Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Michael, upon re reading the agreement, it says that unanimity (one country blocking is enough) is reserved for among other things foreign policy and defense. This caused some interesting feelings, my first was, "oh no worries, they'll NEVER get anything done that way"--then it hit me, "OH NO, that's exactly it!". If there were an event such as Iraq, in this layout, it would take only ONE state (France, say?) to say "Mais non, les Americains, malheureusement, je regret...." well you get the picture. One state could block help from the entire of Europe under auspices of "defense" or foreign policy. In the same way, say that the majority wanted to send aid to Iraq....same scenario. One state could block it. Who thought up this unanimity thing, or dare I ask? This is truly frightening to me. I mean it is good I suppose that on one hand France and Germany can't decide to go to war with a certain other nation without a unanimous vote, but we all know that isn't how things are done in Europe anymore. Therefore, the French could indeed use this as a vehicle to become a major player in Europe, in fact I suspect that they already have. You know the French were against the "invasion" of Iraq, therefore we must appease them if we want to do such and such as the EU, we must sweeten the deal for France. Am I paranoid here? Tell me honestly if you can not see this happening....
Hey all, since it is New Year's, any resolutions or predictions out there?
I mentioned to Scott that the dollar is down from it's high against the Euro, here's the story.

Also, for those of you that may have missed it, there was an interesting commentary on Instapundit on Dec 10 regarding the news media and reporting of Iraq. It was from an article published by The New Republic. It is fantastic. Here it is.
Thanks for the viewpoint, this is exactly why we want you here! I do understand that most of our allies are socialist anyway, but some of them (not unlike our democratic party members) get the bigger picture, and some live in their own utopia.

About voting, I love nothing better than to cast my vote as well, so I know what you mean that it doesn't affect you personally. I assume that you show some form of ID? How do they know if you actually vote or if somebody votes for you? We actually just go in and tell the person our name, they look it up on the register, read your address to you, you say "yes, that's me" and off you go! However, it is a small town and someone could know if someone else was voting for you. However, if my husband voted in the morning and then voted in the evening, I'm willing to bet that he could go once as himself, and once as me (since I have a male/female name) and never get questioned. If he did though, there'd be more than a fine. On the other hand, we have Miami, (and every other large city with a large immigrant population) where they pick up street vagrants in vans and tell them how to go in, get registered and vote such a way, and if they do, they'll pay them $20. I personally believe that if you aren't registered 4 weeks before the election, you've forfeited your vote. If our military members can vote absentee when they are in Korea, I think the average American can handle walking down to their town office. Can felons vote in Belgium?

About the EU. The seats in the EP is scary, Germany (99) and France (75) alone make up 174. I do realize that they also need 2/3 of the countries, and 255 votes but how much $ dealing is that going to take? I forsee a mess not unlike our congress, which is to say that it is pretty easy to get 2/3 vote when you put enough promises in for everyone else, particularly when almost all of the parties are socialist or socialist leaning. I agree that the EU is probably good for Europe economically, but our experience tells us the more government, the less say of the average person. I do like the fact that the numbers seem to be based somewhat along the lines of our electoral college system, in that the more populated countries have more votes, but not to the extent of their populations, so as to be able to have too much power allocated in one place. I will feel better once the "candidates" are members. Many of those are the Eastern European countries that have high regard for us from downing the "Iron Curtain".

I think that in spite of an at first sight lukewarm EU interest among Europeans most feel comfortable we matter in today’s world because of the Union.
This is the sentence that struck me the most. Here is an interesting article from National Review, a conservative bend magazine here in the US:

"The European Union consists of 15 members, due to rise next May to 25. All these states naturally have their interests, and none of the politicians can envisage how to reconcile conflicts among them, as things stand. The solution they come up with is a federation that will eradicate as far as possible the characteristics of the constituent nation-states. To that end a team of experts under former French president Valery Giscard d'Estaing has been laboring for two years to devise a federal consitution. On December 12, heads of state came together in Brussels to ratify acceptance of the document that emerged, which gave Europe among many other things a legal entity, a supreme court, a foreign and defense policy, and a president. Countries with weak identities like Belgium or Luxembourg are eager for this new format. In contrast, Poland and Spain have very strong identities, and are not prepared to compromise them very far. The discussion in Brussels turned on technicalities, but the substance was the unwillingness of Poland and Spain to take a truly subordinate place in a federation run by France and Germany. Nothing was ratified, and all the politicians went home bad-tempered to struggle with explanations to electorates who are indifferent to these antics, bewildered by them, or outright hostile . In a phrase that President Reagan was fond of, you ain't seen nothing yet."

I'd be interested on your comments on it. You of course, must look out for yourselves, and we are looking out for ourselves, saying what is the EU going to do that will be good for us, or for the world? I haven't seen a convincing answer to that yet...

This is all very interesting information. From an American non-leftist point of view, I have no trouble with the basic concept of the EU, even though I've been a strong critic. I think the core issue that bothers many of us over here is the notion that the EU exists to counteract the economic and diplomatic influence of the United States. Of course, I have no trouble with a strong EU competing with us economically. I believe in free markets, and if the EU wants to compete on a level playing field with the US and everyone else, then we're all better off. What is troubling to me is the point that Kerry touched on, where there seems to be such a paranoia about US dominance that the EU, or at least it's most powerful members, will obstruct the US on issues like Afghanistan or Iraq just to keep us contained. Hopefully, as you mention, there are enough EU members to counteract this bias and keep things more neutral, but so far the balance of power seems to be with those who would choose to work against us even if doing so puts them in the company of Al Qaeda or Sadaam Hussein.

I also fear that while it may seem to be beneficial to the nations of Europe to be part of a larger and more powerful union, the prevailing political belief in Europe is still socialism, and I just can't see the EU accepting a free market situation with the US or other nations. Basically, I feel the protectionist, regulated economy of a socialist Europe will be at odds with a mostly free market capitalist US economy. This historically leads to the free market economies outperforming the regulated economies, which will be bad for Europeans and will only exacerbate anti US sentiment.

I'd like to get your take on this, as you clearly have more knowledge of the EU and its intentions. I've hammered the EU pretty hard in the past, but that doesn't mean I'm against a thriving European economy or a politically powerful Europe. I just don't see the EU's current direction leading to anything productive in the long run.

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Hi Kerry,

Well, obligatory voting… at election day we are forced at gunpoint to move our ****s to the ballot boxes by BP (Belgian Police) and the Army…No, seriously: yes it IS obligatory (Belgium is one of the few remaining EU countries to have it that way) AND indeed you get fined for not showing up. Personally I don’t bother much as I like to cast my vote.

“With the socialist faction growing all of the time, what happens when there is a situation like Afghanistan or Iraq? Will we be able to count on Britain, Spain, Poland, and our other "allies"?”

As much as I deplore the fact that the EU’s left-wing political families are basically in charge, you have to remember that your staunchest allies in Iraq are mostly socialists too. PM Blair is Labor, PM Leszek Miller of Poland and the Polish President, Kwasniewski, are socialists. Miller is even a former communist. I might add just as well soon-to-be EU members Bulgaria, with an ex-communist, Georgi Parvanov, as President, and the Czech Republic, with Vladimir Spidla, a social democrat, for Prime Minister. It is remarkable to see how in Eastern Europe ex-communists and social democrats are dominating the political agendas. That most of them support the US in Iraq stems, I believe, from both a generally perceived realization that it was the US which were at the root of the Soviet Union’s demise and, hence, the downfall of the Iron Curtain, AND from less esoteric motives because they are angling for US support for their ailing economies (actually they want to have it both ways because they are eager to join the EU for the same reason).

What I want to illustrate with this is that being a leftist EU country not necessarily means not being able to “do the right thing” when it matters in cases like Afghanistan and Iraq. What worries me more with the left-leaning EU is that I doubt its ability to produce adequate answers to core “domestic” issues such as stopping the influx of (illegal) immigrants, counter the drain of not only labor-intensive industries but recently also of highly intellectual work to developing countries, the ageing of Europes population and hence the still heavier burden on the active people, in other words keeping the welfare state a doable thing etc. etc…

Because I want to be frank with that you know, the mere existence of the European Union is something I endorse VERY MUCH. And not only because I don’t have to swap Belgian francs for DMarks or French francs anymore if I want to visit my mother-in-law in Poland or visit Boulogne-sur-Mer in Frogistan. I believe the EU is a necessity for Europeans, creating a powerful politico-economic framework to counter the problems mentioned above, easing and facilitating economic activity from Dublin to Sofia and from Helsinki to Malta. And if that creates a large “Eurocracy” and if financial scandals emerge (and they do), well, I can live with it.

I think that in spite of an at first sight lukewarm EU interest among Europeans most feel comfortable we matter in today’s world because of the Union. The actual leadership realizes this more than anyone else. The UK’s, France's and Germany’s governments know all too well the days they could play first violin on the world scene by themselves are definitely over. You rightly suspect a country like France might want to use the EU as a vehicle to still do just that. But I wouldn’t worry too much about that. Just take a look here. To get a proposal passed, the Commission (the EU’s government) needs 255 votes (of the 342). In the 25 member Union France just has 29. The second column really deserves study you know. The recent Brussels summit was such a poor show because a.o. Germany insisted it should have more say than Poland or Spain as, after all, it has double the population of those countries (80 million as compared to roughly 40 million for both) while it has under the Nice agreement only 29 votes compared to Spains and Polands 27. Fair enough argument, but they should have fought for it at Nice and not now.

