Monday, October 31, 2005

The Light is shining bright on "the city on the hill."

Fire of Liberty
While you can turn to the MSM right now and find a barrage of news on Lewis "Scotter" Libby, Joe Wilson's so-called "personal hell" (I guess that book, plastering your face in the pages of Vanity Fair, Op/Ed's in the NY Times and LA Times as well as countless interviews on tv are so horrific) the persistent demeaning of Judge Alito, President Bush's poll numbers and Iraq, I doubt you've heard the good news that the economy grew 3.8% in the 3rd quarter even during the aftermath of Katrina. Thankfully, the great folks of at the Wall Street Journal editorial board have written a wonderful piece (protected behind a pay firewall) on how the economy is at full blast and the attempts by some wise Senators in D.C. trying to keep the US economic super-liner in a straight and steady course into the future. Here's a sample:
The economy has now grown at an annual rate of more than 3%, and often more than 4%, for 10 consecutive quarters going back to the second quarter of 2003. Students of fiscal policy will recall that this is the same time it became clear that tax cuts on dividends, capital gains and in marginal income tax rates would pass the Congress, retroactive to January 1, 2003.

Economist Brian Wesbury points out that real business investment has climbed at an average annual pace of 9% in those 10 quarters, or roughly twice the rate of the overall economy. Business investment that had collapsed in the wake of the stock market crash is precisely what the tax cuts were intended to lift. As a demonstration of supply-side fiscal policy, it doesn't get much better than this.

Yet in Washington many Democrats still claim that the tax cuts were a failure, and many Republicans are so politically timid that they're afraid to argue for their own policy success. GOP Senators Jon Kyl (Arizona) and Chuck Grassley (Iowa) are exceptions in that they are pushing to extend the 15% dividend and capital gains rates past their current expiration date in 2008 through 2010 as part of this year's budget reconciliation bill. But they're meeting resistance from several GOP Senators, who claim to worry about the "deficit" but really just want more money to spend.

Even on deficit grounds, however, the tax cuts have been a success, producing a windfall for the government. Federal revenues rose in the fiscal year that ended September 30 by an estimated $274 billion, or 14.6%. That's roughly five times the inflation rate, and reflects a boom in both corporate (47.6% increase) and individual (14.8%) income tax receipts.
I guess the folks in the MSM are playing their own games with the American public so I guess that leaves the burden to the good folks at the Wall Street Journal editorial shop soldier under Paul Gigot, the blogs, talk radio and the other conservative media outlets to get such info out. Long live this dynamic economy.

The Free China

Fire of Liberty

Here's a great piece by the Wall Street Journal Europe columnist/investigative reporter Claudia Rosett on Taiwan. If you want to point to a small island nation within Asia that has emerged out of an authoritarian past into a fully-fledging democracy that has also become one of the wealthiest countries in the world. I guess when you allow your people to live in a democracy in which they can pick from the many fruits of Liberty you generally get these results. Maybe their communist neighbors and relatives (It's hard to refer to them as a neighbor, what with it pointing up to 700 plus missiles towards Taiwan) to the north can get a grip on what it takes to make the transition towards a democracy. (Hint: Stop do things like: locking folks up who dissent against the gov't, dissuading people from practicing their religious faith, forced abortions, blocking INTERNET access to forbidden sites like CNN, BBC, FOX News, American Think Tanks, and blogs not to mention restricting the searches and usage of words like "democracy" or "freedom". ) Unfortunately, this proud and successful island nation of 23 million will continue to be overshadowed as long as China and its friends in the UN have their way. Take a look at its most recent disdain towards Taiwan:
This year, amid the U.N. festivities over its own 60th birthday and high-minded aims, the General Assembly was even busier than usual. So the U.N. folded Taiwan's request for equitable representation in with a new request sent over by Mr. Hsia, for the U.N. to uphold its own charter by actively promoting peace in the Taiwan Strait--which is lined on the communist side with missiles targeted on Taiwan. Red China, backed by Pakistan, opposed both items. Gambia and Chad argued for Taiwan. The U.N. allotted 24 minutes for the entire debate, and then briskly dismissed it as not worth including in the official agenda of the General Assembly.

Borrowing a page from George Orwell, the U.N. also celebrated its anniversary with a poster in the lobby of its famous but decrepit headquarters, on which it advertised a display of "Original Signatories of the U.N. charter." Except they weren't. The original signatory for China of the U.N. charter was the Republic of China. In the 2005 U.N. version, the signatory listed was "China, People's Republic of." Informed of this Turtle Bay twisting of history, Mr. Hsia wrote to U.N. Undersecretary-General Shashi Tharoor, noting, "It is hard to imagine how the U.N., perhaps the world's most important international organization and one which is widely counted on to preserve the truth, could allow itself to blatantly deviate from history and misinform the world about something so fundamental to its history."

The U.N. did not write back, says Mr. Hsia, nor did the U.N. correct the mistake. Instead, in the finest tradition of Orwell's memory hole--the poster simply vanished.
Thanks to Rosett, people in America, Europe and Asia knows what a little bit of democracy can bring about if it's allowed to flourish.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

A Strategic Update

Fire of Liberty

It seems that the US and Japan are strengthening their strategic relationship with the most recent agreement on troops and base relocations/enlargement. One area that I'm happy about is that the Japanese government, at the urging of the US, has decided to make some accommodations to it's pacifist/restricted constitution when it come to it's self-defense forces participation jointly with the US in securing Japan from threatening nations like North Korea and China. With Japan providing more moving room for its SDF soldiers and command,the US will be able to relocate some 7,000 Marines out of Japan into more pressing areas of concern thus furthering Sec. Rumsfeld's much needed reorganization. I've been advocating this step up on Japan's behalf for a good while and after some sixty years since the conclusion of WWII, I can assure you that Japan is a partner rather than a threat. With the current GWOT at hand, any helping hand on freeing up our soldiers to go elsewhere and aid in this fight is most welcomed. So I have to give two-thumbs up to the good work being done at the DOD and Japan's defence agency. Anyway, check out this article in the Financial Times to find out more on this strategic update between the US and Japan.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Puttin' A Cap in the Rearend of Crime

Fire of Liberty

Alvaro Vargas Llosa has a great article over at Tech Central Station on why some 65% of the voting public in Brazil rejected a government sponsored gun ban referendum. Based on Llosa's piece, it looks like their are a lot of smart folks in Brazil who understand that guns are not the problem but are really the best safeguard against criminals that roam the streets searching for their next victim. As most observers of crime know, criminals are less likely to break into a house, rob a particular store, or attack someone if they know they run the risk of being gunned down by the folks they're intending on hurting. But if they know a specific city, country, or state has a ban on the usage and purchasing on said firearms, then they're will be bedlam in the streets and skyrocketing crime rate. Probably one of the best sources on this well known fact is John R. Lott Jr., AEI scholar and expert on gun control and crime, who has pointed out time and time again, that when the citizens are robbed of their rights to defend themselves via a government sponsored gun ban, they see the community they live in fall into disarray via criminals run amuck (Look at Washington D.C., San Francisco and New York City at what happens when you put a curb on guns). Just look at what he noted in his most recent Op/Ed in Canada's National Post:
The experiences of the U.K. and Australia, two island nations whose borders are much easier to control and monitor, should also give Canadian gun controllers pause. The British government banned handguns in 1997 but recently reported that gun crime in England and Wales nearly doubled in the four years from 1998-99 to 2002-03.

Since 1996, serious violent crime has soared by 69%: Robbery is up by 45% and murders up by 54%. Before the law, armed robberies had fallen by 50% from 1993 to 1997, but as soon as handguns were banned, the robbery rate shot back up, almost back to 1993 levels. The crooks still had guns, but not their victims.

The immediate effect of Australia's 1996 gun-control regulations was similar. Crime rates averaged 32% higher in the six years after the law was passed (from 1997 to 2002) than in 1995. The same comparisons for armed robbery rates showed an increase of 74%.

