Friday, September 30, 2005

Defending Ataturk

Fire of Liberty

If the high school students of Turkey's Hasan-Ali Yucel high school is only a tiny sampling of opinion throughout the overall population of Turkey, then the folks aren't happy about giving up the sovereignty of Turkey or the nationalistic pride that Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and his fellow young Turks established during the founding of the Turkish republic in 1923 to join the EU. To understand the devotion to Turkey's founding father Ataturk all you've go to do is read what the Financial Times noted a young student saying after he heard that a British MEP said the folks of Turkey should drop its "cult of Ataturk" before joining the EU:
"If they have opinions like this, then Turkey should not join the European Union," says Alp, a 16-year-old who, like nearly every pupil at the school, has ambitions to be a teacher.

Kemalism, the ideology of nationalism and self-reliance developed with the founding of the republic in 1923, "is the path Atatürk drew and we need to follow his path because people who follow his principles are successful people", Alp says.
You really have to be proud of a people who are unwilling to cede their history and culture to please sombureaucratsts in Brussels. Come to think of it, Ataturk probably did more by to help Turkey move out of the backwardness of the former Ottoman Empire and into one of the biggest success stories in the Middle East aside from Israel. I think that maybe the leaders in Turkey need to think a little more about casting aside their history and society just to join the EU. They could create more problems than good on taking such steps.

The $100 Laptop

Fire of Liberty
$100 Laptop

Imagine a $100 laptop computer, well now it's here thanks to Nicholas Negroponte, director of the Media Lab at MIT. According to this piece in the British daily The Independent, the professor has developed a simple computer that can be foldable in various ways, is encased in bump-proof rubber and has a hand crank on the side to provide power when electricity is spotty or absent. Negroponte says he designed these less than basic designed computers with basic laptop components like a 500 MHz AMD processor, Linux operating system and a wireless connection so they can be shipped off to the various students and teachers within the third world, where there is a lack of a strong infrastructure but a growing need for to learn how to operate computers and navigate the web to prepare them to seek jobs in the IT field.

I'd have to say that this is probably one of the best ideas to come out of MIT in a good while. Not only will this open up an avenue to advance the computer and education skills of people in these less developed spots in the world but It will also open up the power of ideas like democracy and freedom to countries that have had a deficit of such in these remote sections of the world. I can only image what the computers could do for the folks in the remote regions of Iraq and Afghanistan and what in could do for folks in the various Outposts of Tyranny who struggle for freedom and democracy every day. So Bravo to you Professor Negroponte.

Take a Ride With the Crew of Serenity

Fire of Liberty

If you're a big Sci-Fi fan like me, then I can assume that you know have heard all of the buzz about Serenity. It's about time that the folks in Hollywood finally adapted a TV show like Firefly to the silver screen. One can only take so many of those big summer blockbusters that seem to go off on tangents on some character or plot-line that has only a remote connection to the film. From the looks of what I've read and saw on the Sci-Fi channel on Serenity, I have a strong feeling that Universal Pictures made the right decision in calling on Joss Whedon to extend the mission of the crew of Serenity for another adventure.

Maybe if the film industry started making such wonderful films that people truly love, then they could fill the seats once again. I just wish Firefly could make a return to the small screen once again. If The Family Guy can return, I don't see why Firefly couldn't as well.(If Whedon would do it.) I could imagine it airing on The Sci-Fi Channel, especially with all of the other Sci-Fi hits popping up all over the many TV networks. (Just think about this Friday line-up on Sci-Fi - Firefly- 8(Stargate SG-1 can last only so long), Stargate Atlantis- 9, and BattleStar Galactica at 10. I would be an awesome ratings night. But from the looks of it, Whedon would prefer bigger budgets and greater horizons.) No matter what happens, I want to thank Whedon for creating Firefly and Serenity and wish him good luck in the future.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Wookie Power

Fire of Liberty


It looks like the Red Sox are spending big money to take down the "Evil Empire" from the Bronx.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Blowin' in the Wind

Fire of Liberty

Here's James Lileks take on the ANSWER sponsored anti-war protest this past weekend in our nation's capital. I particularly liked the following passage:
Consider the signage provided by ANSWER, an association of sclerotic collectivists, spotty anarchists and Kim Jong Il fans: "U.S. Out of Iraq, Haiti, Afghanistan, Korea, Philippines, Colombia, Cuba!" Yes, Haiti! No blood for ... for whatever they have. Skinny chickens. No blood for Gristly Poultry! Of course, it goes without saying that ANSWER would want the United States out of Afghanistan; it didn't want the Taliban overthrown in the first place, especially if the U.S. Imperial War Machine did the overthrowing. Better to let the Taliban drop stones on gays than give Bush something to smirk about.

Los Angeles also had a parade, studded with the usual smash-the-state flotsam. There were "No Blood for Oil" signs, the rally equivalent of shouting "Freebird!" at a Skynyrd concert. The Communist Party, a group that manages to keep a straight face when it calls for peace and freedom, was on hand, no doubt glaring at the Socialist Party: We will deal with those splitters later. One placard proclaimed 9/11 an "inside job," presumably planned to usher in our dark age of fascism, in which protesters are slushed in giant shredding machines and spread over Cheney-owned tobacco fields as fertilizer. OK, that doesn't happen, but wait until the elections are suspended in '09, dude ... FREE MUMIA! WHOOO!
Once again, Lileks brings the house down with the humorous truth.

El Hefe II Extends His Power

Fire of Liberty

Well it looks like Hugo Chavez is following the footsteps of Fidel Castro with his most recent taking of a flour milling plant from Polar (one of the largest private sector employer and biggest food producers of Ven.) as well as threatening to extend such control over the various mining and oil industries that dot the mineral rich. Though Chavez can mouth the mantra "socialism of the 21st Century" to describe such a theft, the simple truth is that Chavez is extending his South American style Stalinist Communism on the people of Venezuela. In fact, I predict these actions will only push Venezuela further into poverty thus consolidating it's status as one of the founding members of the Outposts of Tyranny. One Castro is enough for one lifetime.

A Non-Deal?

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If you want to get the straight skinny on the recent deal drawn up by Japan, China, Russia, South Korea and the United States - some folks would call it a non-deal - in which North Korea agreed to discontinue it's nuke program and allow inspectors to inspect their programs in a return for a light-water nuclear reactor and food aid, then check out this column by Austin Bay and this one by Max Boot. Now I'm in the camp that believes that such an agreement will fall apart much like the 1994 Framework due to the fact that the North Koreans can't keep their promises. The only way your going to get the Hermit Kingdom to stop building their nuke stockpile in their underground bunkers, manning their slave camps, and starving it's people (I take the NK leadership legitimacy with a grain of salt) is via a regime change. Unfortunately, as long as the US sits back and refuses to make a vocal case for the people of North Korea to be free from their Stalinist masters and the left leaning government of Seoul refuses to see Kim Jong Il as the monster he is and keeps sending his regime money to prevent the North Koreans from getting upset, we'll have much of the same.

Securing Freedom

Fire of Liberty
Ralph Peters has a great Op/Ed over at USA Today that notes that not only is the GWOT a fight against terrorists but it's also a fight for freedom within the Middle East. Though whole societies in Afghanistan and Iraq have experienced the transformative nature of freedom and democracy, Peters notes that the female half of these nations have benefited the most from these new found freedoms. Peters made one of the best arguments for this fight on behalf of women in the Middle East with the following passage:
The greatest moral advance has been the attainment of basic human rights by women. It's also the most threatening development to those daunted by change, who cling to a mythologized past and fear the future — whether in a Saudi-funded madrassa or protesting outside a U.S. Planned Parenthood clinic. Around the world, troubled souls continue to insist that women are the source of sin and must be kept in line for their own good. Theirs is a prescription for suffering, dreariness and stagnation.

In traveling the globe, I've witnessed far more instances of the mistreatment of women than I care to recall, but the one that always leaps to mind is local and superficially benign: In the southern heat of a Washington summer, it's common to see a male Middle Eastern tourist comfortably dressed in a polo shirt and shorts trailed by a staggering woman wrapped from head to toe in flapping black robes, eyes peering out through a mask. It offends me to meet that image in my country — or anywhere.

We do not think of our troops abroad as fighting for women's rights. But they are. This is the titanic struggle of our time, the liberation of fully half of humanity. Islamist terror is only one aspect of it. But we can be certain of two things: In the end, freedom will win. And no society that torments women will succeed in the 21st century.
Well done Mr. Peters.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Afghanistan: Rising to the heights of the Hindu Kush

Fire of Liberty

Check out this piece by John R. Thomson over at National Review Online on the under-reported progress that is occurring everyday in Afghanistan. Here's a good sample of how things are moving alone quite nicely:
The list of individuals and organizations — foreign and domestic — who are aiding Afghanistan in rebuilding from virtually total destruction is long indeed. Perhaps not surprisingly, all of those who has assisted in reconstructing the society are adamant that the will and determination of the Afghans has been vital to success achieved so far. "There is a determination to create a free and prospering society," notes one, "that is fierce and unrelenting. They are determined to get the job done."

