Saturday, December 22, 2007

Huey P. Hukabee

Fire of Liberty

I'd have to say that this column by Peggy Noonan pretty much sums up Governor Huckabee. While Noonan points out his social conservative bonafides she also notes that the former is also an populist in the form of William Jennings Bryan, Huey P. Long and John Edwards. I for one can't fathom the notion that the conservatives who ascended under the rein of President Reagan's would be willing to toss their principles of free markets, smaller government/fiscal conservatism, national interest foreign policy, and pro-family for a former Governor of Arkansas that is a nice fellow who appeals to most but swears away from the other facets of conservatism that produces a winning coalition. While Huckabee is a nice fellow to hang out with or to offer you guidance in "life's highway," I believe that it's far better to lose an election by clutching to a candidate that hews to the conservative principles set by Goldwater and Reagan rather than someone who appeals to one aspect of the conservative coalition. If people thought George W. Bush went soft on conservatism with his excessive spending, growth in government, and his "compassionate conservatism,"(Even if the folks in the White House went well beyond the ideas of Marvin Olasky)they'd think he was William F. Buckley Jr and Barry Goldwater(the 60 and 64 version) compared to the plans under Huckabee's belt. The former Arkansas governor might have lost 100 lbs but he still hasn't shed the economic and political populism that he demonstrated so well in the home state of Bill Clinton. One governor from Arkansas is enough for one lifetime. From the looks of it, Gov Huckabee might be the choice of evangelicals in Iowa but isn't the choice that will forge a conservative coalition that wins elections.

*Here's George Will's take on the former Governor of Arkansas.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Romney on America's Common Creed

Fire of Liberty
I have to say that Rich Lowry's most recent column gives a pretty good assessment out today on Governor Mitt Romney's speech on faith at the George Bush Presidential Library. Here's a look:

Romney appropriately steered his discussion away from Mormonism in particular to our civic religion, or as he called it, our "common creed of moral convictions." This is our fundamental American public faith: that we are a religious people who should acknowledge our debt to our Creator in our public ceremonies and rituals, and more importantly, in our devotion to equal rights under the law and to liberty.

Believing in this civic faith is the real "religious test" in American politics; it's impossible to imagine anyone being elected president who doesn't profess it. Romney argued that demanding anything more of a presidential candidate is basically un-American. In a passage invoking shunned religious dissenters Ann Hutchison, Roger Williams and Brigham Young, he placed Mormonism in the tradition of once-exotic faiths in America that have been absorbed into the mainstream precisely because our civic religion is so broad and open.

Romney had his slips. It's not true that it would violate the Constitution's prohibition on religious tests for office if a presidential candidate talked in detail about his faith and people voted on that basis; people can vote for or against candidates for whatever reason they like. Romney seemed to contradict himself by not wanting to get into doctrine but still going out of his way to say he believes that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

But overall Romney dealt with a complex topic admirably. At bottom, all that Romney asks is something very basic -- that he be judged on his merits as a businessman, father, governor and presidential candidate.

In the conclusion of his speech, Romney talked of the difficulty of settling on a prayer at the First Continental Congress in 1774 because of all the different faiths represented there: "Then Sam Adams rose, and said he would hear a prayer from anyone of piety and good character, as long as they were a patriot." Amen.

I for one liked the speech and believe that Romney's speech was more in tune with our Founding Fathers and embodies the spirit of this this nation which is freedom. To gather a further understanding of Governor Romney's speech then I suggest you click on the video clip below.

Fred Thompson on The Charlie Rose Show

Fire of Liberty

I know the MSM and the various observers of Presidential politics have had their fun calling Fred Thompson "lazy" or "uninterested" in the run for POTUS but he's still an impressive interview. Here's an impressive interview of Thompson from the Charlie Rose Show that might change some minds.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Iraq: A Colonel's View

Fire of Liberty

Here's a good column by Col. Ralph Peters(Ret. Army) in which the former Colonel has Q&A with Lt. Col. Jim Crider of the 1st Squadron of the 4th Infantry and points out how our troops are making great strides in defeating the insurgency in Baghdad. Unlike the speculating that we find with the talking heads of the MSM, Peters provides us with a no-nonsense interview with a Colonel who is on the ground and is actually implementing General Patraeus' counterinsurgency plan in Iraq. If you want an informative pieces on how our soldiers are effectively taking down Al Qaeda and helping the people of Iraq bring their nation out of near chaos, then I suggest you read this column. Here's a look:

Q: What are the keys to working with Iraqis?

A: The key is to focus on building a relationship. Our squadron didn't hold every Iraqi responsible if a roadside bomb went off. We didn't wait for good behavior before helping with essential services - we just did it and positive behavior followed.

Second, we kept our promises. If we said it was going to happen, it did. Third, our actions were always justified and proportional. If we detained someone, he was bad - and the people knew it.

Q: You've gotten to know our enemies pretty well - what are their strengths and weaknesses?

A: Initially, the enemy's greatest strength was the ability to hide in plain sight - by co-opting or intimidating the people. We turned the tables. People in our area are now pointing out insurgents who did their deeds one or two years ago. They can hide from us, but not from their neighbors.

The enemy's greatest remaining strength is the central government's slow pace, measured against the impending US troop draw-down. If the people get discouraged, they'll turn elsewhere.

Q: This has been a learn-as-you-go fight. Can you identify three key counterinsurgency decisions you and your subordinates made this past year?

A: We've been on the ground 24/7 in the neighborhoods, not just holed up in an outpost. We also have an ongoing operation, Close Encounters, in which platoon leaders and NCOs literally go into living rooms and kitchens to sit down with people and get to know them, house by house. We learned about their concerns and broke down misconceptions about American soldiers. We not only found people who were willing to talk about the insurgents in their neighborhood, we also found doctors, businessmen and others with the skills essential to rebuild the area.

We aggressively emplaced walls to restrict the insurgents' ability to move, while providing physical protection to vulnerable people on the outskirts of dangerous areas.

If you'll allow me a fourth - we handed out small business grants. This was huge. It quickly produced tangible results. People here believe what they see. If they see businesses open, full streets and US soldiers on patrol, then it must be normal and safe.

Sorry - there's a fifth, as well: We embraced the Sunni turn against the insurgents.

Here's wishing Lt. Col. Crider and his men great success and a safe journey home. Hopefully we'll see more pieces like this in the near future.

Friday, November 30, 2007

McCain on Subsidies

Fire of Liberty

In my post Energy Independence, I pointed out that of all the serious candidates running for President, Senator McCain is a candidate who is brave enough to preach against farm subsidies, ethanol subsidies(even in Iowa) and other forms of corporate welfare. While McCain has strayed from Goldwater and Reagan with a lot of issues (like his support of campaign finance reform), the Senator seems to be in tune with such conservative paragons with his opposition to such subsidies. Here's a look at what Senator McCain had to say on subsidies at a November 5th conference on Bio Economy in Ames, Iowa:

Many Iowans have heard that I oppose federal subsidies for ethanol production. Some of you will have heard that I oppose a protective tariff against sugar-based ethanol imports from places like Brazil. Some of my opponents will describe my positions as opposition to American ethanol producers or, for some inexplicable reason, a personal dislike of Iowa. Neither is true, of course, and I appreciate the opportunity to set the record straight. But I have always believed before you can win someone's vote, you have to earn their respect. And I intend to earn your respect by being honest with you.

Yes, I oppose subsidies. Not just ethanol subsidies. Subsidies. And not just in Iowa either. I oppose them in my own state of Arizona. I am a proud of the conservative tradition that the government can sometimes best serve the interests of the American people by knowing when to stay out of their way. And I've always been reluctant to grow the size of government to do the business of the American people for them or to favor one industry over another or because one sector of our economy has better lobbyists than another.
. . .

I trust Americans, I trust markets and I oppose subsidies. . . . Yes, that means no ethanol subsidies. But it also means no rifle-shot tax breaks for big oil. It means no line items for hydrogen, no mandates for other renewable fuels, and no big-government debacles like the Dakotas Synfuels plant. It means ethanol entrepreneurs get a level playing field to make their case — and earn their profits.

