Tuesday, September 11, 2007

I remember...

September 11, 2001:
The World Trade Towers, the Pentagon, Flight 93...

Sunday, September 9, 2007

MoveOn.org Calls Petraeus a Traitor...

Desperation (or just who they are?) on the Left leading to an even more despicable slander. And this about the general that the Senate unanimously voted earlier this year as the top commander in Iraq:

From the Corner over at National Review Online:

Don't Question His Patriotism! [Cliff May]

MoveOn.org, it seems, is questioning the patriotism of Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq. Tomorrow, the anti-war group is running a full-page advertisement in the New York Times under the headline: "General Petraeus or General Betray us?"

So they are implying that Petraeus has betrayed the country — that he is a traitor. And what is the nature of the betrayal? That he refuses to accept defeat at the hands of al-Qaeda and Iranian-backed militias in Iraq.

Pete Hegseth of Veterans for Freedom wants to know who in Congress and which candidates for president stand with MoveOn — and which believe that such slander of America's military during wartime is beyond the pale and must be denounced in the strongest terms.

Article HERE from the Weekly Standard.

Don't look for anyone in the Democrat leadership in Congress to denounce MoveOn.org. They are more afraid of offending this activist group of the Democrat Party than offending General Petraeus and the troops laying their lives on the line. And don't look for gasps of horror from the MSM.

Is accusing the General of being a traitor akin to questioning his patriotism? I thought Democrats considered that to be the worst thing... well you know what I am saying.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

If I was a betting man...

I would bet that Craig will resign before Congress reconvenes on Tuesday, September the 4th.

September 1, 2007- This afternoon Larry Craig announced his resignation from the Senate. He did the right thing for his country, his party, and most of all for his family.

Update #2:
Mankind is inherently flawed...
... some people more than others. Mr. Craig did the honorable thing, showing that his now public "flaw" need not cause him to flinch from doing that which is the selfless thing, that which is best for those ideals and people he cares about. Thank you Mr. Craig.

There is no system of politics, term limits, or government that will nullify these kinds of things. What is needed, as always, are more men and women who, when behind closed doors, labor to be individuals of integrity, self-discipline, and solid character.

Fidel's endorsement...

Could the dying dictator of Cuba bring about a new Hillary/Obama version of that old sixties favorite...

"It takes two baby,
It takes two....
Me and you...
Just takes two!"

I couldn't resist...

The Katrina aftermath:

"Ray, I know it was you... You broke my heart!"

Monday, August 13, 2007

Iraq: Give our military their due...

The U.S. military is our best ambassador to the people of Iraq. Under General Petraeus the good news of the continued success of "the surge" is not only winning the support of the Iraqi people but also gaining currency in our media, and even in the Democratic Party. Demands for withdraw of our forces by the Dems and the conventional wisdom that Iraq is a lost cause are fading in the face of Petraeus' carefully executed strategy.

But now cries are magnifying in Washington of "Not enough!", bemoaning the lack of "political progress" as the Iraqi parliament has gone on vacation with seemingly little accomplished regarding the standards set by the arm chair generals in our nation's capital. To be sure, things could be much better on the Baghdad macro-political front. But on the all important micro-local level (what the media here in America likes to call the important grassroots level) much is happening and it is good.

The MSM and the Democrats are slowly changing their storyline of irrevocable failure in Iraq to accommodate the reality on the ground. Their vice-grip embrace on defeat in Iraq is loosening, not out of a change of heart regarding "Bush's War" but out of the political calculation of necessity. The tide is turning for the good in Iraq.
- Jack

Here are some snippets from Michael Yon's latest dispatch from Iraq:
"There may be little progress on political goals crafted in America, to meet American concerns, by politicians who have a cushion of 200 years of democracy. Washington might as well be on the moon. Iraqis don’t respond well to rules imposed from outside their acknowledged authorities, though I have many times seen Iraqi Police and Army of all ranks responding very well to American Marines and soldiers who they have come to respect, and in many cases actually admire and try to emulate.

“To say there has been no political progress in Iraq in 2007 is patently absurd, completely wrong and dangerously dismissive of the significant changes and improvements happening all across Iraq. Whether or not Americans are seeing it on the nightly news or reading it in their local papers, Iraqis are actively writing their children’s history.

1. Iraqis are uniting across sectarian lines to drive al Qaeda in all its disguises out of Iraq, and they are empowered by the success they are having, each one creating a ripple effect of active citizenship.
2. The Iraqi Army is much more capable now than they were in 2005. They are not ready to go it alone, but if we keep working, that day will come soon.
3. General Petraeus is running the show. Petraeus may well prove to be to counterinsurgency warfare what Patton was to tank battles with Rommel, or what Churchill was to the Nazis.

… Large numbers of Iraqis detested us after the prisoner abuse stories, and some over-the-top attacks on Fallujah, for example. But through time, somehow the American military has managed to establish a moral authority in Iraq. It’s not the only authority, but the military has serious and increasing moral clout. In the beginning, our influence flowed from guns, or dropped from the wings of jets. Later it was the money. Today, the clout still is partially from the gun, and definitely the money is key, but there is an intangible and growing moral clout and it flows from an increasing respect among Iraqis for our military. Washington has no moral clout in Iraq. Washington looks like a circus act. The authority is coming from our military. The importance of this fact would be difficult to understate.”

Friday, August 10, 2007

Have another drink or... the Fed monetary policy

The irony of it all. The unrestrained creation of excess dollars (liquidity) via the Fed and the credit markets over the last 10 years is the underlying problem in today's financial upheavals. When the tech stock market bubble popped back in March of 2000, followed by 9/11 in 2001, the Fed dropped interest rates to 1% and pumped boat loads of dollars into the financial system for the next several years. They overreacted. The result was a mild economic downturn followed by the new favorite investment vehicle of all those low interest dollars sloshing around... the housing market, soon to be bubble. Well as the prices of homes rocketed up from 2002 through 2007 everyone seemed to love it because buying became so simple with all the easy credit. But in order to cash in even more on the party, lending institutions lowered their standards to the point where anyone with a pulse, the ability to fill out an application, and a wink and a nudge could get a loan. Not just any loan, but loans that required nothing down, no interest for a set periods of time, and all other sorts of "innovative" financing that was the equivalent of throwing caution to the wind for the buyer and the lender.

Well that hissing sound over the last number of months has been the sound of the air going out of that housing bubble as prices began turning down, and in many markets dropping drastically. All too quickly homeowners with adjustable rate mortgages found themselves with rising payments as interest rates began going up. People began waking up with negative equity (value of the house less than the purchase price) in their homes. As banks have now understandably tightened credit standards, there are many less buyers for many more houses on the market. It's a recipe for foreclosures (which are mushrooming) and soured loans for mortgage companies. And gobs of loans have been going bad, real bad.