So is former Ambassador Ishaq Shahryar, who with two Afghan-American colleagues is working on the development of several significant industrial and agricultural projects. "The most important thing those of us who have become naturalized citizens of other countries can do is to lend what expertise we have gained to rebuild Afghanistan," Shahryar comments. "Our goal is to develop worthwhile projects that will provide employment and income opportunities for thousands of Afghans. Other expatriates are bringing expertise in government and education. With our brothers and sisters throughout the country, we can together make our nation modern and viable."
It amazing what the "animal spirits" that Adam Smith talked about in 1776 can accomplish once they're set loose in a place like Afghanistan. I can assure you that the Afghan people are thankful for the US freeing them from the tyranny of the Taliban so they could enjoy such enterprises.

Ted Rubin: An American Hero

Fire of Liberty

Here's James S. Robbins awesome tribute over at National Review Online to Ted Rubin, our most recent Congressional Medal of Honor recipient. This wonderful tribute paints a wonderful picture of Rubin who after surviving the horrors of the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria during WWII, emigrated to the US and joined the Army during the height of The Korean War in which he showed bravery under fire by staying behind and protecting a hill from the advancing enemy why fellow troops moved to another hill. Though Rubin's defense of the hill is an amazing feat, I found his crowning achievement during the conflict occurred during two and a half years in a POW camp in Korea, where has was credited for saving some 40 lives. Take a look:
Ted found himself in the Pukchin POW camp, also known as "Death Valley," and later at Pyoktong, along with hundreds of Americans, Turks, and others. The camps were at first run by the North Koreans, then by the Chinese, whom Ted said treated them slightly better. Nevertheless, life was nightmarish for the prisoners. They were cold and hungry, and disease was rampant. "Healthy men became like babies, helpless," Ted said. "Everything was stink, death, it was terrible, terrible." Thirty to forty a day were dying. "It was hardest on the Americans who were not used to this," Ted said. "But I had a heck of a basic training from the Germans."

Ted used all the experience he had gained as a Holocaust survivor in helping keep himself and other prisoners alive. "I did it because I was an American," Ted told me, "and because it was a mitzvah. Regardless of color or nationality, they were my brothers." Food was vital for survival, so he began to steal rations from the enemy, who had little enough themselves. Fellow POW Sergeant Carl McClendon stated, "every day, when it got dark, and we went to sleep, Rubin was on his way, crawling on his stomach, jumping over fences, breaking in supply houses, while the guns were looking down on him. He tied the bottom of his fatigue pants and filled up anything he could get ahold of. He crawled back and distributed the food that he had stolen and risked his life."

Ted also did what he could to treat the sick and injured. But many were beyond saving, and diseases such as dysentery could strike anyone. "No one knew when they would die," Ted noted, "It was all random." When prisoners passed away, Ted would bury them, and recite the Kaddish. "I buried my friends, my comrades, American soldiers," Ted said, "and asked the Good Lord to let them rest in peace."
So let's give Tibor "Ted" Rubin a hand for his excellent service to this nation.

Multiculturalism Gone Astray

Fire of Liberty
Phyllis Schlafly has an excellent column on Senate Bill 174 in which the Senate would create a Hawaiian raced-based government independent from the laws and control of the United States. So that means they're trying to impose they're own "seperate but equal" laws to anyone who has one iota of native Hawaiian blood in them. I think Schlafly puts it best in the following passage:
Since the debate over U.S. Supreme Court nominees has made "settled law" a favorite expression, we should point out that when Hawaii became a state, it became settled law that Hawaiians would accept the U.S. Constitution, and that there would be no more monarchy and no more separate government or sovereignty for Native Hawaiians. We had a national consensus both in and out of Hawaii that Native Hawaiians would be U.S. citizens, not treated as a separate racial group.

Advocates for Hawaiian statehood repeatedly then emphasized that Hawaii is a melting pot of racial and national origins who are joined in a common patriotism and faith in U.S. institutions. So why are we spending time discussing this retro idea?

Follow the money to search for motives behind this oddball legislation. The clue to the mystery is Section 8(b) of S. 147, which ensures that the new Native Hawaiian government can negotiate gambling rights with the state of Hawaii and the federal government.

It appears that some politically well-connected Hawaiians want to cash in on the profitable casino privileges that have been given to American Indian tribes. Another possible motive is that a small group of Native Hawaiians is trying to grab some of the high-priced real estate in the beautiful islands and claim it as their tribal heritage.
It's amazing what folks will do to please the gods of multiculturalism let alone to line their pockets full of cash.

Champion of Freedom

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Thank G-d we have John Bolton and other like minded Ambassadors like David A. Gross representing our best interests and protecting the freedoms of speech, thought, expression as well as keeping the avenues of commerce free and open to the rest of the world. Just read what John Zarocostas wrote in the Washington Times about this great stand for freedom in Geneva:
The United States said at the outset of global talks on information technology yesterday that it will fight attempts to put the United Nations or any international group in charge of the Internet.

"We want to make sure the private sector leads and the Internet continues to be a reservoir of great innovation, and that governments continue to focus on enabling the growth of the Internet, and not of controlling its use," Ambassador David A. Gross told The Washington Times in an interview.

Major developing nations spearheaded by China, Brazil, South Africa, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and a number of industrialized countries including Norway, Switzerland and Russia would like to see the United States relinquish its historic control of the Internet.
I'd say that when nations like China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Russia (countries that have imposed horrific restriction on the INTERNET and the press within their own countries) support the US relinquishing the control of the INTERNET to the a world body like the UN then it's time to stand up and shout "hands off." So thank you Ambassador Gross for raising such an objection. Keep it up.

Sage Advice on War on Terror

Fire of Liberty

The Boston Globe's Jeff Jacoby has a wonderful column on Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's (R) no-nonsense approach towards the government keeping tabs on folks who are suspected as being possible terrorists and preachers of hate. Here's a peek:
''People who are in settings — mosques, for instance — that may be teaching doctrines of hate and terror," Romney said. ''Are we monitoring that? Are we wiretapping? Are we following what's going on? Are we seeing who's coming in, who's coming out? Are we eavesdropping, carrying out surveillance on those individuals that are coming from places that sponsor domestic terror?"

Well, no kidding. After 9/11, after the Madrid and London transit massacres, it is hard to imagine anyone objecting to Romney's statement of the obvious. But object they did. The ACLU accused the governor of proposing ''another giant stride toward a police state." The Council on American Islamic Relations, shamelessly distorting Romney's words, said it was aghast that any governor would ''suggest blanket wiretapping of houses of worship." Groups from the leftist fringe staged a protest outside Romney's office.

But if they expected to browbeat him into an apology, they were disappointed.

''This thing is just common sense," he told reporters. ''Surely we have to recognize that some of this has gone on in mosques in the past . . . . There have been places of extremism where certain teachers have been identified as having been involved in . . . terrorist attacks. Let's not pretend that's not the case."
I'd have to say that I like a Governor like Romney expressing such common sense even though he knows he'll be lambasted by the liberal and special interest groups who make up the sea of blue in Massachusetts. I just wish that Senator Kennedy and Kerry would say the same but then again that might be too much to ask from these darlings of the left. No matter, I look forward to more of Romney's candid but sage advice on the problems confronting this nation as he plays his cards for an 08 Presidential run. If not for Prez, he would make a good VP. What do you think of Allen/Romney in 08 or my favorite Cheney/Romney 08?

Putting Responsibility back into Fiscal Responsibility.

Fire of Liberty

Deroy Murdock, National Review Online's contributing editor, Scripps Howard News Service columnist and senior fellow of the Atlas Economic Foundation has an excellent piece over at NRO on how the GOP leadership seems to have forgotten the "small government" part of the GOP plank, what with their love of pork and lack of fiscal restraint when it comes to the various bills they send to President Bush. (If I have one complaint about President Bush is his risk averseness towards the veto pen. He could say no every now and then). Luckily, this wonderful piece reveals that there are a few members like Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) and Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) within the GOP who are fully committed to the reduction of government and eliminating this "blank-check" mentality that has run rampant especially with the most recent expenditures on Katrina that are expected to be in the $200 billion ballpark. Just look at what Murdock notes about these fiscally responsible and their devotion to the ideals of small government that were championed by Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan:
The heroes of this tawdry tale are the 110 members of the House Republican Study Committee. Led by chairman Mike Pence (R., Ind.), the RSC on Wednesday unveiled "Operation Offset," an initiative to cut federal spending to cover relief for the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina (and soon, Rita). Assisted by fiscal watchdogs Jeff Flake (R., Ariz.), Jeb Hensarling (R., Tex.), and other stalwarts, the RSC proposed 122 ideas to save taxpayers $102 billion next year, $369.9 billion through 2010, and $929 billion through 2015. These include delaying the new, universal Medicare prescription-drug benefit (it should be slashed and focused exclusively on low-income seniors who lack drug insurance), ditching highway pork projects, and dumping corporate and farm welfare programs.

"We're anticipating growing enthusiasm of the American people for offsetting these costs and sharpening our find these cuts," Pence told a Capitol Hill press conference.

