July 31, 2006
"I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. In my youth I travelled much, and I observed in different countries, that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer."
-- Benjamin Franklin (On the Price of Corn and Management of the Poor, November 1766)
Michael Totten, who lived in Lebanon for several months last year, has a somber post up about the current, and future, situation in Lebanon. He's not very optimistic.
When Israel and Hezbollah reach a ceasefire at last, round two of this conflict will commence in short order. No one knows if the Lebanese will be able to keep the gun out of politics after all that has happened. A tiny minority of Lebanese (with help from the remaining Syrian agents) can burn the country to the ground all over again.
“What will become of us?” is the question on everyone’s mind. No one can know what will happen after Israel lifts its siege and the temporary national unity flies apart into pieces. And it will fly apart into pieces. The only question is how far the pieces will fly and how hard they'll land.
Go read the whole thing. And pray for Lebanon.
Michael Yon has an excellent dispatch discussing jihad -- the lust for self-destruction and someone to blame.
The only common thread to all the violence described in this dispatch is militant Islam. Not Islam. Militant Islam. Militant Muslims around the globe are waging war against anything different, be it the Buddhists’ carvings destroyed by the Taliban in Afghanistan, the Hindus burned alive on trains in India, or Sunni against Shia in Iraq. This is not about Islam; this is not rooted in even a most fundamentalist reading of the Quran.
A thought-provoking read.
Thomas Nugent, over at NRO, takes a quick look at tax cuts and their effect on revenue. And he has a warning for us:
Given the recent data provided by Gov. du Pont and the logic of the Laffer curve, it is obvious that Democratic proposals to roll back President Bush’s tax cuts will do substantial harm to the economy.
Go read how he came to that conclusion.
July 30, 2006
"[T]he great Searcher of human hearts is my witness, that I have no wish, which aspires beyond the humble and happy lot of living and dying a private citizen on my own farm."
-- George Washington (letter to Charles Pettit, 16 August 1788)
Status report: Iraq
Some newly compiled statistics about Iraq by the Brookings Institute -- as reported by All Things Conservative.
More tax cuts!
Tom Nugent, over at NRO makes an excellent case for more tax cuts.
Today’s outsized tax-revenue stream should alert knowledgeable politicians to the fact that both corporations and individuals are still overtaxed. As I discussed in my previous column, the Laffer curve (pictured below) instructs us that lowering any tax rate in the “prohibitive zone” will produce higher tax revenues. So, even though the government is now benefiting from the 2003 tax-rate cuts, further reductions in marginal tax rates will in all likelihood produce even higher tax revenues.
Very informative article. Recommended.
Charles Krauthammer points out a double standard.
What other country, when attacked in an unprovoked aggression across a recognized international frontier, is then put on a countdown clock by the world and given a limited time window in which to fight back, regardless of whether it has restored its own security? What other country sustains 1,500 indiscriminate rocket attacks into its cities - every one designed to kill, maim and terrorize civilians - and is then vilified by the world when it tries to destroy the enemy's infrastructure and strongholds with precision-guided munitions that sometimes have the unintended but unavoidable consequence of collateral civilian death and suffering?[Emphasis is mine.]
Hearing the world pass judgment on the Israel-Hezbollah war as it unfolds is to live in an Orwellian moral universe. With a few significant exceptions (the leadership of the United States, Britain, Australia, Canada and a very few others), the world - governments, the media, UN bureaucrats - has completely lost its moral bearings.
The word that obviates all thinking and magically inverts victim into aggressor is "disproportionate," as in the universally decried "disproportionate Israeli response."
Highly, highly recommended. Really. You've got to read this column. Please.
Peggy Noonan asks some thoughtful questions about President Bush.
July 29, 2006
"This balance between the National and State governments ought to be dwelt on with peculiar attention, as it is of the utmost importance. It forms a double security to the people. If one encroaches on their rights they will find a powerful protection in the other. Indeed, they will both be prevented from overpassing their constitutional limits by a certain rivalship, which will ever subsist between them."
-- Alexander Hamilton (speech to the New York Ratifying Convention, 17 June 1788)
G. W. Bush -- the man
Sometimes those forwarded emails are true.
Mr. Vincent was undeniably present at the ceremony described, he has verified to us that he did indeed write this article, and other participants have given similar accounts of that day's events, so to that extent this item is true. However, since the last part of the article describes a private moment between Mr. Vincent and President Bush that took place with no one else (or only a few unidentified persons) present, we have no way of independently verifying that portion of the account.
I've reprinted the email below the fold.
It's worth reading -- even if you don't agree with our President's politics.
For those of us who sometimes find ourselves having doubts about our President, here is an excellent piece — worth every minute it takes to read it.
This is from a man, Bruce Vincent, from Montana who received an award from the President.
He writes: I've written the following narrative to chronicle the day of the award ceremony in DC. I'm still working on a press release but the White House press corps has yet to provide a photo to go with it. When the photo comes I'll ship it out. When you get done reading this you'll understand the dilemma I face in telling this story beyond my circle of close friends.
The moment with the President in the Oval Office was incredible. I want to protect the memory because it was an intensely private moment between two men. At the same time I'd like to share it on a broader scale because I'd like others to know what I know about the man sitting at the desk in the Oval Office. For now, I'll just tell it to you folks.
As you know, our efforts concerning the reintroduction of our rural, resource providing cultures to the ever more urbane society of our nation has been honored with an award from the President and First Lady Bush. Nominated by the Forest Service for the first ever Preserve America President's Award was our cultural exchange program Provider PalsT and our restoration of an abandoned CCC built Forest Service ranger station (Raven Ranger Station) for use as a learning center for students from throughout the nation that are now engaged in our cultural exchange. The award was given at a White House ceremony on Monday, May 3. Guests at the East Room ceremony (the Rose Garden was going to be used but it rained) included Secretary of Interior Gorton, Secretary of Agriculture Venneman, Undersecretary Mark Rey, Chief Bosworth, President's Advisory Council for Preserve America, and others. The East Wing was closed to the public for the event and those who attended enjoyed brunch and live chamber music.
Provider PalsT was able to bring members of our board of directors, staff from our partner Communities for a Great Northwest, our Kootenai Forest Supervisor and Forest Archaeologist, and two officials from our major sponsor Ford Motor Company. Thankfully, I was also able to bring PJ and all four children. In the East Room, Secretaries Venneman and Gorton spoke as did First Lady Bush and Preserve America's Chairman John Nau. The First Lady then gave autographed copies of a White House book to award winners in this ceremony and posed for pictures. When the ceremony concluded, the First Lady stayed for a bit in the Green Room and chatted and posed for pictures. She was then escorted outside to meet the President and board a Marine One helicopter waiting to whisk them off to the airport.
For me, however, the biggest event of the day had already happened when the East Room Ceremony started up. While the East Room ceremony was being prepared, the four national award winners and the entities that nominated them were taken to the Oval Office for the official award presentation by President Bush and First Lady Bush. There were eight of us in total. Stepping into the Oval Office, each of us was introduced to the President and Mrs. Bush. We shook hands and participated in small talk. When the President was told that we were from Libby, Montana, I reminded him that Marc Racicot is our native son and the President offered his warm thoughts about Governor Racicot.
I have to tell you, I was blown away by two things upon entering the office. First, the Oval Office sense of 'place' is unreal. The President later shared a story of Russian President Putin entering the room prepared to tackle the President in a tough negotiation and upon entering the atheist muttered his first words to the President and they were "Oh, my God." I concurred. I could feel the history in my bones. Second, the man that inhabits the office engaged me with a firm handshake and a look that can only be described as penetrating. Warm, alive, fully engaged, disarmingly penetrating. I was admittedly concerned about meeting the man.
I think all of us have an inner hope that the most powerful man in our country is worthy of the responsibility and authority that we bestow upon them through our vote. I admit that part of me was afraid that I would be let down by the moment — that the person and the place could not meet the lofty expectations of my fantasy world. This says nothing about my esteem for President Bush but just my practical realization that reality may not match my 'dream.'
Once inside the office, President Bush got right down to business and, standing in front of his desk, handed out the awards one at a time while posing for photos with the winners and Mrs. Bush. With the mission accomplished, the President and Mrs. Bush relaxed and initiated a lengthy, informal conversation about a number of things with our entire small group. He and the First Lady talked about such things as the rug in the office. It is traditionally designed by the First Lady to make a statement about the President, and Mrs. Bush chose a brilliant yellow sunburst pattern to reflect 'hope.' President Bush talked about the absolute need to believe that with hard work and faith in God there is every reason to start each day in the Oval Office with hope.
He and the First Lady were asked about the impact of the Presidency on their marriage and, with an arm casually wrapped around Laura, he said that he thought the place may be hard on weak marriages but that it had the ability to make strong marriages even stronger and that he was blessed with a strong one. When asked what the biggest challenge of the Presidency was, he talked about the daily frustration of partisan politics. 'This from a politician,' he said. He said that when he was elected he promised that he would do in DC what he had done in Texas and that was build alliances and coalitions that bridged party lines in order to move the nation forward. He had quickly learned that there are those in the nation's capital that would rather see the nation dismantled than work together to achieve a common good. That, he said is a bitter and continuing disappointment.
The President talked about the artwork and other items of interest in the room. For instance the desk he uses is the one that was given to the U.S. by Queen Victoria and used by FDR and JFK. In fact FDR had a front panel added to the desk to cover the mid section because FDR did not want the country to know he was in a wheelchair. President Bush laughed and said, "My how things have changed, FDR hid a wheelchair and if I eat a pretzel and get a tingle in my arm it's front page news around the globe." That little desk faux front is hinged by the way, and is the door that we all have seen John-John sticking his head from behind in the famous photo of JFK at work.
The President also noted that much of the artwork in the office is from Texas or about Texas. He said that it made sense for him to have it in his office because Texas is part of who he is. He talked about family and place and faith helping to build the person you end up being and noted that the Oval Office reflected who he is. He noted that it would be a mistake to come to the Oval Office and entertain a mission to 'find yourself.' He said that with all of the pressures and responsibilities that go with the job, you'd best know who you are when you put your nameplate on the desk in the Oval Office. He said he knows who he is and now America has had four years to learn about who he is. If they like what they see, he may have another four years. If not, then he may be going back to Texas.
After about 30 or 35 minutes, it was time to go. By then we were all relaxed and I felt as if I had just had an excellent visit with a friend. The President and First Lady made one more pass down the line of awardees, shaking hands and offering congratulations. When the President shook my hand I said, "thank you Mr. President and God bless you and your family." He was already in motion to the next person in line, but he stopped abruptly, turned fully back to me, gave me a piercing look, renewed the vigor of his handshake and said, "Thank you — and God bless you and yours as well."
On our way out of the office we were to leave by the glass doors on the west side of the office. I was the last person in the exit line. As I shook his hand one final time, President Bush said, "I'll be sure to tell Marc hello and give him your regards."
I then did something that surprised even me. I said to him, "Mr. President, I know you are a busy man and your time is precious. I also know you to be a man of strong faith and have a favor to ask you."
As he shook my hand he looked me in the eye and said, "Just name it."
I told him that my step-Mom was at that moment in a hospital in Kalispell, Montana, having a tumor removed from her skull and it would mean a great deal to me if he would consider adding her to his prayers that day.
He grabbed me by the arm and took me back toward his desk as he said, "So that's it. I could tell that something is weighing heavy on your heart today. I could see it in your eyes. This explains it."
From the top drawer of his desk he retrieved a pen and a note card with his seal on it and asked, "How do you spell her name?" He then jotted a note to her while discussing the importance of family and the strength of prayer. When he handed me the card, he asked about the surgery and the prognosis. I told him we were hoping that it is not a recurrence of an earlier cancer and that if it is they can get it all with this surgery.
He said, "If it's okay with you, we'll take care of the prayer right now. Would you pray with me?" I told him yes and he turned to the staff that remained in the office and hand motioned the folks to step back or leave.
He said, "Bruce and I would like some private time for a prayer."
As they left he turned back to me and took my hands in his. I was prepared to do a traditional prayer stance — standing with each other with heads bowed. Instead, he reached for my head with his right hand and pulling gently forward, he placed my head on his shoulder. With his left arm on my mid back, he pulled me to him in a prayerful embrace. He started to pray softly. I started to cry. He continued his prayer for Loretta and for God's perfect will to be done. I cried some more. My body shook a bit as I cried and he just held tighter. He closed by asking God's blessing on Loretta and the family during the coming months.
I stepped away from our embrace, wiped my eyes, swiped at the tears I'd left on his shoulder, and looked into the eyes of our President. I thanked him as best I could and told him that me and my family would continue praying for he and his.
As I write this account down and reflect upon what it means, I have to tell you that all I really know is that his simple act left me humbled and believing. I so hoped that the man I thought him to be was the man that he is. I know that our nation needs a man such as this in the Oval Office.
George W. Bush is the real deal. I've read Internet stories about the President praying with troops in hospitals and other such uplifting accounts. Each time I read them I hope them to be true and not an Internet perpetuated myth. This one, I know to be true. I was there. He is real. He has a pile of incredible stuff on his plate each day - and yet he is tuned in so well to the here and now that he 'sensed' something heavy on my heart. He took time out of his life to care, to share, and to seek God's blessing for my family in a simple man-to-man, father-to-father, son-to-son, husband-to-husband, Christian-to-Christian prayerful embrace.
He's not what I had hoped he would be. He is, in fact, so very, very much more.
Or a message from God?
In Ireland, a worker digging with an excavator in a peat bog to package potting soil uncovered an ancient book of psalms, 20 pages long, and very well preserved.
And what was the book opened to?
The book was found open to a page describing, in Latin script, Psalm 83, in which God hears complaints of other nations’ attempts to wipe out the name of Israel.
UPDATE: It turns out that, though the book was open to Psalm 83, the psalms were numbered differently in the eighth century, so the passage that the book was opened to is actually Psalm 84 in modern bibles. Allahpundit over at Hot Air has more on this story.
