Monday, April 28, 2008

Glass Half Full Economy

Fire of Liberty

I know that the MSM are drowning the airwaves and filling reams of newsprint with stories of a "disastrous" economy and how tons of folks are losing their job (I'll admit that a small subsection of the economy is having a problem.) or can't find a job to pay their bills, but I would suggest that these reporters should dig a little deeper in their reporting and they'd discover a different reality like Ron Scherer of the Christian Science Monitor did in his article "Amid layoff news, many companies are still hiring." As an optimist and someone who has a greater belief in the private sector and enterprising individuals going out there and creating new jobs out of a workforce from a downturn in another sector, it tells me economy is more resilient than the doomsayers in the news and on the campaign trail lead us to believe. Here's a look at some facts that more or less tend to pass through the MSM filter:

"There are lots of places in the economy where the cylinders are still firing," says John Challenger of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, an outplacement firm in Chicago. "Not Wall Street, not housing, and not automotive, but there are many areas that are doing well, are recession-proof or safer havens in a storm for job security," says Mr. Challenger, an expert on employment.

The monthly numbers, which can be grim on a headline basis, don't always tell the full story. For example, last Friday, the Labor Department reported that in March the economy lost 80,000 jobs and the unemployment rate rose to 5.1 percent. But those numbers mean that roughly some 2.1 million new jobs were created, even though 2.2 million jobs were lost.

"Suffice it to say there is a lot of churn in the labor market, and what we see in the net change is a tremendous understatement of what is going on below the surface," says Richard DeKaser, Washington-based chief economist at National City Corp.

Even in the last recession, in 2001, the economy lost roughly 26.1 million jobs but also added 23.2 million jobs, Mr. DeKaser notes.

Some of that churn – in the positive sense – can be seen at Mr. Winslow's software company, Epik One. "I was just watching CNN talk about the 80,000 jobs that were lost in the economy," says Winslow, whose company analyzes the effectiveness of advertising spending on the Internet. "We don't think cutting back is a good idea. We think this is a great time to hit the growth accelerator."

Aside from Neil Cavuto, Larry Kudlow, and the Wall Street Journal, it's always great to find certain rays of light in the storm-tossed economy we see on the front pages or on the TV screen. Just don't expect too many of these positive stories in the MSM prior to the 2008 general election.

Friday, April 25, 2008

It's Never Too Late to Study Waterloo

Fire of Liberty

It amazing that some 193 years the French military has finally decided to study the reasons why the Emperor of France wasn't victorious on the fields of Waterloo. Well I guess after having their chestnuts pulled out of the fire in wars of the past and their constant reminders of the faults in others, the French have decided to look inward and ask themselves what they did wrong with regards to their countless military defeats and how they can ensure victory in future encounters. While Waterloo and other set battles on the plains of Europe are fine and dandy, I suggest they focus on the mistakes and and successes that they had in places Vietnam and the Battle of Algiers in an effort to improve their skills in fighting a more counterinsurgency centric warfare. Being a sporting American, I wish the French all the support.

*I suggest the French military pick up Andrew Robert's excellent book Napoleon and Wellington, for more insight on their defeat at Waterloo.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

ABC's Brian Ross Playing With Truth on Guns

Fire of Liberty

Well it looks like Brian Ross and his producers over at ABC News are playing with the truth with their most recent report in which he implicates this nation and our gun manufactures in making weapons that end up in the hands of the drug cartels in Mexico. Thankfully, Bob Owens over at Confederate Yankee is on the job and has set the story straight. One doubts that Ross or his fellow MSM elitist at ABC will bother to correct such a wrong. What has me scratching my head is that Ross is so quick to blame the US government, our laws, and the gun manufacturers for supplying such weapons when they could easily travel to Venezuela, China, Russia or any bazaar in Africa/Middle East and pick up massive quantities of the real thing dirt cheap rather than risk being caught in the US. After all, these are drug dealers who go to the far reaches of the earth to acquire their drugs and are well versed in transporting massive quantities of contraband.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Mugabe Increases Reign of Terror

Fire of Liberty

It looks like the Mugabe regime is making sure that it will win the runoff election(Which was rigged to happen being that the real results haven't been released some month after the election) by using the force of violence to ensure that supporters of MDC are run out of the country or permanently silenced in slums or the wilds of Zimbabwe.

*Even members of the clergy in Zimbabwe are calling on outside help to intervene and stop the violence being spread by the Mugabe regime.

