August 31, 2007
"Of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people, commencing demagogues and ending tyrants. "
-- Alexander Hamilton (Federalist No. 1, 27 October 1787)
Heather Mac Donald has a thought-provoking article out at City Journal about the need for honest and rational discussion about black crime rates.
These specific facts about the Bell shooting are just a few of the hundreds of thousands of data points that reveal a hard truth: any given violent crime in New York is 13 times more likely to have a black than a white perpetrator. While most black residents are law-abiding and desperately deserve police protection, the incidence of criminal activity among young black males is off the charts. “A black kid between the ages of 18 and 24 is the scariest thing to cops,” says a police attorney, “because they know how crazy it can get.” And this is true whatever the officer’s race.
The high crime rate among minorities in this country needs to be addressed -- not swept under the carpet for the sake of political correctness.
[Via Michelle Malkin.]
It is not surprising to me that a CNS study found that the morning news shows on ABC, CBS, and NBC were promoting Democrat presidential candidates over their Republican counterparts.
The study found that 55 percent of campaign stories on ABC's Good Morning America , CBS's The Early Show and NBC's Today focused on Democratic candidates while only 29 percent focused on Republicans. The remaining 16 percent were classified as "mixed/independent."
The morning shows aired 61 stories focused exclusively on Sen. Hillary Clinton, 44 stories on former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, and 41 stories on Sen. Barack Obama, all of whom are seeking the Democratic presidential nomination. Former Vice President Al Gore, who is not officially running, was the subject of 29 stories.
Republican candidates received less attention, according to the study. Sen. John McCain was the focus of 31 stories. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani was the focus of 26 stories and former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney was the focus of 19 stories.
Interviews with Democratic candidates or their representatives accounted for more than four-and-a-half hours of airtime in the first seven months of 2007. Interviews with Republicans candidates or their representatives accounted for less than two hours, according to the study.
It's been a real lovefest, I tell ya . . .
August 30, 2007
"The reformation was preceded by the discovery of America, as if the Almighty graciously meant to open a sanctuary to the persecuted in future years, when home should afford neither friendship nor safety."
-- Thomas Paine (Common Sense, 1776)
I'll believe it's a crisis when the people who say it's a crisis start acting like it's a crisis.
Popular Science has an article up describing a agile prototype prosthetic arm. Here's how it begins:
More than 130 veterans of the Iraq war now face the daunting challenge of learning to live with a missing arm. To make that transition easier, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or Darpa, has launched a $55-million project that pools the efforts of prosthetics experts nationwide to create a thought-controlled bionic arm that duplicates the functions of a natural limb. If all goes well, by 2009 the agency will petition the Food and Drug Administration to put the arm through clinical trials. This summer the team hit a critical milestone when it finished Proto 2, a thought-controlled mechanical arm—complete with hand and articulated fingers—that can perform 25 joint motions. This dexterity approaches that of a native arm, which can make 30 motions, and trumps the previously most agile bionic arm, the Proto 1, which could bend at the elbow, rotate its wrist and shoulder, and open and close its fingers. A person wearing a Proto 2 could conceivably play the piano.
August 29, 2007
"[D]emocracy will soon degenerate into an anarchy, such an anarchy that every man will do what is right in his own eyes and no man's life or property or reputation or liberty will be secure, and every one of these will soon mould itself into a system of subordination of all the moral virtues and intellectual abilities, all the powers of wealth, beauty, wit and science, to the wanton pleasures, the capricious will, and the execrable cruelty of one or a very few."
-- John Adams, 1763 - An Essay on Man's Lust for Power
August 28, 2007
"Remember democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide."
-- John Adams, 1814 - letter to John Taylor
Rick Perry, governor of Texas, responds to European criticism of the death penalty in his state.
“230 years ago, our forefathers fought a war to throw off the yoke of a European monarch and gain the freedom of self-determination. Texans long ago decided that the death penalty is a just and appropriate punishment for the most horrible crimes committed against our citizens. While we respect our friends in Europe, welcome their investment in our state and appreciate their interest in our laws, Texans are doing just fine governing Texas.”
August 27, 2007
"The known propensity of a democracy is to licentiousness which the ambitious call, and ignorant believe to be liberty."
--Fisher Ames, 1788 - speech in the Massachusetts Ratifying Convention
Building a beer brewing machine
Popular Science provides us with the information needed to build the ultimate all-in-one beer brewing machine.
What if there were a machine—a beautiful shiny machine—and all it did, with almost no work from you, was make you beer? Such was the dream that drove PopSci staff photographer John Carnett to spend weeks building what he simply refers to as the Device: a stainless-steel two-cart brewing system that starts by boiling extract—concentrated wort, or pre-fermented beer—and ends with a chilled pint.
For all you home hobbyist beer drinkers . . .
August 26, 2007
"When we are planning for posterity, we ought to remember that virtue is not hereditary."
-- Thomas Paine (Common Sense, 1776)
"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
– C. S. Lewis
"In order to get power and retain it, it is necessary to love power; but love of power is not connected with goodness but with qualities that are the opposite of goodness, such as pride, cunning, and cruelty."
– Leo Tolstoy
"What this country needs are more unemployed politicians.
