March 31, 2007
"[W]hen the resolution of enslaving America was formed in Great Britain, the British Parliament was advised by an artful man, - who was governor of Pennsylvania, to disarm the people; that it was the best and most effectual way to enslave them; but that they should not do it openly, but weaken them, and let them sink gradually, by totally disusing and neglecting the militia. "
-- George Mason, 1778 - speech in the Virginia Ratifying Convention
A matter of faith
Michael Barone does a good job of putting Al Gore's crusade about human-caused global warming into proper perspective:
Gore and his followers seem to assume that the ideal climate was the one they got used to when they were growing up. When temperatures dropped in the 1970s, there were warnings of an impending ice age. When they rose in the 1990s, there were predictions of disastrous global warming. This is just another example of the solipsism of the baby boom generation, the pampered and much-praised age cohort that believes the world revolves around them and that all past history has become irrelevant.
Go read the whole thing.
March 30, 2007
"One loves to possess arms, though they hope never to have occasion for them. "
-- Thomas Jefferson, 1796 - letter to George Washington
I do not understand why on Earth our national politicians and the mainstream media are making such a big deal about the U.S. Attorney General firing eight U.S. attorneys.
It makes absolutely no sense.
After all, Bill Clinton fired 93 U.S. attorneys in 1993 -- just because he could.
God must just shake his head in frustration at the foolishness of Americans . . .
More WMD in Iraq
Bill Roggio reports on another chlorine gas attack by terrorists in the Anbar province.
This is the sixth successful chlorine gas suicide attack in Anbar province this year. Two other trucks laden with explosives and chlorine gas were seized in Ramadi, one just last evening. It is possible last evening's captured chlorine bomb was to be used in a coordinated attack, as al Qaeda conducted a near simultaneous chlorine attack in Ramadi, Fallujah and Amiriya on March 17.
Does Michael Moore still consider these barbaric murderers "freedom fighters"?
March 29, 2007
"[T]he people are not to be disarmed of their weapons. They are left in full possession of them. "
-- Zacharia Johnson, 1778 - speech in the Virginia Ratifying Convention
In light of eco-friendliness, I would invite you to compare and contrast Al Gore's power-hungry Tennessee mansion with George W. Bush's Texas ranch house.
The passive-solar house is positioned to absorb winter sunlight, warming the interior walkways and walls of the residence. Geothermal heat pumps circulate water through pipes buried 300 feet (100 m) deep in the ground. A 40,000 US gallon (151 mł) underground cistern collects rainwater gathered from roof urns; wastewater from sinks, toilets, and showers cascades into underground purifying tanks and is also funneled into the cistern. The water from the cistern is then used to irrigate the landscaping around the four-bedroom home. Photographs of the interior of the house indicate a sophisticated take on rough-hewn living, with generous English-style club chairs covered in what appears to be printed Fortuny linen.
Now, who's the better environmentalist here?
An inconvenient truth about education
The Anchoress has a post up about the dangers of 'teaching to the test'.
Good writing skills go hand-in-hand with good reading skills, and with critical thinking. These skills are not really taught any more. Rather, students are being taught “to the test,” and for that, neither thinking nor information need be clear. Like so much of post-modernist bunk, students can meet the trick if they simply learn “the form” of a thing without learning its function or substance.
She goes on, in great form, and includes a snarky-but-true observation about the decontructionists among us.
Mohammed, at Iraq the Model, has a good post up about why we should stay fully engaged in Iraq. [Emphasis added.]
Al-Qaeda itself boasts about the great "sacrifices" of more than 4,000 "martyrs" to emphasize the importance of the war here. And the hundreds of suicide bombers preferred to blow themselves up in Iraq than anywhere else should remind us that if al-Qaeda considers this the main war then why talk about redeployment?
Walking away from the main war is not redeployment, it's quitting.
Read the whole thing.
March 28, 2007
"A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercises, I advise the gun. While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise and independence to the mind. Games played with the ball, and others of that nature, are too violent for the body and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun therefore be your constant companion of your walks. "
-- Thomas Jefferson, 1785 - letter to Peter Carr
How to win or lose in Iraq
Historian Arthur Herman has an insighful essay about how to win or lose in Iraq. Here is a part of his opening section:
In short, if the battle for the hearts and minds of Iraqis still continues and is showing signs of improvement, the battle for the hearts and minds of Congress, or at least of the Democratic majority, seems to be all but over. In the meantime, still more adamant on the subject are many of our best-known pundits and media commentators. According to Thomas Friedman of the New York Times, who speaks for many, Iraq “is so broken it can’t even have a proper civil war,” and America is therefore now left with but a single option: “how we might disengage with the least damage possible.” To the left of Friedman and his ilk are the strident and often openly anti-American voices of organizations like moveon.org.
