Thursday, May 31, 2007

Hugo Chavez Tightens His Grip

Fire of Liberty

If you haven't seen the news on the students of Venezuela taking to the streets over Hugo Chavez shutting down Radio Caracas TV this past Sunday, then I recommend you look at this piece by Bridget Johnson. I'd just say that this is yet another example of Hugo Chavez chipping away at the freedoms of the people thus tightening his authoritarian grip on this oil rich nation.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Perils of CAFE II

Fire of Liberty

Rich Lowry has a good column over at NRO which pretty much points out why President Bush, members of Congress, and environmentalist, and various actors call for greater CAFE standards are doomed to failure due to the fact that such fuel efficient cars will result in folks driving more miles, buying more gas, and in some cases the purchasing of extra cars. I'd just say that maybe these "do-gooders" should go back to the drawing board and find a better way to reduce pollution that doesn't impinge on our lives or pass the pain on the consumer. The best solution I can think of is to leave the final decision to the free market and everyday Americans rather than government fiat.

*I personally like this piece on CAFE standards by Diana Furchtgott-Roth of the Hudson Institute.

Mugabe Wants to Seize Foreign Owned Companies in Zimbabwe

Fire of Liberty

Well it looks like Robert Mugabe and his team of "wise men" have decided, in their diluted minds, that they can turn around the economy of Zimbabwe by pushing through a law that forces foreign-owned businesses to hand over its controlling majority to the government. After looking at past seizures of farms, 2,200% inflation, massive starvation and the forcing of hundreds of thousands of poor people from their homes, I'd say that maybe this is a bad move. Mugabe and his friends might think that they can seize such companies and place their own chums at the helm and everything will sail along just fine but they fail to realize that the reason such places are making money(Even in Zimbabwe) is due to the fact that they have experts who have been there many years and now what they're doing. In reality, Mugabe and his people have dried up the resources from its people and are eyeing these companies as yet another feast to gorge on. Here's hoping that Barclays, Standard Charter, Unilever, Rio Tinto and others divest and cut their losses rather than letting Mugabe's and his chums bleed them dry.

Congress Messing with the Free Market

Fire of Liberty

Kevin Hassett has a good column over at on the whole "anti-gouging" crusade that has erupted in Congress with the passing of The Federal Price Gouging Prevention Act. As Hassett notes, Congress might think that they're doing something good for the American consumer by passing an "anti-gouging" law but in reality they are creating a situation that will force higher prices, limited supplies, and massive closings of the various gas stations in this nation. Now while I've tried my best to bring these economic truths to the readers, I have to say that Hassett (I'd add Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams and John Stossel to that list) does a far better job in doing the same but in fewer words. Here's a look at Hassett's good work:

Two Outcomes: Both Bad

That is clearly what is going on in gasoline markets. Countless firms compete against each other. If one firm tried to gouge, then the others would hold their prices low and steal the gouger's customers. No firm has the monopoly power necessary to truly gouge.

So there are really only two possible outcomes from this law. If economics prevails, no firm will ever be found guilty of gouging. If economics doesn't prevail, then Kafka will rise from his grave and send gas-station owners to jail for 10-year terms depending on some bureaucrat's idea of what is fair and unfair.

The potential for harm and abuse is real. I'm a season- ticket holder for the last-place Washington Nationals baseball team. Is it ``unconscionably excessive'' to charge $50 a ticket for my seats? Is it taking ``unfair advantage'' of baseball fans to charge so much money for a team whose cleanup hitter couldn't make the roster of the Red Sox? Perhaps!

The fact is, in almost all cases, gouging is good. If a hurricane destroys the electrical systems in a city, then electricians will be in very high demand. If they charge triple their normal fee, then electricians from around the country will see the high prices, and move to the hurricane-ravaged city. Areas that stand to gain the most from returning to normal will bid the highest for electricians' services, and will be the first to return to normal.

Random Luck

If Congress steps in and stops the gouging and forces electricians to charge what they always did, then no electricians would migrate to the stricken city, and a long queue would form for low-priced service. Random luck will determine who gets their electricity up and running first, and the rebuilding period will be much longer than it need be.

