Monday, February 28, 2005

The Muslim Dominoes Are Starting To Topple

The news out of Lebanon this morning is incredibly hopeful.

Thousands of people are in the streets calling for Syria to pull out it troops, despite a government ban on the protest march. Lebanese troops are stopping people from coming into Beirut to join the protest, but they are not stopping it from growing inside the city lines.

If this, albeit minor, yet tacit approval of the local military is indicative of that country's feelings then it is only a matter of time until the Syrian backed Lebonese parliament falls.

Oh wait a minute, the government is gone, according to this report.

That is exactly how fast things are moving these days in the Middle East. A country can go from being the mere chattel of a stronger neighbor, to being on the brink of true independence in half a day.

Then there is another story out of Egypt over the weekend. There president for life Hosni Mubarek has become a bit more open to the idea of holding democratic elections. While I doubt he would do this while he remains in power, it does give the local population something to look forward to after he dies. On the dark side the decision might speed his demise if potential presidential candidates decide to eliminate him in order for elections to be held a bit more expeditiously.

And why is all this happening?

Because the U.S., Britain and its allies knocked Saddam Hussein from power. The initial cause fo that invasion may have been off the mark, but if the end result is a sweeping democratic movement across this region then in the end it would have been worth the cost.

The real question going forward is whether these nascent movements have any staying power. Will this be like the end of the Cold War when the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact toadies imploded in an amazingly brief period of time? Only history will us the answer to that question, but the situation is certainly more hopeful today then it was two years ago.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005


Instapundit had a great link today to a photo of a U.S. soldier hauling in a large fresh water fish caught near one of Saddam's ex-palaces.

What I find more remarkable then the fact that our soldiers manage to bring fishing tackle with them into a war zone, is the description of how the fish was caught. The blogger who posted the image is a Lt. Colonel who happened to be exercizing near the fishing hole.

The Spec. 4/fisherman called on the Colonel to grab a net and help haul in the fish.

"I did. And I broke the net getting his fish up onto the deck. "

These two lines of conversation say a great deal about the United States. In what other army could a relatively low-ranked enlistedman ask a field grade officer to help land a fish and have his request carried out. Perhaps in Australia.

The total lack of a class system in America, shown in this exchange, is what separates us from the rest of the world and helps make us great.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Carthage And Today's Mid East Problems

There was a great show on the Science Channel Monday night called Metropolis.

The series studies great ancient cities, lots of archeological digging, experts discussing how the city operated 2200 years ago, etc. Outside of Carthage was found a huge mound of broken pottery. The show's university expert described the manufacturing process and its importance to Carthage. Then to better illustrate how the pottery was made the show visited a place nearby where the same type of clay pots are made by almost the exact same process that was used more than 2200 years ago.

What does that say about the local population. In 2200 years they could not come up with a better way of making pots? That they did not change even some small aspect of the manufacturing process? I find it pretty amazing that any culture could remain so fixed in its ways over such a long period of time.

Yet we have the exact same situation in the Middle East today. Large segments of that society not only have zero desire for modern input, such as equality for women, but are actively trying to roll back those few civil rights now in place to what they were 500 years ago.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Blasts From The Past, And Other Places Part 16

Please forgive the countless posts with the more or less repetive headline. There is a reason for this.

Rear View Mirror landed at Blogspot a few weeks ago after running at eBloggy, written under the same title, for about a year. eBloggy and my file was wiped out by a nefarious server malfunction several weeks ago so I decided to pack up the moving van and move here.

The unfortunate aspect of this is whomever comes to my new site is missing the context to see where I'm coming from in my ramblings. Luckily, I stored some draft versions of my previous blogs on my PC, along with commentary from other areas, that I will now reprint here. Please forgive the typos, poor analogies and grammar as I did not have time clean up my old copy.

With that said. Welcome to Rear View Mirror...

Condi Rice as Sec’y of State.

A divergent group of thoughts crossed my mind when I heard the news. She is smart, has high-level government experience and will not embarrass the U.S. She might be a better fit at say the Defense Department where her four years of experience as the president’s NSA would come into play.

But overall Condi’s greatest asset is being female. Yes, she is not the first female to hold this position, remember Madeline Albright, but a female Sec’y of State in today’s world will deal much more with hard core Muslim leaders. I would love to see the look on the Saudi king’s face when she walks up, un-covered, without a male family escort and extends her hand for him to shake. He will either have to break his religious rules and recognize Condi for what she is, and for what Islam claims she cannot be, or shun her and expect a backlash from the U.S.

But outside of humiliating such men, as delicious as that thought is, Condi potentially can be a leader in bringing Western values to the morally and socially corrupt Arab Peninsula. Men will be forced to deal with a woman on an equal basis. Arab women can see and be inspired by what she has accomplished. Will these women rise up and claim their rightful place in Muslim society? Not likely, but the seed will be planted.