“The Director of the National Museum of Ireland … would like to highlight that the text visible on the manuscript does not refer to wiping out Israel but to the ‘vale of tears’,” the museum said.
The vale of tears is in Psalm 84 in the King James version.
Still apropos, I'm thinking . . .
The UN seeks to legitimize terrorism?
Alan M. Dershowitz, over at the Chicago Tribune, has an op-ed describing how the UN legitimizes terrorists. Here's how he begins:
If anyone wonders why the UN has rendered itself worse than irrelevant in the Arab-Israeli conflict, all he or she need do is read UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's July 20 statement. Annan goes to great pains to suggest equal fault and moral equivalence between the rockets of Hezbollah and Hamas that specifically target innocent civilians and the self-defense efforts by Israel, which tries desperately, though not always successfully, to avoid causing civilian casualties. In his statement, Annan never condemns, or even mentions, terrorism, which is a root cause and precipitator of the conflict.
And there is a lot more. There exists a U.N. track record -- supporting Mr. Dershowitz's contention -- that is decades long. Highly recommended.
July 28, 2006
"Happily for America, happily, we trust, for the whole human race, they pursued a new and more noble course. They accomplished a revolution which has no parallel in the annals of human society."
-- James Madison (Federalist No. 14, 20 November 1787)
Tribute to the 9/11 2996
There is an effort going on by bloggers to honor the 2996 victims of the murderous attacks on 9/11/2001 on the fifth anniversary this year. If you have a blog, and you would like to support this effort by honoring one of the 2996, then click here.
Thank you. It is a worthy cause, and more help is needed!
Existential -- not political
Zeev Avrahami, an Israeli peace activist in the past, has an op-ed up at Spiegel Online about how Israel is fighting for its very existence.
Today, I am convinced that Israel is fighting a justified war. Far from being an "optional war," this conflict was forced upon us. There is a feeling that every positive step taken in recent years has been answered by punishment. Now we are prepared to do whatever it takes to turn Israel into a safe place, even if this means invading Lebanon once again. We also want to sip coffee and play backgammon. We've had enough of rockets from the north and south and suicide bombers from everywhere. We also want to lead a normal life, just like the people in New York, Berlin or Rome who don't have to look up every time a stranger enters their favorite cafe.
Please read the whole thing.
[Hat tip to Captain Ed.]
Don't believe everything you see on CNN
CNN’s senior international correspondent Nic Robertson is backpedaling from his story last week about Israel bombing civilians in Lebanon.
Challenged by Reliable Sources host (and Washington Post media writer) Howard Kurtz on Sunday, Robertson suggested Hezbollah has “very, very sophisticated and slick media operations,” that the terrorist group “had control of the situation. They designated the places that we went to, and we certainly didn't have time to go into the houses or lift up the rubble to see what was underneath,” and he even contradicted Hezbollah’s self-serving spin: “There's no doubt that the [Israeli] bombs there are hitting Hezbollah facilities.”
Why didn't Robertson say that in his report? Why isn't CNN broadcasting a retraction/correction to that story?
[Hat tip to Betsy's Page.]
Israel: A historical perspective
Michael Medved, over at Townhall.com provides a history of Israel in defense of that nation's right to exist.
In order to place these realities in proper perspective, it’s first necessary to reject some thirty years of wildly irresponsible anti-Israel propaganda. First of all, it’s not true in any sense that the modern Jewish State ever supplanted or destroyed an existing nation of “Palestine.” From the time of definitive destruction of the ancient Jewish commonwealth in 70 A.D., the land that comprises the current State of Israel never enjoyed independent existence but, rather, passed back and forth among competing world empires—Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Crusader, Mamaluke, Ottoman and British. Over the course of more than 1,800 years, no nation with the name “Palestine” appeared on any maps, anywhere. The distinguished Arab-American historian Philip Hitti, professor at Princeton University, testified to the Anglo American Committee in 1946: ‘There is no such thing as ‘Palestine’ in history, absolutely not.”
It well worth reading.
The Proportionality Fallacy
Ed Morrissey does a good job of discussing the absudity of 'proportional response'.
To use a crude analogy, if someone is stupid enought to bring a knife to a gunfight, it doesn't mean that those holding the guns have a moral obligation to fight with knives instead. Proportionality demands exactly that, and it leads to nothing but longer and more destructive wars. Part of the reasons nations build strong militaries is to deter people from committing aggressive acts against them. The United States did not build the military it has just to provide "proportionate" reponse. Such a limitation would invite any tinpot dictator or kleptocrat to attack us, knowing that we would only respond in proportion to their ability to attack. It makes every fight even-up from the beginning, odds that would encourage a lot more fighting, not less.
Go read the whole thing.
CNN: Soft on terrorism?
Mary Katherine Ham has a thought-provoking post up at the Townhall Blog about CNN's apparent softness about Hezbollah and terrorism.
Look, I do youth ministry with a group called Young Life. It's a great Christian group that brings spirit[u]al guidance, mature friendship, and quite often, Cheetos and pizza and trips to Six Flags, to high-school kids all over the nation.
Great organization, right? Well, imagine if a good segment of us Young Life leaders was more than pleased to strap plastic explosives around our waists in the name of Jesus and kill whichever high-school kids didn't accept Christ into their lives. What if our stated mission were to support the Christian kids with pizza and Cheetos and to detonate anyone who believed differently than us? What if we encouraged other Christian high-school kids to do the same to their friends who weren't Christians?
Kinda puts things in proper perspective, doesn't she? The only problem I see with her arguments is that I do NOT see terrorist leaders strapping the explosives on themselves -- they strap them on others.
Go read the rest.
July 27, 2006
"Millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute."
-- Rep. Robert Goodloe Harper, Chairman, Ways and Means Committee (Address, 18 June 1798)
How to help the poor
Go read how that conclusion was reached . . .
PR advice for Israel
PR specialist and military historian, Ned Barnett, gives Israel some advice on good public relations. He concludes with this:
Following this approach, Israel would have at least a fighting chance of winning the PR war. As it stands now, by playing word-games with the anti-Israeli, left-leaning mainstream media, and by putting what seems to be a very foreign face on the news by using heavily-accented spokesmen who just don’t “look” American, Israel may be winning the war against Hezbollah, but they are increasingly losing the war for American support. The major US media are no friends of Israel. If that plucky country is to overcome this built-in deficit, they’ve got to fight back using tools and techniques that work, even in the face of opposition by the American media.
Go read the rest . . .
Milton & Rose
Tunku Varadarajan, editorial features editor of The Wall Street Journal, talks about a delightful interview with economists Milton and Rose Friedman.
I've reprinted it in the extended entry.
The Romance of Economics
Milton and Rose Friedman: Dinner with Keynes? Yes. War with Iraq? They disagree.
BY TUNKU VARADARAJAN
Saturday, July 22, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT
PALO ALTO, Calif.--One doesn't interview a man like Milton Friedman--the Nobel laureate in economics in 1976 and among the five or six most consequential thinkers of the 20th century--without doing some assiduous homework.
So I gathered his books--reading some, re-reading others--and made pages and pages of notes. I also emailed several intellectual heavyweights, asking them what they might enquire of Mr. Friedman--now 94 years of age--if they had him cornered at a cocktail party. Replies flooded back. "Inflation targeting," wrote a (marginally) younger Nobel economist. "Education," said another Nobel laureate. "Does the recent record of spending with a Republican president and Congress make him reconsider his support for the party?" wrote a man who, until a while ago, worked on economic policy in the White House. "Is there something distinctly difficult for capitalism in the Islamic world?" wondered a Middle East scholar. "What music does he listen to?" a Democratic political economist mused, unpredictably. More predictably, a big-cheese blogger was "dying" to know whether "Milton reads blogs--and will he ever write one?"
Everyone had a question--and many had more than one (an economist in Chicago had 10). For Milton Friedman is everyone's idea of an American oracle, an American sage.
Sages, of course, have their oddities, and the interview last week--at Mr. Friedman's surprisingly petite office at the Hoover Institution, on the campus of Stanford University--got off to a surreal beginning. By his desk hangs a map of Belize--one of those stylized souvenirs made of cloth, embroidered to catch the eye. Why, I asked him, did he have a map of Belize on his wall? Mr. Friedman turned, looked at the object, and said: "I don't know. I really don't know." Not a good start to the interview, some might say; so I asked, by way of ice-breaker, whether he was keeping well. "Oh, yes!" was the spirited reply. "But my wife has gone through a session of shingles, and she's not quite through it." Here, he paused, and asked: "Have you had shingles yet?"
Maladies behind us, we moved to economics, and here I made a reflexive apology for not being an economist myself. "You mean you're not a trained economist," was Mr. Friedman's comeback. "I have found, over a long time, that some people are natural economists. They don't take a course, but they understand--the principles seem obvious to them. Other people may have Ph.D.s in economics, but they're not economists. They don't think like an economist. Strange, but true."
Was Keynes a "natural economist"? "Oh, yes, sure! Keynes was a great economist. In every discipline, progress comes from people who make hypotheses, most of which turn out to be wrong, but all of which ultimately point to the right answer. Now Keynes, in 'The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money,' set forth a hypothesis which was a beautiful one, and it really altered the shape of economics. But it turned out that it was a wrong hypothesis. That doesn't mean that he wasn't a great man!"
It cannot be said of too many economists that they "altered the shape of economics." Would Mr. Friedman say--modesty aside--that he was one of them? A long silence ensued--modesty, clearly, was hard to put aside--before he mumbled, as if squeezing words out of himself, "Er . . . very hard to say . . ." And then he was saved by the belle: The door opened, and in walked Rose, his wife, bringing a waft of panache into the drab office, her impact enhanced by a beautiful mink coat--worn, it should be said, on a late afternoon when it was 80 degrees outside. "It will be very cold tonight," she forecast with a shiver. The Friedmans were dining al fresco that night--along with 1,200 others at the Stanford quad--and Rose had come prepared for the mercury to plummet to, oh, the late 60s. "It's a crazy time to have a dinner outside!"
Mrs. Friedman settled herself in a chair, her eyes twinkling, and my questioning resumed. If they were to throw a small dinner party--indoors!--for Mr. Friedman's favorite economists (dead or alive), who'd be invited? Gone was his tonguetied-ness of a moment ago, as he reeled off this answer: "Dead or alive, it's clear that Adam Smith would be No. 1. Alfred Marshall would be No. 2. John Maynard Keynes would be No. 3. And George Stigler would be No. 4. George was one of our closest friends." (Here, Mrs. Friedman, also an economist of distinction, noted sorrowfully that "it's hard to believe that George is dead.")
Had it helped their marriage--now in its 68th year--that they are both economists? Rose (nodding affirmatively): "Uh-unh. But I don't argue with him . . . very much." Milton (guffawing): Don't believe her! She does her share of arguing . . ." Rose (interrupting): ". . . and I'm not competitive, so I haven't tried to compete with you." Milton (uxoriously): "She's been very helpful in all of my work. There's nothing I've written that she hasn't gone over first."
The spark between the Friedmans is clear, and rather touching. So I'm tempted to ask whether there is a romantic side to economics, in the way there is to history, or to philosophy. "Is there a romantic side to economics?" Mr. Friedman repeats after me, sounding incredulous, and then chuckling. "No, I don't think so. There's a romantic side to economics in the same way there's a romantic side to physics. Fundamentally, economics is a science, like physics, like chemistry. . . . It's a science about how human beings organize their cooperative activities." Was that his preferred definition of economics? "Well, the standard definition is the study of how a society organizes its resources. In that sense, it's not particularly romantic."
Is immigration, I asked--especially illegal immigration--good for the economy, or bad? "It's neither one nor the other," Mr. Friedman replied. "But it's good for freedom. In principle, you ought to have completely open immigration. But with the welfare state it's really not possible to do that. . . . She's an immigrant," he added, pointing to his wife. "She came in just before World War I." (Rose--smiling gently: "I was two years old.") "If there were no welfare state," he continued, "you could have open immigration, because everybody would be responsible for himself." Was he suggesting that one can't have immigration reform without welfare reform? "No, you can have immigration reform, but you can't have open immigration without largely the elimination of welfare.
"At the moment I oppose unlimited immigration. I think much of the opposition to immigration is of that kind--because it's a fundamental tenet of the American view that immigration is good, that there would be no United States if there had not been immigration. Of course, there are many things that are easier now for immigrants than there used to be. . . ."
Did he mean there was much less pressure to integrate now than there used to be? Milton: "I'm not sure that's true . . ." Rose (speaking simultaneously): "That's the unfortunate thing . . ." Milton: "But I don't think it's true . . ." Rose: "Oh, I think it is! That's one of the problems, when immigrants come across and want to remain Mexican." Milton: "Oh, but they came in the past and wanted to be Italian, and be Jewish . . ." Rose: "No they didn't. The ones that did went back."
Mrs. Friedman, I was learning, often had the last word.
With Mr. Friedman, personal questions are often inextricable from the currents of history. How did he cope, I ask, with the great opposition to his views in and out of the economics profession during much of his active career? And how does it feel to have gone from being a person reviled in certain quarters as Evil, to one revered across the world?
Milton (suppressing a laugh): "I don't think I was ever regarded as 'evil.' " Rose (alluding to the protests that followed him everywhere, especially after he gave economic advice to the Pinochet regime): "It was very difficult to go to the colleges . . ." Milton: "I remember a fellow who came to see me from Harvard or somewhere. . . . He wanted to see 'that devil from the West'!" Rose: "Harvard probably still feels that way!"
Here, Mr. Friedman explains "the story of the postwar period" in the U.S. "In 1945-46, intellectual opinion was almost entirely collectivist. But practice was free market. Government was spending something like 20%-25% of national income. But the ideas of people were all for more government. And so from 1945 to 1980 you had a period of galloping socialism. Government started expanding and expanding and expanding." Mr. Friedman stopped, as if deciding whether to use the word "expanding" a fourth time, before continuing: "And government spending went from 20% to 40% of national income.
