Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Removal of A Cross Atop A Public Building Was An Act of Cowardice

As promised, I am posting an update on the cross atop a former Catholic hospital acquired by a public school district. In an a cowardly act to avoid a public vote, the Reading School District removed the cross atop the proposed “Citadel” school in order to avoid a public vote, despite the postponement of the vote to keep it in place in order to give two newly elected members an opportunity to study the facts. The removal of the nearly 140-year-old cross and replacement with a finial at taxpayer expense damaged the roof of the structure it has sat upon since 1873.

The objection I raised to its removal on my last day in office as a Reading School Director on December 7 for historical, architectural and financial reasons I explained in my earlier post (Merry Christmas; I Am Grateful a Cross Remains Atop a Public Building Through My Efforts), temporarily delayed this action and enabled a public debate. However, the School Board escaped a recorded vote on whether to keep it by violating the will of a majority of its members to vote on it by exercising an informed choice. The excuse the District used that it had no choice but to remove the cross because its removal was in the original plans ignores three facts: 1) its removal was never discussed specifically in the first place, 2) there are only three School Directors still serving who voted on those plans out of the current nine members of the Board, and 3) the Board makes changes to the plans every month, which refutes the suggestion that they cannot be changed.

The motion to table the motion to keep the cross in place should have been restated by the Board President as a motion to postpone the motion to keep the cross to a definite time because the intent of the motion to table was not to kill the underlying motion, but only to postpone its consideration. Thus, the will of the majority to debate and vote on the question was usurped by the unilateral actions of the School District's administration and the Board President.

The cross symbolizes the Crucifixion of Jesus. Jesus is a religious figure not only for Christians, but for members of several other faiths, as well. Although a cross may be a religious symbol, it may also be interpreted as a historical symbol of the most influential human in history, one who influenced Western Civilization's ideas of liberty and equality. Like terrorists, those who object to public acknowledgement of Jesus intimidate others to give into their demands that no government agency acknowledge the Creator, from Whom Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence our rights as human beings come. The only difference is in the strategy of lawsuits instead of attacks on innocent civilians, but the intent is the same: the denial of liberty. In the case in Reading, no one even threatened a lawsuit, one that could have been defended under the Pennsylvania Constitution because of the unique historical, architectural and financial arguments. Indeed, its removal arguably violated that document's prohibition against requiring citizens to support a ministry financially by advancing the religion of secular humanism at taxpayer expense. Letting the cross in place would not have forced anyone to support a ministry through taxpayer funds.

No one has yet responded to my point that there are also crosses on the Gothic Revival-style Reading High School, with which the Citadel School is intended to correspond. Although they are less prominent than the large Latin cross removed from the three-story Chapel, I am consoled that there remain other crosses on the Citadel.

Our liberty depends upon the belief in the American creed that our rights come from our Creator, which makes it the duty of public officials to acknowledge Him, not to eschew His acknowledgement. The controversy over the cross atop the Citadel was not the first time I fulfilled my duty. I hope my example inspires other public officials, whom I call upon to acknowledge God as the source of our rights. May God bless Pennsylvania and America.

The 2000s: A Decade of Prosperity and Perseverance

The new decade begins at the start of 2011 because the first decade A.D. was from the Year One to the Year 10, the second from 11-20, and so on. However, in common parlance it makes sense in the nomenclature of decades to count them differently. For example, although the last decade of the Twentieth Century was from 1991-2000, a reference to the decade of the “Nineties” means 1990-1999.

The first decade of the Twenty-First Century is called “the 2000s” (the “Two Thousands”), just as the first decade of the Twentieth Century is called the “1900s” (the “Nineteen Hundreds”). The second decade will be the 2010s (the “Two Thousand Teens”), just as the 1910s are called the “Nineteen Teens.”

I do not prefer retrospectives of arbitrary periods, but in order to make the point about the true start of decades and their nomenclature, I am taking this opportunity to post about “the 2000s,” which is why I included the term in the title.

It is necessary to refute those historical revisionists who have quickly forgotten the prosperity of just a few years ago by putting the 2000s in proper perspective. An economic downturn began in 2000, after the bursting of the “tech bubble of the 1990s,” but it began to ease after United States President George W. Bush’s tax cuts in 2001, until the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attacks. The economy gradually rebounded from that blow. It prospered from 2003-2008 – one of the longest periods of economic growth in American history – with strong, steady increases in the gross domestic product, with low interest rates, low unemployment and low inflation. Amazingly, inflation remained tame even after the sharp spike in oil prices in 2005. In contrast to the stagflation typical of the 1970s to the early 1980s, inflation has been low since 1981.

The prosperity of the 2000s is hardly diminished by the Panic of 2008, which has led to a severe recession, just as the Roaring Twenties are remembered as a decade of prosperity, despite the crash of the stock market in 1929 that triggered the Great Depression. Unlike then, when protectionism reduced trade through higher tariffs, the dramatic increase in trade in the 2000s will help lead to economic recovery. Indeed, the end of the 2000s may well be remembered as a time when a depression was averted more so than for the recession that did happen.

Like the 1980s and 1990s, the 2000s reflect a smoothing out of the natural business cycle of boom and bust. The “Reagan boom” was aided by lower tax rates, increased trade, better efficiency and productivity. The same recent recession that reminds us that the cyclical nature of the economy has not been broken will yield to recovery and prosperity, barring significant natural or man-made disasters, that is, unless government policy continues to distort the market. In other words, the current recession reminds us that it is difficult for the economy to remain permanently in a state of equilibrium, of growth without inflation, but it likely would return to it without artificial interference.

