Saturday, August 06, 2005

U.S. military launches anti-insurgent operation

The USA Today carries an AP story today on a new joint US/Iraq crackdown, dubbed Quick Strike, that has been launched in the Euphrates River Valley.

The primary thing that I am going to highlight in this article is that the word "insurgent" appears exactly 7 times (including the article title) as compared to the phrase "foreign fighter", which is used 3 times.

Insurgent, by the way, means "one who rises up against established authority" -- the implication in this case being Iraqi citizens who are unhappy with the new government and the US "occupation". The press likes this word a lot -- much better than "foreign fighter" or "terrorist" when writing about the Iraq war.

In fact in one paragraph from today's article, they even parenthetically have U.S. Brigadier General Donald Alston using the word:

"We still have deaths. We still have suicide car bombs," he said. "But the numbers we see indicate (the insurgents) can't generate the same tempo, and I think that's because we've had some degree of effect in interdicting these forces."

I'm sure General Alston appreciates the clarification on his behalf.

I would like to think that this is mere laziness on the part of the press -- that they use these words interchangeably without giving much thought to the meanings. But why not just use a more generic term then, such as "attacker" or "enemy combatant"? No, there is clearly a gentle form of indoctrination happening here, and it probably plays no small factor in the public's dissatisfaction with the Iraq war at the moment. If the general public is viewing these fighters as disgruntled Iraqi citizens rather than terrorists, then indeed what are we still doing over there?

On another note, I noticed that the AP also mentioned -- as they now mention in every single Iraq war story -- the total number of soldier deaths that have occurred. It is 1,826 at the time of this writing. My prediction: when that number reaches 3000, at least one mainstream newspaper will fill the entire top third of their front page with a big bold "3000" as the headline. Why? Because that is the magic number (rounded off of course) that will correlate to the number of deaths on Sept. 11. This is supposed to show how senseless the Iraq war is. Yes, the press is watching that number with great anticipation and hope.

Pray for our soldiers. Pray certainly for a speedy end to this war. But don't fall prey to liberal thinking at this crucial time in our history. It may be difficult to understand why the US is conducting things the way they are in Iraq. But I do believe there will come a day when we will be able to look back and see what was really at stake, what our intelligence really knew, what our soldiers were really accomplishing in that region of the world.

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Mehlman Seeks Swift Roberts Confirmation

Speaking at the Republican National Committee's annual summer meeting on Friday, chairman Ken Mehlman criticized Democrats and liberals for what he deemed to be political grandstanding over the John Roberts Supreme Court nomination. Says the AP:

Mehlman argued that in 1993, President Clinton nominated Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a judge with a liberal record, and Senate Republicans treated her fairly although she declined to answer many specific questions at her confirmation hearing.

"But the process was orderly and dignified nevertheless, thanks to Republicans who understood that she was fair-minded and qualified," Mehlman said. "I believe Judge Roberts has the right to expect the same treatment, and the same swift confirmation."

He criticized Democrats and liberal groups who try to portray Roberts as anything less than an impartial jurist.

"Unfortunately, some on the other side want to turn a judicial confirmation into a political campaign," said Mehlman, arguing that Roberts will be a "superb Supreme Court justice."

Mehlman makes some good observations but I'm not sure I quite agree with him on that last point. Sure a little pandering to the DU crowd probably comes into play, but the Democrats' motive here is not just to get votes.

What they are really banking on is that Roberts is not quite the conservative he is being painted as. Their strategy is to take someone that they suspect to be a moderate, slap a "hard-liner" tag on him and send him on up to SCOTUS-- with "great reservations" of course. Then they will have a bargaining chip for the next nominee that Bush puts up there: "Hey we gave you another Scalia, now give us a Kennedy!"

Sure it's a gamble, but its about all they can do at this point because they know that a filibuster on Roberts would be... lets say... an unwise PR move. It'll be interesting to watch this unfold.

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Patently Positive Patriotic Post of the Day (8/6/05)

In a column titled "SOMETHING THAT DIDN'T MAKE THE NEWS" writer Bob Lonsberry penned this stirring account of a Navy platoon leader's heroism in Iraq:

Meet Brian Chontosh.

Churchville-Chili Central School class of 1991. Proud graduate of the Rochester Institute of Technology. Husband and about-to-be father. First lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps.

And a genuine hero.

The secretary of the Navy said so yesterday.

At 29 Palms in California Brian Chontosh was presented with the Navy Cross, the second highest award for combat bravery the United States can bestow.

That's a big deal.

But you won't see it on the network news tonight, and all you read in Brian's hometown newspaper was two paragraphs of nothing. Instead, it was more blather about some mental defective MPs who acted like animals.

The odd fact about the American media in this war is that it's not covering the American military. The most plugged-in nation in the world is receiving virtually no true information about what its warriors are doing.

Oh, sure, there's a body count. We know how many Americans have fallen. And we see those same casket pictures day in and day out. And we're almost on a first-name basis with the pukes who abused the Iraqi prisoners. And we know all about improvised explosive devices and how we lost Fallujah and what Arab public-opinion polls say about us and how the world hates us.

We get a non-stop feed of gloom and doom.

But we don't hear about the heroes.

The incredibly brave GIs who honorably do their duty. The ones our grandparents would have carried on their shoulders down Fifth Avenue.

