Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Keeping the Faith

Fire of Liberty

Now here is an example of how efficient "faith-based charities" can be when they are allowed to flourish and spread their wings during trying times like post-Katrina. If most Americans are given the choice between a big hulking government entity or a religious charity that has ties with the local community, I can assure you they'll shun the feds because the go with the folks they know. I guess that's why when push came to shove these faith-based charities ran circles around FEMA and Louisiana's EMA after the storm.

Deuce Willis

Fire of Liberty

It seems that Bruce Willis has decided to go against the grain of modern day Hollywood and is bravely standing up side by side with our soldiers and our efforts in Iraq and reminds me of the "golden age" actors like Gary Cooper, Jimmy Stewart, John Wayne and Ronald Reagan, who stood up and never wavered in their support of our nation when the troops lives were on the line in a distant land. What's even better is that he's in the process of making a film to honor the soldiers of the Army's 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry known as the "Deuce Fours." I can assure you it'll be a great hit and reap more profits than most of the hokum coming out of Hollywood. (I do suggest that you check out The Chronicles of Narnia and King Kong, they look pretty good.) Go Bruce!!!

Who makes up our Military

Fire of Liberty

Everytime that I tune in on C-SPAN's Washington Journal to watch various guests commenting on Iraq, I can always be assured that sometime during the program there's going to be some caller who's going to make the comment or what equates our fight to being a "rich man's war and a poor man's fight." What's even worse, is that folks in our government like Representative Charlie Rangel continue to appear on various TV shows and radio programs and continues to push this argument that our military recruiters go into the rural and heavily urban areas of America and lure the poor and mostly minority high schoolers into the military by offering them big signing bonuses and educations while avoiding the more affluent neighborhoods.

Now, I know that if folks like Congressman Rangel and these callers keep on repeating this enough times that they eventually believe that this is indeed the socio-economic/racial makeup of our fighting forces but in reality they are making a spurious inference that is far from the truth. Thankfully, The Heritage Foundation has just finished a study titled "Who Bears the Burden?," whose chief findings were presented in a USA Today Op/Ed by Heritage fellows Tim Kane and James Jay Carafano. What's amazing is that the study just knocks down these absurd claims about the recruiters going after the poor and minorities and makes the case much clearer that more and more of the young men and women who march down to their local recruiters come more from the neighborhoods that are rural but are also from mostly middle-class, white and more educated than what Rangel has been stating as the gospel truth. Don't take my word though, just read what Kane and Carafano had to say in their Op/Ed:
If, for example, we consider the education of every recruit, 98% joined with high-school diplomas or better. By comparison, 75% of the general population meets that standard. Among all three-digit ZIP code areas in the USA in 2003 (one can study larger areas by isolating just the first three digits of ZIP codes), not one had a higher graduation rate among civilians than among its recruits.

In fact, since the 9/11 attacks, more volunteers have emerged from the middle and upper classes and fewer from the lowest-income groups. In 1999, both the highest fifth of the nation in income and the lowest fifth were slightly underrepresented among military volunteers. Since 2001, enlistments have increased in the top two-fifths of income levels but have decreased among the lowest fifth.

Allegations that recruiters are disproportionately targeting blacks also don't hold water. First, whites make up 77.4% of the nation's population and 75.8% of its military volunteers, according to our analysis of Department of Defense data.

Second, we explored the 100 three-digit ZIP code areas with the highest concentration of blacks, which range from 24.1% black up to 68.6%. These areas, which account for 14.6% of the adult population, produced 16.6% of recruits in 1999 and only 14.1% in 2003.
This just goes to show you that more and more of the folks who serve in our all volunteer military are in it more to be soldiers and defend this great nation more out of their love for their nation rather than economic our educational opportunities. (Now I can't knock the young people who do join up for the money and education but I can assure you that they are aware that in a post-9/11 world they will eventually end up getting into a shooting war. What's more interesting is that these young men and women keep re-upping to serve more years serving their nation.) Maybe Representative Rangel should study the facts about our military's makeup rather than flogging a non-existent horse.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Tyrant of Harare

Fire of Liberty

In the October 23, 2005 issue of the SundayTimes, Christina Lamb has a very good piece demonstrating why the US government has continued to condemn Robert Mugabe and place sanctions on various individuals and entities that support his horrific regime in Zimbabwe. After reading a portion of what she wrote, you'll understand why Mugabe has become persona non grata amongst a large section of the world. Here's a sample:
These are the victims of Operation Murambatsvina (drive out the filth), Mugabe'’s so-called urban beautification campaign which, according to a damning report by the United Nations, left more than 700,000 homeless or without an income.

Yet last week the United Nations flew Zimbabwe's president on an all-expenses-paid trip to Rome to celebrate World Food Day in defiance of European Union travel sanctions. Flanked by bodyguards, he proclaimed that there was no hunger in his country and blamed its problems on George W Bush and Tony Blair, branding them international terrorists and likening them to Hitler and Mussolini.

Such hypocrisy comes as no surprise to the people squatting amid piles of debris in southern Harare, who feel abandoned by the outside world.

There have been similar images of devastation from this year'’s hurricanes and earthquakes. But this is man-made destruction — — the revenge of a president against the inhabitants of areas that dared to vote against him in one election after another.

"This is the most depressing thing I have ever seen in years of working in trouble spots,"” a UN official said. "“It'’s just all so unnecessary."

The bulldozers and axes that destroyed thousands of homes and market stalls in June and July, supposedly to clean up the cities, have left a nation teeming with homeless people.

The International Crisis Group estimates Zimbabwe has between 4m and 5m internal refugees — more than a third of the population. They are the victims of Operation Murambatsvina, and workers kicked off commercial farms seized in five years of violent land grabs.

Yet Mugabe refuses to allow a $30m humanitarian appeal by the UN for blankets and food. He objects to the use of the word "“humanitarian".

A consignment of 6,000 blankets and 37 tons of food raised by the South African Council of Churches for the new homeless was blocked at the border by customs authorities. First they demanded duties, then they refused entry, claiming they needed proof the food was not genetically modified.
If the people of Zimbabwe are ever going to be free from Mugabe and his thugs, then they'll need more actions like the imposition of sanctions against the regime's supporters, public condemnation and the support of pro-democracy groups within Zimbabwe and the region, hopefully President Bush has set a precedent. The people of Zimbabwe are beginning to grow tired of the of Mugabe and his likes taking away their farms, homes, jobs and food from their bellies and maybe a little help from the free world can help the finally push out their octeganarian tyrant.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

A Memory chiseled in Stone

Fire of Liberty

For anyone in the know about Cold War history are well aware that journalists Malcolm Muggeridge, Gareth Jones and historian Robert Conquest, disproved Walter Duranty's reports filed during the "Harvest of Sorrow" in Ukraine that exploded in 1932-33, were the former New York Times reporter promoted the Soviet Union's lie that this was a natural disaster or created by the wealthy inhabitants but in reality it was just another shameful example of a of a command economy's harsh nature and how the Soviets used mass starvation as a way to crush the "kulaks" who were Ukrainian farmers who refused to join in the collectivization policies of one of Stalin's many Five Year Plans. During this horrific event in human history, some 7.5 to 10 million Ukrainians met their untimely death, while reporters like Duranty kept on reporting that all was well and the Soviets were trying to help these "poor people." Though the New York Times never revoked Duranty's Pulitzer or Stalin and his Soviet stooges were never held responsible for their actions against the people of Ukraine, it seems that the new pro-democracy ruling party of Ukraine under the lead of President Victor Yushchenko has decided to heal the wounds by noting this during a ceremony remembering this horrific moment in history. Just read what the leader of the "Orange Revolution" had to say about this horrific event:
"The famine was a crime against humanity which had perpetrators, but from the legal standpoint, no guilty parties have been found," Yushchenko said before kneeling by a monument to the victims erected in the 1990s.

"A murderer may be found responsible for killing one person, but for the destruction of millions, no one is held responsible. Perhaps this is why we in Ukraine have such difficulty today restoring the rule of law, good and social justice."