It is indeed striking that war critics like Senators Harry Reid and Joseph Biden, who in 2005 were calling on the Pentagon to mount a proper counterinsurgency campaign in Iraq, and to send enough troops to make it happen, should now be seeking ways to revoke legislative authority for that very operation. Exactly why they should have changed their minds on the issue is not obvious, although they and their colleagues do claim to be expressing not only their own judgment but the opinions and sentiments of the American people at large. If recent polls are to be trusted, however, these politicians may well turn out be wrong about popular sentiment.2 And if past history and our current experience in Iraq are any guide, they are certainly wrong about the war on the ground.
In fact, the historical record is clear. The roots of failure in fighting insurgencies like the one in Iraq are not military. To the contrary, Western militaries have shown remarkable skill in learning and relearning the crucial lessons of how to prevail against unconventional foes, and tremendous bravery in fighting difficult and unfamiliar battles. If Iraq fails, the cause will have to be sought elsewhere.
Go read the whole thing.
March 27, 2007
"That the people have a right to keep and bear arms; that a well-regulated militia, composed of the body of the people trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defence of a free state; that standing armies, in time of peace, are dangerous to liberty, and therefore ought to be avoided, as far as the circumstances and protection of the community will admit; and that, in all cases, the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power. "
-- Recommended Bill of Rights from the Virginia Ratifying Convention, 1778
March 26, 2007
"One loves to possess arms, though they hope never to have occasion for them. "
-- Thomas Jefferson, 1796 - letter to George Washington
March 25, 2007
"These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman."
-- Thomas Paine, 1776 - The American Crisis, No. 1
March 24, 2007
"Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God. I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"
-- Patrick Henry, 1775 - Speech to the Virginia Convention
What Democrats do best
The House voted Friday for the first time to clamp a cutoff deadline on the Iraq war, agreeing by a thin margin to pull combat troops out by next year and pushing the new Democratic-led Congress ever closer to a showdown with President Bush.
The 218-212 vote, mostly along party lines, was a hard-fought victory for Democrats, who faced divisions within their own ranks on the rancorous issue.
March 23, 2007
"With hearts fortified with these animating reflections, we most solemnly, before God and the world, declare, that, exerting the utmost energy of those powers, which our beneficent Creator hath graciously bestowed upon us, the arms we have compelled by our enemies to assume, we will, in defiance of every hazard, with unabating firmness and perseverance employ for the preservation of our liberties; being with one mind resolved to die freemen rather than to live as slaves."
-- John Dickinson and Thomas Jefferson, 1775 - Declaration of the Cause and Necessity of Taking up Arms
An activist lifestyle
Mary Katherine Ham has a tongue-in-cheek video promoting conservation.
March 22, 2007
"I was summoned by my country, whose voice I can never hear but with veneration and love."
-- George Washington, 1789 - First Inaugural Address
Mohammad Fadhil reports at PJM about the current status of life in Baghdad.
You look around in Baghdad now and see hundreds of men working in the streets to pick up garbage; to plant flowers and paint the blast walls in joyful colors. Many of Baghdad’s squares are becoming green and clean. The picture isn’t perfect, but it’s a clear attempt to beat violence and ease pain through giving the spring a chance to shine.
Nights in Baghdad now are far from quiet, but the sounds cause less anxiety for me than they did before. I recognize the rumble of armor and thump of guns and they assure me that the gangs and militias do not dominate the night as they once did.
When Arabs or westerners ask me about the situation and I answer that hope remains and that we’re looking forward to a better future most would say ‘Are you living in this world?’ I answer, ‘Yes, it’s you who live in the parallel world the media built for you with images of only death and destruction’.
If it surprised some of them that a poll found Iraqis optimistic, then I’m surprised that someone finally bothered to ask Iraqis how they feel.
Just as free birds would never return to the cage, we don’t want to return to the days of the tyrant.
Godspeed to them all.
Unspinning the weekend talk shows
Gallup guru, Frank Newport has posted some corrections to James Cargill's sweeping statement regarding national opinion.
But from a hard-nosed empirical perspective, Carville’s statements are far from being true.
Bush himself has the confidence of at least 35% of the public – the percentage who approve of the job he is doing. We also found last month that 53% of Americans have a great deal or a fair amount of “trust and confidence” in “our federal government in Washington” when it comes to handling international problems, and that 54% have a great deal or a fair amount of trust and confidence in the federal government to handle domestic problems.
And while these “trust and confidence” numbers are down from the highs they reached in the months and years after 9/11, they are little different from those measured at other points in time, including polling conducted in 2000, when Carville’s former client, Bill Clinton, was still in office.
So don't believe everything you hear . . .
March 21, 2007
"The consciousness of having discharged that duty which we owe to our country is superior to all other considerations."