The ones we completely ignore.

Like Brian Chontosh.

It was a year ago on the march into Baghdad. Brian Chontosh was a platoon leader rolling up Highway 1 in a humvee.

When all hell broke loose.

Ambush city.

The young Marines were being cut to ribbons. Mortars, machine guns, rocket propelled grenades. And the kid out of Churchville was in charge. It was do or die and it was up to him.

So he moved to the side of his column, looking for a way to lead his men to safety. As he tried to poke a hole through the Iraqi line his humvee came under direct enemy machine gun fire.

It was fish in a barrel and the Marines were the fish.

And Brian Chontosh gave the order to attack. He told his driver to floor the humvee directly at the machine gun emplacement that was firing at them. And he had the guy on top with the .50 cal unload on them.

Within moments there were Iraqis slumped across the machine gun and Chontosh was still advancing, ordering his driver now to take the humvee directly into the Iraqi trench that was attacking his Marines. Over into the battlement the humvee went and out the door Brian Chontosh bailed, carrying an M16 and a Beretta and 228 years of Marine Corps pride.

And he ran down the trench.

With its mortars and riflemen, machineguns and grenadiers.

And he killed them all.

He fought with the M16 until it was out of ammo. Then he fought with the Beretta until it was out of ammo. Then he picked up a dead man's AK47 and fought with that until it was out of ammo. Then he picked up another dead man's AK47 and fought with that until it was out of ammo.

At one point he even fired a discarded Iraqi RPG into an enemy cluster, sending attackers flying with its grenade explosion.

When he was done Brian Chontosh had cleared 200 yards of entrenched Iraqis from his platoon's flank. He had killed more than 20 and wounded at least as many more.

But that's probably not how he would tell it.

He would probably merely say that his Marines were in trouble, and he got them out of trouble. Hoo-ah, and drive on.

"By his outstanding display of decisive leadership, unlimited courage in the face of heavy enemy fire, and utmost devotion to duty, 1st Lt. Chontosh reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service."

That's what the citation says.

And that's what nobody will hear.

That's what doesn't seem to be making the evening news. Accounts of American valor are dismissed by the press as propaganda, yet accounts of American difficulties are heralded as objectivity. It makes you wonder if the role of the media is to inform, or to depress ? to report or to deride. To tell the truth, or to feed us lies.

But I guess it doesn't matter.

We're going to turn out all right.

As long as men like Brian Chontosh wear our uniform.

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Friday, August 05, 2005

ACLU vs. Boy Scouts of America

Paul Weyrich writes a great editorial in Newsmax about the ACLU's recent legal assault on the Boy Scouts and how it reflects the changing value systems of America:

While growing up I was a proud member of an organization that emphasized the importance of honesty and "being clean in thought, word and deed." We vowed to serve God and our country. If you think that this organization's philosophy is non-controversial, you are sadly mistaken.

More here:

ACLU vs. Boy Scouts of America

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Democrats didn't migrate to Canada after Bush win

WorldNetDaily reports that the promised Democrat exodus to the Great White North after the 2004 elections has not quite materialized:

As WorldNetDaily previously reported, Americans flocked to the Canadian government's immigration website in record numbers immediately after Bush defeated John Kerry in the presidential race.

But official figures show the number of Americans actually applying to reside in the Great White North actually dropped in the six months following the election.

"We'll take talent from wherever it is resident in the world," Immigration Minister Joe Volpe told Reuters. "I was absolutely elated to see the number of hits and then my staff said 'You know what? A hit on the Internet is after all just a hit'. ... I guess I'm happy Republicans and Democrats have found a way to live together in peace and in harmony."

Man! We almost got rid of them. Could you sweeten the pot a little, Canada? Maybe offer each new US immigrant a free down-parka and a Joni Mitchell CD?

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US, 3 nations discuss shift of Guantanamo inmates

The Boston Globe reports that the US is conducting talks to transfer about 70 % of GITMO detainees to three different countries "to share the burden of keeping suspected terrorists behind bars". They have already reached an agreement with Afghanistan on Thursday to send 20% of the prisoners to Kabul. Matthew Waxman who is Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Detainee Affairs (try to put that on a business card) says:
''the arrangement we have reached with the government of Afghanistan is the latest step in what has long been our policy -- that we need to keep dangerous enemy combatants off the battlefield.

Agreed. I just hope that the facilities at Afghanistan are as secure as we have at GITMO. Otherwise all it takes are a couple of Taliban operatives in guard uniforms to make a big mess of things.

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Southwest flight lands in Texas after bomb scare

Probably just an attention seeker getting his kicks but we have to take every threat seriously:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Southwest plane landed in Houston on Friday and was being checked for explosives after a passenger handed a flight attendant a note saying there was a bomb on board, a U.S. Homeland Security official said.

The plane was carrying 136 passengers and five crewmembers, Southwest Airlines spokeswoman Edna Ruano told CNN. She had no immediate details on any threat to the plane.

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NCAA Bans Indian Mascots From Postseason

Another organization crumbles to the PC crowd. From the AP:

The NCAA banned the use of American Indian mascots by sports teams during its postseason tournaments, but will not prohibit them otherwise.

