Saturday, March 31, 2007

A Soldier's Greatest Gift

Fire of Liberty

Now here's a homecoming that I hope all returning soldiers(especially parents) receive after their tours in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Tax Man is a Coming

Fire of Liberty

Amity Shlaes has a good column over at which notes that the tax payers should be wary about the Democrat's current work on budget resolutions. According to Shlaes, the various appropriations committees within the Democratic led Congress are pushing bills-under the new pay-as-you-go rules- that are presented as benefits for the "Middle Class," but when you peel back the veneer you discover that they are planning to lay large tax bills at the feet of America's taxpayers and the "Middle Class" that they say they're helping. Here's a look at what's coming down the road:

Raising Rates

Consider five possible changes:

The first is the most obvious: raising the top marginal rate on income tax back to President Bill Clinton's old 39.6 percent levy.

For 2006, the top bracket of 35 percent starts once income exceeds about $335,000 in taxable income, a level routinely breached by even modestly successful staffers at Wall Street firms. Lawmakers would push that back up.

Second, lawmakers would also like to fiddle with the next rungs on the tax ladder. Don't be surprised if in the name of tax reform Democrats start talking about recalibrating so that the current 28 percent and 33 percent brackets become 36 percent.

A third likely change is especially important for Wall Street, which has enjoyed a tax on dividends of 15 percent for the past several years. Lawmakers are likely to revert to the old system for dividends, under which the payments are treated as ordinary income and taxed up to the top 35 percent rate. Or make that 39.6 percent -- if the first of the changes above is made.

Capital Gains, Estate Tax

Capital gains likewise are under the gun, with the possibility that the tax rate may move back to the 20 percent of the 1990s from the current 15 percent.

Then there is the estate tax, which is already a mess. It phases out under current law in 2010, only to roar back in following years. In order to prevent its revival, lawmakers must enact a new law. Democrats are likely to take advantage of disillusionment at the complexity and write a new law that makes the estate tax, once again, an American fixture.

The reason these tax uglies are likely to be on the table is that they are reversions to the rates in place before George W. Bush came to power.

Democrats therefore can tell themselves and their constituents that they aren't really raising taxes. They are merely going back to the happy status quo of the 1990s. Undoing the Bush Legacy is easier and more enjoyable than writing a new tax increase.

I have a strong feeling that the Democrats are becoming more and more jealous of the stagnant economies of Europe. Here's hoping for 08.

True Grit at 1600 Pennsylvania

Fire of Liberty

Even if the MSM is counting down the days that President Bush has left in the White House and the Democrats are assuming that he's becoming a lame duck, it seems that the President is proving that he's relevant when it comes to Iraq and his role as Commander in Chief. I have to say that you've got to give President Bush several huzzahs for his steadfast determination to see that our troops achieve a victory rather than a devastating loss in a dangerous region. Unlike all the stripped pants types over at State, the President realizes that our failure Iraq will be telegraphing to our enemies weakness which will embolden them even more. As a country boy, I know that a wounded animal in the woods filled with dangerous critters won't last long.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

A Road to Serfdom via Legos

Fire of Liberty

While Hernando De Soto and Richard Pipes have written masterful tomes(see here and here) on the importance that individual property rights as an essential building block for the development of a democratic society and a tide to raise all ships. Well according to this piece by John J. Miller over at National Review Online, it seems that some teachers at the Hilltop Children's Center in Seattle have decided to rejected the sage advice of these two scholars( and I'm guessing some parents) and imposed their socialistic, anti-capitalist ideology on these children by taking away their Legos. Even worse is the fact that after these teachers took away the kiddies building blocks and reconditioned these kids on the horrors of capitalism, they laid down new guidelines on the construction of future Lego towns. Somewhere, F.A. Hayek and Milton Friedman are rolling over in their graves.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A Welcomed Voice

Fire of Liberty

It's rather interesting that various dictators and thugs can come before the UN and its various commissions and spout out various attacks on the United States, UK, the West and Israel without the fear of censure or sanctions but when someone comes in and attack the true human rights violators and defend the US, UK, and Israel, the President of the UN Human Rights Council threatens to strike you comments from the record.

Persian Chess

Fire of Liberty

It seems more evidence is coming out that shows the Iranian Revolutionary Guards have been more aggressive with coalition and Iraqi forces on the border of Iraq and Iran.

Defeatism isn't the Solution to Iraq

Fire of Liberty

As an American, I've still got to hang my head that the Democratic led Senate has decided to take another step forward in the passage of a pork filled, hand tying Iraq supplemental appropriation bill which is really an endorsement of our defeat in Iraq. The thing that has me scratching my head is that during the ramp-up to this legislation, the Democrats kept on squawking that the President "doesn't have a plan." Now while the Democrats might think they can dismiss President Bush's current Iraq war policy as "no plan" but they fail to notice the obvious, which is that we do have a new plan and is off to a good start in doing so. Upon being appointed to his new post, General Petraeus has implemented an new counterinsurgency policy that takes our soldiers and fellow Iraqi soldiers out of big isolated bases and putting them in some 24 joint security stations throughout various neighborhoods in Baghdad, which in turn creates a secure environment for the people thus gaining the trust of the Iraqis who in turn are able to help us in identifying the terrorists and others within the insurgency. Though we're months away from calling the Petraeus plan a complete success, one can only deduce from the initial success, as reported in The Iraq Report, here and here, things are destined to be much better Baghdad(Iraq as a whole) if they're given enough time and funding for the plan to be fully implemented.