Yushchenko said the failure of the Communist system to repent for the famine "stood behind further misfortunes. Perhaps this is why we encounter such difficulty in changing our consciousness, haunted by fear and ideological slavery."
From reading this, I can assure you that Yushchenko is one who will never forget the crimes against humanity that the Soviets committed during their 80 year of terror. I just wished more people in this world cared so much about this rather than protesting Wal-Mart and Free-Trade.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Rolling in The Rock

Fire of Liberty

Now here is an example of how people in America seem to get things done when they are presented with a problem. Instead of going through the paces of presenting this new design to the folks at the Pentagon, then a lengthy process of having one feasibility study after the other done, followed by the political fight that's involved in getting the product through the Senate Armed Service Committee and onto some Defense Department procurement list barring some senator or higher up rejecting it for their pet project, Chris Berman, a Navy SEAL Reservist and former employee at Blackwater Security, decided to form Granite Global Services in Kuwait to focus on the building of heavily armored SUV's that put the up-armored Humvees that Congress has been carrying on about to shame.

Here's what W. Thomas Smith Jr. had to say over at Navy Seals.com about this awesome shield of an vehicle that is currently roaming in the streets of Iraq:
Built on a Ford 4X4 truck chassis with "“street tires,"” The Rock weighs approximately 15,500 lbs. (depending on an individual vehicle'’s armor and armament configuration), but it'’s fast. "“It'’s governed at 94 mph, but – at 15,000 pounds - we can comfortably do 80,"” says Berman.

The vehicle's armor is comprised of three layers: First is the outer Polyeurea coating. This is followed by the actual armor. Then there is a blanketing insulator. These three layers surround the entire vehicle – roof, sides, front, rear, and below the floorboard. "“It is 100 percent armored,"” says Berman.

Moreover, the outer skin of the vehicle has a "“bolt-on"” feature that permits additional layers of armor to be attached to the existing armor. An RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) screen may also be added, similar to the screen/cage on the U.S. Army'’s Stryker.

The Rock can haul a four-man crew and six-to-eight passengers depending on its configuration.

And it can fight!

During an urban combat operation, two combatants would be positioned topside in two roof turrets manning belt-fed machineguns. Six windows with spring-loaded gun ports would add to The Rock'’s firepower. Consequently, when "“this porcupine comes down the road,"” as Berman says, it will be bringing eight guns to bear on any bushwhackers. That fact alone serves as a deterrent.

Two such vehicles equals sixteen guns, four of which "“are big belt-feeders on the roof,"” says Berman. "“Anyone who wants to attack that is slapping at the wrong person.Â"

So the optimum question might be, has The Rock saved lives? "“I'’d like to think so,"” says Berman. "“They currently are not shooting any guns in Iraq that will penetrate our body. We also have a poly liner on it so you'’re really not going to see where the bullets hit. A 7.62X39, which is an AK-47 round, does not do anything against our armor but dissipate energy. If your eyes are closed you cannot feel the bullet impact of an AK-47 round against our vehicle."
In fact "The Rock" has proven it's weight in gold by withstanding the blast of the IED, which has become an all too common fact about the streets of Iraq. According to a post by W. Thomas Smith Jr. on National Review Online's blog "The Corner," this super-duty truck sustained no major damage and the folks in the truck and what's even better is that the folks inside weren't hurt. It'd be great if the folks at the Pentagon would put in a big order for these trucks but who in their right mind would be willing to go through the Pentagon red-tape and wait years to get the vehicles to Iraq.

Shine a little light on thee

Fire of Liberty

It seems that the new government in Poland has decided that the time has come to finally air out everything that the former Communist dictatorship of Poland committed in accordance with their Warsaw Pact masters in Moscow during the Cold War. Luckily, the current government realizes that the crimes or nefarious activities that were committed throughout the Cold War by their former masters deserve to come to light as much as the records and events of Pinochet, Fujimori have come to light in South America. If the world is ever going to learn about the horrific nature of Communist totalitarianism and how it threatened world peace then we need leaders like Poland's Defense Minister Radoslav Sikorski who are unafraid in revealing the truth. Here's one thing I found interesting in the recent revelations:
Mr Sikorski published a map showing Soviet bloc forces planning a "counter-attack" against Nato forces, in which the Soviets would have dropped nuclear bombs along a line from the Dutch coast to Strasbourg, wiping out cities in Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany.

But the 1979 exercise also showed that Warsaw Pact planners believed such a conflict would have seen Nato target its nuclear bombs along the line of the Vistula river in Poland, to prevent Russian reinforcements reaching the front.

Mr Sikorski said: "“The Polish army was being asked to take part in an invasion which could have resulted in a nuclear violation of our country.

"Poland is a country which would have been bombed out of existence."” He claimed 2m Poles would have died in any conflict.

The military files handed over to Poland's Institute of National Remembrance also included details of the 1968 Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia to crush the "“Prague Spring"”.

The release of the documents will reopen questions about the involvement of Polish communist-era politicians and soldiers in the Soviet-bloc alliance, 15 years after the country left the Warsaw Pact.
Hopefully this new government can finally heal some of the wounds the incurred during the Cold War. Sometimes the revelations of hard facts seem to do the trick every time.

Sowell's Clarity

Fire of Liberty

Thomas Sowell has a good Op/Ed on the current dispute between the folks who are currently fighting the war on Islamic terrorism and the leaders who feel we should abstain from doing things that need to be done to win the war and prevent the further death of more Americans. If you want some clarity to the whole dispute then Sowell's thoughtful insight is a good place to start.

Choosing the Wrong Exit

Fire of Liberty

Here's Mackubin Thomas Owens take on on the whole Murtha episode that is churning within Congress and how such talk of setting a timetable for a withdrawal of our troops from Iraq hurts our efforts and presents a message of defeatism to our allies and enemies. In fact, Owens points out that our enemies in Iraq and in al Qaeda in general have been hedging their bets on the eventual crumbling of domestic support amongst the US Congress and its citizens much like it did during Vietnam. See for yourself:
How did the North Vietnamese Communists pull this off? In 1990, North Vietnamese General Vo Nguyen Giap, confirming what he has written in his own memoirs, told Stanley Karnow that "We were not strong enough to drive out a half-million American troops, but that wasn't our aim. Our intention was to break the will of the American government to continue the war."

Murtha should know this history; the Iraqi insurgents certainly do, as illustrated by a passage in a letter from al Qaeda second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri to Iraqi insurgent leader Abu Musab Zarqawi, dated July 9, 2005. In this letter, Zawahiri reminds Zarqawi that the war does not end with the expulsion of the American from Iraq. The danger is that the Americans might cut and run before Zarqawi is ready to fill the vacuum.

The aftermath of the collapse of American power in Vietnam-and how they ran and left their agents-is noteworthy. Because of that, we must be ready starting now, before events overtake us, and before we are surprised by the conspiracies of the Americans and the United Nations and their plans to fill the void behind them. We must take the initiative and impose a fait accompli upon our enemies, instead of the enemy imposing one on us, wherein our lot would be to merely resist their schemes.

Murtha's proposal would validate Zawahiri's belief that the United States is irresolute and weak and that the Americans will take the first opportunity to "run."
I guess the Democrats can only see President Bush's blood in the water and are willing to throw aside principle and support for a worthy and moral effort in Iraq because the believe they can retake the House in 2006. Maybe they should read more history and folks like Mackubin Thomas Owens before they rush to the exit doors when it comes to Iraq.

It's all conditioned based

Fire of Liberty

Max Boot had a wonderful Op/ED in Wednesday's edition of the Los Angeles Times that pointed out that even though the polls show nothing but doom and gloom for the President and the US when it comes to Iraq, there is a consensus amongst the Iraqi people and members of our armed services that things are turning in the right direction. Boot points out that the reason why these groups see Iraq reaching a tipping point towards success has to do with the events on the ground. While various Democratic Senators and Representatives have been demanding a policy in Iraq, they seem to forget that we've been going through the steps of a White House plan since we took Saddam down in April 2003. For those who have been paying attention (obviously the folks answering the polls and Congressmen haven't) you should know by now after listening to President Bush, General Pete Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General John Abizaid, CENTCOM commander, and countless others running the show on Iraq have been saying that the US's work and the eventual drawdown in Iraq is conditioned based on how things improve throughout Mesopotamia. The process basically notes that we'll get out of the way as Iraq grows economically, politically and begins to gather the ability to secure their nation via the training and standup actions via their military, border patrolmen, and police. Just sampling these paragraphs from Boot's column, I can say that these conditions are being met one by one:
FOR STARTERS, one can point to two successful elections this year, on Jan. 30 and Oct. 15, in which the majority of Iraqis braved insurgent threats to vote. The constitutional referendum in October was particularly significant because it marked the first wholesale engagement of Sunnis in the political process. Since then, Sunni political parties have made clear their determination to also participate in the Dec. 15 parliamentary election. This is big news. The most disaffected group in Iraq is starting to realize that it must achieve its objectives through ballots, not bullets.