– Edward Langley
August 25, 2007
"To render the justice of the war on our part the more conspicuous, the reluctance to commence it was followed by the earliest and strongest manifestations of a disposition to arrest its progress. The sword was scarcely out of the scabbard before the enemy was apprised of the reasonable terms on which it would be resheathed."
-- James Madison (Second Inaugural Address, March 1813)
Dangers of flip-flops
They have been to mine . . . but primarily because I'm such a klutz . . .
August 24, 2007
"Laws are made for men of ordinary understanding and should, therefore, be construed by the ordinary rules of common sense. Their meaning is not to be sought for in metaphysical subtleties which may make anything mean everything or nothing at pleasure."
-- Thomas Jefferson (letter to William Johnson, 12 June 1823)
Michael Totten, embedded with the 82nd Airborne in Baghdad, has a new report on what's going on in his neighborhood there. And you should hear what Iraqis are saying to our troops:
“When you came and liberated this country,” he continued, “Iraq had 25 million Saddams. America is turning us back into human beings. That soccer field is not for a specific person. It is for everybody. We appreciate that. We believe that if Americans have something that is ours, they will return it to us. If the Iraqi government has something that is ours, we forget it.”
Our host for the evening nodded in agreement.
“We support you,” the man continued. “You support our back, we support your back. But you must understand: If you pull back, we will pull back. I will have no choice but to pull back if I can’t depend on you. It will be much harder for us to stand together. But as long as you stand firmly behind us we will support you against Moqtada al Sadr and the other bastards in the area.”
Go read the whole report.
August 23, 2007
"Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people, who have a right, from the frame of their nature, to knowledge, as their great Creator, who does nothing in vain, has given them understandings, and a desire to know; but besides this, they have a right, an indisputable, unalienable, indefeasible, divine right to that most dreaded and envied kind of knowledge; I mean, of the characters and conduct of their rulers."
-- John Adams (Dissertation on Canon and Feudal Law, 1765)
The quagmire in Iraq
It's not what you think. [My emphasis.]
Say there's a group of people in Iraq fighting what looks increasingly like an unwinnable war. The core of this group is made up of foreigners intent on a mission of 'liberation' in a land historically alien to their ideologies. In the process of enacting their designs, this group has suffered considerable casualties, sunk untold sums in resources, and lost many once-reliable friends. Sound familiar? This is the current state of international jihadism, an institution with a situation grimmer and an outlook more despairing than for the US-led coalition.
Go read it all.
August 22, 2007
"It is a happy circumstance in human affairs that evils which are not cured in one way will cure themselves in some other."
-- Thomas Jefferson (letter to John Sinclair, 1791)
The idgit vote
In The Know: Candidates Compete For Vital Idgit Vote
[Via Gerard Van der Leun at American Digest.]
August 21, 2007
"It will not be doubted, that with reference either to individual, or National Welfare, Agriculture is of primary importance. In proportion as Nations advance in population, and other circumstances of maturity, this truth becomes more apparent; and renders the cultivation of the Soil more and more, an object of public patronage."
-- George Washington, 1796 - Eighth Annual Message to Congress
Global warming and the future
Dr. Roy Spencer, Principal Research Scientist for the University of Alabama in Huntsville, offers a temperate (no pun intended) assessment of some reputable science concerning global warming.
First, NASA's James Hansen and his group had to fix a Y2K bug that a Canadian statistician found in their processing of the thermometer data. As a result, 1998 is no longer the warmest year on record in the United States - 1934 is. The temperature adjustment is admittedly small, yet there seemed to be no rush to retract the oft-repeated alarmist statements that have seared "1998!" into our brains as the rallying cry for the fight against global warming.
Then, the issue of spurious heat influences on the thermometers that NOAA uses to monitor global temperatures has reared its ugly head. Personally, I've been waiting for this one for a long time. Ordinary citizens are now traveling throughout their home states, taking pictures of the local conditions around these thermometer sites.
To everyone's astonishment, all kinds of spurious heat sources have cropped up over the years next to the thermometers. Air conditioning exhaust fans, burn barrels, asphalt parking lots, roofs, jet exhaust. Who could have known? Shocking.
Next, my own unit and I published satellite measurements that clearly show a natural cooling mechanism in the tropics which all of the leading computerized climate models have been insisting is a warming mechanism (Spencer et al., August 9, 2007 Geophysical Research Letters).
We found that when the tropical atmosphere heats up from extra rain system activity, the amount of infrared heat-trapping cirrus clouds those rain systems produce actually goes down. This unexpected result supports the "Infrared Iris" theory of climate stabilization that MIT's Richard Lindzen advanced some years ago.
It appears as if scientists are finally doing what they are best at: dispassionate research and analysis.
Maybe Al Gore should start listening to the quiet ones . . .
August 20, 2007
"I hope, some day or another, we shall become a storehouse and granary for the world."
-- George Washington, 1788 - letter to Marquis de Lafayette
A treatise on global warming
Mark Alexander, over at The Patriot Post, has an in-depth essay about the scientific aspects of global warming, humankind's contribution to it, and the political issues surrounding it.
First, let's be clear that the current debate about "global warming" is important, but is not synonymous with the debate about the environmental consequences of the "greenhouse effect". The latter issue concerns the consequential relationship between man-made CO2 in the atmosphere and global temperatures.