"But what was happening in the economy was producing a reverse movement in opinion. Now people could see, as government started to regulate more, the bad effects of government involvement. And intellectual opinion began to move away from socialism toward capitalism. That, in my view, was why Ronald Reagan was able to get elected in 1980." I noted, here, that Mr. Friedman, too, had some role to play in this shift in opinion. He was, characteristically, reluctant to take any credit. "I think we have a tendency to attribute much too much importance to our own words. People saw what was happening. They wouldn't have read my Newsweek columns and books if the facts on the ground hadn't been the way they were." (Rose: "Oh, don't be so modest!")
Does it disappoint Mr. Friedman that the Bush administration hasn't been able to roll back spending? "Yes," he said. "But let's go back a moment. During the 1990s, you had the combination that is best for holding down spending. A Democrat in the White House and Republicans controlling Congress. That's what produced the surpluses at the end of the Clinton era, and during the whole of that era there was a trend for spending to come down. Then the Republicans come in, and they've been in the desert, and so you have a burst of spending in the first Bush term. And he refuses to veto anything, so he doesn't exercise any real influence on cutting down spending. In 2008, you may very well get a Democratic president"--(Rose, interjecting: "God forbid!")--"and if you can keep a Republican House and Senate, you'll get back to a combination that will reduce spending."
Mr. Friedman here shifted focus. "What's really killed the Republican Party isn't spending, it's Iraq. As it happens, I was opposed to going into Iraq from the beginning. I think it was a mistake, for the simple reason that I do not believe the United States of America ought to be involved in aggression." Mrs. Friedman--listening to her husband with an ear cocked--was now muttering darkly.
Milton: "Huh? What?" Rose: "This was not aggression!" Milton (exasperatedly): "It was aggression. Of course it was!" Rose: "You count it as aggression if it's against the people, not against the monster who's ruling them. We don't agree. This is the first thing to come along in our lives, of the deep things, that we don't agree on. We have disagreed on little things, obviously--such as, I don't want to go out to dinner, he wants to go out--but big issues, this is the first one!" Milton: "But, having said that, once we went in to Iraq, it seems to me very important that we make a success of it." Rose: "And we will!"
Mrs. Friedman, you will note, had the last word.
Mr. Varadarajan is editorial features editor of The Wall Street Journal.
[Used with permission from OpinionJournal.com, a web site from Dow Jones & Company, Inc.]
Still more good news from Iraq
Bill Crawford has his latest progress report on Iraq up at NRO.
A recent story about the 500 WMDs found in Iraq since its liberation ignores the other findings:
> Former weapons inspector David Kay declared on Oct. 2, 2003, that U.S. personnel discovered “a vial of live C. botulinum Okra B. from which a biological agent can be produced.”
> In January 2004, according to a New York Sun editorial published that June 1, a block of cyanide salt popped up in Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s Baghdad safe house.
> On May 2, 2004, U.S. forces in Iraq found a mustard-gas shell, rigged as an improvised explosive device. The Iraq Survey Group sent in by coalition forces to find WMD dismissed this as “ineffective” due to improper storage. Of course, the effectiveness of Saddam’s weapons was not the issue.
> “The Iraqi Survey Group confirmed today that a 155-millimeter artillery round containing sarin nerve agent had been found,” also reworked as an explosive device, Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt told reporters that May 15. Two soldiers exposed to the device “displayed ‘classic’ symptoms of sarin exposure,” Fox News reported.
> Weapons sleuth Charles Duelfer told Fox News on June 24, 2004: “We found, you know, 10 or 12 sarin and mustard rounds.”
> That July 6, the Department of Energy announced that a joint effort with the Pentagon removed 1.77 metric tons of low-enriched uranium from Iraq “that could potentially be used in a radiological dispersal device or diverted to support a nuclear weapons program.”
And there's much more.
July 26, 2006
"It is impossible for the man of pious reflection not to perceive in it [the Constitution] a finger of that Almighty hand which has been so frequently and signally extended to our relief in the critical stages of the revolution."
-- James Madison (Federalist No. 37, 11 January 1788)
Calling a spade, a spade
John Bolton is showing refreshing clarity in his defense of Israel's action in Lebanon.
"I think it's important that we not fall into the trap of moral equivalency here," Ambassador John Bolton told CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer."
"What Hezbollah has done is kidnap Israeli soldiers and rain rockets and mortar shells on innocent Israeli civilians. What Israel has done in response is act in self-defense. And I don't quite know what the argument about proportionate force means here. Is Israel entitled only to kidnap two Hezbollah operatives and fire a couple of rockets aimlessly into Lebanon?
"The situation is that Israel has lived under the terrorist threat of Hezbollah for years, and these most recent attacks have given it the legitimate right, the same right America would have if we were attacked, to deal with the problem. And that's what they're doing."
[Hat tip to My Pet Jawa.]
July 25, 2006
"Man, once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against absurdities the most monstrous, and like a ship without rudder, is the spot of every wind. With such persons, gullability, which they call faith, takes the helm from the hand of reason and the mind becomes a wreck."
-- Thomas Jefferson (letter to James Smith, 8 December 1822)
For those who are unclear about the difference between Israeli soldiers and Hizbollah terrorists, this illustration should help clarify the concept.
Hat tip to My Pet Jawa.
“I have no interest in diplomacy for the sake of returning Lebanon and Israel to the status quo ante."
-- Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice
Civilians or combatants?
Alan Dershowitz, over at the L.A. Times, does a good job of pointing out that the Hizbollah terrorists in Lebanon are being aided and abetted by 'civilians',. Therefore, he argues, we should be careful of equating all civilians with innocents.
There is a vast difference — both moral and legal — between a 2-year-old who is killed by an enemy rocket and a 30-year-old civilian who has allowed his house to be used to store Katyusha rockets. Both are technically civilians, but the former is far more innocent than the latter. There is also a difference between a civilian who merely favors or even votes for a terrorist group and one who provides financial or other material support for terrorism.
He's not trying to justify civilian casualties here, he's just trying to point out that there is no clear line delineating innocent civilians from civilians who are actively aiding the terrorists. Recommended.
July 24, 2006
"Responsibility, in order to be reasonable, must be limited to objects within the power of the responsible party, and in order to be effectual, must relate to operations of that power, of which a ready and proper judgment can be formed by the constituents."
-- Alexander Hamilton and James Madison (Federalist No. 63, 1788)
July 23, 2006
"The republican is the only form of government which is not eternally at open or secret war with the rights of mankind."
-- Thomas Jefferson (Letter to William Hunter, 11 March 1790)
File this one under what I want for Christmas.
War can further the cause of peace
Thomas Sowell has an insightful op-ed up at Townhall in which he points out that war and the threat of war promotes peace, yet peace movements encourage war. Sounds like he's got it backwards, doesn't it? Well, here is some of his thinking on the subject:
Take the Middle East. People are calling for a cease-fire in the interests of peace. But there have been more cease-fires in the Middle East than anywhere else. If cease-fires actually promoted peace, the Middle East would be the most peaceful region on the face of the earth instead of the most violent.
Was World War II ended by cease-fires or by annihilating much of Germany and Japan?
Highly recommended reading.
July 22, 2006
"The moral precepts delivered in the sacred oracles form a part of the law of nature, are of the same origin and of the same obligation, operating universally and perpetually."
-- James Wilson (Of the Law of Nature, 1804)
The cause of the chaos in the Middle East
Mohammed Fadhil, an Iraqi parliamentarian and a blogger in Baghdad, has an essay in which he asserts that Iran is behind both the long-lasting insurgency in Iraq and the recent terrorist attacks in Israel.
This is worth reading.
I've reprinted it in the extended entry.
No More Half-Solutions
Iran is the cause of chaos in Lebanon and Iraq.
BY MOHAMMED FADHIL
Tuesday, July 18, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT
BAGHDAD--In spite of what we are facing here every day I find myself, just like many others, so attached to following what's going on between Israel and Lebanon and that's mostly because of the close resemblance between the two cases.
In both cases we see a weak government suffering to control a powerful militia that is challenging the will of the rest of the country and engaging in a proxy war making the people suffer the results of regional conflicts that in no way can benefit their country.
The other reason why I'm closely following this ongoing crisis is that the powers involved in this conflict between Lebanon and Israel are closely connected to the powers fighting in Iraq and we here believe that the battle over there will have an impact on the situation here in one way or another.
It's still very difficult for people here to predict how this crisis is going to end especially that politics mix with ideology in a complex way in this region, however there's a general sense that the fires of war are going to spread to the rest of the region but still no one here can see the way this bigger war is going to end.
This comes from the nature of strategy adopted by the fighting powers and here I'm talking about the Arabic/Islamic component whose strategy relies on keeping a crisis open and always on reaching half-solutions to enable the leaderships to retain their positions--of course this also means keeping the countries of the region behind of the rest of the world and I see the same strategy being employed this time.
Iran proved that it's able to drag the region into a state of chaos by maneuvering its tools in Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas and the militias in Iraq. Iran knows that such a conflict directed by militias that blend with civilians will lead to long-lasting chaos and represents a half-solution that debilitates the other powers and at the same time it's not a costly tactic for Iran! One hundred million dollars in the hands of gangs is enough to cause a lot of destruction that cannot be cured by billions in reconstruction, and it always costs less to destroy than to build.
The key point in this strategy is to keep the half-solution alive. This method proved successful in keeping the despotic regimes in power for decades and these regimes think this strategy is still valid. What makes them this way is their interpretation of international comments which came almost exactly as they always do; calls for restraint and urging a cease-fire which they (Iran and her allies) think will mean eventually going back to negotiations which they know very well how to keep moving in an empty circle.
That was clear from Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, secretary general of Hezbollah, earlier speech when he said "whether today or a month or a year from now, the Israelis will sooner or later find themselves forced to negotiate." Of course Mr. Nasrallah did not talk about the rest of his hidden policy which is provoking another crisis once the first one cools down.
The same is going to happen in Iraq if the situation does not change from the way it is today and maybe one day the Iraqi south will be similar to the Lebanese south and we will probably see the militias embarrass the country with "adventures" just like Mr. Nasrallah is doing now, that's of course is what nobody here wants to see; nobody but Iran.
The question is did Iran make the right calculations this time? And is the world willing to accept more of those half-solutions? I don't think so.
Trying to play the same scenario and adopt the same policies over and over again will bring undesirable outcomes for Iran this time and I can see that there's an Israeli determination to break the cycle; the thing is that Israel does not have to deal with the problem that America has to deal with; Israel does not have the political brakes that view the war in different ways. I mean to Israel this war is about existence and that's why Israel is going to go as far as it takes to secure this existence while the geographically-distant Americans view it differently and the attitude of some Americans who feel that this war is not that serious is understood.
But I do think that it is time to be decisive for one important reason; those who direct the conflict in the region do not seek a solution and even if America looks geographically far right now, one should not forget that technology will not allow her to remain so in the future and I think dealing with conventional arsenals today is better than to deal with nukes in the future and that's the threat the world is going to face as long as religion mixes with politics in the Middle East.
The hesitation of the international community can be so dangerous and the intentions of the axis of terror are so clear. That's why firm and resolute measures have to be undertaken against Syria and Iran who are directly responsible for the mess in Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine.
Mr. Fadhil, along with his brother Omar, runs Iraq the Model, a blog based in Baghdad.
Agreement on immigration reform
Michael Medved has an enlightening article up at Townhall that reveals broad agreement on immigration reform in America.
On two of the three key elements of reform, public opinion is nearly unanimous. Americans of every ethnicity and every political perspective agree that we need both stronger efforts to block illegal crossings at the border, and more vigorous enforcement of laws against employers who knowingly hire millions of undocumented workers.
The rest is well worth reading. Recommended.
Standing up the Iraqi Army
Their infantry skills aren't perfect. Iraqis carry their weapons every which way, and they enter buildings like horses out of the gate, often bumping into one another. American units drill urban movement to exhaustion; Iraqi squads may discuss it over sweet chai tea. Yet, when they search a building, they confidently rip detonation cords from under rugs and blasting caps from corners and belt-fed ammunition from hidden cupboards. Iraqis find in minutes all kinds of suspicious or incriminating items that even a polished American unit would have missed.
July 21, 2006
"Happily for America, happily, we trust, for the whole human race, they pursued a new and more noble course. They accomplished a revolution which has no parallel in the annals of human society."
-- James Madison (Federalist No. 14, 20 November 1787)
No cease fire
Jed Babbin, a deputy undersecretary of defense in the George H.W. Bush administration and currently contributing editor and author, asserts that a cease fire between Israel and Hezbollah is the wrong thing to do. And he gives some good reasons to back that assertion.
I've reprinted it in the extended entry.
A cease-fire in Lebanon is a terrible idea.
BY JED BABBIN
Wednesday, July 19, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and British Prime Minister Tony Blair want to send an international force to separate Israel from Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon. Mr. Blair said a U.N. force should be sent to "stop the bombardment coming over into Israel and therefore [give] Israel a reason to stop its attacks on Hezbollah." Mr. Annan said such a force could "pursue the idea of stabilization." But their idea assumes, first, that a cease-fire would protect those worthy of protection and, second, that restoring the region's antebellum "stability" would promote long-term peace. Both assumptions are utterly false.
Hezbollah is not some small, ragged band scattered around Lebanon. It is a huge terrorist structure, built over decades, that includes thousands of men, weapons, positions, offices and everything that enables it to control southern Lebanon. Israel is now destroying that infrastructure. A cease-fire would benefit Hezbollah and threaten Israel. It would protect both Hezbollah and the nations that support it--Syria and Iran--as well as the Lebanese who have accepted the terrorist organization as a legitimate part of their government. A cease-fire would allow Hezbollah to rebuild its power base and enable it to resume its attacks whenever Damascus and Tehran desired. For Israel, a U.N. force would create no security whatever against future attacks.
The U.N.'s years-long record on the Israel-Lebanon border makes mockery of the term "peacekeeping." On page 155 of my book, "Inside the Asylum," is a picture of a U.N. outpost on that border. The U.N. flag and the Hezbollah flag fly side by side. Observers told me the U.N. and Hezbollah personnel share water and telephones, and that the U.N. presence serves as a shield against Israeli strikes against the terrorists.