Outside of Canada and Europe, skepticism of gun-control laws' effectiveness is widespread. It was the major reason why Sunday's referendum to ban guns in Brazil was defeated by an almost two-to-one vote. Despite progressively stricter gun-control laws in that country, murder rates rose every year from 1992 to 2002. As in the U.K., the regulations simply tilted the balance of power in favour of criminals.
What more interesting is that if these countries who think they can fight crime by just restricting the purchase and ownership of firearms would just follow the lead of the 37 states within the US that allow its law-abiding citizens to carry concealed handguns have seen the crime rates drop significantly. In fact if you look at the various states that have experienced an enormous growth rate in gun ownership they have also seen the biggest drop in crime. I guess the criminals in these areas have found a fast train out town because Granny May, Uncle Mack, Pete the plumber, Nate the mechanic or Sally the nurse are ready to bust a cap in their rear if they try to do their dirty work. Once again if people are given a choice between giving up their rights to protect themselves via a firearm ban and leaving the crime fighting to a gaggle of politicians who fail to go after the criminals by active policing the street and a crackdown on criminals or retaining such rights, you have folks going to the polls rejecting the government's ban on firearms. When more folks in the world start thinking like the folks in the US, and Brazil did most recently, they will find life better and more secure.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Tale of a Scorpion

Fire of Liberty
"Anybody who recognises Israel will burn in the fire of the Islamic nation's fury [while] any [Islamic leader] who recognises the Zionist regime means he is acknowledging the surrender and defeat of the Islamic world . . . As the Imam said, Israel must be wiped off the map"

President Ahmadinejad

Well, it looks like the folks in Europe are discovering more and more everyday that Iran is a serious threat in this world. After all of those years where the Europeans continued to urge multilateral talks with the mullahs while offering incentives to get them to stop their deadly nuke works, and the continued warnings on behalf of the Bush administration, Israel and the people of Iran (Who know a heck of a lot about the evil mullahs but don't have the firepower and the strength to take on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) that Iran can only be trusted as far as you can toss 'em, the Iranians have broadcast their deadly intentions thus putting the kabash on the genial relationship between Europe and Iran. I'd say it reminds me of the story in which the frog (Europe) offers to carry the scorpion (Iran) across a stream but once they get midway across, the scorpion stings the frog thus killing them both. The moral to all this is that you can never trust an entity that has a history of being treacherous and deadly. Now it looks like the scorpion is showing it's true colors and has garnered more scornful eyes rather than exuberant cheering section throughout the world. Hopefully this recent action will convince the Europeans once and for all that the mullahs are a great threat to the peace of the region.

I just hope they join in the effort to promote the burgeoning democracy movement within the under 30 crowd in Iran (who make up some 60% of the population). It also helps for people like PM Tony Blair to publicly state that a military option is in the cards if they don't cool down on their aggressive actions and continued nuclear enrichment activities. Seems to me that the mullahs shouldn't tread too far in their current state, especially if Tony Blair is expressing these sentiments. We'll see.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

An Original Youth Movement

Fire of Liberty

Now here's an example of a "youth movement" in electoral politics that I would have joined in if I were around on the college scene in 1964. According to this 1998 Flashback article by Richard Brookhiser, the young college kids were attracted to the Conservative Republican Barry Goldwater during his 1964 run for president while their parents continued to cleft to the DNC. Boy how things have changed. You never know, such a movement towards the conservative wing of the GOP on behalf of the college age student could happen in the near future. I could be wrong but the thought seems cool to me.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

It's the culture man.

Fire of Liberty
James P. Pinkerton, columnist and commentator on "FOX News Watch," has an excellent piece in New York's Newsday on how the Democratic party is continuing to alienate a considerable amount of American society when it comes to the issue of religion. Now a lot of people will say that Pinkerton's observation is just another right-wing/Republican argument used to demean or castigate the Democratic party but a considerable amount of people will be shocked to know that this observation was pointed out by two veterans of the Clinton administration. According to Pinkerton, William Galston and Elaine Kamark have produced a paper titled "The Politics of Polarization" that noted during the past thirty years people have slowly cleaved themselves in two columns with the conservatives and religious believers drifting towards the GOP while the liberals and their secular brethren drifting towards the DNC. Even more, they observed that moderates also tend to find comfort in the conservative ideas on social issues like abortion, gay marriage and the public display of religion. All of these factors combined show that as long as the leadership of the DNC (Not the religious loving Democrats who vote Democrats, most of which have left Dean and his gang long ago.) continues to snub the American public by coming out on the behalf of various interest groups that fight tooth and nail against policies that a large segment of the population approve off, they will continue to be perceived as the party that the religious need not apply. I think Pinkerton summed up the DNC's dilemma pretty well in the following paragraphs:
The 18th-century Scottish politician Alexander Fletcher once declared, let me write a nation's songs, and I care not for its laws. By that he meant that culture precedes politics; it's a person's culture, including religion, that shapes his or her attitudes toward government.

So the recent visit of Joel Osteen, pastor of a Houston megachurch - he filled most of the Nassau Coliseum and Madison Square Garden - is a revealing indicator of the future cultural and political direction of the country. In the past six years, the boyish Osteen has emerged as perhaps the hottest of the Christian televangelists.

Yet unlike, say, Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell, Osteen is entirely apolitical. Even his Southern fundamentalism is expressed in user-friendly pastels; he is half biblical and half motivational. The reward for his soft-edged approach is clear: The red-state preacher was warmly received in blue-state New York, by an audience that was probably two-thirds black and Hispanic.

But make no mistake: Osteen is a Christian proselytizer. He held his Bible over his head and urged his audience to do the same, as they all chanted, "This is my Bible. I am what it says I am, I have what it says I have, I can do what it says I can do."

So while Osteen did not seek to challenge the politics of his New York fans, it's clear his ministry helps to foster a "faith-based" view of the world - that's his point. And as Galston and Kamarck argue, in the current politico-religious climate that's bad news for Democrats.
I think that instead of the DNC and their friends salivating over garnering seats in Congress and the Senate in 2006 during a period in which it looks like there's a conservative "crack-up" over Miers and other issues, possible indictments of Rove or Libby, Delay's trouble or even the President's low poll numbers, maybe they should find a way to stop alienating the American public on social issues. Until then, I don't expect the Democrats to have many happy moments come 06 and 08. Now I could be wrong on everything but I'll take my chances in this roll of the dice.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Bad Idea: Increasing military's role in domestic disasters.

Fire of Liberty

In the subsequent weeks following the massive flooding of New Orleans at the hands of hurricane Katrina, they're were countless talking heads, commentators, staff members at the DOD as well as President Bush have publicly bandied around the idea that the US should consider about broadening the scope of the US military's participation in domestic disasters like floods, hurricanes and earthquakes. Though it would be nice to have the most advanced and efficient arm of the government responding to all sorts of disasters that sprout up, I have my reservations and feel that our soldiers need to be focusing their resources and troops to what they do best, which is fighting war. Now it's true that if there was a nuclear attack or some other massive terrorist attack on this nation one could see the president waving the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act (which he can) but for all practical reasons, I prefer that the national guard take the brunt of responding and should never call on the regular military unless it's a last resort. Thankfully, Mackubin Thomas Owens, a former Marine and a current professor of national security affairs at the Naval War College, has written an extensive article in the October 24, 2005 issue of the Weekly Standard the pretty much sums up the pros and cons on why the US military should steer clear of entering into the domestic affairs of this nation. It's far better that we continue to have clearly designated areas and rules in which the military has it's defined borders and are unwilling to fuzzy it with a wish to respond to disasters much quicker than the state authorities.

Let's worry more about the forces fighting the terrorists in the Middle East rather that finding a way to get them to respond to natural disasters. The disasters might kill and displace folks but it pales in comparison to what the folks of al Qaeda are willing to do. Hopefully, Owens makes the whole argument a little more clearer to the folks who have thought about the same questions following Katrina and President Bush's public discussion of such a policy re-look.