High prices are a pain, but they serve a useful function. Congress should give up the gasoline witch hunt.

I'd be nice if our members picked up an economics book or read columnists like Kevin Hassett before the enact such horrible legislation. We can at least wish that such happens.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A Glimpse of Torture

Fire of Liberty

Rowan Scarborough has a good article in the D.C. Examiner which notes that our soldiers over in Iraq have raided various al Qaeda safe houses and have discovered various torture chambers, kidnapped Iraqis, as well as finding sketches of torture techniques on a hard drive. Now I know that a lot folks in America(As well as some politicians.) like to claim that our enhance interrogation techniques are torture but after reading Scarborough's , I'd say they might need to reassess their definition of torture. Here's a look:

Some of the techniques depicted in black and white:

» An electric drill punching holes in hands

» A knife severing limbs

» A screwdriver taking out an eye

» A blowtorch burning tracks of skin

» Live electric wires attached to tongues

Monday, May 28, 2007

Keeping An Eye On the People's Army

Fire of Liberty

I know that some of the business community and the press are convinced that China is so committed to making tons of money and selling their products to the world that they would be foolish to start a fight with Taiwan or with the US. Now while China presents itself as a producer/retailers dream, you only have to open up this nicely wrapped package and pretty soon you discover that China is a very deadly dragon. If you look here, here, and here you find out pretty quickly that the Chinese are working day and night to develop new military strategies and a deadly arsenal of armaments that range from five Jin class nuclear powered ballistic missile subs, DF-31 intercontinental ballistic missiles that have a range of 8,000 km, a build-up in military spending, as well as the massing of some 700 short range ballistic missiles opposite of Taiwan which shows that the Chinese are not only interested in building up its economy but also projecting its military strength within Asia or on its neighbors.

This just goes to show you that not only are the folks in the Pentagon and the various intelligence agencies having to manage the everyday happenings in the War on Terror but they are also keeping their eyes on the various changes that are happening in China with regards to its military build-up. I just hope that their are a lot of folks in the Pentagon who are forward thinking enough to prepare for the emergence or a future challenge from China. I just pray that we're ready if the time comes.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

A Good Immigration Solution

Fire of Liberty

I have to say that this OpinionJournal column by Peggy Noonan pretty much sums up my general thoughts on how we should solve our border security/illegal immigration problems. It'd be nice if the folks at the WSJ editorial board, President Bush and his administration would pick up on this and run with it rather than their current approach.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Good Economic Thought

Fire of Liberty

If you want to see how much of an improvement the elimination of farm subsidies has on a nation and the agricultural industry, they I'd recommend you look at this piece by Kristyn Birrell over at TCS Daily.

Beware of Ye Subsidies

Fire of Liberty

For a long time now, I've been preaching that the only way that the ethanol based energy companies are ever going to think about developing an efficient and affordable fuel then it has got to be centered around a market based model rather than a government subsidised system that rewards the biggest grower and consumer of corn. Unfortunately, the "wiser heads" of the Senate Agricultural Committee decided, with the help of the corn-based ethanol lobby, that the nation seriously needed to be all aboard the bandwagon thus doling out tons of money to companies to produce glorified moonshine. Now while the members of the Ag. Committee might have thought that they were helping the American people by supporting the greater production of this environmentally friendly energy they were in reality creating a large government subsidized monster.

In fact, based on Kimberly A. Strassel's May 18, 2007 "Potomac Watch" column in the Wall Street Journal, the corn-based ethanol subsidy is causing producers to scorer high and low all over the country for all the available corn due to the fact that the bill is being footed by the "deep pockets" of the federal government which in turn is making a large rumbling amongst the meat producers, cola makers and various other industries that use corn to produce these products. As most students of economics know, if you have a limited supply of a commodity and a high demand, you end up seeing the price of the said commodity shot up in the sky. So as these companies have to pay these inflated prices, they have to charge more money to develop their product which in turn is passed onto the consumer. So when you think of it, the consumer payed for the corn once through taxes when the government payed the subsidy and secondly when they go to the store to buy food to feed their family.

