Friday, June 30, 2006

Who Killed the Electric Car?

Fire of Liberty

Ralph Kinney Bennett over at TCS Daily has the answer. You'll be surprised by what you read.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Putting Bullets Holes in the Hockey Stick Model

Fire of Liberty
Dr. Roy Spencer, a principal research scientist for the University of Alabama in Huntsville, has a interesting piece over at TCS Daily that puts a dent in the "hockey stick" temperature curve models that Al Gore and the Green Team seem to cleft to and wave in the face of the media to push an global warming alarmist agenda. While I wish I could write a lot on the subject, I figured I'd let Dr. Spencer (who's further up the scientific ladder than I) fill you in on what the National Academies of Science revealed in its most recent report on the hockey stick model. It's real interesting, so check it out:
For the last several years, the hockey stick has been a poster prop for manmade global warming. For instance, it figures prominently in Al Gore's new movie, "An Inconvenient Truth." But the statistical and data analysis methods that Mann et al. used to arrive at their 1,000 year temperature reconstruction were strongly criticized by some. The hockey stick played down the warmth of the "Medieval Warm Period" of 1,000 years ago, as well as the later coolness of the "Little Ice Age."

Also, the uncritical acceptance of the hockey stick for inclusion in the U.N.'s Third Assessment Report on global climate in 2001 gave many scientists the impression that the editors of that report wanted to believe the hockey stick more than they were convinced of its validity.

In their attempt to not publicly scold Mann and his coauthors for questionable data analysis methods, the authors of the new report instead chose to restate the evidence for how warm the Earth has gotten recently. What the media didn't notice, however, is that the 1,000 year figure that was central to the whole hockey stick debate had now been replaced in the report by a figure of 400 years. Since most of the last 400 years was dominated by the "Little Ice Age," the warming during the 20th century should be welcomed by humanity.

The report says that surface temperature reconstructions before this period (about 1600) have "less confidence" and that "uncertainties...increase substantially backward in time..." for any of these proxy estimates of ancient temperatures. One review panel member told me that the statisticians on the panel were amazed when it was revealed that the method underlying the hockey stick had essentially no statistical skill when validated.

This is pretty harsh language for an NAS report written by review panel members, several of whom are equivalent to foxes guarding the hen house. Researchers who have bought into the validity of using proxy measures for ancient climate reconstructions aren't about to throw away the "best" method the paleoclimate research community has, even if it can not be validated with real temperature measurements (the thermometer was not even invented until the 1600's).

One rather amazing characteristic of the hockey stick is the so-called "divergence problem": the strong warming in the late 20th century is not even indicated in the tree ring data that were used to reconstruct the last 1,000 years of supposed temperature variations. Much of the 20th century warming (the blade of the hockey stick) represents real temperature measurements, not tree ring reconstructions, since they don't show the warming. This raises a natural question, which the panel shrugged off: If tree rings do not show the strong warming of the late 20th century, how do we know there wasn't a similar temperature spike 1,000 years ago?
I'd say that the scientific community is not in such an agreement as Gore and the Green Team would like us to believe. Thanks to folks like Roy Spencer, Bjorn Lomborg(author of The Skeptical Environmentalist), Richard S. Lindzen(Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Science at MIT), Steven F. Hayward and other scientists who continue to apply their scientific knowledge to continue to study the atmosphere rather than jumping to conclusions on global warming like Gore has. A tempered approach is more viable and will be much more frugal than rushing headlong into a problem that might just be a natural occurrence that rolls around every 400 or a thousand years. Sometimes the solution is more harmful than the problem.(That's if you believe there is a pressing problem.)

Preserving Our History

Fire of Liberty

Bloomberg columnist Joe Mysak has a good column out today which notes that the childhood home of John Wilkes Booth is up for sale and no-one's willing to pay the $805,000 that its current owners want for the restored home of the killer of Lincoln. As a lover of history I share Mysak's opinion that instead of letting this historic home being sold to the highest bidder or some property builders the state of Maryland should shell out the $805,000 and turn the home into a historic site for future generations to explore. With various historic books concentrating of Booth, Lincoln and the assassination appearing in the past five years, putting the home in the care of the state in an investment in preserving our past and gives readers, students, and future historians a piece of history to visit and touch thus giving them a connection to our past. Here's a look at Mysak's interesting column:
``County Seeks State Help to Preserve Tudor Hall,'' said a headline in the Baltimore Examiner after the failed auction. Back in March, the Baltimore Sun previewed the auction with an article headlined ``Family Home of J.W. Booth Too Pricey for Preservationists.''

I read these stories and thought: How is this possible? Are we so drowning in structures of great historical significance that we can let a building like this get away? How long can it be before a developer sizes up Tudor Hall and its eight-plus acres and decides the best thing is to tear it down and replace it all?

Practiced His Lines

The house was built by Booth's father, Junius, in 1847 about 25 miles northeast of Baltimore. In ``American Brutus'' (Random House, 2004), Michael W. Kauffman tells the tale:

``From a book of designs he chose a charming two-story, eight-room cottage in a neo-Gothic style. Built on a cruciform plan, it had a massive central chimney, a full-width front portico, steeply-pitched gables, and diamond-paned windows,'' Kauffman writes. ``They would name the place Tudor Hall, after Henry Tudor, the earl of Richmond and slayer of King Richard III.''

