Friday, June 29, 2007
Here's a good piece by Richard Brookhiser in Time which notes a long history of New Yorkers who ran as well a won the White House and how 2008 will be the first time in 60 years since a New Yorker ran for President. So if you want a history lesson on the role New York has play in the race to the White House. I just hope that if Gotham is in play that the former mayor of New York is leading the march up to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and not the junior senator of New York.
Peggy Noonan has a good column over at OpinionJournal.com which points out a little mentioned aspect of legal and illegal immigration to this country, which is that the current crop of individuals who choose to live and make a life in America are doing just that and nothing more. If you look back on this nation before the radicalism of the late 1960's you'll discover that new entrants in this country made it their duty to Americanize themselves by learning this country's ways, laws, language, history and culture thus giving themselves a clear break from the "old country" and allowing them to start life anew in this blessed country. I'd say that Noonan put it best when she noted the following:
My grandfather had his struggles here but never again went home. He'd cast his lot. That's an important point in the immigrant experience, when you cast your lot, when you make your decision. It makes you let go of something. And it makes you hold on to something. The thing you hold on to is the new country. In succeeding generations of your family the holding on becomes a habit and then a patriotism, a love. You realize America is more than the place where the streets were paved with gold. It has history, meaning, tradition. Suddenly that's what you treasure.
A problem with newer immigrants now is that for some it's no longer necessary to make The Decision. They don't always have to cast their lot. There are so many ways not to let go of the old country now, from choosing to believe that America is only about money, to technology that encourages you to stay in constant touch with the land you left, to TV stations that broadcast in the old language. If you're an immigrant now, you don't have to let go. Which means you don't have to fully join, to enmesh. Your psychic investment in America doesn't have to be full. It can be provisional, temporary. Or underdeveloped, or not developed at all.
And this may have implications down the road, and I suspect people whose families have been here a long time are concerned about it. It's one of the reasons so many Americans want a pause, a stopping of the flow, a time for the new ones to settle down and settle in. It's why they oppose the mischief of the Masters of the Universe, as they're being called, in Washington, who make believe they cannot close our borders while they claim they can competently micromanage all other aspects of immigration.
You'd think that the folks in D.C. would get the point, especially after this past week, that a lot of people in this country are not only worried about border security, amnesty, illegals declining wage/taking away jobs, but are also deeply worried about various immigrants (Mainly illegals) failing to assimilate to our way of life which in turn could forever change the melting pot that is this country. So until these individuals can secure the border and we start assimilating the folks we already have here thus setting them on a pace of self dependency, I cannot foresee the American people excepting anything like the Senate tried to push through this week. So thanks America for holding the Senate's feet to the fire and forcing them to kill the bill.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
In my post Standing Athwart History, I noted that Senators Lott and Graham were a little perturbed by talk radio educating the American people about the Immigration Bill as well as Senator Feinstein noting the she is seriously looking into bringing the Fairness Doctrine back to life. Well according to this piece over at Townhall.com by Amanda Alexander it looks like more Democratic Senators are getting on the Fairness Doctrine bandwagon thus finding yet another piece of legislation to squelch free speech. Here's what Senator John Kerry had to say on the most recent Brian Lehrer Show on WYNC(An NPR station which would benefit from the act), reintroducing the Fairness Doctrine:
While these Democrats and their friends on the left and the MSM are pushing forward this squelching of free speech, the Hill has a good article out which notes that Republicans in the House are making great efforts to counter such actions. Thank G-d for conservatives at Townhall.com, National Review, Hot Air, and talk radio for keeping us informed about such actions.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Here's a good piece by Rowan Scarborough in the Examiner(D.C.) which notes that our soldiers in Iraq discovered and destroyed and enormous three building IED factory in Mosul. While this is just the destruction of one of the many IED factories in Iraq, it just shows you that are soldiers and their commanders are slowly but surely closing in on the terrorists and their horrific weapons. I just hope that the Senate will give our military ample time to continue this effective counterinsurgency work thus preventing us from snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.
*Based on this piece by Eli Lake in the NY Sun, it looks like the intellectual architects of the surge and the soldiers/commanders in the field are concerned that the folks in D.C. will cut off their legs as Generals Petraeus and Odierno begin to execute an effective counterinsurgency in Iraq.
As a fan of the 1942 classic film Casablanca, I have to say I found this piece by Peter Hannaford over at the American Spectator on Kathy Kriger building Rick's Cafe in Morocco very interesting. This just goes to show you the impact that this marvelous film has had on its viewers some 65 years after its making. I wish we could say the same about the movies of today.
Here's National Review's a list of 8 senators that hold the fate of the bill in their hands. I've noted in a previous post that Bond, Nelson, and Domenici are in the "no" camp thus leaving us 3 short of 41. I'm figuring Webb, Burr, Brownback are the next best bets to turn to "no" even though we could have other surprises. Here's hoping they vote no.
While the Senate failed to kill the immigration bill yesterday by voting "no" on cloture it look like there is hope for the bill to fail another cloture vote on Thursday. Based on what I've read and witnessed on C-SPAN2 today, it looks like the Senators, who were against the bill, but voted yes on cloture in an effort to get their amendments added to the bill are discovering that their amendments and other strict immigration amendments are being tabled(Senate speak for killed) which in turn is pushing them to the "no" camp on the upcoming cloture vote. Now while the Immigration Bill proponents might have more tricks up their sleeves to push the bill, the possibility of the bill dying is still out there. My spirits are a little brightened by reading Jim Geraghty's 5:32PM post over at the Corner on Senators turn to "no" on cloture. Here's a look to save you some time:
*Here's a more detailed post by Heath Haussamen on how Senator Domenici was moved to the "no" side.