John Adams Series Is A Must See

Fire of Liberty

For the past six weekends I've been tuning into HBO at 9:00 to watch the wonderful series John Adams. Throughout this wonderful film adaptation of David McCullough wonderful biography of our second president, one becomes immediately transported to colonial America in 1770 and begin a wonderful journey that follows a 34 year old lawyer/farmer of Braintree, MA from a case defending the British soldiers of the renowned "Boston Massacre," to the hallowed halls of the Continental Congress, to the diplomatic gamesmanship in France, Holland, and London, to the highest reaches of power in the office of Vice-President and President, to his subsequent retirement and death at 91 some fifty years since the the journey began in 1770. All in all, the production surpasses my earlier prediction in my February 27, 2008 post John Adams-HBO-March 16-April 20. I loved the series so much that I started reading David McCullough's book John Adams around the fifth episode. Now while the series has progressed quicker than my reading(I'm on chapter 5, page 287), I have to say that the series follows the book almost to the t( give or take some minute changes for dramatic effect). One thing I can say is that the series teamed with the book draws you in so much with the constant letters and interplay between Abigail and John so that I actually felt I knew this couple that I took it a little hard when President Adams lost his wife of 54 years of marriage. In fact I like the series so much that I'll be placing several orders of the series and urge others to do the same(or at least urge them to rent it or tune into HBO for several encores) for the mere entertainment and to learn a little history. I'd also suggest that you also pick up a copy of David McCullough's wonderful book John Adams if you're a reader.

*Based on early interviews with Mr. McCullough, it looks like HBO is working to bring his book 1776 to the TV screen in the future. I can assure this will be just as great as "John Adams."

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Another Reason to Vote for McCain

Fire of Liberty

Here's a good column by Jonah Goldberg on future Supreme Court picks and why it's not worth it or to this nation to place such decisions in the hands of Senator Obama(Or Clinton, if she has a chance.).

Pass the Colombia FTA

Fire of Liberty

If you've been a reader of Fire of Liberty then you know that I'm a big supporter of Free Trade and have been calling for the approval of pending deals on Panama, South Korea and Colombia. In previous posts I've pointed out that such a deal would be good for the strategic and economic betterment of the people of Colombia against the military encroachments and revolutionary socialism of Hugo Chavez but I haven't pointed out the economic a job securing benefits of this nation approving the Colombia FTA. Even though free trade deals are generally dead from the start in the eyes of protectionist politicians and unions, I would suggest that the opponents take a second gander at the US-Colombia Free Trade Agreement and realize that this deal is more beneficial to this nation than the critics claim because it eliminates expensive tariffs that have been tacked on US goods going into Colombia who already ship 90% of there goods into this nation duty free(See here.) Now if these opponents to the Colombia FTA do get their way(Which looks like it's happening with Rep. Pelosi changing the 60 day rule.) in nixing this trade deal based on the argument that they're "keeping jobs in America" they will in fact be killing the said jobs that they are fighting to save. As long as these deals keep us at a big disadvantage against other nations that have drawn similar trade deals with Colombia we will find a lot of the big industrial equipment, machinery contracts, and other goods that are made here going to our competition in Asia, Europe, and Canada. I have to say the editorial board the Wall Street Journal put it best in describing the benefit of such a deal in an editorial titled "Colombia and Cat" when they pointed out the following:

Exhibit A are 8,600 jobs at two Caterpillar Inc. factories in Illinois. Caterpillar exports more to Peru and Colombia than it does to Germany, Japan or the United Kingdom. So keeping and growing market share in both countries is important to union members in both plants. Not all are union jobs but both facilities are United Auto Worker shops.

Consider exports of the off-highway truck, made in Decatur. Customers in Colombia now pay a 15% tariff – equal to $200,000 – on the import of these vehicles. If the FTA goes through, that import tariff goes to zero immediately. Conversely, if the deal dies and Colombia, which is trying to expand its world trade, strikes an agreement with another country where similar vehicles are made, U.S. exports will immediately be at a 15% price disadvantage.

Colombia also has a large mining industry, and there are more Cat D-11 bulldozers in Colombian coal mines today than in any other country in the world. Those bulldozers are made in East Peoria. Colombian customers pay a 5% duty to import Cat bulldozers, which compete against Komatsu bulldozers made in Japan. Union members might ask Mr. Sweeney why he wants to spurn an offer that would give U.S. products a 5% price edge against Japanese competition.

