Thursday, January 25, 2007

The new site is at

The new website is Http://

Saturday, December 30, 2006

AP reports that "Beijing strengthening military to contain Taiwan".

But you need not worry since according to a new white paper by China's State Council:

"China will not engage in any arms race or pose a military threat
to any other country, China is determined to remain a staunch force for global peace, security and stability."

The full text of the report "China's National Defense in 2006", can be found here.


On Taiwan:

However, China's security still faces challenges that must not be neglected. The growing interconnections between domestic and inter-national factors and interconnected traditional and non-traditional factors have made maintaining national security a more challenging task. The struggle to oppose and contain the separatist forces for "Taiwan independence" and their activities remains a hard one. By pursuing a radical policy for "Taiwan independence," the Taiwan authorities aim at creating "de jure Taiwan independence" through "constitutional reform," thus still posing a grave threat to China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as to peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits and in the Asia-Pacific region as a whole. The United States has reiterated many times that it will adhere to the "one China" policy and honor the three joint communiques between China and the United States. But, it continues to sell advanced weapons to Taiwan, and has strengthened its military ties with Taiwan. A small number of countries have stirred up a racket about a "China threat," and intensified their preventive strategy against China and strove to hold its progress in check. Complex and sensitive historical and current issues in China's surrounding areas still affect its security environment.

On an assumed challenge to the U.S.:

China pursues a three-step development strategy in modernizing its national defense and armed forces, in accordance with the state's over-all plan to realize odernization. The first step is to lay a solid foundation by 2010, the second is to make major rogress around 2020, and the third is to basically reach the strategic goal of building informationized armed forces and being capable of winning informationized wars by the mid-21st century.

A Sampling of Saddam

For those who might be doubting the punishment which was delivered to Saddam this morning, here is a stark reminder of life under Saddam's rule.

Be forewarned, it is not for the faint of heart.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Saddam's Execution and the Left

Here's a question. Someone posts on Saddam's excution over at How many replies does it take to devolve into anti-semetic conspiracy theories?

Answer: seven

Friday, April 28, 2006

Lyrics for "Nuestro Himno"

The lyrics for "Nuestro Himno", the susposed Spanish version of our national anthem, are now available at the Washington Post.

"The Star-Spangled Banner" was written in 1814 by Francis Scott Key, after watching the battle at Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Maryland during the War of 1812. The original version has 4 verses, although the version all Americans know today is just the 1st verse. It became our official anthem in 1931.

Our Verse 1

O say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming!
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there:
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

Spanish Verse 1
Oh say can you see, a la luz de la aurora?
Lo que tanto aclamamos la noche al caer?
Sus estrellas, sus franjas flotaban ayer
En el fiero combate en señal de victoria,
Fulgor de lucha, al paso de la libertad,
Por la noche decían: "¡Se va defendiendo!"
¡Oh, decid! ¿Despliega aún su hermosura estrellada,
Sobre tierra de libres, la bandera sagrada?

Our Verse 2
On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, now conceals, now discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines on the stream:
Tis the star-spangled banner! O long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Spanish Verse 2
Sus estrellas, sus franjas, la libertad, somos iguales
Somos hermanos, es nuestro himno.
En el fiero combate en señal de victoria,
Fulgor de lucha, al paso de la libertad,
Por la noche decían: "¡Se va defendiendo!"
¡Oh, decid! ¿Despliega aún su hermosura estrellada,
Sobre tierra de libres, la bandera sagrada?

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Gas tax rates by State

You can see how much your state charges for a gas tax here.

S.Amdt. 3594 to H.R. 4939 (Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Hurricane Recovery, 2006)

Here's the breakdown on which Senators voted to reallocate some of the money for the GWOT to border security:

YEAs ---59
Alexander (R-TN)
Allard (R-CO)
Allen (R-VA)
Bennett (R-UT)
Bond (R-MO)
Brownback (R-KS)
Bunning (R-KY)
Burns (R-MT)
Burr (R-NC)
Byrd (D-WV)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Carper (D-DE)
Chafee (R-RI)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Coleman (R-MN)
Collins (R-ME)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Craig (R-ID)
Crapo (R-ID)
DeMint (R-SC)
Dole (R-NC)
Domenici (R-NM)
Ensign (R-NV)
Enzi (R-WY)
Feingold (D-WI)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Frist (R-TN)
Graham (R-SC)
Grassley (R-IA)
Gregg (R-NH)
Hagel (R-NE)
Hatch (R-UT)
Hutchison (R-TX)
Isakson (R-GA)
Kyl (R-AZ)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Lott (R-MS)
Lugar (R-IN)
Martinez (R-FL)
McCain (R-AZ)
McConnell (R-KY)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Murray (D-WA)
Roberts (R-KS)
Santorum (R-PA)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Smith (R-OR)
Snowe (R-ME)
Specter (R-PA)
Stevens (R-AK)
Sununu (R-NH)
Thomas (R-WY)
Thune (R-SD)
Vitter (R-LA)
Voinovich (R-OH)
Warner (R-VA)

NAYs ---39
Akaka (D-HI)
Baucus (D-MT)
Bayh (D-IN)
Biden (D-DE)
Bingaman (D-NM)
Boxer (D-CA)
Clinton (D-NY)
Conrad (D-ND)
Dayton (D-MN)
DeWine (R-OH)
Dodd (D-CT)
Dorgan (D-ND)
Durbin (D-IL)
Harkin (D-IA)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Inouye (D-HI)
Jeffords (I-VT)
Johnson (D-SD)
Kennedy (D-MA)
Kohl (D-WI)
Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Leahy (D-VT)
Levin (D-MI)
Lieberman (D-CT)
Lincoln (D-AR)
Menendez (D-NJ)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Nelson (D-FL)
Nelson (D-NE)
Obama (D-IL)
Pryor (D-AR)
Reed (D-RI)
Reid (D-NV)
Salazar (D-CO)
Sarbanes (D-MD)
Schumer (D-NY)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Talent (R-MO)
Wyden (D-OR)

Not Voting - 2
Kerry (D-MA)
Rockefeller (D-WV)

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Sydney's Answer to Paris?