A Surprise Switch from Yea to Nay from Domenici? [Jim Geraghty]
Interesting. If Senator Domenici (R-N.M.)'s people told the truth to Noam Askew, he's switching to a "NO" on cloture tomorrow, because Hutchison's amendment was defeated.
Deal proponents had 64 yesterday. The lose Bond (from Hannity comments) and Nelson of Nebraska (told NR today he's "leaning no"). They lose Domenici, unless his office lied to Askew. That's 61.
Then we get to the maybes. Webb lost his amendment, which he said was key to his support. Coleman's not saying, but sounds like he needs at least his amendment, and he wants a "stronger" bill. Ensign's office needs his two amendments. I don't think Brownback will say until he gets to the vote, but he did vote no on cloture on the very first opportunity, and intended to vote no the last time.
(Of course, this assumes that no nays switch to yea on cloture.)
UPDATE: I'm hearing contradictory information from readers who have gotten through to Burr's office. I've gotten a busy signal all day.
*Also check out this interesting thoughts on what Thursday will bring us by Noam Askew over at his blog Day In, Day Out.
Here's hoping that these three well be the beginning of a greater tide thus pushing the number from 35 "no" votes to the magic 41 votes.(I prefer more.) So remain happy because we have a little sliver of hope that the bill will die in the Senate.
I know that the Democratic Presidential candidates are speaking to the liberal net-roots choir by one-upping each other on how fast they'll get troops out of Iraq if they win the White House, but when push comes to shove these individuals fail to take in the whole logistics, excessive time span as well as the massive security that it will take for our military to bring home the 160,000 troops, equipment, support staff and all of the armaments that we have committed in Iraq. Just listen to this June 22, 2007 broadcast by Tom Bowman on NPR's(Not a Bush friendly news organization) Morning Edition to get a great understanding about what such a tail-tucking evacuation will require of this nation and its troops. Looks to me that these folks should do their homework before offering up such suggestions and irrational statements.
*Also check out Frank J Gaffney Jr.'s great take on this future Dunkirk.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Judging from South Carolina talk radio and the most recent cloture vote that forwarded the Immigration Reform bill in the Senate, I'd say that we'll see much more of the following ads being directed at Senator Lindsey Graham.
*Even if the bill passes, we have hope that a large number of Republicans and a large contingent of Blue Dog Democrats-who ran to the right of most Republicans in 2006-kill the bill in the House.
Monday, June 25, 2007
During the last month Republican voters, conservatives and fans of talk radio have discovered that Senators like Trent Lott and Lindsey Graham have become angered at the fact that the "loud folks" are bugging them thus making it hard for them to do what they want to do rather than what their voters want them to do. To make matters worse, you've got Senators Feinstein so exasperated with Americans voicing anger at this horrible bill that they are threatening to "deal" with talk radio and even Senator Feinstein noting she is "looking at it." with regards to bringing the Fairness Doctrine back to life. Thankfully, we have the editorial staff of National Review standing athwart this liberal march and yelling stop to such non-sense by publishing the following editorial piece. Here a look:
Nothing has worked too successfully for liberal political talkers. Rush, Sean Hannity, and Laura Ingraham, among others, are as dominant as ever. The only thing that has changed is that liberals now seem less interested in challenging conservative talk radio in the marketplace than in strangling it with government regulation. And that presents a much greater threat than another misguided attempt to find the liberal Limbaugh.Thank God for National Review and the champions of freedom of talk-radio for standing up to the political back room deals being hatched in the closed quarters of the Senate.
A new blueprint for a government takedown of conservative talk radio comes from the liberal think tank Center for American Progress, founded and run by former Clinton White House chief of staff John Podesta. In a report entitled, “The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio ,” the Center outlines a plan that would, if implemented, do enormous damage not only to conservatives on talk radio, but to freedom of speech as well.
Surveying 257 stations owned by the top-five commercial station groups, the report’s authors found the unsurprising news that 91 percent of total weekday talk programming is conservative, and just nine percent “progressive.” Rather than attribute that imbalance to the generally conceded superiority of conservative programming — most radio professionals would tell you that Rush Limbaugh is simply better at what he does than any of the liberal opponents who have tried to compete with him — the report finds a deeper, more sinister case. “The gap between conservative and progressive talk radio,” it concludes, “is the result of multiple structural problems in the U.S. regulatory system. “ According to Podesta’s Center, those structural problems can only be solved by government action.
First, the report proposes new national and local limits on the number of radio stations one company can own. Second, it recommends a de facto quota system to ensure that more women and minorities own radio stations. And finally, it says the government should “require commercial owners who fail to abide by enforceable public interest obligations to pay a fee to support public broadcasting.”
The two-for-the-price-of-one attempt to have the government both stifle voices that don’t meet “enforceable public interest obligations” while raising money for government broadcasting is certainly a worthwhile strategy for the Left. Not for free speech and free markets, however.