There are also positive economic indicators that receive little or no coverage in the Western media. For all the insurgents' attempts to sabotage the Iraqi economy, the Brookings Institution reports that per capita income has doubled since 2003 and is now 30% higher than it was before the war. Thanks primarily to the increase in oil prices, the Iraqi economy is projected to grow at a whopping 16.8% next year. According to Brookings' Iraq index, there are five times more cars on the streets than in Saddam Hussein's day, five times more telephone subscribers and 32 times more Internet users.

The growth of the independent media — a prerequisite of liberal democracy — is even more inspiring. Before 2003 there was not a single independent media outlet in Iraq. Today, Brookings reports, there are 44 commercial TV stations, 72 radio stations and more than 100 newspapers.

But aren't bombs still going off at an alarming rate? Of course. It's almost impossible to stop a few thousand fanatics who are willing to commit suicide to slaughter others.

Yet there is hope on the security front. Since the Jan. 30 election, not a single Iraqi unit has crumbled in battle, according to Army Lt. Gen. David H. Petraeus, who until September was in charge of their training. Iraqi soldiers are showing impressive determination in fighting the terrorists, notwithstanding the terrible casualties they have taken. Their increasing success is evident on "Route Irish," from Baghdad International Airport. Once the most dangerous road in Iraq, it is now one of the safest. The last coalition fatality there that was a result of enemy action occurred in March.
Maybe the White House should use its "bully pullpit" and make a better effort at broadcasting such facts and improving conditions to the American people and point out that Iraq is much like life, you take it one step and one day at a time.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Europe needs more babies

Fire of Liberty

Well it seems that the folks in Europe are so busy enjoying life and not taking enough time to settle down and establish a family and having kids are starting to experience a population dearth throughout the continent. According to this article by David R. Sands in today's Washington Times, the citizens of these countries have stopped having enough kids to make the critical "normal replacement" rate of 2.1 kids per family thus creating a situation that will put a major dent in their economy, retirement system and general cultural makeup of their country in the near decades. It's rather interesting that after all those years of hearing Malthusian theories of "overcrowding" like in Paul R. Ehrlich's The Population Bomb, that predicted that so many people would be born that they would eventually outstrip our food supplies and createing a apocalyptic world like that of Mad Max and the Thunderdome, that the world today is facing the polar opposite. I guess that maybe the folks in Europe need to rethink this "anti-children" policy and get busy making some kids before the countries that they have become accustomed to living in cease to exist in the near future. (One more reason why I'm thankful that I live in the US, where we're still churning out youngins.)

If you want to have a better understanding of how much of an impact that a decline in replacement rates will have on Europe and the world in general, just check out the following books and articles:

Fewer: How the New Demography of Depopulation Will Shape Our Future by Ben J. Wattenberg

The Empty Cradle: How Falling Birthrates Threaten World Prosperity and What to Do About It by Philip Longman


The Emptying of Russia by Nicholas Eberstadt

The Population Implosion by Nicholas Eberstadt

Missing Girls Bode Ill for China in Future Decades by Nicholas Eberstadt

Russia, the Sick Man of Europe by Nicholas Eberstadt

Old Age Tsunami by Nicholas Eberstadt

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Fire of Liberty

I'd like to wish everyone a safe and happy Thanksgiving and hope you didn't eat too much but if you did, I bet it was pretty darn good. Along with wishing everyone a happy Thanksgiving, I want to give a special thanks to our soldiers and other gallant warriors who are serving, have served or have given the ultimate sacrifice to keep this nation safe and free from the evils that roam this earth. So thank you so much for your brave service.

As I reflect on what I'm thankful about this holiday season, I'm reminded that while we share a lot of similar holidays/event like Christmas, New Years and Easter with most of the world, we can clearly place a made in the USA sticker on Thanksgiving (no matter how much the Canadians try to copy us in October). Now think about it, how many countries do you know of where people give offer thanks for having a nation that doesn't persecute or prevent you from practicing your faith? Or, how many nations do you know that have people be thankful of a country that allows anyone who puts their nose to the grindstone or uses their mind to rise up from humble beginnings to the heights of stardom or wealth, fail, and do it again? How many nations do you know where its citizens are proud and thankful to live in a country that defends and promotes G-d's given rights of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. Or, how many nations do you know of where millions of people flock (legally or illegally) to our shores every year and once they get here, they start their path of assimilation by embracing and celebrating the whole concept of Thanksgiving? All of these and many more answers are basically the United States of America. Now my little argument about the true Americana of Thanksgiving is a sufficient enough argument for me, I thought that some words from some of our Presidents would push through my argument about Thanksgiving (You can find all Proclamations at the Pilgrim Hall Museum) Here are a few of my favorites:

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor - and Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me "to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness."
Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be – That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks – for his kind care and protection of the People of this country previous to their becoming a Nation – for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war – –for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed – for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.
And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions – to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually – to render our national government a blessing to all the People, by constantly being a government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed – to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord – To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and Us – and generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.
Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

It has pleased Almighty God to prolong our national life another year, defending us with His guardian care against unfriendly designs from abroad and vouchsafing to us in His mercy many and signal victories over the enemy, who is of our own household. It has also pleased our Heavenly Father to favor as well our citizens in their homes as our soldiers in their camps and our sailors on the rivers and seas with unusual health. He has largely augmented our free population by emancipation and by immigration, while He has opened to use new sources of wealth and has crowned the labor of our workingmen in every department of industry with abundant rewards. Moreover, He has been pleased to animate and inspire our minds and hearts with fortitude, courage, and resolution sufficient for the great trial of civil war into which we have been brought by our adherence as a nation to the cause of freedom and humanity, and to afford to us reasonable hopes of an ultimate and happy deliverance from all our dangers and afflictions :
Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do hereby appoint and set apart the last Thursday in November next as a day which I desire to be observed by all my fellow-citizens, wherever they may then be, as a day of thanksgiving and praise to Almighty God, the beneficent Creator and Ruler of the Universe. And I do further recommend to my fellow-citizens aforesaid that on that occasion they do reverently humble themselves in the dust and from thence offer up penitent and fervent prayers and supplications to the Great Disposer of Events for a return of the inestimable blessings of peace, union, and harmony throughout the land which it has pleased Him to assign as a dwelling place for ourselves and for our posterity throughout all generations.
In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the city of Washington, this 20th day of October, A.D. 1864, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-ninth.

Under the guidance and watchful care of a Divine and beneficent Providence this country has been carried safely through another year. Almighty God has continued to bestow upon us the light of His countenance, and we have prospered. Not alone have we enjoyed material success, but we have advanced in wisdom and in spiritual understanding. The products of our fields and our factories and of our manifold activities have been maintained on a high level. We have gained in knowledge of the higher values of life. There has been advancement in our physical well-being. We have increased our desire for the things that minister to the mind and to the soul. We have raised the mental and moral standards of life.
We have had the blessings of peace and of honorable and friendly relations with our sister nations throughout the world. Disasters visiting certain of our States have touched the heart of a sympathetic nation, which has responded generously out of its abundance. In continuing to remember those in affliction we should rejoice in our ability to give them relief.
Now that these twelve months are drawing to a close, it is fitting that, as a nation, and as individuals, in accordance with time-honored and sacred custom, we should consider the manifold blessings granted to us. While in gratitude we rejoice, we should humbly pray that we may be worthy of a continuation of Divine favor.
Wherefore, I, Calvin Coolidge, President of the United States, do hereby set apart and designate Thursday, the twenty-fourth day of November, next, as a day of thanksgiving and prayer, and recommend and urge that on that day our people lay aside their usual tasks, and by the family fireside and in their accustomed places of public worship give thanks to Him who holds us all in the hollow of His hand.
In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington this twenty-sixth day of October, in the year of our Lord, one thousand nine hundred and twenty-seven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and fifty-second.