Friday, December 26, 2003

Obligatory voting? How in the world does that work? We have enough people that are either uninformed or being paid to vote here without obligatory voting!

I don't shake my head at the notion of a leftist Europe so much as the frightening thought of a leftist EU. The problem is that in my mind there is still a difference between "Europe" and the "EU" when in reality there probably isn't anymore, it's.......too late. Like you said, in 30 years if the EU resembles our federal government and the "member states" resemble our states; YIKES! With the socialist faction growing all of the time, what happens when there is a situation like Afghanistan or Iraq? Will we be able to count on Britain, Spain, Poland, and our other "allies"? The EU militarily could be so much more powerful than the member states are alone, but not weighted as such necessarily. Honestly, we all know that if Britain wasn't next to us, we wouldn't have as many other European "states" (countries?) willing to stand with us in battle. I've always been a bit worried about France's "Napoleon Complex" I guess you could say.

Do you personally feel that the EU would balance things, or make them worse? Maybe I just feel threatened by a superpower as large as we are. I know that I do as long as people like Chirac have a say in what's going on in it, just as I feel threatened by our own federal government at some times. Maybe it is just that I know that as things are added they become almost impossible to take away from our own experience. We lived without Social Security for much more of our history than with it, yet now it is seen as an entitlement by most. Your comment on the EU forming almost a third to a quarter of the laws in Belgium now is amazing, think of how much more money you'll all be handing over as the EU grows.... heck, Sweden will be working on a ficticious budget as far as I can tell (they already pay, what, something like 60% of all income to taxes/social programs, then hand over probably another 20% to the EU, they'll be euthanizing the old folks left and right)! Again, this goes back to my question about giving up National sovereignty.

I'll eagerly be awaiting the next installment.

Apologies for the late reaction time...our house has been full of a terrible virus, and until today I have been functioning with sleep deprivation (or not functioning, depending on who you would ask!). Anyway, Merry Christmas to you and yours, I hope that it was a wonderful day for you all.
Hi Tom,

regarding your questions yes, every 5 years elections are held in which the members of the European Parliament are chosen. The last election was in 1999 and 626 MPs were chosen to rfepresent some 370 million European citizens. Since I am now 38 years old and have been voting since I was 18 (obligatory in Belgium) I have cast my (European) vote four times.

Now if you permit me to elaborate on that, as for:

a.) The European Parliament (the EU's "House of Representatives")

The parties of all member states are merged into "supranational mother parties" according to their relative position in the political spectrum. So politicians who are known to be christian democrats in Belgium (CD & V), the Netherlands (CDA), Germany (CDU) etc... all group together in the so-called "European People's Party" (kind of confusing isn't it? - you would suspect such a name would be chosen by leftist parties). After the 1999 elections this party became the biggest fraction in the EP, with the socialist fraction being the second largest.

Being the biggest fraction in the EP apparently did not enable the European Christian Democrats to get an explicit reference to Christianity in the draft of a European Constitution.

Uh oh. "European People's Party"; socialist fraction the second biggest one... yes I see you yankees shaking your heads again at the notion of a leftist Europe... and true it is, unfortunately enough.

Anyway, so next year we will have the next edition of the European elections. Soon 450 million European, old and new ones, heh heh, will have to go to the ballot box.

b.) The European Commission (the EU's "Government")

Well, the Chairman of the European Commission, the European PM so to speak, is appointed in the first instance by the governments of the member states, only afterwards his appointment is mandated by the EP. This is called "double legitimacy". Current Chairman is Romano Prodi, an Italian.

The Chairman then appoints the members of the Commission (what you would call secretaries). Approval of the governments is needed, afterwards the whole equipe's appointment needs approval from the EP.

For all the fuss being made around the EU, since the EU's budget is still quite small in comparison with the combined budgets of the sovereign member states, the EU seems to have trouble attracting the big political guns of the respective countries. Talent goes where the money is, I guess. As the EU will evolve towards a true "superstate" in, say, 30 years (?), the roles will be reversed (an almighty and financially extremely powerful "federal" government and relatively weak member states). Then the political heavyweights will flock en masse to the EU's top levels, for sure.

Indeed, while some of you may have heard of Prodi and Chris Patten (the EU's "Foreign Minister") I doubt the names Michaele Schreyer (budget), Pedro Solbes Mira (Economy), Guenter Verheugen (EU Extension) or David Byrne (health) will ring a bell. Basically they are all second graders in the national policies of their native countries.

Regarding the second part of your question Tom, yes, the EU has already created a massive amount of legislature, to the extent that it is now felt necessary that some simplification is mandatory. E.g. in Belgium European laws form already between a third and a quarter of all laws Belgian citizens are subjected too.

Kerry I will elaborate on the distinction UN/EU later on but now I still have wooooooooooork to do. Sheesh, and it's already 11.50pm. Aaaaaaarrrghhhhh!!!!

Merry Christmas everybody (late, I know it)

Monday, December 22, 2003

Oops, apparently no 1,000 character limit here. Don't be afraid, when I said I hoped it would be a long ride, I also hoped it would not be a long, hard slog.

I'll try to keep it entertaining but if I had to clarify only a little bit of the EU I really had to make it this long.
Before I start with this, my first contribution in what I hope will be a long ride, I would like to thank Tom and Kerry Dupont for the chance they have given me in expressing my views as a European. I hope I will be able to shed some light from “our” perspective on issues that are of concern to both Americans and Europeans.

As a European, I am a bit puzzled by the apparent sarcasm with which the nonconclusive EU Brussels summit of 12-13 Dec. was covered in American media. What was all the fuss about? Basically there were two main issues: the “agreeing on” of a first draft of a European Constitution as well as finally reaching a consensus on voting power between the 25 member states when, on May 1st 2004, 10 new countries will be joining the European Union.

I have often been musing that what the EU needs more than anything else is a good PR team. One that is able to clarify to the broad public the sense of this seemingly endless series of summits (Maastricht, Schengen, Copenhagen, Lisbon, Nice, you name it…) as well as the deeper, underlying meaning of there being something like a European Union at all. Americans don’t have to worry about being puzzled by “Europe”, its countless institutions, its trade wars with the US, its spawning out of a plethora of laws etc. etc… To most Europeans, and by this I mean indeed a vast majority of European citizens, the emerging supranational body leaves them just as clueless as Americans.

A brief historical sketch of how the EU became the EU is in its place:

a.) May 9th, 1950: Robert Schuman, France’s Foreign Minister, proposes establishing the ECCS, the European Community of Coal and Steel, with the aim of integrating the steel processing industries of six European countries: France, West-Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. In 1951 through the Treaty of Paris the ECCS is a fact, it is the nucleus of what will become the EU.

b.) In 1958 the Treaty of Rome establishes the EEC, the European Economic Community, composed of the countries mentioned above. Its aim is the economic integration of its member states. Customs duties between them are abolished, there will be free movement of goods, persons, services and capital, as well as a common policy on labor, agriculture, social issues,
transport and trade.

The Treaty of Rome is also important because here already we see the emergence of a political dimension, as the EEC is provided with:

• a Council (some kind of advisory body)
• a Commission (the executive body)
• a Court of Justice
• a Court of Auditors
• a Parliament (Assembly)

c.) The EEC scores a major achievement in establishing common prices for agricultural products

d.) The Treaty of Brussels (1965) merges ECCS, EEC and Euratom in the European Community (EC).

e.) 1973: the EC expands with the UK, Ireland and Denmark joining.

f.) Greece joins the EC in 1981.

g.) Spain and Portugal join in 1986.

h.) The Single European Act of 1987 provides for a single internal market.

i.) A milestone is the Treaty of Maastricht in 1992. Maastricht is of paramount importance because for the first time
the European Unity (EU), as the EC was renamed at the treaty, outspokenly vows for:

• establishing a single European currency
• a Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP)
• a common military policy, to be implied by the WEU (West European Union, a till then sleeping
institution meant to coordinate military efforts by EC countries)

After Maastricht European citizens slowly begin to realize the European Community is a supranational economical AND political body which will have an increasingly important impact on their lives. The very notion of a “superstate in being” is becoming more and more apparent as the European Commission (the “EU’s “government”) and the European Parliament (the EU’s “House of Representatives”) start truly behaving like the executing and law issuing bodies of such a state.

j.) Austria, Sweden and Finland join the EU in 1995.

k.) The European Central Bank (ECB) is established in 1998, charged with preparing the issue of a single currency.

l.) In 2002 12 EU nations introduce this currency, called the euro. They thus form the European Monetary Union (EMU). Conditions to enter are embedded in the so-called Stability Pact (1996), which requires participating nations to reduce their budget deficit to 3% of their GDP as well as limiting their debt to 60% of their GDP.