It is worth stating the truism that the reason the current recession has caused unemployment to reach levels not seen since 1982 is because the U.S. has been prosperous during that time. The historical revisionists seem to have forgotten that long periods of economic growth – especially without inflation – are extraordinary. Instead of being grateful for the prosperity, a period they should have used to prepare for harder times, they are whining about the recession, which, despite the difficulties it causes, they ought to regard as presenting new economic opportunities.

The prosperity of the Bush era is reflective of the perseverance Americans demonstrated after September 11. I mean that not only did the American people defeat al-Qaeda after September 11 by following the Bush Administration’s advice to continue to shop and to fly on airplanes, and not only by continuing to travel and attending public events, but by refusing to be intimidated into giving in to the terrorists’ demands. Americans also defeated terrorists in many battlefields, militarily and by other means, around the world during the 2000s, which also liberated millions of people from tyranny. The 2000s may be remembered as the time of the turning point of the latest phase of the war of militant Muslims against the world, as long as the United States maintains its resolve to resist its enemies effectively.

Conservatives should not allow liberals to mischaracterize the 2000s by focusing only on the negative for political purposes. Instead, let us remind everyone that although the 2000s were a challenging decade, like most others, they proved the strength of America and the character of her people.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas Day Terrorist Attack Was A Successful, Not An Attempted or Failed, Attack

The media is reporting the Christmas Day terrorist attack by a Nigerian with links to al-Qaeda in Yemen on board a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Detroit as an “attempted” or “failed” attack. The Obama Administration has also used similar language. Some in the media have even called it a “foiled” attack. However, the incident was a successful terrorist attack.

Although the attack did not succeed in destroying or crashing the aircraft, the explosive device did detonate and burn, which caused injuries and a fire which had to be extinguished. The fire caused some damage to the airplane. Therefore, the attack was not an “attempt,” because it was carried out and even caused injuries and damage, regardless of whether the terrorists fell short of accomplishing their goal of destroying the plane. In other words, the attack was an attempt to destroy the plane, but not an attempted attack.

Moreover, as I have noted in earlier posts, the purpose of terrorism is to intimidate the populace into giving into the demands of the terrorists. The Christmas Day attack succeeded in terrorizing not only the innocent civilians aboard the airplane, but the general public, as well. In other words, although the incident was not successful in destroying the airplane, it was nonetheless a successful attack. Thus, the incident meets the definition of a terrorist attack, not an attempted, failed or foiled attack.

In addition to undermining confidence further in both the media and the Obama Administration, the mislabeling of this terrorist attack as something less than what it was minimizes its significance, which is that al-Qaeda and other militant Muslims remain determined and capable of carrying out their strategy of terrorism, which the West ignores at its peril.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

More Language for Conservatives to Avoid

For my 150th post to my blog, I am continuing this series I began in late 2008, shortly after I launched this blog.

Federal Elections

There are no such thing as “federal elections,” except in the federal District of Columbia. There are elections for federal offices, but these are state elections. As noted in earlier posts in this series, there is no such thing as a “presidential election,” only elections for presidential and vice presidential electors, and there are no such things as “national elections,” as the United States is neither a nation, nor a nation-state, but a union of states.

Referring to American States as Political “Subdivisions”

The several American States created the union of states known as the United States of America. The U.S. did not create the states as “subdivisions,” as if they are its provinces. States are sovereign, independent entities.

Clinton-Gore Administration, Bush-Cheney Administration, etc.

There is no such thing as the “Clinton-Gore Administration,” the “Bush-Cheney Administration,” the “Obama-Biden Administration,” etc. These terms refer to the supposed administration of the president and vice president of the United States. However, the vice president is not a part of the Executive Branch. As President of the Senate, he is a member of the Legislative Branch. In the post-war period (since the National Security Act of 1947, which made the Vice President a member of the National Security Council) and in recent practice, especially since the presidency and vice presidency of Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale, respectively, vice presidents have taken an increased role in executive matters, not only in terms of giving advice, but of carrying out various tasks assigned by the president. Only in this strict sense can it be said that there is such a thing approaching a co-presidency that these terms suggest. But it is better not to use such terms that inaccurately suggest that the U.S. Constitution makes the vice president a member of the Executive Branch, instead of making him independent of the president. Indeed, until the Twelfth Amendment, the vice president was the one who received the second-highest number of electoral votes, as if it represented a power-sharing arrangement with the main leader of the loyal opposition. Vice presidents are elected separately by the electors on separate ballots. They are not appointees like Cabinet members, who serve only at the pleasure of the president, but are elected to four-year terms and are thus accountable directly to the people. Even if the vice president is of the same party as the president, he can be an intra-party check on the president when it is necessary for him to exercise his limited power of casting tie-breaking votes in the Senate, instead of feeling as if he is a servant of the president.

Similarly, conservatives should avoid referring to the vice president as the “second-in-command,” or to the president as the “vice president’s boss.”

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas; I Am Grateful A Cross Remains on a Public Building Through My Efforts

I wish all of my readers a Blessed Christmas 2009.