Though the stateside folks are making sure to keep our Senators from passing a horrific Immigration Bill to ensure our boarder security , our troops are fighting a great fight with the insurgents in Iraq and making great strides with Operation Arrowhead Ripper. Just take a look at this column in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette by Jack Kelly to learn a little bit on this massive operation that the MSM seems to be ignoring.(With Paris Hilton getting out of jail soon, I expect Operation Arrowhead Ripper will fail to make the morning news. Unless, God forbid, something bad happens.)
As a conservative I have to admit that I never been that crazy of President Eisenhower because he played politics as usual and failed to promote policies that were conservative in nature. Now while I don't find much of the decisions by the Eisenhower administration (I'm inclined to support his strong stand on the Soviet Union, Communism as well as his military spending.) , I tend to find his stance on dealing illegal immigration very interesting after reading this Opinion piece by John Dillin in the Christian Science Monitor. It would be nice if President Bush read this little bit of history and realize that we've had laws and politicians who were willing to secure our borders. We've just got to see it through.
Saturday, June 23, 2007
Friday, June 22, 2007
According to this post by Mark Krikorian's over at the Corner, it looks like the list of senators pledging to vote "no" on cloture has grown to some 32 members. Here's a look:
Here's the latest I have, from Numbers USA. Since Tuesday's cloture motion (to bring the amnesty back up for debate) needs 60 votes to succeed, that means 41 senators either have to vote No or just be absent. There are 32 pretty solid No votes for cloture and, assuming Fredo doesn't go and drag Sen. Johnson in from his sickbed, that's 33 against.
The solid No votes on cloture are Alexander (R-Tenn.), Allard (R-Colo.), Baucus (D-Mont.), Byrd (D-W.Va.), Bunning (R-Ky.), Chambliss (R-Ga.), Coburn (R-Okla.), Corker (R-Tenn.), Cornyn (R-Texas), Crapo (R-Idaho), DeMint (R-S.C.), Dole (R-N.C.), Dorgan (D-N.D.), Enzi (R-Wyo.), Grassley (R-Iowa), Hutchison (R-Texas), Inhofe (R-Okla.), Isakson (R-Ga.), Landrieu (D-La.), McCaskill (D-Mo.), Pryor (D-Ark.), Roberts (R-Kan.), Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), Sanders (I-Vt.), Sessions (R-Ala.), Shelby (R-Ala.), Smith (R-Ore.), Stabenow (D-Mich.), Sununu (R-N.H.), Tester (D-Mont.), Thune (R-S.D.), Vitter (R-La.).
That leaves eight votes to get to 41.
The following 12 senators are leaning against the bill itself but so far are leaning toward the cloture motion — which means, in reality, that they would be helping pass the amnesty, because if the bill comes to a final vote, it will pass. These are the Senators whose decisions will likely determine whether the amnesty passes or not: Bond (R-Mo.), Bingaman (D-N.M.), Burr (R-N.C.), Boxer (D-Calif.), Cochran (R-Miss.), Conrad (D-N.D.), Ensign (R-Nev.), Levin (D-Mich.), Gregg (R-N.H.), Nelson (D-Neb.), Hatch (R-Utah), Webb (D-Va.).
*Now it's true that a Republican will vote against their fellow Republican on this bill but after reading this piece in The Hill , Senator Graham(Who's up for election in 08) is learning what happens when you refuse to listen to your voters.
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Now here's a hearty thanks for Senators Sessions(R-AL), DeMint(R-SC), and Vitter(R-LA) who have stood their ground against this horrific bill.
From the growing list of Senators who are pledging to vote "no" on cloture, the good folks at Eagle Forum might have to cut a new video.
Now while President Bush, Lindsey Graham, John McCain, Ted Kennedy and others in the Senate are continuing their vigilant stand in pushing through the Immigration Reform bill, there is also a growing tide of Senators who are listening to what their voters (Or as Senator Graham calls the "loud people") have to say and will vote no on cloture. Though we can't be certain if there's enough votes to kill this "amnesty" bill, I'm glad to say that after reading this piece in Congressional Quarterly that Senators Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson will vote "no" for cloture on the upcoming bill.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
I know that various members of the US Senate are hell bent on passing the Immigration Reform bill because they think they know more than the "loud people" of America but maybe these politicians should stop talking to hear themselves talk and pay attention to what the people are saying. Just look at what Rasmussen Reports has to say:
Just 20% of American voters want Congress to try and pass the immigration reform bill that failed in the Senate last week. ... 51% would like their legislators to ‘take smaller steps towards reform’ while 16% believe they should wait until next year. ... Sixty-nine percent (69%) of voters would favor an approach that focuses ... ‘exclusively on securing the border and reducing illegal immigration.’ Support for the enforcement only approach comes from 84% of Republicans, 55% of Democrats, and 69% of those not affiliated with either major party. ... Fifty-seven percent (57%) favor a proposal giving ‘all illegal aliens up to three years to leave the United States. After leaving, the illegal aliens would have to get in line and wait their turn for legal entry into the United States.’ Support for that concept comes from 67% of Republicans, 49% of Democrats, and 56% of unaffiliated voters. ... The Senate immigration reform bill that failed last week was far more popular in Congress than among the American people. ... At the end, just 23% of voters favored the legislation. ... Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) has seen his Favorability ratings slide to 19% during the recent debate. A month ago, he was viewed favorably by 26%...When will these folks start listening to their voters rather than the MSM or some diluted pollster who says such legislation will create a sense of admiration for the Republican party amongst the 12 million or more illegal aliens.