One thing for sure is that as long as the Democrats keep on playing games with the Iraqi War funding by loading it with ghastly pork barrel spending to attract votes for the bill and implementing time-lines to please the anti-war crowd, they are making it harder for President Bush, Gen. Petraeus, our soldiers and the Iraqis from achieving victory. Even worse is the fact that by the Democrats(and Chuck Hagel(R-Neb)) voting to add time-lines for withdrawals on Iraq we are telegraphing to our enemies within Iraq and the Middle East that if you wait long enough and apply enough carnage on the mighty US then they'll eventually become divided and turn their tails under and run like hell from the region. We've seen what the Iranians are doing to the Brits now after they left Iraq and one can only guess what our enemies have in store for us come March or September 2008. Thankfully, we have a President who sees beyond the horizon--unlike the 08 looking Dems--and realizes the dangers ahead if such legislation is passed. Therefore I whole heartily support a Presidential veto that will put an end to this nonsense and start the whole process all over again. It might result in the same legislation but at least he's still focused on defending our people and our interest in the world even if people don't like it.

*Here's a good piece in the Weekly Standard which sums up the legislation.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Spartan Pride

Fire of Liberty

Tony Perry and Robert W. Welkos have a good article in the Chicago Tribune which notes that our Marines are really into the blockbuster "300" and some even see similarities between their experience in Iraq and the 300 brave actions of the Spartans(700 Thespians as well) as they minded the gap against tens of thousands of Persians at Thermopylae.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

A Matter For Historians

Fire of Liberty

During various one-on-one interviews between President Bush and some MSM reporter, the interviewer seems to always ask the President does he view his two terms as a success or a failure. Now while some presidents might bite at this minute "on the couch," President Bush generally tells them that such questions should be reserved for historians some ten or twenty years from now. Well thankfully, Noemie Emery has a good piece over at the Weekly Standard that pretty much shows that the president is wiser in his thinking than the MSM or most intellectuals think.

Playing Hardball with Iran

Fire of Liberty

According to this article in The Times, the Iranian government is threatening to try the 15 British sailors/Royal Marines captured on the Shatt al-Arab waterway for espionage, which is a capital offense in Iran, if the United States doesn't release the five Iranian "diplomats" they captured in Iraq. While folks might find such actions a bit harsh, one can understand that the Iranian regime would to play such tricks to rouse a nationalistic fervor(Dictatorship do things like this when their economy is falling, they impose gas rationing, and a population that is growing tired of the Islamic regime.) amongst the Iranian populous because of the UN Security Council's current deliberations over imposing economic sanctions on Iran due to their nuclear weapons program. With a time like this, the British government should follow Margaret Thatcher's adage of this being "no time to go wobbly." Which means that the British should continue to demand that their soldiers be released, refuse to make absurd deals and threaten that severe consequences will be meted out if the don't do so in a timely manner. As long as the Brits stand firm on these points they will retain the upper hand and convey a sign of unwavering strength and force Iran to show their hand. If the UK plays a game of appeasement with Ahmadinejad, then they could create a terrible situation in which the tyrant will trumpet his victory of the mighty British. I hope the Brits emulate the great lion Winston Churchill and stand firm to such actions.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Alternatives to Al Gore's Moral Crusade

Fire of Liberty
The D.C. Examiner has a good piece up today on Channel 4's(UK) documentary "The Great Global Warming Swindle" which lays out a scientifically sound argument against so called "man-made" global warming. To supplement this reading, I recommend you check out "The Great Global Warming Swindle" below.

*Also check out this piece from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory about how the sun's activity leads to Earth's long term climate change.

*Here's a good op/ed by Iain Murray's in the New York Post on Al Gore's "moral" crusade.

Handcuffing Our Warfighters

Fire of Liberty
It looks like the staffers from Representative Eric Cantor's(R-VA) office have put together a great video over at YouTube that clearly points out what the leadership in Congress would do to the President and our soldiers if they push through their legislation. I'd say this video is well worth a thousand words.

US Marine Receive's UK Distinguished Flying Cross

Fire of Liberty


Here's a hearty congrats to Major William D. Chesarek Jr.(USMC) on being the first US soldier to receive the UK's Distinguished Flying Cross for for rescuing a wounded UK Marine during a combined UK/US mission in Al Amara. Adding even more importance to the ceremony is the fact that Queen Elizabeth II presented him with this coveted medal. See here and here for more on one our heroes.

Mugabe's Thuggery

Fire of Liberty

Even after Mugabe and his ZANU-PF thugs stomped their hob-nailed boots on the Morgan Tsvangirai, fellow MDC members, clergy and their supporters who were attending a prayer meeting, it seems the regime has decided to bring in some hired guns from Angola to bust more heads. I think that the regime has outsourced their thugs because they're scared that the security forces will turn on them and join the MDC if they were forced on their fellow countrymen. Let's just hope that the West does something before Zimbabwe turns into another chapter from Conrad's "Heart of Darkness."

*Austin Bay has some thoughts on the happenings in Zimbabwe here.