I am particularly grateful that partially through my efforts, the cross atop the former St. Joseph Hospital in Reading, a former Catholic facility dating back to the 19th Century that is being renovated for use as a public school by the Reading School District, remains in place, despite the District's original plans to remove it. I had written the acting Superintendent on December 7 outlining the historical, architectural (as I noted the campus is intended to correspond to Reading High School, which is in the Gothic Revival style, a Christian style that includes dozens of quadrifoils, which are Greek crosses with rounded ends), financial and legal reasons for keeping the cross in place the day that my term ended as Reading School Director, which successfully resulted in delaying its removal as the renovation has neared completion. One of the remaining Directors subsequently moved the question at a meeting, which was tabled until the newly sworn-in members could decide the issue. Although the issue remains undecided by the Board of Directors, at least it discussed it for the first time. Thus, not only is the public debating the issue, with the overwhelming majority opposing its removal, but the Board finally began publicly debating the question, with members going on record with their positions at least to some degree. The Administration nevertheless had planned to remove the cross despite the tabling, but other factors have apparently delayed any such action.

I shall post updates about this unique issue, as well as other observations of my tenure in public service as a School Director in future posts, as I continue to tie up loose ends. For now, I appreciate that my prayer for the cross to remain in place through Christmas has been answered favorably.

I am pleased that I have been able to post to my blog more frequently now that my service as an elected official has ended, even though I have been preparing for Christmas.

I wish a Merry Christmas especially to all United States servicemen, and peace to all those of good will.

The Commerce Clause Limits Federal Power to Mandate the Purchase of Private Health Insurance

A constitutional question regarding the federal power to mandate the purchase of private health insurance has arisen during the recent debate over the Congressional liberal Democrats’ proposal supported by United States President Barak Obama to federalize health insurance.

Several liberal Democratic members of Congress have cited the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution as authority for this unprecedented requirement to purchase something as a condition of residence in the United States. However, the Commerce Clause (Article I, Section 8, Clause 3) does not grant the federal government any such authority. In fact, it expressly denies the federal government that authority.

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), for example, recently stated that she assumes that the Commerce Clause grants the federal government unlimited power to mandate residents to purchase private health insurance. However, the Commerce Clause limits federal power. It is not an unlimited power: it only allows the federal government to regulate interstate commerce and commerce with the Indian tribes, not all commerce, such as that conducted within a state (intrastate commerce).

Regardless, as others have noted, the proposed federal mandate to purchase health insurance is not a regulation of commerce, but a requirement to engage in commerce. Even if it were commerce, it is not interstate commerce, as federal law bans the purchase of health insurance from out of state, meaning that all health insurance is intrastate commerce. Therefore, the federal government has no constitutional authority to regulate health insurance currently at all, let alone to mandate its purchase.

Some of the liberal supporters of federalizing health insurance have argued that requiring the purchase of health insurance is like requiring the purchase of car insurance, but their argument only undermines their claim of constitutional authority. As others have noted, it is states, not the federal government, that mandate the purchase of car insurance. Furthermore, they only require the purchase of car insurance for those who exercise the privilege of driving – on public roads – out of concern for the health and safety of their citizens, as well as the protection of their property. The analogy between health insurance and car insurance thus easily fails.

Liberals have violated the Constitution by diluting the Commerce Clause and claiming federal power to regulate all economic activity so much and for so long that they have finally overreached in their proposal to mandate the purchase of private health insurance to such an obvious degree that the constitutionality of such a requirement would be challenged in federal court.

The constitutional question of whether the federal government is limited by the Constitution, the language of which reflects the intent of its Framers, or can do whatever federal politicians want to do without amending it by citing that very document as providing their unlimited authority to act is of greater significance than the particular problems presented by the proposed federalization of health insurance itself. In addition to the truth, at stake is the principle of limited government (i.e. the principles of subsidiarity and federalism) versus the centralization of power, and the liberty of the States and the people.

War on Terrorism Report Card Notes Successful Bush Tactics Obama Is Following

A recent federal study of the War on Terrorism noted the successof two tactics of the Bush Administration that are being continued by the Obama Administration. The tactics have contributed to a decrease in attacks by al-Qaeda from the previous year.

The first tactic is the use of armed unmanned drones. The Bush Administration had developed a plan by the day before September 11, 2001 and was able to put it into use quickly in the War on Terrorism, taking out al-Qaeda's third in command, Muhammad Atef, who was in charge of military operations, early in the war. The Bush Administration deployed the drones in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as in Yemen and Somalia. The Obama Administration has continued to use the drones in those same places, recently taking out the imam who had inspired the Ft. Hood shooter in Yemen. It has stepped up the number of drone attacks in Pakistan.

The second tactic is the Bush Administration's highly praised efforts to freeze terrorist funding. For example, within a few years after September 11, the United States had succeeded in freezing over $100 million in al-Qaeda funding, despite the challenges of identifying the funds. Indeed, this tactic has been one of the most effective in the War on Terrorism.

The report, however, noted an increase in overall terrorist attacks from the previous year. The published reports did not elaborate on the definition of terrorism used for the report. For example, attacks on the U.S. and coalition military forces in Iraq and Afghanistan are not terrorist attacks, as terrorism is the targeting of innocent civilians. In previous years, attacks outside of these fronts in the War on Terrorism have declined, with deaths for Americans being rare (e.g. in one recent extraordinary calendar year, there were no American fatalities from terrorism).