The NCAA's executive committee decided this week the organization did not have the authority to bar Indian mascots by individual schools, committee chairman Walter Harrison said Friday.

Nicknames or mascots deemed "hostile or abusive" would not be allowed by teams on their uniforms or other clothing beginning with any NCAA tournament after Feb. 1, said Harrison, the University of Hartford's president.

I heard there will be a sale on backbone this weekend -- get there early, Mr. Harrison. The idea behind naming a team after an Indian tribe is not hostile and has nothing to do with race. They are simply trying to associate their team with the admirable qualities of early American Indian warriors -- strength, courage, dexterity, tenaciousness on the battlefield among other things. Are today's tribes really ashamed of that legacy? If they were smart, the different tribes would put a trademark on their name and charge teams for the use of it.

One more thing... will this put an end to scalping? I meant tickets! Lighten up!

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The Blair Smackdown

Tony Blair has had it -- and he's taking no more guff from politically-correct human-rights weenies in the aftermath of the recent London attacks. Reuters reports that Blair has introduced sweeping new anti-terrorist measures which include banning terrorist organizations from his country, closing mosques that preach violence and deporting Islamic radicals.

Saying the landscape had changed since last month's London bombings, the prime minister announced plans to ban two Islamist groups and bring in new powers to expel or exclude foreign nationals who incite violence or glorify terrorism.

"The first batch of deportation orders will begin shortly. Let no-one be in any doubt -- the rules of the game are changing," Blair told a news conference.

Get `em Mr. Blair! The rules have indeed changed as Americans have already learned (and too many of them have forgotten) after September 11. More than ever before, Blair understands the nature of the enemy he is facing. And he is not just going to sit there and sip tea while terrorists grow and thrive like earthworms in the British soil.

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Turbulence at Air America

What do you do when you're the co-founder of a liberal radio upstart while at the same time serving as a staffer for a respected charity organization? You give yourself huge loans of course! It appears that Air America has gotten itself into in a little hot water thanks to that favorite liberal credo "The ends justify the means". CNSNews has the story:

Charity 'Loans' to Air America Founder Investigated

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Pro-USA Patriotic Post of the Day

Below is an excerpt from an email by Vlcki Pierce describing the events that happened in Comfort, Texas after the funeral of her nephew James who died serving in Iraq in 2003. The pictures that follow were taken by her 17-year-old daughter Amy:

When we turned off the highway suddenly there were teenage boys along both sides of the street about every 20 feet or so, all holding large American flags on long flag poles, and again with their hands on their hearts. We thought at first it was the Boy Scouts or 4H club or something, but it continued .... for two and a half miles. Hundreds of young people, standing silently on the side of the road with flags. At one point we passed an elementary school, and all the children were outside, shoulder to shoulder holding flags kindergartners, handicapped, teachers, staff, everyone. Some held signs of love and support. Then came teenage girls and younger boys, all holding flags. Then adults. Then families. All standing silently on the side of the road. No one spoke, not even the very young children.

Absolutely amazing.

Vicki has also set up a memorial page with more pictures and information on James.

This is the soul of our country. America may be maligned in the press and in certain elitist circles, but it will never be maligned on this website. Rest in peace, James, and thank you for serving your country.

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Thursday, August 04, 2005

As a man thinketh...

Why a GOP victory is being greeted with wailing and gnashing of teeth by Republicans I haven't quite figured out yet. Nonetheless conservative columnist Robert Novak has felt compelled to throw his own gloomy offering into the hat regarding the recent Republican special election win in Ohio:

"I believe that the voting in Ohio [Tuesday] - with the first Iraq veteran running for office as a Democrat ... who almost won opposing the war ... is a tremendous political problem," Novak told the packed audience at the Young America's Foundation National Conservative Student Conference.

"I think it's a political problem for the president. I don't think it's a shift in ideology, but I think it is a real warning signal for the Republicans about the 2006 elections," Novak continued.

I don't think it is anything of the sort. Special elections usually have such a low turnout that accurate analysis of the results and their future connotations is difficult at best.

My suggestion to Mr Novak and all of the frightened conservatives out there: buck up! Go get a copy of Norman Vincent Peale's book and make a journey back to the positive side of things. Because if you insist on thinking like a loser...guess what will happen? Yup.

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Disturbing new findings on RU-486 abortion pill

From CNSNews.com we get an interesting story about the abortion pill RU-486 and it's possible deadly side effects (aside from the obvious deadly side effect to the baby):

Doctor Claims RU-486 Can Cause Lethal Septic Shock

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Scapegoat found in UN Oil for Food investigation

A Reuters story in the Boston Globe reports that former head of the U.N. oil for food program, Benon Sevan is expected to take the fall for corrupt UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and his son next Tuesday. Not in those words, of course:

Ex-UN aide alleged to have taken Iraqi money

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NY Times Investigates Adoption Records of Supreme Court Nominee's Children

Well, looks like the Old Grey Lady may be probing into the lives of innocent little Josie and Jack. Sound like a Brothers Grimm story? Actually it comes from Drudge as he tells us what the New York Times is doing to get the goods on John Roberts:

The NEW YORK TIMES is looking into the adoption records of the children of Supreme Court Nominee John G. Roberts, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned.

