We haven't got a number yet ... We will ask Parliament every year to set a limit on the number of people who can come into this country.

"Parliament will set the limit after there has been consultation, there would have to be consultation with the CBI (Confederation of British Industry) and other employers' organisations so that we can get the right number of people coming into this country with skills, which we need, as economic migrants.

"We will set a number for family reunion. And we will set a number for genuine refugees.

"And in that way we arrive at the annual limit."

Pressed on what the overall figure might be, Mr Howard said: "I think it will be less than the number of people who come into the country today, which is about 150,000 ... I can't give you a precise figure."
Though the media is presenting the Tories support for tighter immigration controls as alarmist and the Tory wets are cautioning Howard on charging ahead with the issue, the Tory leader has stuck to his guns and fought for the people of England. This just shows you when the elites are adamantly opposed to a certain issue and the party in control runs away from the issue screaming, you have a winning issue. It also helps when a large percentage of the population agrees with you on this issue. In the UK, Labour has practiced a policy of benign neglect with immigration in the same manner that they dealt with crime. If immigration is as bad as crime is in the UK, I can assure you that the people really are upset and want a solution and not a mere band-aide or platitudes that Blair has offered. Expect a closer election than what the British press is promoting.

Getting Europe back on the Straight & Narrow

Fire of Liberty

Here's a piece by Daniel Johnson in The Times on why Pope Benedict XVI is the right choice at the right time lead the Catholic Church. After reading this you'll understand why:
Joseph Ratzinger is virtually the first German since 1945 to hold any high-profile international office. Hostility to his nationality is widespread: he has been caricatured as “God’s rottweiler” and the “Panzerkardinal”. But his elevation is not only good for Christendom but also for Germans.

The revelation of the diabolical nature of the Nazi system, above all the murder of the Jews, confirmed in him the determination to devote his life to God. This was his form of atonement, and he has accompanied John Paul II on the spiritual journey that brought about the reconciliation of the Church and the Jewish people that was one of the greatest achievements of the past pontificate.

We cannot expect this Pope, of all popes, to abandon the “deposit of faith” which it is his sacred duty to preserve. There will be no change on issues such as contraception or the ordination of women, no legitimisation of gay marriage, no slackening in the determination to protect the unborn child or to stop the destruction of human embryos by scientists. The Nazi experience has taught Benedict XVI the dangers of eugenics and euthanasia, and we can expect an even more vigorous crusade against these evils.

Where I do expect movement during the Ratzinger pontificate is on ecumenical relations with the Orthodox and perhaps also Protestant churches. The last Pope opened up this Pandora’s box, bringing several of the smaller Eastern churches back into the Catholic fold. If the battle against the intolerance of secularism is to be won, Benedict XVI will have to find a way of reaching out to his fellow Christians to make common cause.

Where's my Cookies, Damn it?

Fire of Liberty

Jonah Goldberg gives a great defense for the cuddly Cookie Monster from Sesame Street who has had his cookies wrestled from his furry hands because it was "best for the children." After 30 years of this character, you get several fat kids and the fat police at PBS get upset. What is up with these people. He's a Cookie Monster for God sakes!

EU Constitution is Sinking Like a Rock in France

Fire of Liberty

According to this article in The Daily Mail, the opposition to the EU Constitution in France has risen to 62.3% in the latest poll. This is too good to be true but it really is true.

Those Wacky French

Fire of Liberty

This the main reason why the US has great distrust the French government. It seems they'll sale freedom loving states like Taiwan or look the other way on China's human right violations just to ink an Air-Bus deal with China. Just read what Germany's Deutsch Welle news-agency reported on French PM Jean-Pierre Raffarin during his visit to China:
At the outset of a three-day visit to China, French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin said he supported Beijing's "anti-secession" law on Taiwan, and vowed to keep pushing for an end to an EU arms embargo that could open the door for Paris to sell weapons to the Asian giant.

Raffarin also signed or finalized major business deals with Beijing valued at around $3.2 billion (2.4 billion euros).

Appearing to put his government at odds with the European Union, Raffarin said at the outset of the three day visit that Paris had no objections to the anti-secession law.

Wen Jiabao
"The anti-secession law is completely compatible with the position of France," he said in a joint press conference with his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao.