Off With His Head

Fire of Liberty

I think Peter Worthington summed up the general consensus on what Saddam will be facing and rightly deserves at the conclusion of his trial. Take a look at his recent column:
What should happen (but won't) is that if Saddam is found guilty (almost a certainty) he should be sentenced to death and executed forthwith.

We, in civilized countries that live by law and decency, like to say that the process is more important than the outcome. Certainly that was the case in the first free elections in Iraq and Afghanistan.

With Saddam, however, the verdict is more important than the process: Death for the despot.

Until Saddam is dead and gone, he'll haunt Iraq and that tortured region. He'd be a symbol for those who yearn for when they flourished under his tyranny.

Realistically, why go through the charade of a series of trials for his homicidal acts -- biochemical war, naked aggression, genocide, torture and atrocities beyond description?

Suffice to be rid of him as soon as he's found guilty.

No need for an O.J. Simpson, Robert Blake or Michael Jackson-style trial of legal gymnastics. Let Iraqi justice -- quick and decisive -- prevail.
Rightly said. The sooner he's gone the better it is for the Iraqi people to cement yet another pillar of democracy in this newly found republic.

Sparking the Flames of Freedom

Fire of Liberty

Professor Walid Phares, a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, has a great Op/Ed on the most recent vote on the Iraqi constitution and how ground-shaking this vote is for the Middle East that has been a barren wasteland for democracy for way too long under the dictatorial regimes under Saddam, Assad or the theocrats in Iran. Luckily, this vote has truly opened up a garage door to freedom thus allowing the Iraqi people the ability to drive down that highway of democracy thus discovering their G-d given rights of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness thus providing a shining Fire of Liberty to the other peoples of the Middle East. Hopefully this is the first of many turns towards democracy in the region.

Are you ready for some football?

Fire of Liberty
Doug Kern has an interesting piece over at Tech Central Station on how the varying approaches(Neo or Paleo) to current US foreign policy is very similar to the way various NFL fans in America find a particular team to pull for. Kern notes that even though there are varying reasons and arguments why people choose a sports team over another as others choose their approaches towards foreign policy, they still end up rooting for the same cause which in the NFL fan's case is football and in the case of foreign policy is the defense of this nation. If you think about it, Kern's piece arguing that the way one picks their foreign policy is similar to the way NFL fans choose who to cheer for, is a pretty good analogy to present to folks who just scratch their head when they are presented with terms like Paleocon or Neocon foreign policy. I'll just give you a sampling of Kern's argument and you decide:
To draw a caricature: paleos want us to cheer for the home team because it's the home team, whereas neos want us to cheer for the home team because it wins lots of games. Which kind of loyalty is better?

I believe that the paleos are right to assign loyalty to people and places -- to real tangible things, rather than airy abstractions. And I agree that America's freedom rests primarily in her people. If America were to switch laws and economies with any dictatorship you care to name, I believe that the dictatorship would run itself into the ground within a year, whereas Americans would rise up against the tyranny and recreate freedom. Laws alone cannot make or unmake a virtuous people.

But I also believe that Americans understand themselves to be a people devoted to universal propositions about freedom and human nature. You cannot genuinely love the American people without accepting that Americans revere the origins of their liberty in law. From the Civil War to the World Wars to our current conflict, Americans have consistently fought and died in support of "airy abstractions" -- even when it would have been cheaper and safer to stay at home. Since John Winthrop told the Puritans to be a city upon a hill, Americans have felt compelled to hold out their success as a model for the world to follow. The distinctive quality of Americans is our refusal to believe that our qualities are distinctive. We really do hold these truths to be self-evident. We believe that truth and justice are synonymous with the American way. We believe that our institutions and economic policies make us free -- not our membership in the American people. And we conduct our foreign policy -- and our wars -- accordingly. To love Americans without loving their evangelizing impulse, as some paleos do, is to love an idea of Americans, not the real thing. How veryƂ…neoconservative of them.

Preaching the gospel of freedom to other countries is what we do, as Americans. It's in our national DNA. But can we build virtue in Iraq adequate to meet the demands of the laws and economic structures we have given them? That choice may rest with the Iraqis, not with us. But it will not be the neoconservative plans that make Iraqis' free. It will be the Iraqi people who accept or reject virtue. We will succeed in Iraq only if the neos and paleos are both right.
Sounds good to me.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Caboto Who?

Fire of Liberty

Here's an interesting take on Columbus Day by UPI contributor James C. Bennett. According to the author of The Anglosphere Challenge, there might be one more fellow Italian who seems to have a larger bond with the US than Columbus (I still put him at the top of important explorers and being a conservative I'll keep on enjoying my Columbus Day celebration and prefer it to remain a holiday rather than let fall to the demands of the multiculturalist ninnies who besmirch Columbus). Just check out Bennett's interesting selection, it'll make you think and you'll learn something new as well.

Putting Fiscal Responsibility back in the GOP

Fire of Liberty

I just wish there were more Senators like Tom Coburn fighting in the trenches against the wasteful pork projects that has become the status quo in Washington D.C. I guess when you a lot of those fat cat Senators - who noted at almost all of their countless campaign stops that they were against big government and wasteful spending - seem to be so settled in their comfy offices a have become drank from the cup of power that they forgot their promises to they people who put them there. What we need is a conservative resurgence within the Senate much like the one that occurred in Congress under the lead of Newt Gingrich in 1994. If the Republican party (Especially the Prez and Senate) continues to stray away from is storied past in which giants like Reagan and Goldwater touted being members of the more fiscally responsible party that has been more than willing to take out the hatchet towards such spending, it could quickly find itself lost in the same thicket that the Democrats have been lost for some time now. So let's get back to the basics of the GOP before it's too late. Hopefully Coburn will be the spark to re-ignite this fire.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Securing the Pillars of Freedom

Fire of Liberty

Cliff May has a great column in The Union Leader that lays out one of the best arguments so far on why we fight and how our continued perseverance in Iraq is needed. May notes that if we're going to win in this GWOT then we have to be willing to lay essential pillars of democracy within the Middle East. I just wish the White House would hire more folks like May or at least find a more bombastic way to pound home the message of freedom and democracy to our citizens much like he did in his second inaugural address. Most of America is aware of such a policy but still need the guidance from the "bully pulpit." I prefer he focus more on Iraq and less on other matters. SCOTUS picks are very important and I'm a little skeptical about Miers judicial philosophy and grasp on constitutional issues (I prefer Luttig, McConnel, or Janice Rogers Brown) but I'm more concerned about us winning the battle against Islamic Radical Fundamentalists in Iraq. The complete destruction of the Salafist/Wahabbi branch of Islam - root and branch - is a little more pressing for the survival of the West in my book right now because I'm only a novice on this subject. The fate of the court is in the hands of the Senate and Miers. (Miers will probably be tripped up in the hearings especially with her problems on a questionnaire submitted to the Senate.) What I can do is rally the people behind our fight in Iraq and the overall GWOT by presenting pieces by May and others. So lets raise the flags of our warships and take down the forces of evil who threaten to snuff out the fires of liberty.

A Classical Take

Fire of Liberty
Victor Davis Hanson, classicist and military historian and author of the forthcoming A War Like No Other, has a great piece in yesterday's Los Angeles Times (registration required) on how much we can learn from the study of the Peloponnesian War in our current battle against Islamic Terrorists. If you want to see a master at work and take an adventure into history that is as relevant today as it was in the 5th and 6th century B.C., then I suggest you rush out and purchase some of his books and get to reading. For those who can't wait for his book to come out or aren't inclined to buy any books soon, just take a peek at his most recent Op/Ed:
In our age of sophisticated economics, we tend to look for material causes for wars — land, resources, populations — rather than remembering these age-old emotional urges. But perhaps we could learn from Thucydides the next time Osama bin Laden alleges in his fatwas that we provoked him by stationing troops in Saudi Arabia or by enforcing the U.N. oil-for-food embargo.

The fact is, the deep-seated anger and humiliation of Al Qaeda were more likely incited by a globalized and Western culture that really did threaten all the old hierarchies of an increasingly dysfunctional Arab and Islamic world (and the worried mullahs, patriarchs and theocrats, whose sense of privilege and honor derived from that world).