This was the atmosphere Booth grew up in, Kauffman relates, one in which fearless republicans (small ``r'') assassinated real or perceived tyrants. There is a little balcony outside one of the bedrooms on the second floor, where Wilkes, as his family called him, practiced his lines.

The house was built by the man who would become chief carpenter at Ford's Theatre in 1865, where Lincoln was shot.

Can you imagine not preserving such a thing for posterity? Can you imagine a better use for public finance than to step in and save this piece of American history? There's a lesson to be learned here: Our heritage is always in peril.

I have to agree with Mysak on his column and hope that the state of Maryland follows through in investing in on our history. Once a piece of history is gone it can never be recovered.

###Take a look at this piece by Andrew Ferguson's on the threats to our history in our nation and its education system and the importance of keeping the flame going.###

Mugabe's Hell

Fire of Liberty

Here's yet another example of how Robert Mugabe and his thugs in ZANU-PF are taking Zimbabwe further down the Highway to Hell. One of these days the people of Zimbabwe are going to say enough is a enough and oust Mugabe and his lot from power. I'm thinking a lot more of the nations in the West and within Africa should stand up and provide some moral/political/economic support for the democratic movement in Zimbabwe to get the ball running. So here's hoping for the end of tyranny in Zimbabwe.

Thinking Like the Private Sector

Fire of Liberty
If you've been a reader of Fire of Liberty from the start, you know that I'm pretty much an advocate for the private sector in the fight against diseases, poverty and providing disaster supplies for the various people suffering during a disaster. While big government acts like molasses in organizing and delivering the right goods to the folks in need, companies like Wal-Mart, Fed-EX, UPS and various others gather water, clothes, food and deliver them in a more efficient and quicker amount of time because they don't have the red-tape and are centered on a goal.(The did a similar thing during Katrina.) Well Daniel B. Prieto, a senior fellow and director of the Reform Institute's Homeland Security Center, agrees with such approach in an op/ed in the San Francisco Chronicle but enhances this by noting that we need to bring together these private entities on a E-bay/Amazon/E-Harmony website but that deals with the delivery and distribution of disaster relief. While he suggests that such a web-site should be created and used by the Department of Homeland Security its a step in the direction of the private sector that takes a hatchet to red tape and the behemoth of big government that forms in D.C. If you have a site that shows a list of donors and what products they have to offer, the local or state governments could request various goods before the disaster or during and the DHS could dole them out must faster and without the confusion.(We still need the federal government for airlift capability and disbursement.)

Now while I could write on and on about this dynamic idea, I figured you'd like to read Daniel B. Prieto's thoughts on the creation of this efficient system. So take a look:
Future disasters envisioned by the Department of Homeland Security -- attacks with chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear agents, natural disasters, bombings -- will all require specialized-response resources, and the government will need all the help it can get from the private sector. Federal, state and local governments should identify critical supplies and capabilities -- vaccines, ventilators, generators, electric transformers, laboratory capacity, decontamination equipment, logistics, transport, warehousing -- that they will need ahead of time.

Building an eBay-like system to match regional disaster-response needs with companies that can pledge assistance ahead of time or help out in real time would save dollars and lives. Properly built and maintained, it would ensure that the vast majority of private pledges and donations are put to good use, instead of going unused. It would allow state, local and federal governments to inventory available critical assets rapidly and would be much faster than relying on government bureaucrats to create a resource database on their own. Such a system would effectively harness the enormous, but untapped, goodwill of the private sector to play a leading role in homeland security.

Better yet, this idea has already been proved. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Craigslist proved extremely effective at helping people find missing loved ones and housing matches -- in many ways, it was easier to use and more effective than similar efforts by the Red Cross and homeland security.

Washington will need to show innovation and leadership to launch an online marketplace to match government response and recovery needs with the vast skills, resources and goodwill of America's private sector. If done right, such a system can be built quickly and cost-effectively with proved technologies. The Department of Homeland Security should avoid the business-as-usual approach that tends to plague federal technology projects, in which billions of dollars are routinely spent on multiyear contracts to build hard-to-use systems from scratch. Additionally, the Department of Homeland Security should use available science and technology and emergency preparedness monies to support regional pilots to test and implement the system. Finally, and perhaps most important, Washington should provide federal liability protections for companies that register and donate critical disaster-response resources through the program.
While I still prefer the private sector over the government in most matters(Aside from providing law and order, national security, printing money and securing our borders) I have to say the Prieto's ideas are spot on in using the ideas of the private sector to get the government on track with regards to disaster relief. So check it out.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