-- George Washington, 1788 - letter to James Madison
Gerard van der Leun has a compelling essay posted about American resolve four years in to the Long War. Here's how he begins:
Four years in. An inch of time. Four years in and the foolish and credulous among us yearn to get out. Their feelings require it. The power of their Holy Gospel of "Imagine" compels them. Their overflowing pools of compassion for the enslavers of women, the killers of homosexuals, the beheaders of reporters, and the incinerators of men and women working quietly at their desks, rise and flood their minds until their eyes flow with crocodile tears while their mouths emit slogans made of cardboard. They believe the world is run on wishes and that they will always have three more.
I highly recommend you read the whole thing.
Is a European civil war brewing?
Or is is a jihadist takeover?
After the death last Sunday of Rinie Mulder, a 54-year old indigenous Dutchman who was shot by a police officer, non-immigrant citizens went on a rampage in Utrecht. Apparently Mulder intervened when Muslim youths harassed a pregnant native Dutch woman. Locals claim the police has failed to protect them for years. They say the authorities are afraid of the immigrants and tolerate their criminal behavior.
This issue is not just about Utrecht or Holland. Similar resentment against Muslim immigrants, but at least as much against their own authorities, is quietly brewing among the natives all over Western Europe.
Or could it be both?
March 20, 2007
"Every post is honorable in which a man can serve his country."
-- George Washington, 1775 - letter to Benedict Arnold
Stop blaming America for all of the world's woes
Michael Barone has a recent op-ed in which he discusses the absurdity of the "blame-America-first" attitude that seems to be prevalent among many educated people who should know better. He draws from Andrew Roberts's book, "History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900" -- among others.
Roberts points out almost all the advances of freedom in the 20th century have been made by the English-speaking peoples -- Americans especially, but British, as well, and also (here his account will be unfamiliar to most American readers) Canadians, Australians and New Zealanders. And he recalls what held and holds them together by quoting a speech Winston Churchill gave in 1943 at Harvard: "Law, language, literature -- these are considerable factors. Common conceptions of what is right and decent, a marked regard for fair play, especially to the weak and poor, a stern sentiment of impartial justice and above all a love of personal freedom ... these are the common conceptions on both sides of the ocean among the English-speaking peoples."
Churchill recorded these things in his four-volume history of the English-speaking peoples up to 1900: the development of the common law, guarantees of freedom, representative government, independent courts.
Read the whole column.
I also recommend you begin an independent study of American history. You'll be glad you did.
Iraqi Kurdistan: A Success Story
Michael Totten reports on his recent visit to the Erbil Province in Iraq.
Fourteen months ago I flew to Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, from Beirut, Lebanon, on the dubiously named Flying Carpet Airlines. Flying Carpet’s entire fleet is one small noisy plane with propellers, cramped seats, and thin cabin pressure. Only nineteen passengers joined me on that once-a-week flight. Everyone but me was a Lebanese businessman. They were paranoid of me and of each other. What kind of crazy person books a flight to Iraq, even if it is to the safe and relatively prosperous Kurdistan region? I felt completely bereft of sense going to Iraq without a gun and without any bodyguards, and it took a week for my on-again off-again twitchiness to subside.
Last week I flew to Erbil from Vienna on Austrian Airlines to work for a few weeks as a private sector consultant with my colleague Patrick Lasswell. This time I didn’t feel anything like a fool. Almost half the passengers were women. Children played on their seats and in the aisle with toys handed out by the crew. We watched an in-flight movie and ate the usual airline lunch fare served by an attractive long legged stewardess. The cabin erupted with applause when the wheels touched down on the runway. The pilot announced the weather (sunny and 60) in three languages and cheerfully told us all to have a great day. Have a great day may seem an odd thing to say to people who just arrived in Iraq, but this is Kurdistan. I did, indeed, have a great day.
Go read the whole thing.
WMD discovered in Iraq!
Unfortunately, it was discovered by terrorists, and is now being used by them against innocents.
Three suicide bombers driving trucks rigged with tanks of toxic chlorine gas struck targets in heavily Sunni Anbar province Friday, including the office of a Sunni tribal leader opposed to Al Qaeda.
The attacks killed at least two people and sickened 350 Iraqi civilians and six U.S. troops, the U.S. military said Saturday.
That's right, chlorine gas is considered a weapon of mass destruction.
And the bad guys are now using it.
Here's more on this from Bill Roggio at The Fourth Rail. He cites attacks in January and February, as well.
March 19, 2007
"I am not influenced by the expectation of promotion or pecuniary reward. I wish to be useful, and every kind of service necessary for the public good, become honorable by being necessary."
-- Nathan Hale, 1776 - remark to Captain William Hull, who had attempted to dissuade him from volunteering for a spy mission for General Washington
St. Pattrick's Day Gathering of Eagles
Michelle Malkin provides a comprehensive report on the Gathering of Eagles in Washington, D.C. last Saturday.