I believe this approach allows Iowans their best opportunity to display to the world the ingenuity that has served Iowa through the years.

I just wished Romney, Thompson, and Rudy would also make such points out in corn country.

The Dem's Achilles' Hill

Fire of Liberty

John Fund has a good piece over at OpinionJournal which points out how the US Congress is unable to push through a "patch" on the AMT because the Hispanic caucus is against an amendment in the bill that shields employers from federal lawsuits because they require their workers to speak English. I'd say that this will create a maelstrom that makes this summer's national uprising against "comprehensive immigration reform" look like child's play. Even more, they risk the ire of the folks in America who voted for the moderate Democrats who brought them to power for the first time since 1994. It goes to show how far behind the curb the Democrats have gotten with regards to issues like illegal immigration and the assimilation of legal immigrants. This election year will be fun to watch.

A Sober Historically Minded Look at Iraq

Fire of Liberty

As a fan of history I have to say that I greatly appreciate this column by Michael Barone's which points out that if we stepped back from the day to day(micro-timeframe) look at Iraq and to a more broad based macro-timeframe, the situation in Iraq could be deemed a success much like South Korea following the the Korean war. As always, complex issues like Iraq requires cooler heads than what we see from the "War is lost" caucus in Congress and a large segment in the MSM.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Energy Independence?

Fire of Liberty

Steve Chapman has a good column in the Chicago Tribune which points out that the quest for "energy independence" being offered up by various politicians is a pure fantasy and will have a more negative than positive effect on the environment. Chapman hit the nail on the head of the unlikelihood of achieving such independence when he made the following observation:

If energy independence were truly feasible, it probably would have been achieved back in the 1970s, after President Richard Nixon embraced it. In 1973, we imported about a third of the oil we used, compared with 60 percent today. Domestic production was at its peak. OPEC was in the process of turning the energy world upside down by quadrupling the price of oil.

But the idea withered on the vine -- because of the brutal reality that even at a steep price, imported oil was cheap compared to doing without. That remains true today. And though global warming calls for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, the most likely replacements for oil are a poor fit for that role.

The chief attraction of energy independence is that we could fill up our cars and operate our economy without caring what happens in Iran, Venezuela or Russia. As if. So long as we use a significant amount of oil, regardless of where it's produced, we remain aboard the cost roller coaster. When the price of Middle Eastern oil soars, it takes the price of domestic crude along for the ride.

It's enchanting to imagine swearing off foreign oil in favor of ethanol made from wholesome Illinois corn, or fuels derived from West Virginia coal. But even if all the corn grown in this country went toward ethanol, it would cut our gasoline consumption by no more than 12 percent. In cost terms, ethanol can thrive only with lavish federal subsidies. In climate terms, the switch offers small benefits at best.

So why does ethanol get treated like the prettiest girl at the prom? Because our leaders' motive is pandering to American farmers and corporations, not making sound energy policy. If you want to know the main reason the federal government subsidizes ethanol, I've got two words for you: Iowa caucuses.

It's be nice if a lot of the politicians would take the sage advice of Steven Chapman and refuse to endorse policies that give government subsidies to multi-million dollars corporation and farmers who should be able to make ethanol based on market demand. From my observations of this political season, I'd have to say that Senator McCain is the only one brave enough to take on the corn lobby of Iowa and call for the elimination of government subsidies. (I guess McCain remembers the sage advice on farm subsidies that Barry Goldwater gave in his 1960 classic book Conscience of A Conservative.) I say let the market not the government decide the fate of ethanol.

Monday, November 26, 2007

We'll Miss Australia's John Howard

Fire of Liberty

I'd say that Rich Galen, columnist and Republican political strategist, sums up the loss of Australia's John Howard to Kevin Rudd in his most recent piece. I for one think that America has lost a good friend with the fall of Howard and hope that Rudd can be half as devoted to the Anglosphere as his predecessor.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Good for Mexico but not for US

Fire of Liberty
After watching the whole debate and political fallout from Governor Spitzer's silly plan to issue driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, I find this article pretty interesting. According to Chris Hawley of the Arizona Republic, the Mexican government is very strict with regards to immigrants and will only issue a driver's license to legal residents of Mexico. Here's a look:
Yet, licensing offices in all of Mexico's 31 states, along with the Federal District, where Mexico City is located, said they require applicants to prove their citizenship, preferably by showing a federal voter-registration card issued by the Federal Elections Institute.

Of those, 28 states and the Federal District said they would issue licenses to foreigners only if they present valid FM-2 or FM-3 residency visas.

The central Mexican states of Morelos, Puebla and Guerrero are more lenient. Foreigners there can get a driver's license with a valid tourist visa, or FMT.

Tourist visas are issued by federal immigration agents at airports and border crossing points.

Foreign tourists who are in Mexico temporarily can also drive using their foreign licenses, states said. Most U.S. states, including Arizona, have a similar exemption for temporary visitors.

Mexican officials said the application rules are strictly enforced, especially in southern states that have a problem with illegal immigrants from Central America.

"Last week a man came here (with a tourist visa) and said he was working as a deliveryman," said Denia Gurgua, manager of the driver's license office in Tuxtla GutiƩrrez, the capital of the southern state of Chiapas.

She said she denied him a license because he did not have a visa to work in Mexico.

"Our constitution has certain restrictions for foreigners," she said.
I just hope more Americans become aware of this fact and remind their Congressman, Senators, and the folks running for President that we should have the ability to restrict the entry and regulate such individuals who are visiting or are here illegally. From the looks of CNN's recent debate, the Democrats still seem to be stuck on Spitzer's talking points. The issue over illegal immigrants won't be the deciding factor in 2008 but it'll be an important issue.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Federal Government Should Stay Out of the Car Business

Fire of Liberty

Now while Democrats are ranting and raving about pushing forward greater government regulations on the US auto manufacturers by proposing an increase on the CAFE standards, I believe that it's far better for the folks in D.C. to let the auto industry figure their own problems and make decisions based based on the market and demand of consumers. One only has to look at the various cars purchased by the American public and you discover that a lot of people are buying light trucks and cars by manufacturers like Hondas, Toyotas, Nissans, Mazdas rather than domestic brands due to the fact that these companies are building the fuel efficient vehicles that the folks demand rather than what the government forced them to do. With this phenomenon, you discover that the domestic auto companies are following the lead of Honda and Toyota as well as the demands of the American public and are putting their nose to the grindstone to produce various hybrids and other fuel efficient vehicles. In fact, the folks over at General Motors debuted a Silverado hybrid at the L.A. Show. Now while the Silverado won't be available for purchase until late 2008/early 2009 it shows you that a domestic auto company can achieve a lot through technological innovation rather than government regulation. I think that the federal government would be best served by securing our borders, providing funds to our troops in Iraq, and securing us from terrorists rather than getting into involved with the private sector and a business that they know nothing about.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

NBC's Inconvenient Truth

Fire of Liberty

I'd say Glenn Beck pretty much sums up NBC's "Green Week" below:

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Commerce and Everyday activity of Iraqi People is a Good Guide-Post for Determing Security

Fire of Liberty

While bloggers like Bill Roggio, Michael Yon, Michael J. Totten and many others provide exceptional reporting on the improvements that are occurring in Iraq due to the implementation of General Petraeus's counterinsurgency policy(Along with the help of Iraqi security personnel and everyday citizens), it's interesting to see that members of the MSM are finally noticing and reporting on these changes as well. Now while the media and government officials are right to focus on the decline in soldier/civilian death rates and IED incidents as a gauge of success, I believe it's far better to find articles that focus on the everyday Iraqis and their return to normalcy. So here are three articles that caught my eye and gives me a greater insight on the sea change that is emerging in Baghdad.