A Glimpse into the Hermit Kingdom

Fire of Liberty

While Kim Jong Il continues to garner the attention of the world press with his quest to build more nukes and the ballistic missiles to deliver such a deadly arsenal in Tokyo, LA, San Francisco, and other parts of the US, few in the MSM fail to point out that North Korea is a despotic regime that is wreaking havoc on its people. While these paragons of the media have failed to provide a real look into the Hermit Kingdom, Artemii Lebedev(A big web-designer in Russia) has ventured in the land of Kim Jong Il and has provided the web-site MilitaryPhotos.Net with a bevy of photographs of North Korea and the dire straits that it has fallen under the rule of Kim Jong Il (I'd say that is hasn't changed much since the 1950's but then again it is Stalinism at the highest level). Above all else, we should also pay attention to the actions of the regime towards its people and how we can free them from the clutches of Kim Jong Il. We cannot allow this system to continue to exist especially when he's got nukes and is pretty close to having an delivery system for them. Talking has its limits and we're getting near that point.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Keep Plan Colombia Funded

Fire of Liberty

I'd have to say that after watching the great success that Colombia's President Uribe has had in the past five years in reducing the FARC's numbers and reach within the country as well as Colombia's efforts in putting a damper on the cocaine and poppy crop, it'd be a shame to allow various members of our Congress to throw a monkey-wrench into Plan Columbia(Where we supply Colombia with arms and planes to spray various fields of drugs to cut down the production of drugs). Now I know that there's a demand problem with regards to drugs but you've still got to eliminate the drugs to starve the junky. With Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales(Bolivia) siding with FARC and narco-traffickers being friendly with Islamic terrorists throughout the world, it's a must that we continue to supply money and aircraft to Colombia and its brave forces in the Colombia National Police to continue the good fight. We can't afford another Afghanistan(1989-2001) or Somalia developing in our own backyard especially when we've got such an abled leader like Uribe willing to take down FARC and its fellow narco-terrorists. I'd rather buy more planes for Colombia than allow Colombia forces to be gunned down by the narco-terrorists on the ground or the possibility of our troops going into a hot-war to prevent one of our allies from falling to such forces. So let's keep the flow of US funds going into Colombia to continue the eradication of crops to break the back of the narco-terrorists. (We could boost the funds to encourage the growth of alternative crops in Colombia to end the growth of cocoa and poppies).

Thursday, June 22, 2006

A Vigilant Stand For Freedom

Fire of Liberty
Jasper Gerard of the Sunday Times has good one on one with Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Now for the folks who don't know Hirsi Ali, she in a Dutch MP who has been under threats to her life due to her vigilant stand against the rise of Islamic fundamentalism within the Netherlands and the rest of the world. If you want to see a true example of someone who's believes in the freedoms of liberal democracies and is willing to take on the Islamic fascists no matter the cost then Ayaan Hirsi Ali is someone you should look at. Luckily for us, Mrs. Ali is emigrating to the US to work at the AEI and use a bigger microphone to further her brave stand against the Islamic fascists. So please read this fine piece on Mrs. Hirsi Ali, you'll find it very interesting.

^^^Also check out Ayaan Hirsi Ali's new book The Caged Virgin. Here's an excerpt.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Thank God For Reagan and SDI

Fire of Liberty

After reading this piece by Alan W. Dowd over at TCS Daily, I'm glad that President Reagan introduced SDI and President Bush cleared the way for a National Missile Defense by withdrawing from the ABM treaty. If we hadn't, we'd be in a far graver spot than we are now with North Korea(They're still dangerous with missiles of this range and a nuke program). So thank you Presidents Reagan and Bush for promoting missile defense.

The Orange Revolution is Back on Track

Fire of Liberty

Well, it seems that after several months of negotiations the three political parties in Ukraine who helped bring about the Orange Revolution in 2004 have finally drawn up the composition of the new government and selected Yulia Tymoshenko as their new PM. It's rather nice that the government has decided to go the path of freedom and democracy. While Tymoshenko and Ukrainian PM Yushchenko might have been at odds with each other earlier this year (He dismissed her over a conflict of opinion) they are a better match than a PM and rather joining ranks with Victor Yanukovich's pro-Russian party that would add un-needed vinegar to the spirit of the Orange Revolution thus creating havoc for Ukraine's further embrace west. All in all the selection of Tymoshenko as the PM of Ukraine is a right step down the road to becoming a more liberal society(the classical sense - democracy, pluralism and freedom of thought). So congrats go out to Yulia Tymoshenko and the people of Ukraine.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

A Policy To Win In Iraq

Fire of Liberty

Professor Frederick W. Kagan, a resident scholar at AEI on Defense Issues, has a short piece in the Weekly Standard which notes that as long as the American military and the friends in the Iraqi security forces continue to take the fight to the insurgents they will win the day. I have to say the best part of Kagan's piece is the following:
There is only one thing the administration and the Iraqi government can do that generates both a sense of their victory and an obvious defeat for the insurgency: clear, hold, and rebuild cities and towns wracked by violence and lawlessness, as the president declared we would do last fall. When Iraqi and American troops clear a town in which the insurgents have been operating freely, we know we've won, the Iraqi people know we've won, and the insurgents know we've won. This is the way to create a sense of victory that everyone understands.