One of the photos that really resonates:
Because it is so true.
March 18, 2007
"[T]o preserve the republican form and principles of our Constitution and cleave to the salutary distribution of powers which that [the Constitution] has established...are the two sheet anchors of our Union. If driven from either, we shall be in danger of foundering."
-- Thomas Jefferson, 1823 - letter to Judge William Johnson
March 17, 2007
"I acknowledge, in the ordinary course of government, that the exposition of the laws and Constitution devolves upon the judicial. But I beg to know upon what principle it can be contended that any one department draws from the Constitution greater powers than another in marking out the limits of the powers of the several departments."
-- James Madison, 1789 - speech in the Congress of the United States
March 16, 2007
"My construction of the constitution is very different from that you quote. It is that each department is truly independent of the others, and has an equal right to decide for itself what is the meaning of the constitution in the cases submitted to its action; and especially, where it is to act ultimately and without appeal."
-- Thomas Jefferson, 1819 - letter to Samuel Adams Wells
An Appeal for Courage
If you are an Active Duty, Reserve, or National Guard military member, please go to this site and consider signing the petition there.
This petition is being spearheaded, in a large part, by the efforts of LT Jason Nichols, USN; SGT David Thul, MNARNG; and Larry Vandergriff, USA (Retired).
Appeal for Courage is a non-partisan, grass-roots effort to communicate to Congress the troops' desire to remain in Iraq until our mission is complete. We feel calls to retreat embolden our enemy and hurt our support within the American public and Iraqi people.
The petition itself reads:
As an American currently serving my nation in uniform, I respectfully urge my political leaders in Congress to fully support our mission in Iraq and halt any calls for retreat. I also respectfully urge my political leaders to actively oppose media efforts which embolden my enemy while demoralizing American support at home. The War in Iraq is a necessary and just effort to bring freedom to the Middle East and protect America from further attack.
Irwin Stelzer, director of economic policy studies at the Hudson Institute, rightfully points out that slower growth is not a recession.
Nor is it any news that the economy is slowing. But there is a big difference between slower growth and a recession. The recent survey by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas found "modest expansion" around the country, with "steady growth in retail sales," "generally positive" tourism activity, "steady or expanding manufacturing activity," agricultural conditions "generally improved," and tight labor market conditions. Some areas--most notably Boston and Dallas--seem to be slowing more than others, and auto sales are weak in most places around the country. But, all in all, at least for the present, the economy is doing exactly what the Fed wanted it to do when Greenspan began ratcheting up interest rates--it is cooling. The "froth" is off house prices, investors are realigning share prices with more reasonable expectations of risk and growth, and people who shouldn't be lending to people who shouldn't be borrowing are writing down the value of their enterprises. All of these are arguably in the long-run interests of a healthy economy.
So don't believe the econo-pundits who are nervously asserting that we're heading toward a recession. Our markets are strong and have overcome some negatives like 9-11 and the housing bubble bursting. As long as the Democrats support the market-friendly policies of the Bush administration, this country's economy will continue to grow.
March 15, 2007
"Good constitutions are formed upon a comparison of the liberty of the individual with the strength of government: If the tone of either be too high, the other will be weakened too much. It is the happiest possible mode of conciliating these objects, to institute one branch peculiarly endowed with sensibility, another with knowledge and firmness. Through the opposition and mutual control of these bodies, the government will reach, in its regular operations, the perfect balance between liberty and power."
-- Alexander Hamilton, 1788 - speech to the New York Ratifying Convention
Early 'surge' results are heartening
Robert Kagan reports at washingtonpost.com that the 'surge' appears to be succeeding. Here's how he begins:
A front-page story in The Post last week suggested that the Bush administration has no backup plan in case the surge in Iraq doesn't work. I wonder if The Post and other newspapers have a backup plan in case it does.
Leading journalists have been reporting for some time that the war was hopeless, a fiasco that could not be salvaged by more troops and a new counterinsurgency strategy. The conventional wisdom in December held that sending more troops was politically impossible after the antiwar tenor of the midterm elections. It was practically impossible because the extra troops didn't exist. Even if the troops did exist, they could not make a difference.
Four months later, the once insurmountable political opposition has been surmounted. The nonexistent troops are flowing into Iraq. And though it is still early and horrible acts of violence continue, there is substantial evidence that the new counterinsurgency strategy, backed by the infusion of new forces, is having a significant effect.
Some observers are reporting the shift. Iraqi bloggers Mohammed and Omar Fadhil, widely respected for their straight talk, say that "early signs are encouraging." The first impact of the "surge," they write, was psychological. Both friends and foes in Iraq had been convinced, in no small part by the American media, that the United States was preparing to pull out. When the opposite occurred, this alone shifted the dynamic.
