Sunday, July 30, 2006

History Is A Good Guide

Fire of Liberty

Salim Mansur has a good column in the Toronto Sun which points out that the Arab world and the Middle East should look at the late-twentieth century history of Algeria to discover what happens when you fail to confront a terrorist or dictator. All in all Mansur shows you that there is hope in taking down terrorists/dictators if only the people under their guns and such tyranny say enough is enough and stand up rather than offering a ceasefire. (Now it's true that sometimes the threat is too big to handle without outside help but I know a few countries that are willing to do so if push comes to shove.) I suggest everyone reads this well written piece to learn a little history and insight on the Middle East from a reasoned voice like Salim Mansur. Enjoy the read.

Boots On The Ground Is Best Option For IDF

Fire of Liberty

Throughout Israel's campaign against the terrorists of Hezbollah, the IDF has done it's utmost to reduce it's collateral damage within Lebanon by just bombing bridges, runways, TV and Radio towers.(These can be rebuilt. It's far from the nonsense I've heard about the IDF completely destroying Lebanon.) To further minimize the risk of greater civilian injuries and deaths, the IDF has dropped millions of leaflets and transmitted messages via the radio to get out because they we're coming in to clear out the terrorists. Now while it's unfortunate that some 50 plus people were killed following an Israeli bombing of a suspected Hezbollah missile site in Qana, I've got say this is something that can happen when terrorists like Hezbollah place their command-and-control, anti-aircraft and missile batteries within civilian populations. Just take a look a this article in Australia's Herald Sun and you'll discover that Hezbollah knows the power of the MSM and the respect that the IDF has for the taking of civilian life and has decided that by entrenching oneself into the civilian populations(wearing civilian clothing) they get a well protected base and a huge PR victory of showing civilian deaths even if most of these are terrorists.

This just goes to show you that air-power has its advantages and its disadvantages when it comes to fighting terrorists within a civilian population. Though the casualties are way down due to the usage of GPS and laser guided JDAMs and other munitions it could be reduced even further by switching to a larger ground campaign where boots are on the ground and highly trained soldiers can properly identify the members of Hezbollah. Until they make the switch from a air to a greater land assault, they'll have more tragedies like in Qana. An even more important aspect of the IDF increasing its presence on the ground is that it ensures you a far greater path to victory and less calls for ceasefires. (I'm guessing that the Israeli cabinet is regretting its rejection of going into Lebanon on the ground.) I'd say that if you're going to take out or minimize Hezbollah in southern Lebanon and establish a buffer between the terrorists and Israel, you've got put boots on the ground. The IDF will secure Israel a whole lot better than what the UN or NATO could offer.

Here's some pictures from the Herald Sun on how Hezbollah endangers the civilians of Lebanon.




***Check out this piece by George Jonas in the National Post on Hezbollah's tactics.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Stick To Conservative Republican Principles

Fire of Liberty

After some twenty or more years of the Republican party providing well a reasoned argument on why raising the minimum wage or setting a "living wage" would create a damper on the hiring of the poor, cut out teenagers from summer and part-time jobs, and preventing others from gaining much needed job skills/experience and other arguments presented by economists like Walter Williams and Thomas Sowell(See post below), it seems the Republicans are getting soft in their principles and philosophy. According to this piece in the Washington Examiner the Republicans in Congress has decided in out-Democrating the Democrats by pushing a bill to raise the minimum. This just perplexes me that instead of the Republicans standing on principle and arguing against raising the minimum wage they've decided to embrace the Democrats pet issue just to take it off the Democrats 06 election agenda. I guess the Republicans think they're so entrenched by bringing the pork to their districts and redistricting that they won't be knocked out in 06 but if they continue to dis their base a push forward Democratic agendas like this they might find a lot of conservative Republicans staying home and letting them suffer. I just hope they stave off the ire of conservative Republicans by hewn ing to the guiding principles and policies that got them to power in the first place rather than merely pandering to the other side.

**It looks like the Republicans have set several conditions on the minimum wage increase bill by tying it with the elimination of the Estate Tax. I prefer they didn't play such tricks in the future.(Keep to conservative principles)

Refuting The Minimum Wage Fallacy

Fire of Liberty
As I was reading news on the IDF's fight against terrorism and various other subjects, I overheard Oprah carrying on and on about the tragedy of folks in America barely getting by on federal minimum wage. Now while the show continued to do free ad for the DNC in raising the federal minimum wage(One of their Big Policies in 06) it failed to present the real facts which are far from what Oprah and here guests were proporting on the show. Well thankfully to the power of Google and the vast archives of various sites I dug up this great column by economist Walter Williams. Within this short column, Williams laid a fact filled knock-out on this "raise minimum wage" hot-air coming out of the HARPO studios in Chicago. While I recommend you read the whole column, I figured you'd like this following excerpt of Williams' deconstruction of Oprah's show on minimum wage:
The U.S. Department of Labor reports: "According to Current Population Survey estimates for 2004, some 73.9 million American workers were paid at hourly rates, representing 59.8 percent of all wage and salary workers. Of those paid by the hour, 520,000 were reported as earning exactly $5.15."

Workers earning the minimum wage or less tend to be young, single workers between the ages of 16 and 25. Only about 2 percent of workers over 25 years of age earn minimum wages.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: 63 percent of minimum-wage workers receive raises within one year of employment, and only 15 percent still earn the minimum wage after three years. Furthermore, only 5.3 percent of minimum-wage earners are from households below the official poverty line; 40 percent of minimum-wage earners live in households with incomes $60,000 and higher; and, over 82 percent of minimum-wage earners do not have dependents.

The U.S. Department of Labor also reports that the "proportion of hourly-paid workers earning the prevailing Federal minimum wage or less has trended downward since 1979."

Another issue that's not often taken into consideration is there's a difference between what a worker takes home in pay and his total compensation. Employers must pay for legally required worker benefits that include Social Security, Medicare, unemployment insurance, workers' compensation, health and disability insurance benefits, and whatever paid leave benefits they offer, such as vacations, holidays and sick leave. It's tempting to think of higher minimum wages as an anti-poverty weapon, but such an idea doesn't even pass the smell test. After all, if higher minimum wages could cure poverty, we could easily end worldwide poverty simply by telling poor nations to legislate higher minimum wages.
I'd say that if folks would stop listening to folks like Oprah and various Democratic politicians who keep on touting about raising the minimum wage and more to Walter Williams and his sage economic advice they'd be well on their way down the road to financial freedom and break away from these fallacies on raising the minimum wage.

###Also check out these pieces here, here, and here by Thomas Sowell which points out why raising the minimum wage is a sure fired way of creating greater economic depredation amongst the poor.

Don't Feed Crocodiles

Fire of Liberty

Joshua Muravchik has a good piece over at National Review which makes a pretty good argument why the world in general has got to stop their continued call for ceasefires and a more "proportional response" and find a way to support Israel's fight against Hezbollah and fellow terrorists. As he rightly notes, these calls for peace will not stop these terrorists from firing their missiles on Israel but will only weaken the hand of Israel and further embolden these terrorists to proceed with their plans of destroying Israel and the further expansion of activities in places like Europe. I think Muravchik hit the nail on the head about the danger of Europe embracing such measures of appeasement when he noted the following:
The Islamists'’ optimism has been fueled by the exploits of Hezbollah and Hamas. Whereas once Israel had seemed to be an invincible regional superpower, Hezbollah fighters succeeded in forcing it into an ignominious flight from Lebanon, leaving behind equipment and abandoned allies. Then Hamas drove Israel from Gaza. The evacuation of Gaza was not a flight; the Israelis saw it as unilaterally defining their own borders. But as Hamas saw it, suicide bombings had made the continuing occupation too costly for Israel. Most Palestinians thought Hamas was right and rewarded it with their votes.

The Hamas and Hezbollah attacks that triggered the current crisis show how self-assured they have become. If Israel fails to deal them crippling blows--or is prevented from doing so--then the Middle East will grow much more tumultuous. The Arab moderates, who have advocated peace with Israel, will look cowardly and foolish. The jihadists will be strengthened in every country. None will dare make peace with Israel, and the states that already have made peace will wiggle away from it.

The tumult will not be confined to the Middle East. The jihadist movement is global, even more so than the Communist movement in its heyday, when triumphs of Russian Communists inspired triumphs by their "“comrades"” in places as distant as China and Cuba. The feats of Hamas and Hezbollah will make young, impressionable Muslims turn to the path of jihad in many corners of the world. Few places will be more vulnerable to the effects of this than Europe, with its rapidly growing Muslim population--many of whom are alienated from Western society.