The other virtue of clear-and-hold operations is that they bring security. Without security, further political and economic progress is extremely difficult. And the ultimate goal of reconciling Iraq's sects, ethnicities, and tribes will be much easier once the population is secured. Insurgents take advantage of the absence of coalition and effective Iraqi military and police units to assassinate key officials seen as collaborators, intimidate or punish anyone who might provide information about the rebels to the coalition, and recruit supporters from disaffected and terrorized young men. Those young men are frequently unemployed, moreover, because it is nearly impossible to have a functioning local economy in such lawless conditions. Even the nonmilitary elements of counterinsurgency strategy that the Bush administration has rightly been emphasizing require security to succeed. Yet clear-and-hold is not actually the primary objective of U.S. forces in Iraq today. American commanders instead claim to be focused on "handing over battlespace" to newly trained Iraqi troops. Like the body counts of the Vietnam war, the percentage of "battlespace handover" has become the statistical proxy for success in this war.

That must change. With the Iraqi government now complete and the Iraqi Security Forces growing more rapidly than anyone had a right to expect, there is no more urgent task for the coalition in Iraq today than establishing security throughout the country. This is not merely part of a defensive operation to control the spreading violence. Now is the time for a surge in military operations to clear and hold contested areas in Iraq that can offer the prospect of convincing large numbers of Iraqis that the government will win and the insurgents will lose. This is the best hope for breaking the insurgency rapidly, strengthening the new Iraqi state, and achieving victory.
Here's hoping we push this policy to its fullest and secure Iraq for future generations so we don't have to fight in another war in Iraq some 10 years down the road. By following such a policy we'll achieve results much like Patton did during the Battle of the Bulge. We defeated a wretched then and we can do it again.

If you want a longer a more detailed account of how to defeat the insurgency in Iraq, I suggest you read this piece by Frederick W. Kagan.

Establishing A New Iraq

Fire of Liberty

After reading this opinion piece in The Times by PM Nouri Al-Maliki, I'd say that the Iraqi people and government have a leader who is very determined and has some well stated goals and ideas that will push the nation further down the road of democracy. We can already see PM Maliki's ideas being implemented with regards to Iraqi security forces along with 130,000 US soldiers taking the fight to the terrorists in and around Baghdad. This is just another reason why the calls of "cut-and-run" coming from Murtha and company is a bad idea now and tommorow. Iraq has marched down this road so far and it'd be a shame to bail on them at this important turning-point in Iraq. So keep going down this path PM Maliki and President Bush, we've got your back.

Nutters of North Korea

Fire of Liberty

As I listened to the news last night and this morning I heard a North Korean general explain that they had every right to build and launch ballistic missiles because Japan has build up its defensive weaponry and the US has a big presence in the region. We'll, the only reason why the US and Japanese military are beefing up or showing a strong posture is because ruthless dictators like Kim Jong Il are spending tons upon tons of its money on nuclear weapons and missiles that can destroy Seoul, Tokyo, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Kansas City and other cities in the US. Kim Jon Il, go figure!!!

You've Got A Friend in Central Europe

Fire of Liberty

You have to say that the US has no better friend in Europe(England is an entity to itself with regards to our alliance) than the nations of Central and Eastern Europe. I guess when the US takes a leading role in taking on the "Empire of Evil" and forcing it to eventually cease and desist in their totalitarian grasp on Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia , you garner such adulation and admiration from the people and their respected governments. So while the MSM and the Democrats keep on saying that President Bush has alienated the world, the people in Central and Eastern Europe tend to prove them wrong. This is just another example of what a pro-democracy foreign policy will garner if you stick to your guns.

***I think that we could return this friendship and devotion by making it much easier for students and others from these countries to enter the US to study or work. You've got to say that it's very troubling that folks from Saudi Arabia and China are able to get visas for the US while folks from Poland wait years to gain entry in the US. This is the least we could.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Keep up the Honorable Stand in Iraq

Fire of Liberty

Stephen Bainbridge, professor at UCLA Law School and blogger, has a good opinion piece in today's D.C. Examiner which notes why the "cut-and-run" gambit being promoted by Rep. Murtha and Sens. Reed, Levin and Kerry is a definite no-go with regards to Iraq. I'd say that Bainbridge hit the nail on the head on why a continued US military stand in Iraq is a must when he wrote the following:
Bush told new Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, "I have come to not only look you in the eye; I'’ve also come to tell you that when America gives its word, it will keep its word. And it'’s in our interests that Iraq succeed... .

And when Iraq succeeds in having a government of and for and by the people of Iraq, you will have dealt a serious blow to those who have a vision of darkness, who don'’t believe in liberty, who are willing to kill the innocent in order to achieve a political objective."”

This is a critical message for both the Iraqis and those of us here at home. As an Army brat growing up during the Vietnam War, I saw the damage our strategy of just declaring victory and going home did to Army morale and prestige, to the tone of our national politics and our nation'’s standing in the world. Later, we cut and ran from Lebanon. More recently, we cut and ran from Somalia. I have no doubt that this pattern of cutting and running emboldened al-Qaida. We simply cannot afford to cut and run from Iraq, lest our foes be emboldened to new and even more devastating attacks. A global hegemon that keeps running away when the going gets tough will not command any respect.

In sum, even if attacking Iraq was imprudent, we have to stay the course. There could be nothing less prudent than cutting and running. Our permanent national interests now require that we win the peace.