The heartening part of this is the feedback from the Iraqis themselves:
. . . Now, the plan to secure Baghdad "is becoming stricter and gaining momentum by the day as more troops pour into the city, allowing for a better implementation of the 'clear and hold' strategy." Baghdadis "always want the 'hold' part to materialize, and feel safe when they go out and find the Army and police maintaining their posts -- the bad guys can't intimidate as long as the troops are staying."
A greater sense of confidence produces many benefits. The number of security tips about insurgents that Iraqi civilians provide has jumped sharply. Stores and marketplaces are reopening in Baghdad, increasing the sense of community. People dislocated by sectarian violence are returning to their homes. As a result, "many Baghdadis feel hopeful again about the future, and the fear of civil war is slowly being replaced by optimism that peace might one day return to this city," the Fadhils report. "This change in mood is something huge by itself."
Based on this, and other reports, I am beginning to feel as if we are turning this around -- provided the Dems don't do something stupid.
Go read the rest . . .
The long view
Columnist, veteran, and professor, Austin Bay, puts the recent gains made by the Iraqi people into historical perspective.
Consider what Iraq was, not simply in A.D. March 2003, but in 2003 B.C. Both historical frames provide instructive lessons in the obvious.
Iraq, as ancient Mesopotamia (the land between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers), seeded Abraham's Ur and Hammurabi's Babylon. The region was the Eden of city-states, the consolidator and exporter of the Agricultural Revolution. It is also the center of a predominantly Muslim region where -- to paraphrase historian Bernard Lewis -- something "went wrong." Lewis was addressing the "fossilization" that began to afflict the Middle East at least six centuries ago, a cultural, intellectual and, yes, political ossification and decline.
The decline did two things that directly affect the War on Terror (which Rudy Giuliani more correctly calls The Terrorists' War Against Us). The decline undermined Islamist utopian notions of theological supremacy. That millennialist disappointment seeds the long list of "grievances" infesting al-Qaida's propaganda.
The far greater consequence (and truly grievous wrong) was arresting Middle Eastern populations. Arrest is the right word. The Middle East was trapped in the terrible yin-yang of tyrant and terrorist, the choice of one or the other -- which is no choice, for both mean oppression and death.
Go read the whole thing.
March 14, 2007
"The principle of the Constitution is that of a separation of legislative, Executive and Judiciary functions, except in cases specified. If this principle be not expressed in direct terms, it is clearly the spirit of the Constitution, and it ought to be so commented and acted on by every friend of free government."
-- Thomas Jefferson, 1797 - letter to James Madison
War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature, and has no chance of being free unless made or kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.
-- John Stuart Mill
Thinking about it
They have not wanted Peace at all; they have wanted to be spared war -- as though the absence of war was the same as peace.
-- Dorothy Thompson
Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory
Ninety-eight percent of the adults in this country are decent, hardworking, honest Americans. It's the other lousy two percent that get all the publicity. But then, we elected them.
-- Lily Tomlin
March 13, 2007
"The convention have done well, therefore, in so disposing of the power of making treaties, that although the President must, in forming them, act by the advice and consent of the Senate, yet he will be able to manage the business of intelligence in such a manner as prudence may suggest."
-- John Jay, 1788 - Federalist No. 64
March 12, 2007
"It is one thing to be subordinate to the laws, and another [for the Executive] to be dependent on the legislative body. The first comports with, the last violates, the fundamental principles of good government; and, whatever may be the forms of the Constitution, unites all power in the same hands."
-- Alexander Hamilton, 1788 - Federalist No. 71
Ethanol -- not ready for prime time
Ethanol mixed with gasoline is quite popular as a means to reduce America's dependence upon imported oil. The problem is that the ethanol industry is not quite ready, in terms of production and technology, to supply the volume required by America.
The problem is, ethanol really isn't ready for prime time. The only economical way to make ethanol right now is with corn, which means the burgeoning industry is literally eating America's lunch, not to mention its breakfast and dinner. And though ethanol from corn may have some minor benefits with regard to energy independence, most analysts conclude its environmental benefits are questionable at best.
Go read the whole thing.
March 11, 2007
The foundations of our national policy will be laid in the pure and immutable principles of private morality, and the preeminence of free government be exemplified by all the attributes which can win the affections of its citizens, and command the respect of the world.
-- George Washington, 1789 - First Inaugural Address
Global warming -- an alternate view
Now even National Geographic is, reluctantly, reporting the possibility that the warming Earth is experiencing may not be caused by human activity after all.
Simultaneous warming on Earth and Mars suggests that our planet's recent climate changes have a natural—and not a human-induced—cause, according to one scientist's controversial theory.
Earth is currently experiencing rapid warming, which the vast majority of climate scientists says is due to humans pumping huge amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. (Get an overview: "Global Warming Fast Facts".)