To denounce Israel for using "“disproportionate"” force is tantamount to telling Israel to accept its role as the victim. In this way the EU hopes to propitiate the Islamists, just as Chamberlain and Daladier offered up Czechoslovakia to Hitler. As before, this craven gesture would lead to disaster for Europe. Israel, however, is not Czechoslovakia, and it will ignore the EU. For that, Europeans owe it thanks.
It's amazing that a group of people(Europe) who rattle on about being so in tough with the rest of the world have such a hard time remembering the lesson about how policies of appeasement leads one down a very dangerous path. Thanks for folks like Joshua Muravchik in reminding us of what appeasement brings about.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Bolivia Becoming A Mecca For Cocaine Production

Fire of Liberty

It seems that the production of Cocaine has gone up in Bolivia ever since the election of Evo Morales as President. I guess when you campaign on making the coca plant/leaf as a national crop, call for it to be served in school lunchrooms, and refuse to crack-down on the production facilities you get this. One can only imagine rising rates of crime and deaths go up as narco-terrorists move their operations into this coca friendly nation. Lord help the people of Bolivia.

Lessons Learned From The Suez Crisis 50 Years Later

Fire of Liberty

Arthur Herman, historian and author of To Rule The Waves, has a good piece in the Weekly Standard on the Suez crisis and how it has shaped the world and the actions of states with regards to the Middle East for the last fifty years. Its a very interesting piece and offers a pretty good argument on why responsible states should not hesitate in standing firm against dictators and aggressors like Kim Jong Il, Iran's mullahs, Assad, Al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah or even Mugabe rather than letting them grow in strength or popularity with there fellow brethren. So instead of the world community issuing condemnations of Israel defending itself from an outside threat, they should say enough is enough a be willing to confront such devils where they stand. From the looks of actions and statements coming out of the White House, I'd say we've learned a great bit in these last fifty years about standing up to threats we the arise. I guess that's why I'm such a fan of Israel's stance against Islamic terrorism and its various enemies.

Pretty Good Film On Iraq

Fire of Liberty

About two or three Sundays ago I tuned into C-SPAN's Q&A (8:00 p.m.), which is hosted by Brian Lamb, and watched an hour-long interview with Producer Steve James and Sgt. Zack Bazzi of the New Hampshire National Guard on the filming, participation and production of "The War Tapes." Now while I was a little leary of the documentary as I listened to their liberal tilt of these two individuals and after seeing Sgt. Zack Razzi brag on a clip from the movie about how the far-left magazine The Nation was his required reading in Iraq, I stuck around and watched the rest of the interview and more clips of the film and came around impressed. Instead of harping on and on about how we got into the war much like you find in most documentaries on Iraq (Look at "Why We Fight" or "Fahrenheit 9/11"(it features the Iraq War)), "The War Tapes" put more emphasis on the daily life of three grunts in theatre. While it does have some startling images of explosions and IED like we see on the news, this film puts these acts in a greater context and shows what our soldiers go through after these explosions. Instead of get the "if it bleeds, it leads" we see the soldiers reacting to the situation and then afterwards explaining what happened and they dealt with it. Something that caught my eye was the fact that our surgeons in the field hospitals (In hospitals like ours) were working just as hard to save the lives of insurgents who try their best to kill our soldiers. This just demonstrates the American love for life and our compassion that we're always ready to help. All in all, I have to say that The War Tapes is a must see for anyone who wants to get a solid look at our soldiers and their mission in Iraq. So go and find the movie and you won't be let down.

In the meantime, check out Michael Fumento's wonderful review of The War Tapes over at The Weekly Standard. Also, check out the Q&A interview with James and Sgt. Bazzi here.

Chavez's World Tour Continues

Fire of Liberty

I thought you'd like to read a little bit on Hugo Chavez's limited world tour amongst some of the worst dictatorships and authoritarian regimes that the world has seen since the days of Franco, Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin. According to this article, Chavez has been gaining a lot of dictator/populist street-cred in the "Outposts of Tyranny" and amongst the far-left in South and Central America with his visit by meeting with President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus. Along with gaining street cred, Chavez also signed some seven agreements that ranged from economic, military- technology aid/trade agreements as well as strategic partnership between the two dictatorial regimes. I'd say that this courtship with the likes of Belarus, Iran, North Korea and arm deals with China and Russia will result in some serious problems for the neighbors of Venezuela and the US in the near future. I know we've got enough problems in Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea, Al-Qaeda but things could heat up in our backyard pretty quick.

For me, it would be far better to confront Chavez now but from the looks of things the US will play a Cold War style containment policy and make it our utmost effort to support the forces of democracy within the surrounding countries of Venezuela in hopes of keeping him holed up within his borders. Here's hoping for a Cold War senario than some larger conflict sparking up.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Informative Read on the Middle East

Fire of Liberty

Check out this interesting and informative piece by William Bennett on Hezbollah and why Israel has got to stand up a face them in southern Lebanon.

*Also take a look at the Amir Taheri piece that Bennett referred to in his piece. It lays out some pertinent and revealing detail about on Hezbollah and its goals in the region.(Iran plays a big role in it).

Israel Fights For Its Freedom

Fire of Liberty

Michael Medved, syndicated columnist and radio host, has a good column over at which points out why the state of Israel continues to strive amongst an ocean of enemies. In fact the US and Israel are very similar in nature because their citizens are willing to stand up to all aggressors who threaten to tear down the nation and the joys of freedom and liberty much like we see today with the US taking on Al-Qaeda and Israel taking on Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad. I'd say Medved put it best when he noted the following:
Except for the fact that Israel has already given back most of the land it gained in that conflict –– returning all of Sinai and Gaza to Arab adversaries, with the current Israeli government committed to still further (and very significant) concessions in the West Bank. These compromises (and potential compromises) reflect a fact that nearly all Jews understand, but that most Americans want to deny: that history is frequently, even generally, unfair. Whatever IsraelÂ’s claims to legitimacy –– no matter how ancient the connection with the land, or how definitive the recognition by international law and putative world governments – the nation exists only because of the ability and willingness of its people (past, present and future) to defend it against ruthless enemies. By the same token, it might be pleasant to assume that America remains secure and safe because a grateful world appreciates what our nation has done to introduce the concept of liberty to peoples around the world, or to save humanity from Hitlerism, Stalinism and now, Islamo-Nazism. But with unreasoning, fanatical anti-Americanism on the rise nearly everywhere, more citizens have come to realize that we survive on the same basis Israel survives: through determination, through strength of character and (not least) through military power.

Like Israel, the United States isn'’t a nation that grew up organically in one small corner of the earth, combining people who already spoke the same language and looked the same and shared common cultures. Both nations drew a dazzling array of dreamers and visionaries and crazies from around the world who made the choice to embrace the values and plans of the pioneers ("“Halutzim," in Hebrew). Of course, these national origins (involving acts of will, rather than accidents of birth) mean that Israel and America can'’t ever be as perfect, and blameless, and pure in our turbulent histories as, say, our old world counterparts like France, say, or Spain, or Belgium. But as long as people in Tulsa and Tel Aviv, Jefferson City and Jerusalem, remain ready to sacrifice and even die for the still stirring visions of the founders, the two dynamic Republics will continue to exist –– regardless of the world'’s acceptance of their "“right"” to do so.
Here, Here! So G-d's speed to the IDF forces in their fight against Hezbollah in southern Lebanon. It might be a bloody and dangerous effort but such is necessary to ensure the viability of the state of Israel and the fight for freedom.

Hitting North Korea Where It Hurts

Fire of Liberty

Well it looks like China is finally stepping up to the plate against North Korea by hitting them where it hurts which is via their bank accounts. According to this piece in the Financial Times, the Chinese government has ordered the managers of The Bank of China to freeze the various accounts held by the leadership and entities of the "Hermit Kingdom." I'd say that this is progress with regards to North Korea if the Chinese are willing to shut-off these accounts to what is a client state. Let's just hope that this is one step in many against Kim Jong Il's regime.(If I could only say the same with regards to Switzerland, Austria, Russia and Singapore.)

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Chavez's Limited World Tour

Fire of Liberty
Well according to this piece by Jeremy Page in The Times, Hugo Chavez is on a world tour to sign a billion dollar arms deal(30 Su30 fighter jets, 30 military helicopters) with Russia and to see some good friends in such "freedom friendly" spots like Belarus and Iran. Now while the news about the inking of such a deal is of great concern, I'm more startled by what Page noted further in the article:
Military experts say that the Sukhoi jets could transform Venezuela'’s air force into the most powerful in South America within years. Señor Chávez, who calls Mr Bush an alcoholic imperialist, says that the hardware is needed to repel US plans to invade Venezuela and take control of its huge oil reserves.

He even said recently that he could imagine the Sukhoi jets firing missiles at an American aircraft carrier off Venezuela'’s main La Guaira port.
One can understand why the White House is so concerned about Chavez's actions and the friends he keeps.