RACE-motivated mob violence at a Sydney beach would confuse international
tourists who saw Australia as a tolerant and safe destination, a leading tourism
expert said today.

Ya think? That's the shocker that opens "Riots 'affect safe tourism image'" in The Australian today. A mob of 5,000 shouting anti-muslim slogans and battling police? Disturbing.

Senator Frist Grows a Spine?

The constitutionality of the "nuclear option" notwithstanding, many Republicans will be uplifted to know that yes, they do appear to have a leader in the Senate. AP reports that "Frist prepared to block a filibuster over Alito nomination".

"The answer is yes," Frist said when asked if he would act to change Senate procedures to restrict a Democratic filibuster. "Supreme Court justice nominees deserve an up-or-down vote, and it would be absolutely wrong to deny him that."

Regardless, the damage has been done. The often muddled, rudderless leasership in the Senate has precluded his chances for 2008.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Secratary of Defense Joseph Lieberman

The media is all atwitter with rumors of Senator Lieberman replacing Secratary Rumsfield, were Secratary Rumsfield to retire. New York Newsday carries "Lieberman meets with Rumsfeld amid retirement speculation":

He was tight-lipped about the 7:30 a.m. meeting with Rumsfeld and Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff.

It's enough to give coniption fits to the Deomcrats. In fact, they're all atwitter as well.

At, "Former Connecticut governor may challenge Lieberman":

"In the absence of any Democrat giving him a challenge, or somebody of another party of substance, I'd have to consider it, but that's the extent of my commitment at this stage...I have seen this country propagandized into war," said Weicker, a Republican-turned-independent. "It's now a second wave of propagandizing, with the president taking the stump, joined by persons like Senator Joe Lieberman."

And from the Journal Inquirer, "Manchester Democrats consider chastising Lieberman":

MANCHESTER -- With several members upset with Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman's stance on the war in Iraq, the Democratic Town Committee plans to hold a special meeting to discuss the issue.

At the meeting, which likely will be held this month, the committee will decide whether to send Lieberman's office a formal letter stating its displeasure and opposition to the senator's stance.

But back over at, all is well, when DNC Chairman "Dean says Democrats have united plan":

Dean said on CNN's "American Morning" that Democrats have a plan for Iraq "that we can coalesce around" and that the differences between Democrats are being overemphasized by the meida.

"I think that's mostly press gobbledygook," he said. "The press wants to focus on the differences. The differences are pretty small, perhaps Senator Lieberman excepted."

Most of the buzz seems to be centered on whether or not this would be a smart pick, politically, to silience the President's domestic critics. That misses the point. The real advantage to such a pick, would be to show a united front to our enemies.

As for Senator Lieberman, he gave a speech the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment in Washington on Tuesday for a "Forum on Next Steps for Successful Strategy in Iraq". His speech included more of the same common sense language that has been reassuring Republicans and driving Democrats off the cliff:

The most important debate going on currently here about the war in Iraq is between some people who are focused on withdrawal of our forces regardless of conditions on the ground and the rest of us who believe that our goal in Iraq is not to withdraw but to win, so we can leave with the mission

This is a serious and significant debate and in the vitality and health of our democracy will continue to go on. I hope it goes on with a recognition that there are Republicans and Democrats on both sides and that it should be conducted in a spirit of mutual respect and national interest

For my part, I agree with Dr. Krepinevich's observation that, “The war (in Iraq), which arguably began as a “war of choice” has become a “war of necessity” we cannot afford to lose. The costs of victory in Iraq will be large for the U.S. But the costs of defeat would be disastrous for the U.S., Iraq, the Middle East, and most of the world.


It is probably these enormous costs of failure in Iraq that explain why so few in Congress have joined the calls for a preset, timed withdrawal. Last Wednesday, the President laid out his strategy for victory in Iraq in a speech at the Naval Academy and accompanying 35-page white paper. It described a plan that has developed over the last two and half years since Saddam Hussein was overthrown. It is a plan that has resulted from trial and yes, many errors. It describes the strategy, the tactics, that I saw in Iraq two weeks ago and that I believe are creating progress there.


I recall here the wisdom of Secretary of War, Henry L. Stimson, who served our country during World War II and the beginning of the Cold War. Stimson said that sometimes the best way to make a person trustworthy is to trust him. There is wisdom there. It is time that America’s leaders, in the
White House and Congress, Republicans and Democrats, who agree on our goals in Iraq but disagree on tactics to start trusting each other again so that we can work together again. The distrust is deep and I know it will be difficult to overcome, but history will judge us harshly if we do not stretch across the divide of distrust and join together to complete our mission successfully in Iraq.

It is time for Democrats who distrust President Bush to acknowledge that he will be Commander-in-Chief for three more critical years, and that in matters of war we undermine Presidential credibility at our nation’s peril.


My friends, great causes are clearly on the move in the world today. We were attacked by Islamist terrorists – attacked here at home. The centers of American power, our great cities, were attacked. The main battleground in this war is now Iraq. So I would say, in Churchill’s phrase, that duty calls us now to take ourselves above the ordinary partisan debates of this capital city, to unite for victory, to walk the course together until our mission is completed, our security is protected, and the forces of freedom have once more emerged triumphant from the battlefields of power and of principle.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Medals of Honor on the Day of Infamy

Here is the list of those in service who received the Congressional Medal of Honor durign the event of the Japanese surprise attack on Peral Harbor, Sunday morning, December 7th, 1941. A complete list of all recipients of the MOH can be found here.