Mars, too, appears to be enjoying more mild and balmy temperatures.
In 2005 data from NASA's Mars Global Surveyor and Odyssey missions revealed that the carbon dioxide "ice caps" near Mars's south pole had been diminishing for three summers in a row.
Habibullo Abdussamatov, head of space research at St. Petersburg's Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory in Russia, says the Mars data is evidence that the current global warming on Earth is being caused by changes in the sun.
"The long-term increase in solar irradiance is heating both Earth and Mars," he said.
Finally, the very real scientific disagreement regarding global warming is being revealed to the public. It never has been a done deal. And now many reasoning climate scientists are beginning to be heard over the alarmist klaxon of the hysterical elite who advocate human-caused global warming.
I may have used too many adjectives in that last paragraph . . .
March 10, 2007
Without religion, I believe that learning does real mischief to the morals and principles of mankind.
-- Benjamin Rush, 1783 - letter to John Armstrong
Why we need to enforce our immigration laws
It seems that another, much less publicized, study is out that shows a positive correlation between illegal aliens and probability of breaking other laws, as well.
WASHINGTON, March 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A recent study by the Immigration Policy Center (IPC) purported to show that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes in this country than the general population. The results of the IPC report, "The Myth of Immigrant Criminality and the Paradox of Assimilation," are misleading because they lump legal and illegal immigrants together, finds an analysis done by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).
Not surprisingly, legal immigrants, who are screened for criminal records before being admitted to the United States, tend not to engage in criminal activities once in the country. The same is not the case for illegal aliens, who constitute the fastest growing share of the foreign-born population. An examination of official data on the U.S. prison population reveals that they represent a larger share of the overall prison population than their presence in the country.
Food for thought.
March 09, 2007
Reading, reflection and time have convinced me that the interests of society require the observation of those moral precepts...in which all religions agree.
-- Thomas Jefferson, 1785 - Westmoreland County Petition
Jenny Hatch, over at Natural Family Blog has an interesting collection of photos that provide a tongue-in-cheek rebuttal to talk of military cut backs.
Iraqi economic reform
Austin Bay has an intriguing op-ed up at StrategyPage that advocates using economic incentives to bring long-term stability to Iraq. He's not talking about handouts, though, he's talking about economic reform in Iraq -- in the form of an "oil trust", land ownership and free markets.
Clarifying and affirming individual property rights is another important reform. Peruvian economist Hernando De Soto's "Mystery of Capital" (published in 2000) argued that Egypt's poor have around $240 billion in "dead capital," most of it tied up in property that they cannot properly mortgage. De Soto said that individual property rights and a legal system that protected contracts would instantly energize Egypt's sclerotic economy.
In 2004, while serving in Iraq, I read a short, unclassified study that made the same argument for Iraq. The potential economic payoff is huge.
Go read the whole thing.
March 08, 2007
If men are so wicked with religion, what would they be if without it?
-- Benjamin Franklin, to Thomas Paine
Sometimes we can be subtle
The disappearance of General, and former deputy defence minister of Iran, Ali Reza Asghari and his family has had Iran in a bit of a tizzy. Now it appears that he is defecting to the United States. Pajamas Media is providing coverage and has posted an update:
UPDATE @ 10:42 EST: “The Iranian former deputy defense minister who disappeared in neighboring Turkey last month is being questioned in a northern European country under strict supervision…. Ali Reza Asghari is undergoing thorough investigation by intelligence forces before being transferred to the United States.” (Haaretz)
See, it's not 'all war, all the time', after all . . .
Go read the whole thing.
UPDATE: It appears the speculation is at an end. General Asghari has indeed defected from Iran:
Ali Rez Asgari disappeared last month during a visit to Turkey. Iranian officials suggested yesterday that he may have been kidnapped by Israel or the United States. The U.S. official said Asgari is willingly cooperating. He did not divulge Asgari's whereabouts or specify who is questioning him, but made clear that the information Asgari is offering is fully available to U.S. intelligence.
Michael Yon has been embedded with CSM Mellinger, the most senior NCO in the Army. He recently returned from a 1200 mile trek across Iraq. He writes about morale, among other things, in his first dispatch about his road trip through Iraq.
There’s a lot of talk back at home that morale among American forces is low here. While writing this, I called Rich Oppel from the New York Times, who is in Baghdad, to ask him how morale looked from his vantage. Rich said that a lot of the soldiers are not happy with the extensions of their tours, something I have heard soldiers complain about also. However, I watch morale very closely. More closely than all else. Low morale in a particular unit can be the result of poor leadership in that unit, or just not getting mail, for instance. But gauging morale is not a simple affair of asking a few soldiers. A person has to live with them across Iraq. Having done so, my opinion is that overall troop morale is good to high. (If their morale could be bottled, it would probably would sell like crack, then be outlawed.)