The Israeli response to the attack by Lebanon-based Hezbollah terrorists was much more violent and effective than Hezbollah, Iran or Syria expected. The Olmert government failed to make any significant response to previous raids from Gaza and Lebanon, which encouraged both terrorist regimes. The Syrian and Iranian regimes practice brinksmanship as their foreign policy. They attack as often as they can in as aggressive a manner as they believe will not trigger a decisive response. Iran wanted to distract the G-8 summit from agreeing to do anything about its nuclear weapons program, so it apparently told its Hezbollah surrogates in Lebanon that the time was ripe to begin a major offensive.
The Hezbollah attacks began about two weeks after Israel suffered the usual international condemnations for its response to the Gaza-based Hamas kidnapping of an Israeli soldier. Even after the Gaza incursion, Iran and Syria--emboldened by international condemnation of Israel's "disproportionate" response--were convinced that Israel would do no more than make token raids into Lebanon. For the first time, Israel has acted in accordance with what used to be President Bush's theory: that a government that contains, supports or harbors terrorists is responsible for their actions. Israel is now demonstrating that there is a price to be exacted from nations who collaborate with terrorists. The reason Israel must not agree to a cease-fire now, and why a U.N. force must be rejected is the fact that the Arab nations may be starting to open their eyes.
An emergency Cairo meeting of the 18 Arab League nations' foreign ministers last weekend produced the most significant event in the region since Saddam Hussein fell from power. These meetings are routine, held in crises or for political posturing and on every occasion before last weekend have resulted in condemnation of Israel and the United States. This meeting began with the Lebanese Foreign Minister Fawzi Salloukh proposing a resolution condemning Israel's military action and supporting Lebanon's "right to resist occupation by all legitimate means" (which even the Associated Press report characterized as "language frequently used by Hezbollah to justify its guerillas' presence in south Lebanon"). The Lebanese draft also called on Israel to release all Lebanese prisoners and supported Lebanon's right to "liberate them by all legitimate means." The "Lebanese prisoners" are virtually all Hezbollah members and "legitimate means" translates to terrorism. The Syrian foreign minister, Walid Moallem, strongly supported Lebanon and Hezbollah. But a historic obstacle was raised that blocked the Lebanese endorsement of terrorism.
The Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, led a triumvirate including Egypt and Jordan that, according to the AP report, was "criticizing the guerilla group's actions, calling them 'unexpected, inappropriate and irresponsible acts.' " Prince Faisal said, "These acts will pull the whole region back to years ago, and we simply cannot accept them." These are the rumblings that precede a political earthquake. The Arab leaders are afraid that the acts of the terrorists they have coddled for decades might have consequences for them. And they are very frightened of what Iran may do next. We must reinforce those fears because they provide the first big lever with which those nations can be moved.
The Arab foreign ministers apparently have the glimmerings of a lesson dawning in their minds. The U.S. veto of a U.N. resolution condemning Israeli action makes clear that if Israel imposes consequences for support of terror, the U.S. will not stand in the way. Punishing Lebanon for its government's acceptance of Hezbollah is one step. The next logical step would be punishing Syria and then Iran. If President Bush means to implement the policy he has pronounced, he wouldn't merely get out of Israel's way. He would lead. Instead of criticizing Mr. Annan and asking him to call Bashar Assad to pressure Syria to "cut this sh-- out," he should find a more reliable messenger. The name of Peter Pace comes to mind.
The Iranians and Syrians are apparently urging Hezbollah to intensify this battle in the coming days. Many more missiles and suicide bombers will be used against Israel. And the Israelis will continue their attacks in Lebanon and Gaza. If we pressure the Israelis to call a halt to action prematurely, the hope that rose from the Arab ministers' meeting will be dashed, and the lesson taught that there is still no penalty for supporting, succoring and ordering terrorists to do their work. If we continue to reject a cease-fire, and openly encourage Israel to deal a decisive blow to Hezbollah, then Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan will understand the lesson is quite the opposite. For Syria and Iran, the lesson will have to be applied directly.
Mr. Babbin was a deputy undersecretary of defense in the George H.W. Bush administration. He is a contributing editor of The American Spectator and author of "Showdown: Why China Wants War With the United States" (with Edward Timperlake, Regnery 2006) and "Inside the Asylum: Why the U.N. and Old Europe Are Worse Than You Think" (Regnery 2004). This article appears on RealClearPolitics.com.
Rachel Neuwirth has an interesting essay up at The American Thinker about learning from our past.
Today the buzzword crowd seems more concerned about restraining Israel than in defeating the Islamic terrorists that want to complete Hitler’s goal of exterminating all Jews. How times have changed. Then, the survival of millions of Jews was of little concern to the nations. Today the same powers fear that the Jews are defending themselves too vigorously.
Go read the whole thing. It's worth the time.
Austin Bay has an interesting column up at StrategyPage that discusses what is needed to halt rocket fire from a hijacked state.
In the past week, 1,400 rockets have hit Israeli cities, most from firing positions inside Lebanon.
But now for the layer of complexity: Hezbollah hides these weapons among apartment houses and in villages, nesting rockets in Lebanese neighborhoods.
Hezbollah controls these neighborhoods -- not the Lebanese government.
In other words, Israel suffers rocket attacks from a Lebanon that "is not quite Lebanon" in a truly sovereign sense. The rockets, of course, come from "somewhere," but Hezbollah's "somewhere" is a political limbo in terms of maps with definitive geo-political boundaries. Lebanon is a peculiar form of failed state. It's not the madhouse of Somalia or the impoverished dreg of Zimbabwe, rather, Lebanon is a hijacked state.
Go read the whole thing.
A stem-cell scam?
Michael Fumento provides a stinging rebuttal to Science's latest advocacy of embroyonic stem-cell research.
Food for thought.
Daveed Gartenstein-Ross has posted a strategic analysis of any Israeli incursion into Lebanon.
It is critical to understand the strategic implications of the Israeli incursion into Lebanon. Hizballah has proven to be a far more effective fighting machine than Israel anticipated, and the Israelis find themselves in a difficult situation: Continued military operations in Lebanon risk escalation and further destabilization, while a quick withdrawal would hand Hizballah a significant victory. This blog entry analyzes the most salient strategic considerations.
July 20, 2006
"The circumstances that endanger the safety of nations are infinite, and for this reason no constitutional shackles can wisely be imposed on the power to which the care of it is committed. "
-- Alexander Hamilton (Federalist No. 23, 17 December 1787)
Austin Bay gives a good rundown of the current Noncombatant Evacuation Operation (NEO) being conducted by the US Navy and Marines in Lebanon.
The presence of Hezbollah-operated Iranian anti-ship missiles makes this NEO particularly dicey.
Four days to assemble an evacuation fleet and move it into a war zone is rapid action. It does not appear that way with 24/7 news which relies on a constant stream of sensational headlines. Carping on a microphone is easy. Providing perspective is more difficult. Remember, the Navy is conducting combat operations as well as training operations.
Go read the rest.
Hizbollah's ball bearings
Michael Kraft comments on a report about Hizbollah deliberately adding ball bearings to their rockets' payloads in order to maximize civilian casualties.
In a rather unusual story, the Reuters new agency reported that the Human Rights Watch criticized Hezbollah’s practice of packing ball bearings into the rockets it fires at Israel as a violation of international humanitarian law and probable war crimes.
The Reuters report said that some of the Kutyusha rockets fired into Haifa Sunday and Monday contained hundreds of metal ball bearings that are of limited use against military targets but “cause great harm to civilians and civilian property. The ball bearings lodge in the body and cause serious harm.”
This is just another indication that Hizbollah is just trying to indiscriminately kill, maim, and destroy.
IDF in Lebanon
Bill Roggio has an analysis of the likelihood of a full-scale invasion into Lebanon.
Israeli leaders continue to signal they do not intend to launch major ground operations to hunt and destroy Hezbollah in southern and deeper into the Bekaa Valley in the east and north. The Washington Times reports on an exchange between MSNBC's Chris Matthews and Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres.MSNBC's Chris Matthews asked Peres what would "cause you to take ground troops into either Lebanon on a sustained basis, or into Syria?"
"Nothing whatever," Peres replied. "We don't intend to enter Lebanon from the ground. The danger today is not an exchange of power on the ground but really the missiles and the rockets, we should try to stop it."
Go read the rest.
A case for Israel
In an editorial by Ahmed Al-Jarallah, Editor-in-Chief of the Arab Times, a case is made in support of the Israeli actions against Hizbollah.
People of Arab countries, especially the Lebanese and Palestinians, have been held hostage for a long time in the name of “resisting Israel.” Arab governments have been caught between political obligations and public opinion leading to more corruption in politics and economics. Forgetting the interests of their own countries the Hamas Movement and Hezbollah have gone to the extent of representing the interests of Iran and Syrian in their countries. These organizations have become the representatives of Syria and Iran without worrying about the consequences of their action.
Implementing Resolution 1559
Charles Krauthammer has an interesting op-ed up at washingtonpost.com wherein he maintains that Israel has a golden opportunity in Lebanon.
There is crisis and there is opportunity. Amid the general wringing of hands over the seemingly endless and escalating Israel-Hezbollah fighting, everyone asks: Where will it end?
The answer, blindingly clear, begins with understanding that this crisis represents a rare, perhaps irreproducible, opportunity.
Every important party in the region and in the world, except the radical Islamists in Tehran and their clients in Damascus, wants Hezbollah disarmed and removed from south Lebanon so that it is no longer able to destabilize the peace of both Lebanon and the broader Middle East.
July 19, 2006
"Human nature itself is evermore an advocate for liberty. There is also in human nature a resentment of injury, and indignation against wrong. A love of truth and a veneration of virtue. These amiable passions, are the "latent spark"... If the people are capable of understanding, seeing and feeling the differences between true and false, right and wrong, virtue and vice, to what better principle can the friends of mankind apply than to the sense of this difference?"
-- John Adams (the Novanglus, 1775)
Further evidence of WMD
Captain Ed has a post up that provides a translation of one of the Iraqi documents captured during and immediately after Operation Enduring Freedom. The document details information about where non-Iraqi intelligence agencies believed Iraqi WMD was located. The kicker is that this document is an order to move the WMD to other locations and cites the foreign intelligence as reason for the move.
We were informed by one of our sources working abroad, that foreign intelligence is working to obtain information about some military and scientific targets in the Country. The undercover source provided us with a map of the targets, for which he was assigned to gather information during his visit to the Country. For the purpose of pointing out the enemy’s interest, and to enable you to maneuver by changing the locations of these targets, in order to foil enemy’s plans, we hereby list the following:
Michael Oren describes the necessary steps for Israel to take to secure its borders.
Efforts by the United States, the United Nations and the European Union to dissuade Iran and Syria from activating their terrorist agents have consistently proved ineffective. Therefore Israel has no realistic option but to convince these states that the price of promoting aggression is prohibitive. If Israeli soldiers and civilians are the targets of Iranian- and Syrian-backed terror, then the Iranian and Syrian militaries must become targets for Israel.
Scary, huh? But it's beginning to look like the only way. Recommended reading.
A touching story about an Afghani man who knotted a rug for President Bush.
July 18, 2006
"The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time; the hand of force may destroy, but cannot disjoin them."
-- Thomas Jefferson (Summary View of the Rights of British America, August 1774)
More reason for a wall
In order to help protect our outgunned law enforcement officers.
"This type of incident is a very good example of why I will not allow my deputies to patrol the river banks or the levees anywhere close to the river," he said. "We do have drug trafficking gangs, human trafficking gangs, that will not hesitate to fire at us."
And the occasional armed raid across the border.
Hamas and Hezbollah are not good neighbors
Brigitte Gabriel, over at the Lebanese Foundation for Peace, provides another viewpoint on the struggle against Hamas and Hezbollah. It's not just an Israeli struggle.
No matter how much the west avoids facing the reality of Islamic extremism of the Middle East, the west cannot hide from the fact that the same Hamas and Hezbollah that Israel is fighting over there, are of the same radical Islamic ideology that has fomented carnage and death through terrorism that America and the world are fighting. This is the same Hezbollah that Iran is threatening to unleash in America with suicide bomb attacks if America tries to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapon. They have cells in over 10 cities in the United States. Hamas, has the largest terrorist infrastructure on American soil. This is what happens when you turn a blind eye to evil for decades, hoping it will go away.
To defend a nation
Charles Krauthammer has a penetrating analysis up about why Israel fights. For its very life.
Hezbollah has done to South Lebanon exactly what Hamas has done to Gaza: turned it into a military base and terrorist operations center from which to continue the war against Israel. South Lebanon bristles with Hezbollah's 10,000 Katyusha rockets that put northern Israel under the gun. Fired in the first hours of fighting, just 85 of these killed two Israelis and wounded 120 in Israel's northern towns.
There is so much more. Read the whole thing.
July 17, 2006
"There can be no greater error than to expect, or calculate upon real favours from Nation to Nation. 'Tis an illusion which experience must cure, which a just pride ought to discard."
-- George Washington (Farewell Address, 19 September 1796)
Another alarming report from the ecoEnquirer:
(Hastings, Nebraska) Residents of parts of "Tornado Alley" are experiencing yet another consequence of global warming: a severe shortage of tornadoes.
In the thirty county warning area of Nebraska and north-central Kansas served by the Hastings National Weather Service office, there has not been a single confirmed tornado for the first six months of this year. Such a tornado drought has not been experienced in this region in over 50 years.
July 16, 2006
"Whatever enables us to go to war, secures our peace."
-- Thomas Jefferson (letter to James Monroe, 24 October 1823)
Not a pleasant prospect
Michael Ledeen has an op-ed up at NRO in which he is connecting the dots between Syria, Iran, Hizbollah in Lebanon, and Hamas in Palestine. The resultant picture is not pretty.
I don’t think it is worth our time and energy to try to answer the “why now?” except to agree with Allahpundit who remarked that there does seem to be something special about dates numbered “11.” The important thing to keep in mind is that both the Gaza and northern Israel attacks were planned for quite a while, which means that Iran wanted this war, this way. It isn’t just a target of opportunity or a sudden impulse; it’s part of a strategic decision to expand the war.