Blasts From The Past, And Other Places Part 15

Yasser Arafat was what Osama Bin Ladin wants to be when he grows up.

With his long-awaited death yesterday Arafat’s transformation into Middle Eastern icon was completed. He was praised by Western leaders and media and his body was given a full military escort by the French to the airport. There was no mention of Arafat’s murderous past, that he was a terrorist and murder on par with the worst that humanity has ever spawned.

In his latest video escapade it is clear that Bin Laden is trying to court the same level of acceptance among Europeans and other gullible types around the world. He ditched his AK-47 and appeared in traditional Arab garb, stood at a podium instead of in a cave and attempted to speak like a national leader. He fully expects that with time his horrendous acts will fade from memory and he will be able to move among the world’s leaders at the UN.

How Arafat was able to fool people is hard to imagine. It’s not like his acts of violence took place 40 years ago. Until last month he was giving orders from Ramallah that sent Palestinian teenagers to their death in feeble attempts to hurt Israel. The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade is part of his PLO faction, on Arafat’s orders Leon Klinghoeffer was killed and dumped off the Achille Lauro cruise ship, wheelchair and all. The PLO killed 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Games in 1972.

For an excellent list of Arafat’s life of crime see this piece

The Palestinians should be the happiest, and perhaps they secretly are, with Arafat’s removal from the face of the Earth. They now have the chance of getting a leader who is sane and capable of cutting a deal with Israel that will lead to something like real peace. Arafat’s actions over the years proved he was incapable of making the tough decisions a leader has to make. He refused the Bill Clinton-brokered agreement that gave the Palestinians 90 percent of what they wanted. Arafat refused to halt the terrorism that was creating Israeli retaliation thus making life miserable for the average Palestinian. He was stealing billions of dollars from his people forcing them to live in abject poverty, while his wife spent her time visiting Paris shops.

If the Palestinians had any sense each would take a trip to Arafat’s future grave site and spit on it.

Blasts From The Past, And Other Places Part 14

Evangelical Does Not Equal Lunatic Fringe

Blaming Kerry’s defeat on the outpouring of support Pres. Bush received from the Bible Belt is a simplistic explanation to a complicated issue.

First, defining who is an evangelical, compared to a run of the mill person with religious feelings, is difficult at best. Is it a person who goes to church on Sunday, one who prays to God for help, or one who does not go to church, but still believes in God? Perhaps it’s a person who bases their personal moral code on religious philosophy, Thou shall not steal, instead of depending purely upon secular laws to guide their actions?

Can a person vote for Bush because of his stance on abortion, yet not be born again Christian? Could a gay couple vote for Bush, not many did I expect, because they too feel abortion is murder?

The answer is yes to all of the above.

The problem Kerry/Edwards faced, and failed to address, is that the vast majority of the country is religious to one degree or another and a candidate must take that into consideration when developing a political platform.

In the third debate Kerry claimed to be a good Catholic. He then proceeded to list the topics on which he disagreed with the Catholic Church. He wanted it both ways.

Bush on the other hand said abortion was wrong, period, and then offered options like adoption for those who do not want to keep their soon to be born infant.

Kerry’s religious pandering was as transparent as a piece of parchment stretched from Ohio to Florida. A religious person may not agree with Bush’s view on a specific topic, but these people realize that he is a good Christian and they fully understand the set of values that guide his decision making process.

In Kerry they saw a man willing to say whatever he thought was necessary to grab a few votes.

Blasts From The Past, And Other Places Part 13

High Schoolers Need Civics Lesson

A group of students in Boulder, Colo. decided to occupy their school in protest of President Bush winning re-election, see Students.

While I am all in favor of expressing one’s first amendment rights, these kids need to learn how democracy works. The bedrock of our system is those who lose bow to the inevitable, while working to change things during the next election. They demanded to see a Republican Party official who would satiate their fears about what will happen during the next four years. They are worried about the national debt and on-campus recruiting.

"We want them to reassure us that our fears are misguided and that the government is doing everything in its power to prevent our futures from being destroyed," said senior Brian Martens.

According to Brian, he knows his fears are misguided, yet he wants someone else to tell him so. Well, I’ll take the job. Brian, you are misguided. Launching a sleep-in to protest the election is fine, particularly since your grouped asked permission. But the trick is not to complain and worry about the past, but work for change. If you think the Democrats had the right answer, well now you realize you should galvanize your friends to elect those officials next time around. Colorado went to Bush, so you have your work cut out for you.

We are in the middle of a war. Wars are expensive, yet this war is very necessary. In Afghanistan and Iraq our troops are ripping the heart out of several terror organizations, all of whom wish us ill. You may be angry over how we ended up in Iraq, it was a terrible intelligence failure on the part of the US, UN, UK, Germany, France, Russia and several other nations. Remember, all these nation’s agreed Iraq had WMD, but most wanted to let a madman keep control of them. Luckily, the US, UK and 28 other nation’s disagreed.