Reaganites like Jeff Flake, Mike Pence, and Tom Coburn should constitute the congressional leadership. Tom DeLay, House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R., Ill.), and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R., Tenn.) are spending money at a pace that eclipses Democratic congresses. And, maddeningly, President Bush recoils from his veto pen like a vampire running from garlic. A dash of adult supervision could restrain his party's juvenile delinquency. Alas, Bush naps upstairs while the kids trash the living room.
My advice for the President is to take ahold of the reigns and start vetoing some bills and show Congress that enough is enough. Maybe the best place to start is by calling for the scrapping some 6,371 "earmarks" from the Highway Bill as well as eliminating the $104 billion set aside for NASA to send man back to the moon. Without such action, the GOP could lose the mantle of fiscal responsibility and small government very soon. I'd also like to salute the members of the 110 member House Republican Study Committee and hope their fiscal proposals will reach the light. G-d's speed.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Securing our Lifeline

Fire of Liberty

Mark Clayton has a good article in the September 21, 2005 issue of The Christian Science Monitor on the how the US needs to expand and locate more gasoline/heating oil refineries throughout the nation to ensure that storms like Katrina or Rita doesn't knock such production facilities off-line like we have seen in the past weeks. No matter how you look at it, we've got to make an effort to remove such a bottleneck in the supply which President Bush has been pointing out since assuming office. Just see for yourself what's at stake:
The current refinery squeeze has been building for years. For the past two decades, deregulation and low profits have combined to push the industry into consolidation. Partly because of environmental regulations, it was cheaper to expand existing refineries than to build new ones. In 1981, the US had 324 refineries with a total capacity of 18.6 million barrels per day, the Department of Energy reports. Today, there are just 132 oil refineries with a capacity of 16.8 million b.p.d., according to Oil and Gas Journal, a trade publication.

This bottleneck is expected to keep pressure on gas prices - and politicians. Both parties are weighing measures to loosen environmental and permitting constraints for refineries. Rep. John Shadegg (R) of Arizona is set to offer a bill to streamline federal regulations governing refineries, Congressional Daily reports.

Echoing that call, Representative Sullivan announced he will introduce legislation to help pave the way for a big new refinery near Cushing, Okla. His proposal, which had been stripped from the energy bill passed by Congress this summer, would speed up permitting by lessening "arcane and outdated environmental standards," he said in his statement.

But the furthest along is Arizona Clean Fuels Yuma, which aims to locate a high-tech oil refinery in the Arizona desert. The hurdles are high. The company is still lining up investors to pay the $2.5 billion price tag. It has to hire biologists to ensure the new plant will not hurt an endangered lizard. A local clean-air group is questioning the project. But if the plan is realized, it would be the first US refinery built since 1976.

"Maybe Katrina has taught us not to concentrate all refineries in one area, let alone a hurricane-prone region," says Glenn McGinnis, the company's CEO. "We need to diversify."
Now I understand the folks' concern about the refineries posing a threat to the environment(Who doesn't want a clean environment) but I also see the whole national security problems. Our nation can't afford to be weakened or put into a literal standstill because of a massive hurricane. We can do a heck of a lot better and by G-d we should. After all, we are America.

Also check out this diagram to see where our 132 refineries are located.


The Freedom That We Enjoy

Fire of Liberty

After seeing the ANSWER anti-war protest on Saturday and the pro-war rally on Sunday C-SPAN as well as the myriad of authors and historians who appeared at National Book Festival on C-SPAN2, it makes me happy to live in a nation that embraces freedom of speech, thought and opinion. Unfortunately, the people of China don't have such freedoms under their Communist masters in Beijing. Take a look at what the Financial Times has to report on an ever increasing crackdown on the press, blogs, INTERNET News-sites, text messaging and various other communications that express views or news that differs from the PRC's line:
Earlier this month, Shi Tao, a Chinese journalist, was jailed for 10 years after sending out a government memo about the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre to foreign websites.

According to Reporters Without Borders, the international watchdog, Yahoo had co-operated with the Chinese authorities by providing information that linked his personal email account with the memo, leading to his conviction.

The state council information office on Sunday explained the reason for introducing these measures. "We need to better regulate the online news services with the emergence of so many unhealthy news stories that will easily mislead the public."

A number of domestic and foreign news providers already practice self-censorship by blocking sites and not allowing message postings on sensitive topics.

Under these regulations, news organisations need to get approval from the state council information office for publishing not only their own content but also the sites by other organisations featuring news stories.

Services that provide online news stories, feature bulletin board systems or send news updates in text messages are subject to the regulation.

Media groups attached to the central government or under provincial governments have to seek approval before providing any stories to other online news sites.
And folks of the left keep on trying to pin such actions on the breast pocket of President Bush. Maybe they need to take a strong look at the 21st Century version of a book-burning that the tyrants in Beijing are doing with the recent crackdown.

Reform Party of Syria: A Mid Eastern Solidarity Movement

Fire of Liberty

Farid Ghadry, president of the pro-democracy Reform Party of Syria, has a wonderful piece over at National Review Online that points out that even though the risk adverse "realists" and friends of Assad within the State Department and other foreign policy wonks have moved Heaven and Earth to find ways to discredit his democratic movement in Syria. Fortunately, Ghadry understands the game and has gazed his eyes over the history of Lech Walesa and his Solidarity movement in Poland during the Cold War and has discovered that Walesa struggled with the same scrutiny from the West as he does now. I think Ghadry destroyed all of the arguments against his movement with the following paragraphs:
In fact, the situation of the Syrian democratic opposition today parallels in many ways Lech Walesa's Solidarity movement in Poland, as it grew from a nascent labor movement into a nationwide critical mass of anti-Soviet and anti-Communist activism. The Soviet propaganda machine at the time did its best to discredit Walesa personally, painting him as everything from a drug-addicted philandering gangster to a stooge of "foreign agents" (a.k.a. the West); the Soviets also tried to portray Walesa as a prima-donna figure who was living the "high life" while his fellow Polish comrades — thanks, of course, to the Communist system — were living in poverty. In other words, Walesa, according to the Communists, was "out of touch." Sound familiar? It should: The Baath are following to the letter the Soviet manual on how to suppress democratic opposition.

But in the end Walesa and Solidarity succeeded against the odds. Walesa was by no means assured of success when he embarked upon the long, exhausting struggle. At times, it seemed hopeless. He was ridiculed, his family was harassed, his integrity was questioned, and even his patriotism put in doubt. But he persevered. He persevered because he paid no mind to the "realist" analysts in the West who thought it unwise to lend moral and political support to an organization that for all practical purposes was likely to fail in its efforts against the full political and military power of a ruthless government with seemingly endless resources at its disposal.

The Solidarity experience has another important parallel among us. Because Syria is ruled by an objectively foreign regime, it would have been easy for us in the Syrian democratic opposition to use the old tools of ethnic hatred and xenophobia to drum up support against Assad II's system of clannish oligarchy and minority rule. But just as Walesa realized that his struggle was not one of Poles vs. Russians but one of Freedom vs. Tyranny, the Reform Party of Syria has not tried to tap into the dark emotions of a frustrated populace. Walesa saw that Poles and Russians were brothers in arms in their desire for freedom. For our part, we view Sunni, Alawi, Christian, Jew, and Shiite all as brothers in arms in that same struggle. We did not choose our path for its expediency. Our ideology defines our method; and if in the eyes of the learned elites that increases our odds for failure . . . so be it.
I just wish that some folks in the Bush administration would offer its full fledged support for the Reform Party of Syria and other democratic movements throughout the region. If we're going to achieve our goal of draining the swamp in the Middle East then support of people like Ghadry is a must.

Chinese Tyranny

Fire of Liberty

Here's a great piece in over at National Review Online on how the Chinese government seems to throw its weight against people or a group of people who express their desire to be free. Take a look.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Happy 250, Chief Justice John Marshall

Fire of Liberty

George Will's most recent column the writes a great dedication towards one of our greatest jurors, John Marshall, whose 250th birthday was September 24, 2005. Here's a sample:
Among the many recent fine biographies of America's Founders, none is finer than Jean Edward Smith's ``John Marshall: Definer of a Nation'' (1996). Smith locates Marshall's greatness in this fact: Unlike Britain's constitutional documents, which are political documents that it is Parliament's prerogative to construe, the U.S. Constitution is a legal document construed by courts, not Congress. When judicial supervision of our democracy seems tiresome, consider the alternative.

Marshall's life of strong, consequential prose had, Smith writes, a poetic coda. Marshall died in Philadelphia, birthplace of the Constitution into which he breathed so much strength and meaning. The Liberty Bell, while tolling his death, cracked. It never rang again.
Happy Birthday Chief Justice John Marshall, we're thankful for your great contribution to this mighty republic.