For the record, most reputable scientists agree that we are in a period of gradual global warming (about 0.7 degrees Celsius in the last century), and that the greenhouse effect prevents our climate from becoming a deep freeze. Most also agree that the level of CO2, including manmade CO2, in the atmosphere has increased in the last century, and that global warming is due, in some part, to the greenhouse effect.
However, there is no scientifically established correlation between global-warming trends and acceleration of the greenhouse effect due to human production of CO2 -- only broad speculation.
Although Gore and his media shills insist that the primary cause of global warming is the burning of hydrocarbons here in the United States, that government regulation of man-made CO2 will curb this global warming, that our failure to limit CO2 output will have dire consequences, and that the costs of enacting these limitations far outweigh the potential consequences, there is no evidence supporting any of these assertions.
I recommend you include this essay as part of your research into the issue.
August 19, 2007
"Finally, there seem to be but three Ways for a Nation to acquire Wealth. The first is by War as the Romans did in plundering their conquered Neighbours. This is Robbery. The second by Commerce which is generally Cheating. The third by Agriculture the only honest Way; wherein Man receives a real Increase of the Seed thrown into the Ground, in a kind of continual Miracle wrought by the Hand of God in his favour, as a Reward for his innocent Life, and virtuous Industry."
-- Benjamin Franklin, 1769 - Positions to be Examined
[On ancient Athens]: "In the end, more than freedom, they wanted security. They wanted a comfortable life, and they lost it all – security, comfort, and freedom. When the Athenians finally wanted not to give to society but for society to give to them, when the freedom they wished for most was freedom from responsibility, then Athens ceased to be free and was never free again."
– Edward Gibbon
August 18, 2007
“Of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people, commencing demagogues and ending tyrants.”
— Alexander Hamilton
August 17, 2007
"[T]he policy or advantage of [immigration] taking place in a body (I mean the settling of them in a body) may be much questioned; for, by so doing, they retain the Language, habits and principles (good or bad) which they bring with them. Whereas by an intermixture with our people, they, or their descendants, get assimilated to our customs, measures and laws: in a word, soon become one people."
-- George Washington, 1794 - letter to John Adams
The horrific bombing in northern Iraq this week is all about psyops performed by terrorists and targeting America's congressmen. Ralph Peters explains:
But the second reason for those dramatic bombings was that al Qaeda needs to portray Iraq as a continuing failure of U.S. policy. Those dead and maimed Yazidis were just props: The intended audience was Congress.
Al Qaeda has been badly battered. It's lost top leaders and thousands of cadres. Even more painful for the Islamists, they've lost ground among the people of Iraq, including former allies. Iraqis got a good taste of al Qaeda. Now they're spitting it out.
The foreign terrorists slaughtering the innocent recognize that their only remaining hope of pulling off a come-from-way-behind win is to convince your senator and your congressman or -woman that it's politically expedient to hand a default victory to a defeated al Qaeda.
Expect more attempts to generate massive bloodshed in Iraq in the coming weeks. The terrorists are well aware of the exaggerated-by-all-parties importance of Gen. David Petraeus' Sept. 15 progress report to Congress. They'll do all they can to embarrass the general and provide ammunition to the surrender caucus.
Meanwhile, our military progress has become undeniable.
The only way Al Qaeda can win is if America decides to lose.
Go read the whole thing.
The French connection
John Tamny explains why Democrat plans to raise taxes is something Sarkozy is trying to undo in France. If our national Democrat leaders have the capacity to learn, perhaps they should learn from the French:
It is said that French tax policy is somewhat cultural in terms of the long-held view among the citizenry that the successful in France should be viewed with suspicion. Similarly, the desire of the Democratic presidential candidates in the U.S. to return taxation to last decade’s levels suggests a deep-seated suspicion of wealth creation. But the French experience provides clear evidence of what can happen when the rich are penalized. Very simply, they take their talents elsewhere, pulling capital from our markets. As a result, those who have not yet become financially successful bear the brunt of higher taxes in a less-capitalized market.
If future tax changes cause a number of the vital few in the U.S. to disappear, the supposed “working poor” will suffer the most.
Go read it all.
Baqubah -- from another angle
The L.A. Times reports on the progress, and remaining work, in Baqubah.
Iraq's deputy prime minister flew here Sunday under heavy guard with promises of food, jobs and cash for a city emerging from the sway of Sunni Arab militants largely driven out by U.S.-led troops. What he got was an earful.
Men in long white dishdashas pushed past the crush of bodyguards, soldiers, aides and journalists that surrounded Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih in a market street, demanding to know when food rations would arrive from Baghdad and when government pensions would be paid.
Young, veiled women told him that they had risked their lives to sit through university exams in an area where Iraqi soldiers once dared not go and that they still had not received their test results. Employees at a state-run electrical plant said their salaries went unpaid for months at a time. And tribal leaders gathered at the governor's fortified office here berated him for talking about development projects when insurgents still terrorize outlying roads and villages in Diyala province.
"What you are talking about are dreams," said Sheik Hamid Anbagiya. "First we have to stop the insurgency. Then we can talk about civil services and projects."
But Salih told reporters he was encouraged by what he saw in Baqubah, the provincial capital: streets full of shoppers, produce and sodas for sale in the market, and men with graying beards smoking cigarettes and sipping tea at a cafe.
If most of the gripes are about paychecks and government services, then true progress is being made in defeating the terrorists there. We've a ways to go, but we've come a long way, too.
Go read the rest.