While we found no large cache’s of WMD, but several smaller one, we did rid a country of a tyrant and set it on the course to a better life.

Blasts From The Past, And Other Places Part 12

Why Hillary Is Sunk

There have been several news stories and Op-Ed pieces reflecting upon whether Hillary Clinton is the happiest Democrat in America today.

I doubt it very much. Tuesday’s election was a total repudiation of everything for which she stands. All of the social policies put forth by the Kerry camp are part of her platform and she would face the same shoulder to shoulder defiance of the religious right that killed Kerry.

While husband Bill was able to smile and awe-shuck his way into people’s hearts, Hillary comes across as the coldish of fish. Whereas Al Gore was a mannequin and thus not overly offensive, Hillary’s mere presence is a major put off for people outside the elite liberal circles that she inhabits.

The two points thus far in Hillary’s favor are she has not hopped onto the anti-Iraq war bandwagon and she is an excellent panderer. She has remembered that thousands of her constituents died on Sept. 11 and even though there is no direct Iraq-al Queda link NYers would be peeved it she followed Kerry’s lead on the issue. Hillary showed during her NY senate run that she is capable of showing empathy for people’s problems. She convinced rural NYers that she understood their economic problems better then her Republican counterpart Rick Lazio and would so something in Washington to help.

There is no great evidence that she has followed through on these promises. It’s pretty tough to legislate when you are off every other day raising money for other democrats, but she can be persuasive when needed.

Blasts From The Past, And Other Places Part 11

The NY Times Hates W

The lead NY Times analysis piece today.

From beginning to end, this election was about George W. Bush, and he can claim that an apparently insurmountable lead in the popular vote vindicated his policies, his persistence, his personal qualities and his political strategy. He bet that voters who had shared a traumatic terrorist attack and two wars on his watch would stand by him, and they appeared to.
Appeared to!? There was no appearance of a victory. It was an outright win by the president even Kerry admitted it.

The Hate Remains
It was no surprise to see that the NY Times Op-Ed page was not affected by the election.
In much the same way Sen. John Kerry said the Sept. 11 attacks did not change much about life for him, the Times staffers have decided to stay the course.

Today’s Maureen Down and Thomas Friedman NY Times columns indicate that paper’s on-going ideological struggle with the current administration and the American people is still in full swing, despite the fact that it is now obvious not everyone shares their viewpoint.

Friedman quotes describing how America is being changed for the worse is particularly telling:
“Is it a country that does not intrude into people's sexual preferences and the marriage unions they want to make? Is it a country that allows a woman to have control over her body? Is it a country where the line between church and state bequeathed to us by our Founding Fathers should be inviolate? Is it a country where religion doesn't trump science? And, most important, is it a country whose president mobilizes its deep moral energies to unite us - instead of dividing us from one another and from the world?
What Friedman refuses to see is that “his” America sickens many people, enough it seems to keep someone who feels like Friedman, Sen. Kerry, out of the White House.

For many, and not just the religious, abortion equals murder. It equals not living up to your personal responsibilities as a human being, it equals taking the easy way out. He cannot understand why people hang onto religion as if it were there only lifeline in a raging storm. He insists that the president’s campaign strategy of reaching out to these people was divisive, yet a record number of people voted for W, not John Kerry. That sounds pretty inclusive to me.

Dowd’s daily screed was much harsher. She simply cannot accept that a person she considers her intellectual inferior is in the White House for another four years. At least Kerry had the good graces to accept the situation at face value and move on. Her eye-rolling contempt for Bush and his administration can be seen on this comment about Dick Cheney:

“Just listen to Dick (Oh, lordy, is this cuckoo clock still vice president?)”

What Friedman, Dowd and the rest do not realize is the NY Times newsroom is not representative of America, despite its desperate attempts to include people from all walks of life. Neither are the Hollywood celebrity packed parties where people spit vindictive remarks against the president. The sense of moral superiority that flows from their pores is obvious and repugnant to millions.

Compared to the average person the people in these locales have few problems. They earn a better then average living, have jobs they enjoy and get to do what they want.

The reality for most of us is we worry about whether our job will be around next week, even if we hate it, live paycheck to paycheck and have to juggle a thousands things simply to get through the week. We understand the responsibilities that come with life, such as if you get pregnant deal with it properly.

We don’t believe the U.S. is to blame for the world’s problems. We worry about our nation’s security and we are not interested when France, Germany and foreign billionaires tell use we are wrong and led by religious fanatics.

If the Times and its liberal media brethren wish to live with blinders that is up to them, but they should realize their actions are marginalizing and leading them down a path to irrelevancy.