It is important to understand the sheer magnitude of the administrative and legislative work involved with creating the EU as it is today, over the decades since WWII. For almost sixty years the world was in turmoil and news headlines were made by the Cold War, countless conflicts on all continents including the European continent, the demise of the colonial empires, the emergence of China and recently India as major international power brokers, economic crises, environmental problems, the Middle East etc. etc… During all this time European statesmen and visionaries silently laid the foundations of and started building a European superstate. Very likely in the beginning it was never meant to be that way but as more and more goals were accomplished and institutions established the vision of a single economical, political and (over the last decade) military union became a tempting goal at the horizon. While the world was watching the power politics of the US and the Soviet Union and hordes of brutal dictators worldwide got more attention than they deserved, European soft-spoken presidents, premiers and technocrats built up the infrastructure supporting the unified Europe. Since a lot of money was involved in building accommodation for the hundreds of representatives, the thousands of their staffs and cabinet members, aides etc. and the tens of thousands of the new “Eurocracy”, it was inevitable that scandals would emerge. Nevertheless, the building anger resulted in vast complexes and halls across its member states, but principally in Brussels, Belgium, where the European Parliament has its seat, as well as countless subordinated organs and institutions.

On the other hand, the EU’s maiden trip in trying to implement an effective common foreign policy when faced with the humanitarian disasters in the broken up Yugoslavia proved such a disaster that the US had to hurry to their help to break the stalemate.

So where has the European Union arrived today? And where is it heading to? (to be continued)

Saturday, December 20, 2003

I almost fainted when I read this from the NY Times Op/Ed page (requires registration):

Over the past five years, by turning over two suspects for trial, acknowledging its complicity in the Lockerbie bombing and paying compensation to victims' families, Libya finally managed to persuade the United Nations Security Council to lift the international sanctions that had shadowed its economy and its international reputation for more than a decade. Those sanctions were lifted in September. This page recommended lifting American sanctions as well, but President Bush left them in place pending further steps, most notably Libya's decision to end its unconventional weapons programs. It is now clear that he was right to do so. The added American pressure worked just as intended.

Hat tip to Instapundit.

Unfortunately the so called fiscal conservatives that were elected over the last few years have largely accepted the concept of big government as inevitable. Their strategy seems to be that if we must have big government, let's make sure the money is going to our people instead of their people. This to my mind is no better than the Democrats controlling everything and smothering us with entitlements and welfare programs. A lot of voters really got played in the recent elections, thinking that they were voting for people who would actually live up to the idea of being conservative. The fact that the Republicans have the amount of control that they do and have squandered the opportunity to shrink our hideously bloated government is nothing short of appalling. We should not be kind in the next elections to the big government conservatives who have deceived us.

While I consider the current wave of conservatism in the US to be on the whole a positive thing, this spending spree mentality is very troubling. I think the conservative revolution needs to be immediately followed by the federalist revolution, where we once and for all get the country back on the course that the founding fathers intended. Even the gridlock of the '90's, where no party controlled both the legislature and the presidency, is preferable to our current situation from a spending perspective. While it may seem that nothing gets done in a divided government, it's a lot harder to pass the kind of spending bills that the Republicans currently are.

Let's hope the conservative voters of America wake up and smell the coffee before our current welfare system is replaced with a welfare system for Republican special interests.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

This is weak.
This is criminal. I do not see one thing here that the federal government should be concerning itself with. These examples are a minute fraction of the entire 1,448 page, $820 billion bill. What the hell happened to fiscal conservatives? Aren't the Republicans in charge of congress these days?

While I don't expect this latest embarrassment from the 9th Circuit Court to hold up, it illustrates what I believe to be a fundamental flaw in our governmental system; the fact that there is no short term remedy for the problem of judicial activism. Politicians can be voted out based on their performance, but the only way to affect real change among the members of the judicial branch is to achieve overwhelming and unrealistic majorities in the legislature and maintain them for a period of time sufficient enough to appoint better qualified judges as slots open up. The current democratic filibuster circus proves that even a majority can't get much done if the minority wants to be stubborn (or childish) enough. Of course, this "flaw" is what helps to keep the integrity of the judicial branch, as it keeps judges from being tied to a constituency, and it keeps the legislative majority from hijacking the courts, but it would be nice if there were some kind of judicial integrity check. Now that the left is relying more and more on the courts to push their agenda that would never pass muster with the American public, the problem is becoming an epidemic.

I don't claim to have an easy solution here, but I've read The Constitution, and it seems to me that the intentions of our founding fathers are far less nebulous and subject to interpretation as the 9th Circuit court would have us believe. Perhaps there is no solution, other than an increase in judicial integrity, which isn't something you can legislate. Surely, any system of government will fail if there is a sufficient lack of integrity among it's members. The 9th circuit court is doing its best to subvert the very document that they're charged to uphold, and in the process is putting us all in danger. Perhaps if they had lost a family member to terrorism they would be able to step back and see their petty agenda for what it is. I doubt it, though.

It looks as if the dreaded 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is at it again. In typical activist fashion they've just ruled that POWs now have recourse to the U.S. court system. Let's hope that this ruling, like many of their hare-brained rulings in the past, will be overturned on appeal.
The LOTR saga is an interesting allegory on current world events. It becomes more clear every day that America, and perhaps the entire world, is splitting between two groups. On one side are those who believe that there is evil in this world and that it needs to be confronted aggressively. On the other side are those who don't believe there is evil, those who think that we are equally evil or more evil than those who oppose us, and those that deep down know there is evil, but choose to ignore it because it either does not suit their political motives, or because they are afraid of the inevitable sacrifice and pain that would result from confronting evil. This last group, of course, is the most wretched of the bunch. While it can be frustrating to deal with someone who can look at the current state of the world and not see evil plainly before their eyes, I can still have a modicum of respect for them if they have arrived at their opinion with logic, no matter how ideologically tainted it may be. However, the person who sees evil for what it is and uses it as a means for political gain or develops a worldview whose main purpose is to rationalize his own fear and cowardice; these are the most dangerous people in the world. Certainly, their actions often seem benign on the surface and are commonly done in the name of peace, but their overall effect is to slowly rot the core of a nation from the inside to the point where once it becomes obvious what has been happening it is too late to correct the problem.

Like the Hobbits in LOTR (save for the main characters), the left is content living in their shire, ignorant or ambivalent of the evil that threatens the very way of life they cherish. The Hobbits are more suspicious of Gandalf, their powerful ally, than of any distant threat from another land. In Europe, the biggest shire in the world, many see the United States as a bigger threat to their way of life than Al Qaida. The situation there is so bad that it is difficult to imagine the European population caring enough about anything to actually put down their cigarrettes and take up arms.

If it can be said that anything good came from the attacks of 9/11, it is that these events woke us from the same dream that the Europeans are living in. Like the struggle in LOTR, what's at stake here is far more important than personal emotions or temporary political advantage. What's at stake here is, quite simply, everything.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

This is the part of the reporting of the UN meeting that made me nuts:

(Kofi Annan speaking)
"Now is not the time to pin blame and point fingers," he told reporters. Saying that Mr. Zebari was "obviously entitled to his opinion," Mr. Annan said that the United Nations had done as much for Iraq as it could under the circumstances and was prepared to do more.
"Quite honestly," he said, "now is not the time to hurl accusations and counter-accusations."

What the heck is that? First of all Kofi, I don't hear you having any counter-accusations to "hurl" at the Iraqis. That's a novel defense, trying to but blame on someone for pointing out facts and then calling it their "opinion", did they teach you that at the Clinton school of debating?
And most of all, if the highlighted section above isn't a complete disaster, I don't know what is? If you have done as much as you possibly have been able to for someone, then how can you be prepared to do more? Which is it Mr. Annan?
Well, the new installment of LOTR is here, and as most of us eagerly await the passing of the opening week crowds, read this interview, from NRO.

At least one of the cast seems to get the point of what they just acted.
Reason 3,704 Wes "The Lion of Kosovo" Clark should not become president: The man never blinks. He's like some cheesy B-rated horror movie automaton.
The UN gets it from the Iraqi foreign minister. Kofi Annan comes off as impotent as ever in this piece. Here's a great quote from the ambassador Jean-Marc de la Sabliere of France:

"I don't want to comment on the past."

Yeah, I wouldn't either after taking 12 years to think about it and still leaving the Iraqi people twisting in the wind. If I were the French, the Russians, or the Germans, I'd be organizing a hit on Hussein right now before he spills the beans and reveals their treachery.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

This is a beautiful thing. The slow motion train wreck that is the European Union moves one step closer to catastrophe. It makes it so easy to win arguments with lefties when there is such a shining example of the folly of Socialism just across the Atlantic. Pass the popcorn, this is going to be good.
Orson Scott Card, a science fiction writer and Democrat, puts forth a very balanced and well thought out criticism of the current Democratic position on the war on terror. While I'm not sure how he can have these opinions and still be a Democrat, I hope there are many more Democrats out there like him. I was beginning to think they had abandoned common sense altogether.

Monday, December 15, 2003

It is rather interesting that the people who didn't want anything to do with Iraq now want the U.N. (which also didn't want anything to do with solving the Iraqi situation) involved in the prosecution of Saddam Hussein. If we shouldn't have been there in the first place, and our actions were illegal, why should he be tried at all? I also saw a comment on NRO's Corner that on Pacifica Radio this morning one of the points of debate was whether U.S. corporations and the U.S. should go on trial alongside Saddam. Clowns.
What about Iraqi legitimacy?
Clark, what a joke!
It's not an easy time to be a Democratic strategist. Every time they seem to gather some steam with their criticisms of the Bush administration, a funny thing happens: The very plans and strategies (or lack thereof) that they use as the foundation for their arguments actually end up working. The capture of Saddam Hussein is yet another blow to the quagmire crowd, who have seen most of their 2004 election issues vaporize before their eyes. The two front running democratic contenders, Howard Dean and John Kerry, have had their criticism of Bush's Iraq strategy whittled down to whimpering that we need to get more international involvement in the Iraq effort. Here's part of Dean's response to the capture of Hussein:

"This development provides an enormous opportunity to set a new course and take the American label off the war. We must do everything possible to bring the UN, NATO, and other members of the international community back into this effort."