Victory over Hezbollah is Far Better than Ceasefire

Fire of Liberty

While Israel is fighting it out with Hezbollah in southern Lebanon(And gaining ground at that) the media and the world community seem to be going into a "ceasefire" frenzy. Now while its great to desire peace for the sake of preventing further bloodshed and death of people its also a way to get a nation destroyed when aggressors like Hezbollah start launching missiles or taking soldiers hostage like they've done in these past 13 days. Even more, if you look at the term "ceasefire" being bandied back and forth in the press and the diplomatic core, you'll discover that it calls for a cessation of fighting but never draws out a peace between the to factions. With Hezbollah having the destruction of Israel in its charter, its pretty much written in stone that Hezbollah will just use this ceasefire as an opportunity to re-organize, bring in new fighters and re-stock their depleted arsenals to come back in several months or years with a far deadlier barrage of missiles and a fervent will to confront Israel.(Much like they did in 2000 and with UNSC Resolution 1559) All in all this call for a ceasefire for the sake of peace is one more way of letting Hezbollah stay on its feet to fight another day. I'd say that Thomas Sowell, columnist, author and senior fellow at the Hoover Institute, makes a good point in his most recent column about the futility of people(MSM and world community)being so committed to peace and willing to draw up such ceasefires when he noted the following:
Take the Middle East. People are calling for a cease-fire in the interests of peace. But there have been more cease-fires in the Middle East than anywhere else. If cease-fires actually promoted peace, the Middle East would be the most peaceful region on the face of the earth instead of the most violent.
He further notes that the only way that you're ever going to create a peaceful solution with regards to any war, in this case the Israel's confrontation against terrorists like Hezbollah, is for one group(Israel preferably) to handily defeat the other.

While we'll never see Hezbollah at the peace table like we saw with Lee at Appomattox or the Japanese on the USS Missouri, it's necessary for the livelihood for the state of Israel, Lebanon, and the overall safety of the world from Islamic terrorism that the IDF ends the existence of Hezbollah or at least put them out of commission for a long time. Therefore the best policy with regards to dealing with Hezbollah is to let the IDF get their job done by rolling the terrorists up where they currently reside. Now while the IDFs operation in Lebanon will be a very tough and bloody operation its a definite must in securing peace for future generation of Israel, Lebanon and the greater Middle East. So I'll continue to cheer on Israel's rollback and hope that they create a situation where the people of Israel are safe from katyushas, Zelzals and terrorism and the state of Lebanon free from "Hezbollahland" in the south. And after reading this piece in the Jerusalem Post, I'm well assured that the Israel Defense Forces are in good hands and will succeed in their mission to route Hezbollah from their dens.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Ending the Ability of Hezbollah to Operate is Job #1

Fire of Liberty

Hezbollah might think that by firing its deadly arsenal in Israel to kill as many Jews as they want but they're attacks are also inflicting a considerable amount of harm on the many Arabs(Christians and Muslim), Druze who live in northern Israel. If these monsters of Hezbollah care less than a fig about killing innocent civilians in Israel via firing these rockets on them and the fact that they're willing to immerse themselves into the civilian population of Lebanon while they do their dirty work you've got to ask why in the world that Kofi Annan and a smattering of politicians and diplomats within Europe and the Middle East are harping on and on about a ceasefire. So as long as Hezbollah continues to rain down its daily barrage of Katyusha and other Syrian/Iranian designed rockets on the various towns and villages in northern Israel, the IDF will continue take all kinds of steps to continue its push-back on these Islamic terrorists. From the looks of this piece, the IDF and the Israeli government are willing to go pretty darn far in making sure that Hezbollah is cut down to a smidgen of what it is or breathes its last breath. Israel and the people of Lebanon deserve better and it seems the IDF is doing its best to grant them the ability to do so. Our prayers go out to the IDF in their stand for freedom.

Nasrallah's Days Are Numbered

Fire of Liberty

Well it looks like Nasrallah missed the "big one" last night but be rest assured the IDF is hot on his tail and will luck-up in the near future. Even if they didn't get the head hancho with this attack, they're inflicting some major disruptions on Hezbollah's infrastructure and manpower. Here's wishing the IDF good hunting.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Taking Down Hezbollah Gingrich Style

Fire of Liberty

Take a look at the wise advice that Newt Gingrich has to say in today's USA Today opinion page on Israel's efforts in taking-down Hezbollah. I'd say the man has got his brain wrapped around this one and shines through in his analysis. I'm expecting something great out of the Georgian in the near future.

Israel Tries to Behead Hezbollah

Fire of Liberty

Let's hope Israel punched the time-clock Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah (the leader of Hezbollah) for the last time with this massive strike via the IAF.

Keeping Our Little Platoons Chugging Along

Fire of Liberty

Now here's a piece over at USA Today by Notre Dame University Law Professor Richard W. Garnett which points out that various catholic schools, hospitals, churches and orphanages are facing extensive government regulations that are making life hard for these Catholic entities to stay open. For me it looks like the hulking federal government is threatening to tear down one of the great institutions that make up the "little platoons" that Burke noted in his writings and the associations that Alexis de Tocqueville spoke so fondly in Democracy in America. The one thing I'm concerned about is that by imposing such burdens on institutions like Catholic schools which provide a high quality education that blows the wheels off the public education system thus yielding a sense of hope to the students and their parents who live in various inner cities. If we want to produce educated children who will grow up and pull themselves and the neighborhoods out of their dismal state then we've got to be able to let these schools and various other Catholic entities continue to do what they do so well without worrying about high taxes, massive regulation, and do-gooder governmental officials and their love for what Sen. Pat Moynihan referred as "iatrogenic government." Once the government starts traveling down the road and pushing these "little platoons" into mere nothings we'll eventually unravel things that make our society outshine all other societies. My best advice is for the federal government and to lesser extent the state to tread lightly on something that's not specifically in their purview. I think you'll understand the issue a whole lot better by reading Professor Garnett's great piece.

I see Your True Colors

Fire of Liberty

As you know from my earlier post, there seems to be a slow but sure turn against the state of Israel taking out the viper nests in southern Lebanon in the MSM and amongst various diplomats and elected officials from the US and the rest of the world. Its rather disgusting that a bevy of reporters at CNN, NPR and the national networks keep on putting out reports on the carnage being imposed on the folks in Hezbollah occupied Lebanon and segments that a more sympathetic to these terrorists(Look at Nick Roberts over at CNN) but fail to report the horrors being enacted on Israel or the way diplomats/politicians a put-putting around the world and pounding the table insisting on Israel to end its legitimate defense of its people and territory for a cease-fire that the vipers of Hezbollah won't follow through with such a commitment. (You only have to look at Hezbollah's failure to abide by UN Security Council Resolution 1559 to see how far you can go in cutting a ceasefire with such a group.)

What these various groups seem to be forgetting as the IDFs operations continue is that Hezbollah isn't some political group that provides health services or jobs to its people but is a terrorist group which doesn't follow the rules of war but is a deadly terrorists group who kills as many innocent civilians in Israel as they can with the use of their missiles. Now before the folks of the press and the diplomatic/political corps keep on dishing out these faulty images of Hezbollah, I suggest that they do a little work searching on LexisNexis for Gal Luft's wonderful article "Hizballahland" in the July/August 2003 issue of Commentary magazine that points out the true nature and desires of Hezbollah in the southern half of Lebanon. Luckily with the power of the Internet, I've went over to the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security(were Gal Luft is the director) and dug up a free version of Luft's piece. Now while it's wishful thinking in the likelihood of these individuals taking the time to do their homework on Hezbollah, I hope that you'll feel free to dive into this piece and discover exactly what Israel is facing with the "Party of G-d" and why these terrorists have to be eliminated for the sake of Israel, Lebanon and the greater Middle East.

Israel Has Got to Keep on Keepin' On Against Islamic Terrorism

Fire of Liberty

Even with the people of Israel in constant fear of being struck by Hezbollah's deadly missiles and the IDF conducting military operations to stop such carnage, I'm beginning to hear various rumblings about the need for diplomacy or even a ceasefire. If you pay close attention to cable news and other segments of the media along with various politicians and diplomats within the US and the world you'll discover the same talking points about the "cycle of violence" and about preventing a regional war with other nations in the Middle East. Now while it's great to have a desire to halt the fighting for the simple reason of desiring peace, the current situation with regards to Israel is not something that's going to be ended with a ceasefire. The simple reason why a ceasefire is not in the cards is that Hezbollah is a terrorist group whose main objective is not to end some so-called occupation (Israel has been out of Lebanon since 2000) but the complete destruction of Israel. What's even worse is the fact that Hezbollah is willing to take Lebanon down with it to achieve such a goal. With a group unwilling to even acknowledge the right for Israel to exist let alone stop the indiscriminate firing of unguided missiles on the citizens of northern Israel the only solution is to go into the areas controlled by Hezbollah and wipe out the viper nest of terrorists. If you look at the past eight or nine days you've seen the IAF launch round-the-clock operations against Hezbollah's infrastructure thus creating a great bit of chaos within the vipers nest thus putting a damper on their ability to fight their kind of war. I'm pretty much convinced that after a couple more days of softening up Hezbollah's defenses and destroying their tactical command-and-control as well as their communications, the IDF will send in ground forces into southern Lebanon to wipe out enough of Hezbollah's forces and push them back so far that they'll be unable to launch any effective strike into the Israeli heartland. Even better, this operation might help weaken the forces in Hezbollah that the Sunni, Druze and Christian leaders in the government of Lebanon will rise up and demand that the Lebanese army take out these terrorists once and for all.