Blasts From The Past, And Other Places Part 10

Why Kerry Lost

John Kerry will join the ranks of the more or less unemployed, he is still a Senator, in January because he could not convince voters that he was an average American, just like them.
Instead he came across as a sanctimonious rich guy, with an even richer wife with even richer backers. It was the George Soros’ and NY, LA elitists who blew it for Kerry. These individuals and the groups they supported spoke to the average American as if they were a Neanderthal idiot incapable of understanding the great issues confronting the nation. How demeaning.

Bill Clinton understood this. He could play the poor downtrodden guy who came from nothing to take a run at the top spot in the country.

John Kerry learned that a person struggling in Ohio does not want to hear only negative news like the economy is going down hill and the world hates us because of our actions overseas. These folks wanted to hear how their lives can get better and that is what George Bush told them.

The voters in Ohio and Florida are so far separated from what the Democratic party now believes that I find it unlikely it will win an election with totally revamping its basic values. The Democrats lost because they have abandoned religion. Americans are religious. They don’t care that their faith gathers snickers from the French and Germans. This faith demands certain actions on their part. They will not favor gay marriage or abortion and a good guess is a large number of people stood in the voting booth and decided that they just could not support a man who would kill an unborn baby.

Kerry’s refusal to believe that the world was a different place post Sept. 11 was another nail in his coffin. Americans realized that while Iraq might be a mess, it is a mess that can be cleaned up. Kerry’s continuously mentioned pulling out of Iraq as soon as possible regardless of the consequences. This was Vietnam era thinking. Cut our losses and run and who cares about the long-term results.

Americans don’t like a loser, we want to win, and this is what George Bush is to the majority of Americans, a winner and one of them.

Blasts From The Past, And Other Places Part 9

It’s Time For The Media To Step Up

Now that John Kerry has done the right thing and conceded the American media must reexamine itself or be prepared to become irrelevant.

The farce that took place on Fox New and CNN on Election Night proves that neither the bastion of the right or left is capable of brining the public the news in an unbiased fashion. Fox’s coverage was the most egregious. First, the network refused to call California for Kerry until hours after the polls closed 11pm West Coast time. CNN called it immediately. There was no doubt in either party’s mind that it was going Kerry, along with Oregon and Washington State, but Fox kept saying it was to close to call.

However, that did not stop Billy Kristol and company from being the first to take the plunge with Florida and Ohio. Florida was an easier call, but there was no excuse for any network to call Ohio before this morning. The Foxes just could not hold themselves in check, so desperate were they to give the day to Bush. If Ohio went Democratic enough for the uncounted votes to matter Fox would have looked worse than Dan Rather.

The media must re-center itself. Network executives must come to realize that the American people will still watch even if a network is non partisan. CNN came the closest to this by including a couple of right wingers on their election panel, but you could still hear the hope in the reporter’s voice that Kerry would pull out a victory.

Just report the news. Period. That is all we want.

Blasts From The Past, And Other Places Part 8

Election thoughts…..

Thank God the system works. While we must wait for all the votes to be counted, the legions of Democratic and Republican lawyers have been kept on the sidelines. A flurry of legal activity took place prior and on Election Day, but so far the legal battle lines are quiet. Another legal mess would have sullied America’s reputation around the world. How could we presume to bring democracy to Iraq when our own system was broken?

George Soros can go to hell or a monastery or wherever it is he promised to head off to if President Bush was re-elected. His millions, his gave Kerry a boost, but did not prove pivotal in the end. The lesson learned is that foreigners have no place trying to influence our vote.

The same holds true for the Hollywood big mouths. I believe Alec Baldwin still has unused airline tickets to Europe left over from the 2000 vote. Then he promised to move to France if Bush won. Interestingly, Baldwin and his dying acting career are still ensconced in Hollywood. We can only hope LAX is full of the Susan Sarandons, Tim Robbins and Richard Geres of the world heading out for good. At least Bruce Springsteen was smart. He made no childish promise to leave if things did not work out in his favor even if his Kerry push alienated many fans.

However, three cheers to Brad Pitt for telling a reporter that asking him for an opinion on the election was foolish. “I’m a grown man who puts on makeup for a living, what the hell do I know?” was his response.

Now that the election process seems to be back on track, the states and federal government need to perfect the system. We need a national voting system. Every person in every state must use the same voting machinery. Whether it’s a show of hands or compute panel, it is nuts to have everyone on a different standard. The results should be instaneously tabulated, but the final tally held until all polls in all states are closed. It is not necessary for the American people to know the election results before they hit the hay.

The absentee balloting system must be improved. The ballots should be mailed in August and returned by Oct. 1. They should be counted starting two days prior to Election Day and those results should be the first put into the system. The other option for people living overseas is for them to get to the local American embassy or consulate and vote there on Election Day. If you can’t make it, sorry.

Bye, Bye Kerry

Well, it’s all said and done. John Kerry took the admirable course of action and conceded the presidential race instead of turning it into a legal circus.

Good for him. He will go down as a much more honorable person because of this gesture.