August 16, 2007
"Born in other countries, yet believing you could be happy in this, our laws acknowledge, as they should do, your right to join us in society, conforming, as I doubt not you will do, to our established rules. That these rules shall be as equal as prudential considerations will admit, will certainly be the aim of our legislatures, general and particular."
-- Thomas Jefferson, 1801 - letter to Hugh White
Beirut, a year later
Lisa Goldman, an Israeli journalist, writes an interesting article about her visit to Beirut last month. Here's how she starts.
On my first day in Beirut, the man who sold me a newspaper told me, “Many things are strange in Lebanon. Here, the strange is normal.” I wanted to answer, in a casual tone, “I know what you mean. I’m from Tel Aviv, and normal life can seem pretty strange there, too.” I wondered if the kiosk philosopher would think it strange-but-normal that an Israeli tourist was wandering around Beirut, one year after the war. And I am not sure I can describe how strange it was to feel simultaneously very comfortable and very fearful as an Israeli in Lebanon.
There are several photographs. It's a bit long, but is very informative. Recommended.
Renewed immigration enforcement
A welcome change from the Bush administration is the stated intention to enforce the immigration laws already on the books. Finally.
Some of the measures included are just continuations of current policy (completion of about half the border fencing by the end of next year, for instance) or not likely to have major impacts (expanding the number of foreign criminal gangs whose members are ineligible for visas). These efforts are welcome, but should be routine.
However, there are several novel elements (well, not so novel, since you could have read about them in NR), that must be part of any comprehensive attrition strategy to reduce the illegal population. Most important is the final rule on Social Security “no-match” letters. These are letters sent by the Social Security Administration to employers who’ve submitted W-2 forms for employees whose names and numbers don’t match the agency’s records. Some instances, of course, are the result of clerical mistakes or unreported name changes, but the majority are illegal aliens using fake or stolen Social Security numbers to gain employment.
This matters because more than half of illegal immigrants with jobs aren’t living “in the shadows” but instead are working on the books. In the past, no-match letters were sent only to employers with the largest number of problem files, and created no obligation to follow up. In fact, one version of the letter advised employers that “You should not use this letter to take any adverse action against an employee just because his or her Social Security number appears on the list, such as laying off, suspending, firing, or discriminating against that individual. Doing so could, in fact, violate state or federal law and subject you to legal consequences.”
As you can imagine, after that caveat most letters were just thrown away.
The new rule sets out common-sense steps an employer must take upon receiving a no-match letter to ensure that he won’t be held liable if the worker turns out to be an illegal alien. Social Security is now sending out these letters to employers with more than ten mismatches that make up more than one half of one percent of its workforce — covering about 80 percent of all mismatches. Most employers are likely to follow through the process and, if necessary, fire those workers who turn out to be illegals (most of whom will likely have left anyway by that point); while some may re-hire the workers off the books, “An employer who does that,” as Secretary Chertoff points out, “is making a deliberate decision to compound their legal difficulties by committing tax crimes as well as immigration crimes.” (In other words, “You may not think much of my department, but the IRS isn’t fooling around.”)
The underlying rationale for ensuring that no-match letters are acted on by employers is to turn off the magnet of jobs that attracts — and keeps — illegal aliens here. As it becomes harder to get a job, and as the jobs illegals can get are less stable, sneaking across the border or overstaying a visa will become less and less attractive, and illegals already here — especially those with fewer attachments — will start deporting themselves.
It's a start.
UPDATE: I corrected the spelling in the title . . .
August 15, 2007
"The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If `Thou shalt not covet' and `Thou shalt not steal' were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society before it can be civilized or made free."
-- John Adams (A Defense of the American Constitutions, 1787)
It seems that even Der Spiegel is acknowledging that the surge is working. Jules Crittenden brought this to my attention:
Written by a German in a brutally honest, harsh-lit multi-part article in Der Spiegel. The dirty secret the world doesn’t want to know. America, in heavy sacrifice of blood and treasure, is doing something right in Iraq.
Crittenden also has some accurate remarks about the media's coverage of the war. Good read.
August 14, 2007
"The nation which indulges towards another an habitual hatred, or an habitual fondness, is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest."
-- George Washington (letter to Alexander Hamilton, 8 May 1796)
August 13, 2007
"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, 1787 - Federalist No. 23
August 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."
-- 1788 - Federalist No. 71, Category: Separation of Powers
August 11, 2007
"The aim of every political constitution is, or ought to be, first to obtain for rulers men who possess most wisdom to discern, and most virtue to pursue, the common good of the society; and in the next place, to take the most effectual precautions for keeping them virtuous whilst they continue to hold their public trust."
-- James Madison (Federalist No. 57, 19 February 1788)
Minesweeper: The Movie
Just keep telling yourself -- "it's just a movie . . ."
[Via Ace of Spades.]
August 10, 2007
"Of all the cares or concerns of government, the direction of war most peculiarly demands those qualities which distinguish the exercise of power by a single hand. The direction of war implies the direction of the common strength; and the power of directing and employing the common strength, forms a usual and essential part in the definition of the executive authority."
-- Alexander Hamilton, 1788 - Federalist No. 74
Why we must secure our borders
This disturbing report talks about the 2005 DEA report describing jihadist terrorst cells in the USA teaming with the Mexican drug cartels.