Once again the French reveal how they truly are Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys. (Homer Simpson)

Crime: A Rising Problem in UK

Fire of Liberty

While a large percentage of the media in the UK is on the side of Tony Blair and are already pronouncing his third victory some two weeks prior to the election, the people of the UK are being presented with a some of the Prime Minister's failures on issues like crime and immigration. Though try as they might, Blair and his fellow Labourites have put on a bright face and note that the overall crime rates in the UK have gone down since 1997, they have failed to convince the people of England that this is true with the rash of criminal activity throughout the countryside. Just look at the recent attack on Abigail Witchalls. During her usual afternoon stroll with her 21 month old son in the low-crime village of Surrey, Abigail was violently stabbed in the neck by an mugger because she refused to hand him money. As of last night, Abigail was on a respirator and had suffered some spinal injuries as well. Along with Abigail you also have various people being stabbed, shot or attacked by all the dregs of society who are unafraid by the police because they know all the bobbies are allowed to do is to assess the situation to see if its safe for them to respond or offer the robber counseling for his "antisocial behavior."

What this clearly demonstrates is that the Labour party has lost its ability to effectively control crime. Blair can gloss this over by offering select statistics but the simple fact is that the crime rate is going up. See what The Times has to say about this occurance:
According to police in England and Wales, violent crime jumped by 9 per cent in the final three months of last year, including a 10 per cent increase in gun offences.

The number of violent offences reached almost 300,000 in the last quarter, many fuelled by drunkenness, new sex crimes and changes to counting methods. Overall crimes fell by 5 per cent compared with the same period last year.

In the last three months of 2004 there were 11,000 serious violent offences, including murders and serious woundings, a 4 per cent increase on the same period the previous year. Ms Witchalls was attacked as she pushed her child through the spring sunshine on Wednesday. As she lay on the ground, Ms Witchalls managed to whisper a brief description of her attacker and said that he had driven up the footpath, a well-used walk leading to nearby woods, in a blue car.
This just demonstrates that as long as you are weak on various issues like crime and immigration you place a crack in the law and order dam which eventually breaks allowing a massive cavalcade of chaos into the society. One only has to look all of the years that New York City was slack on crime and how the city became a criminal hell-hole with massive crime. As with New York City, the UK will be stuck in this mire of crime until they change the way of doing things or hire a new sheriff like Michael Howard (UK's Rudy). If not, they will continue to live in a nation like the one described in this leader in The Daily Mail. Howard is the way forward, not Blair. Keep it up Mike, the people will support you on this because they hate this new wave of crime that Labour has failed to address.

Saving Europe: Pope Benedict XVI's Missionary Work

Fire of Liberty

Professor Stephen Bainbridge (UCLA Law) has a insightful article over at Tech Central Station on the ascension of Benedict XVI to the papacy. As Bainbridge notes in his article, the new Pope-named after the Patron Saint of Europe-with pursue the preservation of the Catholic Church in Europe.

As I've noted in previous posts, the Catholic Church is hemorrhaging in Europe due to the secular culture of Europe that has introduced more and more destructive ideas like multi-culturalism, relativism, eugenics (Right To Die-Hey they don't want to offend). As the modern day version of Saint Benedict, Pope Benedict XVI has got to be the leader who uses all his powers to save Christianity in Europe and to a lesser extent in America. Unless he stands firm and pushes the moral truths of the Church back into the forefront of the Dioceses throughout Europe, Christianity and the Western tradition could be wiped clean from the European slate with the enormous growth of Islam in Europe.

While people in the media have argued that Pope Benedict XVI was elected to be the caretaker of the Catholic Church, I believe he was elected to be the caretaker of Europe. I think Professor Bainbridge put it best in his article, when he wrote:
In God and the World: A Conversation with Peter Seewald, for example, then-Cardinal Ratzinger predicted that the Western Roman Catholic Church (and indeed all strains of Christianity) were shrinking and essentially would "have to start over again" with a new missionary mission:

We will have to be missionaries, above all in the sense that we keep before the eyes of society those values that ought to form its conscience, values that are the basis of its political existence and of a truly human community.
I hope that the Pontiff can succeed in his missionary work throughout the World an especially in Europe. Pope Benedict XVI has to get out there and grease the squeaky wheels of Europe's many Catholic Churches to make sure Christianity doesn't fall flat on its face in the near future. After reading this piece by Brian C. Anderson in the Spring 2004 issue of The Public Interest, I suspect the Holy Father has some serious missionary work before him. Anything is possible though when you speak the truth and have the good Lord by your side. (Hey, he's the Pope-Has direct line with the Big Guy.) I bid him great success in his work.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Iraq: An Emerging Democracy

Fire of Liberty

Here's a good piece by Michael Rubin over at National Review Online on the happenings in Iraq. It's very surprising. Here's a sneak peek:
The issues facing Iraq are vast. Iraqis debate the role of religion in their society. Kurds, Turkmen, and Arabs debate the future of Kirkuk. Discussions relating to a Basra-centered southern Iraqi federal unit are picking up. An increasingly mature and independent Iraqi press is at the forefront of investigating corruption. The arguments Iraqis have are long and sometimes heated. But, as the January 30 turnout showed, Iraqis take great pride in their sovereignty. The White House does too. Unfortunately, no one has yet told the American embassy.

French Vote causing Distress in EU

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Confusion and double-guessing has set in throughout the capitals of Europe with France's abysmal poll numbers on the "yes" vote. It seems that have of Europe sees the EU Constitution "Fine," while the other half wants to carry on. Expect the goalposts to be moved several times in Brussels, its their wacky way. (Another reason this whole construct won't work)

Ukraine: One Step Closer to NATO Membership

Fire of Liberty

The Fire of Liberty is burning brighter in Ukraine with Secretary of State Rice meeting with members of NATO in Vilinus to discuss plans to allow the former Soviet Republic membership in NATO. See what this article from The Financial Times has to say about this historic event:
Boris Tarasyuk, Ukraine's foreign minister, said he expected Ukraine to meet the conditions for Nato membership by 2008 following the agreement to intensify contacts between Kiev and Nato in the wake of the peaceful revolution that brought President Viktor Yushchenko to power. “One cannot stop the movement of Ukraine,” he said.

The US and Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, Nato's secretary-general, backed Kiev's membership goal but refused to give a timetable and emphasised that it was Ukraine's responsibility to carry out necessary reforms.

“If states fulfil the criteria then Nato fulfils its promise to offer membership,” said Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state.

Some Nato members, principally France, remain wary of putting Ukraine on the fast track to membership. But acceptance of Kiev's Nato ambitions came even from Sergei Lavrov, the foreign minister of Russia, a country that has traditionally viewed Ukraine as part of its natural sphere of influence. “It would be the choice of Ukraine to choose its partners and it is the sovereign matter of Ukraine,” he said.
May the forces of freedom march into the other tyrannies of the World as it did in The Orange Revolution in Ukraine. Anything is possible.

To the shores of Tripoli

Fire of Liberty


President Bush is expected to appoint Marine General Pete Pace as the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. With this nomination to chair the JCS, General Pace will be the first Marine to ever attain this spot thus ushering the Marine Corp into greater prominence. It's about time that a Devil Dog Marine gets the nod. We'll see Pace run a tighter ship and get things done more efficiently like his brethren in the Marines and hopefully the Corp will find a greater voice in upgrading their equipment and budget. So Semper Fi, General Pace. Here's a little bio of the brave Marine:
After basic training in 1968, he was sent to Vietnam as a rifle platoon leader. He later served in Korea, was a commander for two years during the intervention in Somalia, and was head of the U.S. Southern Command.

He became vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs on Oct. 1, 2001, in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Earlier in his career, Gen. Pace's assignments included an unusual combination of staff and command jobs. After his return from Vietnam in 1969, he served as head infantry writer at the Marine Corps Institute in Washington, then as security detachment commander at the Camp David, Md., presidential retreat.

After he reached the rank of brigadier general in 1992, he became president of the Marine Corps University. It was during that assignment that he was sent to Somalia as deputy commander of Marine forces. He reached four-star rank in 2000.
I'd say the President is making a great choice. The added bonus is that Rumsfeld has voice his support for Pace.