Defenders of the West

Fire of Liberty

Today I was over at The Spectator(London) and came across a great piece by Melanie Phillips on our good friends from Australia. Now while some of our "friends" in Europe and the rest of the world seem to back themselves into a defensive shell and speak of diplomacy and promote the destructive policies of multiculturalism in an effort to forestall the rage of the "Muslim street," our true friends are digging in their heels and standing pat with us in Iraq and Afghanistan. I don't know if it's the fact that the Aussies have a lot of Scotch-Iris stock or are just realists who know that you have to scrap with the school yard bully if you want to be left alone but I have to say that if I'm walking down a dark street then I'd prefer to have John Howard or Alexander Downer on my side than a lot of the leaders in Europe. Let's just thank our lucky stars that our friends continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with us in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Gore's Hot Air

Fire of Liberty

This piece in the San Diego Union Tribune pretty much sums up what a lot majority of folks in the United States and the world community feel about global warming alarmism. I give it to the "Global Warming" crowd for their efforts in establishing a lock-step audience via the MSM and the entertainment industry but I believe the tide could be turning. I can assure you that a lot of people remember the dire forecasting of global cooling, population bombs, running out of natural resources and all of the other perceived disasters that didn't never came about and are wary of such talk from Gore and friends. Here's hoping the tide turns from such hysteria and non-sense solutions that will only cost lives and fortunes for the possibility of cutting the temp something shy of 1 degree in temperature.

*After reading this editorial from the New York Sun, it seems that Al Gore's shiny new car loses its sparkle when exposed to facts. It also hurts his image when well known academics like Bjorn Lomborg(Who also testified today alongside Al Gore), author of The Skeptical Environmentalist, pens pieces like this.

Petraeus' Plan is Working in Iraq

Fire of Liberty

Since the White House isn't conducting some FDR "fire side" chats to explain to the American public our current clear and hold security plan being conducted in Iraq by General Patraeus and our fine soldiers(Iraqi security forces as well), I guess we've got to depend on various segments of the press. One individual who seems to explain the seemingly successful application of such policies in less than a thousand words is former Lt. Colonel Gordon Cucullu, a Green Beret at that, who penned a wonderful piece on the counter insurgency fight in the New York Post. Take a look at what Cucullu has to say:

Petraeus has his troops applying a similar formula in Baghdad's Sadr City: "We're clearing it neighborhood by neighborhood." Troops move in - mainly U.S. soldiers and Marines supported by Iraqi forces, although that ratio is reversed in some areas - and stay. They are not transiting back to large, remote bases but are now living with the people they have come to protect. The results, Petraeus says, have been "dramatic."

"We're using 'soft knock' clearing procedures and bringing the locals in on our side," he notes. By being in the neighborhoods, getting to know the people and winning their trust, the soldiers have allowed the people to turn against the al Qaeda terrorists, whom they fear and loathe. Petraeus says his goal is to pull al Qaeda out "by its roots, wherever it tries to take hold."

Another change: an emphasis on protecting of gathering places like mosques and marketplaces. "We initiated Operation Safe Markets," Petraeus said, "and have placed ordinary concrete highway barriers around the vulnerable targets." Car bombings have dropped precipitately - the limited access thwarts them.

As a result, "The marketplaces, including the book market that was targeted for an especially vicious attack, are rebuilding and doing great business. It is helping the local economy enormously to have this kind of protection in place." With jobs plentiful and demand growing, the appeal of militia armies declines proportionally.

It looks like the current effort to pacify Iraq is going pretty darn well and could turn the country for the better. It'll take more than these few weeks to see the real benefit but I like what I see. The only question is will the Democrats see the sea change or are they so committed to the "get out of Dodge" crowd that they're willing to lose this battle.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Gore's Inconvenient Truth

Fire of Liberty

John Fund has a good column over at the WSJ's Opinion Journal that seems to bust yet another hole into Al Gore's environmentalism armor. I understand his devotion to the environment but before he forces us to do so, then he should practice what he preaches.

States Full of Pork

Fire of Liberty

While I talk a lot about pork-barrel spending on behalf of the federal government, I also keep my eye on the lofty spending habits of our state legislatures. Here's a good piece by Stephen Spruiell over at National Review Online the tells you all about the efforts of the Citizens Against Government Waste to keep a watchful eye over the states. So go check it out.

Bring On The Pork

Fire of Liberty

I could have sworn that when the Democrats were running as well as when they assumed power that the days of "pork" was over. So you would have thought that the Dems would have thought about such a promise when they started to load down the President's $103 billion Iraq/Afghanistan supplemental funding bill with some $21 billion (Other estimates say $30 billion) in pork-barrel spending on things like spinach, peanuts, oranges, shrimp and other goodies. Now I could understand if the members of the House just wanted to add more money to the bill for improving soldiers housing, fixing our military rehab facilities, buying more armored vehicles, buy more guns, or raising soldiers pay but they decided to play politics with money for our troops by including such silly expenditures that are not germane to military funding. The Democrats might not like the war and could be stalling to run out the clock but all they are doing is slowing down the much needed money that our troops are waiting on. If the Democrats are so worried about putting off bills on "future generations," then they should push through a clean bill or vote it down. If I recall, pork-barrel spending cost the Republicans Congress in 2006 and could do the same for them in 2008.

*Check out what the editorial board at the D.C. Examiner had to say about the bill.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

A Pivotal Moment

Fire of Liberty

If the Democrats don't want to be pegged weak on national security like they've been know for since 1972(McGovern) then I'd suggest they think twice about cutting funds for our troops in Iraq or placing various restrictions on the President's ability to fight this war effectively. While the Democrats are trying their best to win the pitched political battles of power of today and of the future, they'd be bested served to look back on history and discover what happens to a political party when it pushes and enacts policies of national security weakness. For the sake of our two party system and this nation, I just hope the Democrats have studied and learned their history.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Senators Should Read Further Before They React

Fire of Liberty

Today as the Democrats in the Senate were debating an Iraq resolution*, which would require President Bush to draw down troops in 120 days and getting completely out by March 2008, they kept on touting a report from the Pentagon that noted violence has gone up in Iraq during the months of January and February. Now folks can say that this report shows that Iraq is becoming a bigger mess but I'd say that such would be expected because the terrorists and insurgents knew that if they were going to inflict great casualties on their opponents or influence the political atmosphere in the US (They do have satellite TV and access to the Net and see what Congress is doing) then they had to do so before the surge started. In fact, the Senators seem to be just reading the headlines and tend to forget that the report was more nuanced. According to this article in the D.C. Examiner by Rowan Scarborough, it seems these reports are prior to the "clear and hold" surge and will serve as a baseline to determine how successful this new Baghdad security will be in the near future. So maybe before these Senators rip their talking points from the MSM, then they should read further down the page or at least check out Rowan Scarborough's good work.