A Persian Plan not the same old Carpet

Fire of Liberty

Michael Ledeen has a great piece over at National Review Online that examines how the US has a current deficit of a policy when it comes to dealing with the mullahcracy's nuclear weapons programs and their continued support of terrorism. He notes that the US shouldn't continue its "all is well, don't rock the boat" mentality that seems to be prevalent amongst the State Department, NSC and the upper reaches of the White House. What the US government needs to do is enforce the pro-democracy, light of liberty policy that President Bush spoke about during his last inauguration. In order to do this the US has got to support the forces of democracy that are struggling against the Islamic fascists of Tehran who are submitting their will on a people who prefer a different society than what the mullahs brought forth in 1979. If we just apply our moral/political/financial support towards the movement of democracy within Iran and use other assets to wrest the mullahs from their perch of power, the US will eliminate one more power-center of danger (Nukes) and one of the largest patrons of terror in the world. In fact Ledeen provides some revealing facts about how the Iranian monolith has endured some slight fissures thus revealing an avenue of change via the people:
Many Iranians have come to the conclusion that their country is a dangerous place, and they are running. A significant number of former officials have left Iran for infidel countries in the past few weeks and months. The former minister of culture, Ayatollah Mohajerani, has gone to London, along with the former mayor of Tehran, Mohammed Hassan Malekmadani. Mohsen Sazegara, a founder of the Revolutionary Guards, is now in Washington. Mohammed Taghi Banki and Cyrus Nasseri, until recently high-ranking officials, have gone to Austria. And these are the lucky ones, because they have managed to escape the Islamic republic. Within the cauldron, the purge continues, as I have suggested it would. Ten members of the Khorassan judiciary have been forced to resign. The commander in chief of the army is gone. Payman Forouzesh and Golmohammad Baqeri, both members of the last parliament, have resigned, as has Mohammed Mirlohi, the deputy minister of legal and parliamentary affairs. Other resignations and departures are likely to follow in short order; a friend of mine who knows a great deal about the affairs of banks in the Persian Gulf tells me there is an unprecedented flow of private money out of Iran to places like Dubai, Abu Dabhi, and Qatar.

This exodus does not bespeak either a tranquil country or a regime confident of its internal power, especially against the background of the massive repression now under way. It rather suggests a regime that knows it is hated, and intends to stay in power by crushing anyone in its way, both at home and abroad. It is reminiscent of the final days of the Nazi regime, when the Fuhrer in his bunker swung wildly between megalomaniacal dreams of miraculous world conquest, and deep depression, alternately purging his old guard and promoting incompetent underlings to positions of great power.
So instead of sitting on our duffs and waiting for the matter to be settled within the madhouse known as the UN - where the Iranian mullahs will continue to do commit their horrific deeds unabated for years to come - we could achieve greater results by promoting the democratic movement in Iran. I'd say that the US should take a ride down the Ledeen turnpike, at least he has a well thought plan.

Escaping the Stranglehold of Poverty

Fire of Liberty

It seems that every minute I tune into the several news networks like FOX News, CNN, MSNBC, NPR and call in shows like C-Span's Washington Journal, I keep on hearing folks rattle on and on about the poverty that is rampant amongst inhabitants and how we can solve it by returning to a LBJ like Great Society for cities like New Orleans. Now I'm all concerned about people living in poverty and would like to find a solution to erase such conditions but I don't see how spending adding billions more to the $6.6 trillion that we have spent so far on the "War on Poverty" is going to solve the problems that propagate poverty. Instead the general excuses of poverty being due to a low minimum wage, lack of money or some silly notion of racism, the MSM needs to glance at the true villain which is the internal corruption of culture within the poor communities. Yes, the culture is the villain within New Orleans and various inner cities throughout this country. As long as you have youngsters and adults who live in areas in which having multiple children out of wedlock, dropping out of high school, single mother families and a dependency towards government entitlements rather than searching for employment, you will still continue to have the hands of poverty wrapped around their throats slowly but surely robbing them of breath. In fact, the liberals(And President Bush to a lesser extent) who have been advocating this spend, spend , spend mentality towards eliminating poverty seem to have forgotten that the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) had observed this deficit within the culture as being a chief culprit for poverty within the black community some 40 years ago.(This could be applied to society as a whole rather than one subsection). Thankfully, Detroit News columnist Thomas Bray seems to have a strong memory and noted such in his September 21, 2005 column. Take a look:

Among the pictures from New Orleans were lots of heart-rending shots of displaced mothers and children, but few of fathers and husbands. Liberal critics say Hurricane Katrina ripped aside the veil on America's extreme poverty. What it really ripped aside was the veil over the collapse of family, particularly among inner-city blacks, that lies at the heart of poverty.

The late Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the Harvard sociologist turned Democratic U.S. senator from New York, tried to warn of the problem four decades ago. Things were looking good then for minorities and the poor: The economy had grown, unemployment and poverty had declined by record amounts, the major barriers to equal opportunity had been stripped away by Brown v. Board of Education and the Civil Rights Act, and blacks had moved into the middle class.

But Moynihan found a sharp rise in single-mother families among blacks. He spelled out the alarming implications in a Labor Department report titled "The Negro Family: The Case for National Action." As recounted by Kay Hymowitz in a recent article in City Journal, Moynihan argued that "marriage orients men and women toward the future, asking them not just to commit to each other but to plan, to earn, to save and to devote themselves to advancing their children's prospects."

Moynihan concluded that there was a "tangle of pathologies" that would undermine black progress if left unchecked.
I just hope that it's not to late for US government to think about what kind of Pandora's Box they might open by flooding massive quantities of money into a poverty zone like New Orleans without treating the main problem which is the decline of culture which lead to poverty. It sort of like a doctor being more concerned about someone's headache rather than attending to the patients severed foot. We need to develop programs that solve problems not create more. In fact it seems that when people within predominately black communities follow Moynihan's recommendations to preventing poverty: 1. Graduate from high school, 2. Don't have a baby before your married and 3. Don't marry while you are a teenager, they generally rise above the tide. According to a recent Q&A between Pittsburgh Tribune-Review columnist Bill Steigerwald and syndicated columnist Star Parker (Whose pulled herself up from the ocean of poverty) it seems that Moynihan advice is gaining ground and folks are pulling themselves up much like Booker T. Washington recommended almost a century ago. Parker notes the effectiveness of such advice in the following exchange:
Q: What are some encouraging statistics about black families and households in the United States?

A: Where we see marriage and raising children in black America, we see health. We see financial health, we see moral health. We do not see the social pathologies. Where you see a marital household -- husband, wife, children -- the poverty rate is 8 percent. In single-headed households raising children in black America, the poverty rate is at 65 percent.

The problem for black America today is that more households are single-headed than ever in the history of black America. Today we are looking at out-of-wedlock birthrates of 69 percent in black America -- as opposed to in the 1960s, when out-of-wedlock birthrates were 22 percent. So we are diminishing our opportunities to be successful in this society.

But where blacks make sure that they are responsible with their choices, make sure that they aspire educationally, make sure that they marry before they have children, make sure that they take any job and work harder than the person above them, and make sure that they save and invest, we are seeing tremendous strides in black America. We are seeing tremendous growth.
You'd think if so many people like Washington, Moynihan, Steigerwald, Parker, Bray, George Will, Thomas Sowell and Kay Hymowitz notice such a blinking neon sign about the culture being the main cause then maybe the politicians would conclude the same. The only problem is that too many politicians are so afraid that they're going to offend some section of the American public or an interest group by revealing the truth that they prefer to just say yes to more spending rather than getting to the heart of the matter. I guess that's why I'm a strong believer in limited government and prefer faith-based and private solutions to our problems(In fact I'll bet you that a lot of America feels the same way.).

Also check out Thomas Sowell's book Black Rednecks and White Liberals to learn more about this decline in the culture within the black community and how it has led to poverty.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Iran faces some Heat

Fire of Liberty

It looks like the IAEA has finally decided that Iran's continued refusal to allow inspectors into their various nuclear facilities and the blatant resumption of enriching uranium after they had previously agreed with the EU3 (Britain, France and Germany) to stop such actions. According to this article in the Financial Times, the UN nuclear watchdog group, the governing board of the IAEA voted 22 for, one against and 12 abstentions on a resolution to report the Iranian government before the UN Security Council for their failure to convince the IAEA and the world that their nuclear program is for peaceful means. I guess when Iran's President gets on TV and publicly state that his country does not care what others say and that they have every right to enrich whatever amounts of uranium for whatever purpose, you'll generally get such a reaction. The only problem is that Iran's mullahs are being reported to the UN Security Council where they have friends like China and Russia waiting to wield their two vetoes for a client state. If we thought that the whole saga with Iraq where the Security Council passed 16 plus resolutions that carried no wait, one can just imagine what awaits Turtle Bay when Iran is thrown into the resolution hopper.

I just hope the US is reaching into it's dusty Reagan era Cold War file cabinet and pulling out the Poland, Eastern Europe and South American files on taking down regimes internally so we don't have to go through the UN tap dance with Iran. This added attention could help the forces of freedom within Iran and the West because it causes Iran to focus on the UN Security Council rather than the domestic front. Though this would be a nice way of looking at things, I still think we need to approach Iran and the mullahs on the level of Michael Ledeen's rather than what we're doing at the moment.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Kansas isn't the Problem

Fire of Liberty

Lee Harris has a great contribution over at Tech Central Station which is probably one of the best pieces I've ever read that seems to knock the legs out from under the arguments that Thomas Frank proposes in his book What's the Matter With Kansas?. Harris does an excellent job in deconstructing Frank's thesis that: "the people in the red states vote for Republicans and live less well off because they are simply stupid or uneducated and easily fooled by conservative shibboleths" by turning the table and presenting a well reasoned argument against the "Death Tax" that he heard by a waitress at Woolworths in 1972 Atlanta. He put it best by writing the following paragraphs:

Not economic irrationality, but admirable ethical consistency lay behind my waitresses' Red State attitude to the proposed inheritance tax. They did not ask others to give up a right that they would not give up themselves, if they were ever in the position to exercise it. Why? Because they would have regarded it as sheer hypocrisy to prevent people from doing what they knew damn well that they would do themselves, if they were ever given the chance.