Mr. Ledeen makes some very serious claims in this column. Claims that we all need to evaluate.
Congress is not omniscient
Walter Williams has a very interesting op-ed up at Townhall about what our legislators don't know may be very important to legislation -- and they don't know a lot of stuff. Here's how he begins:
One of the great contributions of Nobel Laureate economist Friedrich Hayek was to admonish us to recognize the insurmountable limits to human knowledge. Why? Not even the brightest minds, and surely not the U.S. Congress, can ever have the knowledge to shape an economic system entirely to our liking. To think we can represents the height of arrogance and a pretense of knowledge. The billions upon billions of interrelationships between an economic system's human and non-human elements defy human capacity to know.
July 15, 2006
"Those gentlemen, who will be elected senators, will fix themselves in the federal town, and become citizens of that town more than of your state."
-- George Mason (speech in the Virginia Ratifying Convention, 14 June 1788)
OpinionJournal has an op-ed up that describes the current federal revenue bonanza and the reasons behind it.
I've reprinted it in the extended entry. Recommended.
Soaking the Rich
Guess who is paying more in taxes now?
Wednesday, July 12, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT
Yesterday's political flurry over the falling budget deficit shows that even Washington can't avoid the obvious forever: to wit, the gusher of revenues flowing into the Treasury in the wake of the 2003 tax cuts. The trend has been obvious for more than a year (see our May 23, 2005, editorial, "Revenues Rising"), but now it's so large that Republicans are trying to take credit while Democrats explain it away.
Republicans do deserve some credit, though not exactly the way they're claiming. Democrats are right that the White House February estimate of a $423 billion budget deficit in Fiscal Year 2006 was inflated, perhaps to be able to claim progress later this election year. Also not very important is the White House claim that it has already met its second-term goal of "cutting the deficit in half." That was always a minor and political ambition.
The real news, and where the policy credit belongs, is with the 2003 tax cuts. They've succeeded even beyond Art Laffer's dreams, if that's possible. In the nine quarters preceding that cut on dividend and capital gains rates and in marginal income-tax rates, economic growth averaged an annual 1.1%. In the 12 quarters--three full years--since the tax cut passed, growth has averaged a remarkable 4%. Monetary policy has also fueled this expansion, but the tax cuts were perfectly targeted to improve the incentives to take risks among businesses shell-shocked by the dot-com collapse, 9/11 and Sarbanes-Oxley.
This growth in turn has produced a record flood of tax revenues, just as the most ebullient supply-siders predicted. In the first nine months of fiscal 2006, tax revenues have climbed by $206 billion, or nearly 13%. As the Congressional Budget Office recently noted, "That increase represents the second-highest rate of growth for that nine-month period in the past 25 years"--exceeded only by the year before. For all of fiscal 2005, revenues rose by $274 billion, or 15%. We should add that CBO itself failed to anticipate this revenue boom, as the nearby table shows. Maybe its economists should rethink their models.
Remember the folks who said the tax cuts would "blow a hole in the deficit?" Well, revenues as a share of the economy are now expected to rise this year to 18.3%, slightly above the modern historical average of 18.2%. The remaining budget deficit of a little under $300 billion will be about 2.3% of GDP, which is smaller than in 17 of the previous 25 years. Throw in the surpluses rolling into the states, and the overall U.S. "fiscal deficit" is now economically trivial.
This would all seem to be good news, but some folks are never happy. The same crowd that said the tax cuts wouldn't work, and predicted fiscal doom, are now harrumphing that the revenues reflect a windfall for "the rich." We suppose that's right if by rich they mean the millions of Americans moving into higher tax brackets because their paychecks are increasing.
Individual income tax payments are up 14.1% this year, and "nonwithheld" individual tax payments (reflecting capital gains, among other things) are up 20%. Because of the tax cuts, the still highly progressive U.S. tax code is soaking the rich. Since when do liberals object to a windfall for the government?
The other favorite line of critics yesterday was summed up by North Dakota Democrat Kent Conrad, who said the deficit would still "explode" in the long term because of the "coming retirement of the baby boom generation." But this is a political bait-and-switch. When Senator Conrad had the chance to do something about the "long term" by reforming Social Security in 2005, he refused. But now that the tax cuts he opposed are reducing the short-term deficit, he's back to fretting about the long term. At least Mr. Conrad is consistent in wanting a tax increase.
There surely is a long-term budget problem, driven largely by fast-growing entitlements for seniors. Federal spending is still climbing by 8.6% this year, with Medicare alone growing at an astonishing rate of 15.5%, or $33 billion in the first nine months of this fiscal year (which ends September 30). Thank the GOP prescription drug benefit for that future taxpayer burden. The only solution to the entitlement problem, short or long term, is to reform both Medicare and Social Security.
As for the 2003 tax cuts, the current revenue boom is one more argument for making them permanent. They are now set to expire in 2010, and, even if they are extended, federal revenues will continue to climb as a share of GDP as more taxpayers earn higher incomes and move into higher tax brackets. If liberal Democrats are really determined to soak the rich--and we don't doubt it for a second--they'll also vote to make the tax cuts permanent.
[Used with permission from OpinionJournal.com, a web site from Dow Jones & Company, Inc.]
Iraq: A Status Report
Posted by Wretchard, these are the remarks presented by Iraqi Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad to the Center for Strategic and International Studies on 11 July, 2006 about Iraq's current status and plans.
I will give my bottom line up front. I believe Americans, while remaining tactically patient about Iraq, should be strategically optimistic. Most important, a major change - a tectonic shift - has taken place in the political orientation of the Sunni Arab community. A year ago, Sunni Arabs were outside of the political process and hostile to the United States. They boycotted the January 2005 election and were underrepresented in the transitional national assembly. Today, Sunni Arabs are full participants in the political process, with their representation in the national assembly now proportional to their share of the population. Also, they have largely come to see the United States as an honest broker in helping Iraq's communities come together around a process and a plan to stabilize the country.
Go read the whole speech.
July 14, 2006
"Remember, my Eliza, you are a Christian."
-- Alexander Hamilton (speaking to his grieving wife before facing Aaron Burr in a duel, 7/12/1804)
There be dragons
Michael Yon has an interesting dispatch up at his site about our impending success in Iraq, and the very real possibility of failure in Afghanistan.
The population of Afghanistan is significantly larger than that of Iraq: about 26 million in Iraq, 31 million in Afghanistan. Yet the roughly 21,000 troops in Afghanistan (according to Combined Forces Command — Afghanistan,) are exceeded by the number of troops in Iraq by a factor of about seven. The Coalition and NATO have so few troops in Afghanistan that wide swaths are left totally ungoverned and uncontrolled.
Perhaps we should start increasing troop levels in Afghanistan as we decrease them in Iraq. It sounds like we have quite a bit of unfinished business there.
Mr. Yon's article is quite lengthy, but it is an even-handed and insightful treatment of the issues that he has seen while over there. Highly recommended.
Thomas Sowell has an op-ed up about how the media rushes to judgement when it comes to our troops.
The same newspapers and television news programs that are constantly reminding us that some people under indictment "are innocent until proven guilty" are nevertheless hyping the story of American troops accused of rape in Iraq, day in and day out, even though these troops have yet to be proven guilty of anything.
Go read the rest.
John Stossel has an op-ed up at Townhall that provides some rational balance to the discussion about global warming. Here's how he starts:
When he was in college, atmospheric-science professor John Christy was told, "it was a certainty that by the year 2000, the world would be starving and out of energy."
That prediction has gone the way of so many others. But environmentalists continue to warn us that we face environmental disaster if we don't accept the economic disaster called the Kyoto treaty. Lawyers from the Natural Resources Defense Council (another environmental group with more lawyers than scientists) explain: "Sea levels will rise, flooding coastal areas." And Al Gore's new movie, "An Inconvenient Truth," depicts a future in which cities are submerged by rising sea levels.
But many scientists laugh at the panic.
Go read the rest.
July 13, 2006
"The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time; the hand of force may destroy, but cannot disjoin them."
-- Thomas Jefferson (Rights of British America, 1774)
Milestone in Iraq
It's under the fold.
A Joint Statement by Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and Gen. George Casey
Embassy of United States of America Press Release
July 13, 2006
BAGHDAD – Iraq witnessed a historic event today with the transfer of security responsibility in Muthanna Province from the Multi-National Force - Iraq (MNF-I) to the Provincial Governor and civilian-controlled Iraqi Security Forces. The handover represents a milestone in the successful development of Iraq’s capability to govern and protect itself as a sovereign and democratic nation. Muthanna is the first of Iraq’s 18 provinces to be designated for such a transition.
As Prime Minister Maliki announced on June 19, 2006, the joint decision between the Iraqi government and MNF-I to hand over security responsibility is the result of Muthanna’s demonstrated abilities to take the lead in managing its own security and governance duties at the provincial level. The transition decision also reflects a joint assessment of the overall threat situation in Muthanna, the capabilities of the ISF there and the provincial leadership’s ability to coordinate security. Transition teams are in place to smooth the transfer process and multi-national forces will stand ready to provide assistance if needed.
With this first transition of security responsibility, Muthanna demonstrates the progress Iraq is making toward self-governance. Several other provinces are close to meeting the criteria necessary to assume security independence. The Iraqi government and the Multi-National Force will continue to transfer security responsibilities in other provinces in Iraq as conditions are achieved.
Australian, Japanese, and the United Kingdom forces have assisted Muthanna authorities as models of international cooperation, providing economic and humanitarian assistance as well as security and stability. As Iraq develops and its needs continue to evolve, so too will the nature of international assistance to Iraq in Muthanna and elsewhere.
The United States will provide $10 million in order to enhance the quality of life for the citizens of Muthanna as they take a bold and courageous step forward in the country’s movement toward an independent and secure nation. This event represents significant progress by the Government of Iraq to achieve a constitutional, democratic, and pluralistic Iraq which guarantees the rights of all citizens.
Israel attacks Lebanon
BEIRUT, Lebanon - Israel intensified its attacks against Lebanon on Thursday, blasting Beirut's airport in its heaviest air campaign against its neighbor in 24 years. Four dozen civilians had died in the violence following the capture of two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah, officials said.
Ed Morrissey rebuts Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh's editorial in The Washington Post. He points out the double-standards and duplicity that seem to be SOP in communications from Hamas and other terror organizations.
Thomas Sowell has a thought-provoking op-ed up at Townhall wherein he makes some very good points in opposing amnesty for illegal aliens.
No small part of the outrage over the immigration issue came from people's sense that their intelligence was being insulted by those they elected.
The biggest insult was the endlessly repeated claim that illegal aliens "take jobs that Americans won't take." Even in agriculture, where illegal aliens have their biggest impact, three quarters of the workers are not -- repeat, not -- illegal aliens.
In some particular localities, some particular work may be done primarily by illegal aliens. But that does not mean that this work would go undone without them. More pay attracts more people.
New York's mayor Michael Bloomberg is still pushing the line that there would be economic collapse without illegal immigrants. But, despite the scary picture of 12 million illegals being suddenly deported, the cold fact is that 12 million young Americans in the prime of life were removed from our economy to go into the military during World War II and the economy did not collapse.
Mr. Sowell has a way of getting to the roots of an issue. Recommended.
Sadrists in Baghdad
Mohammed, over at Iraq The Model, has a sober post up about how the Sadrists in Baghdad are looking more like Hamas in Iraq.
July 12, 2006
"A penny saved is twopence clear."
-- Benjamin Franklin (Poor Richard's Almanack, 1737)
Psychopathy in Palestine
Dr. Sanity has a thoughtful and enlightening post about how psychopathic characteristics are being inculcated in Palestinian children. And elsewhere in the Middle East. Islam seems to be the key.
Islam has become toxic, infusing the entire Middle East with a culture inimical to not just the 50% who are female; but equally to the half who are male and consider themselves "superior". Children are raised in a misogynist family and cultural environment and the young boys are thus encouraged to hatred and violence. This has been going on for decades among the Palestinians in particular; but everywhere the jihad mindset has spread it cancerous message.
This is well worth your time to read. Even if you do not agree with it all, she makes some good points.
Bordering on environmental disaster
Bridget Johnson has an article in USA Today about how drug smugglers and illegal immigrants are trashing our land. One more compelling reason to secure our borders. Here's how she starts:
Every time I go down to the Mexican border, I'm struck by a down and dirty realization: This beautiful land looks like a dump. Recently I was at a waist-high border vehicle barrier in a valley northeast of Tecate, Baja California. As far as the eye could see, strewn past barbed wire or collecting knee-deep in culverts, were water bottles, food wrappers, used paper products such as toilet paper and maxi pads, even felt shoe covers designed to obscure tracks.
From California to Texas, illegal immigrants and drug runners leave such calling cards on their trek north.
I recommend you read the rest.
Again, good news from Iraq
Bill Crawford's latest compilation of good news from Iraq provides information that is not widely publicized. But it is important for a balanced perspective.
We begin this installment with a brief overview of the positive trends seen in Iraq over the last few weeks. The media frenzy over Zarqawi’s death is over now, and the only news being reported out of Iraq these days is car bombs and accusations against our soldiers. But that is not the whole story.
On the economic front, Iraqi-oil output is now at its highest level since the liberation:Iraq’s new oil minister offered an optimistic forecast for the country’s oil industry on Sunday, saying daily production has reached 2.5 million barrels a day and that Iraq hoped to rival top oil exporter Saudi Arabia within a decade.Iraq expects its daily oil production to reach 2.6 million to 2.7 million barrels per day (bpd) by the end of the year, rising to about 4 million bpd by 2010, and 6 million bpd by 2012, Hussain al-Shahristani said in an interview on CNN’s “Late Edition.”
Go read the whole thing. It is well worth the time.
July 11, 2006
"Knowledge is, in every country, the surest basis of public happiness."
-- George Washington, First Annual Message January 8, 1790
Another reason I like and respect him
President Bush took a jog Tuesday with a soldier who lost part of both legs in Iraq, following through on a bedside promise even the president had doubts about at the time.