Not that he had any moral high ground to stand on to fight for the office in court. Unlike Al Gore four years ago, who held a 500,000 plurality lead in the election, Kerry was down over 3 million votes when he called it quits. Any legal wrangling would create the image of Kerry being a childish sore loser.

Good luck to President Bush and I hope Bin Laden and the folks in Fallujah are busy piling sandbags on top of their bunkers.

Blasts From The Past, And Other Places Part 7

The National Guard and President Bush

Dan Rather’s forged papers proclaiming President Bush did not fulfill his National Guard obligations did not surprise me.

Not because I believe the president lied, but because what CBS accused the president of doing was not unusual for Guardsmen. Not showing up for drill, being physically incapable of doing your duty or simply being poorly led used to be par for the course for some units in the Guard.

I was a member of the New York Army National Guard from 1985-88. I served as a corporal in two different infantry units. One based in Plattsburgh, N.Y. and another on Long Island.

The first unit was top notch. I was one of the 20 or so founding members of the unit, Co. C. 3/172nd Inf. (Mtn.) and very proud to be wearing my nation’s uniform. Our monthly training drills were exciting and packed with useful information. We learned infantry tactics, how to repel down cliffs, live in a winter environment and to attack and defend positions.

I served with this unit while a college student. When I graduated I moved home to Long Island where I met a long-time friend and fellow Guardsmen who said there was a slot open in his unit, the Combat Support Company, 1/71st Inf. He was platoon sergeant of the scout platoon. As this sounded like a high-speed unit I took him up on his offer and joined.

Well, despite my friend’s best efforts, he was and is a fine soldier and about to embark on a tour of Iraq, this unit was an abomination. It did not train. In fact we did little but wash jeeps and occasionally spend the night in a local wooded area, where we mainly sat around doing nothing. Guys frequently missed drils, or left early saying they would make up the missed time by coming into the armory during the week. This of course never happened.

To say that President Bush might have skated through his Guard service takes no major stretch of the imagination. The National Guard has a long history of this type of behavior. Guard units called up for all of our nation’s wars are never capable of being sent into combat. Instead years of training are required to bring them to a point where they can fight and survive on a battlefield.

This is no longer the case from what I’ve heard from friends still in the service. When a unit faces being called up on a regular basis such silliness has to be stopped or people will die.

In the end I could not take the poor level of moral and training offered by my last unit. Using the excuse that my reporter’s job demanded to many weekends, I decided to leave the Guard temporarily. I fully intended to rejoin and in 1996 attempted to get back in. Unfortunately, I had developed asthma while I was out and the doctor at Ft. Hamilton in NY said a new army rule forbade asthmatics from joining up. However, if I had never left I would have been allowed to keep serving because the asthma is easily controlled.

Now I have to live with the guilt of seeing a friend go off to combat, leaving behind a young son and pregnant wife. I’m not sure if the president feels the same as I do, but I hope so.

Blasts From The Past, And Other Places Part 6

The Negative Impact of JFK on the US Presidency

John Kennedy is having more of an impact on American politics in death then he ever had while alive.
JFK spawned a field of imitators with Bill Clinton and John Kerry becoming the most prominent of his protégés. Both men have made it clear that they worship Kennedy. Clinton met the former president as a youth and many of Kerry’s career has followed the same path as Kennedy. Sailor, Senator and presidential hopeful.
The unfortunate aspect of this behavior is these two politicians chose to mimic Kennedy’s poorest qualities. Instead of being resolute on defense issues, Clinton and Kerry, despite his wartime service, have done everything in their power to weaken the U.S. Kennedy faced down the Soviet Union during the Cuban Missile Crisis, while Clinton allowed our sailors on the USS Cole to be slaughtered by terrorists without taken any action. Kerry voted against almost every weapons development bill put before the Senate during the 1980s, when the Cold War had heated up and the weapons were needed.
Kerry, like JFK, commanded a small warship. To me this is no coincidence. Kerry requested to serve on a PCF, which while smaller then Kennedy’s PT boat, was as close as he could come during the Vietnam War. However, Kennedy did not play up his wartime exploits during his campaign against Richard Nixon, another sailor, nor did he bash Nixon’s service record.
JFK had extramarital affairs, as did Clinton.

Blasts From The Past, And Other Places Part 5

Dan Rather needs to reexamine his journalistic roots.

The first, and only, daily newspaper I worked for as a reporter taught me the basic journalist tenet that nothing else matters except accuracy. The Martinsville Bulletin is a small paper that covers two counties in rural southern Virginia. It is not the Washington Post nor the N.Y. Times, but a well run, family owned enterprise that prides itself on putting out the news properly. When I was there in the early 1990s the staff consisted of four news reporters, two sports reporters and a couple of editors.

I sat across from the city editor, a fellow named Louie. Louie had worked on larger papers in his past, but for some reason he found himself plugging away in scenic Martinsville. He would question me on every fact, name spelling and title in each of my stories. He was brutal, scary and more than a little annoying. When he caught an error he was merciless. He would berate a reporter in front of everyone, basically making the person feel like an idiot.