This highlights one of the great hypocrisies of the left's worldview: that an unjust action (or inaction, as is usually the case) becomes just if sanctioned by the UN. Dean, who was and is in full opposition to the liberation of Iraq, seems to imply here that the Iraq operation can somehow be given legitimacy by inviting the UN and NATO to help out. Please. If you're against the liberation, you're against the liberation, and it should not matter what the Europeans or anyone else thinks. Of course, Dean knows that denouncing the Iraq liberation now would be politically suicidal, so his goal is to put a pretty international face on an operation that he has opposed from the outset (apparently Dean doesn't consider a 60 nation coalition to be international enough.) I can just see President Dean on hold with the UN waiting for approval to act after the attacks of 9/11...

The one Democrat that comes out of this smelling like a rose is Joe Lieberman. After getting back stabbed by Al Gore, suddenly he's on the right side of the issue of the day while the front running candidates are all running their spin cycles overtime. This of course is fine with me, as I am not among those who are praying for a Dean vs Bush election for the simple fact that however unlikely it may be, Dean could win. I've got plenty of problems with Joe Lieberman, but he's nowhere near the nightmare that Dean or Kerry would be, and seems to have some common sense about national security. Here's to hoping that he figures out how to campaign before it's too late.
The wisdom of presidential hopeful Wes "The Lion of Kosovo" Clark:

"I would like to see him(Saddam) tried in The Hague, and I'll tell you why. I think it's very important for U.S. legitimacy and for building other support in the war on terror for trying them in The Hague, under international law with an international group of justices, bringing witnesses from other nations."
Emphasis added.

No, our legitimacy is that we're in Iraq and Saddam is in prison. What a jerk.

Sunday, December 14, 2003


Friday, December 12, 2003

Check out this site, specifically the cartoon for Dec 11.

While I agree with you regarding censorship on a national level, I think that was just a small part of Jonah's point. I believe he was not advocating censorship but illustrating that we do accept it in some form or another on a daily basis. Further we get upset over trivial "censorship" such as a controversial performing "artist" whose performance is cancelled by a college scared to lose alumni contributions, or the Dixie Chicks losing sales due to "censorship" when in reality they've just pissed off their core who stopped buying their albums. On the other hand a major infringement of our First Amendment rights (ie. McCain-Feingold) has just occurred, is truly censorship, and no one seems to care. It's the swallowing a lion whole but choking on a gnat thing. I think this is the point he was trying to make.

I agree wholeheartedly with you on the perils of limiting free speech. I believe that if I wanted to contribute 47 million dollars of my money to re-elect President Bush that should be my prerogative. Furthermore, if I own a private company and I want to give 47 million dollars from its profits, so be it, the employees of the company who do not agree with it can seek employment elsewhere, it is my company. The government should not be involved in this process at all.
The saddest part of the campaign finance reform developments is the simple fact that the very people who are entrusted with interpreting and upholding the Constitution of the United States have decided that this obscene piece of legislation is somehow "constitutional."

The door is now wide open for a whole generation of activist judges to spin the constitution into a shadow of its former self.

I'm not sure I agree with Goldberg on the whole concept of good and bad censorship, at least not on a national level. Free speech is free speech, and the act of picking and choosing which speech should be limited is a slippery slope no matter where your beliefs are. More often than not the first amendment becomes a disguise for some other political motive. Free market forces and local governments would go a long way to keeping X rated movies off Saturday morning TV, and any school board that would allow Neo Nazis to speak at a school would be sent packing the very next day by the citizens of their community. Since what is good censorship and what is bad censorship will always be subjective, these decisions are best left to individuals, and when necessary, local government.

If you want to keep your own rights of expression in tact, you have to deal with the occasional flag burner, sacrilegious performance artist, or hate speaker. It comes with the territory.
Great piece by Jonah Goldberg on NRO today re: "Campaign Finance Reform" and censorship. I haven't even wanted to go down that road because it depressed me so much, but I had to post something.
I got this e mail in regard to a suggestion that I replied to on Omar's site yesterday. The suggestion was to get the Iraqi bloggers laptops so as to make it simpler for them as right now they have to go to the Internet Cafes in Bagdhad to post. I said that I'd be happy to help if it were actually possible for them to get access in their homes or offices. There was a suggestion of a collection from all of the readers by a few, and I also mentioned that I might be able to see what our family member at Dell could work out for us (who knows, they may even want to donate, imagine a commercial where they are "bringing the voices of the oppressed" to the world through donating in that way?) I admit, rather idealistic, but worth a try.

Back to the point. This guy impressed me, both by the fact that he's already serving and ready to offer part of his pay to fund an Irai blogger, and by his astute observations. Here's another reason that we say thank you for our friends in Britian. Here's the e mail, name withheld for protection:


British Officer serving here in the "deep South", MORE than willing to chip
in a few pounds/ bucks to promote blogging for Iraqis.

I check this site, (my E mail address every few days). Sort it out and my
cheque is in the post/ credit card on the net. In this war you bloggers are
"the front line", because this one we win or lose on the streets of small
town USA. Only two groups seem to have worked this out, our friends
(you guys) and our enemies. Guess whom I'm supporting.

God bless you all.
Pray for us.

Don't you realize that contacting a television network and expressing your displeasure with their coverage is censorship? I suppose you were one of those people who forced poor CBS at gunpoint to pull that gripping and historically accurate miniseries "The Reagans" off the air as well.

You're right that people need to be vocal about these things, because even the most biased news organization will sit up and take notice when their audience leaves them. This, of course, is the free market in action, otherwise known to liberals as "the vast right wing conspiracy."

That CNN headline wasn't one of their most flagrant abuses, but it was the straw that broke the camel's back for me. The worst thing about it is that I now expect the story to be bogus, but I'll check it out anyway because of my keen interest in the Iraq situation. I'm sure the news weenies at CNN are all excited about their powers of persuasion, but this gets them nowhere in the long run, as is evidenced by Fox beating them like a circus monkey in the ratings.

The next chapter of liberal media comedy is going to be their much talked about radio talk show network, which is supposedly going to be called "Central Air." It really tells you something about the state of liberalism when even the liberals know that admitting their ideology openly will kill any chance of getting ratings.
I read the article on Schroeder's statement yesterday, and everyone in conservative circles picked up on Bush's "response" to the question of whether the administration's position on this was "illegal under international law". We always enjoy the contrast of our "plain speaking" President vs. the polictically correct diplomatic speech that comes from the State Dept. (Granted that is the State Dept's job-diplomacy-aka "talking in circles and accomplishing almost nothing".) It's the same reason that we love to listen to Rumsfeld. Who else will look a reporter straight in the eye and with a derisive laugh say "you can't be serious?" when they ask a completely ridiculous question, and then go on to address not only the question, but why it is so ridiculous, unless of course it is SO ridiculous that it isn't even worth answering!

As far as the biased reporting goes, I can honestly say that if I read that headline "US Compound Blasted In Iraq", I wouldn't think anything of it. Until I see specifics (such as "17 American soldiers dead") or a report of injured, I don't even bother clicking. It's been that biased for that long, on most major stations. Not to mention that when the headline of Gwyenth Paltrow getting married shares the same space as international and national news, and there is NO coverage of the 10,000 person march against terrorism in Iraq, well, that about says it all. You know darn well if there were 10,000 Iraqi's marching FOR the Ba'athists return or "against the occupation" it would be the lead story in every news outlet. For years, the news media has been accused of an enormous bias toward reporting only "bad" news. Until Americans demand otherwise, it will continue to "sell" news in that way. I would suggest that you write to CNN as well as changing your home page. I have written to every news network and a bunch of major blog sites this week regarding the Dec 10 Demonstration in Iraq. There are a bunch of us that did that are all frequent visitors to the Iraq sites, and the coverage improved over a couple of days, with even CNN finally giving it half a minute on the TV (though NO info on the website), and an interview of the editor of Iraq Today yesterday at noon on CNN as well (which he was kind enough to contact me about after I had written him). NRO's Corner first posted about Omar's post on "It's not about the oil" after I sent them an e mail alerting them to it. They've been good about covering the major news coming off the Iraq blog sites ever since. "Power of the People" in the US is a real thing, because of capitalism more than anything else, but most of us that don't lean far left, myself included, I believe relate speaking out on things as "whining and complaing" which is what we equivilate with the left leaning segment, so we tend not to do it.
Ok, that's the last straw. I'm officially switching my home page. Yeah, yeah, I know, not exactly front page news, but the reason I'm switching it is part of a much larger problem.