Now while Operation Just Reward(the IDFs name for its current operation) won't wipe Hezbollah lock, stock and barrel from southern Lebanon it is a stab in the right direction which is the degradation of Hezbollah. A ceasefire might sound good to the various diplomats, politicians and talking heads but the survivability of Israel is at stake and the offering of appeasement towards these self-avowed enemies is one thing that'll get Israel destroyed for certain. With enemies on three sides and their backs to the Mediterranean,(With Moses dead and gone, their option for turning towards the sea is out of the question) the state of Israel has only one option which is to fight Hezbollah, Hamas and their sponsors in Syria and Iran.

As a great defender of Israel, I have done my best to lay out a good argument on why Israel has got to push onward with its campaign against these terrorists and rather than falling into the ceasefire clap-trap that others are carrying on about. Now while I've done my part, I thought I'd share with you some pieces that I've been reading which lay out some of the best arguments for Israel to continue Operation Just Reward. Amongst the many columns I've read since the commencement of the IDF's operation against Hezbollah, I have to say that David Warren(Ottawa Citizen), and syndicated columnists Charles Krauthammer, William Murchinson and Jonah Goldberg seem to lay out some of the best arguments as to why Israel has to keep on the offensive and avoid more sand-traps that the world community of diplomats and politicians throw before Israel for mere peace. So along with reading Fire of Liberty, I suggest you read these supplemental pieces to understand the why Israel can't and shouldn't back down.

Harper Returning Glory Back To Canada's Armed Forces

Fire of Liberty

While President Bush(and the American public) has seen good friends and allies like Spain's PM Jose Maria Aznar and Italy's PM Silvio Berlusconi fall to the hands of their opponents(Who are of the left and critical of US military efforts and the funding of their militaries due to their devotion of money towards socialistic friendly projects) in recent elections. Well thankfully to the wise voters in Canada, the US has found a new great friend with the election of the Conservative leader Stephen Harper as their new PM. Not only is Harper a friendly conservative from the Western part of Canada that gets along with President Bush(Unlike former leaders like Jean Cretian and Paul Martin) he's also someone who realizes that the current war on terror is very important and if Canada is going to have a impact in fighting the various Islamic terrorists or have an effective voice in world affairs, then the country has got to boost up their military budget. It's rather amazing that a nation that participated pretty heavily in the invasion of Normandy has to call on a second nation for providing a heavy lift capability for Canada's military conducting operations with NATO or their commitments in Afghanistan.

Thankfully, Stephen Harper has begun reintroducing Canada onto the world stage by putting more oomph into the military budget. Here's what the good folks over at the WSJ editorial board had to say about PM Stephen Harper and his fellow Conservatives'(Along with some brave and stand-pat Liberals)budget turn-around with regards to defense spending:
But even discounting for hyperbole, we think Mr. Harper deserves credit, and more media coverage, for his recent announcement that Canada will spend US$13.5 billion to upgrade its military. The money will go to purchase much-needed equipment, including 16 military helicopters, three navy supply ships, 2,300 high-tech trucks, and 21 aircraft capable of transporting troops and heavy equipment.

The Harper government had previously announced plans to add 23,000 troops to Canada's current force of 62,000 active-duty and 26,000 reserve forces, and to boost base military spending to C$20 billion over the next five years from C$14 billion. In May, the Canadian Parliament voted to keep Canadian troops in Afghanistan until 2009.

What a difference an election makes. Last year, before the Conservatives beat the Liberals in a close vote, Canada spent a mere 1.1% of its GDP on defense, the lowest in NATO after tiny Luxembourg. By contrast, the U.S. spent 3.8%, and the NATO average was 1.9% (a figure inflated by high levels of defense spending in Greece and Turkey, which are preparing for the possibility of fighting each other). Germany spent a mere 1.4% of GDP on defense last year; Italy, 1.8%; and Spain, 1.2%. Britain and France both broke the unofficial NATO expectation of 2% of GDP at 2.5% and 2.3%, respectively.
I have to say it's about time Canada return this great nation back a military power with teeth rather than having to rent or catch a ride from other nations. If Canada can move out of this miserly attitude that had become synonymous with the Liberal government then President Bush has another friendly face in NATO and the G8 throughout the rest of his term. Here's hoping Harper has great fortune at the helm in Canada and such an increase in the military budget will rub off on other members of NATO.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Israel Gaining Ground on Hezbollah

Fire of Liberty

It seems that the Israelis are making great strides in taking out Hezbollah's deadly Katyusha and Zezal missiles which have reigned utter terror on the citizens of Israel for far too long. Here's wishing Israel good fortune in its campaign against the evil horde of Hezbollah.

The True Nature of the Regime In Cuba

Fire of Liberty

Here's another reason why I look forward to the day that Fidel Castro puffs his last cigar.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Australia on the Rise As A Major Energy Supplier

Fire of Liberty
As I was looking through the Financial Times, I came across this article which noted that the government of Australia is stepping up its efforts in becoming a new supplier of energy needs. Here's how Australian Prime Minister John Howard summed up this new front with regards to various sources of energy:
"“Australia can, and should, supply the domestic and world economies with low-cost energy,"” the prime minister told a high profile business gathering in Sydney. "“Making the most of a comparative advantage in energy is not just in the national interest. It raises global economic welfare as well."

Global interest in Australia's vast coal, gas and uranium reserves has risen sharply both because of the surge in demand for energy from China and India and, more recently, because of the deteriorating situation in the Middle East and record oil prices.

"“As an efficient, reliable supplier, Australia has a massive opportunity to increase its share of global energy trade. With the right policies, we have the makings of an energy superpower,"” said Mr Howard, a down-to-earth politician who rarely makes bold geo-political statements.

As recently as five years ago, Australia was dismissed as an "“old economy" and its currency fell to an all-time low against the US dollar because of its perceived outdated dependence on commodities.

The country is the world'’s largest exporter of coal, accounting for about 30 per cent of world trade in the commodity, has almost 40 per cent of low-cost uranium reserves and is on course to become the second biggest exporter of liquefied natural gas by 2015.

"“We are one of only a few net energy exporters in the developed world and our relative proximity to rapidly growing energy markets in Asia is an obvious asset,"” Mr Howard added.
From the looks of what PM Howard has noted about the massive quantities of coal, uranium, and LNG, I'd say that a lot of the world and possibly the US will have a friendlier and safer source of energy to go to instead of having to venture into volatile regions like the Middle East, Africa and nations like Venezuela. Along with finding a safer port, this opening up of Australia's massive energy supplies for sale also creates yet another entity in the global energy markets that not only introduces greater competition but possibly lower prices. All in all this new energy policy being proposed by John Howard will not only provide a major boost to Australia's financial well- being but also big strategic anchor with regards to the Asia/Pacific region. So hats off to our good friends "down under".

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Hearty Reading On Israel's Operation Against Hezbollah

Fire of Liberty

With the weekend coming up, I thought I'd give you a couple of pieces to read on Israel's operations in southern Lebanon and some of the actors pushing this current fight.

The first article is on the response that Dan Gillerman, Israel's Ambassador to the UN, gave on their actions against Hezbollah during an emergency meeting at the UN Security Council.

Secondly, here's a piece by Yaakov Katz that draws a vibrant picture of the security situation at the border of Lebanon where the deadly terrorists of Hezbollah sit and wait to launch their deadly missiles in Israel.

Thirdly, here a great analysis of the whole situation by the Jerusalem Post's Editor-in Chief David Horovitz. It's a pretty good read on the situation.

Fourth, check out this profile of Hezbollah by Jeffrey Goldberg in the New Yorker, which comes in handy during the current conflict.

Finally, also check out these wonderful pieces here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Pushing Hezbollah Back

Fire of Liberty
According to this piece in the Israeli daily Ha'aretz, the Hezbollah terrorists have acquired a new variant of the Katyusha missile known as the Zelzal-2 which has a range up to 200km(124.2 miles) and a 600 kilogram warhead. If you add this missile along with the enormous arsenal of Katyusha's(13,000 with a range of 12-25 km), Fajar-3 and Fajar 5(500 with a range of 45 to 75 km) and some 115 km Katyusha's, Hezbollah is able to reach a considerable amount of Israel from its bases along the Israeli/Lebanese border. With a considerable amount of the folks in Israel under a everyday barrage of these deadly fire and forget missiles in the hands of Hezbollah in the Beka'a valley(And a lesser extent in Gaza) PM Olmert and his diligent officers in the Northern Command of the IDF have finally decided that a new era of Israeli national security has to come about. The most obvious component of this new era of security is that the terrorists of Hezbollah are pushed well behind their current location with such a commanding reach of their missiles within Israel. Now the greatest of Israel's wishes in the complete elimination of Hezbollah their current goal is to make life a living hell in southern Lebanon for Hezbollah by cutting out their access to more weapons like the Zelzal-2 and Katyushas, re-enforcements, food, command and control, and their ability to rally their supporters by bombing roads, bridges, air/sea ports, radio/TV stations, Hezbollah headquarters thus creating a greater push-back of these terrorists into the interior of Lebanon and lessening their threats. All in all, Israel is securing their own national security by taking on the assets of Hezbollah through this excellent air campaign over the sky of Lebanon and won't rest until these terrorists are forced to cease their deadly operations against Israel.