Perhaps his demeanor was the reason he was no longer at the Miami Herald, I don’t know.

What Louie did do was force me to admit my mistakes. If I misspelled a name, I had to confess that the copy was wrong or stick by my guns and then look like a fool when it would be printed and the person in question would call up and complain.

As a journalist I am amazed that a journalist would risk his career in order to bash a sitting president. This is not the stuff of Woodward and Bernstein. They had their secret sources, which they vetted and quadruple checked before taking the story to their editor, the famous Ben Bradley. He would then pull a Louie and question every aspect of the story before running it. (I can’t imagine being stared down by Bradley.)

Dan Rather has forgotten this. When he unveiled documents that questioned President Bush’s National Guard career he knew he was dealing with a potentially explosive document. Yet he was willing to go with it instead of properly checking the source. Now that the document has been questioned and Rather’s credibility is at stake. If they checked out then run with the scoop, if not go back to the drawing board.

Blasts From The Past, And Other Places Part 4

Damned If You Do…..

In another case of Bush bashing, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry howled over the announced plan to redistribute troops to better fight the war on terror, and amazingly enough one of Kerry’s reasons against the move is that it would hurt our sunny-day allies.

“Kerry said the redeployment would undermine relations with U.S. allies needed to help fight in Iraq and in the war on terror,” Kerry said, according to CNN.

The ally he is speaking of is Germany, and to a lesser extent Belgium. These two countries would be most affected by the troop shift. They also happen to be countries that are backing Kerry and praying he ousts the president in November. Kerry blatant lobbying for the European leaders like German leader Gerhardt Schroeder who hate everything about America is disgusting. Having 70,000 thousand troops in Germany no longer helps our security, it just helps the local German economy.

Kerry argument on the removal of U.S. forces from South Korea does have some validity, but as I stated yesterday South Korea can handle its own defenses and U.S. forces are in the region to lend a hand in case the North gets frisky.

The joke of the matter is if the president had left the troops where they were, Kerry would most likely have come out and said, “Why are trained soldiers sitting in South Korea when they are needed elsewhere in the world. The Soviet threat is gone. We need those soldiers in Afghanistan.”

This is shaping up to be the ugliest presidential election ever, which is saying quite a bit.

Blasts From The Past, And Other Places Part 3

It’s a good thing the Olympics are above politics

Over the weekend an Iranian Judo champion Miresmaeili pulled out of a schedule match with an Israeli athlete stating that he could not compete because his country does not recognize Israel.

That did not stop an Algerian Muslim who faced and defeated the Israeli the following day. Because of Iran’s absolute intolerance it lost a chance to show up the one nation it hates the most. Plus the Mullahs were terrified he might lose, thus making Israel appear stronger than Iran. It is the reverse line of thinking that Hitler had for the 1936 games when he wanted to show Aryan superiority, just to be embarrassed by Jesse Ownes.

Foolish decisions like this are why Islamic fundamentalism is doomed. It’s very nature is negative.

Bring The Troops Home, From Germany

President Bush’s announcement that the 1st Infantry and 1st Armored divisions are coming home over the next few years is a great decision on two fronts.

There usefulness in Germany ended with the implosion of the Soviet Union in 1989. The new Russian army cannot put down small rebel uprisings much less take on Western Europe, so there is no reason for U.S. forces to be forward deployed in that region.

The second reason is it will teach the Germans that friendship is a two-way street. The German people who gain their living working on the bases or in other support roles are going to find themselves out of a job. Perhaps if their government had been a bit less of an obstacle to U.S. interests in the Middle East this huge redeployment would not have taken place. Italy, which has backed the U.S. and sent 3,000 troops to Iraq, is home to the 173rd Airborne Brigade as well as large naval and air facilities, will not suffer the same fate.

While this is not stark naked retribution by the Bush administration, it does slightly reveal the president’s feelings toward our erstwhile ally. After all Europe is still closer to the Middle East then the continental U.S., which should make is a simpler logistical exercise to move troops to where they are needed. (Not that this matters. It took months to deploy an Apache helicopter brigade during the Bosnia crisis so location is not everything.)

Another upside for President Bush is these units will be moved to the U.S., which will mean jobs for Americans. Never a bad thing to promise during an election year.

The removal of the 2nd Infantry from South Korea seems to fall into a different category. South Korea has been very supportive of our actions and has always been a strong ally. Our presence there has always been more a sign of good faith rather then a true defensive need. South Korea is fully capable of defending itself against any North Korean aggression, particularly in light of the fact that its northerly neighbor is all but destitute and probably incapable, and hopefully unwilling, to attack southward again. Plus the South and it is working the political side of the game in the hope of eliminating the border and again becoming one nation. This is not the time to argue the wisdom of this move.