In other words, Bin Laden probably went to war over a sense of lost honor, in Thucydidean fear of Western globalization and due to his perceived self-interest — given perceptions of Western appeasement of radical Islamist terrorism since 1979 — that he had more to win than lose by hitting New York and Washington.

Of course, we must be careful when evoking the past to make sense of the present. Many, for example, recently cited the Iraq war as the modern equivalent of the disastrous Sicilian expedition of 415-413 BC, when Athens lost most of its fleet by assaulting distant Syracuse. But Syracuse was democratic, larger than Athens and, until the invasion, mostly neutral during the Peloponnesian War. A more historically apt analogy to that expedition would be if the United States had attacked democratic India during the midst of the U.S. war against Al Qaeda.

Study of the Peloponnesian War should also remind us that it is not assured that the wealthiest, most sophisticated and democratic state always triumphs over less impressive enemies. After all, Athens, for all its advantages, finally lost its war. And as Thucydides reminds us about the democratic empire's lapses, arrogance and major blunders, more often the chief culprit was its own infighting and internal discord than the prowess of its many enemies.
Bravo, Professor Hanson. Thank G-d America has such a talented hand like VDH in the academic world who has returned the classics and the history of this period back into the classroom and the studies and desks of countless people in America. (I'd also acknowledge Professor Donald Kagan of Yale and his masterwork The Peloponnesian War for sparking such a revival.) Just keep up the good work.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

It takes Ideas not just your Pop's famous name

Fire of Liberty

After reading this Op/Ed by Gary J. Andres, I'd say the Democrats shouldn't count Senator Rick Santorum out in 2006 even if his numbers are low right now. I wish the Senator good luck.

El Hefe's Nightmare

Fire of Liberty

While I generally pull for the American League Teams (Especially if they're beating up the Yanks) during the playoffs and the World Series, I have an even greater reason to cheer on the Chi Sox this year. According to this article by Andrew Cine over at National Review Online, the team from Chicago's South Side has two awesome pitchers on their roster who are an inspiration to the countless people who endure a living hell in Castro's gulag and have attracted the ire of Fidel Castro. Anyone who has garnered the disrespect and hatred of El Hefe is a great friend of mine. So go you White Sox, win one for the courageous people of Cuba who are imprisoned in Castro's "Worker's Paradise." The Sox have been denied a series win since 1917 and the Cuban people have been denied freedom since 59, maybe both will be reversed in the near future. (I'm inclined to believe the Chi Sox are a better pick but who knows?).

Uribe Squared

Fire of Liberty

It looks like President Uribe of Columbia will be able to run for a second term after the Columbian Supreme Court overturned the 1991 prohibition against a President running for a second term. This ruling will allow a strong friend to remain in power thus allowing the Columbian people to re-elect a leader who will continue to pull Columbia out of it's past and into a better tomorrow. I think when a leader that has cracked-down on narco-terrorists thus cutting the kidnappings rate to nearly zero and eliminating terror bombings not to mention turned the economy around, you tend to want to keep them around for at least a term. So congrats to the folks in Columbia. Vive Uribe!!!

A Central Asian Game

Fire of Liberty

Here's Ariel Cohen's take on the United States and it's entrance into "The Great Game" in Central Asia. While the Russians and Chinese are using strong-arm tactics, threats and business deals to get the nations in the region to fall into their fold, the US is offering it's ears and promoting democracy thus gaining an upper-hand in the long run. I have a strong feeling the US has surmounted the mountains that surround these nations with their offerings of freedom, democracy and friendship. So keep up the good work Secretary Rice and Rumsfeld.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

I'm not Drinking Merlot

Fire of Liberty

"Merlot Democrats": One more reason to cheer on Howard Dean and his merry band at the DNC onward as they march steadily towards that cliff that the lemmings seem to fall off all the times. If you want some insight into Dean and his sloganeers, just read this piece by Jonah Goldberg. I guess Dean and his bunch are so busy speaking with folks in the similar circles that was so prevalent in the movie Sideways that they forgot that the average Joe and the "little man" they continue to say that they stand for would prefer a cold beer rather than wine anyday. It'd be nice if the DNC would open their eyes more by getting out into the heartland and learning what moves "the folks" of America. From the looks of it Howard Dean has decided to forgo such sound advice and follow the council of Michael Moore and the Hollywood jet-set. Can anyone foretell a bad night for the DNC come 2006 & 2008.

A Renewed Contract

Fire of Liberty

It looks like Newt Gingrich is back into his "Contract With America" mode by noting in this most recent Op/Ed that the US Congress needs to get a better grip on the wasteful spending and the enormous pork barrel spending that has emerged post Katrina. It's all well and good to offer a helping hand to the folks in New Orleans but it's far different when the politicians of Louisiana and their friends get in on the ground-level of the appropriations of such funds, you eventually discover that the politicians have used the emotions of the horrific tragedy to get money for projects that sound great but in the long run it's a boondoggle that achieves nothing. I'd say that Congress and its counterparts in Louisiana are committing one of the greatest tragedies to the region especially when you look at what they're spending money on:
In addition, one's compassion and generosity is tested when one realizes that the Louisiana lawmakers have stuffed the 440-page bill with numerous items that have nothing to do with hurricane relief. This pork barrel spending includes: $120 million for a laboratory facilities and equipment at the Southern Regional Research Center, $35 million for the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board, $8 million for direct financial assistance to alligator farmers, $25.5 million to complete the Sugarcane Research Laboratory, $12 million for the restoration of wildlife management areas and $28 million for the restoration and rehabilitation of forestlands. The Louisiana legislators appear committed to grabbing as much as they can even if they cannot spend it effectively. For instance, they request $7 billion for rebuilding evacuation and energy supply routes on top of $5 billion for expansion of road and transit capacity. They also demand $20 million for the establishment of development plans for development districts in the State of Louisiana.
Newt suggests that if the government doesn't get on track by focusing on wise and efficient spending that places a cut-off valve on wasteful pork sometimes soon, our children and grandchildren will suffer from this spending spree down the road when the bills come in and the taxman starts knocking on their door via higher taxes. Luckily, we have a small government voice like Newt who isn't afraid to take out a hatchet and chop away at the strangling vines of excessive pork barrel spending that Congress seems to salivate over. Now their are a lot of hold-overs from the Class of 1994 who still sit in Congress and believe in cutting fat from the budget and reducing government but maybe the leadership should take note of Newt's and countless Americans concerns about this blank check mentality running rampant in D.C. We need more folks with ideas like Newt in Congress or eventually in the White House come 2008. Hopefully, Newt will get some ideas from his listening tour of America and take up the challenge.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Carry a Big Stick

Fire of Liberty

Here's an excellent commentary by Michael Rubin, AEI resident scholar, in the UK's Guardian on how being timid in the face of a challenge like the mullahs of Iran or the various dust-ups between the British soldiers and residents of southern Iraq, is not the best policy for success. As Rubin suggests, the threat our use of military force against such entities is sometimes a must when your trying to hammer out a solution. As long as you play the grandmotherly role of cuddling and loving the groups your dealing with and you tend to look the other way when they do wrong, you will generally create a monster who will wreak havoc on everyone around because they have no fear of someone telling them no or issuing some kind of punishment. So check out Rubin's great piece.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

What We Fight

Fire of Liberty

Michael Ledeen has a great piece over at National Review Online showing the horrific nature of the Islamofascist thugs who run the various regimes throughout the Middle East. Ledeen notes that while the media and the White House have focused on the explosions and beheadings on behalf of the terrorists but they should also point out how the Islamic fundamentalists in places like Iran and Saudi Arabia have found countless ways of wiping away the individual and placing them into an universal jihad. Here's a sample:
The most devastating critique of such a system is laughter, which the leaders of the terror regimes can not and dare not tolerate. Laughter bespeaks fun, and fun is totally forbidden. Remember the Taliban, from whose caves Osama bin Laden and his merry band of killers emerged about ten years ago? They not only locked away all the women, they banned music. Some French film producer went all over Afghanistan, filming eerie landscapes featuring poles driven into the ground, wrapped with audio tape. The only sound was the rustling of the tape in the wind. This was the country in which Osama et al. found the perfect atmosphere for their preparations for the jihad.