The first article that I came across was "How Persistance Pays for a Baghdad Baker" by Sam Dagher in the Christian Science Monitor, which notes that Hussein Faleh, a baker who works at The Vanilla Pastry Shop, endured the heated insurgency and is finally seeing his patrons returning for his high quality sweets and cakes with the current improvements in security. Now while Faleh has problems procuring basic but high quality ingredients(Which he has to order every two months from Jordan), a dependable source of electricity(he uses a generator when the power goes down), as well as reliable source of safe water(he uses bottled water- even fine cooks in America do this), Faleh continues to churn out these delectable treats for his steady flow of customers who visit more often due to the improved security. I guess when you're not having to worry as much for your safety, you have time for sweets.
The second article I came across was "Liquor stores return to Baghdad" by Christian Berthelsen and Said Rifai in the Los Angeles Times, which points out that liquor stores are returning to Baghdad due to the new Iraqi security policy that has placed the Islamic extremists at bay. Without having to worry about firebombs or armed terrorists shooting up these stores or killing patrons, the liquor store are now importing various beers, wines, liquors, and spirits, and selling them to an alcohol hungry populous. It's great to see the Iraqi people being able to buy and drink what they want, even more when you read what extents the Iraqi people are willing to go in order to partake is such libations. I particularly found these paragraphs in the article pretty interesting:
But even as Iraqis begin returning to liquor stores they still take care to remain inconspicuous. On a recent day outside a liquor store on Saadoun Street, two men with a case of Johnnie Walker in their car were removing the bottles from the brightly labeled box and stashing them under the seats and in other hiding places throughout the vehicle.

Store owners are careful too. None of the new stores has a sign identifying it as a liquor retailer and most of the older ones have removed banners and advertisements. Universally, the stores keep all the merchandise behind the counter. In many areas, the curbs are blocked off with concertina wire to guard against car bombings, and security convoys pass frequently.

Nawar Sabah, 33, a government employee, stopped into Hindi's store on a recent day for a couple of Heinekens. Then, apparently calculating how much he could reduce his visits to the store, he asked for five. Then 10.

"Ever since the invasion, things haven't been the same," he said.

"People have to travel all the way across town in order to get drinks, and we all know the more you're out on the road, the more you're likely to become a casualty of some incident, if not actually a target." Some tipplers are particularly happy that the dry spell might be over.

A 47-year-old construction worker and Sadr City resident, who agreed to be interviewed on the condition he not be named, told of how he was beaten last year by the Mahdi Army, the militia loyal to

Shi a cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, after his brother complained to the militia about his drinking. Now that the Iraqi army has supplanted the Mahdi fighters, he said, he no longer has to hide his liquor under his car seat when driving into his neighborhood.

"The situation is now better than before -- I carry the alcohol in a black plastic bag and no one cares what I have in the plastic bag," he said. "I always drink, even at my work, at home at night, and even in the morning. I will never stop until the Judgment Day."

Now this might not mean much to an everyday American but it says something about how much the security has improved in Baghdad.

To me, this article just shows us that the Iraqi people are working Joe's(Ali's in Iraq's case) who just want to live safe and secure and have some drinks to unwind from the day. This may be an oddity in the Arab world but I believe that it's one more guidepost to point to in how security is getting better in Baghdad.
Finally, the third article I came across is "Rising trade and safer streets - now Baghdad needs a decent electricity supply" by Deborah Haynes in The Times, which provide some accounts of how the people of Iraq are able to go about their shopping, dining, and everyday activities without having to worry about constant bombings and gunfights sparking up in the neighborhoods around Baghdad. You know that things are getting back to normal when restaurants start seeing their patronage increase some three percent and real estate agents discover that their is a new found demand for homes in the area. Though it's true that the people of Baghdad lack a dependable 24 hour stream of electricity but such is due to a lack of infrastructure that accumulated during the twenty-plus year reign of Saddam. One can be rest assured such will become a chief priority with sustainable security. The thing I found so interesting about the piece is the final paragraphs in which The Times points out that the Iraqi public is crediting the Iraqi security forces for creating a secure environment. Here's a look:

People overwhelmingly credited the Iraqi Army and police, rather than the US military. Maha Yousef, a 36-year-old mother of two, said: “We thank the brave leaders of the Iraqi forces, especially the Iraqi Army.”

The atmosphere of calm has encouraged parents to allow their children to walk to and from school. “I can also go outside the house to study with my friends or play until 9pm,” said 14-year-old Raed Saleem, who was previously under strict orders to be home by 4pm. “I pray for Iraqi people to keep living in peace.”

I know that the US military deserves a good bit of credit for bringing about such a change in atmosphere but it doesn't bother me because it shows the growing trust in the security forces amongst the Iraqi people. No matter how we cut it, the success in Iraq will only occur when the Iraqi people have confidence in security forces of Iraq. This is just another example of why our forces must continue to have time to continue to implement the counterinsurgency of General Petraeus and his companions in the Iraqi military.

All in all, this is just a sampling of how things are improving in Iraq. I just wish that the New York Times, Washington Post, ABC, CBS, and NBC would promote more of these stories rather than looking for the negative. Until then, I recommend you just dig for such news.

One Hot Pepper

Fire of Liberty

I'd say that this guy bit off more than he could chew.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Troubles in Pakistan

Fire of Liberty

While this piece predates the recent events in Pakistan by some three weeks, I think that this NY Post column by Ralph Peters pretty much sums up the situation. I find these paragraphs particularly interesting and pertinent to the current state of affairs:

Most coup-makers then botch the job of governing, just as the civilians they overthrew failed before them. From Argentina to Burma, junta leaders, accustomed to being obeyed, have tried to punish the population into succeeding (an approach the Left readily approved when Stalin and Mao took it).

The generals and colonels learn that patriotism, no matter how heartfelt, is no substitute for sound economic principles, the rule of law and a merit-based society. The absence of healthy governmental institutions is as fateful for the coup-makers as for the demagogues they overthrow.

Nonetheless, we blind ourselves to the forces in play when we caricature all coup-makers. For all his faults, Musharraf views himself as a Pakistani patriot - not as a political party boss in the fashion of Bhutto, nor as a Punjabi or Pashtun, Baluch or Sindhi first. Indeed, only the military holds the fractured state of Pakistan together.

Now Benazir Bhutto - one of the figures who did so much to destroy the fabric of society and the economy - is back in Pakistan. It appears that she and Musharraf have worked out a power-sharing arrangement. We may hope for the best, but we also need to be prepared for the worst: a new era of hyper-corruption, as Bhutto's grab-all gang replaces the relative moral rigor of the military in the public sphere.

And let's not forget those nukes.

The answer to the desperate needs of the people of countries such as Pakistan doesn't lie with demagogues. And it would be better if it didn't lie with military regimes, either. But the old rotation between the charlatans and the generals is likely to continue throughout our lifetimes.

Given the inability of non-Western societies to build effective government institutions, it may be time to rethink our faith in the state itself as the answer to their needs.

I for one hope that the White House will convince General Musharraf to restore the democratic process and the rule of law in Pakistan but they should be mindful of Peters' sage advice on being lulled by democratic charmers like Bhutto. This might be against the philosophy of Fire of Liberty but I'm very wary of Benazir Bhutto and believe she's preaching democracy for the sake of being in the West's good graces. I hope I'm wrong.

Hank Thompson, RIP

Fire of Liberty

As a fan of honky-tonk and Western Swing, I was deeply saddened to find out that Hank Thompson passed away at the age of 82 this past Tuesday after a short battle with lung cancer. While you can read tons of obituaries on this country legend, see here, here, here, and here , I thought you'd be best served by seeing this talented man at work. Here's a sampling:

Monday, November 05, 2007

Solving African Poverty without Massive Aid

Fire of Liberty

Aside from a smattering of Bush top appointees at the State Department, World Bank, USAID, and some members of Congress, D.C. is full of individuals and bureaucrats are admirers of Jeffrey Sachs and thus believe that the best way to get the peoples of Africa our of poverty is to load them down with tons and tons of financial aid to the governments of these countries. Now while it's a great thing to believe in such idealistic actions, the sad reality is that the sending of such massive sums to such countries, with little or no controls or monitoring(This is more of the general populations of such organizations), only perpetuates them further down the proverbial "highway to hell" because the money never makes it to the people because their leaders take the money, spend it on wasteful programs. Even more, the sending of such money creates a international welfare system that generates greater dependency amongst the leadership of these nations and induces more bad behavior that continues to mire them in greater policy. Now as a conservative, I fall into the "less government is better" column and believe that the best way to end this poverty train is for this country to get out of the aid business by phasing out these ineffective programs and transition to micro-loans, private charities, and other programs that promotes the individual to learn a trade, start up a business thus helping people help themselves and kick dependency to the the curb.