Blasts From The Past, And Other Places Part 2

The Republican Party Convention Protests

The protesters and anti-Republican people I've seen walking around NY this week trend toward being vulgar.

There are F--- Bush T-Shirts all over. Great now I know you don't like the president, but this is not going to change anyone's mind. Instead it gives the shirt's owner the look of an impetuous child.

I also disagree with those who think the mass marches of the 1960s and early 1970s had much to do with ending the Vietnam War. The media ended that war by bringing home pictures of soldiers dying for no discernable reason. No conservative individual watched the anti-war protesters attempting to storm the Pentagon and decided to change their feelings on the war because of that action. I don't think anyone said, "ooo look at all those people saying the war is wrong. I must be incorrect for thinking it is a just way to halt the expansion of communism in Southeast Asia."

I will parce my previous statement a bit and say the civil rights protests did have an impact, but less because of their numbers then the reaction they illicited from the police down south.

Images of people being hosed down, attacked by dogs or beaten by police changed people's minds by garnering sympathy for the protesters.

Blasts From The Past, And Other Places

On Roe V. Wade
The decision should be overturned.

Abortion, to me, is murder.

In addition to being a crimminal act, another problem with abortion is it eliminates the need of the parents to take responsibility for their actions. The pro-life argument does not take the decision making process out of a woman's hands. She, and her partner, already made the decision, a conscious decision to engage in an act that had the potential to create a life. What an anti-abortion law does is ensures that all life is protected.

Medical science has come up with a myriad of contraceptive devices that greatly reduces the risk of creating an unwanted life. If these fail then there are alternatives such as adoption or simply living up to your obligation and taking care of the child. If the mother must endure nine months of pregnancy then that is a small penance to pay and is better then taking a life.

The argument that life does not start at conception, I feel, is intrinsically flawed. A living being is created at the moment of conception. Does that being have a higher consciousness? I do not know. I do know that such being will develop into a complete, mentally aware human and thus deserves society's protection in the same manner as an accident victim suffering brain death or a severaly mentally handicapped individual.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Million Dollar Baby Controversy


An interesting controversy has erupted over the Clint Eastwood/Hillary Swank flick.

According to the linked CNN article, some conservative and handicapped advocacy groups are upset that the movie depicts a handicapped individual who would rather commit suicide then continue with life. In the movie the boxer portrayed by Swank is crippled and decides she would rather not live and she asks her coach, Eastwood, to help end it all and he does.

The groups are upset for a variety of reasons. Some say it promotes assisted suicides and others say it belies the idea that the severely handicapped can still lead productive lives. If nothing else the movie will likely kick start the argument over whether an individual has the right to decide whether to live or die.

Suicide is an interesting phenomena. It is the most personal of choices, yet it's regulated by law. Quite simply, it's illegal and while you can't be imprisoned for committing suicide you can be arrested and sent to a home for the eternally befuddled.

Should the law care whether a person decides to kill themselves? I don't know. Perhaps the decision to end your life proves you are mentally unbalanced and thus incapable of making such a decision. That argument being would any physically healthy, sane person make such a choice, of course not. So call the ambulance to take you to your room at St. Confused.

On the other hand if you are faced with a situation like Swank's character in the movie then perhaps ending your life is the sanest of decisions. This person simply cannot take living as a quadriplegic and would suffer a life of mental torture if forced to live.

It's an interesting topic to discuss and while Million Dollar Baby's creators may have unintentionally started a debate. In my opinion this is perhaps the highest honor a movie can attain.

Could Hillary Win?

Like the Christmas shopping season, the presidential election cycle keeps starting earlier and earlier.

Several stories today speculated that Hillary Clinton started her push for the Democratic nomination in 2008 over the weekend. Even though I'd rather wait three and a half years to start questioning Hillary's chances in a presidential race, I will take an early potshot at her.

My main reason to doubt her electability is based on the old saying, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. Well, the Clinton's managed to shame America twice, including myself, and got to spend eight years in the White House even though he was a lying, adulterer.

However, the tricks Bill pulled off to bot get elected and remain in office will not work for his wife. His disarming charm and impish smile deflected not only the mud tossed at him, but also the sticky stuff he piled on himself.

Hillary lacks any charm. She comes across as a technocrat in the Al Gore mold. She brings lots of facts, figures and opinions, but zero personality. If George W. Bush's election showed the Democrats anything, it's that Americans want a a real person as president. A person with obvious failings, something Bill had in spades, and the ability to talk like an average person.

Gore, John Kerry and Hillary have none of these traits and they are incapable of faking it.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Liberals Are A Close Minded Lot

I'm pretty certain most readers of Maureen Dowd's NY Times column would describe her as a liberal. I just want to set that straight before I plow on with the rest of this diatribe.

To me being a liberal means being open minded and not denigrating other people's beliefs.