"It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord." Across the uncertain ways of space and time our hearts echo those words, for the days are with us again when, at the gathering of the harvest, we solemnly express our dependence upon Almighty God.
The final months of this year, now almost spent, find our Republic and the nations joined with it waging a battle on many fronts for the preservation of liberty.
In giving thanks for the greatest harvest in the history of our nation, we who plant and reap can well resolve that in the year to come we will do all in our power to pass that milestone; for by our labors in the fields we can share some part of the sacrifice with our brothers and sons who wear the uniform of the United States.
It is fitting that we recall now the reverent words of George Washington, "Almighty God, we make our earnest prayer that Thou wilt keep the United States in Thy holy protection," and that every American in his own way lift his voice to Heaven.
I recommend that all of us bear in mind this great Psalm:

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul; he leadeth me I the paths of righteousness for his name'’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; thou annointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Inspired with faith and courage by these words, let us turn again to the work that confronts us in this time of national emergency : in the armed services and the merchant marine; in factories and offices; on farms and in the mines; on highways, railways and airways; in other places of public service to the Nation; and in our homes.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT, President of the United States of America, do hereby invite the attention of the people to the joint resolution of Congress approved December 26, 1941, which designates the fourth Thursday in November of each year as thanksgiving Day'’ and I request that both Thanksgiving Day, November 26, 1942, and New Year'’s Day, January 1, 1943, be observed in prayer, publicly and privately.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States of America to be affixed.
DONE at the City of Washington this eleventh day of November, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and forty-two, and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and sixty-seventh.

Proclamation 5412. November 15, 1985
Although the time and date of the first American thanksgiving observance may be uncertain, there is no question but that this treasured custom derives from our Judeo-Christian heritage. "Unto Three, O God, do we give thanks," the Psalmist sang, praising God not only for the "wondrous works" of His creation, but for loving guidance and deliverance from dangers.
A band of settlers arriving in Maine in 1607 held a service of thanks for their safe journey, and twelve years later settlers in Virginia set aside a day of thanksgiving for their survival. In 1621 Governor William Bradford created the most famous of all such observances at Plymouth Colony when a bounteous harvest prompted him to proclaim a special day "to render thanksgiving to the Almighty God for all His blessings." The Spaniards in California and the Dutch in New Amsterdam also held services to give public thanks to God.
In 1777, during our War of Independence, the Continental Congress set aside a day for thanksgiving and praise for our victory at the battle of Saratoga. It was the first time all the colonies took part in such an event on the same day. The following year, upon news that France was coming to our aid, George Washington at Valley Forge prescribed a special day of thanksgiving. Later, as our first President, he responded to a Congressional petition by declaring Thursday, November 26, 1789, the first Thanksgiving Day of the United States of America.
Although there were many state and national thanksgiving days proclaimed in the ensuing years, it was the tireless crusade of one woman, Sarah Josepha Hale, that finally led to the establishment of this beautiful feast as an annual nationwide observance. Her editorials so touched the heart of Abraham Lincoln that in 1863 - even in the midst of the civil War - he enjoined his countrymen to be mindful of their many blessings, cautioning them not to forget "the source from which they come," that they are "the gracious gifts of the Most High God'…" Who ought to be thanked "with one heart and one voice by the whole American People."
It is in that spirit that I now invite all Americans to take part again in this beautiful tradition with its roots deep in our history and deeper still in our hearts. We manifest our gratitude to God for the many blessings he has showered upon our land and upon its people.
In this season of Thanksgiving we are grateful for our abundant harvests and the productivity of our industries; for the discoveries of our laboratories; for the researches of our scientists and scholars; for the achievements of our artists, musicians, writers, clergy, teachers, physicians, businessmen, engineers, public servants, farmers, mechanics, artisans, and workers of every sort whose honest toil of mind and body in a free land rewards them and their families and enriches our entire Nation.
Let us thank God for our families, friends, and neighbors, and for the joy of this very festival we celebrate in His name. Let every house of worship in the land and every home and every heart be filled with the spirit of gratitude and praise and love on this Thanksgiving Day.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, RONALD REAGAN, President of the United States of America, in the spirit and tradition of the Pilgrims, the Continental Congress, and past Presidents, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 28, 1985, as a day of national Thanksgiving. I call upon every citizen of this great Nation to gather together in homes and places of worship and offer prayers of praise and gratitude for the many blessings almighty God has bestowed upon our beloved country.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fifteenth day of November, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-five, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and tenth.

And for good measure, here's President Bush's 2005 Thanksgiving Proclamation:

November 18, 2005
Thanksgiving Day is a time to remember our many blessings and to celebrate the opportunities that freedom affords. Explorers and settlers arriving in this land often gave thanks for the extraordinary plenty they found. And today, we remain grateful to live in a country of liberty and abundance. We give thanks for the love of family and friends, and we ask God to continue to watch over America.
This Thanksgiving, we pray and express thanks for the men and women who work to keep America safe and secure. Members of our Armed Forces, State and local law enforcement, and first responders embody our Nation's highest ideals of courage and devotion to duty. Our country is grateful for their service and for the support and sacrifice of their families. We ask God's special blessings on those who have lost loved ones in the line of duty.
We also remember those affected by the destruction of natural disasters. Their tremendous determination to recover their lives exemplifies the American spirit, and we are grateful for those across our Nation who answered the cries of their neighbors in need and provided them with food, shelter, and a helping hand. We ask for continued strength and perseverance as we work to rebuild these communities and return hope to our citizens.
We give thanks to live in a country where freedom reigns, justice prevails, and hope prospers. We recognize that America is a better place when we answer the universal call to love a neighbor and help those in need. May God bless and guide the United States of America as we move forward.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 24, 2005, as a National Day of Thanksgiving. I encourage all Americans to gather together in their homes and places of worship with family, friends, and loved ones to reinforce the ties that bind us and give thanks for the freedoms and many blessings we enjoy.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this eighteenth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand five, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirtieth.

So Happy Thanksgiving. It'll be more awesome if Texas A&M, Arkansas and UGA win this week.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

United for Victory

Fire of Liberty

Brendan Minter has a great piece over at OpinionJournal on how Representative Murtha's call for our troops to start a complete withdrawal from Iraq within the next six months has actually put some fire in the belly of the Republican leadership thus pulling them out their light slumber. In fact the Republican's decided to call the Pennsylvanian congressman's bluff and presented the House with a resolution that called for the immediate withdrawal. Instead of peeling off the Republican party moderates, the proposed resolution brought the GOP together and resulted in being rejected by a 403-3 vote thus demonstrating the Democrats and the country as a whole isn't quite ready to return to the pre-WWII days of isolationistic "Fortress America," with our current fight in Iraq. Minter pretty much summed up what's at stake in winning the battle in Iraq and feels the Republicans have finally wrapped their hands around the whole situation when he noted:
Anyone who thinks that vote was simply cheap political theater and not connected to the larger debate on how to fight the war on terror hasn't been watching Mr. Hunter and the other defense hawks in the House over the past four years. It's not an accident that the House hasn't passed the "torture ban" that John McCain and John Warner pushed through the Senate. Nor is it a coincidence that intelligence reform stalled in the House last year until it was amended to insure that troops in the field would still have the intelligence they need.

It's not lost on Mr. Hunter, or on Reps. Steve Buyer, John Kline and many others, that Iraq is the most visible front in the war on terror and is therefore a symbol for whether the political elites of this nation have what it takes to confront global terrorist networks. If politicians can't stomach going after terrorists who openly attack U.S. soldiers, they won't have what it takes to go after terrorists who hide in some of the most remote or ungoverned reaches of the world.

It should now be clear--if it wasn't already--that the Democratic Party is the party of withdrawal. Had John Kerry won the election last year, the U.S. would today be packing its bags and preparing to leave Iraq under something similar to the Murtha plan. The fallout from that would be disastrous. "Rapid reaction force" or not, Iraq would descend into political chaos and then perhaps fall under the power of a dictator. Maybe Saddam Hussein himself would return, though there is no shortage of Saddam wannabes in that part of the world. Following that, no U.S. president for a generation or maybe two would have the political muscle to topple a rogue regime anywhere. In the meantime, the U.S. would be on the run, while terrorists and the dictators who nurture them would have the upper hand.
It's about darn time that the GOP finally gets the whole understanding of how it's winning Iraq is a "now or never" event that will determine our success or failure in the Global War on Islamic Terrorism. The Repulicans have to take the Jessie Ventura's often quoted saying "I ain't got time to bleed," to heart on keep up the united effort of winning the epic struggle against the "barbarians at the gate."