*Hat tip to John Derbyshire of National Review Online.
Monday, June 18, 2007
Today, I came across an interesting editorial in the Wall Street Journal that noted that the good folks at Kelloggs have been forced into removing cartoon characters or kid friendly characters from their cereal boxes and ads after busy bodied "consumer advocacy" groups like the Center for Science in the Public Interest and the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood threatened to sue them for "brainwashing" the children of America into obesity. Now while these "do-gooder" groups might think that they're the greatest arbiter of what is in the best interests of America's, I believe that they fail to realize that the best judge on what is best for children is their parents. No matter how much little Johnny or Susie pout, beg, or pitch a fit for so and so cereal, the parents still make the final decision about what they buy and feed their children.
These parents can also observe their kids eating a bowl of cereal with milk and be rest assured that their kids are eating something that is far better for them rather than what they'd eat for lunch or a snack during their school day. Even more, it looks like these groups have such enmity towards capitalism and corporations that they are willing to force cereal makers to change their practices and ad campaigns which will result in these companies being shut down in the future for the sake of "the children." After reading the following from this op/ed in the New York Post by Elizabeth Whelan, president of the American Council on Science and Health, it looks like the kids of America might be the ones to suffer from the removal of such cereals. Here's a look at what the consumer advocacy groups fail to mention about in their shakedown of these cereal makers:
First, today's fortified cereals are sources of excellent nutrition for kids and adults. My late colleague Dr. Fredrick J. Stare, founder of the Harvard Department of Nutrition and co-founder of the group I run, the American Council on Science and Health, was the first to suggest over fifty years ago that cereal manufacturers fortify their products with beneficial nutrients -- scrawling the idea that became Special K on the back of a napkin to explain it to a Kellogg's executive.As always, I tend to favor and the consumer's (parents in this case) decision via the forces of the free market. If the Center for Science in the Public Interest is so concerned about the health of the kids in America, then they should be devoting their time promoting and educating parents and kids about the benefits of exercise and eating in moderation rather than threatening lawsuits.
Second, pre-sweetened cereals do provide calories, but for non-obese kids, calories can be a good thing -- they provide energy. And if the cereal is not pre-sweetened, the child may just do the sweetening with scoops from the sugar bowl -- often adding even more sugar than there would have been in a pre -sweetened product.
Sugar on cereal --particularly when eaten in conjunction with milk -- is not a threat to dental health. Unlike, say, a bagel, it does not adhere to teeth and cause decay. Further, cereal is an excellent source of fiber, not to mention the many nutrients it provides. The bottom line is that cereal -- pre-sweetened or not -- is a nutrient-dense product, so you get a lot for that caloric intake, far more than you would with, say, fruit juice.
Third, pre-sweetened cereal should be a low priority target in our war against childhood obesity (overeating all day and lack of exercise are the real problems). But even if cereal were the problem, why did Kellogg's not simply pledge to use a low-calorie sweetener instead of sugar in some of its cereals -- and thereby give parents a choice?
I'd have to say that the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has a good editorial out today which points out that the US Senate is pretty close to trampling on the American experience if they push through their immigration reform bill. For me, I think that the best way to solve the problem is by shutting down the border with a border fence(Not a wimpy 371 miles but 700 or more), greater border guards, unmanned aerial drones, and other security measures that shuts down the flow of illegals. After shutting down the border, this nation will be able to put a freeze on illegal immigration thus allowing us time to assimilate the 12 million into the American culture and history while at the same time requiring them to learn the English language. Until we do so, this nation will continue to go down a road of balkanization in which the immigrants(Mostly illegal immigrants and some rare occasions legal immigrants) arriving to this nation stay in the same neighborhoods and regions and clefting to the customs, culture, laws, and language of their "home countries" rather than becoming a member of our great melting pot. We've seen the horrors that such a policy created in Bosnia and Kosovo, let's pray we avoid such a fate.
Saturday, June 16, 2007
Now I can understand that Defense Secretary Gates might find it necessary to get the favor of the Democrat controlled Senate by replacing various military commanders with other commanders that won't make waves during their confirmations or anger the Dems throughout their tenure but I can also see how such policy can have a lasting impact on the quality of our commanders and the devotion to the troops in the field. Among the most recent decisions by Secretary Gates is his decision to nix the renomination of General Pete Pace as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. While the Pentagon and the White House have the final say in replacing General Pace, I'm scratching my head at such a decision especially when I read the following statements that Gen Pace made to the Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk:
"One thing that was discussed was whether or not I should just voluntarily retire and take the issue off the table," Gen. Pace said, according to a transcript released yesterday by his office at the Pentagon.Though that the President and the Pentagon need to appease the Senate for the next 18 months in hopes to keep the money flowing into the highly unpopular operations in Iraq(The Senate is turning away even when the American people still prefer success rather than failure.) but sometimes you've got to take a brave stand for highly experienced members of our military who care as much about our soldiers and their mission as General Pete Pace. I guess General MacArthur's adage of "old soldiers never die; they just fade away" rings true with General Pace.
"I said I could not do that for one very fundamental reason," which is that no soldier or Marine in Iraq should "think -- ever -- that his chairman, whoever that person is, could have stayed in the battle and voluntarily walked off the battlefield.