*The Reid resolution failed to get the 60 votes it needed for passage.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Those Darn Cows

Fire of Liberty

Dwight R. Lee, an Economics professor from UGA, has a good piece over at TCS Daily that points out that the Greens should slow down their effort to eliminate the internal combustion engine(Remember Al Gore's declaration to do in Earth in the Balance) due to the fact that the car is far healthier for the planet than what they originally thought. Here's a look at Professor Lee's interesting take on how the gas/diesel powered vehicles have brought about such a positive outcome:

Global warming became a concern, however, long after the internal combustion engine began improving the environment. In 1900 most of the horsepower we had available really was horse power -- or mule power, or oxen power. As reliance on the internal combustion engine increased in the early 1900s, we began replacing the emissions that came out of the tailpipes of animals with those coming out of the tailpipes of cars and trucks. And the latter emissions were a lot less harmful than the former.

Consider the effects of horse emissions in our towns and cities at the beginning of the last century. The air and water pollution from horse manure contributed to a death rate far greater than that generated by the pollution from cars and trucks. No one denies that photochemical smog from gas powered vehicles is a health risk, but it is not nearly the health risk of cholera, typhoid, typhus, yellow fever, diphtheria and malaria. These diseases killed tens of thousands of Americans in the early 20-century and these deaths began to decline as cars and trucks replaced horses and wagons.

And the improvements in the environment weren't limited to just the towns and cities. Before gasoline power arrived, beasts of burden were polluting agricultural communities along with meat producing animals such as cows, chickens and pigs. By eliminating horses, mules and oxen on farms, tractors and other types of gas-powered farm machinery greatly reduced the problem of animal waste that environmentalists, with justification, still complain about. This also eliminated the need to grow the food required by millions of farm animals. It has been estimated that it took about 93 million acres of land in 1900 to grow the food to fuel the farm animals that were soon replaced by motorized farm machinery. Much of that land has now gone back to woodlands.

Based on the above consideration alone, environmentalists should favor building an environmental shrine to the internal combustion engine. And now the evidence indicates that by eliminating all those barn-yard animals, the internal combustion engine also eliminated vast amounts of methane-producing flatulence, which is a much more powerful greenhouse gas than the carbon dioxide produced by gasoline engines.

I'd have to say that if a lot more of our politicians and folks in the MSM would start including some wise thinking like that of Professor Lee rather than hopping on Gore's "proven science" bandwagon, we'd be better off.

*Here's the article on cows from the Independent. Even with such facts, I'm still a lover of beef.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

A Mugabe Made Hell

Fire of Liberty

It looks like the Robert Mugabe and his fellow thugs in ZANU-PF have decided to further their grasp on power within Zimbabwe by shutting down all public demonstrations and sicking their henchmen on all the individuals who speak out against the regime. Along with inflation reaching 1,800%, high rates of starvation, massive resettlement program, a wrecked agrarian economy due to Mugabe confiscating white owned farms and giving to cronies who haven't a notion how to farm(It once was the breadbasket and cattle capital of Africa), one wonders when the folks in this nation will say enough is enough.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Social Experimenting in the UK

Fire of Liberty

After reading this article in the Daily Mail, I'd say that the UK is steadily marching down the socialist highway much like that of France or Sweden. According to the Daily Mail, the UK government is doling out facials, manicures, make-overs ,massages and shopping vouchers to various unemployed single parents (mostly mothers) in a belief that this will provide them greater self-confidence and allow them to seek out a job. As with most socialistic tinkering, whether it's in Europe or the US, people will continue to eat from the governments trough as long as they're not required to do something in return. One can only imagine individuals who will say they are "looking" for a job while still claiming that they need more pampering because they're still unhappy or lack confidence. I just hope that folks wake up from these "social experiments" and take their nation off the Road to Serfdom.

A Handy Tool

Fire of Liberty

Here's a good article from the D.C. Examiner on a new GPS guided munition that our military is using to help them in taking out the insurgents in Iraq. Now while the routing of the insurgency will only be achieved by the actions of our soldiers and Iraqi soldiers on the ground within the various neighborhoods around Baghdad, it's still good to have some helping hands in disrupting any of the entrenched insurgents without harming civilians within the area. So I offer a hearty salute to our soldiers, their Iraqi counterparts and the folks who build the precision weapons they use in their fight in Iraq.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Koppel Talk

Fire of Liberty

While the liberal Democrats in Congress and their friends on the Left keep on pushing for an immediate "bug-out" from Iraq, there are a lot of journalists and outside observers who are noting that such a abrupt move would leave Iraq in chaos. One individual who clearly understands what awaits the folks in Iraq and its further implications is veteran journalist Ted Koppel. While no friend of the administration, the managing editor of the Discovery Channel appeared on Meet the Press this morning to note that its easy to say that we can get out of Iraq but when you sit down a take a serious look at the situation you realize that such cannot occur without resulting in chaos or an expansive conflagration in the region. So if you want to have an honest assessment of the situation from someone who doesn't "carry any water" for the Bush administration, then I'd say you should check out what Koppel said this morning on MTP.