Oh How They Forget

Fire of Liberty

As I scan the various news programs, newspapers and various web-sites, I keep on bumping into all these various Senators and Representatives claiming that the President and his staff duped the American people and heaven forbid this august body of 100. While these Congressmen surely hope that they can hide behind some three years of legislative history and America's short term memory they run into serious trouble if they recall their vote with regard to Iraq on October 11, 2002. Unfortunately, they cannot escape the Congressional record over at the Library of Congress. So even though the President's critics can claim that we went into Iraq based on WMD, Senate Joint Resolution 46 shows that the arguments for the decapitation of Saddam and his "Ba'athist Paradise" were multi-faceted. Just look at Senate Joint Resolution 46, which was passed 77 to 23 on the Senate floor and you'll see how hysterical the President's critics look:
SJ 46 IS


2d Session

S. J. RES. 46

To authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against Iraq.


October 2, 2002

Mr. LIEBERMAN (for himself, Mr. WARNER, Mr. BAYH, Mr. MCCAIN, Mr. MCCONNELL, Mr. DOMENICI, Mr. HUTCHINSON, Ms. LANDRIEU, Mr. ALLARD, Mr. HELMS, and Mr. MILLER) introduced the following joint resolution; which was read the first time


To authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against Iraq.

Whereas in 1990 in response to Iraq's war of aggression against and illegal occupation of Kuwait, the United States forged a coalition of nations to liberate Kuwait and its people in order to defend the national security of the United States and enforce United Nations Security Council resolutions relating to Iraq;

Whereas after the liberation of Kuwait in 1991, Iraq entered into a United Nations sponsored cease-fire agreement pursuant to which Iraq unequivocally agreed, among other things, to eliminate its nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons programs and the means to deliver and develop them, and to end its support for international terrorism;

Whereas the efforts of international weapons inspectors, United States intelligence agencies, and Iraqi defectors led to the discovery that Iraq had large stockpiles of chemical weapons and a large scale biological weapons program, and that Iraq had an advanced nuclear weapons development program that was much closer to producing a nuclear weapon than intelligence reporting had previously indicated;

Whereas Iraq, in direct and flagrant violation of the cease-fire, attempted to thwart the efforts of weapons inspectors to identify and destroy Iraq's weapons of mass destruction stockpiles and development capabilities, which finally resulted in the withdrawal of inspectors from Iraq on October 31, 1998;

Whereas in 1998 Congress concluded that Iraq's continuing weapons of mass destruction programs threatened vital United States interests and international peace and security, declared Iraq to be in `material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations' and urged the President `to take appropriate action, in accordance with the Constitution and relevant laws of the United States, to bring Iraq into compliance with its international obligations' (Public Law 105-235);

Whereas Iraq both poses a continuing threat to the national security of the United States and international peace and security in the Persian Gulf region and remains in material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations by, among other things, continuing to possess and develop a significant chemical and biological weapons capability, actively seeking a nuclear weapons capability, and supporting and harboring terrorist organizations;

Whereas Iraq persists in violating resolutions of the United Nations Security Council by continuing to engage in brutal repression of its civilian population thereby threatening international peace and security in the region, by refusing to release, repatriate, or account for non-Iraqi citizens wrongfully detained by Iraq, including an American serviceman, and by failing to return property wrongfully seized by Iraq from Kuwait;

Whereas the current Iraqi regime has demonstrated its capability and willingness to use weapons of mass destruction against other nations and its own people;

Whereas the current Iraqi regime has demonstrated its continuing hostility toward, and willingness to attack, the United States, including by attempting in 1993 to assassinate former President Bush and by firing on many thousands of occasions on United States and Coalition Armed Forces engaged in enforcing the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council;

Whereas members of al Qaida, an organization bearing responsibility for attacks on the United States, its citizens, and interests, including the attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, are known to be in Iraq;

Whereas Iraq continues to aid and harbor other international terrorist organizations, including organizations that threaten the lives and safety of American citizens;

Whereas the attacks on the United States of September 11, 2001, underscored the gravity of the threat posed by the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction by international terrorist organizations;

Whereas Iraq's demonstrated capability and willingness to use weapons of mass destruction, the risk that the current Iraqi regime will either employ those weapons to launch a surprise attack against the United States or its Armed Forces or provide them to international terrorists who would do so, and the extreme magnitude of harm that would result to the United States and its citizens from such an attack, combine to justify action by the United States to defend itself;

Whereas United Nations Security Council Resolution 678 authorizes the use of all necessary means to enforce United Nations Security Council Resolution 660 and subsequent relevant resolutions and to compel Iraq to cease certain activities that threaten international peace and security, including the development of weapons of mass destruction and refusal or obstruction of United Nations weapons inspections in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 687, repression of its civilian population in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 688, and threatening its neighbors or United Nations operations in Iraq in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 949;

Whereas Congress in the Authorization of Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution (Public Law 102-1) has authorized the President `to use United States Armed Forces pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolution 678 (1990) in order to achieve implementation of Security Council Resolutions 660, 661, 662, 664, 665, 666, 667, 669, 670, 674, and 677';

Whereas in December 1991, Congress expressed its sense that it `supports the use of all necessary means to achieve the goals of United Nations Security Council Resolution 687 as being consistent with the Authorization of Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution (Public Law 102-1),' that Iraq's repression of its civilian population violates United Nations Security Council Resolution 688 and `constitutes a continuing threat to the peace, security, and stability of the Persian Gulf region,' and that Congress, `supports the use of all necessary means to achieve the goals of United Nations Security Council Resolution 688';

Whereas the Iraq Liberation Act (Public Law 105-338) expressed the sense of Congress that it should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove from power the current Iraqi regime and promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime;

Whereas on September 12, 2002, President Bush committed the United States to `work with the United Nations Security Council to meet our common challenge' posed by Iraq and to `work for the necessary resolutions,' while also making clear that `the Security Council resolutions will be enforced, and the just demands of peace and security will be met, or action will be unavoidable';

Whereas the United States is determined to prosecute the war on terrorism and Iraq's ongoing support for international terrorist groups combined with its development of weapons of mass destruction in direct violation of its obligations under the 1991 cease-fire and other United Nations Security Council resolutions make clear that it is in the national security interests of the United States and in furtherance of the war on terrorism that all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions be enforced, including through the use of force if necessary;

Whereas Congress has taken steps to pursue vigorously the war on terrorism through the provision of authorities and funding requested by the President to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such persons or organizations;

Whereas the President and Congress are determined to continue to take all appropriate actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such persons or organizations;

Whereas the President has authority under the Constitution to take action in order to deter and prevent acts of international terrorism against the United States, as Congress recognized in the joint resolution on Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40); and

Whereas it is in the national security of the United States to restore international peace and security to the Persian Gulf region: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
I realize that wild-eyed peace marchers are beyond being helped but Democrats like Joe Biden and John Kerry, who have 2008 in their eyes, need to remember what they voted for and come up with solutions in Iraq rather than just calling Iraq some failed or flawed mission. No matter what they might say, these Senators can't run from their record

Monday, November 21, 2005

Freedom's Champion

Fire of Liberty

One thing that I really like about President Bush is his straight-shooting talk and lack of offending anyone or nation with his ever present defense of G-d's given rights of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. Such a stand was clearly presented with President Bush's recent visit to Gangwashi church in Beijing, where he called on the China to allow some 80 million Christians to openly practice their faith without having to register and get an official ok from the government. In fact the President took an important stand for calling for the further expansion of various religious/political/economic freedoms by publicly noting in front of TV cameras (I doubt the folks of China heard this though.) that:
"They go hand in hand. A society which recognises religious freedom is a society which will recognise political freedom as well. President Hu is a thoughtful fellow, and he listened to what I had to say."
As we are often reminded by a lot of academics, MSM types that "only Nixon could have gone to China," I guess President Bush is really the first leader in a long time who is willing to press the Chinese government on religious and political freedoms. No matter what you think about the President, you've got to give him major kudos for his defense of freedom.

A Santayana Moment

Fire of Liberty
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
-George Santayana
Ilya Shapiro has a great review over at Tech Central Station on Victor Davis Hanson's(VDH) A War Like No Other, which is the professors heavily researched and highly readable book on The Peloponnesian War. If you want to get a layman's view of this epic battle between the Greek city-states of Athens and Sparta some 2,500 years ago, then one can't go wrong with this wonderful book. I can assure you that Hanson has another winner that will have a significant impact on current and future military/foreign policy strategist in academia and government after reading this snippet from Shapiro's review:
Simply by telling his tale, Hanson hammers home the relevance to our time of the protracted clash between Athens, Sparta, and their shifting constellation of alliances. Most interestingly, he includes long discursions on the expansion of proxy and asymmetrical warfare (complete with guerrillas and terrorists); the great powers rarely met each other head on and there were few set-piece battles between hoplite phalanxes.