Rank and organization: Captain, U.S. Navy. Born: 5 May 1887, Vernon, Utah. Appointed from: Utah. Citation: For conspicuous devotion to duty, extraordinary courage, and complete disregard of his own life, above and beyond the call of duty, during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor, by Japanese forces on 7 December 1941. As Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. West Virginia, after being mortally wounded, Capt. Bennion evidenced apparent concern only in fighting and saving his ship, and strongly protested against being carried from the bridge.

Rank and organization: Lieutenant, U.S. Navy. Place and date: Naval Air Station, Kaneohe Bay, Territory of Hawaii, 7 December 1941. Entered service at: California. Born: 23 July 1909, Los Angeles, Calif. Citation: For extraordinary heroism distinguished service, and devotion above and beyond the call of duty. During the first attack by Japanese airplanes on the Naval Air Station, Kaneohe Bay, on 7 December 1941, Lt. Finn promptly secured and manned a .50-caliber machinegun mounted on an instruction stand in a completely exposed section of the parking ramp, which was under heavy enemy machinegun strafing fire. Although painfully wounded many times, he continued to man this gun and to return the enemy's fire vigorously and with telling effect throughout the enemy strafing and bombing attacks and with complete disregard for his own personal safety. It was only by specific orders that he was persuaded to leave his post to seek medical attention. Following first aid treatment, although obviously suffering much pain and moving with great difficulty, he returned to the squadron area and actively supervised the rearming of returning planes. His extraordinary heroism and conduct in this action were in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.

Rank and organization: Ensign, U.S. Naval Reserve. Born: 15 March 1919, Charlotte, Mich. Accredited to: Michigan. Citation: For conspicuous devotion to duty and extraordinary courage and complete disregard of his own life, above and beyond the call of duty, during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor, by Japanese forces on 7 December 1941. When it was seen that the U.S.S. Oklahoma was going to capsize and the order was given to abandon ship, Ens. Flaherty remained in a turret, holding a flashlight so the remainder of the turret crew could see to escape, thereby sacrificing his own life.

Rank and organization: Captain, U.S. Navy, U.S.S. Arizona. Place and date: Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, 7 December 1941. Entered service at: Laddonia, Mo. Born: 15 October 1899, Laddonia Mo. Citation: For distinguished conduct in action, outstanding heroism, and utter disregard of his own safety above and beyond the call of duty during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor, by Japanese forces on 7 December 1941. Upon the commencement of the attack, Lt. Comdr. Fuqua rushed to the quarterdeck of the U.S.S. Arizona to which he was attached where he was stunned and knocked down by the explosion of a large bomb which hit the guarterdeck, penetrated several decks, and started a severe fire. Upon regaining consciousness, he began to direct the fighting of the fire and the rescue of wounded and injured personnel. Almost immediately there was a tremendous explosion forward, which made the ship appear to rise out of the water, shudder, and settle down by the bow rapidly. The whole forward part of the ship was enveloped in flames which were spreading rapidly, and wounded and burned men were pouring out of the ship to the quarterdeck. Despite these conditions, his harrowing experience, and severe enemy bombing and strafing, at the time, Lt. Comdr. Fuqua continued to direct the fighting of fires in order to check them while the wounded and burned could be taken from the ship and supervised the rescue of these men in such an amazingly calm and cool manner and with such excellent judgment that it inspired everyone who saw him and undoubtedly resulted in the saving of many lives. After realizing the ship could not be saved and that he was the senior surviving officer aboard, he directed it to be abandoned, but continued to remain on the quarterdeck and directed abandoning ship and rescue of personnel until satisfied that all personnel that could be had been saved, after which he left his ship with the boatload. The conduct of Lt. Comdr. Fuqua was not only in keeping with the highest traditions of the naval service but characterizes him as an outstanding leader of men.

Rank and organization: Chief Boatswain, U.S. Navy. Born: 4 October 1894, Philadelphia, Pa. Accredited to: Pennsylvania. Citation: For distinguished conduct in the line of his profession, extraordinary courage, and disregard of his own safety during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor, by Japanese forces on 7 December 1941. During the height of the strafing and bombing, Chief Boatswain Hill led his men of the linehandling details of the U.S.S. Nevada to the quays, cast off the lines and swam back to his ship. Later, while on the forecastle, attempting to let go the anchors, he was blown overboard and killed by the explosion of several bombs.

Rank and organization: Ensign, U.S. Naval Reserve. Born: 1 December 1918, Los Angeles, Calif. Accredited to: California. Citation: For conspicuous devotion to duty, extraordinary courage, and complete disregard of his own life, above and beyond the call of duty, during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor, by Japanese forces on 7 December 1941. Ens. Jones organized and led a party, which was supplying ammunition to the antiaircraft battery of the U.S.S. California after the mechanical hoists were put out of action when he was fatally wounded by a bomb explosion. When 2 men attempted to take him from the area which was on fire, he refused to let them do so, saying in words to the effect, "Leave me alone! I am done for. Get out of here before the magazines go off."

Rank and organization: Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy. Born: 26 March 1884, Cleveland, Ohio. Appointed from: Ohio. Citation: For conspicuous devotion to duty, extraordinary courage and complete disregard of his own life, during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor, by Japanese forces on 7 December 1941. Rear Adm. Kidd immediately went to the bridge and, as Commander Battleship Division One, courageously discharged his duties as Senior Officer Present Afloat until the U.S.S. Arizona, his Flagship, blew up from magazine explosions and a direct bomb hit on the bridge which resulted in the loss of his life.