What else is this other than a recognition of a shared humanity? Even if it be a shared weakness?

Perhaps one day the critics of Middle America will begin to recognize the humanity they share with people they so quickly label as culturally backwards. Perhaps one day they might even begin to listen to them, and to learn from them, the way I did so many years ago, while eavesdropping on the waitresses at Woolworth's.

So instead of asking what's wrong with the Red States maybe we should ask what is wrong with Thomas Frank and his fellow Democrats and what they could do to improve their lot. Thanks to Lee Harris we can ask such questions.

Getting Lost in the Tall Grass

Fire of Liberty

As I look out into the political world, I'm starting to see a similar pattern cropping up in President Bush that I remember emerging during President Reagan and Bush 41's term which is that certain events emerge that prevents them from getting their various domestic, foreign and economic policies pushed through congress. Now I know that Reagan was able to push through a restructuring of the tax system where we had a 10% and 28% bracket introduced, sliming down government via the by cutting certain budgets, the beginnings of the Soviet implosion, Soviets withdrawing from Afghanistan, and the appointment and confirmation of Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Associate Justice Scalia (I surely wished we could have had Bork rather than Kennedy but beggars cant be choosers.) and GHW Bush pushed through the initial groundwork of NAFTA(I know Clinton was the one who got credit but President Bush 41 pushed the idea formally thought up by Reagan), nominated Associate Justice Clarence Thomas (Can't say same about Souter), pushed Saddam out of Kuwait but they could have pushed through their agenda had they not stumbled in the weeds of a second term and what could be considered a third term via George H.W. Bush. No matter who's in the White House they seem to come in with all of the energy much like someone who has ingested a great amount of Red Bull or Starbuck's Double Shot Espressos but after so long they run out of these elixers and get bogged down in the political marshes known as Washington D.C. and throw aside some of the desired goals to just survive.

The same thing seems to apply with the second term of President Bush. He was riding a marvelous caravan of success with the passage of No Child Left Behind (I wished he hadn't compromised so much with Ole Ted), Tax Cuts, defeating the Taliban and Saddam thus freeing some 50 million people from tyranny and handing them the baton of democracy, Medicare prescription Drug Coverage (I'd say it was a wasteful boondoggle and confusing for old folks), Increased Defense budgets, the appointment of Judge John Roberts as Chief Justice and a yet to be named judge in the mold of Scalia and Thomas, CAFTA, several bilateral free trade agreements not to mention the countless other policies that most politicians would trade their whole career and fortune for. The only problem is that the President seems to have lost the big mo in his second term and will probably see his policies like the restructuring of Social Security, the elimination of the death tax(This could happen), Restructuring of Tax system to either a Flat Tax or Consumption Tax, Effective Energy Policy like building more refineries (throughout the US rather than Gulf Coast) and domestic drilling in ANWR.(This could also go through what with the results of Katrina and Rita). Though I have problems with these policies being tossed aside in the bog of D.C. to lighten the load, I have a bigger beef with President Bush turning into a Republican with the talk of Reagan, the spending and approach like that of LBJ's Great Society. You only have to look at his spend, spend, spend policy towards Katrina and the federal government as a whole (I'll give him credit for a Gulf Opportunity Zone (should be more like an Enterprise Zone with 18% Flat Tax), vouchers towards education, a more Faith Based approach, reducing pork from Energy, Highway and other programs.) to realize that we're dealing with the current President. I think Reagan put it best when he noted that "Saying Congress spends like a drunken sailor is an insult to drunken sailors because drunken sailors spend their own money." I just wish that President Bush would pull out the veto pen or take out his axe towards the budget like Reagan did and tell his fellow Republicans to cut out the crap but then again he could prevent this bleeding pig syndrome if he stopped getting up before the American people and busting open the treasury like a pinata to ensure the media and possible voters stay on your side. I know he is a man who hates to see anyone going through hell or people doing without but he should realize that LBJ tried to win the "War on Poverty" through similar policies and the only thing he had to show after forty years and $6.7 trillion we still have poor folks in public housing still dependent on Uncle Sam. I just hope President Bush will look over Marvin O'lasky's wonderful book The Tragedy of American Compassion to see where hyperactive government spending can have very detrimental affects on the folks receiving help.

Aside from President Bush getting lost in the tall grass of the second term thus by led away from some guideposts the Republican House and Senate seem to have been sucked into the power trap where the party in power seems to get used to running the show that they get so comfortable that they become flabby and soft and aren't as fine tuned like a newly built Cadillac. They'll keep on running down the highway passing the Democrats on Bill Clinton's Bridge to the 21st Century but will probably need a tune up and some repairs along the way. I think Jonah Goldberg pretty much summed this up with his current Goldberg File over at National Review Online when he noted:
In short our moderate Republicans are the responsible Democrats. The real Democrats are just back-up singers for guys like Specter and McCain (they let Lieberman do an occasional solo). This is what happens to majority parties (remember the "Boll Weevil Democrats"?). They become the locus of all politics while the runt party sits like a highwayman, hoping to pounce on the weak stragglers every now and then. And, the GOP as a governing party is becoming bloated, self-absorbed, and lazy. Democrats think this means the GOP will lose control of Congress. I don't see it. When the Democrats ran the show, their congressmen lived high on the hog for 40 years, lamenting that the only thing you can't buy with free stamps or kited checked are hookers (I suspect AbScam was really just a way to get loose cash to get around this obstacle).

In other words, my real fear is that this is as good as it gets. Conservatives may have to look forward to years of incremental victories, less-than-incremental setbacks, cronyism, hypocrisy, rent-seeking, and the sort of pragmatic compromise which inevitably grinds down intellectual joy and entrepreneurialism. This isn't because Republicans are worse than Democrats (by any historical measure Democrats have been vastly more corrupt than Republicans — though Republicans are better at getting caught). It's because that's the nature of the beast.

Running things is better than the alternative, but some days that just doesn't feel like it‚'s good enough.
Hopefully President Bush will find the energy and extra oomph that he used after September 11th 2001 and during his re-election to get some of his promises he made accomplished. Sometimes even his supporters can "misunderestimate" him. We'll see.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Storm Track Hysteria

Fire of Liberty

William Rusher has a wonderful column on the nutty "storm watch" coverage that seems to be popping up constantly on the cable networks. No matter what cable news channel you turn to, you're more likely than not to find some talking head who have never been in a meteorology class one day of their life but somehow think they are such experts that they can yucking it up on the screen about the gale force winds, the category of the storm and the fact that this behemoth of a storm is threatening to destroy all of humanity along the coastline. Does anyone remember all of the talk about Katrina blowing down all of the buildings in New Orleans or the speculation that some 10,000 people were killed by the storm and subsequent flooding? What makes things more worse is the fact that the media types seem to be almost giddy that the current or next storm will be the big one and are ready with their reporters with camera in hand braving the elements to give you a live view from the scene. I think Rusher summed up the news media's obsessive nature of reporting on the approaching "killer storm" and how it deprives the people, who are in the path of the storm, useful information with the following paragraphs:
But how can we reasonably expect ordinary human beings to react to such repeated inundations of alarming news? They can't (or won't) board up their shop windows and fortify their houses four or five times every year, let alone abandon their homes and flee inland, when they know that the chance of a hurricane landing right on top of them is more like once every 20 years. Such continual fever-pitch reporting results in a "cry wolf" desensitization that may leave some ill-prepared when an actual crisis arises.

There is a real problem here. We want people to know when a hurricane is indeed likely to come ashore in their area, and to take whatever anticipatory action is necessary, up to and including evacuation, when the authorities order it. And the media have an important role to play in spreading the news. But it would be a welcome relief if they would just tone down their preliminary rhetoric. ("The storm is still about four days off the coast, and there's a 60 percent chance that it will turn before reaching it, so continue to enjoy your summer and we'll keep you informed.") Then, when the danger really requires action, there will be a better chance of inducing it.
Unfortunately, the media is only concerned about boosting their daytime numbers and could care less about how the consistent yammering is a pacifier to the folks who should be spending their time doing other things like "gettin' the hell out of Dodge." So if you do anything tomorrow, please ignore the "storm watch" and check out ESPN, The History Channel, NFL Network, C-SPAN or even SCI-FI. Better yet, go to one of the many websites here and here on Lost and figure out those numbers, Hatch Boy or the latest theory about what awaits the marooned islanders.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

In the Mold of Scalia and Thomas

Fire of Liberty

Judge Robert Bork and David Rivkin have a wonderful Op/Ed in today's issue of USA Today which notes that various Democratic Senators, especially members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, have completely forgotten the true role of the Judicial branch which is to "interpret" the law not "legislate" the law. You'd think that the folks who write this bill and that, pass a myraid of laws and pass out so much pork they would at least know a thing or to about the whole concept of "separation of powers." Well then again, these same folks are the one's who kept on asking John Roberts how he felt personally about this issue or that as well as stating that Senators or Congressmen can't get elected without revealing their opinions so why shouldn't Roberts do the same. Well, thankfully Judge Bork and David Rivkin seem to set the record straight on the appropriate job of a justice with the following paragraphs:
Yet nobody, including Roberts himself, can or should know how he would rule in a specific case, until that case comes before him. Having judges behave as politicians, seeking political support from public commitments concerning their future votes, is utterly incompatible with the proper judicial role. Going down this path would fatally undermine judicial independence and legitimacy.