Unlike in so many "unconventional" history books, Hanson's invocations of the 20th and 21st centuries -- whether for direct comparison or as a benchmark to give context -- flow logically from his presentation (rather than serving as a gratuitous add-on demanded by a sales-conscious publishing house).

While discussing the use of "triremes" -- light, fast boats propelled by three levels of oarsmen, the staple of the magnificent Athenian navy -- Hanson parallels the establishment of supply "bases" on far-flung islands and coastal communities to the British Empire's network of coaling stations. In describing the expansion of Athenian culture and dialect, he mentions this process's contemporary counterpart, the spread of the English language and American popular culture. And Corinth was not unlike Mussolini's prewar Italy, thought to be a valuable potential ally by both sides but offering little military advantage once the fighting began.

Hanson's vast array of personal experience makes the reader believe that he may well have been at the siege of Plataea or the battle of Syracuse. When Hanson writes about complications in the Spartiate campaign to destroy Athenian agriculture, he relates the practical difficulty of chopping down live fruit trees. When he describes the life of an armored infantryman in the withering heat of the Attic plain, he compares it to wearing full pads during pre-season football training. As he chronicles the grumbling of farmer-hoplites restless to return to their harvests, he shares a knowing frustration with the vagaries of agrarian life.
So raise your goblets of wine and toast VDH for another job well done.

Pushing Forward

Fire of Liberty
This morning before an audience at the American Enterprise Institute, Vice President Cheney delivered a wonderful and stirring speech on our current fight against the terrorists in Iraq and throughout the region. It seems that the White House has finally decided to drive out of the fog that has surrounded the administration since the January elections in Iraq. By taking a well grounded stand against his critics, President Bush can re-awaken the American people to what he is attempting to achieve in taking the war to the terrorists. If we don't rally our people to continue to support a victory in one of the many battles in this epic war on Islamic terrorism, we could see many more attacks that put the magnitude of 9/11 to shame. I think Vice President Cheney set out our goals very clearly in today's speech. Take a look:
Wartime conditions are, in every case, a test of military skill and national resolve. But this is especially true in the war on terror. Four years ago, President Bush told Congress and the country that the path ahead would be difficult, that we were heading into a long struggle, unlike any we have known. All this has come to pass. We have faced, and are facing today, enemies who hate us, hate our country, and hate the liberties for which we stand. They dwell in the shadows, wear no uniform, have no regard for the laws of warfare, and feel unconstrained by any standard of morality. We've never had a fight like this, and the Americans who go into the fight are among the bravest citizens this nation has ever produced. All who have labored in this cause can be proud of their service for the rest of their lives.

The terrorists lack any capacity to inspire the hearts of good men and women. And their only chance for victory is for us to walk away from the fight. They have contempt for our values, they doubt our strength, and they believe that America will lose our nerve and let down our guard. But this nation has made a decision: We will not retreat in the face of brutality, and we will never live at the mercy of tyrants or terrorists.

None of us can know every turn that lies ahead for America in the fight against terror. And because we are Americans, we are going to keep discussing the conduct and the progress of this war and having debates about strategy. Yet the direction of events is plain to see, and this period of struggle and testing should also be seen as a time of promise. The United States of America is a good country, a decent country, and we are making the world a better place by defending the innocent, confronting the violent, and bringing freedom to the oppressed. We understand the continuing dangers to civilization, and we have the resources, the strength, and the moral courage to overcome those dangers and lay the foundations for a better world.
I have a feeling that this is just the tip of the spear in the White House's push-back. Rally On!!!

Taking Crime Head-On

Fire of Liberty

Gerard Alexander has a great piece over at The Weekly Standard that notes the nations of Europe have been experiencing a substantial increase in criminal activities like assaults, robbery, theft (as well as auto theft), murder in the last decades. While a handful of political leaders have tried to lay most of this increase in crime at the feet of immigrants from Eastern Europe and Northern Africa, Alexander notes that some of the blame should be turned towards the absurd welfare-state systems that have cropped up in Europe that kills job-creation and keeps young people out of the loop of social advancement. By recieving a dole from the government, the "youths" don't have to get or search for a job in order to make a living, so they are able to rack up some hours in the streets of Europe committing crimes after crimes thus taking their nation down to one peg at a time. Now it's true that the enormous welfare state has contributed significantly to the rise of crime in Europe but as Alexander points out, the leaders of the various states within Europe have also failed in their approach to preventing such crime and the promotion of social order/civic pride within their society.

For too long the leaders throughout the capitals of Europe have looked the other way when it comes to dealing with crime by simply blaming them on things like racism, lack of understanding, low welfare payments, or some other psycho-babble that is all the fashion within the press and the elites within Europe instead of taking a bold stand and enforcing the law. One only has to look at Rudy Giuliani's excellent policy of "broken windows" in which the police went after the small crimes like "Squigy men" (Bums who stopped cars in New York by throwing dirty water on windshields and refusing to clean them until they were paid), graffiti, pick-pockets, littering, and simple things like cleaning up blighted areas around New York.(All resulted in a drop in all crimes throughout Gotham.) By enforcing the laws and pointing out how a society should function while also failing to fall prey to the hand-holding tolerance of yesteryear, Rudy was able to become a towering figure in turning New York city around and pulling it out of a criminal hell that it was. If the leaders in Europe, who are currently experiencing these onslaughts of crime, would apply the same policies of law enforcement that Giuliani promoted during his tenure, they could put their nations on a right course. As Alexander points out, the experience of decades of rising crime rates seem to have sparked a movement of "taking back" one's country and neighborhoods from the criminals and return it to the law biding citizens. Here's a look at what seems to be afoot in Europe with regards to a crime-fighting rethink:
THE ONLY SILVER LINING is that Europe's high crime rate may yet play something like the role it did in the political and intellectual turn that America took in the 1970s. Crime helped force America's first neoconservatives and neoliberals to confront questions of social order, civic virtue, and moral standards, questions that usually don't come up in debates over taxes and spending. Amidst the rioting, Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin remarked, "What is in question today is the effectiveness of our model of integration," meaning France's approach to "social cohesion." De Villepin believes social cohesion comes from government and its subsidies. Crime does of course raise some financial issues. But, if anything, property crimes reflect the something-for-nothing mentality that welfare states already inculcate and legitimize. And crime as a political issue is freighted with moral significance, involving, as it does, a rejection of the mores needed for any ordered society. In this country, the rising crime rates of the 1960s and 70s eventually brought a renewed appreciation, among liberals and conservatives, for the indispensability of certain social mores, like minimal respect for character, national traditions, and virtuous individuals. Crime helped many Americans remember how important it is that mores like these be instilled in society's members, especially its newest and youngest ones.
I'd say that the need to dust off Catherine M. Coles and George Kelling's wonderful work Fixing Broken Windows: Restoring Order And Reducing Crime In Our Communities and talking to Rudy, William Bratton, and Bernard Kerik on how to get a better grip on crime before they're overtaken by crime.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Granite Stand

Fire of Liberty
While I don't agree with all of Senator McCain's domestic policies on taxes, immigration and other social issues, I have to say that he has outshined himself when it comes to standing up for our soldiers and promoting total victory in Iraq. I guess he knows how much it means to provide an unwavering show of support to our troops fighting in a distant land. As the son of a Vietnam vet, I can recall countless stories from my Dad and Uncles about when they returned stateside they were flown in at night, advised to wear civilian clothes and recieved little or no fanfare because their was a sense of defeatism within the country and our leadership at the time. Luckily, Senator McCain is someone who will not back down from a fight, especially one of such great magnitude as the war in Iraq. After reading these powerful words, I can assure you he's loaded for bear on this one:
Mr. McCain said, "Imagine Iraqis, working for the new government, considering whether to join the police forces, or debating whether or not to take up arms. What will they think ... when they learn that the Democrats are calling for a withdrawal plan?" He said the Republican alternative was slightly better but would still raise doubts for Iraqis. "Do we wish to respond to the millions who braved bombs and threats to vote, who have put their faith and trust in America and the Iraqi government, that our number one priority is now bringing our people home? Do we want to tell insurgents that their violence has successfully ground us down, that their horrific acts will, with enough time, be successful?"