I'd say that my early predictions of PM Olmert and his Kadima party showing a sign of weakness at the hands of terrorists by turning inward by leaving Gaza and pulling up the drawbridge was a mistake on my part. Now it took a little while for Olmert and his friends on the left to see the threat staring them in the face but from the looks of it PM Olmert is handling the situation with regards to the terrorists of Hamas and Hezbollah pretty darn well. One shouldn't forget that it doesn't take much for the leadership of nation that is so small and surrounded by a den of deadly adversaries to get their bearings straight and take on this challenge head-on.(Don't forget that all Israelis (With the exception of some highly orthodox Jews) have to serve in the military and are pretty much devoted to the survival of their nation.) So I wish the IDF, the people of Israel and their government with a hearty salute and wish them well in their efforts to take-down the deadly terrorists of Hamas and Hezbollah.

A 21st Century Military

Fire of Liberty

It seems that ever since the Pentagon fully introduced UAVs(Unmanned Aerial Vehicles)to the battlefield in Afghanistan following September 11, 2001, the demand for these flying surveillance craft have gone amongst our soldiers in the battlefield. While folks in Congress might snicker or put-down Secretary Rumsfeld for re-structuring our military for the 21st Century by reducing divisions into smaller and more mobile units that depend on greater uses of technology but from the looks of this story in USA Today, I'd say that Secretary Rumsfeld is taking us down the right path. Now aside from these UAVs providing a heads-up for our soldiers in locating terrorists, enemy forces and intelligence gathering it also provides us with a psychological advantage over our enemies because they're always looking over their shoulder to see if the US is watching or waiting to strike them dead in their tracks. So hand it to Secretary Rumsfeld for pushing forward the usage and further development of these UAVs.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Israel Takes the Battle to the Terrorists

Fire of Liberty

As a great friend of Israel, I have to say that I'm very supportive of PM Olmert and the IDF's current operations in Gaza and southern Lebanon against Hamas and Hezbollah. One can't knock Israel for using the strength of its armed forces to take on these terrorist groups who fire hundreds upon hundreds of Katyusha and Kassam rockets, capture Israeli soldiers and take them to Lord knows where, sponsor suicide bombers who kill or maim women and children eating at various restaurants because their citizens of Israel(About a million Arabs are Israeli citizens). Though I'd argue that Israel should place a greater focus on the Hezbollah stronghold in the southern part of Lebanon rather than on the airport at Beirut and an Lebanese army base, I have to say the IDF is doing a good job via its uses of intelligence and manpower in taking on the monsters of Hezbollah and Hamas. Time and time again, Israel(As well as the US) has proven that a hard and steady operation against Islamic terrorist groups furthers the destruction of these deadly groups and greater tranquility in Israel. Now while taking out these terrorists in Gaza and Lebanon is a step in the right direction it is only the tip of the iceberg. What needs to be addressed is the 800 lb gorillas sitting in the room which is the support and command and control coming out of the governments of Iran and Syria. If the ultimate test is to ensure the survivability of Israel and the furtherance of peace in the Middle East then the terror-masters in Tehran and Damascus have to be held accountable.

After all these years of restraint and diplomacy in the Middle East, these terrorists have grown in strength and pose a enormous threat to Israel, the US and its allies in the Arab world. I'd say that today is the turning point with regards to taking on such terrorists and their terror-masters. In fact, the editorial board of the New York Sun pretty much sums up such an argument in today's featured editorial when they noted the following:
Damascus — and also Tehran, as the White House realized in a statement yesterday.The White House said it held Syria and Iran, "which have provided longstanding support" for Hezbollah, responsible. It said the actions of Hezbollah are "not in the interest of the Lebanese people, whose welfare should not be held hostage to the interests of the Syrian and Iranian regimes."

It was a more sensible statement than the one issued by Secretary of State Rice, who said, "All sides must act with restraint." It is "restraint," both Israeli and American, that put America and Israel and the people of Lebanon in this situation. How else to explain that nearly five years into the war on Islamic extremist terrorism that began in earnest on September 11, 2001, two terror-sponsoring regimes, at Damascus and Tehran, are in power and supporting terrorism?

As far back as 1994, the State Department's annual Patterns of Global Terrorism report said of Hezbollah that it is "Known or suspected to have been involved in numerous anti-US terrorist attacks, including the suicide truck-bombing of the US Embassy and US Marine barracks in Beirut in October 1983 and the US Embassy annex in Beirut in September 1984. Group also hijacked TWA 847 in 1985." The annual State Department report has given a similar summary, under both the Clinton and Bush administrations, for 12 years. How else but "restraint" to explain that Hezbollah is operating with impunity, waging new attacks against the West from a position within a Lebanon in which its representatives hold 23 in seats parliament and a Hezbollah official is minister of energy and water.

What else but "restraint" could explain that American Christian leaders have been meeting with Hezbollah officials? One such American, a Presbyterian elder from Pittsburgh, Ronald Stone, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, after such a meeting in 2004, "When you meet Hezbollah on a Sunday afternoon, they're not running around with guns. There are things that Hezbollah does that are a social service, such as health, education and social welfare."

We join the prayers of all Americans and Israelis of goodwill for peace. But the words of the Israeli prime minister who undertook the withdrawal from Lebanon — "No one knows better than I that the war is not yet over" — have never been more timely. The lesson of Lebanon is that restraint is no substitute for victory. In striking Iranian-controlled targets in Gaza as well as targets in Lebanon, Prime Minister Olmert is recognizing he is engaged in a broader war, a point he also made a few weeks ago when he sent warplanes to buzz the seaside summer palace of the dictator at Damascus, Bashar al-Assad.
I'd say the sooner the regimes in Syria and Iran fall to the wayside the greater the chances the West and Israel have in ending or reducing the scourge of Islamic terrorism in the region. So let's get the ball rolling!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Yes Virginia, Tax Cuts Do Work

Fire of Liberty

I'd have to say that President is kicking butt in reaching his deficit reduction goals by passing substantial cuts in our tax rates. Let's just hope the budgeteers in Congress(As well as the Bush administration in its budget proposal) get serious on keeping extravagant spending down and making the tax cuts permanent. Anyway, it's a good day for our economy, especially when the President announces such before the American public.

Islamic Terrorists Try To Break India

Fire of Liberty

As I survey the twisted metal of the train cars that were hit by some eight explosions today in India, I'm reminded of the fact that Islamic terrorists(Al Qaeda or other groups with the same interests) are always chomping at the bit to wreak havoc on a large mass of innocent people who are trying to live their lives in peace. As with 9/11, the bombings in Spain and the deadly attacks on the public transit in London, the destruction of the trains in Mumbai(Bombay) just shows you that we have to be even more vigilant in our efforts of preventing such horrors by tracking, disrupting and killing the Islamic terrorists throughout the world. Now while the press seems to throw-up the typical argument that these explosions are out of the dispute between Pakistan and India over Kashmir but I'm guessing that it's a classic al-Qaeda coordinated attack enacted by Islamic terrorists who want to murder individuals because they're not Muslims and don't subscribe to the blood-cult of Osama and his fellow killers. You could also say that this attack fits the profile of an al-Qaeda operation because it occurred in a large metropolitan that is the beacon of South Asia because it's the India financial capital and home to Bollywood all of which irks the terrorists.

As I've noted in previous posts, India is a great democracy and a pretty darn good ally in our current war on terror. I'm hoping that India will be vigilant in tracking down and killing such terrorists for conducting the murder of 160 plus people and countless injuries rather than retreating into a shell much like Spain. After reading the following comments by Indian PM Manmohan Singh in the Indian Express, I'm confident that they'll continue the fight against Islamic terrorism. So I give them applause for picking up the torch and carrying on the fight. As for the families of the dead and injured, I offer my prayers. It might not help a Hindu and most likely Muslims but in my eyes, every prayers helps.