The TIMES has investigative reporter Glen Justice hot on the case to investigate the status of adoption records of Judge Roberts’ two young children, Josie age 5 and Jack age 4, a top source reveals.

Judge Roberts and his wife Jane adopted the children when they each were infants.

Both children were adopted from Latin America.

A TIMES insider claims the look into the adoption papers are part of the paper's "standard background check."

Roberts’ young son Jack delighted millions of Americans during his father’s Supreme Court nomination announcement ceremony when he wouldn’t stop dancing while the President and his father spoke to a national television audience.

Previously the WASHINGTON POST Style section had published a story criticizing the outfits Mrs. Roberts had them wear at the announcement ceremony.

One top Washington official with knowledge of the NEW YORK TIMES action declared: “Trying to pry into the lives of the Roberts’ family like this is despicable. Children’s lives should be off limits. The TIMES is putting politics over fundamental decency.”

One top Republican official when told of the situation was incredulous. “This can’t possibly be true?”

But knowing the TIMES, it probably is.

Reporter Glen Justice could not be reached for comment as he was busy wading through garbage outside the Roberts' homestead.

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Agents search homes of Louisiana congressman

CNN (AP) reports that the New Orleans and Louisiana homes of Democratic Rep. William Jefferson were searched by the FBI on Wednesday. The Justice Department would not give any details on what they were looking for but we do know that he has been implicated in matters related the mail-fraud conviction against his brother-in-law Alan Green, a former state judge.

Again in the spirit of fairness and to counter the blow received by this poor misguided Democrat, the AP has chosen to end the story this way:

In June, the FBI searched the yacht and California home of U.S. Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, whose business dealings are under investigation by a federal grand jury in San Diego.

The inquiry began after reports that Cunningham sold his house to a defense contractor who quickly put it back on the market and later sold it at a $700,000 loss.

Cunningham, a Republican, has denied any wrongdoing but has announced he will not seek re-election to a ninth term next year.

No relation to the Jefferson story whatsoever. Just a reminder that "Republicans are rats too, so there!"

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NYPD says London bombers used everyday components

In a briefing on the London attacks by the New York Police Department today, we learn that the London bombers "cooked up their explosives using mundane items like hydrogen peroxide, suggesting that "these terrorists went to a hardware store or some beauty supply store".

On the one hand this is disturbing because it means that similar events could happen here. On the other hand it does more to confirm my suspicions that Al Qaeda is low on both power and resources. The fact that they haven't yet used WMD's tells me that they likely have none in their possession.

NYPD says London bombers used everyday components

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Bush Hails Tax Cuts For Boost In Growth

In a speech on Wednesday, President Bush did something I wish he would do more often -- he took credit for our healthy economy. From the Washington Post:

GRAPEVINE, Tex., Aug. 3 -- President Bush said Wednesday that the combination of Republican tax cuts and new pro-business policies is helping to spread "economic vitality" across the country and has put the White House ahead of pace toward trimming the deficit in half by 2009.

"The economy of ours is strong, and it is getting stronger," Bush told a group of economic conservatives gathered for the American Legislative Exchange Council meeting here. The president said the tax cuts enacted in his first term "stimulated" economic growth and helped generate a recent surge in government revenue that is helping to erase some of the deficit.

An objective news story would have ended there. It would simply tell us where Bush was and what he said there. But far be it from the mainstream media to let such positive comments stand on their own. As a service to us, they have to make sure we know the President's motive for saying such things so that we can see this speech for the image-rebuilding PR sham that it is. As we read in the next two paragraphs:

Bush's comments marked the beginning of a White House offensive to take credit for both the economic uptick and three pro-business policies recently passed by the Republican-controlled Congress.

The president has not realized the lift in public polls that aides had hoped for amid the upbeat economic news and bipartisan agreements on Capitol Hill. With Bush's approval ratings stuck at or near all-time lows in several national surveys, GOP strategists suspect that high gasoline prices and uncertainty in Iraq have overshadowed job gains, a strong stock market, and better-than-expected economic growth and legislative results.

Thus the writer now has now found a way to bring Bush's approval numbers into a story where it otherwise would have no place. This was simply a speech at a convention. Nothing more had to be reported other than what happened and what was said. Some of you may say that the reporter was merely giving us the ever important "why" of the story. But might not the "why" be because he was speaking to the American Legislative Exchange Council and perhaps Bush thought it might be wise to talk about the economy to an economic group? Just a hunch.

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Al Qaeda threatens more UK, U.S. attacks

CNN reports that Bin Laden's No. 2 man, Ayman al-Zawahiri has appeared on yet another video tape obtained by Al-Jazeera, this time making threats against the British and Tony Blair.

"To the British, I am telling you that Blair brought you destruction in the middle of London and more will come, God willing," he said.

I just love that "God willing" they always throw in. It's so adorable.

He also made the usual threats against the US:

Referring to the September 11, 2001 attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people, he said: "Our message is clear -- what you saw in New York and Washington and what you are seeing in Afghanistan and Iraq, all these are nothing compared to what you wil see next."

Maybe so. But we will still defeat you.

But since he brought it up, let's look at the London attacks that #2 is referring to. Both involved very crudely made bombs. One attack killed less than 100 people and the other failed completely. I see a very weakened Al Qaeda, and I'm not sure why this man is bragging or why he even took credit for the attacks.