There will be much de bate in the wake of the Senate vote over what it meant. The vote had been barely recorded when the hard left was touting the oversight the Senate has called for of the war. But Mr. McCain clearly has his eye on the larger point.

"This is a war we must win. The benefits of success and the consequences of failure are too profound for us to do otherwise. The road ahead is likely to be long and hard, but America must follow it through to success," Mr. McCain said. "By suggesting that withdrawal, rather than victory, is on the minds of America's legislators, we do this great cause a grave disservice."
So keep up your granite stand for total victory Senator McCain.

Religious Persecution in Hermit Kingdom

Fire of Liberty

I've been thinking for quite a bit lately about how weak folks like, Warren Christopher and Jimmy Carter look to the outside world when they advocate the almost religious devotion to soft-diplomacy when dealing with the likes of Iran and North Korea. Instead of taking the high ground and making a principled stand for Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness by calling for the elimination of these evil regimes, these "wise-men" of foreign policy favor a holding hands policy with some of the most vile dictators, which provides these dictators a longer leash on life thus allowing them to continue their acts of terror on the people who have the misfortune of being under the iron fist of the mullahs or Kim Jung Il. While Carter, Christopher and other devotees of diplomacy are getting apropos from the folks of the left and cold war-realists about their efforts to avoid conflict or continued "security," they seem to forget that the folks that they want to hold talks don't deserve the respect of nations like the US, what with their track record on human rights.

The most obvious violator of human rights that seems to be bailed out by these "princes of diplomacy" is the regime of Kim Jung Il which has made the condemnation, persecution, and murder of North Koreans who practice a religion other than the state mandated "Religion of Kim." Well the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom has released a report titled "'Thank You, Father Kim Il Sung': Eyewitness Accounts of Severe Violations of Freedom of Thought, Conscience, and Religion in North Korea." If you want to truly understand the horrific nature of the Hermit Kingdom and its willingness to destroy a human life if for the cult-of-personality of Kim Jong Il, then this 128 page report is a good place to start. According to this article by Meghan Clyne at the New York Sun, the report provides the outside world with some examples of how the regime in North Korea is an incarnate of evil on earth. Here's one of the most startling examples of a regime that doesn't deserve to be recognized by this nation:
The study recounts, for example, how in November 1996 in North Korea's South Pyongan province, a unit of the North Korean army was tasked with widening a highway connecting Pyongyang to a nearby port city. While demolishing a vacant house, soldiers found in the basement, hidden between two bricks, a Bible and a list of 25 names. Among the list were individuals identified as a Christian pastor, two assistant pastors, two elders, and 20 parishioners who were identified by their occupations.

Hunted down at their workplaces by military police, the 25 Christians were rounded up and detained without any formal judicial procedure. Later that month, the parishioners and their clergy were brought to the road construction site, where spectators had been arranged in neat rows to observe the public execution of the pastor, assistant pastors, and elders. According to a report based on an eyewitness account, the five church leaders "were bound hand and foot and made to lie down in front of a steamroller," accused of subversion and of being Kiddokyo, or Protestant Christian, spies.

The 20 parishioners were detained near their clergy, and watched, along with the assembled audience, as the five Christian leaders were told they could escape death if they denied their faith and pledged to serve only Kim Jong Il and his father, the first dictator of communist Korea, Kim Il Sung. According to the eyewitness, the clergy remained silent.

For their steadfast belief, the Christians were executed. According to the report, "Some of the fellow parishioners assembled to watch the execution cried, screamed out, or fainted when the skulls made a popping sound as they were crushed beneath the steamroller."
Maybe the folks that believe a hold dear to "peace at all costs" will take a double take on these regimes. Then again, Jimmy Carter did greet Kim Il Sung with open arms and even told the press that he had invited the former dictator to his church in Plains, GA. (He went even further by claiming that the father of the communist North Korea was a Christian, well even that seems to be a lie.) Put me in the regime change column.

Let's Assimilate

Fire of Liberty

Andrew C. McCarthy has a good piece over at National Review Online critiquing a recent Op/Ed by Francis Fukuyama in the Wall Street Journal, in which the Johns Hopkins professor notes that Democracy is not the solution to radical Islam in the short run and that in order for immigrants to adopt to an established Democracy they must whole-heartedly assimilate. Now I disagree with the argument that Democracy is not a solution(Fukuyama is a too much of a realist for me.) but I'm in full agreement with him on the argument for assimilation, the only problem is that Fukuyama adds a caveat to assimilation which is that the state should be willing to changes more in-line with the folks that are moving in from a entirely different society and culture. Thankfully, McCarthy has pretty much torpedoed this vessel that Fukuyama launched in his Op/Ed. Take a look:
First, Fukuyama rightly contends that this assimilation must begin with an end to fractious multiculturalism. He concludes, however, that this means the societies themselves must change, if not fundamentally than at least significantly. Countries, he declares, "need to reformulate their definitions of national identity to be more accepting of people from non-Western backgrounds."

I'm all for acceptance, but I respectfully disagree. Immigrants presumably come to a new place because it is attractive to them as is, not because they seek to reform it. More desirable would be real gate-keeping immigration policies that admitted only those of a mind to assimilate to the home culture, not the other way around. If that means people who would otherwise emigrate end up remaining in their home countries, is that such a bad thing? As Fukuyama posits, in those places — if they are Islamic countries — — a social-support system exists that tends against mass radicalism (even if, as history has shown, it has not been able to prevent pockets of radicalism, and, occasionally, dominant radicalism in places like Sudan and Afghanistan under the Taliban).
So if you going to become a Frenchman or an American you've got to learn the history, culture, language and abide by the nation's laws. Now no-one is arguing that these immigrants should disgard their religion our history but they have to realize that they are moving somewhere new and can't pick up the ways of their mother country and plop it down in their new home. When you allow this and embrace the doctrine of multiculturalism, you end up with cars, homes and stores burning in the suburbs of Paris.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Diligence via Bold Colors and Principle

Fire of Liberty

You'd think that President Bush's allies in the Senate would get the hint of showing a united front after hearing his Memorial Day speech before a crowd of our brave servicemen at Tobyhanna Army Depot in Pennsylvania as well as his most recent speech at Elmendorf AFB in Alaska where he noted that now is not the time for our leaders in Congress to go wobbly on the War on Terror or broadcast a image of a divided or weakened nation by calling for troop withdrawals or demeaning the White House's strategy on Iraq. Well it seems that the Republican Senate has demonstrated its slow drift into the defeatist/isolationistic mindset much like the pre WWII Congress or even the Pelosi/Kerry/Dean/Kennedy crowd with today's 79-19 vote passage of a resolution calling on the President to set 2006 as a time to in which the US should have a significant transfer of sovereignty to the Iraq government in the regard to security. So what the Senate has done is passed a resolution, which doesn't specifically state a withdrawal date or a timetable to get out of Iraq but in reality it has set 2006 as some goal-line to cross. So I guess if we don't get things done before that magic date of 2006 (It's funny how things revolve around elections) then we'll just take our toys and go home and let G-d (or in Iraq's case Allah) to sort things out.

What these Senator's need to do is ignore all those crazy polls and the continued drumbeat of "Get out Now" being pushed by the anti-war left or the media and stand up for the troops who are putting their lives on the line everyday to destroy the forces of Islamic terrorism. If they don't take a principled stand by getting behind our armed forces and supporting them in "finishing the drill" in the current battlefront in Iraq. Until our forces and our Iraqi allies have beaten the terrorists/insurgents to a pulp in the streets and territories of Iraq, we can't start talking about setting up deadlines. A counter-terror/insurgency battle is not and never will be like a road project or the production schedule of some product from a corporation like Ford, IBM, or Microsoft. You'd think that these leaders in the Senate and the House would have learned this, what with the results that we had in Vietnam when Congress cut off funding and support to our brave soldiers battling in the jungles. (In fact, the US soldiers were actually achieving positive results in Vietnam under the command of Gen. Creighton Abrams even when the US Congress was cutting off funds. See here, here, here, here, here. Let's not repeat the same mistakes today that we made during the Vietnam War. There's no time to do things half-way when it comes to securing Iraq from the terrorists/insurgents that are raising hell in Iraq. We can all have an opinion about the war but we are in a fight for the survival of the West and the rest of the World from the Islamic terrorists before they spread their wings and kill more innocent people much like they did on 9-11 or most recently in Amman, Jordan.