The 2005 DEA report outlines several incidents in which multiple Middle Eastern drug-trafficking and terrorist cells in the U.S. are funding terrorism networks overseas with the aid of Mexican cartels. These sleeper cells use established Mexican cartels with highly sophisticated trafficking routes to move narcotics — and other contraband — in and out of the United States, the report said.
Scary, isn't it? Read the rest . . .
Ignoring the Center
Jazz, over at the Middle Earth Journal expresses some interesting thoughts about politicians and the political center of America. Here's how he begins:
It appears, according to Martin O'Malley, that there are those who feel that, assuming they don't blow it, the Democrats could be in for a cake walk in the '08 elections. However, if the '04 elections taught us anything, it's that the Dems have an uncanny ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Already, flush with the smell of impending victory, some of them may even feel that it's no longer important to listen to centrist, moderate voices and instead pander to the base. (Does anyone recall a similar story among the Republicans in '06?)
Politicians . . . ignore us at your peril!
Moon shot films online
This sounds like fun: Digitized Apollo Flight Films Available Online.
August 09, 2007
"The injury which may possibly be done by defeating a few good laws, will be amply compensated by the advantage of preventing a number of bad ones."
-- Alexander Hamilton, 1788 - Federalist No. 73, on the Veto Power
Played like a violin
An op-ed in OpinionJournal this week, written by an ex-communist propagandist, discusses specifics from his former profession in Romania to illustrate how Al Qaeda is using the American Left to undermine the war against terrorism in Iraq.
I've reprinted the whole article below the fold. It's a thinker . . .
Take it from this old KGB hand: The left is abetting America's enemies with its intemperate attacks on President Bush.
BY ION MIHAI PACEPA
Tuesday, August 7, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT
During last week's two-day summit, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown thanked President Bush for leading the global war on terror. Mr. Brown acknowledged "the debt the world owes to the U.S. for its leadership in this fight against international terrorism" and vowed to follow Winston Churchill's lead and make Britain's ties with America even stronger.
Mr. Brown's statements elicited anger from many of Mr. Bush's domestic detractors, who claim the president concocted the war on terror for personal gain. But as someone who escaped from communist Romania--with two death sentences on his head--in order to become a citizen of this great country, I have a hard time understanding why some of our top political leaders can dare in a time of war to call our commander in chief a "liar," a "deceiver" and a "fraud."
I spent decades scrutinizing the U.S. from Europe, and I learned that international respect for America is directly proportional to America's own respect for its president.
My father spent most of his life working for General Motors in Romania and had a picture of President Truman in our house in Bucharest. While "America" was a vague place somewhere thousands of miles away, he was her tangible symbol. For us, it was he who had helped save civilization from the Nazi barbarians, and it was he who helped restore our freedom after the war--if only for a brief while. We learned that America loved Truman, and we loved America. It was as simple as that.
Later, when I headed Romania's intelligence station in West Germany, everyone there admired America too. People would often tell me that the "Amis" meant the difference between night and day in their lives. By "night" they meant East Germany, where their former compatriots were scraping along under economic privation and Stasi brutality. That was then.
But in September 2002, a German cabinet minister, Herta Dauebler-Gmelin, had the nerve to compare Mr. Bush to Hitler. In one post-Iraq-war poll 40% of Canada's teenagers called the U.S. "evil," and even before the fall of Saddam 57% of Greeks answered "neither" when asked which country was more democratic, the U.S. or Iraq.
Sowing the seeds of anti-Americanism by discrediting the American president was one of the main tasks of the Soviet-bloc intelligence community during the years I worked at its top levels. This same strategy is at work today, but it is regarded as bad manners to point out the Soviet parallels. For communists, only the leader counted, no matter the country, friend or foe. At home, they deified their own ruler--as to a certain extent still holds true in Russia. Abroad, they asserted that a fish starts smelling from the head, and they did everything in their power to make the head of the Free World stink.
The communist effort to generate hatred for the American president began soon after President Truman set up NATO and propelled the three Western occupation forces to unite their zones to form a new West German nation. We were tasked to take advantage of the reawakened patriotic feelings stirring in the European countries that had been subjugated by the Nazis, in order to shift their hatred for Hitler over into hatred for Truman--the leader of the new "occupation power." Western Europe was still grateful to the U.S. for having restored its freedom, but it had strong leftist movements that we secretly financed. They were like putty in our hands.
The European leftists, like any totalitarians, needed a tangible enemy, and we gave them one. In no time they began beating their drums decrying President Truman as the "butcher of Hiroshima." We went on to spend many years and many billions of dollars disparaging subsequent presidents: Eisenhower as a war-mongering "shark" run by the military-industrial complex, Johnson as a mafia boss who had bumped off his predecessor, Nixon as a petty tyrant, Ford as a dimwitted football player and Jimmy Carter as a bumbling peanut farmer. In 1978, when I left Romania for good, the bloc intelligence community had already collected 700 million signatures on a "Yankees-Go-Home" petition, at the same time launching the slogan "Europe for the Europeans."
During the Vietnam War we spread vitriolic stories around the world, pretending that America's presidents sent Genghis Khan-style barbarian soldiers to Vietnam who raped at random, taped electrical wires to human genitals, cut off limbs, blew up bodies and razed entire villages. Those weren't facts. They were our tales, but some seven million Americans ended up being convinced their own president, not communism, was the enemy. As Yuri Andropov, who conceived this dezinformatsiya war against the U.S., used to tell me, people are more willing to believe smut than holiness.