Sorry to break this to you leftists out there, but we are winning the war on terror. Thanks to the continued efforts of the US and their allies, these men for the last four years have been able to do little more than hide in the rocks and make PR tapes for a tail-wagging Al Jazeera to broadcast to the world.

Yes, we are winning. Granted, a very bumpy ride lies ahead but I'm sure proud to have our current President for a driver.

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Iraqi expats barred from voting on constitution

The Seattle Times reports that the Iraqi Electoral Commission will not allow Iraqi citizens living in other countries to vote on the Iraq's new constitution. This is troubling to Iraqi Christians living in the US and elsewhere and adds to the growing apprehension that the new government might seek to impose Shariah law.

In actuality Shariah law is one of three options on the table for the new constitution. While all involve some form of Islam the other two models are less extreme. From listening to the press, Shariah is the only option and is inevitable. Don't believe it.

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Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Roberts vows to honor established rulings

Supreme Court nominee John Roberts assured Senators in his confirmation hearing today that he will honor legal precendents in making his decisions from the bench. According to USA Today:

John Roberts says he will honor established Supreme Court rulings, telling a Senate committee that legal precedents are important to "promoting the stability of the legal system.".

Senator Charles Schumer, however, was somewhat dubious:

"As with so many of Roberts' recent statements, this holds some hope and promise, but it also raises many questions," said Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-New York. "That's why the hearings will be so crucial to determining whether Judge Roberts will rule from the bench in a careful and non-ideological way, or will instead choose to make law or impose his will."

Isn't that what Justices Kennedy and Souter already do? Oh yeah, those guys are on your side, aren't they Sen. Schumer.

I would like to take this moment to thank Bill Frist and all the other "please like me" Senate Republicans for giving Sen. Schumer and his friends the opportunity to set the criteria for Roberts' confirmation. It is because they were afraid to activate the nuclear option that we still get to see Chucky Schumer, Dick Durbin, Ted Kennedy, Hillary Clinton and Barbara Boxer getting on camera daily and telling us what they "hope to see" if {insert nominee name here} wants a bork's chance of being confirmed. Thank you Republican Senators!

"You're right, I am a coward!
I haven't any courage at all.
I even scare myself."

What's Right About America

For those of you who don't know who Herman Cain is, I'd encourage you to familiarize yourself with him. You will be seeing a lot of him in the political arena in coming years. Writing for Townhall.com, Cain spells out the qualities that make America great:

We have much to be proud of as Americans, beginning with our Constitution. The Constitution’s guarantees and protections of freedom are timeless. They were derived from the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness professed by our Founders in the Declaration of Independence and granted us by our Creator. Our Constitution, written and ratified just over 200 years ago, shines across the world to remind others that individual freedoms are an inalienable right, not a gift from benevolent government leaders.

Right on. Cain is one of the scarce few who still understands the origin of our rights. The more people in this country that grasp this fundamental principle, the more hope we have of keeping these rights.

The opportunity to achieve individual success no matter where you start in life or your background is another positive factor that makes America a unique nation. We don’t have a true class or caste system in America. Some politicians have attempted to artificially construct such as system so they can then exploit feelings of class envy among those in the lower economic levels. The fact is, anyone can achieve individual success in America if they have a dream and the desire to make it come true.

This man's attitude really resonates with me. For those who get it -- to those who love living in America and choose to cast aside all cynicism and appreciate the principles this country was founded upon -- be proud. Pursue your dreams and don't allow the media or anyone else to speak negativity into your life.

Oh yeah, and God Bless America!

Strange bedfellows

Well, I never thought I would ever agree with Maxine Waters on an issue, but I guess stranger things have happened (like the time I found myself actually enjoying a Meryl Streep movie). I speak of an article in USA Today detailing new measures being taken by Congress and a handful of state governments to curb potential abuse of our eminent domain laws. Alabama today will become the latest state to sign a law that "prohibits the state, cities and counties from taking private property for retail, office, commercial, industrial or residential development."

Senator Jack Biddle, a sponsor of the new Alabama law, puts it aptly:

"We don't like anybody messing with our dogs, our guns, our hunting rights or trying to take property from us,"

Spoken like a true red-blooded American Southern man. Delaware and at least 8 other states are also considering such legislation.

On the federal level, Rep. Maxine Waters has also jumped on board:

Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., a liberal who rarely supports Republican bills, has signed onto two GOP bills and proposed two of her own. "The people who get hurt are the many poor people and working people who don't think they can fight City Hall," she said.

Even more shocking than Maxine joining hands with Republicans is USA today actually using the word liberal to describe the congresswoman. Fire that reporter! But hey, we'll take support wherever we can get it after the Supreme Court supremely dropped the ball on this issue.

Kyrgyzstan Intends to Extradite 15 Uzbeks

Yes, you heard right, Kyrgyzstan Intends to Extradite 15 Uzbeks. I have no idea what this means... but I really enjoy saying it. Has a kind of Dr. Seuss feel to it.

For those lving in the real world who care about the real story, you may click here.

The five million dollar man

Well Judge Roberts, it appears that your confirmation may not go as smoothly as we had previously thought. It has come to our attention that you belong to that prestigious class we call "the evil rich".