In fact, far from being about Roberts or any future nominee, the pyrotechnics of the Senate hearings are attributable to the fact that the philosophic gulf between our two political parties has grown vast — and nowhere more so than with respect to the federal judiciary. Most Republicans want courts that are legal institutions, not political bodies. Democrats, on the other hand, insist on courts devoted to specific policy outcomes (invariably items on the liberal agenda).

Not content with helping transform the judiciary into the most important player in domestic affairs, and most certainly in cultural trends, Democrats push for courts that are activist in foreign and defense policy, micromanaging, for example, the treatment of captured enemy combatants.
I just hope that the nomination of Judge Roberts and this great Op/Ed by Bork and Rivkin will start a national conversation amongst the American people on the true role of our justices. Though a considerable amount of the Senate Democrats throw up broadsides against the comfirmation of a justice with a judicial temperment of Judge John Roberts, who plays the role of an umpire, they just only make themselves look like folks who want to extend their legislative powers onto the Supreme Court and thus sally the third branch of our government. Me thinks that they doth protest too much. I'm willing to bet ya that the American people are inclined towards Bork and Rivkin's arguments but all you have to do is look at the 2004 Election results to see that the people of the US wanted a President who chooses judges in the mold of Scalia and Thomas. So bring on the next pick Mr. President, we look forward to your choice.

Looks can be Deceiving

Fire of Liberty

Here's a good example of how looks can be deceiving. It seems the late Chief Justice Rehnquist gelled more with the heartland and the "Red States" than the MSM and the elites of Washington tend to be. Thankfully, Justice Clarence Thomas seems to have taken Rehnquist's love to heart every summer when he takes an RV riding tour of America to meet "the folks." I just hope Roberts is the same way.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Wilson Affect

Fire of Liberty

Check out this interesting piece by Paul Mirengoff and Scott Johnson (The guys of Power Line fame) over at the Weekly Standard on how Georg Hegel was a major influence on President Wilson and several of our current Supreme Court Justices like Ginsburg and Breyer who have this undying devotion to a "living Constitutution." Mirengoff and Johnson demonstrated that liberals who think that the Constitution should change with the times instead a being locked into stone like it was when it was agreed upon this week some 218 years by the Founding Fathers, are indeed students of Hegel's "dialectic." (You can change it but through an amending process to prevent everyone from getting willy-nilly in pushing through changes daily.) I think the duo pointed out the best example of how Hegel has gained such a grasp on the liberal thought process since Wilson by pointing out this quote by the late Princeton don:
"Justly revered as our great constitution is, it could be stripped off and thrown aside like a garment, and the nation would still stand forth in the living vestment of flesh and sinew, warm with the heart-blood of one people, ready to recreate constitutions and laws."
That just about sums up the whole thought process of some of our elected officials and a certain set of US Supreme Court Justices. I just hope that we don't appoint more "men in black" in this same mold. Even if you doubt my word or the word of these two, then at least check out Ronald Pestritto wonderful book Woodrow Wilson and the Roots of Modern Liberalism to get the goods.

Colombia's Uribe Awaits Decision for Second Term

Fire of Liberty

It seems that Colombian President Alvaro Uribe might have a chance of being able to run for a second term if the legislation of extending the presidential term to two terms - which was passed by the parliament last December - meets Constitutional muster. After some four years of battling the narco terrorists FARC and ELN, the reduction of crime and the continual reduction of Coca fields, Colombia would be lost if this dynamic and proven leader is prevented from running a second term. Luckily, Uribe is a true democrat who respects the rule of law and will abide by the courts decision even if it rules against him. I can assure you Hugo Chavez won't allow an independent judiciary to tell him he can't run again.

Whatever happens, I wish Uribe luck.

Romney's Wise Advice

Fire of Liberty
It seems that the folks over at the Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the various other interest groups have gotten their feathers a little ruffled after Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney noted in a speech before the Heritage Foundation that the FBI shouldn't be wary of keeping a watchful eye on "radical Islamists" because they're afraid the pc banshees showing up. Now, I'm all for people practicing their religion in the confines of their churches, mosques, and synagogues unabated by the government but I draw the line when folks partake in illegal activities like preaching hate, urging jihad, weapons training, plotting violent activities and hide behind these holy sanctuaries using it as a shield against local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. It's a crying shame that a governor can be lambasted by various special interest groups because he suggested that the agencies - who were created to secure this nation from terrorism - actually do their jobs without falling into the trap of "political correctness" that seems to run roughshod over our everyday life. Thankfully, Andrew C. McCarty, a former federal prosecutor and a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, has provided a great bit of insight into Gov. Romney's arguments in this piece over a National Review Online. I'd say he summed these sentiments up best in the following paragraphs:
Militant Islamists are our enemy in the war on terror. Militant Islam is an ideology. Ideologies do not fall like rain out of the sky. They are taught. In this instance, we have long known exactly the places where this one is taught, and at the top of the list are mosques.

Radical mosques have been the center of indoctrination. They have been the hub for paramilitary training. They have been central to recruitment. They have been ideal for conspiratorial confabs about explosives. They have been collection points for terrorist financing. And they have been the scene of crimes (such as the provision of a gun to a government informant at the Abu Bakr mosque in Brooklyn during the run-up to the WTC bombing).

In short mosques have been safe havens — even today, even after all that has happened — because the terrorists and those who share their utopian, universalist vision know full well that if someone like Gov. Romney sensibly suggests that we should be paying more attention to them, he will be pilloried with far more vigor than the press has for examining militant Islam and than the civil-rights lobby has for defending the right of innocent Americans to live.

Romney, it should be noted, was not saying that every mosque should be scrutinized. He instead asserted that we should not shrink from wiretapping mosques out of "political correctness."
While most Republican governors in a Blue State like Massachusetts, who are facing a re-election in 2006, usually restrain themselves from making statements or taking actions that would create waves amongst the sea of liberals in Teddy Kennedy's backyard. Luckily, Gov. Romney isn't one to waiver from his convictions and beliefs and I think the folks in the state of Massachusetts appreciate such candor as well. One can see him going far if he ran for Prez in 2008. An Allen/Romney 08 run looks good to me or even a Romney/Rudy run. Things look interesting in the future.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Big Question: Who will run Germany?

Fire of Liberty

Jim Geraghty, who has been in Germany this past week checking out the election scene, has a good piece over at National Review Online that has eight things that people in America can learn about the German elections. I'd say he has some great observations from this closely contested election. Anyway, check it out.

As for me and the sake of Germany, I hope Merkel's CDU will join forces with the Free Democrats and the Greens. It might not be a complete center-right government but it's far greater than this crazy "Grand Coalition." Merkel and FDP can assuage the Greens better that trying to run a government where Schroeder could throw a monkey wrench in the works. I think they could propose some tax credits for eco-friendly technology, put up some wind farms, ban some so called "Frankenfoods" better than opening the door to SPD. Oh well, only time will tell.

Check out this piece for more on possible coalitions in Germany.

Zarqawi's Desperate Times

Fire of Liberty
Well it seems that Zarqawi and his minions have gone into desperation mode in their terrorist operations that they have to seek out jihadis by kidnapping, drugging and then forcing young men into the business of killing innocent people via bomb laden vests or cars. Just look at what USA Today reported on Zarqawi's desperate measures:
The man said insurgents kidnapped him, then drugged and beat him. His story was similar to those recounted by other captured militants who claim they were coerced or fooled by insurgent leaders who promised them a role in the holy war.

Musab Aqil al-Khayal, 19, was shown on state television Saturday confessing to his involvement in Wednesday's attack on day laborers in Baghdad. A companion killed 112 people and wounded 250. Al-Khayal, a Syrian, said the al-Qaeda in Iraq group had "“duped"” him.

"The kidnapping of this man further demonstrates the desperateness of (al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi),"” Buckner said. Zarqawi "“knows that he can't win against Iraqi security and coalition forces, and is therefore willing to use innocent Iraqi citizens to further his cause."
I'd say that the US needs to keep up the heat while the Jordanian Zarqawi and his al Qaeda stooges keep on losing what little support he had. I forsee good things around the corner.

The Real El Hefe Jr.