The credit squeeze has now been affecting the various financial markets, hedge funds, and financial/trading institutions that invest in and trade those loans securities here and in Europe. Instead of allowing the painful consequences of the careless decisions of the market players and it's own irresponsible money creation, the Fed along with the central banks of the world are grabbing for the bottle once more and pouring drinks on the house for all the patrons who are reeling... the only thing the Fed seems to know to do... create more money out of thin air, pump it into the system to keep the party from ending. Always needing more and more dollars to keep the high intact or the hangover from beginning. More dollars worth less and with an increased moral hazard mentality (don't worry if investments are risky and may fail... the profits are too good, the Fed will bail us out if things get bad) injected into the profit seeking calculations of the market players, only worsening the systemic problem.

From The Wall Street Journal (after hours):
"Central banks continued to pump money into distressed markets for the second day and investors concluded that a rate cut soon by the Federal Reserve is increasingly likely and expected rate increases in Europe and Japan may be deferred.

Explaining that it was "providing liquidity to facilitate the orderly functioning of financial markets," the Fed injected $38 billion Friday on top of Thursday's $24 billion. The European Central Bank, saying that its "liquidity-providing fine-tuning operation" were aimed assuring orderly market conditions, added $83.56 billion (€61.5 billion) on top of the $130 million it injected to euro-zone markets Thursday. The Bank of Japan put in 1 trillion yen ($8.4 billion). Central banks from Australia, Singapore, Canada Norway and Switzerland also pumped money into their markets; others said they were prepared to do so if necessary."

And on A WSJ Economists React Forum: "Today we do not have only a liquidity crisis like in 1998; we also have a insolvency/debt crisis among a variety of borrowers that overborrowed excessively during the boom phase of the latest Minsky credit bubble. First, you have hundreds of thousands of U.S. households who are insolvent on their mortgages. And this is not just a subprime problem: the same reckless lending practices used in subprime – no downpayment, no verification of income and assets, interest rate only loans, negative amortization, teaser rates – were used for near prime, Alt-A loans, hybrid prime ARMs, home equity loans, piggyback loans. More than 50% of all mortgage originations in 2005 and 2006 had this toxic waste characteristics. That is why you will have hundreds of thousands – perhaps over a million - of subprime, near prime and prime borrowers who will end up in delinquency, default and foreclosure. Lots of insolvent borrowers." – Nouriel Roubini, Roubini Global Economics

Thursday, August 9, 2007

A disturbance in the land of Goldilocks...

What a bear... things are starting to get real nasty as the troubles in the mortgage sectors have now moved up the food chain from the sub-prime lenders to United States' largest mortgage company. The Dow down almost 400 points. After several years of unprecedented easy credit and lowering of credit standards, the chickens coming home to roost... or is that "bears" coming home for a visit?

Countrywide is down about 12% so far in after hours trading.

From the Wall Street Journal:
Countrywide Hit by Credit Market Woes
August 9, 2007 7:31 p.m.

Countrywide Financial Corp. faces "unprecedented disruptions" in debt and mortgage-finance markets that could hurt earnings and the company's financial condition, the Calabasas, Calif., lender said in a regulatory filing. (Read the SEC filing)

The company, the largest U.S. home mortgage lender in terms of loan volume, said reduced demand from investors is prompting it to retain more of its loans rather than selling them. The company also has been shoring up its finances. "While we believe we have adequate funding liquidity," it said in a quarterly filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, "the situation is rapidly evolving and the impact on the company is unknown."

And from Bloomberg.com:
The ECB said today it provided the largest amount ever in a single so-called “fine-tuning” operation, exceeding the 69.3 billion euros given on Sept. 12, 2001, the day after the terror attacks on New York.

“This is an old-fashioned credit crunch,” Chris Low, the chief economist at FTN Financial in New York, said in a report today. “This is not a small thing. A credit crunch, when the short-term credit markets seize up, is extraordinarily serious, almost always the precursor of a significant recession.”

“Somewhere out there, there are several people that are in trouble — it’s hard to put your finger on it,” said Andrew Busch, global foreign-exchange strategist at BMO Capital Markets in Chicago. “I cannot name names. We know BNP has issues with three funds. But you do not see a movement in overnight rates like that unless there is a huge concern about liquidity and funding.” Full article HERE.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The Surge is working... the tide turning?

My two cents:
War is never a straight line kind of operation. There are advances. There are pullbacks. There are periods of losing and periods of pressing forward to victory. In the Civil War it took three years of fighting with tens of thousands of casualties for the Union forces to turn the tide against the South's armies, and another 2 years of horrific battles to secure victory. Likewise, the losses sustained in the first several years of World War II were massive and intensely discouraging. One could easily have assessed by the end of 1942 that the Allied forces were not only losing against Germany and Japan but they could very well actually go down in defeat. In both of those wars, the Union forces and the United States military suffered grievous mistakes and defeats. But they were learning... the thing is that they became wiser from those mistakes, adjusted their strategies, redoubled their efforts and pushed on to victory.

In the same way, mistakes of strategy and force deployment have been made in the Iraq War. Fighting a non-uniformed enemy, not understanding their tactics, and not securing the safety of the population are part of the saga of the last three to four years. But our military has been learning and adjusting. And al Qaeda is on the defensive. The tide is turning.

From the Associated Press: as reported at ABC News... Analysis: Military Makes Gains in Iraq

From The New York Times: MICHAEL E. O’HANLON and KENNETH M. POLLACK longtime critics of the Iraq War have just returned from Iraq and in their article, A War We Just Might Win state "Here is the most important thing Americans need to understand: We are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms. As two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration’s miserable handling of Iraq, we were surprised by the gains we saw and the potential to produce not necessarily “victory” but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqis could live with."

From The National Review: Michael Barone's article "Defeating Defeatism: Perceptions are starting to shift. Quoting the authors from the above article, “There is enough good happening on the battlefields of Iraq today that Congress should plan on sustaining the effort at least into 2008.”

Friday, July 13, 2007

Weekend reading assingments...

A lot is going on out there, meaning there's a lot to read if you want to be up to speed and know what is in fact happening! Your assignment: Find a cool spot this weekend. Get your beverage of choice (margaritas anyone?). And start reading. Cheers!