The American people seem to get it. They recognize that while we'’re currently losing the war in Iraq, we have not yet lost. Despite the pessimism inherent in the polling data cited above, the same polls find that 60 percent of the American people still think we will succeed and almost half think troops should stay as long in Iraq as necessary.
As Churchill said "This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning." So thank you Professor Bainbridge for noting the necessity of staying the course in Iraq to reach the end of our mission.

A Return to Fiscal Conservatism?

Fire of Liberty
Kevin Hassett, director of economic policy studies at AEI and columnist over at Bloomberg, has a good piece out today that notes that the Republicans in Congress can salvage their past record on fiscal responsibility. As Hassett notes, the GOP can regain their laurels of fiscal conservatism by putting air brakes on pork-barrel spending and initiating some kind of budget rules that restrict over-spending. In fact, Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire is heeding to the fiscal restraint mantra of Coolidge, Reagan and the Gingrich Republicans of 1994 by proposing new budget rules that would tap down on the wily-nily spending fever that has run rampant in Congress of late. Here's a look at what Hassett has to note about Sen. Gregg's interesting proposal:
That's why fiscal conservatives have been trying to rally support for stringent new budget rules, and that's where Senator Gregg comes in. Last week, he announced a new proposal, the ``Stop Over-Spending Act.'' A look at the cleverly abbreviated ``S.O.S. Act'' suggests that it is exactly the type of legislation that might help.

The most important feature of the bill is that it gives the president a line-item veto. If such a device can be constitutionally inserted into the process, it would go a long way toward ending the embarrassing earmarks. Why would any senator or representative take all the negative publicity about a ``bridge to nowhere'' if the president is going to nix it?

After that, the bill establishes a goal of reducing the deficit to 0.5 percent of gross domestic product, compared to the Congressional Budget Office's projection of 2.8 percent for this year.

Spending Cuts

Should Congress be unable to control itself, and not meet that goal, the bill would require that virtually all spending be reduced across the board.

The bill addresses the profusion of emergency spending bills by capping emergency spending at a low level, and establishes a Commission on Accountability and Review of Federal Agencies to identify and help eliminate wasteful expenditures.

Finally, it converts the annual budget process into a biennial one, on the grounds that extending the budget to two years will give Congress more time to scrutinize each program.
Here's hoping that Sen Gregg gets his fellow Senators to pass his proposal and restore the mantle of fiscal responsibility to the GOP.

Hot Air of Is It Just Al Gore

Fire of Liberty
Ronald Bailey has a good piece over at Reason which points out that which Al Gore tries his best to convey his concern for global warming in his most recent movie An Inconvenient Truth but comes off as someone who blows the dangers posed by global warming way out of proportion. So while Gore makes the eyes of Hollywood liberals, idealistic college students, and the MSM glaze over his talk about the "greatest moral danger," they're individuals like Bailey who point out that the apocalypse in nigh talk is a tad too much. Here's a look at how Gore's rhetoric on global warming is way over the top:
Gore also argues that global warming will increase storminess. As suggestive evidence, Gore cited several examples of recent severe weather events across the globe. For example, he pointed the heat wave that hit Europe in 2003 that killed some 35,000 people with temperatures hitting 104 degrees Fahrenheit. But historically such temperatures are not unknown to Europe. In July 1921, a heat wave hit much of Western Europe with the temperature reaching 104 degrees Fahrenheit in Strasbourg, France. Gore also pointed to the monsoon storm in 2005 that dumped 37 inches of rain in 24 hours on Mumbai India. But storms like that have happened before—even in the United States. In 1921, Thrall, Texas experienced a 24-hour downpour of 38 inches and Alvin, Texas was soaked with 43 inches over a 24-hour period in 1979.

Gore points to the devastation of the Hurricane Katrina and flatly says that global warming is increasing the intensity of hurricanes. But that claim is hotly contested by climate scientists. For example, a recent study in Geophysical Research Letters finds "based on data over the last twenty years, no significant increasing trend is evident in global ACE [accumulated cyclone energy] or in Category 4–5 hurricanes."

At a climatic moment (pun intended) in the film, Gore traces a red temperature line inexorably increasing while he declares that 10 of the hottest years on record occurred in the last 14 years. Then he asserts that 2005 was the hottest ever. Pause for effect. Basically, Gore's general point is right but it's just irritating for him not to acknowledge that 2005 is statistically indistinguishable from 1998. But doing that would not have had the quite the same dramatic effect in the film.
We'll it looks like Gore caught the Hollywood bug which is to produce a remake of a film but with more bells and whistles. And I thought the Day After Tomorrow was over the top. Maybe a run in 2008 could round off his "Over the Top" tour.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Taking the Fight To Them

Fire of Liberty

Here's a good piece by National Review's Deroy Murdock on our current hunt of Islamofascists in Iraq and the rest of the world. It's pretty darn good, check it out.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Staying the Course in Iraq