Up until now I've used Apple's default home page, which is hosted by Netscape. It's a pretty ordinary "everything you need at your fingertips" type of site like Yahoo or MSN. Like all sites of this nature, the Apple site has a prominently featured news section. In this case, the news content comes from CNN. Now we all know that CNN likes to drive in the left lane, but their web based news takes things to a whole new low. While there is certainly the expected left leaning bias, the people who write the headlines, which serve as hyperlinks on this site, are completely out of control. The headlines are so exaggerated and embellished that they often bear little resemblance to the event that they're referring to. I know a good headline is supposed to get you to read the story, but this site has become a joke. Here's one of today's headlines:

U.S. Compound Blasted in Iraq

Now, perhaps I'm naive, but this sounds like one of our compounds was blown up, or at least severely damaged, which is disturbing news. Of course, I took the bait and clicked the hyperlink. The next page had the following headline:

Iraqi Rebels Fire Shells at U.S. Compound

Ok, so in the nanosecond it took to load the next page, the situation seems to have improved a bit at our compound in Iraq. Further reading reveals that there were no injuries and only light damage to a non critical building. In other words, this is a non story. Of course, most of the rest of the article goes on to detail all of the recent attacks on our troops, which revealed what seems to be the true purpose of this article: spreading fear uncertainty and doubt about the Iraq situation.

To be fair, here are all the other CNN headlines today:

Murderer Charged With Killing, Burying 3 Teens
Tenn. Crash-Landing Kills Four
Gay Officers Slam Military Policy
Drunkenness Gene Found in Worm
Man Said Parents Dead 40 Times

I checked all of these stories, and in each case the headline accurately describes the event, without exaggeration. So it does seem that CNN is capable of writing an accurate headline. What has pushed me over the edge is the fact that the headline embellishments only seem to crop up when the story is about Iraq, Halliburton, SUV's or some other topic that CNN sees as reflecting badly on the current administration. I get sucked in almost every day by these headlines just to find out that nothing has really happened, but CNN felt compelled to remind me of the things that Bush is doing wrong in their eyes.

While I'll miss the Apple specific stuff on the site, its just not worth it to sift through CNN's pretend news every day.

Yet another example of why the U.N. should not control the internet.
Love it. Particularly the President's response to German chancellor Schroeder's remark about international law.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Scott, yeah don't I know it, fair hasn't been fair since oh, I'd guess at least 1980.

I could not have said this better myself. I also think this general concept applies to the current interpretation of the Separation of Church and State - it bears almost no resemblance to its original intent.

The word "fair", in its true meaning, is to liberals what garlic is to a vampire. Sure they use the term all the time, but they interpret it to mean something entirely different. This word is abused all the time by the left, who claim that raising the taxes on the "wealthy", who already pay a grossly disproportionate share of taxes, is fair. They claim that subsidizing a dying industry with taxpayer money so it can compete with foreign competitors is fair. They will tell you with a straight face that it is fair to deny a white person a job so that a less qualified minority can be employed instead.

Webster's dictionary defines the word "fair" as it applies to this discussion, as the following:

1) Free from favoritism or self-interest or bias or deception; or conforming with established standards or rules

2) Showing lack of favoritism

Show me just one of the left's pet policies that can be described by the above definitions.

I agree with Tom that we need to dump Social Security right now, and this illegal immigration issue is only one of a dozen reasons why. Here's how I'd do it:

1) Stop SS withholding immediately.

2) Give everyone over 50 the choice to stay with the current system or be reimbursed with an amount proportionate to what they have put onto the system, which would be tax free. At this point the SS fund would be split into two groups: The money required for those who choose to stay with the current system, and the reimbursement fund.

3) Everyone under 50 gets reimbursed with an amount proportionate to what they have put into the system.

I'm no economist, but I think this principle is, well, fair.

Forget it, I found the link at Drudge.

People using other people's SS#'s illegally, we then let become legals, and pay them SS benefits? WHAT?

You want fair? Here's fair. You can gladly come into this country as a legal, documented citizen from Mexico to live and work. If you do, that is your choice to become an "American". If you want to come here to work for 10 years because the opportunities are better, and then go back to Mexico and live there for the rest of your life and have the benefits from your 10 years in the US, plus benefits from Mexico, SORRY--TOO BAD! Instead I suggest that you work on making your own country better at providing opportunities for your people. If you want to work to make money to send home to bring your family here as well, as legal documented citizens, I have no problem with that.

Just plan on learning English.

This is extremely disturbing. It's time we get some data together that shows just how much illegal immigrants put into our Social Security fund. This point has been brought up several times and, unless I'm missing something, it just doesn't add up. If it's illegal to hire an illegal immigrant, how is it that social security dues are being deducted from their "under the table" paychecks? While there are some loopholes that allow some illegal immigrants to work here legally, I would be very surprised if the SS dues paid by these people even came close to the amount taken out of the system by the entire illegal immigrant population. I won't even go into the drag on our medical industry and educational system.

We've got enough legal dead beats bringing the system down as it is without extending the benefits to citizens of other countries. Isn't it ironic that the same people who opposed funding for our own troops in Iraq will gladly give money away to foreigners as a reward for breaking our laws.
This to me, is a good case for ending Social Security completely. 100%. Bye bye.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Exactly my point, they aren't in any way contributing to the tax base, they are taking away from it. "No messy tax stuff" to deal with, means that they aren't paying into the "public fund" that they are taking from in other areas. That practice is very common in FL too, where right outside of the wealthy Palm Beach area, there are tons of Haitians that are "employed" in the same way. I don't like the "public fund" in the first place, but I sure as heck don't want to be paying my taxes, plus paying for someone else!

And though I realize that they contribute in a way to the community, they do not pay taxes or Social Security as Ridge stated. That as far as I can tell is an outright lie.

I agree with your last take completely, but we'll be lucky to see it in our lifetimes. Doesn't mean we shouldn't keep lobbying for it though!

Regarding illegal immigrants "contributing" to the system; the real problem here are legal citizens who take advantage of the reduced cost of using illegal immigrants as a labor force. A very popular practice in my former residence, Atlanta, GA is to go to the local "labor pool" (translation: a bunch of Mexicans waiting on a corner) and pick up laborers for the day. The landscaping industry, which is big business in Atlanta, is very big on the labor pool. You can hire people real cheap for the day, they will work hard for long hours, and there's no messy tax stuff to deal with. The problem is, someone else (the US taxpayer) is paying the difference in wages plus a lot more at the end of the day. By hiring an illegal immigrant, you reduce the chances of other legal, taxpaying Americans of finding employment, and you cheat the government (taxpayers) out of the cost of whatever government services the illegal immigrant is going to consume while in this country. Sure, you save a few bucks, but you're sticking it to your fellow taxpayers at the same time.

People who claim that they do it out of sympathy are practicing pretty selective sympathy when you consider the number of legal citizens in the US who are out of work. Even if your sympathies are with minorities, there are still plenty of minorities who are legal citizens that need work. In the end, it all comes down to money. But what people don't realize is that they're still paying, it's just taking the form of higher taxes.

Ideally, I'd like to see a society with open borders and completely free enterprise, but until we abolish the welfare state and get a handle on terrorism, among other things, illegal immigration will always be damaging.
Photos of the Iraq demo against terrorism are at Zeyad's site (Healing Iraq) in the links to the right. Also an account is up at Omar's sight (Iraq The Model). Al-J is estimating 10,000 marchers and that is usually under estimated since they are so biased against a democratic Iraq. Of course there is minimal news on it here in the west, though some have said that they have seen coverage on Fox on TV. There is nothing on their website however.

Scott, I agree that what he was trying to get at (when you read the entire article) was that we don't have the "manpower" (or the maybe the "manhood" if you get my drift) to deal with the sheer volume of illegals that are already in the country. I can see a screening process, after which point they be given some sort of legal status IF we are ready to "shut down the borders" to completely enforce LEGAL immigration from that point on. He does make reference to this, but I'm still waiting to hear any kind of a plan, vs. a generalized idea.

It just really kills me that NOBODY questions Ridge on how in the world undocumented illegals could be contributing to the system monetarily!

Granted it has been 5 years since I was in the world of a large business, but I hired hundreds of people over five years, and I can definitely say that you did NOT mess around with the law in that area. Employees, if they did not have a SS# and citizenship, had to have a green card with all info and a copy sent to the IRS with their paperwork. If they had neither, and yes, I did encounter lots of these (specifically in Worcester, MA which has a large hispanic population, and in NYC area, NO EMPLOYMENT. Therefore, their only chance at employment is "under the table" payment, which does not contribute in any way to the tax base. However, they happily accept our health care and our education for their children, which drains the tax base.

Somebody help me with the math here!

(Enjoyed Sowell's piece, always like reading him and Connerly.)
The statement by Tom Ridge, at least on the surface, is pure garbage. Perhaps this is just another vote buying scheme, in which case I too will officially be opposed to this President's domestic policy.

The only thing that could possibly justify Ridge's statement in my mind would be if the administration was planning on taking a seriously hard line against illegal immigration, and is using this to soften the blow with Hispanic voters. While the thought of legalizing 10 million illegal immigrants is very troubling, if it were followed by the President slamming the borders shut it might be a better solution than having the current joke of a system go on indefinitely. This just might be a way for the President to come down hard on illegal immigration while actually gaining the support of some Hispanic voters. If this were to work, it would be a shrewd political move indeed.