Fire of Liberty
Though you heard a weeks worth of news in the MSM about the Pat Robertson, televangelist and host of The 700 Club, calling for the assassination of Venezuelan President Chavez, I pretty much doubt you heard anything about why someone would make such a bold statement on El Hefe Jr. Thankfully, Thor Halvorseen, president of the New York based Human Rights Foundation, has written a wonderful piece in the August 8, 2005 issue of the Weekly Standard that demonstrates that the US has a horrific neighbor to its south. While Chavez will tell folks like ABC's Ted Koppel that his "Revolutionary Government," is providing the people with what they want and need the reality of situation is that El Hefe Jr. is erecting a fascistic playground that is slowly but surely eleminating the Venezuelan people's rights of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness that we in the US take for granted. Just read these following paragraphs from Halvorseen's piece and you'll see that Chavez is a enormous threat to the US, South America and the Venezuelan people and will have to be dealt with sooner or later (I think we have less dramatic means of getting rid of the tyrant that sending in a hit squad.) especially since they're sitting on a glut oil and money binds of petro-dollars. Here's a look:
Chávez first ran for president on a reform platform, winning in a landslide. What few understood then was that Chávez planned to revolutionize the country following a plan masterminded by his longtime friend Norberto Ceresole, an Argentinian writer infamous for his books denying the Holocaust and his conspiracy theories about Jewish plans to control the planet.

The title of Ceresole's 1999 book on Chávez and Venezuela, Caudillo, Ejército, Pueblo ("Leader, Army, People"), eerily recalls the German national socialist maxim, "One People, One Country, One Leader." (The first chapter is titled "The Jewish Question and the state of Israel.") After denying the Holocaust, he explains that the greatest threat to Chavismo comes from the Jews of Venezuela. A self-described Communist and fascist, Ceresole became an expert in national socialism after designing Juan Domingo Perón's electoral platform in Argentina. In Ceresole's hands, representative democracy mutates into "participatory" systems led by cult-like figures; tellingly, Chávez praises the "participatory democracy" of Libya, Syria, Iran, and Cuba. Ceresole's structure channels the people's will through the charismatic strongman; the military functions as the central political body. Ceresole's roadmap for Venezuela suffered some setbacks, including a 2002 coup that displaced Chávez for 48 hours and a national strike that almost toppled the government. But Venezuela's dramatic political metamorphosis was nonetheless complete by the time Ceresole died in 2003.
Though the above is a horrific revelation of Chavez's regime, I suggest you read the rest of the article to learn more on El Hefe Jr. Let's hope that the folks in the DOD, State, NSC and the White House are paying attention to the happenings going down in Caracas and the region in general. We've seen what has happened to Cuba under the fourty-six year rule of Castro (El Hefe), let's try to prevent that from happening again in Venezuela.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Iraq: Turning The Corner One Battalion At A Time

Here's a good piece in the Christian Science Monitor has a good article demonstrating what the Iraqi forces can do when they are fully trained and come online as a fully independent force in the various towns of Iraq. In this case we have the Iraqi Army 2/2 Battalion that has assumed the responsibility of the Diyala valley province - that runs beside the ever dangerous Sunni Triangle - under the able command of Colonel Theya al-Tamimi. It's true that these Iraqi Battalions and units are far from being on a the same level of the US armed forces with its experienced commanders and massive array of technology and equipment but they have been put through similar training and are well versed in the strategies and techniques that US and coalition forces use in fighting an effective counter terror/insurgency war. Once again we have a demonstration of how the policy of Iraqifying the forces within Iraq is developing into a very successful policy. I think the overall chances of such a policy becoming a great success are great especially after reading the following statement:
The flow of materials is better than in the old army, Iraqi officers say. "Before, you would just listen to orders. You couldn't even get a notebook and pen, let alone ammunition," says Theya's brother, Capt. Saddam al-Tamimi, who also works at battalion headquarters. "Now, there's an obvious difference. Our soldiers' morale is better, because of the freedom to talk between officers and soldiers," he adds.
I'm praying that the Iraqi units and battalions start coming online more and more in the upcoming months so the US commanders in the region can redirect their efforts elsewhere. The more we free up our troops the more likely we are to stop the terrorists by having fellow Iraqi soldiers taking up the slack while we provide heavy lifting and massive firepower on behalf of the fight against the areas of the Sunni Triangle that the terrorists are entrenched in. I'd say that the US has found a way to demonstrates to the Iraqi people that the US and Iraqi forces are committed to promoting democracy and returning Iraq to the Iraqis and not just creating an American colony like the death merchant seems to claim every time he issues one of his screeds over the airwaves and TV's in the region. So here's toasting to the forces of freedom.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Securing Route Irish

Fire of Liberty

Here's an article in USA Today that demonstrates that the US policy of incorporating Iraqi troops within its own ranks until they come fully online is paying dividends on the Iraqi International Airport Road or what's commonly known as "Route Irish." According to the article, the addition of Iraqi forces with units like the New York National Guard's 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry the combined forces have reduced the attacks on this deadly highway by some 41% since May of 2005. I guess when you have additional troops - especially Iraqi troops who know the territory and know the good folks from the bad ones - then you have a more powerful force to take on the terrorists who try to destroy your way of life. Though they article notes that the attacks on "Route Irish" haven't completely eliminated the attacks, you still have to say that by placing Iraqi soldiers side by side with the US and coalition forces is a shining example of how the Iraqification policy initiated by President Bush and the commanders in the field has become a success.

If the US can eventually turn a considerable amount of duties of securing parts of Iraq over to more 750 man Iraqi battalions, then it frees up more troops and resources of the US and coalition forces to be used in similar combined operations in areas in which the Iraqi forces might need some extra help in coming online thus making Iraq much safer from terrorists. So let's stand up and give these brave soldiers a hand in their brave stand. I just wish the media would report more of this.

A Corruption of the Language

Fire of Liberty

Max Borders has a wonderful piece over at Tech Central Station that takes note of the fact that a great deal of people on the Left as well as certain factions of the Right seem to continue label the US as an Empire. The problem is that the word "Empire" has been so widely misquoted and wrongly applied by political hacks and what not. Aside from these folks we also find the word "Empire" appearing on various websites, newspapers, TV News, magazines and various other publications so often that the meaning of the world has been completely corrupted. Luckily, Borders has written a thorough argument on the true meaning of the word "Empire" and demonstrates why the folks who continue to argue that this nation has become an "Empire" are completely wrong. I think Borders put it best when he noted:
You can bet that any variant of the Empirical Empire Test won't do a thing to stop anti-war, anti-trade, anti-globalization factions from continuing to distort the term beyond recognition. We can expect the word imperialism to experience a fate similar to that of "progressive," "liberal," and even "democratic" -- all of which have probably been damaged beyond repair, as well. Luckily, even though words are born and then die, language as a system is adaptive. And while we may never get the term "imperialism" back from its linguistic hall of mirrors, hopefully overuse will dilute the loadedness of the term as much as it has its meaning.

Still. Any way you look at it, the US is not an empire.
Do check out the piece and think wisely on the words and ideas you bandy about in your speech and writings everyday. Sometimes you can make some of the worst arguments by wrongly using certain words.

Building Better Foundations

Fire of Liberty

Vance Serchuk of the American Enterprise Institute has a great article in the current issue of the Weekly Standard on how Afghanistan is progressing down the road from archaic chaos after years of war and rule by the Taliban to a more ordered democracy but still requires further nurturing from the US and its coalition partners. Now it's true that the US has helped the nation of Afghanistan hold elections, draw up a constitution and create of any effective military but in order for the Afghan people to enjoy the "blessings of liberty" and the continued development of strong and transparent institutions like the police, judiciary, parliament, as well as the civil service, the US and its coalition partners have got to get into the muck and mire beside the Afghan people who work in strengthening these institutions.

You could look at this process as being very similar to building a house. You can build the biggest and most glorious house in the world but if you don't put down a strong foundation under the house, it will eventually sag and collapse around you thus leaving you nothing. If we don't help the Afghan people strengthen the foundations of institutions that make a state functional then the house of democracy will fall in Afghanistan. I think Serchuk put it best when he wrote the following:
Absent this commitment, the democracy-building and institution-building projects in Afghanistan are likely to begin to diverge, following the example of other states in the developing world where democratic frameworks coexist uneasily with weak institutional cores. As political philosopher Stephen Holmes noted nearly a decade ago of post-Soviet Russia: "Russian elections do not produce anything even vaguely resembling accountable or responsive government largely because of institutional weakness. . . . Elections in Russia, in fact, do not create power. For the most part, they mirror the power that already exists."

Holmes's observation that "liberal values are threatened just as thoroughly by state incapacity as by despotic power" is the perfect epigram for present-day Afghanistan, where victory ultimately depends not just on the dispatch of bullets and ballots, but on the emergence of state institutions that are perceived as more or less legitimate, just, and honest.

This is achievable--the Afghan National Army stands as proof--but it is also difficult, costly, and time-consuming. Is it, then, quixotic to suggest the United States can help the people of Afghanistan in building not just a democratic government, but an effective, accountable one, too?
Let's just say that this is achievable if we just start sending in more civilian affair officers and promote the ideas that have been time tested in achieving a strong and functioning government. The same applies to our nation as well. Yes, it's true that the system of government and the institutions in the US are light years ahead of Afghanistan but we still need to ensure that the people running these institutions and future occupants of such posts are well versed in keeping the foundations of our government strong. One of the best steps that they can do is by a continual study of the US Constitution and The Federalist Papers.