Progress in Iraq! Capitulation in Congress?:
1. All we are saying is "Give Peace a Chance by giving Petraeus a chance". Charles Krauthammer with a must read article on the good news from Iraq and the threat here at home to pull the plug just as things are going right. Read Give Petraeus This Chance... the stakes are too high not to.
2. The nature of the enemy al Qaeda and how they are on the defensive as our troops surge ahead... via another dispatch from Michael Yon entitled "Al Qaeda on the Run: Feasting on the moveable beast."
3. From the top news/commntary blog in the Middle East, Iraq The Model comes this commentary via The Wall Street Journal editorial page...
The Surge Is Working

July 13, 2007; Page A13
For nearly three-and-a-half years, the two most dangerous enemies of the American mission in Iraq -- and of the majority of Iraqis who want to build a stable democracy -- had been growing in terms of their capacity to inflict damage. This despite the losses they suffered in battles with Iraqi and American security forces.
Moqtada al-Sadr, on the one hand, grew from a small annoyance as a gang leader in Najaf in April 2003 to become the leader of a monstrous militia that, with the spark al Qaeda provided by bombing the Askari shrine in Samarra, created the sectarian bloodbath we witnessed throughout 2006.
On the other side, al Qaeda's network in Iraq grew from a few dozen infiltrators, supported by disgruntled locals, to an entity that was until recently bragging about establishing Islamic rule on the soil of at least two Iraqi provinces east and west of Baghdad.
And so this country was going through the worst times ever as we moved towards the end of 2006. Iraq was being torn apart by these two terror networks and Iraq was said to be on the verge of "civil war," if it wasn't actually there already.
But the situation looks quite different now.
Last year's crisis made Washington and Baghdad realize that urgent measures needed to be taken to stop the deterioration, and ultimately reverse it. So Washington decided to send in thousands of additional troops. And Baghdad agreed to move its lazy bones and mobilize more Iraqi troops to the capital and coordinate a joint crackdown with the American forces on all outlaw groups, Sunni and Shiite alike.
The big question these days is, did it actually work? Even partially?
First I think we need to remember that states and their traditional armies need to be judged by different metrics than gangs and terror organizations. The latter don't need to win the majority of their battles with American and Iraqi forces. The strength of terrorists and militias is simply their ability to subjugate the civilian populace with fear.
Here is exactly where the American surge and Iraqi plan have proven effective in Baghdad.
The combined use of security walls, the heavy security-force presence in the streets, and an overwhelming number of checkpoints have highly restricted the movement of terrorists and militias inside Baghdad and led to separation. Not a separation of ordinary Sunnis from ordinary Shiites but a separation of both Sunni and Shiite terrorists from their respective priority targets, i.e., civilians of the other sect.
With their movement restricted and their ability to perform operations reduced, they had to look for other targets that are easier to reach. After all, when the goal is to defeat America in Iraq and undermine the democratic political process any target is a good target.
Just look at the difference between the aftermath of the first Samarra bombing in February of 2006 and that of the second bombing in June of 2007. Days after the 2006 bombing more than a hundred Sunni mosques were hit in retaliatory attacks, and thousands of Sunnis were executed by militias in the months that followed. This time only four or five mosques were attacked, none of them in Baghdad proper that I know of.
Sadr's militias have moved the main battlefield south to cities like Samawah, Nasiriyah and Diwaniyah where there's no American surge of troops, and from which many Iraqi troops were recalled to serve in Baghdad. But over there, too, the Iraqi security forces and local administrations did not show the weakness that Sadr was hoping to see. As a result, Sadr's representatives have been forced to accept "truces."
I know this may make things sound as if Sadr has the upper hand, that he can force a truce on the state. But the fact that is missing from news reports is that, with each new eruption of clashes, Sadr's position becomes weaker as tribes and local administrations join forces to confront his outlaw militias.
Al Qaeda hasn't been any luckier than Sadr, and the tide began to turn even before the surge was announced. The change came from the most unlikely city and unlikely people, Ramadi and its Sunni tribes.
In Baghdad the results have been just as spectacular so far. The district where al Qaeda claimed to have established its Islamic emirate is exactly where al Qaeda is losing big now, and at the hands of its former allies who have turned on al Qaeda and are slowly reaching out to the government.
While al Qaeda and Sadr are by no means finished off militarily, what has changed is that both of them are fighting their former public base of support. That course can't lead them to success in fomenting the sectarian war they had bet their money on.
It would be unrealistic to expect political progress to take place along the same timeline as this military progress. The obvious reason is that Iraqi politics tend to be affected by developments on the battlefield. Anyone familiar with the basics of negotiations should understand this.
First things first. Let's allow our troops to finish their job. And when that is done nation-building will follow, and that's where diplomats and politicians will have to do the fighting in their own way while American soldiers can finally enjoy a well-deserved rest.
Backing off now is not an option. The light at the end of the tunnel faded for a whole dark year, but we can see it again now and it's getting brighter. It's our duty to keep walking towards it.
Mr. Fadhil co-writes a blog, IraqTheModel.com, from Baghdad.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

al Qaeda at pre-9/11 Strength...

Associated Press reports:

WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S. intelligence analysts have concluded al-Qaida has rebuilt its operating capability to a level not seen since just before the 2001 terrorist attacks, The Associated Press has learned...

... Al-Qaida is "considerably operationally stronger than a year ago" and has "regrouped to an extent not seen since 2001," the official said, paraphrasing the report's conclusions. "They are showing greater and greater ability to plan attacks in Europe and the United States."

As a side note, Al-Qaeda had attacked 25 countries, many of them not involved in Iraq or Afghanistan, over the last 15 years.

This thing isn't going away...

When I started this blog I had no intention of spending so much time commenting on the Islamic jihad against the west commonly called the war on terror. Yet I find it difficult to avoid the conclusion that this thing isn't going away easily or soon and in all likelihood is going to get worse. And no matter how some would like to define this war (Iraq is a diversion, it's only an intelligence problem, etc.) it has been and is being defined by the enemy. The radical jihadists of al Qaeda have been waging war against the U.S. (and others) for years, both in word and in deed. As a country we came to that sobering realization on September 11, 2001. Since then, with the war in Iraq, we have come to the point where many even question whether there really is a war on terror. I am not going to wade into that argument right now. Suffice to say, I believe the evidence is overwhelming for those willing to see it. I believe the still rising and real threat by radical Islam against the west is 'the' singular issue of today. And as of now, we are far from a consensus as to how to respond to that threat.

Many in Congress want to precipitously pull out of the war in Iraq. Major media news reporting on events there is woefully inadequate, leaving the impression that nothing happens there except car bombings, IED bombings, and general mayhem. Conventional wisdom has it that Iraq is some kind of "civil war," or sectarian battleground that the U.S. military has no business in. This blog has provided numerous links to sources that show otherwise. And as this debate again boils up in Congress, I find myself distressed at the dearth of reporting about what is at stake and what progress is occurring in Iraq. I find myself distressed at the fecklessness of those opposing this war effort.

In today's Wall Street Journal, Kimberly Kagan (an affiliate of Harvard's John M. Olin Institute of Strategic Studies and executive director of the Institute for the Study of War in Washington) does her part to divide the perception of failure from the actual very real progress being accomplish militarily in Iraq. The article is Moving Forward In Iraq... The "surge" is working. Will Washington allow the current progress to continue? There is a war being waged against this country by radical Islamics (AQ, Iran). Here is a recent news item from the AP regarding al Qaeda in Iraq: Al-Qaeda’s deputy leader sought to bolster the terror network’s main arm in Iraq in a new video released Thursday, calling on Muslims to rally behind it at a time when the group is on the defensive, faced with U.S. offensives and splits with other insurgent groups.

The main battle ground is in Iraq according to the very words of that enemy... from other news reports:

"Ayman Al-Zawahiri defended the Islamic State of Iraq — the insurgent umbrella group headed by Al Qaeda — against critics among Islamic militant groups, saying it was a vanguard for fighting off the U.S. military and eventually establishing a “caliphate” of Islamic rule across the region."