In like manner, the Saudi religious police, a couple of years ago, refused to let female students escape from a burning building because they were improperly dressed. They burned to death. In like manner, the mullahs are increasing the power of the basij, their own religious police, to enforce the dress code on women and to prevent couples and groups from having fun. The tragicomic efforts of the terror masters to eliminate fun from public life tells us everything we need to know about the kind of world they will inflict on those whom they defeat in combat. If our reporters and editors had any real interest in giving their readers a full picture of the war in which we are engaged, there would be much more reporting on the relentless crackdown on fun. But they rarely give us the whole context, nor, unaccountably, does the Bush administration, which for the past several years has tiptoed delicately around the nature of most of the Islamic regimes. And so we have to rely on blogs and on such publications as MEMRI.
I just hope this spreads into the MSM so the citizens in this country really know what kind of enemy we are facing in this Global War on Islamic Terrorism. It's understandable that people in this nation have grown fatigued these four years with a war in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as the continued wall to wall news coverage of soldiers dying from attacks at the hands of these terrorists and they would prefer to wipe their hands free of the whole situation but we cannot suspend our fight because our enemies want to forever alter our way of life. Anyone who makes it their habit of preventing women from escaping a burning building because of their attire or eliminates all vestiges of the individual like music, writing (blogging for those 21st Century folks), laughter and sports, isn't a great friend of this nation or man in general. Let's find the strength and courage to stand with our fighting men and our President in this fight and take down these Islamofascists much like our parent's generation did to the Soviets during the Cold War and their parents did towards the Nazis and the Japanese Empire in WWII.

Training a Quality Fighting Force

Fire of Liberty

Christian Lowe, a staff writer for Army Times Publishing Company, has a good piece over at the Weekly Standard on the slow but competent training of the security forces throughout Iraq. Though we hear a lot of Senators and partisans arguing ad nauseum on the T.V., radio, and the print-media about how there's not a large enough contingent of Iraqis being trained as soldiers/security forces at the moment (even though countless folks show up everyday to enroll) but what Lowe points out and the talking heads don't is that the true benchmark to judge the progress in Iraq in not the number being trained but the quality of the soldiers being trained. If we are going to put our time and money towards training and beefing up the stock of their soldiers to allow our forces to place their sites on higher risk areas in this counter-terrorism campaign in Iraq, then by all means the folks doing the training should be focused on generating high quality soldiers. I'd say that the American soldiers and their higher ups who are currently training the Iraqi forces have been reading The Marine Corps' Small War Training Manual, Savage Wars of Peace and various other publications in their efforts of preparing the Iraqi forces to take on the Islamic fascists who threaten the peace and livelihood of the people who embrace freedom and democracy. So keep up the good work.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Happy 80th Birthday, Lady Thatcher. Cont.

Fire of Liberty

Through hard work, a well delivered message and sheer determination, Lady Thatcher would push through her policies of individual liberty through a massive turn towards privatization, a tax rate reduction, as well as the promotion of her version of an "ownership society."

Let's look at the massive privatization of many UK state owned enterprises. Instead of continuing to support various businesses that had become fat and lazy by their continued dependence on the treasury draining dole, PM Thatcher's government would enact their policy of massive privatization to relieve the problem. During her tenure from 1979 to 1990, Lady Thatcher would privatize enterprises like British Petroleum (79), British Aerospace (Feb. 81), Cable & Wireless (Nov. 81), Amersham International (82), National Freight Company (82), Britoil (83), British Ports (83), 27 railway hotels (83-84), Jaguar Cars (84), British Telecom (84), British Gas (86), Vickers shipyards (86), Rover (86), The National Bus Company (86 - split into smaller companies), Airports (86), Rolls-Royce (87), British water industry (1989) thus forcing them to compete in the marketplace which made them even better and less burdensome on the UK economy. So Mrs. Thatcher would sock the ravenous beast of British socialism across the nose causing it to flee with shock into the woods.

Along with cutting these industries and businesses from the leash of the government, Lady Thatcher would also spread this spirit of liberty to the British people thus bringing to life Adam Smith's much talked about "animal spirits." To launch this groundswell, Thatcher followed the sage advice of F.A. Hayek, Milton Friedman and other "classical liberals" who argued that if you lowered taxes to a certain level then people would be able to make more money and increase the tax money coming into the government. (Now I'd agree that Hayek and Friedman would prefer a low Flat Tax but you get my point.) With this at hand, Mrs. Thatcher turned her policies towards the burdensome and socialist styled tax system and slowly but surely chopped away at the tax system from 1979 to 1990. Just look at the numbers provided by the HM Revenue & Customs office (UK version of IRS) on the 1978-1978 tax rates when she took over and the rates when she left office in 1990.


Bands of
taxable income(1)
Rate of

Reduced Rate Up to 750 25
Basic Rate 750 - 8,000 33
Higher Rate 8,000 - 9,000 40

9,000 - 10,000 45

10,000 - 11,000 50

11,000 - 12,500 55

12,500 - 14,000 60

14,000 - 16,000 65

16,000 - 18,500 70

18,500 - 24,000 75

Over 24,000 83


Bands of
taxable income(1)
Rate of

Basic Rate Up to 20,700 25
HigherRate Over 20,700 40

As you can see, the continued efforts by Lady Thatcher to simplify the tax code was a great success thus allowing the UK economy to grow in leaps and bounds beyond most economies within Europe and the West during the late 80 and well into the current year. This tax simplification also allowed the citizens of the UK to bring home more money in their paychecks and encouraged more private businesses to hire more people thus when she left her post 11 years later, the average salary had risen from a low of £5,427 in 1979 to an impressive £15,252 by 1990. Not only did this tax simplification provide the UK citizens more money to pay their bills and enjoy more consumer products it also allowed them more money to get in the ultimate sweepstakes which is the "ownership society". Through her keen observation and understanding that the ownership of one's home and possession of property is one of the most important factors in elevating people out of poverty and ensuring a better way of life, Mrs. Thatcher would fight tooth and nail in Parliament to take housing out of the privy of government and return it to the people. She achieved this by promoting the "right to buy" in which the various council tenants were given the option to buy their homes at a discount rate thus allowing millions of people to own their own homes. In fact when she left office, home ownership rate had jumped from 54% in 1979 to some 64% when she left in 1990. What's even better is that these efforts towards the ownership society on behalf of Thatcher's government would pay off for the folks who bought these homes would see the price of their investments triple during her time in office from an average of £19,000 in 1979 to £70,200. Thus demonstrating how powerful and uplifting her policies really were for the British Isles.

Check out the Foreign Policy section next week.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Happy 80th Birthday Baroness Thatcher

Fire of Liberty

For those who don't know already, today is the 80th birthday of Baroness Magaret Thatcher. Aside from President Reagan and Pope John Paul II, Lady Thatcher is one of three politicians that I admire the most. As a young kid growing up in 1980's America, I was always enamored at the positive energy and ideas about humanity that these three greats exhibited day in and day out during their service to their respective nations or realms that they watched over. Though I could go on and on about the late President Reagan and Pope John Paul II, this post is strictly to pay homage and a happy birthday to Mrs. Thatcher. While their is a overwhelming segment within the field of history that believe in a common theory that events and the times make people historically significant, I tend to believe that it's individuals and their actions that make history and Margaret Thatcher is a shining example of this theory. Prior to Mrs. Thatcher taking over the ship of state, Great Britain was immersed in a socialistic swamp in which the various PMs, whether it was Labour or Conservative, continued to expand it boundaries even more by its continued insistence on regulating more and more businesses, subsidizing its citizens and workers, continued state ownership of various enterprises (BBC, British Airways, British Rail as well as the energy companies.), wage and price controls, as well as the continued bending to the fanatical unions in Great Britain who shut down the delivery of coal and gas, trash pick-up, grave digging(bodies were stocked in cold storage), as well as other services that were essential to make the UK function as a nation.