The final goal of our anti-American offensive was to discourage the U.S. from protecting the world against communist terrorism and expansion. Sadly, we succeeded. After U.S. forces precipitously pulled out of Vietnam, the victorious communists massacred some two million people in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Another million tried to escape, but many died in the attempt. This tragedy also created a credibility gap between America and the rest of the world, damaged the cohesion of American foreign policy, and poisoned domestic debate in the U.S.
Unfortunately, partisans today have taken a page from the old Soviet playbook. At the 2004 Democratic National Convention, for example, Bush critics continued our mud-slinging at America's commander in chief. One speaker, Martin O'Malley, now governor of Maryland, had earlier in the summer stated he was more worried about the actions of the Bush administration than about al Qaeda. On another occasion, retired four-star general Wesley Clark gave Michael Moore a platform to denounce the American commander in chief as a "deserter." And visitors to the national chairman of the Democratic Party had to step across a doormat depicting the American president surrounded by the words, "Give Bush the Boot."
Competition is indeed the engine that has driven the American dream forward, but unity in time of war has made America the leader of the world. During World War II, 405,399 Americans died to defeat Nazism, but their country of immigrants remained sturdily united. The U.S. held national elections during the war, but those running for office entertained no thought of damaging America's international prestige in their quest for personal victory. Republican challenger Thomas Dewey declined to criticize President Roosevelt's war policy. At the end of that war, a united America rebuilt its vanquished enemies. It took seven years to turn Nazi Germany and imperial Japan into democracies, but that effort generated an unprecedented technological explosion and 50 years of unmatched prosperity for us all.
Now we are again at war. It is not the president's war. It is America's war, authorized by 296 House members and 76 senators. I do not intend to join the armchair experts on the Iraq war. I do not know how we should handle this war, and they don't know either. But I do know that if America's political leaders, Democrat and Republican, join together as they did during World War II, America will win. Otherwise, terrorism will win. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi predicted just before being killed: "We fight today in Iraq, tomorrow in the land of the Holy Places, and after there in the West."
On July 28, I celebrated 29 years since President Carter signed off on my request for political asylum, and I am still tremendously proud that the leader of the Free World granted me my freedom. During these years I have lived here under five presidents--some better than others--but I have always felt that I was living in paradise. My American citizenship has given me a feeling of pride, hope and security that is surpassed only by the joy of simply being alive. There are millions of other immigrants who are equally proud that they restarted their lives from scratch in order to be in this magnanimous country. I appeal to them to help keep our beloved America united and honorable. We may not be able to change the habits of our current political representatives, but we may be able to introduce healthy new blood into the U.S. Congress.
For once, the communists got it right. It is America's leader that counts. Let's return to the traditions of presidents who accepted nothing short of unconditional surrender from our deadly enemies. Let's vote next year for people who believe in America's future, not for the ones who live in the Cold War past.
Lt. Gen. Pacepa is the highest-ranking intelligence official ever to have defected from the Soviet bloc. His new book, "Programmed to Kill: Lee Harvey Oswald, the Soviet KGB, and the Kennedy Assassination" (Ivan R. Dee) will be published in November.
[Used with permission from OpinionJournal.com, a web site from Dow Jones & Company, Inc.]
We are making a difference
Michael Yon reports on Iraq in the New York Daily News and, from first hand experience, recounts one of the atrocities that Al Qaeda has committed there. He also reports on the progress he sees being made in eradicating the Al Qaeda pestilence in Iraq. And the need for more progress in order for us to claim victory.
Anyone who says Al Qaeda is not one of the primary problems in Iraq is simply ignorant of the facts.
I, like everyone else, will have to wait for September's report from Gen. Petraeus before making more definitive judgments. But I know for certain that three things are different in Iraq now from any other time I've seen it.
1. Iraqis are uniting across sectarian lines to drive Al Qaeda in all its disguises out of Iraq, and they are empowered by the success they are having, each one creating a ripple effect of active citizenship.
2. The Iraqi Army is much more capable now than it was in 2005. It is not ready to go it alone, but if we keep working, that day will come.
3. Gen. Petraeus is running the show. Petraeus may well prove to be to counterinsurgency warfare what Patton was to tank battles with Rommel, or what Churchill was to the Nazis.
And yes, in case there is any room for question, Al Qaeda still is a serious problem in Iraq, one that can be defeated. Until we do, real and lasting security will elude both the Iraqis and us.
The surge is working, but it will take some time for Iraq to stabilize. After all, it took 7 years after the fighting was over in WWII for us to turn Germany and Japan into stable democracies . . .
We need to be patient.
August 08, 2007
"All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride legitimately, by the grace of God."
-- Thomas Jefferson, 1826 - letter to Roger C. Weightman
Ralph Peters weighs in about how our troops are the best-behaved in history.
THE media love to trash our troops. Every crime alleged to have been committed by a soldier or Marine in Iraq is headlined until it seems that those in uniform are so busy with atrocities they haven't got time to fight.
No accusation is too preposterous for "respected" media outlets to feature, and the left-wing press convicts our troops long before they see a courtroom. Our service members are portrayed (by those who never served) as a sadistic rabble.
But when you look at the facts - the hard numbers - a very different picture emerges.