Nevertheless, if attacks committed by terrorists other than al-Qaeda increased last year, then the danger from terrorism overall is underscored. As I have noted in earlier posts, it is called the “War on Terrorism,” not the “War on al-Qaeda” for good reason: there are many militant Muslim jihadis around the world, in addition to other terrorists like various Communists, who continue to represent a threat to Americans and other free peoples. This point is important to understand for several reasons: 1) the U.S. counterterrorism strategy must be focused on all threats, not just al-Qaeda, and not just from Muslims, 2) those who sponsor terrorism financially or by providing safe haven to terrorists like al-Qaeda, such as the Taliban, must also be defeated, and 3) eliminating state sponsors of other terrorists, like Iraq's Saddam Hussein, or getting them to renounce terrorism, as Libya did, is imperative.

U.S. President George W. Bush's comprehensive counterterrorism strategy has been successful against al-Qaeda. It also produced a number of spectacular results against other terrorist threats, in addition to Iraq and Libya, such as the breakup of the Pakistani nuclear smuggling ring, the international interdiction against North Korean arms proliferation, and Columbia's increased success against its Marxist narco-terrorists because of better American aid.

That President Barak Obama has been continuing some of Bush's most successful policies is a testimony to their effectiveness, despite Obama's often wreckless rhetoric and occasional backsliding towards September 10 policies that treat terrorism as a criminal matter, instead of an act of war. Conservatives must continue to urge the Obama Administration to focus on all terrorist threats and to take all of the necessary measures to safeguard American soldiers and civilians at home and abroad.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Pope’s Declaration of Pius XII’s Heroic Virtue Debunks a Liberal Myth

Pope Benedict XVI is expected soon to declare that his predecessor, Pope Pius XII, lived a life of “heroic virtue.” The declaration is the first step in the canonization process, i.e. “listing” among the Saints.

After the Second World War and through his death in 1958, Jews and others hailed Pius XII as a hero for resisting the Holocaust, despite the difficulties he faced. However, by the 1960s, leftists began to slander this righteous man, first suggesting in a fictional play that he had collaborated with the Nazis, then actually accusing him of having participated in the Holocaust by not speaking out enough against the Nazis. By the 2000s, an author of a widely reviewed book accused Pius XII of being “Hitler’s Pope,” yet he could only find the Pontiff guilty of one alleged error: failing to support adequately a Christian Democratic party in Germany before the Nazi Party (National German Socialist Party) won the election, even though liberals usually object to any interference in politics by the Church.

Pius XII’s critics seek not only to discredit him and the Catholic Church, but all Christianity, especially all Christian conservatives. They imply that Fascism and Nazism is an outgrowth of Christianity because they accuse Christians of anti-Semitism. These liberals wish to cover up the left-wing origins of the totalitarian ideologies of Fascism and Nazism that elevate the State above all, including the Church. Instead, the left tries to discredit Christian conservatives by associating their beliefs with those that led to the Holocaust.

Pope Benedict XVI has acted boldly by asserting the truth, that his predecessor as Bishop of Rome acted heroically in defiance of the Nazis, which did much to prevent the slaughter of even more Jews and resistors of the Nazis.

Before the War, Pope Pius XII spoke out in an encyclical against Statism, obviously condemning Nazism. Because the encyclical was banned in Nazi Germany, the Allies leafleted it out of airplanes over German skies as part of their propaganda campaign. Pius XII continued to criticize the Nazi regime during the war, despite the difficult position he was in as the head of state of a neutral country totally surrounded by the Axis Powers. The Pontiff had to be careful to avoid losing his neutral status, lest Adolph Hitler retaliate. The Nazis considered deporting the Pope and physically threatened him. Indeed, the Fascists even bombed Vatican City in 1943!

Jews and others, like the German clergy, urged Pius XII not to speak out openly against the Nazis out of fear of retaliation, which they knew from their own experience. The Pope was mindful of what had happened to the Dutch Bishops who had spoken out forcefully against the Nazis: Hitler retaliated against them by interring many Jewish converts to Catholicism in the Netherlands in concentration camps, some of whom were murdered. It is unlikely that the Nazis would have listened to the Pope’s pleas anyway.

Therefore, Pius XII did what he could, by acting more than speaking. Before he became Pope, as Vatican Secretary of State, he had established an organization that funded an airline for thousands of escaping Jews. As Pontiff, he offered the Nazis the Vatican’s gold as a ransom for the Jews. The Pope discretely urged the cloistered monasteries and convents to make the extraordinary step of throwing open their doors in order to take in Jews hiding from the Holocaust, at the risk of being executed by the Nazis. Tens of thousands of Jews, as well as resistance fighters and downed Allied pilots were saved in Italy alone, where the influence of the Catholic Church was strongest and Italians shared Pius XII’s belief that racism was contrary to Italian mores. Although 67% of Jews were killed in the Holocaust in other European countries, 85% of them were saved in Italy. The Nazis slaughtered hundreds of Italian civilians in retaliation.

Eugenio Pacelli, who became Pope Pius XII, is a hero whose Christian example debunks the liberal myth that Christian conservatism shares an origin with Fascism. Pope Benedict XVI has reaffirmed his predecessor’s example, thereby defending this holy man from calumny, and reminding everyone that the left’s association of Christian conservatism with Fascism and Nazism is based upon ignorance of the origin of its own ideology.

Overspending Busted the Budget, Not Tax Cuts

United States President Barak Obama recently blamed “budget-busting tax cuts” for the deficit. He was referring to the tax cuts signed into law by his immediate predecessor, George W. Bush. However, tax cuts do not cost the government anything.

A tax cut does not require an expenditure from the treasury. Only expenditures “cost” the government money. Therefore, tax cuts are not the reason for the deficit. The implication that tax cuts costing anything reflects the liberal Statist view that money belongs to government, to decide how it sees feet to distribute it.