One shinning example of how a private charity can go to Africa and teach the people how to pull themselves out of the mire of poverty is a charity called BeadForLife. According to this article by Jessica Scranton in the Christian Science Monitor, BeadForLife is charity in which the poor women of Uganda are given jobs in which they take recycled magazines, posters and cut, roll, and apply a waterproof coating thus transforming one's trash into nice looking necklaces, bracelets, and jewelry that is sold in the West. Not only does BeadForLife provide these poverty stricken mothers with skills but it also allows them to eke out a good income that allows them to make a down-payment on the purchase a home in a village built by BeadForLife and Habitat for Humanity. All in all, BeadForLife does a far better job in helping the poor mothers of Uganda than the massive amounts of aid that has been shipped to all these countries in the past. I just hope others follow suit.

Iraqi Reconciliation Starts At the Tribal and Local Level

Fire of Liberty

Nathan Ritzo, a U.S. Army reservist attached to the 478th Civilian Affairs Battalion in Iraq, has a good column in the New Hampshire Union Leader which notes that Iraq's security and political solutions will be solved more effectively at the local and tribal area. Here's hoping that Gen. Petraeus and his our soldiers continue to receive support for this effective counterinsurgency policy by the folks in D.C. We've come to far too snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Anothe Reason to Vote "No" on Hillary

Fire of Liberty

John Fund's most recent "One the Trail" column provides some great insight into how New York Governor Spitzer's current plan to issue driver's licenses to illegal aliens is an open door to voter fraud. Aside from the fact that all states are required by the "motor voter" law to allow all license applicants to register to vote, the state of New York is also removing various obstacles like a citizenship check-box from the registration form, removing of a stamp that says "temporary visitor" and presents a visa expiration date, as well as removing a ban that prevents people from receiving a license without a social security number. One can see why members of the New York General Assembly are suing the Governor for such an audacious law. What's even more interesting is what the column has to say about Senator Clinton's foray into the field of photo identification. Here's a look:

Despite her muddled comments this week, there's no doubt where Mrs. Clinton stands on ballot integrity. She opposes photo ID laws, even though they enjoy over 80% support in the polls. She has also introduced a bill to force every state to offer no-excuse absentee voting as well as Election Day registration -- easy avenues for election chicanery. The bill requires that every state restore voting rights to all criminals who have completed their prison terms, parole or probation.

Pollster Scott Rasmussen notes that Mrs. Clinton is such a polarizing figure that she attracts between 46% and 49% support no matter which Republican candidate she's pitted against -- even libertarian Ron Paul. She knows she may have trouble winning next year. Maybe that's why she's thrown herself in with those who will look the other way as a new electoral majority is formed -- even if that includes non-citizens, felons and those who suddenly cross a state line on Election Day and decide they want to vote someplace new.

After reading this piece by John Fund, I'm not surprised that Senator Clinton went into triangulation mode when Tim Russert tried to pin her down with a serious question about issuing licenses to illegal immigrants.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Charlie Rangel: Mother of All Tax Men

Fire of Liberty

Out of the many pieces that I've read on Congressman Charlie Rangel's "Mother of All Tax Reforms", I have to say that columnist Kevin Hassett knocks it out of the park in his most recent column when he notes that this bill is a blinking, bright red warning of what is ahead if Hillary Clinton assumes the White House in 2009. Here's a look at Hassett's informative column:

In terms of revenue, Rangel's reform would be the biggest tax increase in history. Compared to a baseline where President George W. Bush's tax cuts are extended and the dreaded alternative minimum tax isn't allowed to swallow millions of taxpayers whole, the bill raises taxes by a whopping $3.5 trillion over the next 10 years, according to the office of Representative Jim McCrery of Louisiana, the top Republican on the Ways and Means Committee.

To put that in perspective, that's about $2 trillion more than the 10-year cost of the Bush tax cuts enacted back in 2001.

But the revenue grab isn't the scariest part. That honor belongs to the increase in marginal tax rates, which is almost unfathomable in its scale. Rangel's main objective is to repeal the alternative minimum tax, which was originally designed to capture taxes from wealthy individuals but over the years has taken in more and more middle-income families.

48% Tax Rate

To accomplish that, and still collect the AMT revenue, he would enact a surtax on the adjusted gross incomes of wealthy taxpayers. If your family's income is above $200,000, then your surtax is 4 percent. If it's above $500,000, it's 4.6 percent.

But the tax increase on the wealthy doesn't stop there. When the Bush tax cuts expire in 2010, the top marginal rate goes back to 39.6 percent. In addition, Rangel would restore the phase-out of itemized deductions and personal exemptions that was repealed in Bush's 2001 bill.

Adding it all up, and adjusting for the tax rate on Medicare, the Rangel bill would raise the federal marginal tax rate on incomes above $500,000 to close to 48 percent.

To put that tax rate in perspective, after adjusting for state and local income taxes, it would be about 13 percentage points higher than the average of U.S. trading partners in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. And it would give the U.S. the fourth-highest combined top marginal tax rate in the OECD, behind only Denmark, Sweden and France.

I for one know that this nation will become a sclerotic entity like the German, Spanish, Italians and others if we continue to soak the "rich" by placing greater and greater taxes on them. If folks like Rep. Rangel think that the AMT is bad and the economy is bad, then he should see how many small businesses shutter their windows, folks lose their jobs, and others venture out of America to more tax friendly environments once this massive tax is imposed. When nations like France start saying that their taxes are too high and push for lower taxes, one scratches their head at why Congressmen Rangel and others would propose such crippling taxes.

Death Via The Internet?

Fire of Liberty

Max Boot has a good post over at Commentary's blog contentions that notes that a large amount of our infrastructure, financial institutions, and the military within the US and our many allies are becoming very vulnerable to cyber-attacks from our many enemies. With Al Qaeda and the People's Liberation Army of China familiarity to the Internet and their love for asymmetrical warfare, one shouldn't be surprised that such nefarious forces would use our technological dependency against this nation thus taking us into the nineteenth century with the use of a modem and a few keystrokes. I for one hope the US military and the civilian sector are doing their darnedest to harden our systems from such attacks and if not the should get on the ball pretty soon before it's too late.

Say No to LOST

Fire of Liberty

Here's a good piece by John Fonte over at National Review Online on why members of the Senate should reject the horrid Law of the Sea Treaty.

Mukasey's Battle Royale

Fire of Liberty

I have to say that the New York Sun has a good editorial on how the Democrats are holding Judge Mukasey hostage in his confirmation process for Attorney General because he refuses to comment on the legality of "water-boarding" because he hasn't been fully briefed on the whole aspects of the policy. I know politics is the name of the game for the Democrat controlled Judiciary Committee(The same guys who sunk Judge Bork 20 years ago) with regards to this case but I just shake my head that they would reject an individual that is an experienced jurist who places greater emphasis on a thorough examination of laws and policies with regards to foreign policy rather than impromptu answer. This approach just runs circles around the B-team behavior of Alberto Gonzalez.(I'm more a Ashcroft or Ed Meese man when it comes to Attorney General). I just hope the Judiciary Committee would get beyond their petty problems and let Judge Mukasey have an up or down vote so we can have an experienced fellow at the helm of the Justice Department at such a dangerous time.

Monday, October 29, 2007

How 'Bout Dem Dawgs!!!