Fire of Liberty

You've got to hand it to President Bush and his most recent trip to Baghdad to meet with PM Maliki and our outstanding soldiers earlier this week. For one thing it showed our soldiers that even with all the violence within Iraq and members of the media and Congress calling for a withdrawal from Mesopotamia, and weakened poll numbers, their Commander-in-Chief is still committed to our soldiers finishing the job they started. I can assure you our soldiers don't want to book-it out of Iraq and give up on the mission because . They have a great sense of honor and won't let their compatriots die in vain because others in D.C. can't stand the heat. (One can only imagine what would have happened during the dark days of WWII had FDR rolled into his office and said enough is enough or had President Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Nixon or Reagan had done the same with regards to the Cold War against the Soviets.) From the cheers coming from our soldiers when the Prez showed up at the auditorium in Iraq, they're damn proud of the man and believe in staying the course until victory is a hand. Even more, the visit also bucks up PM Maliki and his government in their efforts of creating a stable and democratic society. Just think about it, the President didn't sit in the comforts of D.C. to meet the PM or wait for a state visit but he went to Iraq to meet the leader of Iraq. As with other eastern cultures, the people see a big-time leader like President Bush coming to see this new leader as a sign of great respect and shows the host as being someone who isn't a puppet of the US but his own man. All in all, President Bush has achieved a tactical as well as a strategic victory in Iraq in the past two weeks with the death of Zarqawi and his visit to Iraq.

Now while Iraq is a long way from being yet another Switzerland or Japan it still has come a long way what with a military force of 130,000 US troops and a President who is willing to staying the course in Iraq.(No matter how people ridicule the simplicity of stay-the-course, they fail to realize that the White House, the Pentagon, Central Command and the individual units in the field adjust their posture and efforts based on conditions and matrixes in real-time than a deadline 6 months or a year down the road) I'd say that the efforts on behalf of our forces and the Iraqi government/security forces are coming along quite fine based on past fights against insurgents(Philippines and Malaya).

Life Getting Worse In Zimbabwe

Fire of Liberty
Ryan Truscott has a good article in the Christian Science Monitor which points out that not only do the people of Zimbabwe have to worry about being pushed off their farms, homes and jobs for Mugabe's stooges, starvation(Zimbabwe is not the breadbasket of southern Africa because of state controlled farms), 1,000% inflation but they also face a very grim future when it comes to establishing a family and growing old. One only has to read the following to understand the horrific lot that the folks have been immersed into under the iron boot of Mugabe and his fellow thugs:
Brian Mutenda is an energetic 30-year-old with a vision.

He wants to establish a flea market on the outskirts of his home city of Mutare, on Zimbabwe's border with Mozambique.

The best thing about his flea market project is that it won't take years to set up.

"A flea market is not a long-term thing," he explains. "Anything that would take me three, four, or five years [to establish] - I'm not very comfortable with, because at the back of the mind you say: 'At 40, I'll be no more.' "

Life is short here, and that's official.

According to the 2006 World Health Report, published recently by the World Health Organization (WHO), Zimbabwean men on average can expect to live only to age 37. In the past 12 months, life expectancy for women plummeted by two years to 34, the shortest in the world.

Behind the statistics is a grim tale of AIDS, financial hardship, and stress. But it wasn't always this way in what was once one of the most prosperous countries on the continent. Between 1970 and 1975, Zimbabweans could expect to live to the age of 56. The sharp decline in life expectancy has drastically changed the outlook and aspirations of people here.
One would have to say that if Zimbabwe continues such a glidepath of decline we could see the country becoming another Sudan or Somalia(Thankfully Zimbabwe isn't Muslim thus the Al Qaeda threat is slim)in the near future. So if the we want to avert such a disaster, then we should step up our support for the democratic opposition and press Mugabe to step down from power(We can make our desire of change via the UN, who are currently talking to Mugabe). The people of Zimbabwe deserve a far better life than what they've enduring under Mugabe and ZANU-PF.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Free Market System All the Rage in El Salvador

Fire of Liberty

El Salvador's President Antonio Saca is yet another shining example of an Latin American alternative to the socialistic totalitarianism style of government being promoted by Chávez, Castro, Morales and Daniel Ortega(Luckily he's not elected yet and won't be in Nicaragua in the near future). The main reason why I admire Saca's is that he's proven the marvelous uplifting nature of the free-market system and free trade during his tenure and isn't scared to point the destructive and destabilizing nature of the "Chávez model." Just take a look at the following from the Financial Times:
"“Socialist experiments, state experiments end up bankrupting countries,"” said Mr Sacha. "“We [in El Salvador] have already lived through it. We had an agricultural reform that was a disaster, we had a state takeover of the banks which was mired in corruption. The state should be small but strong. It should not get in the way."”

Mr Saca, of the centre-right Nationalist Republican Alliance (Arena), said political changes in Bolivia, for example, were not the best option for growth and development.

"“I have to respect [the results of Bolivia'’s recent elections]. But you are asking me my opinion about whether I believe in that [model]; I don'’t . . . I believe in open economies, in free trade. I believe in justice."”

He also criticised Mr Chávez'’s policies of selling cheap fuel to sympathetic governments in the region, including local administrations in El Salvador that are controlled by the opposition FMLN party.

While admitting that accords between Mr Chávez and the FMLN were "not surprising"”, he said they represented a "“clear interference in the internal affairs of the country".