Moreover, tax cuts do not even necessarily reduce revenue to the government. Tax cuts generate economic growth by allowing people to keep more of their money, which gives them more incentive to earn more and to invest more. In fact, tax cuts have historically been responsible for increases in revenue.

Sometimes, however, government uses the increased revenue it receives because of tax cuts to go on a spending spree. As a result, tax cuts are often blamed for budget deficits, even though they increase revenue. An example is the tax cuts signed into law by President Ronald Reagan. His tax cuts were partly responsible for unleashing a then-record-long period of economic growth, which nearly doubled federal revenue, but the federal government continued its long habit of deficit spending. Reagan’s tax cuts, like Bush’s after him, were blamed for the deficits.

The Bush tax cuts represented a refund to the taxpayers because of the budget surplus of the late 1990s-2000. A surplus occurs when more money is taxed from the people than the government needs. Refunding the surplus is the right thing to do, both morally and economically, as a large budget surplus is not only an embarrassment for overtaxing the people, but represents the removal of wealth from the economy, to its detriment. Therefore, eliminating the surplus is not “busting the budget,” but balancing the budget.

The Bush tax cuts did not cause the debt that substantively increased, despite the prosperity they are partly responsible for triggering from 2002-2007/8. Indeed, the U.S. government received an increased amount of revenue during the Bush prosperity. It was too much spending caused the return of annual budget deficits. But, as in the past, the federal government spent much more than it received. Some of it was understandable, such as for the War on Terrorism, but some was not. Regardless, the tax cuts were not to blame for the deficits. The deficits were caused by overspending.

Both the federal budget and the U.S. economy would benefit from spending and tax cuts, but Obama is proposing the opposite policy of dramatically increased spending and increased taxes on upper income earners and small businesses, which would harm the economy. Conservatives should continue to point out the benefits of spending and tax cuts, as well as the harm of unrestrained spending and over taxation, in order to urge Obama and Congressional liberal Democrats to change their fiscal policies soon.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Obama’s Change Represents Regression, not Progress

The kind of change represented by Obama’s spending spree (see my last post, Obama Set to Sign Another Budget-Busting Bill) represents regression, not progress, like his and Congressional liberal Democrats' opposition to reducing the price of oil by allowing more off-shore drilling. It seems that Obama and the Democrats misled voters concerned about the deficit and the high price of oil into voting for them, even though they support massive domestic spending and higher prices for oil.

Obama and Congressional liberal Democrats only oppose tax cuts and military spending, not reducing domestic spending, like welfare and pork.

They support higher oil prices in order to force more conservation, while opposing increased drilling for oil, clean coal, and nuclear energy. Indeed, Obama stated during the presidential campaign that the problem was not the higher oil prices, which if adjusted for inflation should have caused the price of gasoline to be over $3.00 per gallon, had risen too quickly, not that they had risen at all. Although he is right that Americans enjoyed decades of relatively low energy prices before the sudden sharp increase in 2005, his lack of opposition to higher energy prices is ideological, not economic, while he was content to allow his supporters to blame Bush falsely for the higher oil prices – as if it is the responsibility of the president to set the price of oil, if he even had the power to do so if he wished – in order to get elected to do the opposite of what the voters wanted. During the campaign, public opinion forced Congress to overturn the moratorium on drilling for off-shore oil, a measure which Bush signed into law, but the Obama Administration has demonstrated no enthusiasm for following through with allowing more drilling.

Liberal environmentalists who opposed Bush and supported Obama had blocked hundreds of licenses for oil-drilling in the area off Alaska that the Bush Administration had tried to open up to more drilling even before the end of the moratorium off the continental coast of the Lower 48 States. Oil prices would have probably risen even higher had Bush not succeeded in 2001 in expanding off-shore drilling in parts of the Gulf of Mexico, let alone being able to end the oil embargoes on Iraq and Libya as a result of his successful foreign policy, for which his critics absurdly blamed him for the opposite intent.

In other words, liberals blocked the increased oil drilling and then blamed Bush for the result of their actions – just like in another example, the mortgage fiasco, when Congressional liberal Democrats blocked adequate regulation repeatedly by the Bush Administration and Congressional Republicans of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two mortgage giants implicitly backed by the federal government that made bad loans as a result of the policies of former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, aided by liberal allies of Obama like ACORN. None of the policies of the Obama Administration and Congressional Democrats appear to demonstrate that they have learned this main lesson of the mortgage crisis about government distorting the free market unnecessarily that their policies helped to cause. They are still encouraging risky loans while rewarding even those who lied about their creditworthiness to escape from the consequences of their actions.

Change is good only if it represents reform, not just a change for the sake of change for political expedience. It is imperative that conservatives defend their record while exposing that of the liberals in order to implement policies in the best interests of the United States.

Obama Set to Sign Another Budget-Busting Bill

United States President Barak Obama is likely to sign a $1.1 trillion pork-laden spending bill with over 5,200 congressional earmarks. The omnibus spending bill was approved by both houses of Congress controlled by the Democratic majority. The bill includes appropriations for most federal agencies for the 2010 fiscal year, except the Department of Defense.

The spending bill also would require taxpayer funding of abortion and needle exchanges in the District of Columbia. Yet the big Congressional spenders pinched pennies by terminating the voucher program for the District’s parents, forcing their children to attend the failed public schools there.

Obama and other liberal Democrats had criticized the Republican Congress and President George W. Bush for deficit spending. However, the spending increased once the Democrats gained the majority of Congress in 2007 and since Obama was inaugurated president.