Thankfully, the Oxford educated chemist and eventual barrister, had chosen to read and consume works like F.A. Hayek's masterpiece The Constitution of Liberty, thus providing the Iron Lady (In my case a term of endearment) a powerful guidepost on what is best for a society. In the same vein as President Reagan, the former PM was well aware that as long as the government was immersed waist deep in the life of the people and that of private enterprise, then they could never pull themselves out of this tar-pit of government dependency and enjoy the fruits of liberty. With this guide, her tenacious love for Liberty, and her nerves of steel , Baroness Thatcher took on the entrenched fortress of British socialism and broke its back substantially thus opening the UK's to several decades of growth and granting greater liberty to the British people. Along with turning the economy and the government away from the fully entrenched ideas of socialism (From my observation, Mrs. Thatcher turned the UK off on a Swedish styled version of socialism but the Brits still seem to believe in some socialism light programs. It'll take another Thatcher styled resurgence in the Conservative party and the UK in general to finish the back 9 of the course.).

See tomorrow for more.

Joining the Nuke Club

Fire of Liberty

According to this article in the Financial Times, it seems that Venezuela has decided to join the nuclear power club at the behest of Hugo Chavez, who gave a nod to the state owned oil company Petroleos de Venezuela to put in an order for a "medium sized" nuclear reactor from Argentina. Now the government of Venezuela keeps on arguing that this program and inquiry for a reactor is for pure peaceful purposes - like the supply of energy - but I find it perplexing as to why an energy rich nation like Venezuela which has that largest proven oil reserves in the Americas, ample hydroelectric plants and not mention the fact that it's the fifth largest oil exporter would need a nuclear power plant. With Chavez's continued saber-rattling in Caracas and his chumminess with the mullahs of Tehran, I'd say that El Hefe II has decided to find something to further insulate himself and increase his respect amongst the various left leaning governments within the rest of the Americas by having nuclear technology or more than likely in Chavez's case nuclear weapons.

I guess he's following in the footsteps of fellow totalitarian nations like Iran, North Korea, Soviet Union who make it an objective of the state to join the nuke club thus providing them a large blinking sign to wave in the face of the free world and scare the tee-total hell out of the responsible nations of this world. These leaders might think that this is a wise strategic policy in their own distorted view of real politic but in reality they movee their nation further and further into the Outposts of Tyranny corner thus bringing about sanctions and measures to prevent them from developing such a program.

Chavez has been raising the ire of the world with his closing of international businesses in Venezuela, unlawful seizures of land from large landowners, his totalitarian actions against the Venezuelan people (Questionable elections, lack of free speech, thought and assembly, illegal arrests of political opponents, as well as assaults on the people), as well as his dealings with Columbian terrorists and terrorist sponsoring states like Cuba, Libya, Syria, Iran and will most definately cross a red line with his quest for nukes. I'm really concerned about Chavez and just hope President Bush, Secretary Rice and Secretary Rumsfeld are as well.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Brother Bill: Standing Athwart History, Yelling Stop

Fire of Liberty

Check out this wonderful tribute in the Mobile Register to the 50th anniversary of National Review and its venerable founder William F. Buckley Jr. (Who will turn 80 next month). I'd say without his presence, acolytes at National Review and others throughout the conservative journalism universe, this nation and the world in general would have fallen to the wayside at the hands of the statists and their friends within the totalitarian Soviet Union a long time ago. So thank you Mr. Buckley for being so brave in founding this upstart magazine in the fall of 1955 and pronouncing in a publisher's statement on November 19, 1955:
We have nothing to offer but the best that is in us. That, a thousand Liberals who read this sentiment will say with relief, is clearly not enough! It isn't enough. But it is at this point that we steal the march. For we offer, besides ourselves, a position that has not grown old under the weight of a gigantic, parasitic bureaucracy, a position untempered by the doctoral dissertations of a generation of Ph.D's in social architecture, unattenuated by a thousand vulgar promises to a thousand different pressure groups, uncorroded by a cynical contempt for human freedom. And that, ladies and gentlemen, leaves us just about the hottest thing in town.
Indeed, they still seem to be the toast of the town in the salons of D.C. Hopefully, the Republicans in Congress will take time to reflect on Buckley's statement and get some of that "ole time religion" of smaller government. We'll see. Once again thank you Mr. Buckley for introducing National Review and the ushering in of the modern conservative movement.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Che: The Terror from Cuba

Fire of Liberty

Alvaro Vargas Llosa, a senior fellow of the Independet Institute and autor of Liberty for Latin America, has a wonderful piece over at RealClearPolitics that pretty much destroys all arguments that the admirers and supporters of Che Guevara always throw at you when you ask them what is so admirable about this known murderer. Now I know that some kids wear "Che wear" because folks in their favorite band wear such shirts, he's part of the counter-culture or because he's a hero of campus left but hopefully a small percentage of this crowd will read this well written take-down of Che and it will convince them that Che chic isn't as glorious or cool as they thought it was. Thank G-d for Alvaro Vargas Llosa.

A Light in the Fog

Fire of Liberty

Here's a great piece by Fred Barnes in the Weekly Standard on how things are going far better in Iraq from the perspective of the folks on the ground in Iraq but when the information on such progress comes state-side we have various Senators, Pentagon spokesmen as well as the White House finding it difficult to formulate a clearly defined narrative. Barnes notes that even when the President and his surrogates seem to get the message out on the progress in Iraq to the American public, they seem to have to battle the various Democratic Senators and Representatives who go before the carousel of news shows and continue to insist to the viewer and the host that the President doesn't have a plan on Iraq. You'd think that these folks would eventually turn on their fog lights while traversing in the boggy marshes of D.C. and realize that the President has been presenting his plan/policy on Iraq ad nauseam since day one. Thankfully, Fred Barnes has decided to turn on a gigantic shining beacon on for these lost souls by pointing out President Bush's plan in the following passage:
The administration indeed has a plan: Weaken the Sunni insurgents and turn the job of defeating them over to Iraqis; isolate the Islamic jihadists and let American Special Forces commandos deal with them; and, finally, woo Sunnis to the new government through the appeal of democracy. It's a simple plan, and at the moment it's working.
I'd say that the best way to communicate such a message to the American people is for the President to stay on message by steadily repeating the markers of success he has established in determing how things are progressing in Iraq. No matter how much the folks in the opposition try to batter the President with Katrina or domestic decisions, the President should ensure that the message on Iraq is communicated as well as the one that was broadcasted world-wide after September 11th and during the 2004 election. I know the Prez has it in him, let's see if the magic returns. After hearing his latest speech before the National Endowment for Democracy, I'd say he's finally recharged his batteries and is ready to drive out of the fog of D.C. so he can get the message out to the hinterland and the folks that count.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Conservative Movies

Fire of Liberty

Jason Apuzzo, writer/director as well as the co-founder and co-director of the Liberty Film Festival, has a wonderful column over at on the emergence of conservative or conservative themed films within Hollywood via the 'independent film' scene. Though a considerable amount of the Hollywood left and the left in general will more than likely dismiss these film as right-wing infomercials or pap, you only have to look at the various assortment of films that will be appearing at the Liberty Film Festival to realize that these films offer a broad aray of subjects and concerns that this nation faces everyday. Here's a sample:
First-time filmmakers Nina May and Tricia Erickson, for example, wanted to tell the story of how many black Americans found their home in the Republican Party in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War, all the way down through the 1950's. To tell this largely forgotten story they interviewed black intellectuals like Shelby Steele, Deroy Murdock and Armstrong Williams - and important witnesses like Alveda King, niece of Martin Luther King, and Gloria Jackson, a descendant of Booker T.
Washington. The resulting film, "Emancipation, Revelation, Revolution,"
tells an almost shocking tale of how the modern Democratic Party has worked to keep black Americans on a liberal 'plantation,' ignorant of their own history.