Mr Saca, whose administration has been a driving force behind the Central American Free Trade Agreement between countries in the region and the US, cited his country's progress .

Since the tiny Central American country of just 6.8m became the first to implement Cafta two months ago, exports have grown 12 per cent, according to the president. Meanwhile, the economy is set to grow 3.5 per cent this year, compared with 2.8 per cent in 2005.
So as long as they're individuals like Saca demonstrating the benefits of individual freedom, free-markets and free-trade, our backyard isn't lost to the forces of totalitarianism that has developed in Venezuela. Hopefully the folks in Mexico and Nicaragua will choose a similar pathway in their upcoming elections.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Rejoice America, Rejoice!!!

Fire of Liberty

I have to give two thumbs up to the Iraqi and American forces for their fantastic take-down of Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi yesterday. While the menace of terrorism still remains in Iraq, the death of Zarqawi and his lieutenants has got to have presented a real strategic setback for al Qaeda in Iraq. Hopefully the complete formation of an Iraq government(Iraq's PM Maliki filled the Defense and Interior Ministry posts) and this enormous blow to al Qaeda is the event that could propel Iraq forward on its path towards greater democracy and less violence in the future. So once again my prayers and hearty thanks go out to the Iraqi and American forces for taking a major terrorist out of the food chain. Here's hoping them good fortune in the future and their mission in Iraq.

I'd also recommend you read Mary Anne Weaver's wonderful article "The Short, Violent Life of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi" over at The Atlantic Monthly to get a detailed look at this horrible killer and our search for him in the wilds of Iraq. Also see here, here, here, here, here, for more.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Preventing a Decline of Western Civilization

Fire of Liberty

Victor Davis Hanson has some sage advice on Europe's looming decline and how this nation needs to present a "stiff upper lip" in order to ward off the same problems in our near future.

Looking at Global Warming in a Different Light

Fire of Liberty

I hope more people read this before going whole-hog with Al Gore and the MSM's hysterics on "global warming."

A Turn towards Gray

Fire of Liberty

Jonathan V. Last, columnist of the Philadelphia Inquirer and contributor to the Weekly Standard, has a good piece on Philip Longman's book The Empty Cradle which notes the declining birthrates throughout the world and the effects that it will have on our country and others in the near future. He gives a good rundown of this looming problem, here's a sample:
So what happens next? According to the U.S. Census, between 2005 and 2025, America's over-65 population will increase by 72 percent, because as fertility decreases, the existing population gets older. By 2050, about 20 percent of Americans will be over 65; there will be 13 million more senior citizens than there will be children under 14.

An older, contracting population is a harbinger
of dark times. In the modern welfare state, the cost of caring for the elderly is largely shifted to the government. Combine an increasing population of seniors with an increasingly expensive state pension and health-care system, and you have a portion of the budget that must grow ever larger. The options: slash benefits, overhaul the system, or raise taxes. As Longman explains: "Younger workers, finding that not only does the economy require them to have far higher levels of education than did their parents, but that they must also pay far higher payroll taxes, are less able to afford children, and so have fewer of them, causing a new cycle of population aging."

In other words, the further the fertility rate falls, the greater the incentive for people to have fewer children.

Capitalism is, historically speaking, a relatively new contraption, but recent experience suggests that capitalism and falling populations don't mix particularly well. Consider Japan and Europe. Japan's fertility rate is 1.34, 17 percent of its population is over 65, and its economy is a shambles. By 2050, Japan will lose a seventh of its population, and the percentage of citizens over 65 will increase from 17 percent to 32 percent. Italy - never, and certainly not now, a model of smoothly running capitalism--will lose 13 percent of its population, while the proportion of those over 65 will double to 35 percent. In Russia, which is already losing 750,000 people a year, that future is now.
This is something everyone needs to pay attention to. So all ya'll out there that haven't started on making those 2.1 children, get busy now to turn back the graying of America before it's too late .

A Return to Strength

Fire of Liberty

While the Democrats(Especially the leftist half)are carrying on about how the Party of Jackson is destined to take the helm of power from the GOP in the near future, they fail to realize that their current stance on fighting the War on Terror and our general foreign policy is hurting such efforts. Some sound advice is for the Dems to return to their strong foreign policy/defense of America roots established by FDR, Harry Truman and Scoop Jackson(You can go back further to Andrew Jackson if you will) rather than flocking to the corner of George McGovern, Henry Wallace and friends of the extreme left that the currently cleft to. After reading the following piece by David Frum on the current attempts of the left to take down Senator Joe Lieberman in the Democratic primary race in Conn., I'd say they've got a long way to go before securing Congress in 06 or the White House come 08. Seems to me the Democratic party needs to re-read a biography on Truman, FDR or Andrew Jackson or Peter Beinart's new book The Good Fight: Why Liberals --- and Only Liberals --- Can Win the War on Terror and Make America Great Again, which calls for the return to the days of Truman. Now I'm pretty much in disagreement with Beinart's claim that America isn't great or applying liberal solutions to our problems but I do agree with his arguments on embracing "Give em' Hell" Truman.