*Also, check out this past Friday's edition of Washington Journal in which Brian Lamb interviews UPI's Defense correspondent Pamela Hess on what she took from her most recent visit to Iraq.

You can also read here print work here.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Continuing Churchill's Work

Fire of Liberty

Check out this review by Edward Stone on Andrew Roberts' A History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900. This book makes a hearty companion and continuation of Winston Churchill's four volume A History of The English-Speaking Peoples.(I just bought the four volume set through AbeBooks) If you adore history then I recommend you read the review and check out the book.

Dealing With the Satanic Gases

Fire of Liberty

According to this piece in the Financial Times, it looks like the folks in Canada are using some innovative thinking when it comes to CO2 emissions. It seems that there are plans to pump CO2 into the ground or in storage tanks rather than letting it enter the environment. What's even better is that the oil industry can inject this stored CO2 into older or current oil wells thus getting the full potential of such wells which prevent the drilling of new wells. Though I'm a little skeptical about the whole man made global warming hysteria of Al Gore and the Greens, I've still got to give it to the Canadians for thinking out solutions that won't wreck an economy or cost taxpayers way too much. The only problem I see from this article is the fact that the government is discovering such innovations that they wish to impose on the people/corporations rather than asking or letting the private sector come forward with such ideas. Everyone in Canada and elsewhere are go to get better results and practical solutions by letting a business man puts his own money on an idea he feels is in his best interests rather than letting the the government step in with its bureaucrats who only know how to spend other peoples money. So I congratulate the effort but just wish that the Conservatives in Canada would stay true to ideas like free markets and small government when they take such steps rather that following the status quo of the Liberals and the Left.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Assimilation Is A Must

Fire of Liberty

Derory Murdock has a good piece over at National Review Online that calls for this nation to get out of its "multicultural" fantasies on immigration ranging from bilingual education to multiple languages on our ballots and government documents and return to the policies of assimilation that previous legal immigrants had to go through when they came to this country. Basically what we've got to do for folks coming to this country is to insist that they learn our language, history, customs and laws in order to become citizens of this nation. For too long we have been so concerned about offending others that we've created situations in which these individuals are segregated into the same neighborhoods and jobs that folks of their same cultural/linguistic group stay in thus preventing them from associating and interacting with fellow Americans. If we don't want to find this nation turning into the "multicultural" mess that the UK and Europe is currently experiencing with its immigrant population, then we've got to go in the direction of assimilation.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Free Market Solutions for The DOD

Fire of Liberty

Eli Lehrer of the Competitive Enterprise Institute has a good piece over at National Review Online on how the DOD can deliver better service to our members of the military by applying various aspects of the free market into their health care/insurance policies. Lehrer notes that the Pentagon will be better off if they introduce various aspects of to the current policies by copying the VA's policy of portable electronic records to their system while introducing slight modifications of the DOD's TriCare(more or less a private insurance policy) which include the introduction of stricter eligibility requirements and the introductions of health savings accounts. Now I know that folks in Congress might balk at such changes but at least Eli Lehrer is bringing some innovative thinking to the table.

A Treasure Trove

Fire of Liberty

Here's hoping that the "West" or Israel has already netted this major asset from Iran especially as the Iranian's and the subordinates are playing dangerous games in the Middle East. It'd be even better if he defected from the regime.

Go Tell The Spartans

Fire of Liberty

James P. Pinkerton has some good things to say in his most recent column about the new movie "300." If you've seen the trailers to the movie you can tell its a comic book version of the battle of Thermopylae- that is mostly targeted to teens - but from what I've read and know about this historic battle the film makers seem to have written a good story of how some 300 Spartans held off thousands upon thousands of Persians in 480. Hopefully, these teens and others will become more interested in this battle and try to learn more on Thermopylae and decide to read some history on ancient Greece or even read some Herodotus. Now for the more reserved viewer, I recommend you to the 1962 movie "The 300 Spartans." I've seen "The 300 Spartans" and look forward to seeing "300" in the next couple of weeks.

*Here's what classic historian Victor Davis Hanson has to say about the movie "300."

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Emerging Brain Drain

Fire of Liberty

While I'm all for the United States enforcing the current laws on the millions of illegal aliens who constantly enter this country and take full advantage of a free education and the welfare system(Health care and other entitlements) , I have to scratch my head when Congress and others continue to place such restrictions(Which they don't apply to illegals) on the highly educated individuals who enter the nation legally to work in Silicon Valley or the other high tech industries that make this country number one. Now while I don't expect any member of Congress of calling on a change in our immigration policies there are some brave individuals from the private sector who knows the impact that our upside down immigration policy has on this nation. Someone who seems to understand of such a policy is Bill Gates who noted before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, that if we continue to push forward such restrictive measures on legal immigrants along with a large amount of our students opting out of studying math and science, we could further our brain drain thus threatening our current status as the world's top innovators in science and technology. See the following article in the Financial Times to read more on what Gates had to say.

*I'm not so sure about what Obama, Hillary, and other DNC hopefuls are saying about such ideas but Rudy, Mitt Romney, and Newt Gingrich(finger crossed for him running) are bringing up such points during all their speeches and appearances in the media.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

GOP Hopeful?

Fire of Liberty

Here's yet another column that makes Newt Gingrich look more and more attractive for 2008.