"Al-Zawahiri, the top deputy of Usama bin Laden, called on Muslims to follow a two-pronged strategy: work at home to topple “corrupt” Arab regimes and join Al Qaeda’s “jihad,” or holy war, in Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia to fight and train “to prepare for the next jihad."

"Al Qaeda’s declaration of the Islamic State of Iraq last year was a dramatic move aimed at staking out its leadership of Iraq’s insurgency. Allying itself with several smaller Iraqi Sunni insurgent groups, it presented the Islamic State as an alternative government within Iraq, claiming to hold territory."

Check out the excellent reporting being done by Michael Yon to get further details on what the situation is on the ground in Iraq.

This thing isn't going away by itself.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

McCain, back from Iraq, weighs in...

Today from the floor of the Senate, having just returned from Iraq Senator McCain spells out the stakes:
"If we leave Iraq prematurely, jihadists around the world will interpret the withdrawal as their great victory against our great power. Their movement thrives in an atmosphere of perceived victory; we saw this in the surge of men and money flowing to al Qaeda following the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan. If they defeat the United States in Iraq, they will believe that anything is possible, that history is on their side, that they really can bring their terrible rule to lands the world over. Recall the plan laid out in a letter from Zawahiri to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, before his death. That plan is to take shape in four stages: establish a caliphate in Iraq, extend the “jihad wave” to the secular countries neighboring Iraq, clash with Israel – none of which shall commence until the completion of stage one: expel the Americans from Iraq. Mr. President, the terrorists are in this war to win it. The question is: Are we?"

Monday, July 9, 2007

Don't go wobbly....

William Kristol, over at The Weekly Standard, writes about President Bush's Moment of Truth, as some within his administration and in the Republican Party call for a "bipartisan compromise" with the Democrats to begin phasing out of Iraq. In a nutshell... "bad idea jeans" (old SNL skit).

Well it's like this... the Bush administration has been trying to play nice with the Dems much too often on too many big issues... going all the way back to "going along" and signing off on the "who named Plame" investigation due to the barking demands of the the "loyal" opposition. The Dems are NOT looking for merely concessions or bipartisanship. They ARE looking to discredit, delegitimize, and defeat Bush, Republicans, and conservatives in general at every point they can. That is the game they are playing. Bush, by staying on the defensive and remaining passively "bipartisan" in his responses to these guys, allows the Dems to choose the playing field, set and then change the rules, be on the offensive politically, and dominate the spin for the fans in the stands.

The Dems come to these fights with a club, Bush brings an olive branch... By not wanting to look like a "bad guy" Bush then ends up becoming the weak guy.

If you have to choose between someone respecting you or liking you... choose respect.

Iraq has been and still is a mucky situation for the U.S., but one that is difficult to imagine becoming better if we pull out. In fact, it is entirely reasonable to conclude that the long term threat to this country will dramatically increase if we just leave.

I'd like to see Bush and his people to begin again strongly defining to the American people what is at stake in Iraq and the war against the radical Islamists... to publicize weekly the progress by General Petraeus... and generally go on the offensive PR-wise to justly match the new military effort that is being undertaken on the ground in Iraq.

Update: By the way I don't think Bush is entertaining ideas that would compromise the current military strategy. Nor do I believe that he is predisposed to begin deemphasizing the importance of a defeated AQ/Jihadists in Iraq (and world-wide). But I do think he is predisposed to avoid taking the policy battle to the Democrats and to the American people. Aand by avoiding the "ideas" battle he may inadvertently compromise the military goals in Iraq. There needs to be a renewed, steady and strong public defense and explanation of our goals and interests in this war. I think it is essential for The Bush administration to gear up for a strong finish to his presidency over these next 18 months by getting this issue right.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Summer weekend reading...

The War, the Unreported Progress, and Perspective:
Michael Yon, embedded reporter, has a new installment of photos and reporting on the Battle for Baqubah and Operation “Arrowhead Ripper." There are some "graphic" descriptions but it is well worth reading.

Escape From New York by Brendan Miniter reflecting back on the rough goings during the Revolutionary War for our troops and General Washington.

Immigration, Democracy, and Language:
We Need To Talk by Peggy Noonan on the English language and its central place in America. An excerpt:
... "We speak English here. It's a great language, luckily, a rich one. It's how we do government and business. It's the language of the official life, the outer life, in America. As for the inner life of America, the language of the family, it would be just as odd to change longtime tradition there, which has always been: Anything goes. You speak what you came over speaking, and you learn the new language. Italian immigrants knew two languages, English and Italian. They enriched the first with the second--this was a great gift to all of us--and wound up with greater opportunities for personal communication to boot. Talk about win-win. And so with every group, from every place.

But in a deeper sense, we should never consider devolving from one national language down into two, or three, because if we do we won't understand each other. And we're confused enough as it is."

This is Democracy by Thomas Sowell... his reflections on the latest immigration legislation wars and the vital role of the voice of the people.

The Scriptures and finding Christ:
Michael Horton, on reading and understanding the Bible, presents an insightful and helpful article. Jesus Christ's own words on the topic set the stage: ... Jesus declared, "You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life" (John 5:40)

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Econ 101: Inflation, world currencies, gold...

Up until April of 1933 the U.S. dollar was as good as gold. The two pictures are of the two sides of a $20 gold piece that was in circulation up until that date when FDR ordered the confiscation of all privately held gold money. That "Saint Gauden's" $20 coin contained about an once of pure gold. Today a troy once of gold sells for about $650. Gold isn't worth more. The dollar is worth less. The dollar, in fact, has been rapidly losing value against gold since 2001 when gold was selling for about $300 per ounce. Inflation is coming back ala the 1970's. That is when President Nixon officially unlinked the dollar from gold, the last of the world's currencies to fall to that fate. Never before have all the currencies of the world been merely fiat paper promises with no anchor to gold and thus nothing to keep governments from inflating away.

From The Wall Street Journal Online (subscription required) David Ranson and Penny Russell diagnose the ills of the dollar, as well as the rest of the world's currencies. Gold is the canary in the coal mine when it comes to inflation... meaning much more is ahead. Here are some excerpts from their article:

"Interest rates are on the rise in the Eurozone, Great Britain and Japan, as well as in India and China. But the Federal Reserve has again elected to keep its target rate on hold despite repeated assertions that inflation risk is still its predominant concern. Are central banks abroad recognizing a threat that their American counterpart has yet to acknowledge?..."

"What's more, the recent rise in the euro and sterling relative to the dollar has obscured the fact that the world economy has embarked on another classic "run" on paper currencies that is driving inflation up everywhere. For several years now, as was the case in the 1970s, all the world's currencies have been depreciating relative to stable benchmarks such as gold. Since the end of 2001, these declines have ranged from 38% (in the case of the euro) to nearly 60% (in the case of the dollar)..."