"That is unacceptable as a leadership thing, in my mind," he added.
Gen. Pace, whose current term ends Oct. 1, said he intended to remain on the job until then. Navy Adm. Michael Mullen has been announced as President Bush's choice to succeed Gen. Pace, who is the first Marine ever to hold the military's top post.
A Vietnam veteran, Gen. Pace indicated in his Norfolk comments that his experience in that war colored his decision not to quit voluntarily.
"The other piece for me personally was that some 40 years ago I left some guys on the battlefield in Vietnam who lost their lives following Second Lieutenant Pace," he said. "And I promised myself then that I will serve this country until I was no longer needed -- that it's not my decision. I need to be told that I'm done.
"I've been told I'm done."
So from the son of a soldier to a Marine, I offer General Pace a grateful thanks for his service to this nation and the soldiers who served under him.
Friday, June 15, 2007
Iain Murray of the Competitive Enterprise Institute has a good piece in the American Spectator that notes how Congress is creating greater problems for the American consumer by expanding the mandate of corn-based ethanol from 7 billion gallons to 35 billion gallons.
I highly recommend this great piece by Victor Davis Hanson's over at RealClearPolitics that notes how members of Congress are becoming very cynical towards the American citizens who are phoning in to their Senate offices and offering their opposition towards the comprehensive immigration reform bill. Here's a look at VDH's great piece:
These politicians might think that they can keep on turning up their noses to the "loud people" and push through this horrible bill and still be re-elected but from what I see and here from the various blogs and radio talk shows they should think twice about such moves.
Congressional supporters of the present legislation are themselves often engaging in politics of the most cynical kind. Rare "bipartisan" cooperation on the bill, which brought Sen. Trent Lott from Mississippi to the side of Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy, is hardly statesmanship or a sudden outbreak of civic virtue. Rather, it is a new public face to the old alliance between profit-minded employers (and those who represent their interests) and demographically obsessed liberal and ethnic activists.
The former want assurances that there will be millions of aliens available to work at wages that Americans will not - with the ensuing medical, housing, schooling and legal costs subsidized by the taxpayer. The latter can't wait for more constituents in need of group representation who, it is hoped, will someday support them at the polls.
Most cynical of all, however, are the moralistic pundits, academics and journalists who deplore the "nativism" of Americans they consider to be less-educated yokels. Yet their own jobs of writing, commenting, reporting and teaching are rarely threatened by cheaper illegal workers.
Few of these well-paid and highly educated people live in communities altered by huge influxes of illegal aliens. Their professed liberality about illegal immigration usually derives from seeing hardworking waiters, maids, nannies and gardeners commute to their upscale cities and suburbs to serve them well - and cheaply.
In general, such elites don't use emergency rooms in the inner cities and rural counties overcrowded by illegal aliens. They don't drive on country roads frequented by those without licenses, registration and insurance. And their children don't struggle with school curricula altered to the needs of students who speak only Spanish.
For many professors, politicians and columnists, the gangs, increased crime and crowded jails that often result from massive illegal immigration and open borders are not daily concerns, but rather stereotypes hysterically evoked by paranoid and unenlightened others in places like Bakersfield and Laredo.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
In a follow-up to my earlier post Sloggin' It Out In Iraq, I thought I'd share with you this piece from USA Today which features an interview with General Patreaus on his current offensive plan in Iraq. Now while the article notes that the Patreaus led American and Iraqi allies face some bloody and perilous days ahead in achieving their counterinsurgency goals, which include increased U.S. casualties, problems with the police, and political, it also points out that the commanders on the ground are seeing signs that the offensive is off to a good point. Here's a look:
Though this is a mere snapshot of the situation in Baghdad and surrounding ares and doesn't take in to account all of the matrices that General Patraeus and his staff in Iraq look at everyday but it does give you a sense that maybe things are better than others have you believe. To me, it looks like the politicians squawking in D.C. are more concerned about scoring political points to win more seats in Congress or the White House in 2008 that they won't give our commanders on the ground the benefit of the doubt in our fight in Iraq. I'm sensing that we're going to have a long summer ahead of us.
•Iraq's army. The Iraqi army currently has 152,500 trained and equipped soldiers, nearly 20,000 more troops than were on the rosters in January, according to the U.S. State Department. Another 20,000 soldiers will be added to the ranks this year, the U.S. military says.
The army now has its own Iraqi-run basic training and leadership schools. "The Iraqi army has, in general, done quite well in the face of some really serious challenges," Petraeus says. "In certain areas, it really is very heartening to see what it has done."
•Anbar province. This area in the heart of the Sunni Triangle has been held up by the U.S. military as a model for Iraq. "The progress in Anbar has actually been breathtaking," Petraeus says.
Commanders credit much of the success to the U.S. military's decision to arm, train and organize Sunni provincial militias that have turned against al-Qaeda militants operating in the area.
"If you've got folks who say, 'Hey, this is my hometown and I'm tired of the violence, and if you simply train and equip me, I'll protect my hometown.' We ought to jump on that like a duck on a June bug," says Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division.
Commanders elsewhere in Iraq are studying lessons that can be learned from the province, although Petraeus said that each area of Iraq has "unique circumstances." Anbar is mostly Sunni and does not have the volatile sectarian mix that stokes violence in other parts of the country.