A Ghost From Vietnam

Fire of Liberty

Jonah Goldberg has a good column in USA Today which shows how the Democrats are very quick to point out that our current fight in Iraq is like Vietnam but tend to be forgetful about how the war zone in Iraq could turn into Vietnam circa 1975 if we follow the same advice of withdrawal they offered up back then. So instead of me confusing you further, just check out what Jonah wrote:

The Democrats are incapable of escaping the gravitational pull of the Vietnam myths they've nurtured for decades. At the same time, the liberal memory of the Vietnam War has become so gauzy and saccharine with nostalgia that they're unprepared to grapple with the downsides of their own all-purpose analogy. All that seems to matter is proving that the Iraq war not only has been lost but must be lost, lest the Vietnam worldview be invalidated. As my colleague Rich Lowry said in regard to Pennsylvania Democrat John Murtha's effort to sneakily thwart the Bush surge: "It used to be that the war had to end because it was a failure; now it must fail so that it can end." For example, Massachusetts' Sen. Edward Kennedy ridicules the notion that a withdrawal from Iraq would have grave humanitarian costs.

"I heard the same kinds of suggestions at the time of the end of the Vietnam War," Kennedy told NBC's Tim Russert, mocking the notion that we'd have a "great bloodbath" with more than 100,000 dead. "And for those of us that were strongly opposed to the war, (we) heard those same kinds of arguments."

Yes, but those arguments were right. Our withdrawal from Vietnam did contribute to a great bloodbath. More than a half-million Vietnamese died at sea fleeing the grand peace Kennedy and his colleagues orchestrated. And more than 1.2 million Cambodians died at the hands of the Khmer Rouge, thanks to the power vacuum created by our "humanitarian" withdrawal. Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., a presidential candidate, insists that a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq can't make things any worse. In 1975 he took a similar line: "The greatest gift our country can give to the Cambodian people is peace, not guns. And the best way to accomplish that goal is by ending military aid now." Someone rent Dodd a DVD of The Killing Fields.

Of course, the costs of defeat in Vietnam were hardly just humanitarian. America's loss at the hands of a small, comparatively weaker nation arguably prolonged the Cold War and has long served as an emboldening example to enemies eager to believe Uncle Sam has a glass jaw — from Saddam Hussein to Osama bin Laden.

In the wake of 9/11, Ayman al-Zawahri, bin Laden's lieutenant, warned: "O, American people, your government is leading you to a new losing war. O, U.S. people, your government was defeated in Vietnam and fled scared from Lebanon. It fled from Somalia."

The Democratic Party itself — once the leader in vigorous internationalism — has since Vietnam been perceived as fundamentally unreliable on foreign policy by many American voters. Indeed, someone in the party recognizes this, which is why Democrats are working so hard to avoid being seen as the primary authors of U.S. defeat in Iraq, the way they were perceived after the Vietnam War.

The New Yorker's George Packer wrote in 2004 that since its experience with Vietnam, "the Democratic Party has had no foreign policy." Though Democrats were eager to spout the language of liberal internationalism in the 1990s, Packer noted, the Clinton administration nonetheless "allowed a genocidal war to bleed away in the Balkans for two-and-a-half years before acting to end it."

Sealing a defeat

I don't think it's fair to say the Democrats have had no foreign policy — it's more that they've had lots of them. But Packer's invocation of Clinton's intervention in the Balkans illuminates an important point. Today, liberals proudly tout the Yugoslavian campaign as nigh upon the sole proof that Democrats believe America can use its military power as a force for good. Forgotten are the anti-war left's opposition to an American empire, Clinton's circumvention of the United Nations (at least Bush had U.N. resolutions to back him up), or the ups-and-downs of public opinion. All people remember is victory.

If President Bush's surge is successful, odds are Americans will think it was all worth it. If, on the other hand, the Democrats are successful at ending the war in defeat, it's not at all clear Americans will see our loss as the unambiguous triumph Kennedy remembers in Vietnam. Nor is it clear they'll congratulate Democrats for securing a sure defeat rather than chancing a possible victory.

I have this makes you wonder what kind of foreign policy we'll get from the current crop of Democrats running for president in 08. To me, the Republicans have an advantage in foreign policy due to the fact they have far more hawks seeking the 08 bid.

Global Warming in A Can of Soda?

Fire of Liberty

Check out Phil Harris's interesting take on global warming and how Al Gore's is going to enormous extremes in pushing his "moral" crusade on this warming phenomena.

On Step In Front Of The Other

Fire of Liberty

I know its way to early to call the US/Iraqi counter-insurgency strategy in Baghdad a great success but after reading this piece in The Times you've got to have hope such is achievable. So here's hoping that the folks serving in Iraq keep up the good work and get 'er done.

A Different Look At Global Warming

Fire of Liberty

Now while Hollywood, the MSM, various scientists and the left are marching lockstep with Al Gore and his "moral" crusade against the coming global warming disaster, there are a lot of folks in world and the scientific community who are not completely convinced that man is causing global warming or that it can be prevented by imposing the draconian measures to our economy is the solution. As with all things dealing with the study of science there is a great need to have a thriving discussion about what causes such warming, if such is a natural occurrence, if it can be fixed, its cost relative to other far pressing problems and other factors before we make harsh or abrupt changes. Well thankfully the National Post in Canada has decided to run a series on the various scientist in the world who differ with the global warming crowd and offer up some alternative explanations on what is causing the warming of the planet or if this is a problem. So if you want to get both sides of the coin before you choose one side or the other then I suggest that you go over to the National Post and check out this series.