Still, I think that scenario is probably far fetched. We're likely witnessing another cave in by the President on an important domestic issue. Didn't his father also kind of screw things up domestically in the latter part of his term?
OK, I have tried to post twice on that same story Tom, but have been having server problems.

Anyway, here's the part that really bothered me:

Ridge said he thinks the body politic is about ready to address the issue of the illegal immigrants, who he said contribute to communities and Social Security and pay taxes. He referred to a growing number of bills that would grant residency to some of those living here illegally. He said one of these, which would require all illegal immigrants to leave the country before applying for residency, is "not workable."

How in the world do they contribute, rather than drain, SS and Tax money? Could somebody please explain that to me?

I'm seeing a possible 8 million new voters for this administration after reading this article, especially since the majority of those granted "legal" status would be in FL and CA, both pivotal states to winning re election.

I can't say that there is any hard evidence that the "legalizing" would offer voting rights, but let's just say at this point, it wouldn't surprise me. If that happens, I will become the harshest critic on this administrations domestic policies, which have been poor in a lot of areas (spending, spending, spending), while supporting the stance on foreign policy which has been fairly principaled in my view.
This is rather disturbing.
Thomas Sowell has an interesting observation regarding the Wright Brothers and diversity. As we all know, the left's concept of diversity is shallow and cosmetic. But when this limited world view seeps into our classrooms and begins to taint the teaching of history, it's time to take notice. This revisionist history, where relatively trivial figures are elevated to the status of Washington, Jefferson, or Lincoln just because of their ethnicity is truly ridiculous. It all reminds me of a radio broadcast I listened to a few years back. The subject of the show was ancient African cultures, and the guest was a professor from one of the Atlanta black colleges. He proceeded to denigrate many of the non- black ancient cultures, and his argument was based on the "fact" that they all stole their knowledge from African cultures. Yes, the Greeks must have stole the concept of democracy from some hapless African tribe, and the ancient Mesopotamians must have cribbed the concept of writing from some more advanced culture on the African continent. Of course, nobody knows what happened to all the alleged advanced African cultures, but that's beside the point. It was a sad exercise, but thankfully it was a call in show and one woman called in and completely shut the professor down. In a thick southern drawl she said "you must be really insecure about your own culture to have to claim credit for the accomplishments of others." The professor sputtered on, but never really came back from this simple observation. This woman's point still applies today. There are plenty of important contributions made by minorities in history without us having to invent new ones or elevate relatively unimportant ones in the interest of "diversity." Downplaying the accomplishments of white males does nothing to elevate the accomplishments of non whites. Yes, much of the history of this country is dominated by white males, but this is history, not some story book. You have to tell it like it is. Imagine the outcry if some white historians tried to downplay the suffering of black slaves, or claimed that some white folks did more for civil rights than Dr. King. Heads would certainly roll.

Painting a fanciful picture of diversity and calling it history is no better than the practice of white supremacists denying that the Jewish holocaust ever happened. This is history. It's sometimes ugly, cruel, and unfair, and it's not always going to be sympathetic to certain political agendas. Putting more emphasis on changing the future rather than changing the past would be a good idea for some of those on the left.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Here's a dose of reality for those who think our civil liberties are being stripped away by the Patriot Act. Strangely enough, those railing against John Ashcroft and The Patriot Act have been unable to cite a single example of someone's rights being violated. Now we know why.

Monday, December 08, 2003

Good news on the U.N. bid for control of the internet. For now.

Sunday, December 07, 2003

Check out the conversation going on over at Iraq at a Glance (link to the right). A perfect example of what I was talking about earlier. Many Iraqis are just too indoctrinated with fear to be able to see any differently than Al-Jazeera et al have taught them.
Kerry and Michael,

There seem to be several problems with the process of setting up an Iraqi government and Ayatollah Sistani is only one of them.

The first and possibly biggest problem is that the CPA is dominated by State Department personnel. This does not bode well based on past performance.

As for caucuses for delegates to the Provisional Government, I believe that is still up in the air. Iraqi minority groups (Sunnis, Kurds) are concerned that if delegates are selected in a general, nationwide vote they will not be represented well, if at all in laying out the country's future. Not to mention the former Baathists who are likely to be elected as well. It sounds as if Bremer has his work cut out for him and needs to start pushing more aggressively for regional caucuses - it is far too early for a general Iraqi election.

Third, the requirements in the Agreement on Political Process call for the following four elements in the intermediary Fundamental Law (a sort of transitional constitution): a "bill of rights"; a "federal arrangement for Iraq"; judicial independence and judicial review; and "civilian political control over Iraqi armed and security forces." However there is no requirement that these four principles be included in the final constitution!

And finally, it is never a good idea when a few unelected individuals have too much control of government (e.g. U.S. Federal Courts).

Here's the November 15 agreement re: the CPA and transition in Iraq. Sidenote--When viewing, check out "essential services" tab at top. The photos of the electrical rebuilding are phenomonal. Since none of the dates have come to pass yet, I take a "believe it when I see it" approach. There haven't been many agreements on paper that have "held" completely in places going through the change that Iraq is right now. That is not to say that I don't believe that the people of Iraq are not capable of making it happen, it is just that I don't think that the "average" Iraqi holds that much sway yet, they don't realize that they do, and thus they don't, if you get my meaning. Just read the link to the NY Times article in my post from Tuesday, Dec 2nd. We are reminded that the fear is still so pervasive that many people won't be honest with their opinions or endorsements. I will continue to do some more research on this subject. Cullinan will be doing a follow up article and links to previous articles as well, so it should be interesting reading.

Let's hope more of Iraq starts to "voice" themselves as some of their brave citizens have.
There has been much talk over Sistani in Iraqi circles as of late. Many of us debate where the government is going, or ought to go, on the Iraqi blog sites (listed in our links). Here is an interesting article that I found at NRO. Comments anyone?

Sorry for the brief post and quiet weekend, however, we are in the midst of a true snowstorm, it has been snowing since yesterday and the weather this morning says that we will end up with anywhere from 12-15 inches in our area (because we are right on the coast), but just 20 minutes inland, where my husband works, they are calling for 15-25 inches total. While this is not all that unusual in late January/early Februrary, it is very much so for our first real storm of the year. Looks like we'll be having a white Christmas!

Needless to say, we've been doing more shoveling than blogging.....!

Friday, December 05, 2003

Scott wrote:

The curious thing is, people like the ACLU who are carrying the PC torch can never be found unless the symbol in question is associated with the majority of Americans. Do you think we'd here from these people if my niece's school started calling the holiday break Kwanzaa break? Of course not, and we'd all be branded as racists for trying to get it changed. Once again the transparent agenda of the left takes shape. You'd think that people who consider themselves intellectuals could do a little better than this.

Intellectual dishonesty anyone? Much like facts are facts whether you approve of the source or not, infringement of peoples right to expression (See 1st Amendment, U.S. Constitution) is infringement even if you do not agree with what is being expressed. Where were these civil libertarians when some University of Tennessee frat boys wore blackface at a party and were immediately disciplined by the school? Truth be told, if this stuff were approached with intellectual honesty we wouldn't have odious "hate crime" legislation. It's all about advancing a certain agenda under the guise of objectivity.
This has to be a frightening prospect for people like the bloggers in Iran and Iraq who are finally able to find an avenue to express their views. I can just imagine the limitations that would be implemented by UN bureaucrats.

Hat tip to Instapundit
Well spoken, Kerry. We're glad to have you back. That is good news about the manger scene in NH. As you know I'm not a religious guy, but all this PC crap regarding religious symbols is really getting to be too much. I can't name a single time that I've been offended by the display of a religious symbol. Not one. And I was raised Catholic, so I'm quite familiar with religious symbols. When I used to work for Turner Broadcasting in Atlanta GA, they had some pretty PC policies, but at least they allowed holiday decorations. You had to allow for the "big 3" (Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa- this is Atlanta remember) but you could still put up decorations. You have to wonder about someone who is offended by a friggin' Christmas tree. My father, who is on the board of the Independence Association, (an organization that helps the mentally handicapped,) said that a couple of years ago they had to stop calling the Christmas bonus a Christmas bonus. They switched to "holiday bonus," but had to change that to "end of the year bonus" this year because Mormons don't celebrate any holidays. My 16 year old niece told me that at her high school they are forbidden to refer to their holiday vacation as "Christmas break." I'm not just talking about the administrators of the school here. They don't allow the STUDENTS to make this reference. Of course, being her legal guardian, I told her to refer to the Christmas break in whatever terms she wants, and that I'll deal with any bozo from the school administration that would like to take this up with me.

The curious thing is, people like the ACLU who are carrying the PC torch can never be found unless the symbol in question is associated with the majority of Americans. Do you think we'd here from these people if my niece's school started calling the holiday break Kwanzaa break? Of course not, and we'd all be branded as racists for trying to get it changed. Once again the transparent agenda of the left takes shape. You'd think that people who consider themselves intellectuals could do a little better than this.

A quick notation, since I am short on time and just got home. I agree with most of what you guys wrote over the time that I've been gone, I had a long discussion about the "Cincinnati" incident, and we had the normal discussion of why is it not racism when Oprah, and Bill Cosby, and Michael Jordan and all of the other blacks in America that work hard to become the best that they are in their fields, well if a black does well, it isn't racism. But when an idiot that deserves the punishment that he gets, (and usually more) HAPPENS to be black, they same people start their cacophony, I mean, you know what is coming, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, the NAACP, it is just ridiculous.