If this is true then how come someone like Dowd is not only unable to accept a creationist point of view, but actually wastes very valuable editorial real estate in the NY Times op-ed section to poke fun at those who believe God created the universe?

I am not a creationist. I am a firm believer in evolution. Charles Darwin would love me. However, if you want to believe in something else, that's OK with me as long as you don't try to push your theories on me. If Dowd thinks creationism is loony how about those folks who say Earth's population is actually offspring of aliens who landed on our planet millions of years ago?
Again, the Art Bell lovers of te world are more then welcome to their thoughts. If nothing else it makes for fun reading on the supermarket check out line.

Dowd and her crowd just can't stomach people having ideas that differ from her own. She can't abide by creationists or those who voted for George Bush. However, what she, George Soros, Michael Moore, etc. are really against is real democracy. As long as elections lead to outcomes that are agreeable liberals are content, but the second the voters have the nerve to go against the liberal grain all hell breaks loose and out comes Maureen's poison pen or worse Moore's movie camera.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

War Is The Answer

And to think the Euros think Americans are warmongers.

This statement came today from Osama bin Laden's number two.

"Reform can't be achieved under governments installed by the (foreign) occupier through rigged elections conducted under the supervision of the United Nations and protected by B-52s and Apache helicopter rockets," al-Zawahiri said. "There is no reform except through holy war."

Luckily 8 million Iraqis decided to try democracy first.

Gotta Love Them Sunnis

Stories on and CNN say that leading Sunni clerics are calling the Iraqi elections illegitamate because not enough Sunnis voted.

The fact that these same clerics told their followers to stay away from the polls was not brought up by these clerics. Is this merely sour grapes coming from those who realized that their threat to stop Sunni participation did not halt the election and only now are they realizing that the democratic train has left the station without them, as my fellow blogger at G-Scobe has mentioned. Or is it part of their overall plan to undermine the election in the worlds eye.

These "leaders" did not want Sunni participation in the election because they feared it would lend legitamacy to an electoral process that would grant the Shiites and Kurds the majority of the power in Iraq for the first time ever. They ignored the fact that all Iraqi groups were promised a place of honor in the government and that the only way to assure the proper level of Sunni representation was to get out and put their vote into the ballot box.

On the bright side some Sunnis saw the light. According to a letter home from a US Marine stationed in Fallujah, people in that embattled city turned out once they realized it was safe.

One of the real problems in bringing democracy to Iraq is the people just don't understand the concept. Do they grasp the idea that someone has to lose without resorting to picking up their AK-47s and RPG launchers and attacking their political rivals. This is one among many very difficult growing pains that Iraqi's are going to have to endure. In defense of the Iraqis, who at least have an excuse for not understanding the system, Democratic Party in the US might need to take a refresher course in this aspect of democracy. (More on the in a later post.)

Beating A Dead Horse

I have to revisit our University of Colorado professor today if only because his colleagues have come out in support his stance that in the name of free speech its OK to compare the Sept. 11 terror victims to Nazis.

The Boulder Faculty Assembly called Ward Churchill's comments "controversial, offensive, and odious," but also expressed support for his right to express them.

I find this statement truly hypocritical. If a professor were to express his or her support for the KKK, they would be fired and professionally lynched. How about coming out in favor of sexual harrassment or pedophilia?

In this hyper-politically correct environment that we now live in, which was partially created by post-modernistic university faculties, no negative commentary about any group is acceptable. However, this rule is ignored when it comes to bashing the very country that allows such thoughts to be expressed. Even at the expense of murder victims.

I hope there are enough clear-headed individuals in charge of the University of Colorado who can see that Churchill's comments have more to do with being just an inflammatory glory grab, then any attempt to utilize his First Amendment rights.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Teachers Who Spout Hate

In a world where celebrity is more prized then intelligence or accomplishments, just watch reality TV, it is no surprise that a college professor decided to grab for his bit of fame by calling the Sept. 11 attack victims "little Eichmanns."

Eichmanns, as in Nazis who basically deserved to die as they sat at their desks. Ward Churchill, was chairman of the ethnic studies department at the University of Colorado until until Jan. 31 when he resigned his chairmanship said this the day after the attacks took place. He has since been on the speaking circuit collecting a fee to spout his foolish views.

This all came to an end due to a speaking engagement he was to have at Hamiliton College this week in northern New York State. A storm of protest, followed by several death threats, forced the school to cancel the program. While the death threats are totally unacceptable and those who made them should be caught and prosecuted, I am glad Churchill was stopped in his tracks.

Churchill knew he would remain a small time proffessor in a small department at a lackluster school. The only way for him to make the big time was to do something truly outlandish. Could he not have gone on Fear Factor and eaten horse manure or become Donald Trump's intern?

I think the University of Colorado should make a slight change in the courses Churchill teaches. (He retained his job). That is drop the N from ethnics and have him teach ethics, maybe he will learn something.