In my next post, I shall discuss this lack of the change Obama and his liberal supporters falsely promised.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Knox Convicted, Berlusconi Assaulted and Other Italian News

The recent guilty verdict and lengthy sentence in the murder case of American student Amanda Knox and her boyfriend in Perugia for the brutal murder of their British roommate has generated much international media attention, as well as controversy in the United States. Those sympathetic to the convicted murderess blame the Italian police for focusing their probe on Knox because of her immoral sexual behavior that led to the murder in the first place. As with other recent high-profile criminal cases, the accusation of bias is used in order to dismiss the considerable evidence of guilt. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has expressed an interest in ensuring that the American citizen is treated fairly, as is appropriate, but the Obama Administration would be wise to allow the appeals process to occur and not to be seen as trying to manipulate the result through diplomatic pressure of its Italian ally.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was injured in an assault today at a political rally in Milan, apparently by a man with mental illness. The man struck the Premier of Italy with a statue, breaking his nose and two teeth.

The incident was probably isolated, but it occurs just a little over a week after the opposition staged demonstrations in several major Italian cities coinciding with a labor strike intended as a protest. The opposition accuses the billionaire media businessman Berlusconi of having supported laws that give him immunity from prosecution for various alleged financial misdeeds. The Prime Minister asserts that the laws were for the benefit of all Italians. The left accuses Berlusconi of having too much control over Italian media. He points to his high public approval rating. However, Berlusconi has not helped himself with his sexual indiscretions, which have led his wife to divorce him, as well as to a major scandal.

Despite the noise from the left, Berlusconi, backed by a stable coalition, continues to exhibit unusually strong leadership for an Italian premier. The government’s crackdown on the mafia has produced spectacular results; many of the most wanted have been captured, including the Number Two leader of the mob. Italian police have also been successful in retrieving thousands of archaeological artifacts stolen and removed from Italy. Berlusconi’s government has been successful in implementing better accountability for public servants in a land where government workers are not especially known for productivity; for example, turnstiles have been installed at government offices. Finally, the Italian government has announced that it will send 1,000 more troops and 200 more Carabinieri (the national gendarmerie) to Afghanistan, which would increase the current Italian contribution to the Afghan front of the War on Terrorism to 4,000.

A Comparison of the Iraqi and Afghan Troop Surges

As promised in my last post, Obama Vindicates Bush, McCain and Palin on Afghanistan, this post is a comparison of the Iraqi and Afghan troop surges, with some further analysis.

United States President Barak Obama probably is making the right decision to send more troops to Afghanistan, as his generals have recommended. He had already sent more troops earlier this year, after former U.S. President George W. Bush had begun a planned troop surge for that country while simultaneously drawing down American forces in Iraq.

I have long considered the battle for Afghanistan in the War on Terrorism a greater challenge than the battle of Iraq. Afghanistan’s mountainous terrain makes it more difficult than Iraq not only because of the difficulty of transporting personnel and equipment, but because of the defensive positions it affords, as well as the escape routes it provides. Indeed, the mountainous Afghan border with Pakistan has proven the greatest challenge to American led forces and their Afghan allies, as the Taliban and al-Qaeda escape across the border into Pakistan. There, they find safe haven in tribal areas where the Pakistani national government exerts little or no control.

Afghanistan is even more tribal than Iraq, with less ethnic cohesion. While Iraq has two main ethnic groups, Arabs and Kurds, Afghanistan is inhabited mainly by Pashtun, Tajiks, Hazara, and Uzbeks. There are small minorities of Turkmen in both states, especially the latter, but Afghanistan also has several other minorities, such as Baluchi and Nuristani. Both states are overwhelmingly Muslim, with both the Sunni and Shia branches represented, although Iraq has a small Christian minority (both Orthodox and Catholic). However, Iraq has two major languages, Arabic and Kurdish, while Afghanistan has several, as well as over 30 minority languages. These factors, combined with its mountainous terrain, make Afghanistan difficult to centrally administer.

Two other advantages that Iraq has over Afghanistan is its relative wealth compared to Afghanistan’s poverty. Iraq is rich in oil, but the land that contains ancient Mesopotamia is also the leading world producer of dates, for example. Afghanistan is only the leading world producer of opium, from which heroin is derived, a crop that must be eradicated. Iraq, as the Cradle of Civilization, is a potential tourist attraction. Afghanistan has little to draw tourism. In short, Iraq can be economically self-sufficient much sooner than Afghanistan.

I note how Afghanistan presents a more difficult challenge for the U.S. than Iraq because critics of the Liberation of Iraq exaggerated its difficulty, which they argued, suggested the war was imprudent, while they continued to cite the Liberation of Afghanistan as “the good war.” Despite having to defeat al-Qaeda in Iraq, in addition to the Baathists, the quick success of the surge in Iraq, in contrast to the protracted conflict in Afghanistan, refutes this argument.

As in Iraq, the Afghan troop surge will be only the military component of an overall counterterrorist strategy that includes the acceleration of the training of Afghan security forces (army and police), as well as various reconstruction and infrastructure projects to improve the lives of Afghans and strengthen state control – at least at the provincial level – after securing and holding areas cleared of the Taliban, al Qaeda and other terrorists. This strategy, although similar to the one that succeeded in Iraq, will have to be tailored to the particular challenges in Afghanistan.