Hopefully some of these Senators are discovering the ire and pain that such subsidization of ethanol is having and will force the corn-based ethanol makers to live and die on their own. Even if the corn ethanol lobby is pulling down big "pay days" via these subsidies, these Senators would be best served by reading this column by George Will and Timothy Egan's The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl to discover what happens when this nation heavily subsidizes the growing of wheat.

Now a cutback of such subsidies might not be a popular move amongst the pork-friendly Senators on the Ag Committee but it's the best way to get a true alternative fuel that can be viable to gasoline. Until then, we'll have to depend on the good folks at Pork Busters, Citizens Against Government Waste, Sen. Tom Coburn(R-OK), Sen. Jim Demint(R-SC) as well as keen observers like Kimberley A Strassel to keep these folks partially honest.

Chalk One Up For the Iraqi Special Forces

Fire of Liberty

Now this is a great example of what the Iraqi military forces and their Multi-National fellows in arms have to do to send a message to the Mahdi Army and other insurgents that the Iraqi government has had enough and no more Mr. Nice Guy. I now that the Iraqis have a good way to go but this is a walk in the right direction. Let's hope for more of this in the future.

You Learn Something New Everyday

Fire of Liberty

Now here's an interesting bit of Star Wars(1977 movie) that was left on the cutting room floor. While I loved Star Wars, I think it would have been much better with this deleted scene and whatever else he left out. See the lost clip below:

A Deeper Look into the Immigration Bill

Fire of Liberty

I have to say that Ed Meese, Reagan's Attorney General, of the Heritage foundation pretty much sums up why the Immigration Reform Bill(More or less an Amnesty) is not only bad legislation but bad for America in the following:

Let's hope more people see this great clip and give their Senator and Representative heck and force a change before they create a greater problem.

Pelosi shy of Her "Six in 06"

Fire of Liberty

From the looks of this, I'd say that Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and fellow Democrats are having some real problems in pushing through their "Six in 06" but have all the time in the world to push through bills naming post offices, public buildings, building roads, and other unanimous bills which are a great bit removed from their change of wardens in D.C. I know that they can chalk up the Minimum Wage increase that was tacked on to the Afghanistan/Iraq War funding Supplemental as a win but how much does this agree with their base.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Tending Towards Romney

Fire of Liberty

Hugh Hewitt has a good piece over at is yet another motivator in pushing my into the Mitt Romney camp for 2008. (I'm still holding out hope for Fred Thompson)

*I'll know more after I read Hugh Hewitt's A Mormon in the White House?: 10 Things Every American Should Know about Mitt Romney.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Teddy K's Thinking

Fire of Liberty

James P. Pinkerton has a good column in Newsday which pretty much sums up what Ted Kennedy and his liberal friends(Even some Republicans who are more part men rather than conservative) are doing as they push through the "comprehensive immigration reform" bill in Congress.

A Good Thought on Afghanistan

Fire of Liberty

I'd say that the editorial board of USA Today has an interesting thought(This happens on rare occasions) on how to deal with the poppy fields and put a humongous dent in the heroin market that is such a scourge on Europe and the US.(Maybe not the US). This might not be a good approach towards the illegal drug market in more developed countries in Southern or Central America but with regards to Afghanistan it might be a good approach.

Welcome Back Carter

Fire of Liberty

I'd have to say that Amity Shlaes pretty much demonstrates in her most recent column on why Jimmy Carter should be very cautious on issuing criticism at the current office holder.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Economic Dynamism Is the Key

Fire of Liberty

reduction of the corporate capital gains taxes from the I have to say if Romney, Guiliani, McCain or others want to secure the GOP nomination and ensure that our economy is vibrant then I suggest they follow Congress Duncan Hunter's lead and call for the elimination of corporate capital gains taxes. Now while I know the outright elimination of these taxes would have a hard time passing through the Democratic controlled Congress but one could probably see a substantialexorbitant 40% to a more modest and workable rate of 20% to 15% rate much like we saw with the capital gain tax reductions in the 2003 Bush tax cuts(Which spurred dynamic growth). Someone who seems to have thought out such proposal is Lawrence Kudlow, columnist and host of CNBC's Kudlow & Company, who has a good column over at RealClearPolitics which points out how this nation can continue the economic dynamism that was started by President Reagan some twenty-six years ago if they pushed through such ideas. If someone at the top of the GOP billing will take this good idea as well as a call for greater emphasis on math, science, and economics within our education system(They also need to learn history as well) and develop them into effective policies, then they'll have a good chance of getting the nod come 2008. Yest look throughout Presidential history at you'll see how favorable this nation is to a candidate who pushes a message of economic dynamism and a brighter future for America.