"Why then has the pace of consumer-price inflation to date been so much less noteworthy than the pace of currency depreciation against gold? The answer lies in the timing: Gold is a fast-moving leading indicator, whereas consumer-price indices are slow-moving indicators that lag far behind. We all learned in the period between 1975 and 1985 that consumer prices do eventually catch up. It is the size of the move in the gold price, rather than in the consumer price index, that is a true and timely indicator of the magnitude of the inflation problem..."

"In the U.S., for example, cumulative consumer-price inflation was zero from 1820 to 1913, just prior to World War I..."

"Inflation is not intrinsically global -- it is obvious that some countries experience more inflation than others. But currencies depreciating against gold across the board is a sign of world-wide inflation -- and it has begun to set off alarm bells in many major economic capitals. But in Washington, our own central bankers remain placidly confident that everything will turn out all right..."

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Independence Day... July 4, 1776

An awesome thing, the benefits of which we are the recipients. And now two hundred thirty-one years later... let us not take for granted what was accomplished then and what we therefore have today as a nation.

Looking back at that moment in our history, our birth as a nation what those men and women put at risk, sacrificed; and they, through their deeply held principles, insight into human nature, and moral integrity did established a great nation. We are both the beneficiaries of their accomplishments and those to whom the torch has been passed... to hold to those same self-evident truths, to be vigilant to protect and defend what they did establish; continuing to build upon the foundation they laid with materials consistent with those high ideals.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

More on London/Glasgow Airport Car bombings...

From Debkafile.com:

"None of the five people arrested day after terrorist attack on Glasgow airport Saturday and two car bombs in London Friday was British, say UK police sources"

"This strengthens the international dimension of the series of attacks in Scotland and London. British PM Gordon Brown holds “people associated with al Qaeda” responsible for all three car attacks. Scotland Yard says they were “totally coordinated.” At least one key suspect is still at large.

Britain went on the highest security level of “critical” after two terrorists smashed a blazing jeep into the Scottish arrivals terminal Saturday, the day after two bomb cars were disabled in central London. This level indicates further attacks are expected.

DEBKAfile cites international counter-terror experts as noting that the three attacks, atypically of al Qaeda, caused no loss of life, only major disruptions and confusion. Some sources suspect the two failed London bomb car episodes Friday may have been a diversion from a broader terrorist campaign organized by al Qaeda in the UK or other countries. It is not clear if the detained suspects were illegal immigrants or al Qaeda operatives who managed to sneak into Great Britain. In either case, they would have needed the support of a local network to locate targets and reach them. The greatest danger is that the London-Glasgow incidents are part of a larger scenario which is still to come."

Saturday, June 30, 2007

We didn't start the fire.....

The Next Phase of the War in the West: The Car Bomb...

Glasgow Airport, Scotland:
This thing, obviously, isn't going away. Wake up calls continue to happen. This attack has been tied to the London 2-car bomb attempt yesterday.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Weekend Reading...

Some links to articles on what's hot...

Too Hot... Too Cool?
Global Cooling Costs Too Much by Jonah Goldberg

Iraq War... the direction (a good read):
Understanding General Petraeus's Strategy - Testimony to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs
by Frederick W. Kagan

The War Front in Britain:
Brown's Early Test by Nile Gardiner

Immigration... On Letting Go:
How We Become American by Peggy Noonan

Who Killed Palestine?... a failure with a thousand fathers
by Bret Stephens

Church Music and the Faith:
Praise Music Flunks by Lawrence Henry

National Health Care... diagnosis:
Who's Really 'Sicko' by David Gratzer

Friday, June 22, 2007

Articles for weekend reading...

Expand your horizons!

On the Scooter Libby Case:
A Tale of Two Prosecutors by Dorothy Rabinowitz
Libby: Light at the End of the Tunnel? by Clarice Feldman

Latest on the War in Iraq:
Surrender or Die by Michael Yon (embedded reporter)
Iraq: Military Gains; Government Mess by Amir Taheri

Global Warming Primer:
Read The Sunspots by R. Timothy Patterson
Global warming: truth or propaganda? by Vaclav Klaus

Anti-Semitism on the rise in Britain:
The Fruits of Multiculturalism by Hal G.P. Colebatch

Stock Market Analysis 101:
A Record Setting Stock Market (but not the kind of record you think) by Alan M. Newman

Christianity, Christ, and the World:
Ministers Who Preach Not Themselves, But Christ by Michael S. Horton

** A Debate of sorts **
... the lecture:
Where is God in ‘The War on Terror’? by N. T. Wright
... the response:
Wrong From Wright by Gilbert Meilaender

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Hamas versus Fatah in Gaza...

The one thing that unites Iran and the Arab countries, regardless of their differences and mutual mistrust, is their common desire to end the state of Israel. There will be bloody skirmishes between partisan terrorist factions along the way, as is happening in Gaza (and other spots) with Hamas and Fatah. But the common goal to eradicate Israel from the Middle East supercedes any temporary damage resulting from in-fighting. One sees Sunnis, Shia, Arabs, Persians, Syria, Iran, Hamas, Fatah, Hezbollah, and al Quaeda... despite many differences, united when it comes to destroying Israel, as well as opposing The U.S. in Iraq.

From the perspective of the democratic west, the ascendancy of the Iran backed Hamas in Gaza should be one more stark reminder that the radicalized jihadist wave is growing and eventually will have to be confronted. Hamas and Fatah are vying for the title of the "strong horse" upon which the Arab Middle East can ride to realize their goal of Israel's end. Hamas looks to win .

Israel should be fully supported by the U.S. and Europe, as it is not only in the gun site of those setting the Arab/Muslim agenda, but it is a liberal democracy and the natural ally of the west.

Update: Mike Pence, R-Ind., said he is drafting legislation that would restrict money from being given to the Palestinians so long as Hamas has control of Gaza. Pence wants to offer the measure as an amendment to a $34.2 billion bill that funds the State Department and foreign assistance programs.

Pence said his concern is that Bush's decision to resume aid will "open the flood gates of support for authorities within the Fatah government that could ultimately be used against Israel," he said in an interview Wednesday.

"Right now we're at a time when Hamas is sitting behind the desk of government buildings in Gaza City wearing ski masks and holding AK-47s," he added. "It's hard for me to see where we can provide any funds directly or indirectly to supplement or support what is an emerging terrorist Palestinian state."

Mid-East Conflict: Fact vs. Fiction

Fiction: Palestine's 1948 war ended with the Zionists stealing Palestine and expelling its people to establish Israel and to this day Israel blocks Palestinian national aspirations.

Fact: In 1948 there was no Arab state in the Middle East called Palestine (nor was there ever) for Israel to occupy and steal. For almost 370 years prior to 1922 the region had been ruled by the Turks under the Ottoman Empire. There was no Syria, no Jordan, no Iraq. They were created by the European powers after the end of Turkish rule. At that same time the British created the Palestine Mandate (where Palestinian Jews had been living continuously for almost 3700 years) for the establishment of a Jewish homeland. Jordan, bordering the Palestine Mandate, was where the vast majority of Palestinian Arabs were, and still are, living.