Fire of Liberty: Tyranny's Worst Nightmare

Fire of Liberty

Michael Ledeen has a terrific piece over at National Review Online on how the tyrannies of the World-namely North Korea, China and Iran- are facing a slow but sure decline due to the people's desire for freedom. While these revolutions are not presented in the Western media as full-blown revolutions on the scale of Georgia, Ukraine, Lebanon or Kyrgyzstan, the leadership in these nations are fully aware of how revolutionary the situation has become. Throughout the cities of these three tyrannical regimes you have various reports of people rioting and protesting in the streets and the regimes failure to keep them under control because the system of government is morally corrupt and the desire for freedom trumps tyranny everytime. The forces of freedom are marching in these nations and the people will eventually find a way to end the machinations of evil that these regimes promote.

I think Ledeen laid the situation out clearly with his concluding paragraph. See if you like it as well:
Five hundred years ago Machiavelli insisted that tyranny is the most unstable form of government, and he warned that the most dangerous development for any tyrant was the contempt of his own people. That dramatic tipping point is now very close in China, Iran, and North Korea. All that is required to get there is a steady flow of the truth from outside their borders, guidance for those who undertake the struggle against the tyrants, and constant reminders — backed up with modest action — that we are with them.
Ledeen should know, he wrote a book on Machiavelli. I'd say that I belong in the same school of thought as Ledeen in the battle of freedom against these forces of evil. As long as I am able to breathe and type, I will continue to keep the flames going in the freedom cauldron here at Fire of Liberty until the jack-boot of tyranny is removed from the backs of these people.

UK's Slippery Slope of Relativism

Fire of Liberty

It seems that the UK is slowly but surely sliding down the slippery slope of eugenics with its most recent court ruling. According to this article in The Daily Mail, the UK government has ruled that the parents of an 18 month old baby named Charlotte (who has severe health issues that could cause her to stop breathing) have no right in deciding the fate of their child. Since Charlotte is deemed to be in "severe pain" by the Doctors at St. Mary's Hospital in Portsmouth, they have argued that it would be worse on the patient if they tried to resuscitate the child. I'd have to say its a sad day for the people of the UK and the World in general that doctors can take all decisions out of the parent's hands because they think their decision is better than the parents. While the doctors can easily decide to pull the plug because "science" says so, these parents have to sit by and see their child die before their eyes.

The big question I have is since when did a parent lose the right to choose what's best for their child. I can understand the parents losing these rights if they had died, put the child in a orphanage or abused the child and had her taken away but all these people did was have the child prematurely in a hospital and having a lot of medical problems. I guess this is a clear example of why the UK's National Health Service is more dangerous to the people than previously thought. You can clearly see that a government run entity like St. Mary's is being pushed to the limits like most government run hospitals and generally have long waiting lists for the precious beds/care that the hospital has. Therefore, the impersonal government run NHS looks at this case as something that eats up special time and space which could be better used for more healthy people thus Charlotte is deemed expendable because the "Doctors say so."

I guess socialized medicine is the first step towards Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. Remember, this is the same nation that allowed someone to abort their child because they had a cleft-lip and would be deemed highly disabled, though it could be corrected by a simple surgery. I guess this is what happens when you have a culture enthralled with the concept of relativism. We are living in dangerous times where science is trumping what is morally right. While I'm no Catholic, I'm on board with Pope Benedict XVI in his concern and fight against this evil known as relativism. This case is just one more example of why I believe so.

As you've probably read, the article in The Daily Mail notes several times about Charlotte "suffering." Well let's look at another view on suffering:
[Cardinal Ratzinger:] Today what people have in view is eliminating suffering from the world. For the individual, that means avoiding pain and suffering in whatever way. Yet we must also see that it is in this very way that the world becomes very hard and very cold. Pain is part of being human. Anyone who really wanted to get rid of suffering would have to get rid of love before anything else, because there can be no love without suffering, because it always demands an element of self-sacrifice, because, given temperamental differences and the drama of situations, it will always bring with it renunciation and pain.

When we know that the way of love–this exodus, this going out of oneself-is the true way by which man becomes human, then we also understand that suffering is the process through which we mature. Anyone who has inwardly accepted suffering becomes more mature and more understanding of others, becomes more human. Anyone who has consistently avoided suffering does not understand other people; he becomes hard and selfish.