Reforming the World Bank

Fire of Liberty

Kevin Hassett has a good column over at on how the Bush administration should proceed on fixing the horrible mess the World Bank has gotten itself in with corruption within/outside the agency(Paul Wolfowitz tried but the bureaucrats pushed back and forced him to resign) as well as the wasteful nature of the states who are recipients of such international welfare benefits.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Ted Kennedy Does it Again

Fire of Liberty


I think that Mark Krikorian points in his post over at the Corner on why Senator Kennedy is not someone you should trust to make immigration bill(In secret at that). Ted seems to have a track record of saying one thing while the opposite is happening. Just take a look:

1965: "The bill will not flood our cities with immigrants. It will not upset the ethnic mix of our society. It will not relax the standards of admission. It will not cause American workers to lose their jobs."

1986: "This amnesty will give citizenship to only 1.1 to 1.3 million illegal aliens. We will secure the borders henceforth. We will never again bring forward another amnesty bill like this."

2007: "Now it is time for action. 2007 is the year we must fix our broken system."

Thursday, May 17, 2007

A Threat to the 1st Amendment and the Free Market

Fire of Liberty

I'd say that this is also an idea by the friends of Ted Kennedy that would be a horrific attack on the 1st Amendment and highly successful talk radio. One can only imagine what else will happen if the Democrats were running the White House and Congress come 2009.

The Dangers of Amnesty

Fire of Liberty

I'd advise everyone to read this piece by Heather MacDonald in the City Journal on what Amnesty can do to our nation.

A Studied Look At the Immigration Deal

Fire of Liberty

Here's a good piece over at National Review Online by George J Borjas, the Robert W. Scrivner Professor of Economics and Social Policy at Harvard, on the Senate's recent agreement on the Immigration bill.

*Also, check out Professor Borjas' website and his great book Heaven's Door: Immigration Policy and the American Economy to learn more on this issue.

A Bad Immigration Bill

Fire of Liberty
Bad Deal

While the legislation hasn't been voted on, I think all hard-working, law-abiding citizens should be very concerned when President Bush, Ted Kennedy, the GOP and DNC leadership start hawking a deal reached on immigration reform(Which is really just Amnesty) . One can imagine that John McCain and politicians signing up with such insane policies are going to have problems come 2008.

My best advice is for folks to let your Senators know that you're not going to take this amnesty lying down.

*It seems that Senator Demint(R) of South Carolina is not happy with this deal. Senator John Cornyn of Texas has similar thoughts.

Let's Remember The Horrors of Communism

Fire of Liberty

Here's a great piece by Paul M Weyrich that notes the amazing work that Lee Edwards has done in bringing about the building of the Victims of Communism Memorial in D.C., which will be dedicated on June 12, 2007.

Keeping Tabs on Internal Threats

Fire of Liberty

For a long time individuals terrorist experts like Daniel Pipes, Steve Emerson and other analysts have been noting and writing about how great of threat that homegrown terrorists or al Qaeda friendly groups present to this country much like we've seen with the most recent arrest of the individuals who were planning to attack our soldiers at Fort Dix. While these events and experts are enough to shock most people in this nation, I'd say that the following piece in the Canada Free Press by Paul Williams in something that should shake us from a slumber of thinking that such terror cells don't exist or have the ability to launch horrific attacks on our nation. Let's just hope some folks at the FBI, Homeland Security, State or Local police forces are as vigilant on the happenings of these groups much like Dr Williams.