Rank and organization: Lieutenant, U.S. Navy, U.S.S. California. Place and date: Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, 7 December 1941. Entered service at: California. Born: 26 June 1912, Columbus, Ga. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while attached to the U.S.S. California during the surprise enemy Japanese aerial attack on Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, 7 December 1941. In charge of the ordnance repair party on the third deck when the first Japanese torpedo struck almost directly under his station, Lt. (then Gunner) Pharris was stunned and severely injured by the concussion which hurled him to the overhead and back to the deck. Quickly recovering, he acted on his own initiative to set up a hand-supply ammunition train for the antiaircraft guns. With water and oil rushing in where the port bulkhead had been torn up from the deck, with many of the remaining crewmembers overcome by oil fumes, and the ship without power and listing heavily to port as a result of a second torpedo hit, Lt. Pharris ordered the shipfitters to counterflood. Twice rendered unconscious by the nauseous fumes and handicapped by his painful injuries, he persisted in his desperate efforts to speed up the supply of ammunition and at the same time repeatedly risked his life to enter flooding compartments and drag to safety unconscious shipmates who were gradually being submerged in oil. By his inspiring leadership, his valiant efforts and his extreme loyalty to his ship and her crew, he saved many of his shipmates from death and was largely responsible for keeping the California in action during the attack. His heroic conduct throughout this first eventful engagement of World War 11 reflects the highest credit upon Lt. Pharris and enhances the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.

Rank and organization: Radio Electrician (Warrant Officer) U.S. Navy. Born: 9 December 1895, Thomaston, Conn. Accredited to: Connecticut. Citation: For distinguished conduct in the line of his profession, extraordinary courage and disregard of his own safety during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor, by Japanese forces on 7 December 1941. After the mechanized ammunition hoists were put out of action in the U.S.S. California, Reeves, on his own initiative, in a burning passageway, assisted in the maintenance of an ammunition supply by hand to the antiaircraft guns until he was overcome by smoke and fire, which resulted in his death.

Rank and organization: Machinist, U.S. Navy, U.S.S. Nevada. Place and date: Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, 7 December 1941. Entered service at: Denver, Colo. Born: 8 December 1910, Beverly, Kans. Citation: For distinguished conduct in the line of his profession, extraordinary courage and disregard of his own life during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, by Japanese forces on 7 December 1941. When his station in the forward dynamo room of the U.S.S. Nevada became almost untenable due to smoke, steam, and heat, Machinist Ross forced his men to leave that station and performed all the duties himself until blinded and unconscious. Upon being rescued and resuscitated, he returned and secured the forward dynamo room and proceeded to the after dynamo room where he was later again rendered unconscious by exhaustion. Again recovering consciousness he returned to his station where he remained until directed to abandon it.

Rank and organization: Machinist's Mate First Class, U.S. Navy. Born: 13 July 1915, Massillon, Ohio. Accredited to Ohio. Citation: For conspicuous devotion to duty, extraordinary courage and complete disregard of his own life, above and beyond the call of duty, during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor by Japanese forces on 7 December 1941. The compartment, in the U.S.S. California, in which the air compressor, to which Scott was assigned as his battle station, was flooded as the result of a torpedo hit. The remainder of the personnel evacuated that compartment but Scott refused to leave, saying words to the effect "This is my station and I will stay and give them air as long as the guns are going.''

Rank and organization: Chief Watertender, U.S. Navy. Born: 3 June 1893, Prolog, Austria. Accredited to: New Jersey. Citation: For distinguished conduct in the line of his profession, and extraordinary courage and disregard of his own safety, during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor by the Japanese forces on 7 December 1941. Although realizing that the ship was capsizing, as a result of enemy bombing and torpedoing, Tomich remained at his post in the engineering plant of the U.S.S. Utah, until he saw that all boilers were secured and all fireroom personnel had left their stations, and by so doing lost his own life .

Rank and organization: Captain, U.S. Navy. Born: 5 April 1888, Minneapolis, Minn. Appointed from: Wisconsin. Citation: For conspicuous devotion to duty, extraordinary courage and complete disregard of his own life, during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor T.H., by Japanese forces on 7 December 1941. As commanding officer of the U.S.S. Arizona, Capt. Van Valkenburgh gallantly fought his ship until the U.S.S. Arizona blew up from magazine explosions and a direct bomb hit on the bridge which resulted in the loss of his life.

Rank and organization: Seaman First Class, U.S. Navy. Born: 10 September 1921, Springfield, Ohio. Entered service at: Springfield, Ohio. Citation: For conspicuous devotion to duty, extraordinary courage and complete disregard of his life, above and beyond the call of duty, during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor by Japanese forces on 7 December 1941. When it was seen that the U.S.S. Oklahoma was going to capsize and the order was given to abandon ship, Ward remained in a turret holding a flashlight so the remainder of the turret crew could see to escape, thereby sacrificing his own life.

Rank and organization: Commander, U.S. Navy. Born: 6 March 1894, Washington, D.C. Appointed from: Wisconsin. Other Navy award: Navy Cross. Citation: For distinguished conduct in action, outstanding heroism and utter disregard of his own safety, above and beyond the call of duty, as commanding officer of the U.S.S. Vestal, during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, by enemy Japanese forces on 7 December 1941. Comdr. Young proceeded to the bridge and later took personal command of the 3-inch antiaircraft gun. When blown overboard by the blast of the forward magazine explosion of the U.S.S. Arizona, to which the U.S.S. Vestal was moored, he swam back to his ship. The entire forward part of the U.S.S. Arizona was a blazing inferno with oil afire on the water between the 2 ships; as a result of several bomb hits, the U.S.S. Vestal was afire in several places, was settling and taking on a list. Despite severe enemy bombing and strafing at the time, and his shocking experience of having been blown overboard, Comdr. Young, with extreme coolness and calmness, moved his ship to an anchorage distant from the U.S.S. Arizona, and subsequently beached the U.S.S. Vestal upon determining that such action was required to save his ship.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Strategy for Victory in Iraq

President Bush spoke at the Naval Academy on 11/30, outlying his "Strategy for Victory in Iraq". Here's the highlights.