By reviewing these two documents, the folks sitting in these various positions will have some of the best documents in their hands and heads to fall back on when they need help in shoring up the foundations of these important institutions that prevent man from returning to Hobbesian "State of Nature." If we as a people are not willing to refer to the guiding principles that the Founding Fathers laid out some 220 plus years ago then we will surely see the house that America built fall into disarray much like other nations who lost the ability to ensure that the foundations of good and preferably a more limited government continue to breath the fresh air of liberty. If we can achieve such goals here in the US, then we can pass our knowledge of developing lasting foundations onto the people of Afghanistan thus bringing them back into the fold of democratic nations after some 26 plus years of hell. So let's get rolling on this challenge, the quicker the better.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Do we want the US Military being a Red Cross with Guns?

Fire of Liberty

Mackubin T. Owens, professor of Strategy and Force Planning at the Naval War College, has a wonderful Op/Ed in today's New York Post that examines the future of civilian/military relations within this country especially when you have the creation of Northern Command and the further incorporation of the US Military (not National Guard or Reserves but the professional full-time military) into the relief of domestic disaster zones. If you want to learn a considerable amount on such a dilemma then I suggest you read this piece. I think Professor Owens brings to light the true problem of getting the military too involved in our domestic affairs when he noted:
Indeed, one of the main reasons Congress passed the Posse Comitatus Act in 1878 was the fear that the Army was becoming politicized. Before the Civil War, soldiers and Marines were often used to enforce the fugitive slave laws and suppress domestic violence. For instance, the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 permitted federal marshals to call on the posse comitatus, "the power of the county," to aid in returning a slave to his owner, and since Congress had held in 1807 that the Army could enforce domestic law, the Army was considered to be part of the posse comitatus. Troops were also used to suppress domestic violence between pro- and anti-slavery factions in "Bloody Kansas." Soldiers and Marines participated in the capture of John Brown at Harpers Ferry in 1859. In response to complaints about the ArmyÂ’s involvement in supporting the Reconstruction governments in the southern states after the Civil War, Congress passed the Posse Comitatus Act (Section 1385, Title 18 U.S.C.). This legislation prohibits the use of the military to aid civil authorities in enforcing the law or suppressing civil disturbances except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress.

While the Posse Comitatus Act is usually portrayed as the triumph of the Democratic Party in ending Reconstruction, the Army welcomed the legislation. The use of soldiers as a posse removed them from their own chain of command and placed them in the uncomfortable position of taking orders from local authorities who had an interest in the disputes that provoked the unrest in the first place. As a result, many officers came to believe that the involvement of the Army in domestic policing was corrupting the institution.
So let's think real hard before we start dallying the notion of making our armed services into some kind of Red Cross, FEMA or Salvation Army with guns, tanks and destroyers. Let's not go there.

Fulfilling our Promise of Iraqi Democracy

Fire of Liberty

Though the Iraqi people have seen and suffered the horrific nature of Zaqawi's minions of foreign terrorists in the past days, they have also seen several signs of progress within their streets. According to this article in the Financial Times, the Iraqi military, border guards and counter-terror forces are set to assume command of the southern Iraqi cities of Karbala, Samawa and Nisiriyah before the end of the year. This announcement along with the most recent transfer of the holy city of Najaf from coalition forces to the Iraqi forces demonstrates that President Bush's policy of Iraqifying the nation(returning Iraq to Iraq) is actually working. If you just look at his most recent statements on Iraq, the President has noted that we are in Iraq aiding and training the Iraqi forces so they can eventually take over their own nation and secure the blessings of liberty from the terrorists who seek to wrap the nation in a black cloaks of death. It's really great to see these gallant Iraqi security forces coming online and allowing the coalition forces to return the Iraqi cities to the Iraqi people. I find the following paragraphs from the article as a testament of how the process initiated by the US led coalition forces is proving to be a great success:
The three other southern cities that will be handed over later this year are in regions under British or Polish command. Mr al-Rubbaie made clear that the transfers being planned depended on several conditions, including the status of Iraqi forces, the insurgency threat, the strength of local government and the economic wellbeing of the area.

In spite of reports of desertion in the ranks of Iraqi security forces, Mr al-Rubbaie said 190,000 troops - including army, border guards and counter-terrorism units - were now ready and their numbers were rising by at least 5,000 every month.

Over the past year, American and other foreign forces have become significantly less visible on the streets in many parts of Iraq.

The security transfer, however, formalises the handover of responsibility and allows for the intervention of foreign troops only at the request of Iraqi troops.

When an area is transferred to Iraqi security, said Mr al-Rubbaie, the first response to a security threat is handled by the local police.

"If they feel overwhelmed, they call on the Iraqi army and, if army troops are overwhelmed, then they call on coalition forces," he said.
We seem to be gaining great success in this process as coalition forces return within the more peaceful and stable cities in the southern half and other parts of Iraq back to the Iraqi fold but the process is far from being complete thus the need to keep the process ongoing. By providing the much needed support and training of the Iraqi forces and making it possible for them to come online bit by bit, the coalition forces can draw down their forces and move them into more dangerous zones where the Iraqi forces are busy training but could use some extra strength in softening up the terrorists. If you make it more congruent for more and more Iraqi forces to come online in these various cities you start putting an Iraqi face on the security forces and demonstrating that they are standing up for their nation and against the terrorists in their midst. Nothing breaks the spirit of terrorists like Zarqawi and his ilk than seeing the coalition forces handing these areas over to the Iraqi forces. (Could it be that the Iraqi people love freedom more than the banner of death that the terrorists - who bomb their cities - continue to wave in their faces.) So let's keep the process ongoing and continue to stand beside the Iraqi people as they march towards democracy and seek the dissolution of foreign terrorists in their streets.

To understand such a strategy and how our commanders in the field are garnering great results with it, just check out Lewis Sorley's book A Better War, Max Boot's The Savage Wars of Peace, US Marine's Small Wars Manual. Our soldiers in the field seem to find it useful and hopefully individuals who will fight this war from the political, military and civilian world in the near future will do so as well.

Building on a Foundation set by Rehnquist

Fire of Liberty

Terry Eastland, the publisher of the Weekly Standard, has a great dedication to the late Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist in the September 26, 2004 issue of the Weekly Standard. Eastland points out that after many years of Republican President's like Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Bush I promising to appoint judges who followed the text of the Constitution that the founding fathers wrote instead of being what President Nixon dubbed as "superlegislators with a free hand to impose their social and political viewpoint upon the American people," Justice Rehnquist would finally reflect such a judical temperament when he was placed on the court. Whether it was his early years in the wilderness as the "Lone Ranger" who offered up the only dissent in a number of decisions or his introduction of "new federalism" after receiving the Chief's gavel along with the addition of several judicial friends like O'Connor, Scalia and Thomas, Justice Rehnquist always demonstrated his commitment to being an originalist who understood the tenants of federalism and why the founding fathers placed "We the people," in the preamble of the Constitution. Eastland goes on to note that while the judicial friends of Rehnquist like Thomas and Scalia come about their decision from different angles, they are still from a common clay known as "originalism" this providing a base to build upon Rehquist's model of "new federalism."

Let's just hope that this nation will be blessed by more judicial picks in the mold of Rehnquist, Scalia, and Thomas. I'd have to say that after watching three days of Judge Robert's confirmation hearings, the President has reassured the American people that they will have a Chief Justice very reminiscent of the late Rehnquist. Eastland points out the most pressing question before him and the nation - at least when it comes to the next pick - is what's next for the nation in appointing Justice O'Connor's replacement. Here's his thought about the situation at hand:
So here is George W. Bush, with an opportunity to move the Court to the judicial right. If the experience of the past 40 years teaches that it is possible to pick jurists who turn out to be judicial conservatives, it also teaches that other, less agreeable, factors can influence the selection process. In 1981 Reagan considered a person's sex--he wanted to appoint the first female justice--when he picked O'Connor, who joined Rehnquist in his pro-federalism efforts, but whose approach to judging often resulted in mushy decisions that offered little guidance for future litigants. According to Kenneth Starr's account in First Among Equals: The Supreme Court in American Life, had Reagan followed the Justice Department's recommendation, Bork would have been the choice, not O'Connor. (Not incidentally, Republicans controlled the Senate in 1981.)

In choosing John Roberts to succeed Rehnquist, Bush may well have selected a genuine judicial conservative. The question now is whether Bush will pick another judicial conservative to take O'Connor's place, thereby producing a vote shift and a more conservative Court. The temptation will be to seek to preempt opposition from Senate Democrats by subordinating judicial philosophy, and choosing someone on the basis of, say, diversity. Or by choosing someone who has said next to nothing about the great legal issues of the day--such as Souter, who once told a law clerk, "I never had to think about these things until I came to Washington. I never thought about them. I had no settled views."

If Bush devalues judicial philosophy in choosing O'Connor's successor, the project of modern Republican presidents to redirect the Court will stay roughly where it is now, with no important advances. What ought to embolden the president is a number--55. That's the number of Republicans in the Senate, and it should be enough to prevail if Senate Democrats decide to wage a confirmation battle.
Let's just hope that this nation will be blessed by more judicial picks in the mold of Rehnquist, Scalia, and Thomas.