Thank God for people like Ward Connerly, Condi Rice, and Colin Powell (who at least knows how to tell off those that say that he is acting as a "servant" of the white power structure in Washington--) Problem is, they don't fit in with the press's view of the "oppressed" so they never get the message out, except by their deeds. I seriously would love to see a Bush/Rice ticket this year.

On another note, I was in NH for funerals and on driving past the Capitol building where I used to work "back in the day", I was heartened to see out front an entire manger scene. I mean smack dab in the center of the front gate to the Capitol, lit up at night for all to see. Live Free or Die, NH's still hanging in there. If it offends you because you don't celebrate it, then you need "sensitivity training", (as in grow up, it's not all about you). If I lived in the Jewish section of NY, I wouldn't be crabbing about the Star of David being lit up, or Hannukah decorations. Just as if I went to live in Mexico (which I would NEVER do, but hypothetically) I wouldn't expect all of the ATM's to be in English. I was glad to see that the non-P/C crowd had won one in NH, at least for now, until MA infiltrates them completely.
To donate to Lt. Colonel West's defense send checks here:

Alan West Defense Fund, c/o Angela West, 6823 Coleman Drive, Ft. Hood, Tex 76544.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

I don't care if the Thanksgiving turkey President Bush was holding in the photos from Baghdad was a prop or not, this is the effect it had on the troops who were actually there. God love him, the President cares for our men and women in uniform and it shows.
This really gets me going. It is becoming a trend in this country for local governments to trample on people's property rights in order to pad the tax base. This story is just one in a string of such cases where local governments are using unscrupulous means to find ways to oust homeowners so that their property can be made available to those who will pay higher property taxes. The attack on property rights is not just a local phenomenon either. While criticizing judicial nominee Janice Rogers Brown, Diane Feinstein stated that she didn't like the fact that Judge Brown placed property rights on "too high a plane." It seems the Democrats have come up with an interpretation of the constitution where certain rights reside on a higher plane than others. How convenient for them when someone's property rights stand in the way of their political motives. This is just one step closer to socialist collectivism, where the "needs" of the state outweigh the rights of the individual. This would be fine if it weren't for the fact that a great deal of the constitution is dedicated to protecting the rights of the individual from people like Ms. Feinstein and the Norfolk housing authority. We can also blame the courts for this mess, as they have given city governments almost unlimited leeway in the interpretation of eminent domain laws. It's nice to see those checks and balances working to protect us.

Check out this site for information on fighting eminent domain abuse.


I couldn't agree more with your sentiments regarding Lt. Colonel West and Nathaniel Jones. The fact that the knee jerk reaction of the press is always to doubt the actions of those who's job it is to protect us is very disturbing. The fact that force (gasp) was used in both instances is what really puts this over the top for the liberals, who believe that force isn't necessary in a modern, sophisticated society (see the John Stuart Mill quote above.) I would like to hear what those crying foul in the case of Nathaniel Jones would have the police do in that situation. Here's a belligerent, doped up 350lb. man who was warned repeatedly to back off, and decided to attack a police officer anyway. Let's keep in mind that police officers carry guns, so when one is attacked like this, there always a chance of the gun being turned on them. While the first officer was being attacked, the second officer would have had every right to draw his gun and shoot Mr. Jones, as his partner's life was in danger. He chose to to use his night stick instead. The police officers eventually got the better of Jones, and could be seen on that tape going to great lengths to strike at Jones' legs and not his head and torso. They showed exemplary restraint in a situation where they would have been justified in using their firearms. Of course, none of this matters to the race warlords who only see a black man being beaten by two white police officers. If any disciplinary action is taken against these men, I will personally send them money. These are the cops I want in my neighborhood when there's trouble. Likewise for Lt. Colonel West. The liberal dream of a quagmire in Iraq would surely come true if we had a bunch of PC pansies over there who were more worried about ruffling the feathers of a Muslim than the lives of their fellow soldiers.

The liberal mindset suggests that force is always bad, but it is never worse then when used against someone of minority group status. A little history lesson is in order, as none of the groups that the left pretends to hold so dear achieved freedom without the use of force. Thankfully our country has always had an ample supply of real men and women who had a clear sense of right and wrong and were not afraid to take action and use force if necessary to protect our way of life.
One more for the Gipper.

Edit: I don't buy the part about Alzheimers in '85. I think that is part of the big lie regarding Reagan, it has been repeated over and over and people take it as fact.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Two recent events have really been bothering me. The first is the prosecution of Lt. Colonel West in Iraq who used some rather unorthodox methods to glean information regarding a plot to kill him and the soldiers under his command. Colonel West threatened to kill an Iraqi policeman who he believed had information on the pending plot. He fired two shots near the man's head to frighten him - it worked, the policeman divulged the names of several people involved as well as the place and time. Colonel West saved some lives that day. Call me crazy, but I cut people in a war zone a little extra slack. He included his actions in his official report and was suspended from command and is currently under investigation.

The second, more recent event was the death of Nathaniel Jones during an altercation with Cincinnati police. The initial reports I heard regarding this seemed bound and determined to make it Rodney King redux, the race aspect was definitely played up. Scott and I were discussing this over lunch today and he mentioned seeing the video on one of the big 3 channels showing one portion of the video without any context (he did mention that Foxnews aired the clip in its entirety). I watched the entire video and think Nathaniel Jones got what he deserved. I don't care what color Mr. Jones was, nor the pigmentation of the police officers. The event needs to be investigated to divulge whether or not the police acted appropriately, end of story.

The connection here, to me at least, is twofold. The first aspect involves the mindset that God forbid we upset the (insert appropriate Grievance Industry® minority here) community so we'll essentially hobble ourselves. In the West case we are fighting Muslims, sorry but there it is. American soldiers (and Iraqi civilians) lives are at stake here, if we offend some Muslims WHO HATE US ANYWAY, so be it. In the Nathaniel Jones case police were called to an incident involving a large, belligerent, drugged up man and resolved the situation when attacked. WHO CARES what color they were. The second and more important aspect here is that the work the police and the military perform is a very serious, very dangerous, and very necessary business. We cannot put these people in the situation of constantly being questioned and second guessed. They cannot perform their roles properly when they are not certain they will be supported when the going gets tough.

The sorts of incidents seem to be media driven in many cases, especially with the glut of information available at our fingertips in this day and age. The non-ending hype, speculation and spin seems to pressure police administrators or army brass into doing "something" which is usually the wrong thing. It is up to us as citizens to help effect changes that will allow the Colonel Wests and Cincinnati police to perform their jobs fully, safely and without worry of recrimination.

You're right, this was likely an intentional deception by the EU, as well as Bill Clinton, who jumped onto the feel good environment bandwagon knowing full well his administration wouldn't have to deal with the consequences of this flawed treaty. Those on the left will never delve into these facts, however. All you'll hear from them will be the the mainstream media headlines "Bush pulls out of Kyoto" and "EU blasts Bush for pulling out of Kyoto" repeated ad nauseum, until they become part of the collective consciousness of the left.

Environmentalists have pitted capitalism against environmentalism as if they were 100% incompatible. Therefore, they give no consideration to any economic concern associated with this treaty. All they know if that Bush backed out of an environmental agreement, which just adds to their "Bush is Satan" obsession. (Oh, wait, they don't believe in Satan.) A quick trip to the Sierra Club's website (I refuse to link) will show, if you can wade through the immature anti Bush cartoons and rhetoric, that each and every one of their pie in the sky environmental "solutions" is accompanied by a huge and expensive government agency or subsidy to carry out the solution. It seems that they believe that in order to be an environmentalist, one must also be socialist. Their true motivations are apparent, and thankfully we have leadership that doesn't pander to these clowns.

You're right; it was likely an intentional deception on the part of the EU, as well as from Bill Clinton who signed us up knowing his administration would not have to deal with the consequences of the treaty.

You touch on one of things that really annoys me about our lefty friends here in the US: The belief that Europeans are somehow more sophisticated and intelligent than Americans, and therefore should serve as a role model for us. A brief look at the 20th century (not to mention prior European history) shows us the result of European "sophistication." WWI and WWII both began with infighting between the "sophisticated" Europeans, and required US intervention to remedy. I can only imagine what would have resulted in the Cold War if the only thing between the Soviet Union and complete world domination was "sophisticated" Europe. We now have the current stagnation of the EU as a shining example of mediocrity. It would be wise for us to avoid using people as role models who have been unable to keep their houses in order for the whole of the 20th century, and are showing no signs of learning from hundreds of years of mistakes.

This is not to say I dislike Europeans. In fact, the opposite is true. On the whole, however, they choose lousy governments.

Perhaps I am misreading you, but I think you are giving the EU too much credit here. I believe that they deliberately signed Kyoto without any real intention of honoring it. As long as they professed the proper sentiments on the matter they were in the right, how they actually acted on it was not important. This sort of behavior seems to be par for the course with the EU(read: France and Germany). The EU Stability and Growth Pact furor leaps to mind.