•Sectarian violence. The number of unidentified bodies found in Baghdad — an indicator of sectarian violence between Sunni and Shiite Muslims — dropped from a high of 1,782 in October to 411 in April, according to an Interior Ministry official who declined to be named because he is not authorized to speak to the media.
The body count spiked to 726 in May. So far this month, the numbers are again on a "downward trend," Petraeus says. Although the bombing Wednesday of a major Shiite shrine in Samarra raises the risk of a new outbreak of sectarian violence, he says.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
On the 25th Anniversary of the UK's liberation of the Falkland Islands from Argentina, one couldn't find a more fitting tribute to the soldiers who fought and died on this small patch of ground in the South Atlantic than the following speech by Lady Thatcher (Thanks to the Margaret Thatcher Foundation for the text). Here's the speech:
I feel privileged, and very moved, in making this broadcast. The Falkland Islanders are celebrating the anniversary of their liberation. The memories of that time are for many as fresh as yesterday. Such intense experience unites us in spirit - even though a quarter-century has passed, and though we are eight thousand miles apart.For me, I'd like to send my utmost congratulations to the soldiers who fought and died in the Falklands and for Lady Thatcher having the temerity and stand-pattness in leading these soldiers to such a victory.
Today, I send my very best wishes to them – you are in my thoughts and in my prayers.
Twenty-five year ago British forces secured a great victory in a noble cause. The whole nation rejoiced at the success; and we should still rejoice. Aggression was defeated and reversed. The wishes of local people were upheld as paramount. Britain’s honour and interests prevailed. Sending troops into battle is the gravest decision that any Prime Minister has to take. To fight eight thousand miles away from home, in perilous conditions, against a well armed, if badly led, enemy was bound to be an awesome challenge. Moreover, at such times there is no lack of people, at home and abroad, to foretell disaster. Then, when things go well, they are just as quick to press some hopeless compromise. So we could never at any stage be sure what the outcome of the Falklands War would be. But of two other things I could be sure – first that our cause was just, and second that no finer troops could be found in the world than those of our country.
That is still the case. Britain’s armed services are unmatched in their skill and professionalism. More than that, they are the model of all that we wish our country and our citizens to be. The service they offer and the sacrifice they make are an inspiration.
The Falklands War was a great national struggle. The whole country knew it and felt it. It was also mercifully short. But many of our boys – and girls as well, of course – are today stationed in war zones where the issues are more complex, where the outcome is more problematic, and where life is no less dangerous. In these circumstances, they often need a different sort of courage, though the same commitment.
So, as we recall – and give thanks for – the liberation of our Islands, let us also recall the many battle fronts where British forces are engaged today. There are in a sense no final victories, for the struggle against evil in the world is never ending. Tyranny and violence wear many masks. Yet from victory in the Falklands we can all today draw hope and strength.
Fortune does, in the end, favour the brave. And it is Britain’s good fortune that none are braver than our armed forces. Thank you all.
*Check out John O'Sullivan's The President, the Pope, and the Prime Minister: Three Who Changed the World for more on Lady Thatcher and the Falklands.
It's rather interesting the the Democratic leadership in Congress are so quick to claim that the surge has failed even when the last of the five brigades, that are needed to fully implement General Patreaus' counterinsurgency plan, just arrived in Baghdad this past week. Even more, the Dems should hold off on making such conclusions on the Patreaus offensive in Baghdad and surrounding areas until the commanders have had some time to properly assess what the complete five brigades and its Iraqi allies are achieving. I know that Congress and the American citizens are in an "on demand" mindset with regards to getting results on life as well as the fighting of war but you'd think they'd wait until September when General Petraeus returns to Congress and provides a detailed report on the state of our counterinsurgency plans in Iraq. As with such a complex counterinsurgency, the leadership in Congress should respect the fact that our commanders are not going to just turn the whole show around in a short amount of time. If the members of Congress will remember, General Patreaus and the engineers of this counterinsurgency are on record noting that the surge is something that will work but only if they have the time to do so(Close to 12 to 18 months). There are many dangerous and bad days ahead but I'm praying that our commanders and soldiers in the field prove their skeptics wrong.
*I'd say the following here, here, and here give one reason to be optimistic for the surge.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
On the 20th anniversary of President Reagan's famous "Berlin Wall" speech it is fitting that President Bush and various other dignitaries attended and spoke at the dedication ceremony for the Victims of Communism Memorial in Washington D.C. With the official dedication of the monument, which is graced with a "Goddess of Democracy" statue, this nation will have a fitting monument to point out to future generations of the undying quest for freedom that the 100 million died standing up to the 80 years of tyranny of the Soviet Union and their various comrades in arms. As an individual who is well versed in the horrors of communism on its people, I've got to give a hearty hand to Lee Edwards and the outpouring of money from everyday Americans to erect such a fitting monument.
Now while I'm one who is short of words(Writing that is), I figured I'd direct you to some wonderfully written pieces on the individuals who died at the hands of the communist as well as the dedication of the Victims of Communism Memorial. See here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.