Meanwhile another first-time filmmaker, Mercedes Maharis, decided to pick up a video camera and begin documenting the corrosive, demoralizing effect of illegal immigration on her border community of Cochise County, Arizona. Her film, "Cochise County, USA: Cries From the Border," vividly captures the tragedy of illegal border crossings for migrants and Americans alike. Neither abstract nor preachy, "Cochise County" simply depicts the sights and sounds of this ongoing crisis, even featuring footage of actual border crossings.

Perhaps most novel, though, are the efforts of Marine Seargant Kc Wayland, another first-time filmmaker and an Iraq war veteran. Wayland's "365 Boots on the Ground" documents his year-long tour of duty in Iraq, from recruitment through deployment to his return home. This absorbing, first-person account (shot in part with a helmet-cam) shows the lives of Marines in Iraq, from their daily routines, to humorous and heartwarming encounters with Iraqis, to shocking outbreaks of terrorist violence.
I'd say that after reading about these various conservative movies has demonstrated that conservative ideas have some strong legs to stand on as it begins to scale of Hollywood. Thanks to the creation of The Liberty Film Festival by Jason Apuzzo and Govindini Murty, the summit might not be so hard to surmount.

Go you Hairy Dawgs

Fire of Liberty

Here's some Pre-Game Day inspiration for all ya'll Dawg fans out there. Hat Tip to Zach Brissett and the folks over at Southern Appeal.

Freedom Tours

Fire of Liberty

Max Boot has a wonderful Op/Ed in the Los Angeles Times noting how important it is for members of the State Department as well as various academics to venture out into various college settings and nations throughout the world and present a whole-hearted argument on why democracy and freedom are great things to have and why they should be shared with the rest of the world. Though this will be a tough row to hoe in various colleges that are predominately soaked in the left-wing, anti-American nonsense that is very popular on Pacifica Radio and in the pages of The Nation as well as for the folks who live in nations run by various dictators who continue to rage against the US and restrict the Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness of it's citizens, it's not impossible.

One only has to look at the various events and tours promoting our values and love of freedom and democracy that occurred during the height of the Cold War to see that such efforts are for not. Just ask Vaclav Havel, Lech Walesa, Andrei Sakharov, Natan Sharansky and countless others who were spurred onward to free themselves from their communist masters. I can assure you that they truly appreciate this clarion call for democracy and freedom coming from the mouths of American representatives. Let's hope that these current and future listening/speaking tours will provide the same kindling for freedom and democracy that was so monumental during the Cold War.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

The Heat is On

Fire of Liberty

It's about time that President Bush and Prime Minister started calling out Iran and Syria's active participation and support of the terrorist insurgency within Iraqi. While you have probably heard President Bush's warning to Iran and Syria to cease as desist their activities in Iraq in various speeches like the one before the National Endowment for Democracy today, I can assure you that it's a rarity to hear Prime Minister Blair make such public declarations towards Iraq's neighbors. Take a look at what the Financial Times reported that PM Blair had to say about the meddlesome efforts of these known terrorist states:
Mr Blair's outspoken comments marked a severe deterioration in Britain's relationship with Iran and sparked an angry response from Tehran.

The prime minister confirmed that Tehran or its Lebanese Hizbollah allies might be supplying weapons to insurgents who have killed eight British soldiers in roadside bomb attacks. He said there was "no justification for Iran or any other country interfering in Iraq".

Speaking in Downing Street, Mr Blair appeared to link Iran's suspected ties to Sunni Muslim insurgents and a radical Shia group to the dispute over Tehran's nuclear ambitions, suggesting the interference in Iraq could be designed to intimidate the US and Europe.

"If it is also the case that they are trying to make some point about the negotiations over the nuclear weapons issue in respect of Iran . . . we are not going to be intimidated on that," he said.

The prime minister's comments, which followed a similar briefing in London on Wednesday by a senior government official, moved Britain several steps closer to matching US hostility towards Iran.
I just hope they do more than just talk. More than ever, it's time to take our stand and actively push these terrorist states into the dustbin of history. If we don't take a stand, then who will?

Tehran Demonstrates their Intentions

Fire of Liberty

No matter how much the "foreign policy elites" from the State Department, foreign capitals as well as the various think tanks around the world call for an open dialogue with the mullahs of Iran, the simple fact is that the tyrants in Tehran have proven time and time again that they can't be trusted. The most recent demonstration of this can be found in the transfer of Iran's nuclear program from a civilian controlled body into the hands of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps thus demonstrating that Iran's nuclear plans go well beyond the simple production of energy. I'm just wondering how many more years the folks within the "Diplomacy Now" crowd are going to keep on crowing about talking with Tehran even though the mullahs continue to make pledge after pledge to the E3 (France, Germany and England), the UN as well as the US that they will stop its nuclear program only to see them bail out of the Airplane once it takes flight. To me they seem to have failed Reagan's test of "Trust but Verify".

China's Heavy Hand

Fire of Liberty

I find it interesting how the various protestors who marched in D.C. several weeks ago have such a horrific opinion about this country and its leadership. Everywhere you look, you could find signs comparing the US under George W. Bush has turned into Nazi Germany or you found signs equivocating US actions in Afghanistan and Iraq to acts genocide. It's rather sad that the anti-war movement have wrapped themselves up in a shroad of hatred towards President Bush that they would stoop to such low levels thus demonstrating their lack of critical thinking skills. What gets in my crawl is the fact that these groups are so immersed in their cause that they find it necessary to dish out a constant flow of invective slurs and spurious claims against this great nation but don't seem to raise a voice against the evils being committed by the likes of Sudan, Zimbabwe, Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, North Korea as well as China.

Amongst all of the nations mentioned in the paragraph above, I'd say that China is the least likely to get any attention amongst the protestors who we find marching in the various large cities throughout the country. Whether it's China's recent crack-down on free speech on the INTERNET by restricting or even shutting down access to various websites like BBC and CNN or the usage of text messaging and blogs, the constant harassment and systematic oppression of the Uyghur's in Western China as well as the folks in Tibet, the Chinese government deserves the scornful eye of these protestors.

Though these actions taken against the people of China are horrific acts of tyranny against the Chinese government, it pales in comparison to China's one child policy. While the Chinese present this policy to the world via various Malthusian arguments about preventing a population explosion that would outstrip their food and natural resources, they fail to mention the heavy handed tactics they use to achieve such goals. Throughout the cities, villages and hamlets of China you will more likely than not will find an office or officers of the National Population and Family Planning Commission, who in the name of "population control," are systematically infringing on the liberty of the people of China to have children by forcing them to either be sterilized or abort their babies. No matter what your opinion about abortion is, you've got to be horrified that a nation has the gall to make its citizens barren or rob them of the right to have a child that the husband and wife agreed to bring in this world.

While I have pretty much written off the kids who show up at and ANSWER sponsored gatherings(I could be wrong. I hope?) as critics of the Chicom's horrific population control policies, I can't say the same thing about Chen Guangcheng, a blind legal activist, who has been helping several people in the Linyi area file suits against the government for illegally forcing these population controls on them. Though Chen has provided an avenue for the Chinese people to take on the government for its heinous acts, this brave activist still faces the long and brutal reach of the government. Just look at what the Financial Times reported that the state has thrown at Chen to prevent him from accomplishing his goal of helping the Chinese citizens take on the jack-boot of the government:
Mr Chen has been confined to his home near the Shandong city of Linyi since being seized by plain clothes officials during a visit to Beijing last month.

Local authorities have declined to comment on the legality of the action against Mr Chen but supporters say they have been told he is under investigation on suspicion of leaking state secrets a charge often levelled at critics of the government.

An attempt by a group of three Beijing-based legal experts to discuss the case with Mr Chen was blocked on Tuesday by unidentified people guarding his home, said Xu Zhiyong, one of the lawyers.

Mr Chen was beaten after villagers helped him push his way out of his home to meet the lawyers, Mr Xu said. The activist, who had been trying to organise a lawsuit against family planning authorities, lost a tooth and was hurt in the legs, he said.