While crimes committed by our troops can't be condoned (and they certainly aren't), official crime statistics make it clear that we have the best-behaved military in history - one that's vastly more law-abiding than our general population.
He then starts comparing military courts-martial numbers to those of American cities like Santa Cruz, CA, and Vicksburg, VA.
I personally have had a lot of experience working with the services (primarily the Air Force and Navy, but also with the Marines and Army), and have found them to be good, decent people overall. I met a few wild cards, but they conformed to military discipline like everyone else. In my experience, the men and women of the U.S. military are more professional, dedicated, and morally well-grounded than the average U.S. civilian. They are held to a higher standard -- and respond accordingly.
Bread for Baqubah
Michael Yon, in the conclusion of his "Bread and Circuses" dispatch, describes the tremendous efforts by our soldiers, the Iraqi Army, and several brave Iraqi civilians to get food shipments to Baqubah.
After fueling the trucks in the convoy, we headed to Baghdad to get the food. The trucks took an exit down a route that we did not follow, because it had not been cleared of bombs. Sometimes bombs are so large they are buried under roads using earthmoving machines and sit for months waiting for someone just like us, taking a shortcut only to get launched to God. The shortcut caused an hour difference in arrival times, and the break in contact led to frustrating hours of additional delay, tooling around Baghdad trying to find the warehouse, and re-establishing contact with all the trucks. But if there were any huge bombs waiting for us, we avoided them, and this dispatch got written.
Mr. Yon does an excellent job telling his story with words, photographs, and video segments.
It's well worth your time.
August 07, 2007
"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, 1774 - Rights of British America
HR 3221 -- the wrong direction bill
The new energy bill being considered in the House, HR3221, is not what it's cracked up to be. Iain Murray of the Competitive Enterprise Institute explains why:
Speaker Pelosi says that HR 3221, the New Direction for Energy Independence, National Security and Consumer Protection Act “puts us on a path towards energy independence, strengthens national security, grows our economy and creates new jobs, lowers energy prices and begins to address global warming.” It will actually do none of these in any meaningful sense. It is a new direction, certainly, but it’s the wrong direction. This is an anti-energy bill.
The bill does not do anything to ease restrictions on nuclear power or resource exploration in this country, either, so it is little more than a sop to the public for political gain.
In terms of providing energy independence -- the bill will do just the opposite because it will force us to go overseas to increase our mining, drilling, and refining capacity.
It's just a bad idea, and should never have made it out of committee.
Lawrence Kudlow weighs in with compelling facts that support his assertion that our economy is stronger than ever.
So, while the mainstream media peddles its flimsy “sky is falling” narrative, the reality is a 13,400 or so Dow, along with rising wages and a 4.6 unemployment rate, point to a prosperous nation. These are the key barometers. The Bush boom continues.
Read the whole thing.
UPDATE: Kudlow provides some remarks on the Corner blog at NRO following yesterday's DOW closing over 13.468.
Wall Street stabilized today with a triple-digit Dow gain as of this writing. All those Bear Stearns rumors on Friday were totally over-baked and hyperactively alarmist. The firm is money-good, and its daily security positions are being financed by its top lenders, including Citibank and J.P. Morgan. What’s more, the two credit rating agencies, Moody’s and S&P, gave Bear Stearns a positive and sound outlook with respect to liquidity and credit. S&P downgraded because of the possible likelihood of lower earnings over the medium term. But S&P said liquidity is fine. All the negative speculation and rumors about the firm are just wrong.
Meanwhile, I still believe the Goldilocks economic scenario is alive and well. Jobs came in at 120,000 for the private sector, and if government teachers had contributed 30,000 as usual (probably due to a statistical estimating error, they didn’t), then the jobs report would have met consensus.
Unemployment has essentially been unchanged at 4.5 percent to 4.6 percent for a year. Weekly jobless claims are low. Wages are running ahead of inflation. The ISM report suggests at least 2.5 percent real growth. The global economic boom continues as commodity indexes are holding the high ground. In the U.S., business loans are growing about 12 percent.
Second quarter profits are running 15 percent on a market-cap basis, 11 percent on a net income basis, and 9 percent for continuing operations. Those profits are two-to-three times higher than consensus expected. Corporate bond spreads and yields are normalizing, but sources tell me that new money is coming in from petro countries and China to bottom fish cheaper corporate loans. All of which are money-good.
The sub-prime mortgage virus is still the biggest issue and no one can be sure how large the total damage will be. But with a global boom abroad and Goldilocks at home, the stock market is in better fundamental shape than so many commentators would have us believe.
Call it money-good.
August 06, 2007
"The civil rights of none, shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship, nor shall any national religion be established, nor shall the full and equal rights of conscience be in any manner, or on any pretext infringed."
-- James Madison
1789 - proposed amendment to the Constitution, given in a speech in the House of Representatives
Coal supplies half of America's electricity needs
Popular Mechanics has an interesting article about high-tech coal mining in America.
. . . Wind, water, nuclear, oil, natural gas, solar energies — add them all up and together they barely produce as much electricity as coal.
Last year, America consumed more than 1 billion tons of the mineral. At the present rate, using existing extraction technology, the reserves will last 243 years. Coal is dramatically cheap to mine, too: In 2005 it cost $8.66 to produce a million BTU of oil; the equivalent energy from coal cost $1.19. About two-thirds of America's favorite fossil fuel comes from surface mines (about 778 million tons); the rest is produced in underground mines, mainly in Appalachia.