He began by dividing the opposition into three groups:

The enemy in Iraq is a combination of rejectionists, Saddamists and terrorists. The rejectionists are by far the largest group. These are ordinary Iraqis, mostly Sunni Arabs, who miss the privileged status they had under the regime of Saddam Hussein -- and they reject an Iraq in which they are no longer the dominant group.

The second group that makes up the enemy in Iraq is smaller, but more determined. It contains former regime loyalists who held positions of power under Saddam Hussein -- people who still harbor dreams of returning to power. These hard-core Saddamists are trying to foment anti-democratic sentiment amongst the larger Sunni community. They lack popular support and therefore cannot stop Iraq's democratic progress. And over time, they can be marginalized and defeated by the Iraqi people and the security forces of a free Iraq.

The third group is the smallest, but the most lethal: the terrorists affiliated with or inspired by al Qaeda . Many are foreigners who are coming to fight freedom's progress in Iraq. This group includes terrorists from Saudi Arabia, and Syria, and Iran, and Egypt, and Sudan, and Yemen, and Libya, and other countries. Our commanders believe they're responsible for most of the suicide bombings, and the beheadings, and the other atrocities we see on our television.
On the nature of our enemy:

This is an enemy without conscience -- and they cannot be appeased. If we were not fighting and destroying this enemy in Iraq, they would not be idle. They would be plotting and killing Americans across the world and within our own borders. By fighting these terrorists in Iraq, Americans in uniform are defeating a direct threat to the American people. Against this adversary, there is only one effective response: We will never back down. We will never give in. And we will never accept anything less than complete victory.
On a timeline for withdrawl:

Some are calling for a deadline for withdrawal. Many advocating an artificial timetable for withdrawing our troops are sincere -- but I believe they're sincerely wrong. Pulling our troops out before they've achieved their purpose is not a plan for victory. As Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman said recently, setting an artificial timetable would "discourage our troops because it seems to be heading for the door. It will encourage the terrorists, it will confuse the Iraqi people."

Senator Lieberman is right. Setting an artificial deadline to withdraw would send a message across the world that America is a weak and an unreliable ally. Setting an artificial deadline to withdraw would send a signal to our enemies -- that if they wait long enough, America will cut and run and abandon its friends. And setting an artificial deadline to withdraw would vindicate the terrorists' tactics of beheadings and suicide bombings and mass murder -- and invite new attacks on America. To all who wear the uniform, I make you this pledge: America will not run in the face of car bombers and assassins so long as I am your Commander-in-Chief.
On the asymmetric nature of the GWOT:

Most Americans want two things in Iraq: They want to see our troops win, and they want to see our troops come home as soon as possible. And those are my goals as well. I will settle for nothing less than complete victory. In World War II, victory came when the Empire of Japan surrendered on the deck of the USS Missouri. In Iraq, there will not be a signing ceremony on the deck of a battleship. Victory will come when the terrorists and Saddamists can no longer threaten Iraq's democracy, when the Iraqi security forces can provide for the safety of their own citizens, and when Iraq is not a safe haven for terrorists to plot new attacks on our nation.
Lastly, on nation-building:

In the short run, we're going to bring justice to our enemies. In the long run, the best way to ensure the security of our own citizens is to spread the hope of freedom across the broader Middle East. We've seen freedom conquer evil and secure the peace before. In World War II, free nations came together to fight the ideology of fascism, and freedom prevailed -- and today Germany and Japan are democracies and they are allies in securing the peace. In the Cold War, freedom defeated the ideology of communism and led to a democratic movement that freed the nations of Eastern and Central Europe from Soviet domination -- and today these nations are allies in the war on terror.

Today in the Middle East freedom is once again contending with an ideology that seeks to sow anger and hatred and despair. And like fascism and communism before, the hateful ideologies that use terror will be defeated by the unstoppable power of freedom, and as democracy spreads in the Middle East, these countries will become allies in the cause of peace.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood

Some of the transcripts have been provided by the AP.

The audio of today's arguements can be heard here.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Paul McCartney Boycotts China

So Sir Paul is so upset with China he is refusing to perform there. To quote the musician in reference to China:

"This is barbaric. Horrific. It's like something out of the dark ages. And they seem to get a kick out of it. They're just sick, sick people...I wouldn't even dream of going over there to play, in the same way that I wouldn't go to a country that supported apartheid (in South Africa)...This is just disgusting."

What could he be talking about? Chinese getting thrown in jail for printing bibles? Nope. Chinese being forced to have abortions or be sterilized? Nope. The Chinese arresting preists? Uh-uh. What about China scoughing at criticism of its human rights record? Not even close.

What has Paul McCartney so perturbed? The Chinese kill dogs and cats for fur. Ignorance truly is bliss.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

School of Hard Blogging and Iran

In the Wall Street Journal yesterday: "Some Students Find Themselves In Principal's Office Over Blogs". It turns out administrators occasionally peruse their students' blogs, and some students in turn, get suspended. Perhaps they should have read the article first.

"The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital-rights advocacy group in San Francisco, last week released a legal guide for student bloggers, which addresses questions like, "Can I republish rumors on my blog?" and "So can I criticize teachers on my blog?" (The EFF advises against the former, and cautions students to tread lightly on the latter.)"