Despite a slight drizzle, Bush and Staff Sgt. Christian Bagge took a slow jog around a spongy track that circles the White House’s South Lawn. About halfway through their approximately half-mile run, Bush and Bagge paused briefly for reporters.
“He ran the president into the ground, I might add,” Bush said, as the two gripped hands in an emotional, lengthy shake. “But I’m proud of you. I’m proud of your strength, proud of your character.”
How to treat terrorists
Ralph Peters dives right in and speaks truth to political correctness about the treatment of terrorists. And he makes some good points.
We need to clarify the rules of conflict. But integrity and courage have fled Washington. Nobody will state bluntly that we're in a fight for our lives, that war is hell, and that we must do what it takes to win.
Our enemies will remind us of what's necessary, though. When we've been punished horribly enough, we'll come to our senses and do what must be done.
This isn't an argument for a murderous rampage, but its opposite. We must kill our enemies with discrimination. But we do need to kill them. A corpse is a corpse: The media's rage dissipates with the stench. But an imprisoned terrorist is a strategic liability.
Nor should we ever mistreat captured soldiers or insurgents who adhere to standing conventions. On the contrary, we should enforce policies that encourage our enemies to identify themselves according to the laws of war. Ambiguity works to their advantage, never to ours.
Our policy toward terrorists and insurgents in civilian clothing should be straightforward and public: Surrender before firing a shot or taking hostile action toward our troops, and we'll regard you as a legal prisoner. But once you've pulled a trigger, thrown a grenade or detonated a bomb, you will be killed. On the battlefield and on the spot.
Isn't that common sense? It also happens to conform to the traditional conduct of war between civilized nations. Ignorant of history, we've talked ourselves into folly.
Go read the whole thing.
[Hat tip to Jack Kelly at Irish Pennants.]
July 10, 2006
"No people will tamely surrender their Liberties, nor can any be easily subdued, when knowledge is diffusd and Virtue is preservd. On the Contrary, when People are universally ignorant, and debauchd in their Manners, they will sink under their own weight without the Aid of foreign Invaders."
-- Samuel Adams, letter to James Warren November 4, 1775
Economic food for thought
David Malpass, chief economist for Bear, Stearns, is concerned about inflation.
I don’t agree with the Fed’s sense that inflation expectations are contained. The best indicator is gold, which, at $600 per ounce, is 72 percent above its 10-year moving average. The market prefers gold to a 5.25 percent yielding U.S. dollar, a strong vote against the dollar and in favor of inflation.
Petrodependency and funding terrorism
Victor Davis Hansen makes some good points about the war on terror.
One of his points really struck a chord with me:
Another undercurrent to this war is the abject failure to do anything about imported petroleum — the hundreds of billions that accrued to the Middle East and Gulf when petroleum skyrocketed from $30 to $70 a barrel. Without such excesses of free-floating and impossible-to-trace petrodollars, bin Laden, Zawahiri, and Al-Zarqawi would have remained clownish portraits on the pathetic street posters of a Jericho or Zarqa. Instead, we are indirectly paying for their IEDs.
The truth is that as long as American petroleum demand, coupled with restrictions on our own energy development, helps drive the world oil price up, we are simply funding psychopaths who otherwise would have no viable economic means of support. Without Saudi petrol money, Wahhabism, the godhead of Islamic fascism, devolves into just another localized lunatic sect. So we talk seriously about new alternative energy, and seriously do nothing — in the vain hope that the price soon collapses or, barring that, we can stop the guy on a motorbike in Damascus or Ramadi from delivering millions in cash satchels from Saudi financiers to al Qaeda killers.
Yet, when the fifth anniversary of this war approaches this September, we are no closer to energy independence than we were in 2001. There is no better proof of this than our continual appeasement of rich sheiks who have ensured that the venom of their own incoherent imams reaches billions.
If America were to stop having to import oil products from overseas, our foreign policy could be firmer versus those countries who weild their petroleum politically. Also, the overabundance of petrodollars floating around would be greatly reduced, thus putting a squeeze on such "luxuries" as funding terrorism. Finally, the price of oil would plummet, thus bringing down profit-margins and reducing further the resources available to support terrorism.
By greatly reducing or eliminating our dependence on oil, this country could seriously damage the terrorists' financial support.
And we can all take part in that. So why not show your patriotism by advocating development of alternative sources of energy (ANWR, nuclear/wind/geothermal/solar power) and by reducing your consumption of energy -- and show countries like Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, and Iran what our economic muscle can do.
July 09, 2006
"Such will be the relation between the House of Representatives and their constituents. Duty gratitude, interest, ambition itself, are the cords by which they will be bound to fidelity and sympathy with the great mass of the people."
-- James Madison (Federalist No. 57, 19 February 1788)
The Arab-Israeli war, current edition
Charles Krauthammer has an op-ed in Time that provides a more rational perspective about the current manifestation of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
So in 2005 the Palestinians are given Gaza, free of any Jews. Do they begin building the state they say they want, constructing schools and roads and hospitals? No. They launch rockets at civilians and dig a 300-yard tunnel under the border to attack Israeli soldiers and bring back a hostage.
And this time the terrorism is carried out not by some shadowy group that the Palestinian leader can disavow, however disingenuously. This is Hamas in action--the group that was recently elected to lead the Palestinians. At least there is now truth in advertising: a Palestinian government openly committed to terrorism and to the destruction of a member state of the U.N. openly uses terrorism to carry on its war.
It's about choices. And it's about the avowed goal of the eradication of the nation of Israel.
Why is Israel an exception?
Victor Davis Hanson asks a lot of thought-provoking questions about why Israel is always a special exception in international politics.
What explains most of the world's dislike of Israel?
Since Israeli settlers withdrew from Gaza in 2005, Palestinian terrorists have replied by consistently shooting homemade Qassam rockets at civilian targets inside Israel. Just recently, they've kidnapped a soldier and a hitchhiker (who has been killed) - and promised to do the same to others.
You'd expect these terrorist attacks on Israel to be viewed by responsible nations as similar to the jihadist violence we read about daily around the world - radical Islamists beheading Russian diplomats over Chechnya, plotting to do the same to the Canadian prime minister or threatening murder over insensitive Danish cartoons.
But that isn't the case at all. Israel is always seen as a special exception that somehow deserves what it gets.
Other states can retaliate with impunity, brutally killing thousands of Muslim terrorists, while Israel is condemned when it takes out a few dozen.
Most recently we've seen this when the newly formed U.N. Human Rights Council issued its first, and so far only, mandate -- by putting Israel permanently on the agenda of all future meetings. And this is in spite of much more blatant human rights violations going on in Darfur, China, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and North Korea. Ann Bayefsky discusses those:
In Darfur, there are three quarters of a million people beyond humanitarian reach, 2.5 million people displaced by the violence, 385,000 people in immediate risk of starvation, and over two million dead in 22 years of violence and deprivation. But it wasn’t genocide in Sudan that interested the Human Rights Council. Nor was it a billion Chinese without civil and political rights. Not 13 million women in Saudi Arabia whose lives depend on hiding from sight in public places and never being caught behind the wheel of an automobile. Not the dire human-rights conditions of 23 million people in North Korea. Not Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s incitement to genocide or his country’s legal system, which includes crucifixion, stoning and amputation.
Ms. Bayefsky summarizes with absolute clarity:
The original mission of the U.N. was rooted in the legacy of the Holocaust, the shield of “never again,” and the lance of human-rights protection. We are witnesses to the hijacking of the Organization to serve the purveyors of bigotry and hate.
I recommend you read both articles.
[Hat tip to Betsy Newmark.]
July 08, 2006
"Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe."
-- Thomas Jefferson (letter to Charles Yancey, 6 January 1816)
Daniel Freedman at The New York Sun has a post up about French investigators interviewing prisoners at Guatanamo Bay about terrorist operations in France.
What? Those at Guantanamo might have information necessary to prevent future attacks? Who would have thought.
[Via Captain's Quarters.]
A duty of care
Jonathan Gurwitz has an enlightening article up at OpinionJournal about some great efforts going on to provide help to our wounded warriors and their families. As is said in the article:
"Don't use the word charity with regard to the military," Arnold Fisher declares passionately. "This is duty."
This touched my heart.
I've reprinted it in the extended entry.
Intrepid Fallen Heroes
"This is Americans doing for Americans."
BY JONATHAN GURWITZ
Thursday, July 6, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT
SAN ANTONIO--"I want to get back to active duty," Staff Sgt. Steve Bosson told me in May. "I want to go back to my unit."
Two years earlier, the native of York, S.C. had been on a rocket denial mission west of Baghdad with Delta Troop, 9th Cav, 1st Cavalry Division. After an ambush and a firefight with insurgents, Mr. Bosson went to secure an RPG launcher lying near a wounded fighter. The launcher was booby-trapped. When he picked up the weapon, a grenade exploded, shredding his left leg.
Today, Mr. Bosson is at Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. After more than 50 surgeries, he is fitted with a prosthesis and near the end of his rehabilitation process. On Friday, he was scheduled to go in for yet another revision surgery.
Since the fall of 2001, BAMC has treated more than 2,300 casualties from Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. The trauma center is heartbreakingly filled with the mangled and burned bodies of young Americans. For the wounded, the love and care of family members is indispensable. The painful rehabilitation process is made more bearable by the presence of loved ones. And many times, that would not be possible were it not for Fisher Houses, like the one where I met Steve Bosson.
Fisher Houses are homes away from home for the families of wounded service members. They were born from a discussion in 1990 between the late Zachary Fisher, New York developer and philanthropist, and Pauline Trost, wife of Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Carlisle Trost. Mrs. Trost, who was a volunteer at Bethesda Naval Hospital, relayed the story of a sailor sleeping in his car because he couldn't afford a hotel room while his wife was recuperating from surgery. The account inspired Mr. Fisher and Adm. Trost to begin a bureaucratic fight to create an innovative partnership between government and private philanthropy.
Slashing through red tape, the first Fisher House opened in Bethesda eight months later. Today, 35 Fisher Houses are in operation, all but two in the U.S. Three more are under construction: two additional facilities in San Antonio to accommodate a lengthy waiting list of families at BAMC, and another in Tampa.
All this has been accomplished entirely with private funds from the Fisher family and from corporate and individual donations. The Pentagon proffers land to the Fisher House Foundation (fisherhouse.org) for the construction phase. When the houses are complete, the foundation turns them back over to the Department of Defense for operation and maintenance.
"We don't want government money," says Arnold Fisher, Zachary Fisher's nephew and the driving force behind the Fisher family's efforts. "This is Americans doing for Americans."
Bill White, a director of the Fisher House Foundation and president of the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, another of the Fisher family's philanthropic endeavors, says the houses have saved military families in excess of $70 million. In addition to offering housing, the foundation has partnered with the Hero Miles program to provide airline tickets for the families of wounded service members. Fisher House Foundation travel agents have booked more than 7,000 flights.
The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund (fallenheroesfund.org) evolved from Zachary Fisher's desire to provide financial assistance to the families of service members killed in the line of duty. Without fanfare, Mr. Fisher and his family directed assistance to dependents of military personnel killed in the USS Iowa explosion, the Gulf War, the bombings of the Khobar Towers and the USS Cole, along with other military operations.
After Sept. 11, 2001, the Fisher family established the fund and opened it to public donations. Grants of $10,000 went out to the widows and widowers of military personnel who lost their lives in Afghanistan, $5,000 to their children. At the time, the U.S. government military combat death benefit was only $6,000.
Congress raised the death benefit to $12,420 in 2003 and $100,000 last year. With the U.S. government finally providing respectable compensation, the board of directors of the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund took on an even more ambitious project. The extraordinary number of catastrophic injuries from the war on terror has created a critical need for long-term rehabilitative care.
Progress on a $10 million Military Amputee Training Center at Walter Reed Army Medical Center has languished for more than two years. At the suggestion of Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley, surgeon general of the Army, the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund committed to build a 60,000-square-foot, state-of-the art rehabilitation center at Fort Sam Houston.
Ground was broken on the $37 million project last October. Under the watchful eye of Arnold Fisher, the Center for the Intrepid is on schedule to open in January. Like the two Fisher Houses already in operation and the two that are currently under construction at Fort Sam Houston, the center is being built entirely with private contributions from over 500,000 donors.
Staff Sgt. Bosson's determination to get back to his unit, which will redeploy to Iraq in November, isn't just wishful thinking. Among 447 amputee patients from Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom treated in all Army facilities, 10 have returned to active duty. "I'd rate my chances at 90%," he says.
In this nation of 300 million, the burden of the war on terror falls on an exceedingly small community. Beyond the obscured corridors of Walter Reed and Brooke Army Medical Center, normalcy reigns in the homeland. Perhaps more than anything else, the lack of a sense of shared sacrifice has attenuated the brutal reality of this conflict.
And while there are many things that governments can do, there are some things, such as helping the fallen warriors of the voluntary armed forces, that citizens of a free nation should do. "Don't use the word charity with regard to the military," Arnold Fisher declares passionately. "This is duty."
Mr. Gurwitz is a columnist at the San Antonio Express-News.[Used with permission from OpinionJournal.com, a web site from Dow Jones & Company, Inc.]
July 07, 2006
"All good men wish the entire abolition of slavery, as soon as it can take place with safety to the public, and for the lasting good of the present wretched race of slaves. The only possible step that could be taken towards it by the convention was to fix a period after which they should not be imported."
-- Oliver Ellsworth (The Landholder, 10 December 1787)
North Korean missile crisis
With tongue firmly planted in cheek, Scrappleface provides a news bulletin: U.N. May Threaten Kim Jong-Il with Time Out
(2006-07-06) — The United Nations Security Council, outraged at this week’s missile tests by a nuclear-capable North Korea, takes up debate today on a resolution to sanction that nation’s dictator with “one minute of time-out for each missile launched.”
Read the rest . . .