All's quieter on the Iraqi front
Despite the fact that the mainstream media can only report body counts (though even the counts are lessening), there is much more to see in terms of results of the currently successful "surge" strategy in Iraq.
Brothers Mohammed and Omar Fadhil, who are residents of Baghdad, report on OpinionJournal about the way things are changing as a direct result of the joint American/Iraqi military operation.
I've reprinted the article, in its entirety, in the extended entry.
Read on . . .
Notes From Baghdad
Open liquor stores and other signs of the surge's success.
BY MOHAMMED FADHIL AND OMAR FADHIL
Wednesday, March 7, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST
BAGHDAD--The new strategy to secure Baghdad has been dubbed by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki as "Operation Imposing the Law." After weeks of waiting and anxiety it is finally under way, and early signs are encouraging.
The government information campaign and the news about thousands of additional troops coming had a positive impact even before the operation started. Commanders and lieutenants of various militant groups abandoned their positions in Baghdad and in some cases fled the country. Diyala province, to the east of Baghdad, was the destination for many Sunni extremists, while Shiite militiamen went to Babil and Diwaniya in the south. Some higher-ranking members of Shiite and Sunni militant groups fled to Iran and Syria respectively. This migration motivated the government to announce supporting security measures in five provinces around Baghdad, to make sure that fleeing bad guys do not regroup in other cities.
This indicates that both the addition of more troops and the tough words of Prime Minister Maliki are doing the job of intimidating the militants. The extremists understand only the language of power, and any reluctance or softness on the part of the Iraqi or U.S. government would only embolden them. In this way the clearly voiced commitment of President Bush and Prime Minister Maliki was exactly the type of strong message that needed to be sent.
One difference between this and earlier--failed--attempts to secure Baghdad is the willingness of the Iraqi and U.S. governments to commit enough resources for enough time to make it work. Another important point is the insistence of the Iraqi government that political factions not interfere with the progress of military action. The commanders and the prime minister have made it clear that no one will be above the law, and that even places of worship and the offices of politicians will be subject to searches and raids if evidence of involvement in violence is found.
The Iraqi commanders are also trying to give the operation a national stamp by including troops from across the country--even from Kurdistan and far provinces like Basra, where politicians and officers have been long opposed to being involved in Baghdad. Yet another aspect that makes "Imposing Law" unique is its ascending intensity. Unlike other operations that always started from a peak and soon lost momentum, this plan is becoming stricter and gaining momentum by the day as more troops pour into the city, allowing for a better implementation of the "clear and hold" strategy. People here always want the "hold" part to materialize, and feel safe when they go out and find the Army and police maintaining their posts--the bad guys can't intimidate as long as the troops are staying.
The Iraqi people themselves are playing their role in the plan. Recent figures from U.S. officers in Baghdad show that the joint forces have been receiving an average of 250 security tips from civilians since the beginning of the operation, about twice previous figures. With help from a government-appointed committee, people in some Baghdad neighborhoods are returning occupied mosques to their original keepers and worshippers, and holding joint prayers between the two sects in mixed neighborhoods.
So after only a couple weeks we can feel, despite the continuing violence, that much has been accomplished. Many Baghdadis feel hopeful again about the future, and the fear of civil war is slowly being replaced by optimism that peace might one day return to this city. This change in mood is something huge by itself.
The brightest image of the past two weeks was the scene of displaced families returning home; more than a thousand families are back to their homes under the protection of the Army and police. This figure invites hope that Baghdad will restore its social, ethnic and religious mosaic.
Marketplaces are seeing more activity and stores that were long shuttered are reopening--including even some liquor stores that came under vicious attacks in the past. This is a sign that extremists no longer can intimidate people and hold the city hostage. All of this gives the sense that law is being imposed.
Checkpoints are not seen as scary threats to the innocent. They look more professional and impartial as they include members of the police, army, multinational forces and even traffic cops with laptops verifying registration papers. We've lost the fear that checkpoints might be traps set by death squads; they search everyone, even official convoys and ambulances.
We feel safer about moving in the city now, and politicians who used to hide behind the walls of the Green Zone are venturing out. Watching Mr. Maliki walking on Palestine Street in central Baghdad gave a positive impression that the state, and not the gangs, owns the streets.
It is true that not all of Baghdad has seen the same amount of progress, but we realize that patience is necessary. People do not complain about delays at checkpoints but instead say they'd like to see stricter inspection.
Military-wise, the results are not humble either; hundreds of militants have been killed, more hundreds arrested, and dozens of weapons caches discovered and destroyed. The frequency of attacks has declined drastically, and the terrifying scene of bullet-riddled bodies has become a rarer incident.
Our people want to see this effort succeed. We know it's not going to be an easy fight. Rescuing all of Baghdad's districts from the grip of militants and terrorists will require sacrifice and hard work. We hope the troops and the governments in Baghdad and America do not lose their resolve.