The AP is reporting that a financial statement filed with the Senate Judiciary Committee reveals John Roberts' net worth to be $5.3 million. According to the report, he once earned a yearly salary of $1 million before taking a significant paycut when he left his law firm for a seat on the US Court of Appeals. He now makes a paltry $171,800.

The AP also reveals that Roberts has a "fancy golf club membership". Now that's impressive. I know some people who golf but I have yet to meet someone who has reached "fancy" status. I guess you have to be worth $5 million or more for that.

"I'm in the great outdoors"

The spacewalk is proceeding as planned this morning. As I write, the first piece of dangling material has been successfully removed from the underside of the Discovery. From Foxnews:

SPACE CENTER, Houston Armed with forceps and a makeshift hacksaw, a Discovery astronaut floated from the ship's airlock Wednesday for an unprecedented spacewalk to eliminate a potential source of dangerous overheating during the shuttle's re-entry.

Astronaut Stephen Robinson described his job as delicate, but simple: pull out or slice off two dangling pieces of filler material from Discovery's belly.

"OK, Andy, I'm in the great outdoors," Robinson told astronaut Andy Thomas after he followed spacewalking partner Soichi Noguchi out of the shuttle's airlock as it passed over Australia.

...Once under Discovery's belly, Robinson expected to spend about an hour removing or trimming the fillers from two locations near the shuttle's nose. Noguchi planned to find a place on the station where he could keep an eye on Robinson and communicate with astronauts aboard the orbiting complex in case his spacewalking partner couldn't.

NASA officials think Robinson should be able to easily pull the first gap filler about the thickness of three index cards bonded together by using his gloved hand.

Our prayers are with them.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

The nuts and bolts on Bolton

Believe it or not, Reuters actually has a pretty informative article on John Bolton. Though biased and full of the usual twittering from Bolton's detractors it does give us an enticing glimpse into the man who will be representing us for the next 17 months. Some excerpts:

Bolton has a long history of criticizing the United Nations, has sometimes doubted that European and Asian allies could be counted on to back U.S. positions and has often spoken out so bluntly he was considered political dynamite.

Exactly what we need.

Former Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Jesse Helms, a conservative Republican from North Carolina, once called Bolton "the man with whom I would want to stand at Armageddon" and another admirer described him in the Wall Street Journal as "the most dangerous man at State."

During Bolton's unsuccessful Senate confirmation fight, one former U.S. official who had tangled with him described him as a "quintessential kiss-up, kick-down sort of guy."

But Bolton himself enjoys throwing rhetorical hand grenades and keeps a defused real one in his office, along with a copy of the "most dangerous man at State" article.

Where has this guy been all our lives?

Now let's hear from one of the critics:

Bolton "has overseen this administration's flawed proliferation policy that has seen North Korea quadruple its nuclear arsenal and seen Iran take dangerous steps toward the development of nuclear weapons," said Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada.

Attempting to defuse opposition, Rice has extolled Bolton's previous service as the assistant secretary of state who dealt with the United Nations and his successful 1991 campaign to persuade the international body to repeal a resolution that equated Zionism with racism.

Notice how the writer leaves Harry Reid's quote untouched while making darn sure we know that Rice was "attempting to defuse opposition" when she sang Bolton's praises.

The writer then ends the article by countering Condi's praise:

But Bolton also led the U.S. withdrawal from International Criminal Court jurisdiction and encouraged U.S. opposition to Europe's decision to lift its arms embargo on China, two initiatives that fanned tensions with allies.

Hmmm, these actually seem like...y'know...good things. But then, I'm no Alec Baldwin when it comes to understanding world events.

Military Denies Rigging Guantanamo Tribunals

Not to alarm anyone but the Pentagon has now confirmed the existence of... allegations.

From The Washington Post:
The Pentagon acknowledged yesterday that two former members of the military team handling prosecutions of suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, had alleged last year that the trial system was rigged in favor of the government.

A Pentagon spokesman said, however, that the prosecutors' charges had been "thoroughly investigated" and dismissed as unfounded. While declining to reveal specifics of the allegations, Lawrence T. Di Rita said an investigation determined they were "much ado about nothing."

The allegations by Air Force Maj. John Carr, who was then a captain, and Air Force Maj. Robert Preston were reported by the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times in their Monday editions. The newspapers said they obtained internal e-mails written by Carr and Preston that detailed their allegations.

The Journal account of the allegations said both Carr and Preston requested that they be reassigned rather than participate in the trials. It said they accused fellow prosecutors of ignoring torture allegations, failing to protect evidence that could help defendants establish a defense and withholding information from superiors. The Times said Carr asserted that the chief prosecutor had told subordinates that the members of the military commission that would try the first four defendants would be "handpicked" to ensure that all would be convicted.

Handpicked? The outrage!

This story is trying so hard to be relevant but it just isn't quite making it. Poor little story.

Watchdog group attacks school Bible study

From USAToday:
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) A religious watchdog group complained Monday that a Bible study course taught in hundreds of public schools in Texas and across the country promotes a fundamentalist Christian view and violates religious freedom.

The Texas Freedom Network, which includes clergy of several faiths, also said the course offered by the Greensboro, N.C.-based National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools is full of errors and dubious research.

That would apply to any course in the public school curriculumm.