***Here's how President Bush responded to the horrific acts of terrorism in India.

MSM Over-Reach on Gitmo Memo

Fire of Liberty

Now while NPR, the New York Times, CNN and the rest of the MSM are shouting from the rooftops that the White House has backed away from its stand on enemy combatants/terrorists being held at Gitmo by giving them Common Article 3 of the Geneva Convention the fail to read the fine print on the memo coming out of the Pentagon. Thankfully, National Review Online's Andy McCarthy is on the job and points out over at The Corner that the White House hasn't changed course but has codified the policy that has been in existence after September 11th, which means they're given the minimal rights like: being treated humanely and can't be tried under the military tribunals as the are currently structured.(I mentioned how the tribunals can be fixed on July 1, 2006 in the post titled Supreme Court Should Interpret Laws not Make Them). If you want to read McCarthy's well thought out argument on this memo and the MSM's over-reading on the memo then check out the post here. I just hope that we never relent on our fight against the terrorists by bending to the whims of the MSM, liberals/ACLU crowd and the world community by treating the terrorists as POW. From the looks of McCarthy's post, I'd say we're holding firm but maybe we could handle the release of such news better. For me, the best advice I can give to our soldiers is to kill the terrorists/enemy combatants in the battle-zone so we don't have to worry about them, it might hurt us in the intelligence gathering field but it sure beats this. Ralph Peters, a retired officer in the US Army, offers a more extensive argument on why it's better to kill the terrorists in his most recent column in the New York Post. So check out both of these interesting pieces to understand what our soldiers and the civilian leaders have to deal with while prosecuting terrorists in the wilds of the world as well as in the West.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Embracing the Center-Right

Fire of Liberty

Michael Barone has written a wonderful piece over at RealClearPolitics that pretty much explains why the voters in the US, Canada, Mexico and other countries of Central and South America have drifted towards the center-right in their most recent elections. Here's a sample:
All three won thanks to huge margins in economically vibrant hinterlands--George W. Bush's Texas, Stephen Harper's Alberta, Vicente Fox's Guanajuato. Calderon carried the Mexican states north of metro Mexico City by 47 to 22 percent over Lopez Obrador. These are the states where you find giant new factories, glistening shopping malls, rising office buildings, new middle-class subdivisions, Wal-Marts, freshly paved highways. This is the Mexico that NAFTA has brought into being. Just as Bush carried most of our fastest-growing states and Harper's Conservatives carried Canada's fastest-growing province, so Mexico's northern states, which produced more than half the nation's population growth from 2000 to 2005, voted PAN.

These center-right parties all stand for change--change in the sense of allowing a vibrant private sector to grow and alter our ways of living and making a living. Their opponents tend to stand against change, for the vested interests of public-sector unions, for (in Canada and Mexico) the subsidy of anti-American metropolitan elites. Some years ago, I predicted that NAFTA would produce a Texafication of North America. NAFTA was in large part a Texas project, pushed forward by President George H. W. Bush and shepherded to ratification here by Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen, who grew up in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, and in Mexico by President Carlos Salinas, who grew up in nearby Monterrey. Since 1993, the United States, Canada, and Mexico have all become more like Texas, as people move away from high-tax and slow-growth places. Bush in 2000 and Harper and Calderon in 2006 would not have won on the demographics of the 1980s. But they won on the demographics of today--though, let's remember, by narrow margins.
Let's just hope that this turn to the right isn't just a brief interlude in history. As long as these conservative and center-right governnment's hewn to the policies that got them elected in the first place they'll enjoy a long tenure. So keep it up.

Russia Bags a Terrorist

Fire of Liberty
Dead Pirate

Now while I'm not big fan of Russia's "scorched earth" policy with regards to Chechnya, I've got to hand it to Putin and the Russian security forces for taking down Shamil Basayev. According to this article in the Washington Times, Basayev, the mastermind of the attack on the school in Beslan that resulted in 330 deaths, and 12 fellow terrorists met their maker during an overnight operation in Ekazhevo(Ingushetia province). While the report notes that these terrorists probably died via an accidental explosion, I'm betting on the severity of the explosion and the fact that it happened at night as a classic counterterrorism mission that was conducted on behalf of the Russian military and intelligence services. Though it's true that time is the best equalizer for facts on this operation, I've got to give it to Russia for chalking up more victory in the war on global Islamofascism. This is one thing Putin has going for, to bad we can't say the same with regards to Russia's slide away from liberalism(classical).

Sunday, July 09, 2006

The 50th B-Day of the Interstate Highway

Fire of Liberty
George Will has a good column out today commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the formation of the Interstate Highway System(IHS) and rightly points out the monumental impact that this enormous federal works project has had on this great nation. Now while I'm generally disinclined to raise my hand in support of the federal government spending lots of the taxpayer's money on various projects to solve a specific set of problems, I have to agree with Will's assessment on the impact and success of IHS. I guess I'm so apt to support this because the Constitution specifically enumerates the power to build roads(national defense, printing money and other powers which are found in Article 1: Section 2) I further applaud the development of the IHS after reading the following from Will's column:
The first Republican president began his public life as a 23-year-old candidate for the Illinois General Assembly by telling voters of Sangamon County his "sentiments with regard to local affairs," the first sentiment being "the public utility of internal improvements." The vigor of the Union also was a preoccupation of Teddy Roosevelt, the eighth Republican president, whose great internal improvement, the Panama Canal, was external, although he thought of Panama as America's private property. And Eisenhower's message to Congress advocating the interstate system began, "Our unity as a nation is sustained by free communication of thought and by easy transportation of people and goods."

No legislator more ardently supported the IHS than the Tennessee Democrat who was chairman of the Senate Public Works subcommittee on roads. His state had benefited handsomely from the greatest federal public works project of the prewar period, the Tennessee Valley Authority, which, by bringing electrification to a large swath of the South, accelerated the closing of the regional development gap that had stubbornly persisted since the Civil War. This senator who did so much to put postwar America on roads suitable to bigger, more powerful cars was Al Gore Sr. His son may consider this marriage of concrete and the internal combustion engine sinful, but Tennessee's per capita income, which was just 70 percent of the national average in 1956, today is 90 percent.

The IHS -- combined, as Fortune magazine's Justin Fox writes, with another bright idea from 1956, the shipping container -- made America's distribution system more flexible. This benefited manufacturers, foreign and domestic, especially in America's hitherto lagging region, the South. This is one reason there is a thriving Southern-based automobile industry (BMW in South Carolina; Mercedes in Alabama; Honda in both Carolinas, Georgia and Alabama; Toyota in Tennessee, Alabama and Kentucky). Furthermore, the South is home to some of today's "big box" retailers -- Wal-Mart (Bentonville, Ark.), Home Depot (Atlanta) -- as well as FedEx (Memphis).
So thank you President Eisenhower for such a wonderful gift.

Friday, July 07, 2006

7/7 is Just the Tip of the Iceberg of Radical Islam in London

Fire of Liberty

While watching the coverage of the one year anniversary of the deadly subway/double-decker bus bombing in London, I kept hearing reporters carry on about how the folks in the England have accepted the fact that terrorism is a way of life now as well as others calling for greater tolerance and coming together. Now while I'm perturbed by the MSM promoting their typical talking points about the people of London accepting terrorism(I'm radically opposed to laying down and rolling over for terrorists. I guess that's what makes me a great fan of Churchill, Thatcher, Reagan, GWB, and Israel.), I'm far more bothered with this call for tolerance or reconciliation amongst the various communities in London. Well the problem with this call for more tolerance for the various Islamic groups in London is that the government of England has been doing this for way too long and has turned their eyes away from the growth of Islamic fundamentalism and the actions of these individuals within and around the various neighborhoods in London thus the emergence of Richard Reid (The shoe bomber), Abu Hamza al-Masri, the radicalism within the Finsbury Mosque as well as the actions of July 7, 2005. Luckily the people of England and London have become well are of how "multi-culturalism" turned to ten has had on their country with the most recent publication of Londonistan by the Daily Mail's columnist Melaine Phillips. Within this well written book, Phillips provides her readers with a well detailed look at how individuals of the ilk of Abu Hamza have used the freedoms that the people in England take for granted as well as the ideas of multi-culturalism to fly under the radar thus entrenching radical Islam root and branch within the UK thus threatening the viability of the English society as a whole. I highly recommend you read the book but in the meantime and for the sake of those who died on July 7, 2005, I suggest you take a look at this interview over at Encounter Books between terrorism expert Steven Emerson and Melanie Phillips to understand how much a threat Islamic fundamentalism has become in London. Take a look.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

North Korea's Deadly Game of Chicken

Fire of Liberty

It seems that North Korea had its Taepodong-2 missile aimed at Hawaii. Now according to some sources, the Taepodong -2 is a pretty bad knock-off of a Chinese rocket and was fired merely for a show of force. Though the rocket didn't go far it still shows you they're embolden enough to fire such rockets. What we've got to worry about their No-Dong rockets which have a shorter range but are far more dangerous to our friends in South Korea, Japan not to mention our troops. Look forward to the Hermit Kingdom presenting more surprises in the future. (My question is why haven't two B-2 bombers swooped down out of the midnight sky and laid the launch sites to waste.)

Israel: A Rock in the Stormy Middle East

Fire of Liberty
Peter Worthington is spot on in his column on Israel's response to the Islamic terrorists in Gaza kidnapping Cpl. Gilad Shalit and their continued firing of Kassams rockets into Israel when he noted:
Most people who aren't Israelis or who haven't endured state oppression would likely argue that peace is more important than the life of one person. They are wrong.

Back around 1900, many Americans disagreed with then-President Teddy Roosevelt sending the Marines to Morocco and threatening war unless a tribal Rif chieftain, Raisuli, freed Ion Perdicaris, a U.S. businessman he was holding for ransom.