The Ramadi experiment
Wade Zirkle and David Bellavia, both with multiple deployments to Iraq as part of the military on their resumes, are currently embedded in U.S. units in Iraq and have published an article over at The Philadelphia Inquirer that describes Iraqi and U.S. operations ongoing in Ramadi.
Two weeks after thousands of U.S. and Iraqi forces established a series of combat outposts, called "strong points," surrounding Ramadi, residents are returning to the unruly city, hoping to find relative normalcy.
As the strong points were being occupied, residents had fled or braced for a full-scale Fallujah-style assault that never happened. Instead, they are seeing a "soft offensive" that is emblematic of the new face of the U.S.-led counterinsurgency effort.
Despite the similarities between the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah two years ago and Ramadi today, the current offensive will be slow and deliberate, and will focus on rebuilding local infrastructure, not destroying it. One U.S. commander said of the effort, "It is not a push; it is a slow squeeze."
Go read the rest -- especially the last four paragraphs.
OpinionJournal has a thought-provoking editorial up about the ramifications of North Korea's fireworks on 4 July.
I'e reprinted it in the extended entry.
Rocket's Red Glare
Not-so-crazy Kim tells the world to pay up one more time.
Thursday, July 6, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT
Most of the civilized world spent yesterday denouncing Kim Jong Il's July 4 fireworks display of launching several missiles into the Sea of Japan. The denunciations are all very nice, but the question is what lesson the world's leaders, especially those in China and South Korea, are going to learn from this latest North Korean provocation.
White House National Security Adviser Steve Hadley declared that "it's hard to get a sense on what" the North Koreans "think is to be achieved by this." But we suspect Mr. Hadley knows well enough, because this is the way Kim Jong Il always behaves when he wants to coax the U.S. and other countries into making further concessions.
Kim is at it again because his previous provocations have typically been rewarded. The most famous example is the 1994 Agreed Framework in which the Clinton Administration responded to Kim's nuclear threats by offering aid and the promise of nuclear energy plants. That deal collapsed in 2002 when Kim repudiated it, announced a secret nuclear program and kicked out U.N. inspectors.
Or consider what happened the last time Kim launched a missile, sending the Taepodong-1 over Japan in 1998. The Clinton Administration went back to the negotiating table and came close to concluding a missile version of the 1994 nuclear agreement. As part of that deal--negotiated by then-State Department Counsellor Wendy Sherman--the U.S. would launch North Korean satellites in return for the North's pledge to stop developing long-range missiles.
Given Pyongyang's abysmal record at keeping its promises, the more likely outcome would have been the theft of U.S. technology and the strengthening of the North's missile program. As late as mid-December 2000 White House sources were even suggesting that President Clinton might visit Pyongyang to conclude the deal. Negotiations stopped only when the Clinton Administration's time expired.
This time Kim has tried to raise the stakes by launching a Taepodong-2, which has the range to reach the Western U.S. The fact that the missile exploded less than a minute after launch is reassuring, especially if you live in Seattle. But Kim still hopes this launch will attract even greater accommodation, and some in the U.S. and South Korea may be ready to play along.
The last thing the U.S. should do is reward North Korea's missile provocation with direct talks. Yet before yesterday's missile tests, that is exactly what Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Richard Lugar advised. Former Clinton officials Ashton Carter and William Perry have accused President Bush of ignoring diplomatic options with Pyongyang, even as they also propose a pre-emptive military strike. But what are the six-party talks with the North if not multilateral diplomacy? The real story may be, as Nicholas Eberstadt argues in The Wall Street Journal today, that Kim Jong Il has concluded from recent U.S. actions toward Iran and North Korea that Mr. Bush is now as diplomatically pliable as Mr. Clinton.
Japan had the most forceful response yesterday, banning port calls by North Korean ships, charter flights and officials. A lone North Korean ferry currently floating off the northern Japanese port of Niigata won't be allowed to dock. Tokyo is also mulling more severe economic sanctions.
Pyongyang's launch is especially embarrassing to China and South Korea, both of which warned against a launch and both of which have propped up Kim's regime. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill flew to Asia yesterday to consult with both countries, and his challenge is to get them to join Japan and the U.S. in putting more economic and political pressure on the North.
China doesn't want refugees pouring across its northern border and also doesn't want to be seen to be abandoning a client regime. However, the missile test is an opportunity for the U.S. to show Beijing that its support for Kim is creating other problems for Chinese interests, notably a more militarily assertive Japan.
In South Korea, one question is whether a change in policy toward the North must wait until a change of government in Seoul. President Roh Moo Hyun has staked much of his domestic political credibility on his "peace and prosperity policy." His party took a whipping in recent local elections and he's down in the polls, but the next presidential election isn't until December 2007.
North Korea's missile tests also point up the need for improved missile defenses, both regionally and in the U.S. South Korea announced last week the purchase of upgraded Patriot missiles from Germany. Japan is working closely with Washington to improve its fledgling missile defenses, including an agreement last week to allow the Pentagon to deploy Patriots at a U.S. base in Okinawa.
But nothing the U.S. and Japan might do is likely to accomplish much if China and South Korea refuse to pressure the North to abandon its nuclear program. This is what happens when a non-transparent, authoritarian regime is appeased long enough for it to acquire nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them. The mullahs in Tehran have already absorbed that lesson. Iran, and other states that are considering going nuclear, will be closely watching how the world responds to Kim Jong Il's latest provocation.
[Used with permission from OpinionJournal.com, a web site from Dow Jones & Company, Inc.]
July 06, 2006
"It is the manners and spirit of a people which preserve a republic in vigor. A degeneracy in these is a canker which soon eats to the heart of its laws and constitution."
-- Thomas Jefferson (Notes on Virginia Query 19, 1781)
Fortunately they and their daughters and pets are all okay, but they need our thoughts and prayers and support. May God be with them through this very difficult time.
Global warming and hyperventilation
Richard Lindzen, Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Science at MIT, has an interesting op-ed at OpinionJournal that questions whether there is a consensus among scientists about the cause of global warming.
It's rather eye-opening for those who only hear about this from the mainstream media, but it supports my contention that we do not understand the science of climate well enough to even have a consensus about it.
I've reprinted the whole article in the extended entry.
Don't Believe the Hype
Al Gore is wrong. There's no "consensus" on global warming.
BY RICHARD S. LINDZEN
Sunday, July 2, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT
According to Al Gore's new film "An Inconvenient Truth," we're in for "a planetary emergency": melting ice sheets, huge increases in sea levels, more and stronger hurricanes, and invasions of tropical disease, among other cataclysms--unless we change the way we live now.
Bill Clinton has become the latest evangelist for Mr. Gore's gospel, proclaiming that current weather events show that he and Mr. Gore were right about global warming, and we are all suffering the consequences of President Bush's obtuseness on the matter. And why not? Mr. Gore assures us that "the debate in the scientific community is over."
That statement, which Mr. Gore made in an interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC, ought to have been followed by an asterisk. What exactly is this debate that Mr. Gore is referring to? Is there really a scientific community that is debating all these issues and then somehow agreeing in unison? Far from such a thing being over, it has never been clear to me what this "debate" actually is in the first place.
The media rarely help, of course. When Newsweek featured global warming in a 1988 issue, it was claimed that all scientists agreed. Periodically thereafter it was revealed that although there had been lingering doubts beforehand, now all scientists did indeed agree. Even Mr. Gore qualified his statement on ABC only a few minutes after he made it, clarifying things in an important way. When Mr. Stephanopoulos confronted Mr. Gore with the fact that the best estimates of rising sea levels are far less dire than he suggests in his movie, Mr. Gore defended his claims by noting that scientists "don't have any models that give them a high level of confidence" one way or the other and went on to claim--in his defense--that scientists "don't know. . . . They just don't know."
So, presumably, those scientists do not belong to the "consensus." Yet their research is forced, whether the evidence supports it or not, into Mr. Gore's preferred global-warming template--namely, shrill alarmism. To believe it requires that one ignore the truly inconvenient facts. To take the issue of rising sea levels, these include: that the Arctic was as warm or warmer in 1940; that icebergs have been known since time immemorial; that the evidence so far suggests that the Greenland ice sheet is actually growing on average. A likely result of all this is increased pressure pushing ice off the coastal perimeter of that country, which is depicted so ominously in Mr. Gore's movie. In the absence of factual context, these images are perhaps dire or alarming.
They are less so otherwise. Alpine glaciers have been retreating since the early 19th century, and were advancing for several centuries before that. Since about 1970, many of the glaciers have stopped retreating and some are now advancing again. And, frankly, we don't know why.
The other elements of the global-warming scare scenario are predicated on similar oversights. Malaria, claimed as a byproduct of warming, was once common in Michigan and Siberia and remains common in Siberia--mosquitoes don't require tropical warmth. Hurricanes, too, vary on multidecadal time scales; sea-surface temperature is likely to be an important factor. This temperature, itself, varies on multidecadal time scales. However, questions concerning the origin of the relevant sea-surface temperatures and the nature of trends in hurricane intensity are being hotly argued within the profession.
Even among those arguing, there is general agreement that we can't attribute any particular hurricane to global warming. To be sure, there is one exception, Greg Holland of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., who argues that it must be global warming because he can't think of anything else. While arguments like these, based on lassitude, are becoming rather common in climate assessments, such claims, given the primitive state of weather and climate science, are hardly compelling.
A general characteristic of Mr. Gore's approach is to assiduously ignore the fact that the earth and its climate are dynamic; they are always changing even without any external forcing. To treat all change as something to fear is bad enough; to do so in order to exploit that fear is much worse. Regardless, these items are clearly not issues over which debate is ended--at least not in terms of the actual science.
A clearer claim as to what debate has ended is provided by the environmental journalist Gregg Easterbrook. He concludes that the scientific community now agrees that significant warming is occurring, and that there is clear evidence of human influences on the climate system. This is still a most peculiar claim. At some level, it has never been widely contested. Most of the climate community has agreed since 1988 that global mean temperatures have increased on the order of one degree Fahrenheit over the past century, having risen significantly from about 1919 to 1940, decreased between 1940 and the early '70s, increased again until the '90s, and remaining essentially flat since 1998.
There is also little disagreement that levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have risen from about 280 parts per million by volume in the 19th century to about 387 ppmv today. Finally, there has been no question whatever that carbon dioxide is an infrared absorber (i.e., a greenhouse gas--albeit a minor one), and its increase should theoretically contribute to warming. Indeed, if all else were kept equal, the increase in carbon dioxide should have led to somewhat more warming than has been observed, assuming that the small observed increase was in fact due to increasing carbon dioxide rather than a natural fluctuation in the climate system. Although no cause for alarm rests on this issue, there has been an intense effort to claim that the theoretically expected contribution from additional carbon dioxide has actually been detected.
Given that we do not understand the natural internal variability of climate change, this task is currently impossible. Nevertheless there has been a persistent effort to suggest otherwise, and with surprising impact. Thus, although the conflicted state of the affair was accurately presented in the 1996 text of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the infamous "summary for policy makers" reported ambiguously that "The balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate." This sufficed as the smoking gun for Kyoto.
The next IPCC report again described the problems surrounding what has become known as the attribution issue: that is, to explain what mechanisms are responsible for observed changes in climate. Some deployed the lassitude argument--e.g., we can't think of an alternative--to support human attribution. But the "summary for policy makers" claimed in a manner largely unrelated to the actual text of the report that "In the light of new evidence and taking into account the remaining uncertainties, most of the observed warming over the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations."
In a similar vein, the National Academy of Sciences issued a brief (15-page) report responding to questions from the White House. It again enumerated the difficulties with attribution, but again the report was preceded by a front end that ambiguously claimed that "The changes observed over the last several decades are likely mostly due to human activities, but we cannot rule out that some significant part of these changes is also a reflection of natural variability." This was sufficient for CNN's Michelle Mitchell to presciently declare that the report represented a "unanimous decision that global warming is real, is getting worse and is due to man. There is no wiggle room." Well, no.
More recently, a study in the journal Science by the social scientist Nancy Oreskes claimed that a search of the ISI Web of Knowledge Database for the years 1993 to 2003 under the key words "global climate change" produced 928 articles, all of whose abstracts supported what she referred to as the consensus view. A British social scientist, Benny Peiser, checked her procedure and found that only 913 of the 928 articles had abstracts at all, and that only 13 of the remaining 913 explicitly endorsed the so-called consensus view. Several actually opposed it.
Even more recently, the Climate Change Science Program, the Bush administration's coordinating agency for global-warming research, declared it had found "clear evidence of human influences on the climate system." This, for Mr. Easterbrook, meant: "Case closed." What exactly was this evidence? The models imply that greenhouse warming should impact atmospheric temperatures more than surface temperatures, and yet satellite data showed no warming in the atmosphere since 1979. The report showed that selective corrections to the atmospheric data could lead to some warming, thus reducing the conflict between observations and models descriptions of what greenhouse warming should look like. That, to me, means the case is still very much open.
So what, then, is one to make of this alleged debate? I would suggest at least three points.
First, nonscientists generally do not want to bother with understanding the science. Claims of consensus relieve policy types, environmental advocates and politicians of any need to do so. Such claims also serve to intimidate the public and even scientists--especially those outside the area of climate dynamics. Secondly, given that the question of human attribution largely cannot be resolved, its use in promoting visions of disaster constitutes nothing so much as a bait-and-switch scam. That is an inauspicious beginning to what Mr. Gore claims is not a political issue but a "moral" crusade.
Lastly, there is a clear attempt to establish truth not by scientific methods but by perpetual repetition. An earlier attempt at this was accompanied by tragedy. Perhaps Marx was right. This time around we may have farce--if we're lucky.
Mr. Lindzen is the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Science at MIT.
[Used with permission from OpinionJournal.com, a web site from Dow Jones & Company, Inc.]
July 05, 2006
"Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof - Lev. XXV, v. X"
Inscription on the Liberty Bell, from Leviticus 25:10
Global cooling in the 21st century
Hans H.J. Labohm provides a cautious warning about our climate.