The National Council on Bible Curriculum Web site says its elective course is offered in high schools and junior highs by more than 300 school districts in 37 states.

Operative word here: "elective". Meaning students can also elect not to take it. If this were a required course and communion wafers were being stuffed in the children's mouths, I might see TFN's point. I still wouldn't like them but I would agree with them.

Elizabeth Ridenour, president of the Bible class group, accused the Texas Freedom Network of censorship.

"They are actually quite fearful of academic freedom, and of local schools deciding for themselves what elective courses to offer their citizens," she said in a statement.

Well stated. The phrase "separation of Church and State" is not part of the first amendment nor is it found anywhere in the Constitution. The statement was first made in a letter by Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist Association of Connecticut in January 1, 1802. He was responding to a widespread rumor that the government was about to establish a rival denomination, the Congregationalists, as a national religion. Jefferson sought to reassure the people that they were not going to be subjected to the same religious tyranny that they had just fled from in England.

That liberal groups are now giving this letter the stature of a legal document and using it as justification to stamp out any public expression of Christian faith is absurd. That Federal courts are backing up their assertions is indefensible.

Don't go away mad...

More fallout from the Lawrence Summers controversy. If you'll remember, he is the Harvard president who, at a conference in January, made the major faux pas of pointing out that there were differences between the two sexes. This is simply not done in liberal quarters and the chagrined president was soon to find out that tolerance is a virtue that is only preached by the left, not practiced.

Now a member of Harvard's top governing board has turned in a scathing resignation letter:

Letter details Harvard board resignation

L.A. police commander defends SWAT team

From USAToday:

LOS ANGELES (AP) A police commander on Saturday defended the actions of SWAT members who killed a young girl in a shootout with her father, one of three standoffs in the past nine months in which officers killed suspects holding hostages.

"Those people did the absolute best job that they could," said Capt. Scott Kroeber, who had been invited by community activists to a South Los Angeles coffee house. "When you're being shot at, it's very difficult to get off a precision shot."

Makes sense to me.

SWAT officers cornered Jose Pena in his Watts car business' office July 10. The distraught father was holding his 19-month-old daughter Suzie in his arms as he fired a 9 mm handgun, wounding one officer.

"Distraught father" does not describe a man who would use his 19 month-old daughter as a shield. Try "cowardly punk".

In the latest shooting, police claimed Pena, 34, had ingested cocaine and alcohol before threatening his wife and stepdaughter and shooting wildly in the streets. The coroner's toxicology report is pending.

Pena, an illegal immigrant, had a history of drug abuse, authorities said.

A lawyer representing the slain girl's mother said the shootouts indicated possible training gaps.

"Did they follow proper police procedures? Were they trained properly? All of these questions have to be answered," attorney Luis Carrillo said.

Okay, I'll answer them--yes and yes! God, save us from lawyers.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Stronger winds or just another windbag?

A scientist claims he has data that links the recent trend of more powerful hurricanes to...you guessed it...global warming. According to The Seattle Times, scientist Kerry Emanuel has studied five decades of data (wow, that's practically ancient!) and noticed that the accumulated power of hurricanes has spiked in the last 10 years.

"The large upswing in the last decade is unprecedented and probably reflects the effect of global warming," Emanuel wrote in a study that is to be published Thursday in the journal Nature. Copies of the article were made available yesterday.

Probably, huh. That sounds pretty scientific to me. Interestingly, NOAA scientists such as Chris Landsea have also noticed this spike and what's more they have a name for it -- a cycle!

Landsea said the 1995-04 spike in accumulated hurricane power correlated precisely with the beginning of the period of increased hurricane formation.

"It's very difficult to separate out what's caused by this natural cycle of activity versus man-made warming," Landsea said.

But hey, why let that stop you? In fact, Mr. Emmanuel, you have inspired me. I have submitted my own study that looks at the big spike in environmental junk science over the past decade and finds a link between that and an increase in anti-capitalist, leftist kooks! The journal Nature has not yet gotten back to me.

NASA playing it safe

The Washington Post Reports that shuttle astronauts may have to make an unrehearsed spacewalk soon to repair a problem that NASA officials had previously dismissed as minor. A decision will be made today on whether to conduct the spacewalk "to eliminate a potential reentry hazard by removing two protruding bits of heat shielding on the belly of the shuttle Discovery".

NASA May Try Shuttle Repair

Filibuster this!

It's official now: Foxnews is reporting that President Bush has just appointed John Bolton as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Says the President:

"This post is too important to leave vacant any longer, especially during a war and a vital debate about U.N. reform. So today I've used my constitutional authority to appoint John Bolton to serve as America's ambassador to the United Nations," Bush said, with Bolton at his side, during an announcement in the Roosevelt Room of the White House.

"I am sending John to the U.N. with my complete confidence ... His mission now is to speak for me on critical issues facing the international community. And he'll make it clear that America values the potential of the United Nations to be a source of hope and dignity and peace," Bush said.

Bush also made reference to his detractors:

"Because of partisan delaying tactics by a handful of senators, John was denied the up or down vote that he deserves," Bush said Monday.

There you have it. Bush did what he had to do and sent a clear message to those who were undermining his efforts that he wasn't going to play. THAT is the "new tone" I'm talking about. Taking notes, Senator Frist?