Mohammed and Omar Fadhil write a blog, IraqTheModel.com, from Baghdad.
[Used with permission from OpinionJournal.com, a web site from Dow Jones & Company, Inc.]
March 07, 2007
Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and morality are indespensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism who should labor to subvert these great Pilliars of human happiness.
-- George Washington, 1796 - Farewell Address
Progress in Iraq
IraqPundit has a relative in Baghdad who he keeps in close contact with. He notes her positive comments on how things have been going there as a result of the new strategy in Iraq.
I spoke to an aunt in Baghdad the other day. She and her husband live in a mixed area that locals call "The Judges' Neighborhood." They and their neighbors have seen a lot of terrible violence, and have experienced far more than their share of fear.
I've talked with this aunt frequently, and while she's always tried to sound as if she and her husband will be just fine, this recent call was different. This time, she had palpable optimism in her voice. For the first time in a long, long time, she told me, she and the people around her feel that things might turn out okay after all.
Soldiers have been going door to door, she said, trying to locate those who had been chased away from their homes, to help them return. People are coming back to the neighborhood; daily life on the streets in her quarter is beginning to assume an air of routine. Her friends and neighbors are increasingly hopeful that things are taking a meaningful turn for the better. For them at least, the latest security crackdown is showing signs of success.
Are my aunt and her neighbors kidding themselves out of desperation? That's possible; it's hard to live without hope, and people can be creative at manufacturing reasons to be optimistic. (Though the truth is that Iraqis are not, as a rule, an optimistic group, and are inclined by cultural habit to see things darkly. But that's another story.) It's true that the murderers in Iraq are still at work. On the other hand, I'm far more inclined to take seriously a picture of Baghdad that comes from a life-long Baghdadi than one coming from a Westerner who has parachuted into town for a while, and who doesn't speak the language.
We seem to be on the right track over there. This is going to take time, though, and we Americans need to be patient.
Go read the whole thing.
March 06, 2007
Statesmen my dear Sir, may plan and speculate for Liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand....The only foundation of a free Constitution, is pure Virtue, and if this cannot be inspired into our People, in a great Measure, than they have it now, They may change their Rulers, and the forms of Government, but they will not obtain a lasting Liberty.
-- John Adams, 1776 - letter to Zabdiel Adams
The domestic American 'whys' and 'hows' of Iraq
Victor Davis Hansen discusses American involvement in Iraq.
Apparently, after the announcement of “Mission Accomplished,” and leading up to the 2004 elections, no one wanted CNN broadcasting live footage from a new siege of Hue in Fallujah. In the process, public support for the war was insidiously and slowly lost, by an Abu Ghraib or a grotesque televised beheading unanswered by a tough American retaliation against the militias. The terrorists learned from our own domestic calculus that each month of televised IEDs was worth one or two U.S. senators suddenly dropping their support for the war.
He covers a lot of territory in a relatively short column. I recommend it.
March 05, 2007
[W]here is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation deserts the oaths...?
-- George Washington, 1796 - Farewell Address
Human-caused global warming questioned
It seems that there are some 17,000 American scientists who do not agree that global warming is caused by human activity.
Signers of this petition so far include 2,660 physicists, geophysicists, climatologists, meteorologists, oceanographers, and environmental scientists (select this link for a listing of these individuals) who are especially well qualified to evaluate the effects of carbon dioxide on the Earth's atmosphere and climate.
Signers of this petition also include 5,017 scientists whose fields of specialization in chemistry, biochemistry, biology, and other life sciences (select this link for a listing of these individuals) make them especially well qualified to evaluate the effects of carbon dioxide upon the Earth's plant and animal life.
This convinces me that the claim that the science at the core of this issue has already been settled is wrong. Perhaps we should stop hyperventilating about human-caused global warming, and resume following established scientific method to figure out what's really causing it . . . and if there is anything we can really do about it.
UPDATE: National Geographic posted an article by a Russian scientists who has been studying the warming climate of Mars -- and he believes that the warming observed on both Earth and Mars are related. And not caused by human activity.
March 04, 2007
An unlimited power to tax involves, necessarily, a power to destroy; because there is a limit beyond which no institution and no property can bear taxation.
-- John Marshall, 1819 - McCullough v. Maryland
March 03, 2007
A rigid economy of the public contributions and absolute interdiction of all useless expenses will go far towards keeping the government honest and unoppressive.
-- Thomas Jefferson, 1823 - letter to Lafayette
March 02, 2007
Taxes should be continued by annual or biennial reeactments, because a constant hold, by the nation, of the strings of the public purse is a salutary restraint from which an honest government ought not wish, nor a corrupt one to be permitted, to be free.
-- Thomas Jefferson, 1813 - letter to John Wayles Eppes