Love itself is a passion, something we endure. In love experience first a happiness, a general feeling of happiness.

Yet on the other hand, I am taken out of my comfortable tranquility and have to let myself be reshaped. If we say that suffering is the inner side of love, we then also understand it is so important to learn how to suffer–and why, conversely, the avoidance of suffering renders someone unfit to cope with life. He would be left with an existential emptiness, which could then only be combined with bitterness, with rejection and no longer with any inner acceptance or progress toward maturity.
This is from an excerpt of an excellent book by Benedict XVI (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger) called God and the World: A Conversation with Peter Seewald. I'd have to say this man will make a great Pope and a champion for the people in a fight against evil.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

US Energy Bill: It's About Tme to Pass it.

Fire of Liberty

With gas prices nearing three dollars in some parts of the nation, President Bush has called for the passage of his energy bill, which has been stalled for some four years in the US Senate. While a select set of Senators are more than likely going to start hemming and hawing about gas prices and tapping into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to reduce the price of gas, they fail to pass the energy bill which allows measures to fix these problems. One area that the bill addresses is on the lack of refineries in this nation because of the fact we haven't built a new refinery since the 70's and the ones we have are at full capacity. Just look what this article in The Financial Times has to say about President Bush's call for the passage of the bill:
Mr Bush raised the spectre of the 1970s oil crisis, when petrol was rationed in the US, to put pressure on lawmakers. “Congress [has] a responsibility to make sure America never returns to those days,” he said.

Thursday's vote comes amid growing public concern in the US about record fuel prices. “Millions of American families and small businesses are hurting because of higher gasoline prices,“ Mr Bush told the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Washington.

Republicans argue that high fuel prices demonstrate the need for greater domestic energy production, through measures such as drilling in Alaska, increased natural gas extraction from the Gulf of Mexico and expansion of nuclear power.

“We have got to reduce our dependence on foreign sources of energy,“ said Mr Bush. “This is a matter of economic security and it's also a matter of national security.”

Mr Bush highlighted parts of the bill aimed at increasing energy efficiency and promoting renewable sources. But critics say the legislation is weighed too heavily in favour of fossil fuels. Mr Bush warned lawmakers not to load the bill with too many concessions to industry. “With oil at more than $50 a barrel, energy companies do not need taxpayer-funded incentives to explore for oil and gas.”

The House of Representatives is expected to approve the bill today but it faces stiffer scrutiny in the Senate, which has blocked energy legislation in each of the past four years. Mr Bush said he wanted Congress to pass the bill before the summer recess in August.

“With consumers hurting the way they are at the pump, we're hoping Senate Democrats will stop the obstruction,” said Dennis Hastert, Republican Speaker of the House. Nancy Pelosi, House Democratic leader, said the bill was bad for consumers, tax-payers and the environment.
I'd have to say that the President might actually get this one passed. Four years of delays is too long for a nation to wait for a sensible energy policy. When there is legislation on the table that will be beneficial if passed, the US Senate doesn't play. This is typical from this small grouping of oddities known as the US Senate. Hopefully the gas prices will force the American people to demand the passage of this good bill.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Debacle

Fire of Liberty

If you've been reading the papers or listening to the news, you are probably aware of the current dust-up in the Senate's Foreign Relations Committee on Under Secretary of State John Bolton's confirmation as our new UN Ambassador. While you probably already know that various subordinates and others who have an axe to grind against him have come forward with crazy accusations to derail his nomination. Though all of these claims have amounted to simple misunderstandings and have been fleshed out to be untrue in open hearings, the people opposed to Bolton have continued to find ways to derail this loyal American. Just look at the most recent allegations by Melody Townsel (A partisan liberal who most recently organized Mothers against Bush in 2004) which appeared in the news-cycle prior to the Sunday morning talk-shows. Here's what The New York Sun reported on Mrs. Townsel on April 18, 2005:
In the interview yesterday, Ms. Townsel said, "There is no question that I have been a vocal and outspoken critic of this administration and I am a very liberal Democrat. But it is equally no secret that I had a run-in with John Bolton."