Caterpillar – which has a total U.S. work force of 50,545 – faces an even more imminent threat in the case of its motor graders, a piece of heavy equipment used to level the playing field, literally. A company called Champion also makes motor graders in Canada, and Colombia is also negotiating an FTA with Canada. If Canada seals a deal with Colombia while the U.S. walks away from its Colombia pact, graders made in the U.S. will cost more than those made in Canada. Once again, Mr. Sweeney's agenda makes the U.S. work force less competitive.

I for one hope that such a deal will eventually be passed, but when you have such dogmatic opponents like Sens. Clinton, Obama, Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, AFL-CIO boss John Sweeney and Lou Dobbs banging the drum against such FTA's who will sacrifice the jobs of hard working Americans just make a point.

*See here for more on the Colombia FTA.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Iraqi Army Takes More Territory in Basrah

Fire of Liberty

As I noted earlier this month in a post titled "Iraq: Beyond the MSM Veil," the Iraqi Army(absent from the eyes of the MSM) inflicted heavy casualties on the Mahdi Army thus securing various strategic positions in the southern port city of Basrah. I also pointed out that while this was one battle within the greater counterinsurgency war and will require a lot of heavy work before they achieve a lasting security like General Petraeus has achieved elsewhere in Iraq. Well according to this piece in The Times, it looks like the Iraqi Army(along with the aide of British artillery and air power) is taking the steps in the right direction with its most recent launching of a highly coordinated and well timed operation which resulted in the Mahdi Army relinquishing the district of Hayaniya to the Iraqi Army and a small liaison contingent of the British SAS(Ideal forces for classic counterinsurgency strategy.) Now while these forces will have several hiccups along the way they have proven so far that the Iraqi Army is indeed willing(Which Dems in the Senate and House fail to notice.) to take on the forces that threaten the citizens of Basrah. I for one offer a hearty salute to these brave soldiers fighting for their nation and wish them great success so our forces will return sooner(Just not as quick as Obama or Clinton wants to.).

*Also, take a look at this post by Bill Roggio at The Long War Journal for a more in depth look at the push-back of the Mahdi Army in Basrah.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Obama's True Self Shines Through

Fire of Liberty

I have to say that the editorial writers of the New York Sun hits the nail on the head today in an editorial titled "The San Francisco Democrats" with regards to Barack Obama and his recent comments about the folks of rural Pennsylvania(and rural America if I say so myself.) when they wrote the following:

To begin with is the idea that religion is, like anti-immigration sentiment, a kind of bigotry that appeals to bitter people who don't know better. It's the idea Karl Marx had in mind when he wrote that religion is "the opium of the people." With all the attention paid to Mr. Obama's attendance at the Reverend Jeremiah Wright's Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, we had been under the impression that he had a more positive view of the role of religion in American life. His comments suggest that he was influenced by his mother, who "had a healthy skepticism of religion as an institution," Mr. Obama said in a 2007 speech quoted in this week's Time magazine cover story on his mother.

We've got nothing against skepticism, and skepticism of organized religion is a healthy and longstanding tradition in American politics, from Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson on down. The constitution proscribes any religious test, ever, for any office or public trust. Yet neither is hostility toward religion, or derision of the sort Mr. Obama voiced in San Francisco, likely to resonate with a majority of American voters. It indicates an error of judgment by Mr. Obama. Many Americans, after all, come to religion not out of bitterness but out of faith and tradition and even reason.

Then there is the mistaken notion that interest in firearms is a symptom of jobless desperation. What about the counterexample of Charlton Heston, the successful actor who was president of the National Rifle Association? Or, for that matter, what about Americans from Vice President Cheney to Justice Scalia who enjoy hunting?

Finally, an aspect of the comment that has gathered less attention but is equally egregious is Mr. Obama's lumping of anti-trade sentiments as among the false refuges of the embittered jobless. Mr. Obama himself has been stoking that anti-trade sentiment on the campaign trail. He has assailed Senator Clinton's advisers for supporting a free trade deal with Colombia and he has faulted her for the North American Free Trade Agreement that her husband signed into law. For Mr. Obama to give guests at a San Francisco fundraiser a free trade message while campaigning in Ohio and Pennsylvania for protectionism is the sort of cynicism from which we had hoped Mr. Obama would be a change.