Fire of Liberty

This goes out to all my fellow Dawg fans after our great win over the Gators.

Kindness for America from Iraq

Fire of Liberty

While the MSM seem to find ways to show Iraq in chaos by posting bloody stories or the recent bombings(Such is getting hard since Petraeus implemented his counter-insurgency plan) they continue to fail to report good stories. One bit of good news that seems to have been ignored by the MSM is this one, in which members of the Iraqi Army, based in Besmaya, raised some $1,000 for the folks of San Diego that have lost their homes or belongings to the most recent fires. I myself salute the soldiers for taking up such money for strangers in the US. I guess that's the least thing they could do to thank America for freeing them from Saddam. It also shows the bond that has been built between members of the Iraqi Army and their fellow American soldiers.

*Hat tip to Michael J Totten's post over at contentions.

** Looks like CNN picked up story.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Beware of Clintonian Triangulation

Fire of Liberty

It seems that Hillary is real quick to condemn President Bush for pushing harsher sanctions on the military and its leadership in Iran even when she has voiced some very hawkish sentiments toward the regime. Thankfully the editorial board of the NY Sun is paying attention. Take a look:

One wonders exactly how long. If Mrs. Clinton was concerned about it, she kept it to herself during her February 1, 2007 speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Then, she said, "U.S. policy must be clear and unequivocal. We cannot, we should not, we must not, permit Iran to build or acquire nuclear weapons. And in dealing with this threat as I have said for a very long time, no option can be taken off the table." She said, "we need to use every tool at our disposal including diplomatic and economic in addition to the threatened use of military force."

She didn't mention her concern about Mr. Bush's supposed belligerence when she appeared at a pro-Israel rally in New York on July 17, 2006, and referred to the Iranian-backed terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah as "the new totalitarians of the 21st century."

In fact, while Mrs. Clinton may claim that she has been concerned "for a very long time" about Mr. Bush's supposed belligerence, she's only started talking about it recently, in an attempt to pander to hard-left Democratic caucus-goers and primary voters. As Mrs. Clinton doubtless understands, the real belligerents in the conflict between America and the terror-sponsoring, nuclear bomb-building, Holocaust-denying government of Iran are the Iranians, not President Bush.

I don't think America can afford four or Heaven forbid eight years of more Clintonian triangulation when we have dangerous enemies lurking and intending on hurting us.

Keep the NFL in America

Fire of Liberty

If you're a fan of the NFL then you know that the Dolphins and the Giants are playing each other across the pond in London. Now while the head honchos in the NFL might think that there is a market on the international front, I believe they are doing a disservice for the fans of these respective teams. Why this might not be the greatest think to get worked up about, I believe that a lot of fellow football fans(including myself) believe than an wholly American sport is something that should remain American centric and avoid this namby-pamby internationalization that the folks at the NFL are doing. There's a reason why its known as the National Football League and not the IFL. One only has to look at how the folks in the front office has hurt(Amongst the fan base) NASCAR by tinkering and discontinuing races in the south and moving them to regions where folks just go to the race but aren't fans like the folks who used to go to the Labor Day weekend race at Darlington. So let's keep the NFL and their teams in the United States where the real fans are.

UNC Student Report Rubs Edwards Wrong

Fire of Liberty
Here's a video that the Edwards campaign tried to have pulled from YouTube. I just find it funny the extent that people will go to make sure a report that points out these contradictions between the economic populism that John Edwards preaches and the extravagant lifestyle that he lives. It Reminds me a little of the actions Huey P. Long(Minus the violence).

Thursday, October 25, 2007

1776 Like You've Never Seen Before

Fire of Liberty

Now this is a "full contact" version of history.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

A High Tech Future to Rwanda

Fire of Liberty

After reading this piece over at the Christian Science Monitor, I'd say the people of Rwanda are moving beyond their horrific past and are focusing on their economic well being by becoming an information technology hub through the installation and use of fiber optics and high speed Internet. While some of the economic development gurus in the UN and Europe might argue that spending $65 million over twenty years to build up such a high-tech infrastructure is waste of the governments money, I believe that such technology will provide the much needed tide to lift all boats in Rwanda. With a highly literate population and a lack of natural resources to depend on the people of Rwanda will be using the their best assets which is their brains. From looking at the dynamic economies which have emerged in various island nations in Asia, India and other parts of the world, I have no doubt that Adam Smith's "animal spirits" will be unleashed amongst the Rwandan countryside thus making the economy the envy of Africa. Even more, this move towards high technology will also provide various corporation an incentive to open up factories or industries within Rwanda thus allowing greater economic opportunities to the population thus warding off the notion of people joining militias to harm their neighbor.(I think the mid 1990's nipped this in the bud in Rwanda). So here's hoping the folks of Rwanda great luck in their venture in the modern economy.

American Turkeys

Fire of Liberty

Here's one of the best observations that I've seen on Congress's actions with regards to Turkey.


*Hat tip to NY Post and Mike Ramirez

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Geting into the Mind of Al Qaeda

Fire of Liberty

Here's a good piece by Mark Steyn on why nobody in the State Department or a member of the other policy shops haven't written a document similar to George Keenan's "Long Telegram" with regards to our current war against Islamic fascism. Now while the Bush administration has tried its best to formulate a clear cut policy on our enemy and their intentions they still remains an opening for someone in the vein of George Keenan to emerge. Though I don't see such an individual in the policy shop of the State Department daring enough to craft such a policy, I can suggest a good starting point for the formulation of such policy in the writings of writer/journalists/historians like Mark Steyn, Lawrence Wright, Bernard Lewis, and Norman Podhoretz. At least these fellows have the ideology of our enemies down pat.

*Here's a list of their informative works:

America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It
by Mark Steyn

The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11
by Lawrence Wright

What Went Wrong?: The Clash Between Islam and Modernity in the Middle East
by Bernard Lewis

The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror
by Bernard Lewis

World War IV: The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism
by Norman Podhoretz

American Warriors

Fire of Liberty

Here's a video dedication by the NYFD, Engine 53, Ladder Company 43 to Lt. Murphy and his fellow SEAL team and their sacrifice for their fellow brothers in arms and this grateful nation.

A Real American Hero

Fire of Liberty


With the exception of various blogs, talk radio, a smattering of newspapers or Fox News, there hasn't been many stories in the MSM on the posthumous awarding of the Congressional Medal of Honor for Navy SEAL Lt. Michael Murphy's heroic actions on the behalf of his SEAL team in a firefight with the Taliban in Afghanistan. Thankfully with the power of the blogosphere and the success of the book Lone Survivor(penned by Navy Seal Marcus Luttrell who lived via Lt. Murphy's heroics), it looks like the folks over at NBC Nightly News took notice with the production of a wonderful news piece. See below:

Newest Medal of Honor recipient
Newest Medal of Honor recipient

*For more on Lt. Murphy, see here and here.

**Also, check out Marcus Luttrell's great book Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Jabbing at a 90 year old wound

Fire of Liberty

I have to say that the Democrats in Congress are placing this nation into a crash course for disaster with our allies in Turkey with the House International Relations Committee approving a piece of legislation condemning them for the "genocide" of some 1.5 million Armenians in 1915. Aside from this legislation creating a diplomatic dispute between two trusted allies it could hinder us in our fight against Islamic terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan. With the Turks allowing to use their many seaports, railways, roads to ship tons of supplies to our troops in Iraq, the use of Incirlik airbase for our C-17's, C-130's, KC-135's, and fighter aircraft to help us in our mission in Iraq, the use of Turkish airspace, much needed intelligence, as well as a trusted Muslim partnership in the region, we cannot afford a rift in our diplomatic and military relationships.(It looks like there's some rumblings within the Turkish military.) Now while my heart goes out to the Armenian people killed in modern day Turkey at the dawn of WWI, I've got to say that Congress's actions could ruin a fifty plus year relationship or make our life much harder in a dangerous neighborhood by passing legislation on the Turkish government for something the occurred ninety plus years ago under the leadership of the Ottoman Empire. Here's hoping Congress thinks twice on this legislation.