What angers me is that President Bush was completely honest and forthcoming about why he would not sign the treaty and comes off in the world press as evil personified. Meanwhile the cynical EU members who said what was necessary to get good press with no intentions of acting on it, are defended to the end by those who honestly believe that a temperature change over 50 years of less than 1° C is catastrophic! Apparently this is what is meant by European "sophistication" - lying, while American "naivete" seems to equate to honesty. I'll take naivete any day of the week.
It looks like The Kyoto Protocol is dead. The irony here (and this will come as sour news to the lefties) is that the European Union, the most vocal Kyoto supporter, is on pace to miss it's emission targets. Remember the wailing that went on when Bush pulled the US out of the Kyoto Protocol? Nobody whined louder than the EU, and now those hypocrites are breaking the same rules they shunned us for rejecting. No doubt that they have discovered what the President knew all along; that following the guidelines in this treaty would have a devastating effect on the world economy. With the EU in shaky economic condition to begin with, it looks like they simply cannot afford to take their own medicine.

I know this is becoming a mantra on this site, but once again we see the tendency of the left to make decisions based on what feels good versus what will actually be effective. The fact that the whole concept of the treaty is based on very sketchy science makes it that much more laughable. What the President has done for us here is to save us from the economic damage that the treaty would inevitably have caused us, as well as the political embarrassment that the EU is experiencing right now for not having the strength of their own convictions. Of course, to the left this will not matter. The EU made the politically correct decision, so this will shield them from all but some lip service criticism from environmentalists for failing to comply with Kyoto. Challenging their socialist pals in Europe would just be way to stressful for the environmental left. Better to stay nice and cozy in their bubble of obsessive Bush hatred and disdain for all things American.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Peter Ferrara outlines a simple cure for the illness that is our social security system (thanks to While I'd like to see much more privatization than this, It's truly amazing what a little dose of free market capitalism could do for our ridiculous Social Security system. Unfortunately, it will be an uphill battle to get anything like this passed, as it would decrease the population's dependence on the government, thus eroding the democratic power base. We certainly can't have people running around making decisions for themselves about their own future! Imagine the chaos! Our Social Security system is representative of what socialism always ends up becoming in practice: diluted, inefficient, and substandard services for everyone.
One last thing before I go. Here is an article in the NYT that bears reading. To understand the Iraqi mindset, you must understand what they have been through, and been indoctrinated with. It is amazing to me that there are Iraqis brave enough to have hope, like the Iraqi bloggers do.

Thanks to Lee for the article.
Hi folks. Just as I got some momentum going, I'll be off the site for the next 3 days. Tom and Scott will keep it going though they can't post quite as often as I do, owing to the fact that they have "real" jobs! I'm sure that they'll have plenty to say though...stay tuned. And thanks for the support. -Kerry

Monday, December 01, 2003

The UN can't even secure it's own building, much less a country. We definitely should have waited for them to "watch our backs"...

It was so encouraging for me to hear Bush in his "three pillars" speech in Britain mention that the UN had basically better shape up if it doesn't want to go the way of the League of Nations. Exactly what I said on this site before the war in February!

And as some awesome blogger said the other day, (sorry, can't remember who, if it was you, e mail me for the credit), when are we going to see Kofi Annan do a meet and greet the people of Iraq, hmm? Yeah, he can go right in to Bagdhad and explain to them all about the UN protecting them with pieces of paper...I wonder what kind of greeting he'd get?


It sounds as if Sarah needs some real world experience, if I had to guess I'd wager she's a college student studying some form of "environmental sciences". My first thought on reading her diatribe was pretty much what Scott mentioned in his post below- facts are facts regardless of whether or not the source is agreeable to you. Sarah neatly sidestepped facts and went with the tried and true ad hominem attack. When in doubt attack individuals and impugn motives, but for God's sake don't address the issues! Unfortunately this approach has had much success in recent years, if you say something often enough people will begin to believe it or worse, repeat it without any thought whatsoever.

Nonetheless, her little rant came nowhere near the issue of the almost complete fiscal irresponsibility within Americorps. It is a program she supports and probably makes her "feel good", so instead of reading the Cato study and perhaps having her eyes opened she just starts swinging. Perhaps Americorps can be "fixed" (although I'll never support it) but with Sarah's attitude it will just limp on and siphon its little bit off the public teat. If enough people on both sides of the aisle looked at the facts regarding Americorps and were outraged and demanded change perhaps some real progress could be made.

Sarah's email and a few conversations I had over the last week bring me to something that has been bothering me more and more. I realize it is human nature to want to do something that makes us feel good, but this needs to be weighed against the long term impact and overall effect of such actions. So many liberals support issues that make them feel good (welfare programs, rights for illegal immigrants, ending "exploitation" of Third World employees, etc., ad nauseum) without considering the big picture and the long range consequences. Maybe that Third World employee is rather looking forward to weekly wages higher than he now earns in a year, or the fact that these jobs will eventually increase the standard of living across the board. They don't stop to think about the long-term effects of welfare programs that almost 2 generations of people have become dependent on. It all boils down to selfishness in the guise of altruism. I'm sick to death of it and will, as Scott suggests, be very vocal about it - "feelings" be damned.

Yes, Sara needs to stop by for some debate. I was pleased to see that her first reaction to the article was to attack the motive of The Cato Institute. Here we go again. Let's not even deal with the facts; let's spew fear uncertainty and doubt about Cato's motives so we don't have to face the facts they use to support their argument. Unfortunately for Sara, facts are facts, and they are equally valid no matter who decides to point them out. After all, discounting a fact based on the person who points it out would be discrimination, wouldn't it.

The Cato Institute is widely respected by people on both sides of the aisle in Washington as well as in countless other circles. You can hardly watch a couple of hours of TV news without seeing an interview with someone from Cato. I'm not talking about just Fox here; all of the major news outlets rely on Cato's scholars for analysis. Their research is impeccable and exhaustive, and even though I do not always agree with their conclusions, there is no denying the quality of the information that they provide. Calling them a totally biased conservative "research firm" (I love the scare quotes) shows how truly ignorant Sara is. If she would bother to take look at Cato's web site, she would realize that Cato's positions on a great many issues, including the war in Iraq, differ from that of the conservative mainstream. Sara would do well not to discount such a great organization. I'm sure there's good information on their site that would back many of her opinions. Sadly, all we get from Sara is a criticism of The Cato Institute, a few criticisms of Cato's findings, and some anti-republican rhetoric. She misses an opportunity to point Sue to some data that supports her viewpoint, which leads me to believe there isn't any, or she is unaware of it, which is even worse.

I do agree with her point that capitalism doesn't work as well when you mix in regulation and subsidies, as we are prone to do. We should not, however, accept these regulations as a given, as Sara seems to suggest. The more free we can make the market the greater the chances will be for everyone to find prosperity. This does not have to come at the expense of the environment, although I understand the environmental movement sees capitalism and environmentalism as incompatible. Ironically, The Cato institute has some good data to support the notion that a free economy is a friend to the environment, but don't expect the environmentalists to read, much less quote from, this information any time soon. Emerging from the ideological womb can be soooooo scary.
My head is about to explode. One of my little sisters (Sue) is an Environmental Policy major at Roanoke College in VA. Need I say more? Yes I do. I would LOVE to invite her friend, a very outspoken policy major named Sarah to our site for a little "debate". Here's our typical college mindset of today: (This was in response to an article that I sent to my sister regarding Bush's support of a $444 million bill to provide for Americorps, which she forwarded to her friend.) You can find the article that I sent to her here. Also, the piece on Bush's support here.

I think that this has tipped me over the edge on writing a piece that I was going to title "Environmentalism, the Religion of Gen Y"-- God knows I won't be lacking for material!

First of all, Cato is a totally biased conservative "research firm" and cites
some of the mismanagement of Americorps $ as "questionable training (sex
education, video presentation skills, diversity)" - yeah, things like sex ed.
and diversity are really pointless (sarcasm intended). They also criticize
money spent on training and technical assistance, functions that are necessary
for any organization, as well as things like voter registration, claiming
partisan politics are at work. I think partisan politics are at work by
DISCOURAGING voter registration- everyone has an agenda, and even if they do,
by getting people that wouldn't otherwise vote to become registered, it
empowers them, allowing their voice to be heard in our so-called democracy.
Furthermore, as for the "paid volunteer" critique, when was the last time you
were willing to work ONE YEAR, probably being incredibly overworked in terrible
conditions, for a measley $5,000. The money is a small help that allows people
to volunteer to the extent that they do. We should be applauding these
volunteers that are willing to work for essentially nothing to improve the
state of the country while we continue to degrade our environment and neglect
worker's rights under the current administration. We've lost hundreds of
thousands of jobs since the creation of NAFTA, and still allow our government
to be the leading proponent of the FTAA. SOMETHING IS WRONG!!! All of these
issues need to be understood in a larger context- yes- less government
intervention would work to the greater good- IF we were truly capitalist- IF we
didn't provide huge subsidies to oil and agriculture- BUT WE DO. The fact is
that we can't continue pretend that we working within the context of a free
market when we aren't. Either we pay the true cost of things ($6/gallon for
gas) or create legislation to save things sooner rather than later. We are so
afraid of big government that we are willing to leave our children a world with
dirty air, infected water, and no trees. I really don't see how anyone with a
conscience can continously vote republican. Perhaps I'm extreme,
but so is all the damage we're doing today. Something needs an extreme change.
Sorry for the rant.