Then today in the Telegraph is "Iran's war on weblogs - the new voice of dissidents". The mullahs are none to pleased that there are 100,000 Iranian blogers.This sentence is telling:
An Iranian blogger known as Saena, wrote recently: "Weblogs are one weapon that even the Islamic Republic cannot beat.

American high school students might think twice before bemoaning their loss of liberties, when their situation is taken in context:

Over the last year, however, Iranian authorities have arrested and beaten dozens of bloggers, charged with crimes such as espionage and insulting leaders of the Islamic Republic. Among them is Omid Sheikhan, who last month was sentenced to one year in prison and 124 lashes of the whip for writing a blog that featured satirical cartoons of Iranian politicians.

Students and Iranians aren't alone in this situation. In Monday's Seattle Post-Intelligencer is "Personal blog can cost you a job". That's hardly news.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Iraq says troop pullout will lead to violence

Here are some of the opinions of U.S. Representative John Murtha (D-PA) in his Nov. 17 speech calling for the "immediate re-deployment" (pronounced Kut-en-Run) of U.S. troops from Iraq:

"The United States and coalition troops have done all they can in Iraq, but it is time for a change in direction. Our military is suffering. The future of our country is at risk. We can not continue on the present course. It is evident that continued military action in Iraq is not in the best interest of the United States of America, the Iraqi people or the Persian Gulf Region."

"I said over a year ago, and now the military and the Administration agrees, Iraq can not be on “militarily.” I said two years ago, the key to progress in Iraq is to Iraqitize, Internationalize and Energize. I believe the same today. But I have concluded that the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq is impeding this progress."

It would appear that Representative Murtha's views have not taken hold with the Iraqi people:

"The difficult part has gone in my view. We're very close to reaching a more stable form of government and of security...Now, any premature withdrawal will send the wrong message to the terrorists, to the opposition ... that this coalition is fracturing and running, that their policies and strategies of undermining this process is winning."

That was the message delivered in a Tokyo news conference today, by Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari. He was trying to convince the Japanese not to withdraw their troops until the fledgling democracy is more stable. Hopefully, they will listen to the Iraqi's and not Rep. Murtha.

Massachusetts Housing on the Decline?

A pretty sobering sory on today: "Massachusetts Housing Boom Ends as Mortgage Expenses Increase". If you had any doubts as to the direction that the housing market is headed in this state, take a peek. Although if you're a seller, you might want to think twice before you read it. It's certainly not the first 'the boom is over' story, but it certainly is grim.

Of course if you're a buyer, then things look quite different.

The Boston Globe has a story today, "Houses made to order: Factory-built homes are quicker, cheaper, and catching on with buyers" concerning the ever growing popularity and re-branding of modular homes.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Iraq is Vietnam?

Talk show host Michael medved published this a few days ago. It deserves wider attention.

Iraq and Vietnam: Nine Big Differences- And One Crucial Similarity
By: Michael MedvedMonday, Aug 22, 2005

At the end of August the American Left wallowed joyously in 1960's nostalgia, taking comfort and joy in the alleged parallel between the wars in Vietnam and Iraq. Grey-haired folksinger Joan Baez, startling millions with the revelation that she is still alive, found her way to Crawford, Texas, where she delivered an impromptu protest concert (including the insufferable "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?") for several hundred supporters. At the same time, Senator (and Vietnam vet) Chuck Hagel curried favor with the mainstream media (cementing his claim to the coveted epithet "maverick") with his appearance on ABC TV's "This Week," in which he shamelessly pushed the Vietnam-Iraq analogy.

With all the misguided attempts to compare our current struggle in Iraq with America's most disastrous prior war, it's crucial for informed citizens to understand the profound contrasts and distinctions between Vietnam and Iraq - and to simultaneously come to terms with the one great and essential similarity.

Herewith, a quick list of the nine essential differences between the two wars - along with the single crucial resemblance.

1.THE ENEMY-In Vietnam, we faced more than a rag-tag guerilla band: we confronted one of the world's most formidable military machines in the nation of North Vietnam, with more than a million men under arms. What's more, these troops and their officers had been hardened by some thirty years of fighting-first against the Japanese, then against the French, and finally against the South Vietnamese and the Americans. Ho Che Minh, dictator of North Vietnam, provided a potent symbol with a clearly articulated Communist agenda. In Iraq, on the other hand, we fight no nation, no organized army, no visible or unifying leader, but a collection of shadowy terrorist bands. These gangs occupy no territory, have announced no coherent program for the future, and command no economic or territorial base to replenish their cadres. They can certainly do damage to Americans and to the troops of democratic Iraq, but they can in no sense suggest a credible alternative-hence their very limited popular support.

2.THE ENEMY'S ALLIES-During the Vietnam struggle, the North Vietnamese and their guerilla allies in the south, the Viet Cong, received virtually unlimited support from two of the three most powerful nations on earth: the Soviet Union and Communist China. The two Communist superpowers disagreed on many issues, but they united in support of their Vietnamese colleagues - providing anti-aircraft surface-to-air (SAM) missile batteries, MIG jet fighters, artillery, ordnance, military vehicles, small arms, cash, food, encouragement and diplomatic support. The Iraqi insurgents, on the other hand, receive support from no government on earth. It's true that radical segments of Arab public opinion may wish for the insurgents to bloody the U.S., but none of the Islamic governments have in any way backed the insurgency; even Syria, which definitely could do more to stop the flow of men and weapons across its border, delivers ritualistic and official condemnation of the bloody, murderous terrorists (many of them non-Iraqis) who slaughter women and children, along with American fighting men.