*Here's Max Boot's thoughts on this legislation.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Al Gore's Quest

Fire of Liberty

Could the creators of South Park have Al Gore pegged with this episode.(cussin' warning).

Friday, October 12, 2007

Supply-Siders Raise their Head in Democrat Controlled Congress

Fire of Liberty

Of all the various proposals that I've seen going around D.C. with regards to the elimination of the dreaded AMT, I've got to say that Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin has the best plan so far. Here's a look at what Robert Novak noted about this bold solution:
Those taxpayers presumably would accept this offer: give up all your current deductions, and your annual earnings up to $100,000 would be taxed at 10 percent, with a 25 percent rate on everything above that. But that is not all. The bill would repeal the hated Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), giving up $840 billion in revenue over the next 10 years. Government would have to get leaner.
Though Ryan's proposal will probably be killed in the committee room floor due to the Democrats, it gives me great confidence that they're members in Congress who still hold dear to the heart's conservative ideas like economic freedom and the reduction in the size of government that President Reagan and Jack Kemp pushed throughout the 1980's. Now while I would prefer to have a single rate flat tax, I'm more than satisfied to see someone like Congressman Ryan trying to get the ball rolling towards such a system with his tax proposal. I just hope that one of the Republicans running for president would pick up the ideas of Congressman Ryan and take it before the American people. It would be far better than the ever encroaching socialism that we've been hearing from Hillary and others.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Specter of Group Think

Fire of Liberty

I have to say that Alvaro Vargas Llosa has a good piece over at TCS Daily in which he rightly notes how the various politicians, executives, scientists, public policy "experts", media celebrities and others who gather at various confabs like the World Economic Forum(better known by the town of Davos, Switzerland) and the Clinton Global Initiative are more prone to fall into the trap known as group-think when they focus on issues like global warming. So instead of these great minds coming together and offering up innovative and economic solutions to pressing problems of the world, these individuals decide to continue pushing forward staid and expensive policies that are more feel good solutions rather than something useful. If the individuals would stop running with the heard and read pieces by individuals like Alvaro Vargas Llosa (a liberal - in the classical sense) and others, they would discover that folks in the private sector have more innovative ideas than the government solutions being hawked to the media and amongst the jet-set. The best advice for these individuals is for them to seek out solutions that offer people a choice rather that producing a mere echo.

Federalism At Risk

Fire of Liberty

Ramesh Ponnuru's has a good piece over a NRO which raps President Bush on the knuckles for his efforts to ride roughshod over the state government in an effort to enforce the ruling of the World Court with regards to the future execution of Jose Ernesto Medellin(see A Matter of Sovereignty). As I've noted earlier, President Bush is going too far to enforce our treaties and to please his "good friends" in Mexico and the world community. I just hope that the members of the Supreme Court remains true to the Constitution and the concept of federalism and reject all judgements of a supranational body that has no jurisdiction over our actions.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Those who Live by the Pork Die by the Pork

Fire of Liberty

Kevin Hassett has a good column out today over at which notes that Senator Hillary Clinton is the "queen of pork" when it comes to federal earmarks. I'd say that the GOP could have a field day in painting the former First Lady as a "tax and spend" liberal in the general election by pointing out her love for pork-barrel spending. Here's a look at her hearty appetite:

Yet Clinton, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, placed $2.2 billion worth of earmarks in spending bills from 2002-2006. One would have to concede that she is good at it. In the fiscal 2008 defense-spending bill alone, Clinton successfully attached 26 earmarks worth $148 million, which was the most of any Democrat except Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, who is now chairman of the Armed Services Committee.

The earmark game is a treacherous one because it is so easy to find specific instances, like the bridge to nowhere in Alaska, that are repulsive to voters. With such a successful track record, this will be a genuine liability for Clinton.

Bury the Record

That probably explains why she's trying to bury her record. But even digging through the limited list of earmarks I could acquire suggested that Clinton has deftly spread federal taxpayers' money around to parochial projects of questionable public value, sending, for example, $250,000 to the Seneca Knitting Mill, and $200,000 to the Buffalo Urban Arts Center.

Such spending projects might be great local politics, but they produce national outrage as our federal dollars are bled away from health care and national security. Each one may seem small, but collectively they are not.

Clinton might want to join Robert Rubin on the high horse of fiscal discipline and rail against Republican deficits. But if she is the queen of pork, she loses her moral authority.

Such massive records are the main reason why US Senators(At least since JFK) have not faired well when it comes to running for POTUS.

Monday, October 08, 2007

A Matter of Sovereignty

Fire of Liberty

I heard about this story on The Laura Ingraham Show and have to say that I'm disappointed that the White House would even think about abiding with rulings by the Intern Court of Justice and let a murder/rapist be prevented from being executed in Texas. Now while it's good that the White House pulled the nation out of such an agreement to prevent this international court from having a final say over our nation in the future when such disputes break out, the Bush administration will still set a precedent of ceding our sovereignty(As well as creating some serious problems with regards to federalism) if they abide by the edicts of the ICJ. I just hope that the Supreme Court sets President Bush, Mexico and members of the ICJ straight by pointing out that we are a sovereign nation and abide by our laws and our constitution. If we don't return to such thinking and stop the further erosion of our sovereignty, we could be in a serious mess in the near future under a more "international thinking" president takes the helm of state.

*I'd suggest that the administration should go out and buy some copies of Judge Robert Bork's book Coercing Virtue: The Worlwide Rule of Judges before they make anymore decisions.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Keep Coolidge in Mind for 2008

Fire of Liberty

Cal Thomas has a good column out today on Calvin Coolidge and how the Republican party would be best served today and in 2008 if the return to "silent Cal's" political philosophy of limited government, fiscal conservatism, small taxes and free-market, along with a mix of personal responsibility. I have to say that Mitt Romney seems to be listening to the conversations going on in America heartland and is aware of a yearning amongst his conservative base that the time is upon the Republican party to return to such core principals. After reading his recent speech before the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference, I'd say that Romney has been channeling Coolidge and Reagan as of late. Let's hope he keeps on such a path.

*Coolidge's modest home at Plymouth Notch would be a perfect place to present a anti-tax policy speech but he might have a rounding up enough Republicans to make a crowd.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

A Rising Welfare State?

Fire of Liberty

I'd say that George Will's most recent column in Newsweek is probably one of the best arguments that I've read so far on why President Bush is vetoing the massive expansion of the SCHIP program. While Will pays special attention to the cost and how the expansion of this program goes far beyond helping poor families, I'd say that the best argument behind this veto is that it provides a roadblock to individuals who are hell bent on pushing forward "universal health care" on the US citizenry via the guise of "the children". Thankfully for columnists like Will, this nation is provided with the much need ammo to fight the many battles against the ever encroaching "welfare" and "nanny state" that is coming out of D.C. as of late. I just hope folks pay attention to this and choose wisely come 2008.

Friday, September 28, 2007

The Power of Audio Archives

Fire of Liberty

Well it looks like the MSM and their friends on the left have struck out in their most recent effort to smear Rush Limbaugh. See for yourself:

*Here's more on the situation.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Think Things Over with Regards to Security Contractors

Fire of Liberty

Mark Hemingway has a good piece over at National Review Online that takes a look at the discussion that is occurring amongst various JAG's officers, the leadership in the Pentagon, Blackwater security and the other security companies that serve in Iraq, on whether to continue to cover these companies under the Uniform Code of Military Justice or push these security companies further under the umbrella of the UCMJ. I have to say that Hemingway pretty much conveys the point that when members of Congress pass laws in an effort to make things better or make them legally and politically expedient, the parties that are involved generally discover such actions create greater problems than what they were trying to ameliorate. As with anything as complex and important as this, I'd recommend members of Congress and the leadership should think things over long and hard before the haphazardly slap restrictions on these security teams and place a greater burden on our military forces who have more pressing duties at hand.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

HillaryCare Raises from the Dead

Fire of Liberty

I'd say that Kevin Hassett pretty much knocks it out of the park with his most recent Bloomberg column in which he notes that Senator Clinton is slowly but surely sneaking nationalized health-care through the back door while she unveils his more moderate sounding HillaryCare 2.0. Now while she may think she can take her old health care jalopy off the blocks, apply some bondo and add some new paint, the former first lady will run into individuals like Hassett who dig into the plan and reveal that it's the same socialistic wreck of 1993. Just take a look at what she has in store for America:

The Plan

The crux of Hillary's plan is an ``individual mandate,'' which requires that all Americans buy health insurance, but guarantees that the government will make insurance available to everyone at ``affordable'' prices.