Raisuli, no fool, promptly capitulated, thus ensuring the safety of U.S. citizens everywhere.

When an Air France Boeing 707 was hijacked by the PLO to Entebbe, Uganda, in 1976 and all non-Israeli passengers were freed (the pilot and crew gallantly stayed with their Israeli hostages), Israel staged a daring to free the captives.

Many thought such a raid foolhardy, if not suicidal. But it succeeded, thus ensuring that future hijackings aimed at Israel would fail.

Pacifists in 1939 argued that Britain should not go to war over Nazi Germany's invasion of Poland, yet Britain did so, because after failing to oppose the seizure of Czechoslovakia and Rhineland, it felt it had no choice.

It's similar with Cpl. Shalit. Israel, really, has no choice. If it abdicates on decisive action, or if harassing air strikes don't persuade his captors to release Shalit, or if he is killed, Israel is justified in stern reaction that will give pause to future incidents.

Israel has the potential to obliterate Gaza, now under the control of Hamas, which has a tenuous arrangement with its rival, Fatah -- sort of good cop/bad cop, with Hamas' militancy supposedly balanced by Fatah's willingness to negotiate.

The trouble is, Palestinians may feel they cannot release Shalit without losing face. And Israel may feel the same, if bombings and surgical strikes don't work.

The stakes are higher for Israel. If it loses this one, and if Cpl. Shalit is killed without maximum Israeli response, then it will happen again. Israel must make the kidnappers and those who support them pay a horrible price.

Military action can be more decisive than endless negotiations which go nowhere. In this case, one citizen symbolizes all Israelis.
It's always good to find a nation like Israel that is willing to face a danger no matter what others might think or say about them. This is one of the main reasons why I like Israel so much.

***Also, check out this wonderful piece in the Jerusalem Post by Lauren Gelfond Feldinger on the daring raid on Entebbe.

Vive Calderon

Fire of Liberty

I'd like to offer a hearty Congrats to Felipe Calderon and his victory over Lopez Obrador. If we're going to see a turn-around in the massive migration of illegals across our southern border then a free-marketer who understands the workings of a dynamic economy is a must. Now while Calderon will face a lot of mountains by weeding out the one-man monopolies and the nightmarish government regulations he opens up the door to greater competition and creates an atmosphere that is more open to more jobs and better pay. This surely beats the hard-line socialism of greater welfare spending and protectionist policies that Obrador was hawking. Here hoping Calderon achieves a lot in introducing greater liberalism to the Mexican economy and helping Mexico climb up the ladder of economic growth.

Stop Appeasing North Korea

Fire of Liberty

Since July 4th I've been pondering an answer on what should be done with North Korea and its recent launching of some seven missiles. In fact it looks like North Korea is playing its typical shakedown games in which they shoot off various missiles into the ocean or in the vicinity of Japan to get the Americans and the world community fidgety enough so they are offered something like energy supplies, bank accounts being un-frozen, or loosening of country by country sanctions in which they subsequently cool off their jets and they scamper back into their lair only to reappear some years later with something new and more deadly. The best solution for this situation is to stop rewarding the thugs in Pyongyang like we did in 1994, 1998, 2000 and 2004 in which we either offered them light water reactors, fuel supplies, sending various diplomats to wine and dine Kim Jong Il or giving them a seat in diplomatic talks. All of these have resulted in the furthering of North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs that just endangers Japan, South Korea and our troops stationed in these respected countries and embolden the Hermit Kingdom to continue their aggressive actions.

Now I'm all for the US and its partners seeking a diplomatic solution to the current situation but after years of thinking and observing the actions of Kim Il Sung and his son, I'm beginning to believe that the North Korean government is like a child who doesn't get enough trips to the woodshed for their temper tantrums. So I say that we launch several missiles on the various ballistic missile sights and warn them that the next time they do this again we'll drop even more but it'll be to cripple Kim Jong Il's regime. Though this will anger Russia and China not to mention a possible conflagration with North Korea it just demonstrates that we mean business with regards to preventing North Korea from expanding their deadly projects. Though my advice doesn't seem to hold water with the world community or the current administration , I'm betting that it probably would shake Kim Jong Il and his friends up and get their attention.

While my take on North Korea might be too aggressive for the US to do, I'm willing to offer a third way which is the rollback of the Stalinistic regime of Kim Jong Il. It'd be far better for us and the innocent people under the iron boot of the 'Dear Leader'. I think the editorial board of the New York Sun summed up this third way today in a editorial when they noted the following:
President Bush, the United Nations Security Council, and the American foreign policy establishment are all aflutter about the North Korean missile launch. But the one who by our lights appears to understand the matter better than anyone is the 39-year-old president of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili. "I just sent over to President Bush the letter that Georgian freedom fighters sent him seven years ago, and it never made it to the White House. It was intercepted by KGB and all the people who wrote it were shot," Mr. Saakashvili said yesterday during a visit with the president in the Oval Office. "I'm sure lots of people out there in Korea are writing similar letters today. And I'm sure that North Korean missiles will never reach the United States, but those letters will, eventually, very soon, because that's a part of the freedom agenda that President Bush has and we strongly believe in."

President Bush, the United Nations Security Council, and the American foreign policy establishment are all aflutter about the North Korean missile launch. But the one who by our lights appears to understand the matter better than anyone is the 39-year-old president of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili. "I just sent over to President Bush the letter that Georgian freedom fighters sent him seven years ago, and it never made it to the White House. It was intercepted by KGB and all the people who wrote it were shot," Mr. Saakashvili said yesterday during a visit with the president in the Oval Office. "I'm sure lots of people out there in Korea are writing similar letters today. And I'm sure that North Korean missiles will never reach the United States, but those letters will, eventually, very soon, because that's a part of the freedom agenda that President Bush has and we strongly believe in."

The point we take from Mr. Saakashvili's comments was that it isn't the North Korean missiles themselves that are the threat but rather the Communist regime in Pyongyang. The reaction to the missile launch - American consultations with Russia and Communist China and a race to the U.N. Security Council, which itself includes Russia and Communist China, is in that sense beside the point. Communist China does not want a free North Korea, for that could lead to a free mainland China. Nor is President Putin, who spent 17 years in the KGB, particularly interested in chalking up another big win for freedom and democracy. Even South Korea isn't particularly interested in being unified with a free North Korea. Seoul is wary of the economic challenge of bringing its impoverished Northern neighbors up to modern standards of living the way West Germany did when it was reunited with a liberated East Germany.
I prefer missile sights being engulfed in bright glowing explosions with Kim Jong Il and his buddies cowering in Pyongyang and forgoing their missile and nuke program but I'm game with the suggestion of removing the regime root and branch. Whatever we do, let's find a better solution to ending the problem without bending over backwards and handing them the kitchen sink in hopes they calm down.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

A Lesser Known But Important Founding Father

Fire of Liberty
While tons of books and articles have been written on Founding Fathers like George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, there hasn't been many things written on the lesser known John Witherspoon. According to this piece by Roger Kimball over at OpinionJournal(WSJ's free opinion page), Witherspoon was the only minister to sign the Declaration of the Independence but he was also a talented administrator of Princeton University who was a noteworthy scholar of freedom and liberty in the ranks of political philosophers like Hume, Locke and Adam Smith. So if you want to learn a little bit on John Witherspoon then I suggest you read this wonderful piece by Kimball. You won't be disappointed.

Remembering The Somme 90 yrs. Later

Fire of Liberty
One thing I forgot to mention this past weekend was the 90th anniversary of The Battle of the Somme in which some 20,000 British, French and Newfoundland troops died before a massive German force within the first hour. (According to some reports, the German soldiers just stopped firing because they had grown sick of seeing the blood and guts of the various young men who were thrown into the meat-grinder.) Thankfully, Peter Worthington of the Toronto Sun has a good piece out today that pays a great tribute to the men who fell in the plains of France fighting for their nation and ideals of freedom and democracy. Now while folks rightly criticize the higher ups in the respected militaries/governments for putting these young men in such horror, you've got to salute these young men who braved certain death to charge forward to fight for G-d and Country. So lets give a hoorah to these brave young lads and be grateful that our soldiers don't have to face a meat-grinder like these soldiers faced and the Somme(Close to a million dead over a 137 day period).