Today over one million Arabs live in Israel as citizens with full rights... more rights than any Arab has in any Arab nation in the Middle East. Whereas Jews are persona non grata in every Arab country.

The Middle East conflict is not about land. It is not about Palestinian refugees. It is not about self-determination. By means of three wars and decades of terror beginning in 1948 when Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan attacked Israel declaring their policy as "No Jewish state"... up through today with the rise of Hamas, Hezbollah, the Palestinian Authority, the goal of Israel's enemies has been no secret. It is the eradication of the Jewish nation in the Middle East.. This goal has been pursued by the Arabs at the expense of establishing a Palestinian state. There is no serious intention of creating a Palestinian nation by the Arabs (having rejected a Palestinian state in 1948 and 2000)... as long as there exists a Jewish state in the Middle East.

I am linking to a video, "What Really Happened in the Middle East," produced by David Horowitz's Freedom Center, that dramatically separates truth from falsehoods concerning the underlying issues and origins of the Middle East conflict in which Israel is at the center. Too many myths have gained currency in today's media and throughout much of the west when it comes to the history of that region and concerning the real intentions of those setting the agenda on the Arab side. If you are interested in a brief historical overview regarding the state of war that exists between the Arab states and Israel then watch.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Ruth Graham 1920-2007

Ruth Graham, Rev. Billy Graham's wife has died. Here is a link at the Billy Graham website that honors her life, recounts memories of her by those who knew her, and where anyone that wishes may leave their thoughts.

An ill wind bloweth...

A fascinating interview with Mark Steyn over at PajamasMedia. As much as anyone, Mark understands the problem of the gathering wind of radicalized Islamicism facing the west. His is one of the few, but growing, voices articulating the enormity of this very real threat.

Steyn is having the conversation, in his book America Alone and in his articles, that should be going on in households and governments throughout the west. It is both pathetic and scary, in light of 9/11 and the escalation of jihadism worldwide, that the comfortable affluence of our society and the insipid cynicism of our culture has produced a response barely above apathy in the media and most people to this reality.

In the words of the Buffalo Springfield song of the sixties... "Stop, children, what's that sound / Everybody look what's going down." I fear what it might take for the west to wake itself from its self-induced state of sleepwalking.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Ideas matter…

As we start easing (or in some cases, rushing) into the political season of presidential campaigning, we're going to hear a lot of rhetoric, mostly wind but not all. There’s going to be promises made, finger pointing, moral preening, and fail-proof solutions offered up to remedy the many problems facing this country. It's therefore vital to listen for the ideas that animate and give direction to each of the candidates. Those ideas, if implemented, will lead this nation in one direction or another, which in turn, will further us down a path resulting in different destinations.

Ideas matter. Intentions are easy to come by and easy to espouse. Listen for the underlying beliefs and ideas. They are not always obvious. Criticism and cynicism, posing as wisdom, pass too often as the staple of ideas in today’s political discourse. And we have been, and will be, getting bucket loads of both.

Ideas are valuable only when they are based in what’s true, not simply on what’s desired. The idea of right and wrong makes sense only when there is the accompanying truth that certain things really are right and certain things really are wrong… moral truth that rises above our own calculations, if you would. When you veer from that principle, too often you end up with the approach to policy of “the ends justifying the means.” Most agree that isn't a philosophy to embrace, yet too often that is, in effect, the course advocated by many.

The men and women that founded this nation had a world view in which there were certain bedrock truths regarding man, his nature, and how he was created to live (yes,by in large, they believed in a Creator). And from those truths flowed certain ideas regarding the inalienable rights of human beings. Any form of government hoping to succeed had to respect those ideas that flowed from those absolute truths. For it is based upon those truths and ideas that governments confer rights to its citizens. Drifting away from that understanding is like having the "bright" idea to navigate a ship at sea without the aid of accurate charts, knowledge of ocean currents, and the North Star. The voyage might start out well enough, but the chances of your ship reaching its desired destination would be almost nil. You'd end up on a shore no one (or at least most) would have desired.

A lot of rhetoric will be offered up by these candidates. Most of it will have the short term goal of saying what people want to hear. But what are the ideas supporting that rhetoric? What are the logical implications and long term directions for this country of the things they're each advocating? What North Star and guiding principles inform their ideas?

Ideas matters.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

And the wall came tumbling down...

For those of you too young to have seen Ronald Reagan's "Tear down that wall" speech given 20 years ago at the Brandenburg Gate, it was something to behold, even if only via television. It was a great speech given by man of great ideas and courage.

Two years later, the Wall started coming down, as the hope of millions for liberty broke forth into reality. If you would like to view that moment when he challenged Mr. Gorbachev to "tear down that wall," then go over to RedState and relive a high historical moment.

Friday, June 8, 2007

New song up...

Last year's war between Israel and Hezbollah brought home again the heartache, not only of the horrible loss of life that is taking place in that region of the world, but of the intractable nature of events there. Putting aside the politics, the historical and religious context, and the strategic concerns... it is such a dismal situation that at times I can only shake my head. Any way, thinking on this led to my writing and recording the song Keep On Running. The song art is a painting by Guido Reni (1611) called the Massacre of the Innocents. It is his depiction of the slaughter of male infants by King Herod. One line from the song... "And mothers keep on praying for a place yet to be found."

You can listen to the song, if you'd like, by clicking on the audio player below the song art over on the right side bar. Craig Bakay of Canada helps me out on the vocals and Neil Porter of Australia provides the bass and drums.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

My two centavos on Immigration Bill

A good discussion thread started by Kerrie Rushton of the White House Office of Strategic Initiatives going on over at RedState. Here are a few things I threw into the mix over there:

If there is no "tamper proof" form of documentation (there isn't) for everyone who is legally in this country, how do we know who is here, whether they have gone through the Z visa process assuming it is sound (which in my view it is not)? And what if many or most illegal aliens would just rather stay "in the shadows" so as to continue as they are now. I certainly think there's a probability that any terrorists would rather remain below the radar. The legislation seems to assume that its good intentions will compel everyone to move in the right direction... but people will do what they want to do.

But most of all, this whole debate over bureaucratic process and hoops prospective legal immigrants must jump through is really just an empty one. The southern border will remain open with a big welcome mat as the bill has no serious enforcement measures to control the influx of illegal immigrants.

Take the necessary steps to control the border, stemming the flow of illegals... Once that is effectively done then let's talk about paths to citizenship and all that. And over time allow assimilation to take place for those here, legal or not. I don't see the "crisis" to pass legislation to in effect give amnesty and legalization to the 12 to 20 million illegals here. They're here now and have been here for a while, and according to the pro-bill people, doing jobs "Americans won't." So let that situation exist for a few years more while the border thing gets dealt with, then let's make a deal.

This bill is worse than the status-quo.