3.OUR ARMY--Easily the most controversial aspect of the Vietnam war - and the main spur to the anti-war movement - involved the draft of literally millions of young Americans during the '60's and '70's. While a small majority of those who actually fought "in country" in Indochina turned out to be volunteers, the involuntary nature of the draft gave rise to the "Hell No, We Won't Go Slogan," to burned draft cards, flights to Canada, and numberless fantasies of martyrdom. In our current struggle, our highly-professional and expertly trained military includes no draftees whatever. Everyone fighting in Iraq - including National Guardsmen and reservists- at one time or another enlisted voluntarily in the military. Cindy Sheehan notwithstanding, all those who sign up for the U.S. military are clever enough to understand the very real possibility that at one point you might be required to use your expensive training in actual combat.

4.CASUALTY RATES - The human cost of the war in Iraq is genuinely horrifying, with more than 1,800 of our finest young people making the ultimate sacrifice. This carnage can hardly compare, however, to Vietnam - in which 58,000 Americans gave their lives for their country. The Iraq War has been going on for two and a half years - with a killed-in-action rate of approximately 800 per year. In Vietnam, the years of principal American I involvement (1965-72) saw deaths that averaged nearly 8,000 per year - in other words, a casualty rate some 10 TIMES as high. In fact, the differential is even greater in terms of the impact on the nation: in 1970, the census showed the U.S. population at 203 million; today, it stands above 290 million. In terms of a percentage of our total population, the death rate in Vietnam exceeded the death rate in Iraq by a ratio of 14 to 1. Even if the U.S. continued to struggle in Iraq for four more years with the current rate of killing (a worst case scenario our policy makers will move heaven and earth to avoid), the deaths will total some 5,000-less than a single year of Vietnam, and less than 10% of the total losses in that war. To keep casualty figures in perspective, it's important to remember that the combined human cost of Afghanistan and Iraq, after nearly three years of overall struggle, still involves fewer deaths than on a single dark day of recent history: September 11, 2001.

5.THE MEDIA - On the surface, the mainstream media (TV networks, newsmagazines, prestige newspapers) seem to offer the same perspective on two very different wars: emphasizing bad news, and downplaying every sing of progress. The difference in media coverage remains profound, however, since the emergence of new media (talk radio, Fox News, the Internet and the blogosphere) have changed the media landscape completely. When Walter Cronkite of CBS announced his disillusionment with the war in a special broadcast in 1968, no prominent media voices rose to contradict him: the public had to choose between believing "Uncle Walter" (the Most Trusted Man in America, according to polls) or Lyndon Johnson. Today, we enjoy far more diverse sources of information, and persuasive (sometimes raucous) voices on the right arise immediately to contradict all the TV network distortions and to provide perspective and balance.

6.POLITICS - Despite recent polls suggesting an Iraq-related decline in the President's popularity, the balance of power in Washington bears no resemblance to the situation in the Vietnam era. In the '60's and '70?s, the Democrats remained the dominant party in the nation, enjoying uninterrupted control of both houses of Congress during both decades, despite two terms of the Nixon presidency. By 1970, that dominant party, the Democrats, had turned radically, overwhelmingly against the war, with "peace candidate" George McGovern nominated for president in 1972. Today, by contrast, the Republicans maintain control of both houses of Congress (and the majority of state governorships) and Republicans remain almost unanimously behind Bush. In the most recent Gallup poll, the President's "approval rating" among self-described Republicans reached a reassuring 88%. It's Democrats - not Republicans - who show their divisions, with the "Move On"-Michael Moore-Howard Dean wing of the party favoring immediate withdrawal, while the Joe Lieberman-Joe Biden-Hillary Clinton mainstream seems to understand the importance of finishing our work in Iraq. During Vietnam, a long series of majority Congressional votes (including the infamous McGovern-Hatfield Senate resolution cutting off our military) served to undermine the U.S. war effort. In Iraq, no comparable "surrender" resolution has drawn even 20% of either house of Congress.

7.SCANDAL - In the last analysis, it wasn't public opinion turning against the war that doomed our Vietnam policy: it was, rather, the self-destruction of the Nixon administration in the most devastating scandal in U.S. political history. After a triumphant re-election in 1972, both Vice President Agnew and President Nixon resigned their offices leaving a fatally weak chief executive (Gerald Ford) who had never even run for national office. In the Watergate-stained election of 1974, the Democrats added crushing weight to their already lop-sided majorities (gaining 49 seats in the House, 5 in the Senate) and preventing President Ford from re-supplying our South Vietnamese allies when the North broke its agreements under the Paris Accords and launched a massive invasion. Without the Watergate scandal, driving Nixon from office and temporarily emasculating the Republican Party, our government almost surely would have maintained the commitments made to resist Northern aggression. However seriously one takes the currently hysterical Democratic efforts to magnify the controversy surrounding the public identification of CIA desk-jockey Valerie Plame, no sane observer believes that the scandal will follow the Watergate example and lead to the resignation or impeachment of President Bush.

8.THE PAST -For millions of Vietnamese, the war against the United States represented the culmination of several centuries of struggle against colonialism and foreign domination, and followed by a mere twenty years their successful efforts to throw off the yoke of bumbling French imperialism. Iraq has experienced no comparable history of colonialism: for nearly 400 years (1533-1916) it functioned as part of the (Islamic) Ottoman Empire. The period of British "protectorate" lasted a mere sixteen years (from World War I occupation in 1916 to independence under Prime Minister Nuri-el Said in 1932), with only a brief English re-occupation (1941-45) during the height of World War II. Under thirty years of Saddam Hussein's dictatorship, Iraq drew some support from the west but functioned for the most part as a military and economic client of the Soviet Union. Unlike Vietnam, where Communists could claim that they represented a nationalist reaction to French (and then American) colonialism, the population of Iraq maintains clear memories of the rabidly anti-American Hussein regime which brought about the nation's economic and cultural ruin.