*For more on this subject, check out the following books:

American Jihad: The Terrorists Living Among US
by Steve Emerson

Jihad Incorporated: A Guide to Militant Islam in the US
by Steve Emerson

Militant Islam Reaches America
by Daniel Pipes

My Year Inside Radical Islam
by Daveed Gartenstein-Ross

by Melaine Phillips

Monday, May 14, 2007

Vigilance is the Best Defense

Fire of Liberty

Check out Mark Steyn's excellent piece in the Chicago Sun-Times which points out some interesting facts about the terrorists who were plotting to attack our soldiers at Fort Dix. I just hope folks in D.C. are watching these events and are making the appropriate.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

What Would Burke Say?

Fire of Liberty

Here's James P. Pinkerton recent Newsday column, which takes an interesting look at the recent election of Nicolas Sarkozy in France.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

No Time For A Re-Brand

Fire of Liberty

I came across this interesting piece by Rowan Scarborough over at The Examiner which noted that their is an effort within the White House, NSC, Pentagon, State Department, CIA and other agencies to rename or "re-brand" our current conflict with al Qaeda and its friends. Here's a look at the current debate:

Rep. Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, a Bush loyalist and ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, told The Examiner he has lobbied the White House to follow the British lead.

“Language is important, and I’ve told [National Security Adviser Stephen] Hadley and the president the past year and a half that I think the ‘war on terror’ is a terrible idea,” Hoekstra said.

“Going back to 9-11, we shouldn’t dignify these 19 [plane hijackers] by calling them warriors and saying that they’re involved in a war,” he said. “These are not warriors. These are cold-blooded terrorists and murderers, and that’s all we should dignify them with.”

John Brennan, a former senior CIA officer who directed the U.S. National Counter Terrorism Center, also believes the word “war” should be dropped.

Brennan said the term connotes only military force that is required defeat radical Islam, when in fact a lot of tools, including public relations and diplomacy, are needed.

Now while I enjoy a good academic debate over semantics, I've got to differ with Rep. Hoekstra and Brennan and removing the "war" from the debate. I don't know if these two individuals know it or not but al Qaeda and it radical Islamic cohorts launched a war on us when they seized four domestic airliners and crashed them into the World Trade Centers, the Pentagon and a field in Shankville, PA,(The passengers on United 93 put an end to this one) thus resulting in the deaths of close to 3,000 people. We already know that al Qaeda and like minded groups are committed to fighting a war to bring about out destruction, so instead of worrying what to call it, we should just use all of the assets at our disposal and fight the darn terrorists where they stand. Even more, if you look back at WWII, you'll discover that we called it a war and used tanks, guns, troops, bombs, planes, diplomatic(Look at our Land Lease policy with the Brits prior to WWII, our work with the Free French and General DuGalle, getting the Soviets on our side) , as well as financial activities much like the federal government and its many agencies are currently doing. For me, I prefer to call it a Long War Against Islamic Jihadists. Folks might think its clunky or say it creates an even bigger problem(Might tee off CAIR or other groups) but I believe it aptly describes that we are in a generational fight and the specific enemy we are fighting.

*I'd say that Fred Thompson shares the same sentiments.

Friday, May 04, 2007

More Economic Populism

Fire of Liberty

Sally Pipes, president and CEO of the Pacific Research Institute, has a good piece over at RealClearPolitics which points out how Senator Dorgan(D-ND) and fellow Democrats are so fired up to promote populist notions like which include the importation of cheaper drugs from places like Canada(Which are American drugs adjusted by Canadian price caps) that they are willing to push through legislation that forces US pharmaceutical companies to sell drugs at a price that these foreign countries determine. Here's a sample of Pipes' wonderful piece:

It's not deal-making -- it's bully bargaining.

Imagine, for example, if you could walk into Best Buy and set your own low price for a 60-inch plasma television. This might sound great at first. But it wouldn't take long before the store, no longer able to ensure the stream of revenue it needed, would have to drastically reduce its offerings -- or possibly even shut down entirely.

Free trade and fair business dealings require consent from both parties; any law requiring forced sale would undermine the underlying principles of both.