Update (6-8-07): The Senate vote for cloture on the bill failed to garner enough votes to end debate and allow a vote on the legislation, effectively killing the bill... if not for good, at least for the time being. It will be difficult, though, for advocates of this bill to get the steam up again to bring it forward for another Senate consideration.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Libby Case Email Feedback...

A reader emails:
"Sorry, I must at this time disagree with your conclusion on a Libby pardon. Think both compassion and politics.
"I feel certain Dubya has already assured Scooter and his family that he will not serve even one day in jail. In the meantime, while unlikely to happen, Scooter may obtain an appeal. If not, Dubya still has plenty of time to issue a pardon .... while at the same time the Jefferson bribery case continues.
"I personally feel that Fitzgerald has been totally wrong in pursuing this case against Libby and should, himself, be removed from office. He is just about capable of being a D.A. in Durham, N.C."

My response:
You have more confidence in Bush on this matter than I do. When the campaign finance (McCain-Feingold) was being written in the Senate, Bush said he would veto it because it was unconstitutional. When it passed and he signed it, his reasoning was... it was unconstitutional and (passing the buck) that the Supreme Court would strike it down. Well the Supreme Court didn't and now we have a bad law, one that has infringed on free speech.

In the Libby case, the presiding Judge Walton refused yesterday to hear arguments for Libby remaining free while the appeal process goes forward. Which means he will likely go to jail in 30 to 60 days. So, Bush really doesn't have plenty of time. A pardon following the completion of the appeals process, after spending 18 months in jail (come post election November 2008) is scant relief To Mr. Libby. If he deserves a pardon, then do it now. Indeed, Bush should have pardoned him right after the trial. Heck, it was the Bush Administration's passing of the buck to a special prosecutor that was the first lapse of judgment and responsibility in this political storm that has been parading as a criminal investigation. Compassion really isn't the issue in my mind. That is simply how Bush's press office framed their response ("the President feels sad for Mr. Libby and his family"). I was merely playing off of that in my post of yesterday.

In my mind a pardon would serve both justice (which IS the issue) and politics (help shore up his base which has been deserting him over immigration and ineptitude at the Justice Dept.)... that is, if he does it now. By waiting until he is leaving office to pardon Mr. Libby, President Bush shows lack of strength, courage, loyalty, justice... and, oh yeah, compassion.

I hope I am wrong and Bush issues a full pardon ASAP.

Update (6-7-07): William Otis, former Special Counselor to President George H.W. Bush (dad), has another approach to how President George W. Bush should handle the Libby issue of pardoning him or not. His recommendation is partial commutation of the sentence.

Update (6-8-07):
Over at The Wall Street Journal Fouad Ajami of the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins lends support to my views above.

Update (6-10-07): William Kristol addressed the President regarding a Libby pardon over at The Weekly Standard in an article entitled Don't Feel Terrible, Mr. President.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Question, Mr. President!

Mr. President, you are saying that you are sad for Mr. Libby's family... Are you sad for Mr. Libby, that he has been found guilty and has been sentenced to 30 months?

No comment?! No comment as to any compassion for this man's predicament? As the Chief Executive of this government, no bowels of compassion for a loyal servant of your administration... a man virtually everyone in your party believes was unjustly indicted and convicted over a policy dispute?

You say it would be interjecting yourself into the process?!

Ah... such respect for justice you seem to have. I am beginning to see now that it may be, in fact, too much to think you would act with your pardon power to correct the wrong that has been done.

Oh, you are waiting for the legal process to play itself out?

Convenient... waiting to decide on a pardon until the end of the appeals process, a period of time which Mr. Libby may very well spend in jail... Does the phrase "passing the buck" seem relevant here?

You have answered my question, Mr. President. No compassion and no pardon for Mr. Libby.

Sadly, your true intentions are all too clear. And I have to conclude... you are no stand up kind of guy. And justice in this nation has taken a hit.

National Review Online has an Archive of numerous articles and opinion pieces that chronicles the entire Valerie Plame "Leak" affair. Go there if you want to understand what this whole sordid business has been about. If one hasn't been exposed to some of the analysis in these and other articles in various publications as diverse as the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal, then it is unlikely that the context and significance of Mr. Libby's trial has been grasped.

Monday, June 4, 2007

The More Things Change...

Climate change is all the rage this week at the G-8 Summit in Europe. So let me throw some fuel on the fire and heat things up a little.

In about ten years or so, people will be reminiscing with wonderment about the massive wave of hysteria that swept through the years 1990 to 2010 concerning global warming. For soon we are to arrive at the point where every change that occurs in the world will be attributable to global warming. Here is a list of well over 400 things that are trumpeted as being caused by the evil of global warming which in turn is claimed to be caused by man. Each item is a link to the original claim source.

Yes, there is some warming of the planet over the last 100 years (most of which was prior to 1950). No, it is not primarily the result of human activity. Yes, the temperature increase is within the norm of historical cycles. No, consensus does not equate infallibility. One need only go back to the 1970's to understand. George Will does just that in this excerpt of his:

Back in the 1970s we were being… “told to be worried, very worried, about global cooling. Science magazine (Dec. 10, 1976) warned of "extensive Northern Hemisphere glaciation." Science Digest (February 1973) reported that "the world's climatologists are agreed" that we must "prepare for the next ice age." The Christian Science Monitor ("Warning: Earth's Climate is Changing Faster Than Even Experts Expect," Aug. 27, 1974) reported that glaciers "have begun to advance," "growing seasons in England and Scandinavia are getting shorter" and "the North Atlantic is cooling down about as fast as an ocean can cool." Newsweek agreed ("The Cooling World," April 28, 1975) that meteorologists "are almost unanimous" that catastrophic famines might result from the global cooling that the New York Times (Sept. 14, 1975) said "may mark the return to another ice age." The Times (May 21, 1975) also said "a major cooling of the climate is widely considered inevitable" now that it is "well established" that the Northern Hemisphere's climate "has been getting cooler since about 1950."
In fact, the Earth is always experiencing either warming or cooling. But suppose the scientists and their journalistic conduits, who today say they were so spectacularly wrong so recently, are now correct. Suppose the Earth is warming and suppose the warming is caused by human activity. Are we sure there will be proportionate benefits from whatever climate change can be purchased at the cost of slowing economic growth and spending trillions? Are we sure the consequences of climate change -- remember, a thick sheet of ice once covered the Midwest -- must be bad? Or has the science-journalism complex decided that debate about these questions, too, is "over"?” - George Will

It's all part of what I've been calling the west's corporate guilt/messiah complex coupled with the dilemma of ego-centric man believing he is the master of his own destiny, but having an inward dread that he is not. I know... for another day.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

How thick the fog?

Andrew C. McCarthy posts an article today on NRO that is must reading, entitled "Killing America... Twice."