*For more on this alternative view on global warming, I highly recommend you check out Dennis T. Avery and S. Fred Singer's book Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1,500 Years, Patrick J. Michaels' Shattered Consensus: The True State of Global Warming, as well as Henrik Svensmark's The Chilling Stars: The New Theory of Climate Change, Bjorn Lomborg's The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the World.

*Also, check out the review from the Washington Times on the documentary "The Great Global Warming Scandal," which is airing this Thursday on the UK's Channel 4. After reading this review and and seeing its film on radical Islam, I'm guessing this one on global warming will be just as good.

Monday, March 05, 2007

There's Texas Tea in that Sand

Fire of Liberty

Here's a promising new fuel source from the wilds of Canada. It might be petroleum based and a little bit messy but at least it is a market based enterprise.

Costly Bio-Fuels

Fire of Liberty

I know the White House is keen on pushing forward its energy policy that would reduce our consumption of petroleum by 20% in 10 years by replacing it with alternative fuel like ethanol but after reading this article in the Independent(A UK paper that leans to the left) I think they should think twice. According to the piece, it seems that the turn towards bio-based fuel like ethanol that the proposed plan will cause more harm to the environment than the good due to the fact that it takes 30% more energy powering the tractors and factories that are used to create such fuel as well as the fact that it will require more farmland(thus greater deforestation to produce large enough crop to make up enough fuel to replace some 20% of our current petroleum usage. Aside from the Independent's article, the production of bio-fuels will continue to create such inefficient uses of land/energy and remain a fairly expensive enterprise as long as the federal government doles out subsidies to the folks producing such fuel. Unless it is based on the private sector/venture capitalist sector, bio-fuels will remain a energy source that folks will abstain from. Like I've said before, I'm all for alternative fuels and environmentally friendly ventures as long as its vested in the private sector and isn't connected with the federal government.

A Free-Market Solution to Walter Reed

Fire of Liberty

If I know Congress, then I'm pretty sure that we'll hear a lot of talk about how disgusted members of Congress are about the conditions at Walter Reed and how "heads should roll"(Due to the steadfastness work of Defense Secretary Gates, folks in charge have been relieved of duty.) but when push comes to shove I doubt that anything will be done.

Now while I doubt Congress will ever take my advice, I feel strongly in urging them to take a completely different approach. Looking at the state of things at Walter Reed, one can clearly agree that when it comes to the federal government and an agency like the VA, the bureaucrats are going to be less likely to be efficient and timely with their patients because they know their clients don't have the money or ability to go anywhere else.

Following the notion of Milton Friedman's TV series and book "Free to Choose," this nation and our vets would be best served if the choice of medical facilities into the hands of the patient rather than the federal behemoth of the VA. As with everything else, individuals tend to make better choices when they have the ability rather than what someone in an office in D.C. can decide. So what I suggest is for the Veteran Administration to either create a medical system in which the veterans insurance is portable and can be used by the veteran to seek out a efficient and clean(And in a lot of cases they're more affordable) facility in the private sector or allow them to remain at a government facility, all of which is according to their choosing. They could take the step further by introducing a voucher system that provides a certain amount of money for each veteran to use in their health care thus they'll be much more likely to be wary of what they spend and will only go to a place they like rather than being stuck where a bureaucrat wants you to go. This whole notion in this "freedom to choose" option is to introduce some competition into the game of Veteran health care that pits the federal government against the private sector.

Unlike the VA, the people running the private sector are in the game to make money and cannot afford to lose their customers because of bad service or horrific conditions therefore they'll be on their toes to continue to keep their patients happy in an effort to keep on keeping their business. Thus, I believe that if such a situation is introduced in the VA system we'd see a large turnaround and less and less of the horrors that we've read in the Washington Post as of late. Until such a dramatic change like this and less of the broken federal government band-aide , will continue to see things like the mess at Walter Reed.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Paging Dr. Friedman

Fire of Liberty

I commend the Washington Post for revealing the conditions at the highly antiquated outpatient buildings at Walter Reed and the subsequent actions of the Pentagon, that resulted with the resignation of the secretary of the Army as well as the firings of several generals, majors, and various others. Now everyone has the right to be horrified at the conditions of these facilities but I'd caution the Democrats on the Senate and House Armed Services Committees, Veterans Affairs Committee and the other respected committees from flying off the hook on the building because these buildings (some of which are 80 to 90 years old) and the current Walter Reed campus has been commissioned for destruction for some years now. Just see here, here, here, and here. Even worse is the fact that some of the same individuals who will be the most vocal on their shock of the conditions at Walter Reed are some of the same people who fighting like mad to keep the old and decaying campus open.

If you think about the the whole events at Walter Reed, it just further demonstrates how slow and inefficient that the federal government and its bureaucracy is when it comes to the handling of problems and the formation of solutions for such problems. With recovering veterans facing such headaches one can understand why some true patriots in the American hinterland(What Bill O'Reilly refers to as "the folks) decided to bypass the federal government and create the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund which has already raising some $50 million for the construction of a state-of-the-art Center for the Intrepid rehab facility at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. You also have private/public entities like Fisher House who build housing facilities for recovering soldiers and their families as they get back on their feet. I know that these soldiers have served their country and deserve the best from the federal government but if they have to choose then I'm betting they will take the private sector facilities anytime. I'll go one further and say that they get even greater care with less waste of money and time at these facilities.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for laying the hammer down on the individuals who let such horrors develop at the Walter Reed outpatient facilities but as with most things related to the federal government I'm not surprised that things went wrong.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Rising Tides

Fire of Liberty

Amity Shlaes has a good column over at which shows how the folks in India are experiencing greater economic horizons and seeing how life is getting better do to their ever increasing tendency to embrace the free market policies of Hayek and Milton Freidman while moving away from the planned economic models of Nehru and the Fabians. Now while the Indians have a long way to go before the become a economic powerhouse like the US, Japan or Hong Kong, they're still headed in the right way. I think the Europeans(who seem to be experiencing a rough patch with their welfare state economic policies) could learn a thing or two from India.