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Celebrate America's 230th B-Day with Pride

Fire of Liberty

Happy 4th of July. I think President John Adams provided the best observation of the importance in celebrating the birth of our nation when he noted the following in a letter to his wife:
I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more. You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.
So have a safe night and enjoy the fireworks on the 230 year birthday of our nation.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Ethanol not the Miracle Fuel that Folks Think it Is

Fire of Liberty
James Jordan and James Powell who are research professors in Maglev Research Center at Polytechnic University of New York have an interesting piece(Registration required) in Sunday's Washington Post that points out that all the excitement that has been created over the usage of ethanol as an alternative for petroleum based fuels is pure hype with regards to the usage in the US. Jordan and Powell points out that even if we used our current corn crop of 73 million acres to produce ethanol(25.5 billion barrels)we'd produce only an equivalent of 6 billion gallons of gas. As Jordan and Powell notes, this is a lot of work and usage of a food crop just to produce such a small amount of fuel whose own fuel value is only about 2/3's that of gasoline(1.5 gal. ethanol = 1 gal. of gas). All in all, Jordan and Powell lay out a good argument on why the usage of ethanol is not the silver bullet towards ending our dependency on foreign sources of petroleum and oil in general that the MSM, the Greens, Bill O'Reilly, corn growers and President Bush seem to keep touting about. I'd say that Jordan and Powell summed up the futility of the US trying to take us down a ethanol only highway when they noted the following:
It is argued that rather than using corn to make ethanol, we can use agricultural wastes. But the amounts are still a drop in the bucket. Using the crop residues (called corn stover) from corn production could provide about 10 billion gallons per year of ethanol, according to a recent study by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The net energy available would be greater than with ethanol from corn -- about 60,000 Btu per gallon, equivalent to a half-gallon of gasoline. Still, all of the U.S. corn wastes would produce only the equivalent of 5 billion gallons of gasoline. Another factor to be considered: Not plowing wastes back into the land hurts soil fertility.

Similar limitations and problems apply to growing any crop for biofuels, whether switchgrass, hybrid willow, hybrid poplar or whatever. Optimistically, assuming that switchgrass or some other crop could produce 1,000 gallons of ethanol per acre, over twice as much as we can get from corn plus stover, and that its net energy was 60,000 Btu per gallon, ethanol from 300 million acres of switchgrass still could not supply our present gasoline and diesel consumption, which is projected to double by 2025. The ethanol would meet less than half of our needs by that date.

Perhaps more important: The agricultural effects of such a large-scale program would be devastating.

Recently, there has been lots of excitement and media coverage about how Brazil produces ethanol for its automobile fuel and talk that America should follow its lead. But Brazil consumes only 10 billion gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel annually, compared with America's 170 billion. There are almost 4 million miles of paved roads in America -- Brazil has 60,000. And Brazil is the leading producer of sugar cane -- more than 300 million tons annually -- so it has lots of agricultural waste to make ethanol.

Finally, considering projected population growth in the United States and the world, the humanitarian policy would be to maintain cropland for growing food -- not fuel. Every day more than 16,000 children die from hunger-related causes -- one child every five seconds. The situation will only get worse. It would be morally wrong to divert cropland needed for human food supply to powering automobiles. It would also deplete soil fertility and the long-term capability to maintain food production. We would destroy the farmland that our grandchildren and their grandchildren will need to live.
I'd say the best thing we could do is create a mix of gasoline and alternative fuels rather than junking oil altogether. No matter what, the markets and demands of the people will be a far better judge in determining the viability of these fuels than what the folks in D.C. think is best.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Securing the Western Canon

Fire of Liberty

Michael Gove, a Conservative MP for Surrey Heath(UK) and columnist for The Times, has a new book out called Celsius 7/7 which lays out in great detail how much of a threat that radical Islam actually is for the West. Instead of me telling you about this insightful but scary book on the dangerous world of Islamo-fascism, I suggest you read the following excerpt of Gove's work here and here.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Clearing the Jackals From the Middle East

Fire of Liberty

I'd say that this piece by Jed Babbin is an excellent summation of why the IDF is making incursions into Gaza. Here a brief sample:
Last year's Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip was a council of despair. Ungovernable and with a deeply-embedded terrorist infrastructure, Gaza was only a source of casualties for Israel. Withdrawal - accompanied by sealing the borders to prevent terrorist incursions - appeared the last best hope. Maybe Ariel Sharon could have brought off the idea of withdrawing and sealing off Gaza as a terrorist base. But Ehud Olmert is no Sharon, and as Olmert watched Gaza became Hamastan.

Terrorist, anarchic Hamastan proved a jar that couldn't be sealed. This year alone about eight hundred rockets were fired from it into Israel and though dozens of terrorist incursions were foiled, more and more succeeded as the Gaza-based terrorists learned how to penetrate the Israeli barriers. Still, the Olmert government hung back. It lacked the courage and decisiveness needed to re-enter Gaza to stamp out the terrorist enclaves. And, more importantly, it couldn't go back into Gaza without admitting that its withdrawal policy was a failure. Instead, Olmert ineptly struck back at rocket launch points and Israel's ability to defend itself seemed - thanks to Palestinian disinformation campaigns directed at sympathetic media -- to produce innocent civilian casualties among the Palestinians.

Hamastan poses problems both too large and too small for Israel to solve. The small problems, such as terrorists excavating the terror tunnel used to surprise Gilad Shalit's unit, can never be entirely prevented. The military strike into Gaza this week won't re-establish Israeli occupation, and it will from time to time be repeated. Bigger problems, such as the Hamas government and the support it gets from Israel's neighbors, won't, say some top Israelis, be solved by topping Hamas because there's no moderate Palestinians to take their place. That is another counsel of despair. Israel is stuck in a military cycle it thinks can't be broken. But it can, and it must, for our benefit as much as Israel's.

Israel can never settle the Palestinian problem by dealing only with the Palestinians just as we cannot ever settle Iraq's problems by dealing only with Iraqis. Because Israel's neighbors, and Iraq's, are the sources of their problems, so they must be the focus of the solutions. They are regional problems. If they are not solved throughout the region, they will not be solved at all.
I couldn't have said it any better. For more on the recent events in the Middle East go to the homepage of WABC 77's radio host John Batchelor and click on Radio Show Archives to get some informative reporting from the Middle East.

US is the Superman of the World

Fire of Liberty

Now this is an interesting piece by Douglas Kern over at TCS Daily that notes why it is important that the US remains at its current station on the world power totem-pole instead of becoming a "Fortress America" much like Rep. John Murtha, Sens. Kerry and Levin as well luminaries of the paleo-right like Pat Buchanan want us to be.

PM Maliki taking a Right Step in Iraq

Fire of Liberty

For the past two weeks I've been reading various articles on the Iraqi government's effort to launch a reconciliation with various factions within the Sunni minority who have taken up arms against the US and Iraqi security forces. After listening to the pros and cons of the Iraqi government going forward with such a effort, I have to say that I'm in favor of Prime Minister al-Maliki and his government going further with such talks. Now I know that the mere thought of the Iraqi government holding talks with Sunnis who have taken up arms and killed our servicemen is a little disturbing to their families and various politicians in D.C. but its a decision being made by a sovereign state that we have no control over. No matter how much we kick and scream, the Iraqi government has to be able to find a way to eliminate or at cut down the threats to their democracy in half and if talking to and bringing the least dangerous branches under the umbrella of a national unity government is the best approach then so be it. One only has to look back at the history of this nation to realize from time to time after the Revolutionary War, Civil War and our fight against the guerrillas in Philippines, the government has gone about reconciliating and pardoning American Tories, Confederates or Filipinos who took up arms or killed American soldiers during these conflicts. (With regards to individuals in the Revolutionary War and Civil War, the powers that be in the US agreed that even though taking up arms and killing American soldiers they were still Americans and should be welcomed into the fold.)Above all else, these individuals who are willing to come forward to admit their guilt and ask for a pardon is far better than having an angry mob at their throat threatening further chaos for years to come.

One thing that I didn't thing about PM al-Maliki's reconciliation plan is the fact if you bring the Sunni militias and Iraqi tribes out of the cold you will enlist more allies into the fight thus creating a smaller fishbowl for the Islamic terrorists to swim in. Well luckily for the readers of Fire of Liberty, Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer seems to sum up the necessity of the Iraqi government pushing forward a reconciliation with when noted the following in his most recent column:
In Iraq, amnesty will necessarily be part of any co-optation strategy in which insurgents lay down their arms. And it would not apply to the foreign jihadists, who, unlike the Sunni insurgents who would join the new Iraq, dream of an Islamic state built on the ruins of the current order. There is nothing to discuss with such people. The only way defeat them is to kill them, as we did Zarqawi.

But killing them requires depriving them of their sanctuary. Reconciliation-cum-amnesty gets disaffected Iraqi Sunni tribes to come over to the government's side, drying up the sea in which the jihadists swim. After all, we found Zarqawi in heavily Sunni territory by means of intelligence given to us by local Iraqis.

Protests in America over the amnesty suggestion have caused both the administration and the Maliki government to backtrack. But don't believe it. Amnesty will be an essential element in any reconciliation policy. Which, in turn, is the only route to victory -- defined today just as it was on the first day of the war: leaving behind a self-sustaining post-Saddam government, both democratic and friendly to our interests. It is attainable. The posturing over amnesty can only make it more difficult.
Let's thank G-d that the Iraqi government is running the day to day activities of Iraq and will take the heat from the voters rather than a US regent. We'll carry part of the weight with regards to the military operations in Iraq but it'd be nice to have the insurgency cut in half and more indigenous people in Iraq helping us track down and wipe out the snake den of terrorists who are the real culprits responsible for setting of bombs killing innocent citizens in Iraq.