Earlier I wrote about the re-emergence of the global cooling hypothesis:
"Recently the astronomer Khabibullo Abdusamatov of the Pulkovo Astronomic Observatory in St. Petersburg declared that the Earth will experience a 'mini Ice Age' in the middle of this century, caused by low solar activity. Temperatures will begin falling six or seven years from now, when global warming caused by increased solar activity in the 20th century reaches its peak. The coldest period will occur 15 to 20 years after a major solar output decline between 2035 and 2045, Abdusamatov said. This view is shared by the Belgian astronomer, Dirk Callebaut, who expects a 'grand minimum' in the middle of this century, just like the Maunder Minimum (1650-1700), a period during which the Thames, the Seine and the Dutch canals were frozen in winter."
In the meantime a new study has appeared that seems to support this view. According to research by NASA's solar physicist David Hathaway, the Sun's Great Conveyor Belt has slowed to a record low crawl. This has important repercussions for future solar activity.
A related article talks about a recent slight cool-down, but puts that into context with the overall warming trend being observed:
The official thermometers at the U.S. National Climate Data Center show a slight global cooling trend over the last seven years, from 1998 to 2005.
Actually, global warming is likely to continue—but the interruption of the recent strong warming trend sharply undercuts the argument that our global warming is an urgent, man-made emergency. The seven-year decline makes our warming look much more like the moderate, erratic warming to be expected when the planet naturally shifts from a Little Ice Age (1300–1850 AD) to a centuries-long warm phase like the Medieval Warming (950–1300 AD) or the Roman Warming (200 BC– 600 AD).
Food for thought.
July 04, 2006
Independence Day Quotes
230 years ago a group of brave men signed the Declaration of Independence and started a war that would change the world and create an entirely new and unique nation.
In honor of those men, and all of the men and women who have fought for the freedoms and security of this nation (and there have been many through the decades), I have pulled together a few quotes from America's Founders.
"But the most grievous innovation of all, is the alarming extension of the power of courts of admiralty. In these courts, one judge presides alone! No juries have any concern there! The law and the fact are both to be decided by the same single judge."
— John Adams
(Adams stated this during Boston town meeting in 1772. This travesty of justice was initiated by the Stamp Act of 1765, which authorized admiralty courts to enforce its provisions.)
"Liberty must at all hazards be supported. We have a right to it, derived from our Maker. But if we had not, our fathers have earned and bought it for us, at the expense of their ease, their estates, their pleasure, and their blood."
— John Adams, A Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Laws, 1765
"Posterity! You will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom! I hope you will make good use of it!
— John Adams, letter to Abigail Adams, April 26, 1777
"He who is void of virtuous attachments in private life, is, or very soon will be, void of all Regard for his country."
— Samuel Adams, letter to James Warren (Nov. 4, 1775)
"You can usually tell how tyrannical a person’s heart is by how fast they move to legislate." — Anonymous
"Do not pray for easy lives; pray to be stronger men. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers; pray for powers equal to your tasks. Then the doing of your work shall be no miracle, but you yourself shall be a miracle. Every day you shall wonder at yourself, at the richness of life which has come to you by the grace of God."
— Phillips Brooks (1835-1893)
"Liberty is a word which, according as it is used, comprehends the most good and the most evil of any in the world. Justly understood it is sacred next to those which we appropriate in divine adoration; but in the mouths of some it means anything."
— Oliver Ellsworth, A Landholder No. III, November 19, 1787
"We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately."
— attributed to Benjamin Franklin, at the signing of the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776
"They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."
— Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759
"I regret that I have but one life to lose for my country."
— Nathan Hale, before being hanged by the British, September 22, 1776
"The law… dictated by God Himself is, of course, superior in obligation to any other. It is binding over all the globe, in all countries, and at all times. No human laws are of any validity if contrary to this."
— Alexander Hamilton
The fabric of American empire ought to rest on the solid basis of THE CONSENT OF THE PEOPLE. The streams of national power ought to flow from that pure, original fountain of all legitimate authority."
— Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 22 December 14, 1787
"My hand trembles, but my heart does not."
— attributed to Stephen Hopkins, Rhode Island delegate, July 4, 1776
"I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of men."
— Thomas Jefferson, letter to Benjamin Rush, September 23, 1800
"Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe."
— Thomas Jefferson, letter to Charles Yancey, January 6, 1816
"Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves, therefore, are its only safe depositories."
— Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, Query XIV, 1781
"The first object of my heart is my own country. In that is embarked my family, my fortune, and my own existence."
— Thomas Jefferson
Conscience is the most sacred of all property."
— James Madison, Essay on Property, March 29, 1792
"The strength and spring of every free government, is the virtue of the people; virtue grows on knowledge, and knowledge on education."
— Moses Mather, America’s Appeal to the Impartial World, 1775
"Where there is no law, there is no liberty; and nothing deserves the name of law but that which is certain and universal in its operation upon all the members of the community."
— Benjamin Rush, letter to David Ramsay, circa April 1788
"Human happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected."
— George Washington
"Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism."
— George Washington, Farewell Address, September 19, 1796
"The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the republican model of government, are justly considered deeply, perhaps as finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people."
— George Washington, First Inaugural Address, April 30, 1789
"The propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained."
— George Washington, 1789
"The virtues of men are of more consequence to society than their abilities; and for this reason, the heart should be cultivated with more assiduity than the head."
— Noah Webster, On the Education of Youth in America, 1788
Please join me in honoring those who have, and those who are currently are, engaged in the struggle to secure and maintain the tremendous personal rights and freedoms that every citizen of this nation can claim. We are truly blessed here in America, and we should never take that for granted.
Happy birthday, America! May God continue to bless you and keep you strong!
"The Sun never shined on a cause of greater worth."
-- Thomas Paine (Common Sense, 1776)
Global warming in Antartica
National Geographic has an article about new evidence supporting a warmer climate in Antartica 1700 years ago.
In an Antarctic "ghost town," freeze-dried whiskers, skin, and bones provide evidence that the South Pole was a much warmer place not too long ago, a new study reveals.
The 1,000- to 6,000-year-old elephant seal remains were found in abandoned breeding colonies in a now barren region of Victoria Land on the Antarctic coast near the Ross Sea (map of Antarctica).
The discovery, scientists say, is the first hard evidence for a warming period in the region between 2,300 and 1,100 years ago.
The article does attempt to caution the reader not to think this new information invalidates the hysterical (my word) claims about human-caused global warming that are being made.
(And, just for the record, my personal philosophy regarding Ecosystem Earth is generally green. )
July 03, 2006
"Contemplate the mangled bodies of your countrymen, and then say, 'What should be the reward of such sacrifices?' ... If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude than the animating contest of freedom, go from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen!"
--Samuel Adams (The Federalist Digest, Federalist Edition #01-37)
With tongue firmly planted in cheek
A new sensor on a NASA Earth-orbiting satellite has for the first time observed a global-scale die off of vegetation, a new article in Science magazine reports this week.
Love and marriage
Lawrence Henry has a good article up at The American Spectator about the secret of staying married.
THIS STORY CAME TO MIND because, while we were cleaning up dinner leavings the other night, I heard my wife explaining to our son Bud what the secret was of having a good marriage.
"You have to learn how to say, 'Yes, dear,'" she said.
New paint scheme for the living room? "Yes, dear." "I think I'd like to take up fly fishing"? "Yes, dear." Dave Barry wrote a whole column about his wife's forbearance when he decided to take up electric guitar in mid-life. Archie Bunker made a joke out of Edith's going through menopause, but, if you stay married long enough through the appropriate age, you will find out it's no joke.
As it turns out, unsurprisingly, the secret is putting your spouse's wants and needs before your own. A time-proven principle, among many, that can be found in the all-time world-wide bestselling book -- the Bible.
July 02, 2006
"Tis our true policy to steer clear of permanent Alliances, with any portion of the foreign world."
-- George Washington (Farewell Address, 19 September 1796)
Winning on Iraq
Victor Davis Hanson has an interesting essay at NRO about the different aspects of the war in Iraq. Here's how he begins:
The present fighting is part of a fourth war for Iraq: Gulf War I, the twelve years of no-fly zones, the three-week war in 2003, and now the three-year-old insurrection that followed the removal of Saddam Hussein.
But this last and most desperate struggle, unlike the others, is being waged on several fronts.
First, of course, is the fighting itself to preserve the elected democracy of Iraq. Twenty-five-hundred Americans have died for that idea — the chance of freedom for 26 million Iraqis, and the more long-term notion that the Arab Middle East’s first democracy will end the false dichotomy of Islamic theocracy or dictatorship. That non-choice was the embryo for the events of September 11.
It is an insightful article. Go read the rest.
The New York Times boogie
Peggy Noonan, over at OpinionJournal, has an excellent essay about The New York Times' slow-but-sure march into decay.
It's in the extended entry.
Once the New York Times was extremely important, and often destructive. Now it is less important, and often destructive. This is not a change for the worse.
The Times is important still because of its influence on other parts of the media: Other journalists, knowing the great resources of the Times, respecting its air of professionalism (which is sometimes not an air but the thing itself), key their own decisions on news coverage to the front and opinion pages. If you're a blogger or a talk-show lion, you key some of the things you talk about to the Times. It's still important.
But it's not what it was. Once it was such a force that it controlled the intellectual climate. Now it's just part of it. Seventy years ago its depiction of Stalin's benignity left a generation confused, or confounded. Fifty years ago, when the Times became enamored of a romantic young revolutionary named Fidel, the American decision-making establishment believed what it read and observed in comfort as an angry communist dictatorship was established 90 miles off our shore. The Times' wrongheadedness had huge implications for American statecraft.
The Times is still in many respects an extraordinary daily achievement. The sheer size and scope of its efforts is impressive--the Sunday paper is big as a book every week, and costs a lot less.
But it is not what it was and will never be again. It was hurt by its own limits--a paper of and from an island off the continent, awkward in its relationship with and understanding of the continent. It was and is hurt by its longtime and predictable liberalism. Predictable isn't fun. It doesn't make you want to get up in the morning, tear the paper off the mat and open it with a hungry snap. It was hurt by technology--it lost its share of what was, essentially, a monopoly. And it's been hurt by its own scandals and misjudgments. The Times rarely seems driven by an agenda to get the news first, fast and clear; to get the story and let the chips fall. It often seems driven by a search for information that might support its suppositions. Which, again, gets boring. The Times never knows what's becoming a huge national issue. It's always surprised by what Americans are thinking.
In a way the modern Times is playing to a base, the Upper West Side of Manhattan, and the redoubts of the Upper West Side throughout America: affluent urban neighborhoods and suburbs. The paper plays not to a region but a class.
But one senses the people who run the Times now are not so much living as re-enacting. They're lost on the big new playing field of American media, and they're reenacting their great moments--the Pentagon papers, the Watergate days. They're locked in a pose: We speak truth to (bad Republican) power. Frank Rich is running around with his antiwar screeds as if it's 1968 and he's an idealist with a beard, as opposed to what he is, a guy who if he pierced his ears gravy would come out.
This is the imagery that comes to you when you ponder the Times. It's the imagery that comes unbidden when you ponder the national security stories they've been doing. They're all re-enacting. They're acting out their own private drama in which they bravely stand up to a secretive and all-powerful American government.
I think it's personal drama in part because there's no common sense in it. Common sense tells you that when the actual physical safety of Americans is threatened by extremists who've declared a holy war, and when those extremists have, or can get, terrible weapons that can kill thousands or tens of thousands or more, and when the American government is trying to keep them from doing what they'd like to do, which, again, is kill--then you'd think twice, thrice, 10 times before you tell the world exactly how the government is trying, in its own bumbling way, which is how governments do things, to keep innocent people safe and bad guys on the run.
It is kind of crazy that the Times would do two stories that expose, and presumably hinder, the government's efforts. But then it strikes me as crazy that every paper that has reported the latest story--that would include The Wall Street Journal--would do so. Based on the evidence that has become public so far, the Journal, like the Times, and the Los Angeles Times, seems to me to have made the wrong call. But to me it is the New York Times, of all papers involved, that has most forgotten the mission. The mission is to get the story, break through the forest to get to a clear space called news, and also be a citizen. It's not to be a certain kind of citizen, and insist everyone else be that kind of citizen, and also now and then break a story.
Forgetting the mission is a problem endemic in newsrooms now. It's why a lot of them do less journalism than politics. When you've forgotten the mission you spend your days talking about, say, diversity in the newsroom. You become distracted by tertiary issues. (Too bad. The news doesn't care the color or sex of the person who finds it and reports it.) You become not journalistic and now and then political, but political and now and then journalistic.
It's sad. Though I guess if you're the Times you take comfort in the fact that even though you're not as important as you used to be, you're just as destructive as ever.
[Used with permission from OpinionJournal.com, a web site from Dow Jones & Company, Inc.]
Diet Coke + Mentos
I think you might enjoy this video.
July 01, 2006
"It should be the highest ambition of every American to extend his views beyond himself, and to bear in mind that his conduct will not only affect himself, his country, and his immediate posterity; but that its influence may be co-extensive with the world, and stamp political happiness or misery on ages yet unborn."
The real reason for isolation
AskMom has an excellent post up about the disconnect between appearances vs. reality in today's sexualized culture.
This disconnect is worrisome and typifies the schizoid approach to values and choices all too frequently seen in America.
Though AskMom says it much better, I would like to say that the widepsread nihilistic culture of today has, in many ways, replaced real intimacy with sex. Sex is a poor substitute for intimacy, and our society is diminished as a result.
Go read the whole thing.
- "One man with courage makes a majority."--Andrew Jackson
- "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."--Franklin D. Roosevelt
- "The buck stops here."--Harry S. Truman
- "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country."--John F. Kennedy
- "So I ask my fellow Senators, are we really that frightened of somebody's willingness to go out and be stupid? In the United States of America, you have a right to be stupid."--John Kerry (PDF)
Day by Day debut
Check out Chris Muir's daily Day by Day cartoon that I've put in the left sidebar. I enjoy it immensely and read it every day, so decided that I should put it up on my blog.
Since I like it so much, you could probably say that it tends to be a bit conservative. No worries, though, because Chris makes it truly entertaining!