When asked why she did not make this matter public in 2001, when Mr. Bolton's nomination for his current post as undersecretary of state was being considered by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, she said that at the time she had retreated from politics and was raising young children.

She also said there were no other eyewitnesses to what in the letter she said was a pattern of abusive behavior, but that others working on the project were familiar with her account.

"There were people aware of the harassment, but they are not willing to come forward because they have existing business with the government," she said.

Ms. Townsel's allegations appeared over the weekend in the Los Angeles Times, the Houston Chronicle, and numerous Democratic-leaning Web sites, such as Daily Kos and The American Prospect's web log, Tapped.

"My story seems to track so closely with other people," she said. "I really thought this would be a small log on the fire, I did not think it would be this big. Nothing in my story is all that out of track with the other stories out there." She also said she was contacted on Friday by the minority counsel of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
While various members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who are adamantly opposed to Secretary Bolton jumped on this story and raked Bolton's name through the coals and basically took the chairman's gavel out of Senator Lugar's hands forcing a 3 week recess, the truth to Mrs. Townsel's partisan accusation is coming to the light.

Thanks to the guys over at National Review, Mrs. Townsel's story doesn't even match up with the facts (It's generally this way with stories that emanate from Senator Biden's office to the LA Times). Here's what Rich Lowry had to say about the whole affair over at The Corner:
The head of the firm, IBTCI, that was involved in the Moscow incident, when Bolton allegedly chased and threw things at Melody Townsel, has written a letter to the foreign relations committee about the controversy. We’ve posted the whole thing (it’s roughly written), so you can judge for yourself. Here is a key passage:

To the best of my knowledge, Ms. Townsel had limited contact with Mr. Bolton, who at the time she claims was hostile to her, was working on another project for IBTCI in Moscow (Healthy Russia 2000). Ms. Townsel's recollection of what transpired, ten years later, is impossible to square with the fact Mr. Bolton was not engaged by our firm to have any contact with her on any issue related to her activities in Kyrgyzstan. In fact, later Mr. Bolton became our legal counsel to represent our interests before the U.S. Government in response to Ms. Townsel's efforts to try to grab our contract. Her claims against Mr. Bolton make no sense but are consistent with her belligerent attitudes towards others.

In fact, Ms. Townsel's professional performance is central to understanding her behavior and her extreme hostility to anyone associated with our company. As a Team Leader, she attempted unsuccessfully to charge the U.S. government for disallowable costs. She became enraged and abusive when our Business Manager, Auditor, and Executive Vice President each questioned these activities/costs, The situation was so serious that we had to post an expatriate from Head Office to our project office in Kyrgyzstan to ensure that proper accounts were maintained as we bad lost confidence in her business and billing practices.

Her poor performance, treatment of other employees and attempt to take over our contract became issues; and thus I was required to step in and remove her from her position. Mr. Bolton's role with IBTCI was unrelated. to her activities at the time. At no time did we ask, or seek Mr. Bolton's intervention with her. I certainly did .not hear, contemporaneously; from any other employee in Moscow that anything occurred between Mr. Bolton and Ms Townsel in Moscow, Consequently, it is difficult to understand how Ms. Townsel could make such accusations with any veracity.
How in the World is this cause enough to delay/derail Secretary Bolton's nomination.(I forgot that this is Washington, soundclips and politicians who know how to get their message out.) While these Senators get their sound-bytes and undermine a man who could get results in a organization that most Americans give less than a fig about in the first place. The reason that the UN has fallen into a morass of insignificance is because their wasn't a strong US Ambassador to push some buttons. As long as we send people to the UN who continue to use pleasantries and are viewed as wimpy diplomats, we will never get anything meaningful to our national interests accomplished in this mad-house. I hope the President knocks down some doors or talk the ears off of Senator Lugar for letting such a debacle occur in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, before cameras at that(Lugar looked like he forgot his vitamins). He also needs to remind his fellow Republicans how this undermines the party and urge them to approve the man. (Lincoln Chaffee needs to be reminded that he's running for the Senate- There are other Republicans in RI). We shouldn't let Boxer and Kerry determine who the President selects as his Ambassador's, for God sakes the Republicans are in charge of the committee. Expect more to come.

Along with this, check out this editorial on Bolton by the editors of National Review Online, good stuff.