Obama expressed that the focus of the troop surge will be on al-Qaeda. However there are few al-Qaeda left there. The danger is that their Taliban allies would once again take power and provide safe haven to the terrorist organization (See also my post Victory in Afghanistan is Critical). The primary focus must be on defeating the Taliban.

It was imprudent for Obama to announce the beginning of the withdrawal of American forces by a date certain. His equivocation seems to send the message to American troops, U.S. allies and enemies alike that the Commander in Chief lacks the resolve to do what it takes to defend the United States. Obama avoided the temptation to state how many troops would withdraw or how long it would take for a phased withdrawal, declaring that decisions about the withdrawal would be based upon “conditions on the ground,” as Bush used to state.

Alas, Obama cannot bring himself to state victory as a goal, only “ending” the war successfully, which only further undermines American and Afghan morale, while bolstering that of the enemy. For now, however, after taking months to make his decision, Obama’s Afghan troop surge will have a favorable impact on morale. But Obama’s weakness reflected in his announcement of his intent to withdraw in a little over a year and his avoidance of the word victory, give the enemy enough hope that it is only necessary to kill enough Americans to make the war politically unpopular, so as to force an American withdrawal, as in Vietnam, Lebanon and, most relevantly, in Somalia.

Obama’s contention that the Liberation of Iraq distracted the U.S. from Afghanistan is only half right: it was a distraction, for al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda made a strategic mistake to send forces to Iraq, where they have been routed by the American-led “coalition of the willing,” together with its Iraqi allies. In addition, the Taliban were a spent force by 2007. The Taliban military offensive in Afghanistan was described by the liberal media as responsible for the deaths of thousands of Afghans, but the media failed to explain that it mostly the Taliban who were being killed. It is only since the jihadists have been defeated in Iraq that Afghanistan has flared up again. The other factor is the Pakistani government’s lack of the political wherewithal to defeat the Taliban in Pakistan and to deny them a safe haven there. Furthermore, the idea that the U.S. could not fight simultaneously on two fronts has been proven untrue.

One of the criticisms of the Liberation of Iraq was that the militant Muslims used it to perfect their insurgency tactics, which they can now apply to Afghanistan. Apparently, these critics could not see the opposite side of their argument: the Liberation of Iraq was an opportunity for the U.S. to perfect its counterinsurgency tactics, which it is now applying to Afghanistan.

The American people must support their Commander in Chief and the troops in the battle for Afghanistan, as well as their mission: to deny terrorists a safe haven in Afghanistan. The troop surge and counterterrorism strategy in Iraq is the model that suggests a similar strategy can succeed in Afghanistan, despite the challenges.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Obama Vindicates Bush, McCain and Palin on Afghanistan

Despite United States President Barak Obama’s policy of blaming every problem on former President George W. Bush, he has vindicated Bush – once again – by following his polices. Obama’s immediate processor as Commander in Chief had increased troops in Afghanistan and supported a troop surge and counterinsurgency strategy there similar to the one in Iraq.

Obama had predicted the Bush’s troop surge in Iraq would fail. When it became obvious that American policy in Iraq was achieving much success, he attributed these successes to other factors, which was a tacit acknowledgement that the pre-surge situation in Iraq was not nearly as bad as critics of the Liberation of Iraq, like Obama, had insisted. Nevertheless, Obama’s Afghan troop surge is another vindication by him of the President he succeeded.

Obama has also vindicated Republican presidential nominee John McCain, whom Obama defeated, who had long called for the surge for Iraq and had since also been calling for one for Afghanistan. Finally, Obama has vindicated GOP vice presidential nominee Governor Sara Palin of Alaska. During the vice presidential candidate debate, when Palin observed that a leading general had recommended a surge for Afghanistan similar to the one in Iraq, Democratic vice presidential nominee Senator Joseph Biden of Delaware insisted that he had not, even though Palin had made clear that the surge in Afghanistan would not be exactly the same as in Iraq, but tailored to reflect its differences. The liberal media, whose storyline by this point had become that Palin was ignorant because she had been unable to answer ABC news reporter Charles Gibson question that had mislabeled the Bush Doctrine, accepted Biden’s correction of Palin as fact. In fact, Palin was correct and Biden wrong, both in terms of the accuracy about the general’s statement and the merits of the request for more troops. Now Obama has rejected Biden’s opposition to a troop surge for Afghanistan.

During the presidential campaign, Obama painted himself into a corner by constantly contrasting Iraq and Afghanistan as the good war and the bad war, respectively, even though both removed militant Muslim regimes that sponsored terrorists who targeted and killed Americans. In addition to being necessary for American security in order to prevent the Taliban from retaking power in Afghanistan (See also my post, Victory in Afghanistan is Critical), Obama thus rhetorically obligated himself to fight the “good war.” The Commander in Chief is right to make the decision not only to continue the fight, but also to implement a troop surge and counterinsurgency strategy. Conservatives must continue to urge Obama, however, to fully commit to a policy of victory.

In my next post, I shall analyze Obama’s Afghan troop surge strategy and compare it to Bush’s troop surge in Iraq.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Honduran Elections Restore Democracy, End Isolation

Hondurans went to the polls in yesterday's elections, choosing the conservative opposition candidate for their republic's new president. The turnout appeared to be higher than the previous election, despite the boycott by former leader, Manuel Zelaya, who was ousted in a military coup earlier this year.