Now while their is no doubt that Obama is a prime example of what the late Jeane Kirkpatrick deemed "San Francisco Democrats," I believe it's also accurate to deem the junior senator from Illinois as a career opportunists who will say and promise one thing to one group and say something diametrically opposed to what he says to another crowd in an effort to get votes. One can only imagine what other revealing details we'll discover about Senator Obama as the months go by. I for one love seeing the great rhetorician get himself in trouble with his silver tongue.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Nuke Power: A Clean Alternative

Fire of Liberty

Maybe this is the spark that is needed to get this nation on track on building new carbon free emitting nuclear power plants. While this is a rare comment coming from me, the French provide a glowing model of how nuclear power is really a viable source of energy. If only the global warming crowd would have the same thoughts on nuclear power.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Michael Monsoor - Medal of Honor Recipient

Fire of Liberty

While members of Congress were fighting for a soundbite on the Big Three network newscasts during today's hearings on progress in Iraq, President Bush was performing a more dignified task. Before a packed audience in the East Room, President Bush presented the family of the late Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Monsoor with the prestigious Medal of Honor for heroism and his ultimate sacrifice during a September 26, 2006 Navy Seal mission in a dangerous section of southern Ramadi. It just goes to show you that they're are greater things to focus on than mere partisan politics. As always, I honor the service of our gallant warriors and thank God we have folks who go out there everyday to fight the good fight and make the ultimate sacrifice like Petty Officer Monsoor to ensure our safety and way of life.

*Here's the citation.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Iraq since September

Fire of Liberty

Here's Fred Kagan's assessment on what General Petraeus and his counterinsurgency policy have achieved in Iraq. It might be long but you'll learn more from reading this than listening to the hot air that will be coming out of Congress later this morning.

Iraq: Beyond the MSM Veil

Fire of Liberty

While the MSM and members of Congress are preparing to question General Petraeus on his current counterinsurgency operations in Iraq, one can best rest assured that the gaggle of anti-war Democrats will go off on a tangent about how the most recent fight in Basra is a sign that the General's policies are indeed a failure. Now these individuals might believe that such is a winning strategy with regards to Iraq, but they should be wary about such approach based on two reasons. First, General Petraeus can rightly point out that his counterinsurgency policy cannot be deemed a failure in Basra due to the fact that such a policy was never applied to the southern city because it was in the area of operation of the British(Who practiced a non-counterinsurgency model) and Iraqi forces. Secondly, even without an "in the street" counterinsurgency presence of the American forces in Basra, the Iraqi forces(With the aid of American air power) were able to inflict such heavy casualties on Sadr's Mahdi Army, that the cleric and his allies called for a ceasefire. So before these individuals embarrass themselves in today's hearings, they'd be best served to journey beyond the MSM's coverage and take a gander at Austin Bay's recent column or Jack Kelly's column and discover the glowing success that the Iraqi army(With our help) achieved in Basra. They should also go over to The Long War Journal blog by the ever impressive Bill Roggio and read the following post to discover how the Mahdi Army is facing a daunting challenge from the Iraqi Army and Government. Lastly, I'd recommend that they also take a look a Fred and Kimberly Kagan's(Who have been providing lengthy and detailed reports on the military's counterinsurgency activities) most recent piece in the Weekly Standard that gives an accurate assessment on the military operations in Basra this past week and a half. I realize that the the situation in Basra as well as our current counterinsurgency operations in Baghdad and Mosul are still a work in progress and it'll be several years before we can declare victory, but we should be rest assured from the pieces mentioned above that we're on the right track with regards to Iraq. So good luck to General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker as they go through the Congressional gauntlet.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Zimbabwe Blues

Fire of Liberty

While I'm thrilled of the news(Western sources that is, when they're not in jail by the government.) coming out of Zimbabwe which reports that the people turned out Mugabe and his allies in Zanu-PF for Morgan Tsvangirai's and his opposition party Movement for Democratic Change(MDC), I'm also not surprised that news is coming out of Zimbabwe that the Zimbabwe Election Commission(Who says they're independent but folks should know better in a land controlled by Mugabe) hasn't released election results in over a week as well or the fact that Mugabe and his thugs are making preparations to hold onto power. I for one hope Mugabe's advisers and friends talk him out of such actions and convince him that exile is far better. If they don't, I fear Mugabe will go down with the ship and inflict a horrific and bloody tragedy on the millions of poverty and disease stricken people of Zimbabwe. No matter the results(I hope MDC wins), the folks of Zimbabwe have a long road to pike in the future. One hopes that it will be an upward climb under new management rather than a further descent in Hell under Mugabe.

Here's some fine reporting by The Times on Zimbabwe. See here, here, here, here, and here.

Here's more from other sources here, and here.