My thoughts: Too many in the democracies of the west are in a fog and do not or will not recognize that we have a determined enemy who is animated by a radical and ruthless ideology tied to Islam. And that enemy isn't going away on its own. The recent JFK bombing plot involving a Muslim U.S. citizen is a stark reminder of this and should be a reality slap in the face. Yet the thick gray mist lingers. My question is what will it take for us to emerge from this fog? I don't think the answer is necessarily another horrific bombing in this country. That may (and probably will) happen. This fog is classic self-denial of reality. It's much less threatening to imagine that this whole thing is overblown and mostly about an agenda born of corrupt politics. Or, that if only the "legitimate grievances" of jihadists were properly addressed all would be well. "Something is going on here and you don't know what it is," to again quote Dylan. The biggest threat is remaining in the fog and not recognizing what really is going on.

This is Andrew C. McCarthy's bio from Foundation for Defense of Democracies. He "is a former federal prosecutor and a Contributor at National Review Online. From 1993 through 1996, while an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, he led the prosecution against the jihad organization of Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, in which a dozen Islamic militants were convicted of conducting a war of urban terrorism against the United States that included the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and a plot to bomb New York City landmarks. Mr. McCarthy also made major contributions to the prosecutions of the bombers of the United States embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and the Millennium plot attack Los Angeles International Airport.

Following the September 11 attacks, Mr. McCarthy supervised the U.S. Attorney's Anti-Terrorism Command Post in New York City, coordinating investigative and preventive efforts with numerous federal and state law enforcement and intelligence agencies. From 1999 through 2003, he was the Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District's satellite office, responsible for federal law enforcement in six counties north of New York City."

His article can be found HERE.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Good Humor Has Basis in Truth...

A funny conservative humor website called IMAO has some great material on a number of current topics. To end out the week on a lighter note, here is one of their installments on the White House response to critics of the current immigration bill winding its way through Congress. Be sure to visit IMAO if you are in the mood for some topical, political, or issue oriented humor.

This is part of their entry from a few days ago:

"Due to my numerous contacts, I've received the FAQ the White House is going to soon put out to answer people's concerns about the immigration bill. It was written with help from the editorial staff at the Wall Street Journal. Here it is:


Q. I'm concerned that the immigration bill focuses more on giving illegal immigrants amnesty than border protection. Does the President share these concerns?
A. The President doesn't hate brown people.

Q. This isn't a racial issue. Many people think this bill will only encourage more illegal immigration and leave our borders open and dangerous. What are the answer to these charges?
A. To answer your underlying question, I'm afraid the the President is against your proposal to commit genocide against Hispanics.

Q. This isn't about Hispanics! This is about our laws being respected and our national security!
A. Unfortunately, America has had a long history of closed-minded bigots like you who hate all immigrants and want to keep the nation white and pure. To answer what we can only assume will be your next question, no, jackboots aren't tax deductible, but have fun in your neo-Nazi march anyway."

There's more on their site but to understand the context for the above get a more serious take regarding the damaging way President Bush and his pro-immigration bill allies are responding to critics in their own camp in an article today by Peggy Noonan on WJS Opinion Journal entitled Too Bad.

Have good weekend!

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Cultural Destiny

I've been using the phrase “feet on the ground” and linking it to the question of where our nation and culture are headed. “Feet on the ground” is just a short cut for saying that the direction of western civilization (i.e. all that we here in the west take for granted as a given regarding our laws, cultural mindset, and liberty) will be decided by those who actually make up the population of the west. And as the cultural markers of a population change, so changes how that society stands in relationship to truth, human dignity, law, and liberty. This isn’t theory. It is the story repeated, again and again, throughout many centuries of societies rising and falling. Our society is built upon the foundation of Judeo-Christian thought as developed over the years via the Reformation, the Enlightenment, and the founding ideals of our own nation. To ignore these foundation stones or take them for granted (i.e. they’ll automatically remain our society’s underpinnings) as relates to demographics is shortsighted. This is why the immigration debate is an important one, especially in light of the U.S. birthrate being barely above replacement levels (and less so in Europe). Added to my concerns is the war being waged on a philosophical level regarding the place of truth, morality, and religion in today’s culture. Some would argue that the “old” truths and morality no longer apply in a multi-cultural and diverse society. But that leads to another discussion for another day.

That brings me to Mark Steyn who, in my opinion, is one of the clearest thinkers concerning the demographics and culture of the West, its intersection with immigration trends, and the implications for the future. These excerpts of his words from an interview entitled, Is Demography Destiny?, over at The American Spectator highlight just a few of the things he has to say on demographics, the west, and the challenges we face as a culture.

“Clearly, the West shows all the classic signs of exhaustion. Americans are part of a continuous trend afflicting Western Europe. It's these subtler incremental changes that are of biggest concern as opposed to the guys flying planes into buildings…

“Whether or not Muslims are a statistical majority within society is not the major issue. They only need to make up 20 percent of the population for the nature of our society to be entirely changed…

“When Muslims in the West are polled, 40 to 60 percent wish to live under Sharia and wish to reside in the United Kingdom and the United States as opposed to Saudi Arabia. They may disagree with the means but they entirely support the ends…

“Well, I do believe that eventually the nanny state turns us all into children so when grown ups become children then it is not astonishing for them to become disinterested in having children of their own. One of the striking features of the modern socialist state is the prolonged adolescence of its citizens….One of the results of this mindset is a collapsing birthrate, but those communities who think differently from us are the ones who will shape the future. Is there any denying that the future belongs to the people who show up for it?”

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Myth of the"jobs no one else wants..."

Check out this "undercover video" at Redstate.

I have been a contractor since 1974. First as a licensed painting contractor in CA, then later a licensed tile and marble contractor in Florida. These are not jobs that no one else wants! Currently, living in CA again, I am amazed at how many illegal immigrants there are operating either as unlicensed contractors or actually working regular jobs in construction... earning in the $15.00 to $25.00 an hour range. Jobs Americans don't want?!

Feet on the ground will ultimately determine the course of this society's future. And controlling the flood of illegal aliens over our porous borders will go a long way to determining whose feet are on the ground. The mindset that minimizes the importance of protecting and enforcing the laws regarding our borders and elevates the "needs" of the illegal aliens via, what I see as, misplaced compassion or expediency simply encourages a disrespect for the laws of this country the day they enter. This, in turn, fosters the belief system of "whatever works for me is good." What is right (legal), over and opposed to wrong, no longer predominates. Not the stuff solid communities are based upon. So unless something is done to change the status quo of the sovereignty capitulation at the borders by our government, not just jobs but culture, law, and (yes) the very underpinnings of the American democracy are at risk.
An exaggeration? I really don't think so.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Duke News Sense

"Sin has many tools, but a lie is the handle which fits them all"
- Edmund Burke

This whole sordid affair began with a falsehood...

Kudos to those students at Duke University who, not cowered by the prevailing cultural foul winds, respond to the "Social Disaster" advertisement of April 6, 2006 signed by 88 of Duke's professors who were ostensibly concerned about justice being done. These were the faculty who, to further their own political/social agendas and in the absence of any actual evidence, took the accuser's lie in hand and crowded onto the band wagon to railroad the accused (and completely innocent) Lacrosse players in the infamous Duke rape case. Check it out.