U.S. pharmaceutical companies are no different from Best Buy - or even Ben & Jerry's. Every business must mark up its products to turn a profit. If politicians single out drug companies to deny them a return on their investments, those companies will simply stop investing in the development of new drugs.

On average, it takes $800 million to $1 billion to bring a new drug to market. Investors are willing to take that chance precisely because the rewards of developing a cure for lymphoma, AIDS, or diabetes are considerable. If the profit incentive is removed, the miracle cures that mark America's drug industry would vanish.

Dorgan's amendment is an unprecedented piece of anti-American legislation. It would force U.S. drug makers to sell to foreign exporters at prices dictated by outside governments. It's even worse than if Congress simply imposed price controls on the industry - which would, at least, be honest. Dorgan's amendment is an attempt to slip in price controls through the back door.

Further, according to a 2003 study from the London School of Economics, a forced-sale provision wouldn't even lead to lower prices at the drugstore. Instead, only the middlemen -- those foreign pharmacies that purchase the drugs in bulk and resell them -- would benefit.

Yet forced sale proponents push ahead.

So in an effort to promote their agenda, Dorgan and his friends will impose stealth price caps on the drug companies that will cause the supply to go down thus pushing up the cost of medicine which will be passed on to the consumer. I'd say that this nation could do better than this.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

A Gift to the Ethanol Industry

Fire of Liberty

Before the 2006 election I recall a lot of the Democrats harping about how the Republicans and members of the Bush administration were beholden to the oil and energy companies during the five year debate and eventual passage of the energy bill. Well now it looks like the the Democrats and a smattering of Republicans on the Senate Energy and National Resources Committee are now offering up some bones to the ethanol industry (It's not spelled out in the piece but I can assure you that there's some goodies from the government coming their way - Just look at the various Farm Monitor shows on RFD-TV to see how they're hyping ethanol.) some and affiliated companies with the 20-3 vote on the passage of the energy bill. I've said in the past that I'm all for the creation of alternative fuel sources like ethanol, hydrogen, coal and even super battery technology but I have a serious problem when the government buts into the world of energy production via excessive regulations and massive subsidies to the ethanol makers. As long as the government shells out billions of dollars to various companies and farmers to keep on producing this fancy moonshine, we will have an industry that will be an inefficient industry propped up by the government dole rather than being an industry that lives and dies by the actions of a free market and the demands of the consumer. Until we get the government out financing the production of ethanol and leaving it to the private sector, which should be on the energy companies dime, we're going to continue to see the depletion of our valuable cropland and forests to plant such crops, a shortage of feed corn, higher usage of energy to make the product and the ever increasing rise in beef, pork, and corn products.

*Now here's an example of what a private industry and a group of scientists can do in the field of alternative energy when they're left to their own devices. (It might be sparked by a grant which is limited and not a boondoggle like we are seeing in D.C.)

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

A Piece of History up in Flames

Fire of Liberty

According to this article, a barn and a shed on Whittaker Chambers' farm burned down yesterday. If you're a follower of history, then you'll know the importance of the site to the Chambers family and to the nation's history(Well unless you're a fan of Alger Hiss).

*Also check out this interesting piece on Chambers and Hiss by John J Miller.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

God Save the Queen

Fire of Liberty

As a student of history and a great admirer of the traditions of the British monarchy, I'm rather psyched about Queen Elizabeth II's upcoming visit to Virginia to celebrate the 400th birthday of the founding of Jamestown. While most people are accustomed to various leaders/heads of states from around the world visiting the White House, the Queen's visit is more special because she's coming outside of the D.C. Beltway to the rolling hills of Virginia to honor our country and celebrate our history thus demonstrating once again the bonds that exist amongst the English speaking nations of the UK and the United States. Even better is the fact that the Queen and Prince Phillip are also going to spend time with our armed forces personnel and will venture to Kentucky this weekend to attend the Kentucky Derby. I surely beats hobnobbing with the stuff shirts in D.C. or New York City(Though I bet they'll come to her in Virginia and Kentucky). I hope she has a good time and the American people take in the historic visit.

*Also, check out Richard Brookhiser's wonderful piece over at Time on the 400th birthday of Jamestown.