Monday, June 11, 2007
I know that the Senate leadership and President Bush want a grand bill to point to to say that the secured the borders while keeping America going by having a work force to do "jobs that American won't do" but the American people aren't happy to see another set of laws being passed when the government won't enforce the current immigration laws that they have on the books. Now while I was excited(As well as a lot of folks in the US) that the McCain/Kennedy "amnesty" bill failed to muster enough votes for cloture, I began to notice that while the Senators were dismayed at the bill failing a second cloture vote they were still optimistic about passing the bill before this fall. I'd say that Professor George Borjas made the most apt observation of the Senate's shear determination in passing the bill when he noted:
Before pouring the champagne, the opposition needs to realize that the bill, though badly battered, is still not dead. The ideas and forces represented therein are like the villain from a bad horror movie that will not die even when a stake is driven through its heart (for some reason, the grand bargain reminds me of Samara from The Ring). The thirst for cheap labor continues unabated and that alone is enough to keep this issue alive.After watching the various Sunday shows and seeing members of the Bush administration and the Senate talking about how the bill was still alive, I'm guessing that opponents of the bill are going we have a long Summer.
Sunday, June 10, 2007
Now while President Bush does a good job in selling his "amnesty" bill to the Senate and Americans (who don't bother to read further on the details of the bill), he seems to have a heck of a time conveying the importance and overall game-plan of the current counter-insurgency policy that General Petraeus is pursuing in Baghdad and the surrounding areas. Luckily, the US is chock full of military historian/tacticians like Fred Kagan who break down what we're doing in a far better job than the communication experts within the White House, the Pentagon and the State Department. Here's a look at Kagan's explanation in the Weekly Standard on the dangers and trying times that await of soldiers in the surge:
One wonders why the Bush administration can't do this good at explaining the surge. I just hope the GOP picks someone in 2008 who has a commanding presence and determination to explain the surge much like Kagan.
The causes of Iraqi civilian casualties, on the other hand, are the same as they have been for more than a year--al Qaeda attacks and attacks by rogue elements of the Jaysh al Mahdi. But overall sectarian violence remains at about half of the December level--a marked change considering that violence had been rising continuously since early 2006. Even with the increased al Qaeda violence added in, the level of violence remains stable--again, a positive change from a situation in which violence appeared to be rising uncontrollably.
And it matters a great deal that the last U.S. units have just begun to arrive. We should note--as General Odierno did in a recent press conference--that it takes time for a unit newly arrived in theater to begin to operate effectively. It must develop an understanding of the neighborhood, an intelligence picture of the enemy, and build relationships with key local figures before it can even begin to start effective clear-and-hold operations. All that takes time--anywhere from 30 to 60 days, depending on the unit and the neighborhood. In the interim, violence increases as sectarian actors try to achieve their goals before the new unit can become effective, and as entrenched enemies make strenuous efforts to keep coalition forces out of areas that they control. After all, there are no coalition casualties in areas where there are no coalition forces--even areas that the enemy holds. Then U.S. forces must clear the enemy from these areas by engaging in major combat operations that often last for several weeks. And holding an area after it has been cleared takes even more time.
This New York Times article and many people who favor shutting down the current strategy fail to understand or acknowledge how long large-scale counter-insurgency operations take or what they look like in their decisive stages. They also refuse to recognize that the current strategy is a departure from--and not a continuation of--the approach that had failed to control violence from 2004 to the end of 2006. Some opponents of the plan now propose returning to General Casey's failed strategy by focusing exclusively on the training of Iraqi security forces and using them instead of U.S. forces--the very strategy that had allowed violence to spiral out of control in the first place.
There will be many difficult months to come, as our enemies attempt not only to make the strategy fail, but to convince Americans and Iraqis that it will fail. There is no guarantee that any military strategy will succeed, of course, which is why commanders should evaluate the progress of their strategy. But our new military commanders have understood the problems mentioned in the Times article for months, and they are actively working to solve them. The New York Times wrongly judges the current commanders by their predecessors' expectations. And it wrongly presents their efforts to solve legacy problems as evidence that the current effort has failed. It may be emotionally easier for some simply to convince themselves that the U.S. has already failed in Iraq. But success remains possible if we have the will to try to achieve it.
Saturday, June 09, 2007
Friday, June 08, 2007
Thursday, June 07, 2007
It seems that Rep. Nick Rahall(D-WVa), chairman of the House Natural Resource Committee, has backed off on legislation that would have required greater regulation on wind energy to protect the animals to just the development of guidelines. Now while I like the fact that the Democrats are slacking off on this restrictive wind energy legislation, I still concerned about the bill pushing greater alternative energy usage via government fiat rather than through actions that are more free market friendly.
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
I'd like to give a hearty congrats to Max Boot on winning the Eric Breindel Award for Excellence in Opinion Journalism. As a long-time reader of Boot's excellent columns in the LA Times and his pieces over at the Weekly Standard, I can attest to you by reading his work you'll get a good history lesson and learn a thing or two about our foreign policy and the military that keeps us safe. If you haven't read his work, then I suggest you go over check out his work as soon as you can. Now if you want to read lengthier works and by Boot, then I highly suggest you take a look at the following books by Max Boot:
Out of Order: Arrogance, Corruption and Incompetence on the Bench, which shows you the reporting skills of the former "Rule of Law" editorial columnist for the Wall Street Journal. If you want to now why the selection of good, competent and judicially sound judges are so important to conservatives then this is a good starting point.(Being that most folks don't have time to jump into philosophical read.)