This woman is impressive

The Washington Post published a great article on Condoleezza Rice today. As we might have expected, Condi is running the State Department with a firm hand and not taking any guff:

Three weeks after taking office, Condoleezza Rice hosted Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and their Japanese counterparts at the State Department. When Rumsfeld began to speak, Rice gently cut him off. The message was clear: I'll take the lead, Don. Both Japanese and U.S. officials noted the decisive nudge.

Now six months on the job, Rice has clearly wrested control of U.S. foreign policy. The once heavy-handed Defense Department still weighs in, but Rice wins most battles -- in strong contrast to her predecessor, Colin L. Powell. White House staff is consulted, but Rice designed the distinctive framework for the administration's second-term foreign policy.

In short order, she has demonstrated a willingness to bend on tactics to accommodate the concerns of allies without ceding on broad principles, what she calls "practical idealism." She also conducts a more aggressive personal diplomacy, breaking State Department records for foreign travel and setting up diplomatic tag teams with top staff on urgent issues.

U.S. foreign policy has always had "a streak of idealism, which means that we care about values, we care about principle," Rice said in an interview last week. "The responsibility, then, of all of us is to take policies that are rooted in those values and make them work on a day-to-day basis so that you're always moving forward toward a goal."

I sure hope this woman runs for President in 2008. I would pay to see a debate between her and Hillary (can you say "smackdown"?). It's a shame that more Blacks don't hold her up as a role model because she definitely does her race proud.

What's it gonna take to make these guys happy?

From USA Today:

JERUSALEM (AP) Israel will launch a massive ground operation if Palestinian militants fire on Israeli soldiers and settlers during next month's Gaza pullout, the deputy defense minister said Sunday.
In such a scenario, the evacuation of settlers would be halted for 10-14 days while Israeli forces occupy Palestinian towns near the Jewish settlements, Zeev Boim said.

Israel is set to evacuate all 21 Gaza Strip settlements and four more in the West Bank in mid-August. The pullout is set to last four weeks.

Maybe I'm a little confused, but isn't the Gaza withdrawal what the militants have been clamoring for all this time? Why kick the settlers while they're down? Well... if I were to wager a guess I would say it is because a pullout is not and was never what the militants actually wanted after all. What they really want is for all Jews to be pushed into the Red Sea and exterminated as a race. And since for some inexplicable reason that stipulation didn't make it's way onto the recent agreement, these guys are still...well... unhappy. Either that or they are just mad at the fact that they might have to find real jobs now.

Saudi King dies

King Fahd of Saudi Arabia, died today. On the one hand it is a big deal but on the other hand...big deal. While a noteworthy event, it likely won't have any effect on Saudi Arabia's current governing policies or their already shaky relationship with the United States. Crown Prince Abdullah has been the proxy ruler of that nation since Fahd's debilitating stroke in 1995.

Fahd's legacy is a mixed one. From the AP:

During his rule, the portly, goateed Fahd, who rose to the throne in 1982, inadvertently helped fuel the rise of Islamic extremism by making multiple concessions to hard-liners, hoping to boost his Islamic credentials. But then he also brought the kingdom closer to the United States and agreed to a step that enraged many conservatives: the basing of U.S. troops on Saudi soil after the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.

In his last years, Fahd was more of a figurehead than the actual ruler — so he was sidelined as the close relationship he nurtured with the United States deteriorated after the Sept. 11 attacks. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were Saudis, and many in the U.S. administration blamed kingdom's strict Wahabi school of Islam for fueling terrorism.

This is what happens when a leader doesn't lead. If you try to appease everyone and don't govern on strict principles, you breed discontent from all sides.

Fahd is survived by who knows how many wives and offspring and his age was said to be 84 though we do not know his exact birthdate. Can't those guys be straight with us on anything? Oh well, may he find rest in someone's bosom up there or however that works.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Dodd to Bush: Don't appoint Bolton (too late Sen. Dodd)

Now that he has no cards left, Senator Christopher Dodd has resorted to begging in a last ditch attempt to persuade President Bush not to appoint John Bolton as UN ambassador next week. According to CNN, Dodd is deeply troubled and urging Bush to reconsider:

"I would hope the president would think a little longer about this from his perspective," Dodd said on "Fox News Sunday." "I just think Mr. Bolton's the bad choice here. ... He's damaged goods. This is a person who lacks credibility."

"This will be the first U.N. ambassador since 1948 that we've ever sent there under a recess appointment," said Dodd, the senior senator from Connecticut.

It's the first time we've HAD TO do this since 1948, Sen. Dodd. You brought this on yourself when you and your colleagues blocked the nomination.

Democrats say Bolton does not have the diplomatic skills for the post, arguing he has dismissed the value of the United Nations and often intimidated subordinates until they agreed with his viewpoint.

And hopperbach says that Bolton DOES have the diplomatic skills for the post, arguing he has dismissed the value of the United Nations and often intimidated subordinates until they agreed with his viewpoint.

Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell appreciates these qualities as well:

"Bolton's exactly what the U.N. needs at this point. The president's right on the mark in picking him," McConnell said on "Fox News Sunday."

Amen. We need a bulldog dealing with these bureaucrats, not a chihuahua. Way to go Mr. President.