The lawyers were also targeted by assailants. "“They pushed us back . . . then followed us and beat us," Mr Xu said. "“It seemed to be organised."
Luckily, Chen has the watchful eyes of the press, leaders in the West as well as blogs like Fire of Liberty which will continue to provide moral support for his brave stand against the authoritarian acts of the Chinese government. I just wish the "Peace Now" movement would take some time out of their busy schedule from drawing up infantile signs that equate President Bush to Hitler or Israel to the Nazis to make some "Stop Infanticide in China" or "China: Stop Sterilizing Mothers and Fathers" signs to carry around. It'd be nice.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Counterinsurgency Fighting: Taking the Scalpel to the Terrorists

Fire of Liberty

While combing through various websites yesterday, I came across this interesting article by Kris Hundley in the St. Petersburg Times that notes how the Pentagon, various War College professors and officers increasing demand for highly praised out of print books on fighting counterinsurgencies in place like. Though they could probably find a certain amount of these books from ABE Books, Amazon or other used book stores in US, these officers and war planners have turned their sites to Jamie Hailer who owns a boutique publishing house called Hailer Publishing that finds and reprints various out of print books on military history and strategy. In fact, Hailer discovered a growing interest in his publishing house when various professor of West Point, the Naval War College and the upper echelons of the Pentagon purchased some 2,400 copies of Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice, which is the masterwork of David Galula, an officer in the French military who had extensive knowledge of how to fight a counterinsurgency through his service in China, Southeast Asia and Algeria. It's awesome to have someone like Hailer providing these rare classics that provide such a thought provoking and excellent user guide for our various officers and soldiers fighting counterinsurgents throughout the world. You know you're a hit when you read about the buzz generated in the defense and intelligence community, just take a look:
"I kind of stumbled on a subculture of retired CIA and Army guys who are pulling their hair out about us blowing it in Iraq like we did in Vietnam," said Hailer (pronounced Hi-ler). "When they found out I was publishing this book, they pushed it like crazy."

Rick Newton, an instructor at the Joint Special Operations University at Hurlburt Field in Florida's Panhandle ordered 100, then e-mailed his buddies at West Point and the Naval War College; they also wanted the book.

Newton, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, said he had been looking for the Galula book for a couple of years before being put in touch with Hailer.

"It's the only book I'd found which takes strategic-level goals and links them to what soldiers on the ground have to do," Newton said of the book, written in 1964 while Galula was on a fellowship at Harvard. "You read it and scratch your head and say, "He got it right."'

Next thing Hailer knew, the head of the Command & General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, where the Army trains its top brass, ordered 1,500 copies, saying he wanted to put the book in the hands of every student.
I guess everybody makes their own kind of contribution to the war effort or in Hailer's case, an enhancement to the training of our war planners and soldiers in their effort to destroy the forces of evil that threaten to snuff out the flames of freedom and replace it with death and tyranny. Along with Galula's wonderful book, I'd supplement it with Lewis Sorley's A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America's Last Years in Vietnam , Max Boot's The Savage Wars of Peace, The Marine Corps, Small Wars Manual, US Army Chief of Staff General Peter J. Schoomaker's Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessions from Malaya and Vietnam as well as Robert D. Kaplan's Imperial Grunts. If our soldiers peruse these titles (If I know them, they've probably already read them by now) then we should cruise along just great in our fight against terrorism.

True Grit

Fire of Liberty

Check out this piece by Michael Fumento over at Tech Central Station on the brave Marines of the 8th Engineer Support Battalion Explosive Ordnance Disposal team that is currently disarming the IEDS in the streets of Fallujah. All I can say is that these soldiers have one of the most dangerous jobs in our military and one can only imagine how many children, adults and soldiers that would die or suffer horrible injuries throughout Iraq without these brave EOD teams. So check it out.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Tolkein: A Giant among Giants

Fire of Liberty

National Review is currently celebrating its 50th anniversary this week and has decided to bless its readers with various flashback pieces from the magazine long tenure. Yesterday, the editors presented this dedication to J.R.R. Tolkein shortly after his death in 1973. People might think the great epic writer was just a writer but Guy Davenport and various others at National Review thought differently. I think that this pretty much sets Tolkein with the greats, take a look:
Of The Lord of the Rings we can say easily that it is the best book of the century though the greatest is Ulysses, and Lewis' The Human Age is the book we deserve most to be remembered for. Its vision of harmony and simplicity, of honor and heroism, is an articulate symbol of our inarticulate yearning. The dread Orcs, who look like the Chinese army, the Nazis, and our highways and streets, are what humanity looks like when deference has been replaced by power and civilization by efficiency.
So true. Bravo to Tolkein and for the folks of National Review for enlightening us with such a great piece.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Escaping the Mire of Dependency

Fire of Liberty

Check out this funny but true piece in The Weekly Standard by P.J. O'Rourke on how the folks of the left seem to have over-reacted to Katrina and can't seem to get over the fact that smaller government not more government is the solution to disaster relief in this country. I have to agree with O'Rourke that if the "buck" of emergency response stopped at the local/state level (The true embodiment and representative of "We the people".) instead of the deep pocketed federal government, then the situation throughout the disaster zone in New Orleans would have been much different. Unfortunately, the Crescent City proved once again that when a community or a city is so addicted to the welfare teat of others that when the teat is gone they go bonkers and don't know what to do. I think O'Rourke put it best in presenting an "pull yourself up by your own bootstraps" and a "small government" argument when he noted:
The lowly, distant concept of private property ought to be ignored. Recent decisions have made the Supreme Court's position on property rights clear, and liberals need fear no judicial opposition on this point. But what if the New Orleans levees had been owned by the people whose property the levees protected? Rather than supplying proven reserves of liberal outrage, New Orleans would have been a dry hole. What if the New Orleans taxpayers, instead of the nation's taxpayers, had borne the expense of those levees? There would have been no difficulty getting people from New Orleans to Baton Rouge. They would have been there already. And making flood insurance a federal program was a brilliant stroke. That way homeowners didn't apply for it, since federal government services arrive whether requested or not--the Internal Revenue Service, for example.
Let's hope the American people have also been awakened by O'Rouke's alarm clock of "small government" instead of being pulled towards the "more government" cries coming from the sirens of the left? If so, maybe they should tell the folks in Congress to cut some fat from the budget and various bills, namely the Highway, Energy, to pay for the $200 million being sent to New Orleans. They can also fix the problem in their local/state governments by electing leaders who prefer milk from their cows in their backyard rather than from Daddy Warbucks and his friends in D.C.

Keeping the MSM on It's Toes

Fire of Liberty

After reading this column, I'd say that Mark Steyn knocks the ball out of the park on how the MSM seems to flub things up when it comes to covering disasters and the affairs of our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. My favorite part is the following:

How appropriate that it should be Dan Rather, always late to yesterday's conventional wisdom, to bless the media's fraudulent coverage of Katrina. Dan was back, along with his dismissed producer Mary Mapes, to defend his fake-memo story from last year. Another interviewer, his former CBS colleague Marvin Kalb, sympathized at the way Rather's terrific story had somehow gotten lost in a lot of tedious quibbling about the fact that the 1970s typewritten memos amazingly used the default font of Microsoft Word: "The focus was not on the substance of your story," complained Marvin to Dan. "The National Guard aspect of the whole thing sort of dropped to the side, and this media focus was on you."

The critics had, as Mary Mapes puts it in her new book, "nothing beyond a cursory and politically motivated examination of the typeface." To this day, as Dan likes to moan, the White House is still refusing to address the substance of the story.

There's a reason for that. If I say "King Zog of Albania today launched a blistering critique of the CBS News Division," and you point out that King Zog of Albania died in 1961, that's it -- it's over. Doesn't matter how blistering the critique is. And that goes for the hurricane, too. You can't indict Bush for failing to respond when you've spent the previous week demanding he respond to fake crises -- mass murder, mass child rape, five-figure body counts.
Thank G-d we have alternative media sources like Steyn and the blogs to straighten them out on the facts.