To accomplish this, the plan will create a government- regulated national pool through which individuals can purchase insurance. Those who are already insured would get to choose whether to keep their current health coverage or purchase the new national plan.

Additionally, Clinton would force big businesses that don't offer health insurance to pay a tax.

In order to sell to the national pool, the government would demand that insurers cover all applicants (``guaranteed issue'') and that premium levels would have to be indiscriminate, regardless of people's health status when they apply (``community rating.'')

What's more, premiums wouldn't be allowed to exceed a predetermined fraction of total household income.

She estimates that her plan would cost $110 billion per year -- which is probably low, but who's counting?

Goodbye, Tax Cuts

To pay for it, Clinton hopes to exploit the significant savings from improved health-care technology, particularly from electronic medical records. She would also use some of the revenue from the repeal of President George W. Bush's tax cuts. Additionally, she advocated a cap on the tax deductibility of health insurance for wealthy Americans with expensive insurance coverage.

In other words, Hillary is telling every American that they must purchase a health-insurance product the government likes. This is inconsequential if you already have a plan the government will like, but a serious problem if government makes you purchase something you don't want.

Although Massachusetts is the only state to try out the individual mandate, there have been a variety of experiments with community rating and guaranteed issue by state governments. States with these regulations tended to experience higher premiums and lower rates of coverage, particularly among the healthy.

I just hope more Americans are paying attention to Hillary's stealth efforts and reject her health-care plan and seek out a more market friendly alternative that gives them a real choice.

*I prefer the ideas that are hashed out in Arnold Kling's Crisis of Abundance, David Gratzer's The Cure, Michael F. Cannon's Healthy Competition, Sally C. Pipes' Miracle Cure, think tanks like the Cato Institute, Manhattan Institute, and the Center for Health Transformation.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Succes in Iraq, One Neighborhood at A Time

Fire of Liberty

As a devoted reader and scholar of military history and history in general, I scratch my head when pontificates, protesters, members of Congress and various others comment on how the war in Iraq is costing too many lives, taking too long, or isn't working as they want it to(Some are only satisfied when their isn't war, unless maybe it's Darfur) . What these individuals need to do is pick up a good history book on the Revolutionary War, the Mexican-American War, The Civil War, WWI, WWII, Korea, and Vietnam and realize that situations and events turn on a dime in these war zones and things don't go like you want to and requires you to change the way you fight as you go. The best fight is one in which a force changes its fighting techniques on the go and sticks with what works in a given situation or area. After reading this piece, it looks like such techniques are indeed being applied in our current counterinsurgency fight in Iraq and is resulting in slow but steady progress within the streets and neighborhoods in Baghdad and in the rest of Iraq. I guess our military commanders have read their history and are paying attention to what is going on in their region of operations. So carry on with your noble fight.

*To get an insight in the difficulties that our soldiers and leaders face against a determined and agile enemy, I recommend you check out Ken Burns' new PBS series The War.

Get the Facts Before you React

Fire of Liberty

Based on this article by Rowan Scarborough in The Examiner, it looks like Representative Murtha might have to eventually retract his statements on the 2005 incident in which four Marines were accused of murdering some 24 Iraqis. According to the article, three of the four have been cleared of the charges and the fourth is awaiting a hearing on whether or not some of these deaths were justified by self-defense during an house clearing operation. Now while the military still has to go through a pre-trial hearing to determine whether or not the case warrants a court-martial, it shows folks that when it comes to war folks in the media and especially combat veterans like Congressman Murtha shouldn't be so quick to accuse folks of war crimes before the facts are laid out. Thanks to Rowan Scarborough for reporting the facts on this story even if it isn't pasted on the front pages or reported by MSM radio and television.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Family Feud: Al Qaeda Style

Fire of Liberty

Here's an interesting piece over at Strategy Page which points out that maybe the members of Al Qaeda are having a little mob-style fight within the family. Such would be welcomed news within the military and the intelligence community.

Look for the Facts

Fire of Liberty

Mark Hemingway has a good piece over at National Review Online that takes a well balanced look at the recent shooting incident between Blackwater security and the Iraqis and provides us with some insights on the company, security contract arrangements, turf-wars within Iraq's Ministry of Interior, Iraqi politics, and problems with the American bureaucracy thus demonstrating that the situation is far more complicated than what the critics in the MSM and the left are carrying on about. Such an incident is indeed a tragedy and complicates our situation in Baghdad but I believe that maybe we should wait until the facts are out before we lay everything at the feet of Blackwater and the people who risk their lives to protect our State Department officials and the other civilians who serve in Iraq.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Lessons in History

Fire of Liberty

Mark Moyar has a good piece in the NY Sun should take note of history and our military chain of command before they start impinging the integrity of a devoted soldier or issuing which points out that politicians, various members of the MSM, and critics on the left(and to a lesser extent on the right) need to be wary in blaming or criticizing generals and members of the military as "carrying water" for the administration and realize that they're hired to fight wars and report what they know about the battlefield thus providing the civilian commanders facts to make policy. So maybe the folks criticizing General Petraeussnarky comments like "willing suspension of disbelief." Thank goodness we have historians like Mark Moyar to keep us on our toes.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Nurse Hillary?

Fire of Liberty

I'd have to agree that the people who created the ad that portrayed Hillary as "Big Brother" from George Orwell's classic 1984 have her pegged, especially after the most recent roll-out of Hillary Care 2.0. (With her dabbling in socialized medicine, I prefer Laura Ingraham's portrayal of Hillary as being Nurse Ratchet from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.)

For more on Hillary Care 2.0 see here, here, here, and here.

Monday, September 17, 2007

English First

Fire of Liberty

Here's William F. Buckley Jr.'s has a good piece on the current English First movement that is moving through the states of Arizona and California. I just hope the movement sparks up in the rest of the United States.

Dems Offer up "Soak the Rich" Policies

Fire of Liberty

According to Robert Novak's most recent column it looks like the Democrats in Congress, under the tutelage of Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), are trying there best to push through a bill which will raise the capital gains and dividend taxes on the investor class(50% of Americans) and will soak the "rich folks" who make over $200,000 with a myriad of taxes as well as placing a surtax on top of the current 36% rate.(Novak said on Your World with Neil Cavuto that this will be 4%). Now while the Dems are right to be ready to eliminate the ever creeping AMT, I don't believe that you do so by slapping more taxes on the folks that are being hit by the AMT. The soaking the rich policy is a bad way to run an economy and will only result in turning our economy down the road of ruin.

*Amity Shlaes has a good solution at tempering the Democrats "soak the rich" policies which is Clinton's former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin. I'm no friend of Rubin's policies but I feel much safer with his moderating tones and ideas than what the Democrats and Clinton, Obama and Edwards are offering.

An Musical Punch to ALS

Fire of Liberty

As on of "Jerry's Kids," I have a vested interest in raising the awareness of the horrific disease of Muscular Dystrophy and noting how important it is to raise money to find a cure. Now as a conservative and a champion of the private sector, I've got to point you in the direction of Augie's Quest which raises funds for the fight against ALS. Thankfully Augie's Quest caught the eye of John Ondrasik(Lead singer of Five for Fighting) who has donated the use of his song "100 Years" on a video on the damage ALS poses to the body and the efforts scientist and Augie's Quest are doing to find a cure. Now if you go to this link, you'll find a video in which Glenn Tullman/Allscripts and Bert and Cyndie Silva will donate $1 a piece each and every time the four minute video is played. So for the sake of Augie's Quest, visit the site again and again and raise tons of money for the fight against ALS.