The Savage War of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power, which is an introduction of the history of America's activist foreign policy and the various "small wars" that this nation has participated in since the forming of the nation. I'd say that this is Boot's demonstration of a trained historian who has done his homework.
War Made New: Technology, Warfare, and the Course of History: 1500 to Today, which details how a nation can be made or destroyed by the ability of its army and leaders to develop technology and tactics used to defeat one's foes. I'd agree that this is Boot's work with don the two hats of a historian and military/foreign policy analyst.
Along with these books and his various writings, Max Boot demonstrates why he is worthy of the Breindel Award and its $20,000 prize.
*I'd also would like to offer a huzzah to John Wilson for winning the Eric Breindel Award for Excellence in College Journalism.
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
While the White House, a majority of the Senate, and various interest groups are trying their darnedest to push through the passage of the Immigration reform bill as something that is beneficial to our economy/livelihood while also noting that this bill will secure our nation, there are a lot of individuals with the press, academia, think tanks, and independent arms of Congress who note that when you dig into the bill you discover it's "all hat and no cattle." One only has to read the following article by Stephen Dunn in the Washington Times and you'll discover that the Congressional Budget Office has issued its report on the immigration bill which notes that the proposed legislation would cut illegals entering the US by only 25% which falls short by a mile from what the folks in Washington are promoting. Now while one should be alarmed by this statistic, Dunn goes on to show in his article that there are a lot of things to shudder at with regards to this bill. Here's a look at what is buried in the bill:
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said in its official cost estimate that many guest workers will overstay their time in the plan, with the number totaling a half-million in 2017 and reaching 1 million a decade later.With news like this and Robert Rector's most recent study from the Heritage Foundation that shows that the average citizens shell out some $19,588 in social security, welfare, education, housing and health-care per year per illegal immigrant(Rector suggest that the cost of some 12 million illegals would be some $2.5 trillion), one should run away and reject such a bill.
"We anticipate that many of those would remain in the United States illegally after their visas expire," CBO said of the guest-worker program.
In a blow to President Bush's timetable, the CBO said the security "triggers" that must be met before the guest-worker program can begin won't be met until 2010. Mr. Bush had hoped to have those triggers -- setting up a verification system, deploying 20,000 U.S. Border Patrol agents and constructing hundreds of miles of fencing and vehicle barriers -- completed about the time he leaves office in January 2009.
Sunday, June 03, 2007
Now while I'm not a great fan of wind power due to the fact that it's not efficient or that it continues to be propped up by government subsidies, I still scratch my head when folks in the environmental movement protest this clean alternative energy because it hurts a few birds. This article just goes to show you that a large part of the environmental movement won't be satisfied until this nation is left to we're wearing burlap, riding bikes, sitting in the dark, and our economy is in shambles. The Green movement has got to have a middle ground that is friendly to their cause while respecting the concerns of others.
I'd say that this piece by Rich Lowry pretty much quashes all of the economic absurdities that are being promoted in Iowa, New Hampshire and other key primary states by the Hillary campaign. Maybe the campaign should do a little bit of studying on our economy before they try to tell the American people that we're living in a time of some economic malaise.
Saturday, June 02, 2007
Thomas Sowell has a good column on the dangers of price controls with regards to solving high gas prices. Here's a look:
It would be nice if a lot of America thought more like Thomas Sowell and then they wouldn't let "muck-rakers" and demagogues in Congress intrigue them into a policy that makes us happy in the short-run but horrific to us further down the road. results in
As former House Majority Leader Dick Armey -- an economist by trade -- has put it: "Demagoguery beats data" in political battles.
The demagoguery in this case is that "price gouging" and "greed" explain rising gasoline prices -- and that price controls will put a stop to it.
It is an exercise in futility to try to refute words that are meaningless. If a word has no concrete meaning, then there is nothing that can be refuted. "Price gouging" is a classic example.
The phrase is used when prices are higher than most people are used to. But there is nothing special or magic about what we happen to be used to.
When the conditions that determined the old prices change, the new prices are likely to be very different. That is not rocket science.
How have conditions changed in recent years? The biggest change is that China and India -- with more than a billion people each -- have had rapidly growing economies ever since they began relaxing government controls and allowing markets to operate more freely.
When there are rising incomes in countries of this size, the demand for more petroleum for both industry and consumers is huge. Increasing the supply of oil to meet these escalating demands is not nearly as easy.
In the United States, liberals have made it virtually impossible, by banning drilling in all sorts of places and preventing any new refinery from being built anywhere in the country in the last 30 years.
Prices are like messengers carrying the news of supply and demand. Like other messengers carrying bad news, they face the danger that some people think the answer is to kill the messenger, rather than taking steps to change the news.
The strongest proponents of price controls are the strongest opponents of producing more oil. They say the magic words "alternative energy sources" and we are supposed to swoon -- and certainly not ask any rude questions like "At what cost?"
Friday, June 01, 2007
Here's Jonah Goldberg's take on the future presidential bid of Fred Thompson and how he's far from being a Republican version of Wesley Clark that Jason Zengerle over at the New Republic and various Democratic strategists on cable news are carrying on about. I just hope that Fred is both physically and financially ready to run the Presidential gauntlet for 2008. We'll see what he does.
*See here, here, and here on Fred Thompson's future bid.
>I'd also suggest you go check out Stephen Hayes' Weekly Standard pieces here, here, here, and here to get a better understanding of Fred Thompson.