A Wise Choice on Debt Forgiveness

Fire of Liberty

Samuel Gregg of the Acton Institute has a good piece in Monday's edition of the Washington Times that pretty much sums up why handing out economic aid wily-nily to the various nations in Africa is a bad idea and should be rethought. One area that requires such a rethink is the issue of debt forgiveness that a lot of the MSM community, the elites and especially from a considerable amount of African leaders when they visit D.C. or have an audience with our President. I'd say Gregg pretty much sums up the reason why such requests should be shot down from the get go with the following:
Allowing heavily indebted nations to walk away from their debts sends precisely the wrong economic signal to private and public international lenders of capital. Why should they lend any more funds to such countries in the future if they can never be sure their funds will be returned? Developing countries need to develop reputations as responsible borrowers who not only deploy the borrowed funds productively but who also repay their debts as contracted. How will debt forgiveness of a country like the Congo, especially given its extensive government corruption, help the Congo to achieve either goal?

On the moral side of the equation, such debt forgiveness is very questionable insofar as it effectively mortgages the economic future of the ordinary citizens of countries like the Congo. It is they -- not the President Sassou-Nguessos of this world -- who will suffer as a consequence of the Congo's future limited access to the foreign credit essential for the only sure slayer of poverty: economic growth.

Moreover, does anyone seriously imagine debt-forgiveness that does not hold accountable developing world political elites who corruptly diverted the billions loaned to their countries is likely to discourage future such diversions? Surely such actions will only undermine ongoing efforts to discourage corruption among these elites by effectively rewarding with debt forgiveness countries whose leaders have been irresponsible borrowers.

Enough is enough. The time for placating corrupt African politicians is long past. Refusing Mr. Sassou-Nguesso's demands would signal the developing world's political elites that the days of toying with their peoples' futures are over. While such refusal might appear unfashionable in some circles, the future well-being of millions of Africans depends on it.
Lets hope more folks in D.C., the World Bank and other groups take heed of such thinking.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Wings of Stealth

Fire of Liberty

Now this is what I call a 21st century military. I'm thinking that someone on the R&D staff got some good ideas from watchingG.I. Joe.


Chavez Gets an Kalashnikov Factory

Fire of Liberty

Well here's yet another reason why Secretary Rumsfeld and President Bush are so concerned with the actions of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and throughout South and Central America. Thank G-d the folks of Peru and Columbia put a dent in his expansionist quest.

Some Gave All, All Gave Some

Fire of Liberty
D-DAY 06

I'd like to offer a generous applause to the "band of brothers" who stormed the shores of Normandy some 62 years ago to free France and the world from Hitler and his Nazi menace. Now you'd think that the news would report the historical day but they're yacking about the re-make of The Omen, and we wonder why high-schoolers don't know much about history. Don't worry though, Fire of Liberty will man the fort and remind generations of the sacrifice for freedom that previous and current generations have done for our sake.

See here, here and here for more on D-Day.

A Clear-Headed Look At Haditha

Fire of Liberty

As I scanned the various news-sights and cable news channels this past weekend I kept on bumping into all the various suggestions that the incident in Haditha is yet another Mi Lai massacre. Now while I'm no expert about what happened in Haditha(There full story and details have not come to light) I do know that the incident pales in comparison to the death of some 200 Vietnamese villagers at the hands of Lt. Cali and his men. Now while others have convicted these soldiers and placed them in up their up their with some of the worst military atrocities in modern military history, I'm not going to rush in and do the same until the full details come out. I'm not forgiving this atrocity but I do believe in looking at the facts and evidence as a whole rather than the "baby killer" approach being meted out by the left and most of the MSM. One individual that seems to take this approach is Christopher Hitchens who has penned a well balanced look over at Slate on the whole situation. So if you will, take some time to read Hitchens' wonderful piece.

Also take a look here, here, here, here, and here .

Monday, June 05, 2006

France's version of Rudy

Fire of Liberty

Even France has its version of Rudy Giuliani. I wish him great luck, he needs it.

Stemming A Pro-Chavez Drift in South America

Fire of Liberty

With the disruptions in Iraq, the current game of nuclear chess with with Iran as well as a "red tide" nationalism in the style of Cuba re-emerging in South/Central America(Venezuela, Bolivia, Argentina, Cuba, Nicaragua(Ortega's making another run) it has been a big relief for the White House, NSC, Pentagon and the State Department that President Alvaro Uribe of Columbia and Alan Gercia of Peru defeated their leftist challengers thus stemming the further rise of pro-Chavez regimes in our own backyard. This just shows you that the folks in Columbia as well as Peru are well aware of what kind of financial as well as individual liberties/freedoms that the folks in Bolivia and Venezuela have lost under the rule of Chavez and Morales. Let's just hope that the folks in Mexico make a similar decision and vote for Felipe Calderón over Andrés Obrador in the general election come July 2. I'm sure that the people in these countries prefer to have a steady job, greater international trade, greater economic growth, good relations with the US and their current freedoms rather than the continued loss of such under the second coming of Castro that seems to have been the norm in the region. So once again, congrats to President Uribe and Alan Garcia for winning and stemming the "red tide."