9.THE STAKE - The best argument of the peace movement during the Vietnam war involved its insistence that even American defeat would bring little pain to most Americans. The anti-war forces argued (with considerable persuasiveness) that the Vietnamese only wanted to control Vietnam: they would never send their minions to invade California or Florida. America might lose prestige, might sacrifice credibility, to give up ground to the Soviets in the titanic and fateful Cold War struggle, but no one expected that our citizens here at home would sleep less soundly in their beds if the U.S. cleared out of Vietnam, on the other side of the world from our homeland. Today, however, we don't have to tax our imaginations to visualize Middle Eastern enemies invading our shores and massacring American civilians: we already experienced that nightmare on September 11, with Islamic fanatics killing more of us in that one day than the Iraqi insurgents have managed to kill in two and a half years. America's stake in defeating a ruthless enemy in Iraq isn't abstract or nebulous: it's real, immediate, urgent and palpable. Anti-war extremists may downplay the every day dangers of Islamic terrorism, but most Americans understand that it still represents a significant menace to both our lives and our way of life.

And this recognition brings me to the one great SIMILARITY in the two wars. In both conflicts, the American people understand the horrific dangers of unilateral, precipitous, unconditional withdrawal. By 1972, most voters had developed deep doubts about the struggle in Vietnam and yet when George McGovern gave them the chance to vote for immediate withdrawal (under the campaign slogan, "Come Home, America!"), a received an unprecedented shellacking. McGovern, the "Peace Candidate," lost 49 of 50 states, carrying only Massachusetts and the District of Columbia, carrying a feeble 38% of the popular vote and trailing Richard Nixon by an astonishing 23%. The general public might not like the Vietnam war, with its truly appalling casualty figures, but they liked the option of ignominious surrender even less.

Today, a very similar mood prevails throughout most of the United States. Our citizens worry about the war, and long for our troops to come home, but only a very small percentage (about 20%, according to most polls) want us to run up the white flag, abandon our Iraqi allies, and strangle an infant democracy in its cradle. It took nearly ten bitter years (from the major U.S. escalation in the summer of '65 to the final North Vietnamese victory of April, 1975) of devastating sacrifice and nearly ceaseless protest before our exhausted nation felt ready to abandon the cause to which we had committed ourselves in Vietnam. With that time table in mind, even with the vastly lower casualty rates from Iraq, it would take us till 2013 before we betrayed our current efforts to establish democratic values in the heart of the Middle East. Long before that grim eventuality, we will see a constitutional republic (imperfect, like virtually all nation states) operating in place of the kleptocratic, genocidal dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, and contributing significantly to the safety and security of all Americans.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

UN: Iran's Hands Are Clean

Fox News reports that "Rumsfeld Predicts Commission Support for Base Closings". It is distressing that so many politicians bemoan these necessary actions. They might be uplifted if they were to consider the strategic immportance of the new bases being constructed in eastern Europe and the central Asia.

From WRKO in Boston, "Japan’s Hope for Permanent Seat on U.N. Security Council Fade Amid Renewed Rivalries". The African Union won't go along with a deal, and the UN is as irrelevent as it was yesterday.

The "Columbian Government Accepts Church Mediation with Rebels", from Catholic World News. This comes after the Columbian marxist rebels apolize for the murder of two preists last week.

And remeber the stories this week of stem cell researchers at Harvard who created embryonic stem cell from skin cells? The MSM portrayed this potential breakthrough as bypassing the ethical issues involved with stem cells. As is often the case with complex ethical issues, the media failed to cover the whole story. The Hartford Courant reports that "Catholic Leaders Oppose New Cell Research".

From the 'nanny state' department comes "NJ Banning Smoking In College Dormitories".

If you're interested in Howard Stern, it looks like he's in danger of losing his job if he can't keep his mouth clean: "Stern could be forced off the air" from the Philidelphia Inquirer. He'll probably cry "censorship!", and no one will care.

To be filed under 'turnabout is fair play', is "Now it's Democrats pulling news story off Web site" from the Minnesota Star Tribune. It turns out a Democratic website was altering AP headlines to post online, after a Republican got caught for the same thing. The key paragraph:

Pyle turned the matter over to AP's attorneys in Washington after an anonymous blogger, with the help of a Republican operative, brought the matter to the wire service's attention.

I don't often read Lileks. Ok, I never read Lileks. But I imagine he'll not be silent on this story.

Lastly in the Telegraph today is "Uranium checks 'will back Iran's nuclear arguments". The UN's International Atomic Energy Agency has declared that that Iran's hands are clean:

...traces of weapons-grade uranium found in Iran were not from a secret arms programme.

The United Nations nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, is reported to have matched the traces of highly enriched uranium with samples from Pakistan, concluding that they came from contaminated equipment imported from Pakistan.

Well that certainly puts one at ease, doesn't it? Equipment tainted with weapons grade uranium is imported into Iran from Pakistan, the country that helped North Korea 'go nuclear'. Iran openly professes its desire to go nuclear, and yet this new develpoment will certainly be proclaimed from the mountaintops that when it comes to Iranian ambitions...'pay no attention to the man behind the curtain".

2008 Presidential Straw Poll

Patrick Ruffini is a man and a blog that I've never heard of. I suppose this simply means I am not as politically astute as I once believed, since Mr. Ruffini was the webmaster Bush-Cheney '04 and has a Sitemeter report that suggests I should have heard of him by now.

That aside, he is running a straw poll for all comers on the '08 Presidential election, as well as a selection of four "fantasy candidates". Go there, make your selection and view results broken down by region, state, party, and blog. Very interesting indeed.

Once you have participated in the polling go to his research page. If you are like me and delight in the pouring over of spatial-socio-political data, and who isn't, then browse his colleciton of election maps. There's a very interesting one of the 2002 MA Governor's Democratic primary.