*I'd like to give my props to John Ondrasik for helping in the Augie's Quest.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

More Good News from Iraq

Fire of Liberty

It looks like the Iranian government is getting a little antsy Iraq from Al about our forces pursuing and capturing their agents that they have decided to pull their Qods Forces out of Iraq. I'd say that General Petraeus, his staff, and the soldiers in his command are doing far better in Iraq than the Dems and the MSM are giving them credit for. So here's wishing General Petraeus, our soldiers, and their Iraqi comrades great luck and safety in their fight to secure Iraq from Al Qaeda and other nefarious forces.

Boris for Mayor of London

Fire of Liberty

If I were a citizen of London, then my vote for mayor would be for Boris Johnson. From the looks of this column in the Daily Telegraph, Johnson could be the Rudy Giuliani of London and return some sanity to this historic city. He surely beats the political correctness and multiculturalism of the current mayor "Red" Ken Livingston.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Free Trade in the Key

Fire of Liberty

Here's a good piece by John R Thomson over at that points out how members of Congress are damaging our strategic, diplomatic, and economic benefits between this country and our friends in South America and Asia by refusing to push through Free Trade Agreements with Columbia, Panama, Peru, and South Korea. I just find it amazing that the Democrats have been advocates for being more friendly with various nations in the world are so quick to reject policies that help raise the living standards of these foreign nations, creating viable markets for our goods and preventing future genocides and disasters so common in archaic and poor nations of the world. I for one prefer signing Free Trade deals that allow these nations to pull themselves up by their boot straps rather than sending in tons of aid or the eventual use of our military in various areas of this world. Here's hoping wiser minds prevail and such deals are pushed through.

A Bad Forum For Socialized Medicine

Fire of Liberty

Michael Tanner, director of health and welfare studies at the Cato Institute, has a great op/ed piece over at the NY Post that points out how the American Cancer Society has gone outside its traditional role of educating the American people on cancer prevention and the various medical treatments and is advocating the implementation of a nationalized health-care. Now as a group that strives for preventing cancer and curing people from its evil menace, you'd think the American Cancer Society would be very cautious in push a health-care system which is more costly to the cancer patient than our current system. Though the ACS hasn't taken the time to research the consequences of nationalize health-care on the cancer patients, Tanner has a provided a good set a of statistics from other countries that have nationalized health-care and reveals that the American Cancer Society is advocating a dangerous path for current and future cancer patients. Here's a look:

In the United States, there are no such government-set limits, meaning that the most advanced treatment options are far more available. This translates directly into saved lives.

Take prostate cancer, for example. Even though American men are more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than their counterparts in other countries, we are less likely to die from the disease. Fewer than 20 percent of American men with prostate cancer will die from it, against 57 percent of British men and nearly half of French and German men. Even in Canada, prostate cancer kills a quarter of men diagnosed with the disease.

A big part of the reason is that, in most countries with national health insurance, the preferred treatment for prostate cancer is . . . nothing.

Prostate cancer is a slow-moving disease. Most patients are older and will live for several years after diagnosis. Therefore it is not cost-effective in a world of socialized medicine to treat the disease too aggressively. The approach saves money - but at a high human cost.

Similar results can be found for other forms of cancer. For instance, only 30 percent of U.S. citizens diagnosed with colon cancer die from it, compared to fully 74 percent in Britain, 62 percent in New Zealand, 58 percent in France, 57 percent in Germany, 53 percent in Australia and 36 percent in Canada.

And less than 25 percent of U.S. women die from breast cancer. In Britain, it's 46 percent; France, 35 percent; Germany, 31 percent; Canada, 28 per- cent; Australia, 28 percent, and New Zealand, 46 percent.

Even when there is a desire to offer treatment, national health-care systems often lack the resources to provide it. In Britain, for example, roughly 40 percent of cancer patients never get to see an oncology specialist. Delays in receiving treatment under Britain's national health service are often so long that nearly 20 percent of colon cancer cases considered treatable when first diagnosed are incurable by the time treatment is finally offered.

In Canada, the Society of Surgical Oncology recommends that cancer surgery take place within two weeks of preoperative tests. Yet one study indicates that median waiting time for cancer surgery in Canada ranged from 29 days for colorectal cancer to more than two months for urinary cancers. Radiation treatment and new therapies, such as brachytherapy, are also far less available than they are in the United States. Consider this: seven out of 10 Canadian provinces report sending prostate-cancer patients to the United States for radiation treatment.

I just hope folks or family members of folks who have or had cancer to call on the American Cancer Society to return to their non-partisan/educational stance and move away from politics and issues like nationalized health-care. Such policies are best left for politicians, voters, and think tanks to discuss such matters rather groups like the American Cancer Society.

Mugabe Strikes Again

Fire of Liberty

It looks like the Mugabe regime has knocked one more leg out from under the stool their of his opposition by forcing the resignation of Archbishop Pius Ncube. This goes to show what extremes that a regime will go to in order to shut down the voices that challenge his thuggish rule. I just hope someone has the ability to overcome such tactics and return some sanity back to the former "breadbasket" of southern Africa.

The Future of Coal

Fire of Liberty

Here's a good piece by Max Schulz in the Washington Examiner which points out how important the mining of coal is to the US economy and the supply of our energy not to mention how with the use of new technology in this nation will be a key in making coal as a viable resource in our march towards energy independence. Now while I prefer nuclear energy due to the fact it doesn't emit greenhouse gases and creates more energy much longer, I've got to say that Schulz's piece makes some great points about the importance of coal and is a must for people interested in our energy future.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Immigration Reform British Style

Fire of Liberty

It looks like the Brits are feeling the crunch of immigration and are pushing through legislation that will restrict massive and ensure that current and future will be assimilated by forcing them to know the English language and its culture. I just wish our politicians would follow the same and stop pushing their crazy immigration bill.

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Art of Politics in Iraq

Fire of Liberty

With Carl Levin and Hillary calling for the ouster of Iraq's Prime Minister and MSM pundits carrying on about the alMaliki government falling down on its job, the Prime Minister along with President Talabani(Kurd), Vice-President al-Hashemi(Sunni), Vice-President Abdul-Mahdi(Shi'ite), and Barzani(President of Kurdistan region) got together in private talks and hammered out an tentative agreement on de-Baathification, a law on powers for the 18 provinces, and a law on detentions, and an oil law that will be voted on in September. Now while this meeting is the beginning of a larger debate, it still shows you that no matter how much folks in D.C. hem and haw the government of Iraq is the one who has a better knowledge of Arab and tribe politics and will make the decision. I just hope that they push the laws through in an orderly time.

*Captain's Quarters has more on the Iraqi art of politics.

They Killed G.I. Joe

Fire of Liberty

As with most people that are 30 years old, I can remember how I anxiously waited for 4:00 to arrive so I could see Duke, Scarlett, Snake-Eyes, and the rest of the G.I. Joe spoil Cobra Commander, and Destro's plan of taking on the world. Even more, this cartoon provided youngsters like me a positive image of what patriotic America forces can achieve when they use of ideals and set their minds to do something. Well it looks like the cynics in Hollywood can't stand such images and have fallen back to their old standbys of political correctness and multi-culturalism with upcoming G.I. Joe movie. So now instead of G.I. Joe being the typical elite American hero force taking on evil, the executives in Hollywood have decided to make them into an international military unit known as Global Integrated Joint Operating Entity. One can only imagine this force running around without guns and issuing warrants to militia and terrorists of the while educating them about global warming. For me, I'm tired of the wussification of America by Hollywood and the MSM and will refuse to attend this movie or anything to do with it. I urge my fellow fans of the real G.I. Joe do the same as well.

(ht to Hot Air and Wizbang)