*See this piece in Foreign Affairs by Gurcharan Das on India's economic dynamism.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Retaining Traditions

Fire of Liberty

Generally I'm a stickler for conveniency and streamlining processes when it comes to almost anything related to the federal government but after reading this piece in the New York Sun I tend to favor the traditions of government. It seems that some bureaucrats within the US Citizenship and Immigration Services of New York City is so fired up on making the traditional swearing in ceremony of new citizens "modern" that she is doing away with pomp and specialness of the ceremony thus taking away a memorable accomplishment for the new citizens and replacing it with a cookie cutter government activity much like you get when you "go to the courthouse". As a great admirer of individuals who up and leave their homeland and enter this country legally to work their tails off to become citizens of this great nation, I have to say I'm for tradition and hopes these changes are slapped down.

Unknown Heroes

Fire of Liberty

Now while America has the privilege to know and celebrate the lives of our Medal of Honor recipients from the Civil War to Operation Iraqi Freedom, we also have a lot of unknown heroes in our Special Forces who fight under a banner of anonymity in the wilds of the world. Though my generation is less than likely to know the soldiers who serve in the units or the entirety of their missions, I'm still able to say that the elite soldiers are constantly turning over every rock, tapping communication, tracking leads, infiltrating terrorist cells, destroying the terrorist cells infrastructure and killing terrorists in an effort to secure our nation from the evil that roams in the darkness. All in all, I'm proud to have these brave but anonymous heroes standing between us and the enemy that wishes to destroy us.

*Here's a good article by Rowan Scarborough in The D.C. Examiner on our elite forces.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Just Another Castro

Fire of Liberty

It looks like the transition of power between Fidel Castro to Raul Castro in Cuba hasn't been as beneficial or healthy for the folks on the island gulag as various "experts" in the MSM would have you to believe.

Conservative Policies Towards the Environment

Fire of Liberty

As someone who has a menagerie of animals and prefers to living in a rural community, I have to say that I'm pro-environment. Now I'm all for keeping the environment clean, preserving nature and seeking alternative energy but unlike the Greens, I'm abhorred at the mere thought of the government imposing regulations on our industries that will do nothing but kill our economy while letting "developing" countries like China and India go willy-nilly. After reading this op/ed in the Washington Post by Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina and seeing how the game was in the bag for Al Gore at the Oscars(Not to mention the MSM fawning of Global Warming hysteria), I figured folks would like to see conservative policies towards the environment. Now while I don't have time to go into a extensive plan(Unlike Governor Sanford and Newt Gingrich, who is working on a environmental book, and various free-market friendly academics) I figured you'd find this piece in National Review Online by Johnathan H. Alder very interesting and insightful on the critique of Gov. Sanford and how the Right can effectively approach issues on the environment. Here's a sample of Alder's fine piece:
Focusing on the question of climate change, Governor Sanford argued conservatives should push “innovation, no regulation.” This is nice rhetoric, but the devil remains in the details. According to Sanford, this means, among other things, “encouraging . . . implementation of more eco-friendly construction, more energy-efficient workplaces and more sustainable ways of going about life.” These are all things government has sought to do for years, largely through the various sorts of mandates and regulations Sanford purportedly rejects. If he really means to call for a new approach, such as by encouraging innovation by removing regulatory barriers and government obstacles to new technologies, he needs to spell it out to demonstrate his agenda is more than business-friendly, green-lite. If conservatives wish to get serious about the issue of climate change they need to do more than embrace the agenda of green business interests or defend the status quo. They need a positive agenda that both recognizes the risks of climate change, but also the risks of ill-conceived climate change policies. Rushing headlong toward costly emission caps is as bad an idea as burying one’s head in the sand.

A list of specific policy proposals a conservative could endorse in good conscience would include the following: End government policies that subsidize inefficient energy and resource use; End government programs that encourage excess energy use and subsidize vulnerable development; Encourage innovation by removing barriers to technological development and deployment; Replace market-distorting subsidies with prizes for specific types of major innovations; Create international institutions that can facilitate technology proliferation to encourage less carbon-intensive economic development in poorer nations. More controversially, it may be time to consider replacing some taxes on income and wealth generation with taxes on energy use or emissions from fossil fuels. So long as such a tax shift does not increase the overall tax burden on the economy — and this is an essential condition — it could encourage innovation and conservation without costly mandates or wasteful subsidies.

Governor Sanford is to be commended for engaging the environmental debate, and recognizing the need for a principled conservative alternative to the statist quo policies of the environmental Left. If he is serious, however, he needs to get beyond pleasant rhetoric and convenient platitudes about “conservative conservationism.” His entrance into the environmental debate is welcome, and let’s hope others follow. If Governor Sanford endeavors to be a leader on this issue, he will need to outline a more concrete conservative environmental agenda.
While I'm not on the same page as the Governor or with Adler, it still beats the economy killing policies of Al Gore. Then again, most people can't afford to pay the $30,000 on utilities like Mr. Gore.