While the Senators who voted for the resolution will go on T.V. tonight and claim that this vote is their way of ensuring that the war progresses towards a successful end, they have actually broadcast to our enemies that if they just hold out until 2006 the US will high tail it out of the region and leave the Iraqi government fully exposed in its infancy. Thankfully we have some 19 souls in the Senate who stood on principle and voted against this horrific message of defeatism. If we want to honor the 2,000 plus soldiers who have died serving the nation in Iraq, then we should follow the lead of Republican Senators Bunning, Burr, Chambliss, Coburn, DeMint, Graham, Inhofe, Isakson, Kyl, McCain, Sessions, Thune, and Vitt who voted nay on the resolution. The know what's at stake and are well aware how much our Commander-in-Chief and our troops need our undying vigilance and steely posture. John McCain pretty much identified that this resolution is yet another clear message of defeatism rather than a complete committment to achieving a total victory, when he noted on the Senate floor:
"If we can reach victory in 2006, that would be wonderful," Mr. McCain said. "But should 2006 not be the landmark year that these amendments anticipate, we will have once again unrealistically raised the expectations of the American people that can only cost domestic support for America's role in this conflict, a war we must win."
So give me leaders who speak with principle and paint with bold colors over those "finger in the wind" politicos who prefer to paint with light pastels any day.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

It's all Geological Man!!!

Fire of Liberty

Check out John Derbyshire's take on the events going down in the suburbs of Paris. It's quite an interesting piece, here's a peek:
Major social disorder can arise from seismic movements in any one of these four geological strata: human nature, religion, race, foreignness. More than one might be implicated. In these recent French riots, I think all four have been.

The moral of this story is that maintaining a peaceful, harmonious social order isn't easy even under optimal conditions. To introduce extra causes of disorder into your society by importing great masses of foreigners of different races, speaking different languages, and practicing different religions, is foolish. Under some special historical circumstances, you might pull it off, but the odds are long against you. That it will result in your having a better society is not very probable. That it will end with insurrections like the one we have been seeing in France, is quite probable. That any of this needs saying is a measure of how far postindustrial man has drifted from the simplest, most obvious of truths about human nature and human society.
Only John Derbyshire can hack through the jungle that the press has created throughout the burning of the suburbs of Paris and come to such a clear conclusion about what's wrong in the French capital.

Forever Vigilant

Fire of Liberty
Ralph Kinney Bennett has a wonderful dedication over at Tech Central Station to the veterans of his hometown Ligonier, PA as well as the soldiers who have served or are serving this grateful nation. It's amazing to think about all the young men and fathers who went to these far off lands or towns which most had never heard of or could locate on the map just to fight for the defense of their nation and the preservation of G-d's given rights. Without such undaunted devotion to their nation, fellow soldiers and most importantly their family, one could only imagine where we would be today. Bennett pretty much offers the best thanks with the following paragraphs:
Ligonier is just a little town, so you get to know a lot of people over the years and you realize how many of them are veterans, not only from World War II, but from every conflict since then and the turmoils and watches between. I honor every one of them, and thank God for them frequently. I don't care whether they were ever in the heat of battle or just clerking in a supply depot or supervising a chow line. They all have given time out of their lives to their country -- time they could never really regain.

Now there are men and women serving in a war whose dimensions are difficult to fathom or foresee -- a war against a peculiar tyranny that thrives on terror. Many are giving and will give their lives in this strange global struggle. But I sincerely hope and pray that most of them will have the luxury of wearing the label "veteran." And as they look back some day on their service to their country, I hope they can wear it as well as my friends Hadley and Dick. I am privileged to know them.
Once again, Thanks for your service.

Manning the Outposts of the Frontier

Fire of Liberty

Here's a great example of how are troops are successively taking on the remnants of the Taliban and al Qaeda in the hills and mountains of Afghanistan. This just shows you how a small contingent of American soldiers and the Afghan counterparts can achieve wonders in a nation with a lot of hidden dangers. So keep up the good work on the frontiers of civilization and give our enemies a good what for.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Riding with the Devil

Fire of Liberty

Here's an excellent editorial in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on the Hamdan case that will come before the Supreme Court in the coming months. It seems that the Osama bin Laden's driver Salim Ahmed Hamdan has petitioned SCOTUS that he shouldn't be tried by the military tribunals as an "enemy combatant" but should be tried as a soldier in a court martial. Luckily, the editorial board seems to be able to read a law book and things like the Geneva Convention that clearly notes that terrorists do not abide by the rules of war and is thus not entitled to a court martial but you'd think Hamdan and his attorney would know thus by now. I particularly like how the folks at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review summed the whole case, see for yourself:
The Supreme Court ruled decades ago that a military commission may try combatants who operate outside the rules of war.

International treaties -- such as the Geneva Conventions -- do not provide a personal cause of action in federal courts. In any event, Hamdan fought for no nation that was a signatory to the conventions nor for a non-signatory that abided by the conventions.

But it is demanded that the federal courts exercise jurisdiction over a purely military matter, not over whether Hamdan is tried, but how he is tried.

The Supreme Court must allow the commission to proceed. Those who worship at the altar of judicial overreaching may be shocked to learn there are limits to a court's authority.
It'll be interesting to see what Hamdan and his lawyer use to argue their case. I predict a fiery crash for Osama's chauffeur.

Even Queen Elizabeth is an al Qaeda Target

Fire of Liberty

Now al Qaeda has added Queen Elizabeth II to its hit list because she's the head of the Church of England. I guess that puts a dent in Prince Charles' argument that the US and the UK need to be more understanding to the less than friendly Arab regimes and the terrorists that they succor. It just shows you that the folks in al Qaeda and its supporters are purely evil and have nothing more to do then wreak havoc and death on anyone who tries to stop them in creating a caliphate throughout the world. Our best bet is to continue the good fight against these terrorists and ensure we can continue to celebrate another Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, practice our own faith, speak our own opinions, elect our leaders and go about our daily lives in perfect safety. That's why we have to keep up the pressure by pushing forward with our operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Happy Veterans Day

Fire of Liberty

I'd like to offer a great thanks to the soldiers who have fought and died for our nation's freedom.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Refusing to join the French Club

Fire of Liberty
National Review's Senior editor Richard Brookhiser has a good column over in the November 14th edition of the New York Observer on the current problems that plagues the North African immigrant communities that are currently in chaos in France. While their are plenty problems ranging from a scoleric socialist economy, enormous entitlement programs that suck-up some 50% of France's GDP, Brookhiser makes the biggest points which is the failure of the French government to create a functional assimilation policy and the subsequent failure of these immigrants to willingly assimilate. Just take a look:
France'’s Arabs must be equally perplexed. One of them reportedly expressed the hope, as poignant as it is impossible, that his community should just be "“left alone."” If they wanted to be left alone, then they could have stayed in Morocco, or wherever they or their parents came from. They didn'’t, because those places were poor. To be left alone now that they are in France means being left permanently outside the mainstream of French life. When they are employed, they can do grunt work; when they'’re not, they can lie in the safety net. A few lucky individuals may become soccer stars or super models; others will pursue local politics, the traditional permanent career of outsiders.

For the rest, being left alone will mean sitting in self-made Bantustans. Their street address may be in Clichy-sous-Bois, but their mental address will still be the North African village, or slum; except that it will be a village or slum surrounded by the inducements and frustrations — drugs, girls, advertising — —of postmodern Western life. Bright lights, no city. Living in a hut, outside the candy store. Segregationist policies didn'’t work in South Africa, when the rulers imposed them on the ruled; they won'’t work in France, even if the ruled impose them on themselves.
I guess this is what happens when a society decides to promote the politically correct notion of "multiculturalism" and "identity politics" that decides it's best to let folks go their own way within the country our various communities instead of encouraging them to assimilate. If France would embrace something similar to our own "melting-pot" that respects one's cultural heritage but puts a greater emphasis on being an American rather than some hyphenated identity. So it's time they start becoming Frenchman or the French will become a minority in their own nation as these un-assimilated immigrants slowly tranform ancient Gaul into an new Eurabian nation.

Also check out this piece by Melana Zyla Vickers and this one by Nidra Poller on the events in France.