August 05, 2007
"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power."
-- Thomas Jefferson, 1820 - letter to William Charles Jarvis
Happy 29th, my love
After all of these years, two children, three plus college degrees, countless hours apart on business, bad times, and many more good times . . .
. . . you still take my breath away!
I love you, Honey.
August 04, 2007
"Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves, therefore, are its only safe depositories."
-- Thomas Jefferson, 1781 - Notes on the State of Virginia, Query XIV
It's the infrastructure, stupid!
The tragic collapse of the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis is just another symptom of something Americans have refused to deal with: America's infrastructure is reaching the end of its service life and needs to be replaced. This problem is getting worse throughout the country. We're just going to have to do something about it -- starting now . . .
In the end, investigators may find that there are unique and extraordinary reasons why the I-35W bridge failed. But the graphic images of buckled pavement, stranded vehicles, twisted girders and heroic rescuers are a reminder that infrastructure cannot be taken for granted. The blind eye that taxpayers and our elected officials have been turning to the imperative of maintaining and upgrading the critical foundations that underpin our lives is irrational and reckless.
I'm hoping we don't wait until there are more tragedies like what happened in Minneapolis this week.
August 03, 2007
"But of all the views of this law none is more important, none more legitimate, than that of rendering the people safe, as they are the ultimate, guardians of their own liberty. For this purpose the reading in the first stage, where they will receive their whole education, is proposed, as has been said, to be chiefly historical. History by apprising them of the past will enable them to judge of the future; it will avail them of the experience of other times and other nations; it will qualify them as judges of the actions and designs of men; it will enable them to know ambition under every disguise it may assume; and knowing it, to defeat its views."
-- Thomas Jefferson, 1781 - Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 14
How free speech can be silenced in the West
Bryan, over at Hot Air, has a disturbing report about how one wealthy Saudi is using UK courts to kill American free speech.
It’s difficult to overstate the importance of this story. The Chronicle of Higher Education (sub. required) on Wednesday published an article about Khalid bin Mafouz, a wealthy Saudi banker, and his successful effort to persuade the Cambridge University Press to halt the publication of four books that detail how Saudi citizens use their wealth to finance global terrorism. One of those books, Alms for Jihad, was once on sale at Amazon and elsewhere, but it has been pulled from sale and copies of it are now being pulped. Cambridge has even sent out letters to libraries that stock it and the other three books, asking for their return so that they too can be pulped, meaning they will soon disappear, burying the details they contain on how terrorism finance works and who is behind it.
Go read the rest and listen to the audio segment.
This is important.
Global Warming = Big Business
This video is 1.25 hours long. If you'd prefer a DVD, contact Curt at Flopping Aces (see link below).
It's definitely not politically correct, but it is much more scientifically correct than what we hear from the eco-activists. This is serious stuff, and there are some highly respected scientists expressing their views that global warming is not caused by humans and cannot be prevented by humans. Recommended.
[Via Flopping Aces.]
August 02, 2007
"It is a just observation that the people commonly intend the Public Good. This often applies to their very errors. But their good sense would despise the adulator who should pretend they always reason right about the means of promoting it."
-- Alexander Hamilton, 1788 - Federalist No. 71
"Let us recollect that peace or war will not always be left to our option; that however moderate or unambitious we may be, we cannot count upon the moderation, or hope to extinguish the ambition of others."
-- Alexander Hamilton (Federalist No. 34, 4 January 1788)
“National defense is one of the cardinal duties of a statesman.”
August 01, 2007
"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, 1787 - Federalist No. 22
Night patrol in Baghdad
Michael Totten accompanies an element of the 82nd Airborne on a night patrol in Baghdad. In it, the patrol comes upon a mosque.
When we arrived outside the mosque, some of the soldiers squatted in driveways across the street and scanned the roof. I joined them as Eddy and the others took the suspect to the gate.
I crouched near the ground.
"There are four men on the roof", a soldier said. "You can't see them anymore. They just ducked away as we got here."
"They have a little bunker up there", he continued. "You can't see it from here, but it has sand bags and sniper netting around it."
"What are you going to do?" I said.
"Nothing", he said. "It's a mosque."
"They're violating curfew," I said, "and stalking us in the dark from a militarized mosque. And you aren't going to do anything?"
"Our rules of engagement say we can't interfere in any way with a mosque unless they are shooting at us", he said.
We left our stalker with his "co-workers" and walked away.
Things over there are not as straightforward as stateside "experts" would have you believe. Totten gives a balanced, unbiased, accounting of his experiences there. I think you'll find it refreshing . . . and encouraging.
Larry Kudlow explains why the recent stock market reductions do not indicate a bad economy. Because profits and the GDP are up, and inflation is down.
Be it loan worries or the stock correction, the key point in all this is the steady stream of rising profits. Profits matter. They are the best guarantee for the credit worthiness of corporate loans and the value of stocks. As classical economist Benjamin Anderson wrote in the 1920s when he was the top economist at the old Chase National Bank, “profits are the heart of the business situation.” Down through the years, I’ve paraphrased that as “profits are the mother’s milk of stocks and the economy.” It’s time to add credit-worthiness to that list.
Read the whole thing . . .