The coup was supported by the Honduran Supreme Court, the legislature and his own party after Zelaya, an ally of Venezuelan left-wing dictator Hugo Chavez, had attempted to conduct a referendum to end presidential term limits, in violation of the Honduran constitution. After the coup, the United States and Latin American states refused to recognize the interim Honduran government, which was led by a member of Zelaya's own party, demanding that the ousted leader be restored to power. The U.S. cut off critical aid to Honduras. However, no deal was reached that would allow Zelaya to return to power. Instead, elections were scheduled and held. The losing candidate from Zelaya's party quickly conceded the race for the sake of national unity.

I had criticized the Obama Administration's decision to isolate Honduras for its actions which rescued its democracy from a would-be Chavist dictator in my post, A Coup for Democracy in Honduras. The ouster of Zelaya has now been legitimatized by the elections, which have restored representative democracy to the Honduran Republic. To its credit, the Administration had announced that it would recognize the results of a free and fair election. Some Latin American states, like Columbia and some Central American states, have followed the American lead, but others, especially those aligned with Chavez, are insisting on a return of power for Zelaya, if only until his term ends in January.

Regardless, the U.S. should end its punishment of Honduras and restore aid to its ally. The U.S. needs stable, democratic friends in Latin America not only for trade, but as a bulwark against the growing threat of Chavist authoritarianism.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Risks and Dangers of Civilian Trials for the September 11 Terrorists

Despite the legal precedent of trying foreigners who commit war crimes in military tribunals, as well as Congressional authorization to do so, the Obama Administration has decided to try the September 11 terrorists in civilian courts instead. The conspirators, who had been facing a military trial, had expressed a willingness to plead guilty. There are several risks and dangers of the Obama Administration’s decision.

Holding trial of the September 11 terrorists in New York instead of at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba would make that city even more of a target for terrorism than it already is. Terrorists often use trials as a pretext for attacks. In addition, the massive security necessary for the trial will not only be inconvenient for New Yorkers, but costly to the city, as well.

This Obama Administration decision is inconsistent with its decision to try other al-Qaeda terrorists in civilian courts. For example, the Administration plans to try the terrorists who attacked the U.S.S. Cole in 2000 in a military court. Its rationale is the distinction between a military or civilian attack, but this distinction is splitting hairs, as September 11 was both an attack on civilians and the military. The Administration’s supporters have argued that there is precedent for trying terrorists in civilian court. That others before have been tried successfully by civilian courts does not necessarily mean it is a good idea.

Indeed, civilian trials of terrorists represent a return to the pre-September 11 mentality that terrorism is a crime, not an act of war. That mentality emboldened the terrorists to launch the September 11 Terrorist Attacks while the United States considered itself at peace, which its policies reflected, despite Osama bin Laden’s 1996 fatwa tantamount to a declaration of war. The one post-September 11 civilian trial of an al-Qaeda terrorist linked to the September 11 conspirators, Zacarias Moussaui, which took a year to conclude after he indicated that he wanted to plead guilty, should have given the Obama Administration pause. Instead, the Administration is citing this Bush Administration mistake as precedent.

Other concerns about a civilian trial for terrorists include the danger that the evidence will wither force either a revelation of American sources and methods of intelligence or an unwillingness of the U.S. to submit such incriminating evidence, which would jeopardize the possibility of a conviction, unlike in a military tribunal. In fact, the revelation of bin Laden as an un-indicted co-conspirator in a civilian terrorist trial during the Clinton Administration tipped the al-Qaeda founder off that the U.S. considered him a prime terrorist suspect. Another major concern is the federal rules of criminal procedure, unlike the rules for military tribunals, which were not applied to suspected terrorists caught on the battlefield. The terrorists could argue that their charges should be dismissed for any number of legal technicalities, which would not be applicable on foreign soil, which is one of the advantages of Guantanamo Bay. The concern, however, about the inadmissibility of evidence obtained from terrorist suspects through harsh interrogations without the presence of attorneys is not great because there had been sufficient evidence against these terrorists beforehand that caused the U.S. and its allies to capture them in the first place, and the information was obtained in order to thwart other terrorist attacks, not for evidence of guilt. Finally, another procedural concern is that the terrorists would be unable to be tried by an impartial jury in New York, which could be used by the terrorists as a reason to dismiss the charges against them or to appeal a conviction.

Unlike military tribunals, terrorists can turn civilian trials into show trials, which would give them a public platform to explain their rationale for their evil deeds – just a few blocks away from the World Trade Center. Moussai turned his case into a show trial, for example.

Despite these concerns, the Obama Administration has expressed a certainty that the terrorists will be convicted. But the outcome of criminal trials is never a certainty, especially one with such high risks for the prosecution, as opposed to a military trial, let alone all the other dangers this return to a “September 10” policy would represent. The Obama Administration also seems to be politically motivated to appear to foreigners as fairer than the Bush Administration.

These reasons do not outweigh the risks and dangers of conducting civilian trials for the September 11 terrorists and the damaging message being sent to Americans and to their allies and enemies, that the United States no longer considers itself at war with those who are at war with the U.S.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

First Anniversary of My Blog; Happy Thanksgiving

Among many other things for which I am thankful, I am grateful for this blog and for your patronage of it. I have enjoyed the opportunity to express my views and appreciate your support.

I have not been posting as frequently as I would like recently, as I have been concluding my service as an elected official. I have avoided that subject on this blog, preferring to keep them separate, but once my term ends soon, I intend to post my observations on implementing conservative principles in an urban environment. I have been thankful for the opportunity to serve, but am looking forward to a break from the commitment of my time. I hope to be able to post to my blog more often.

I wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving. God bless you and God bless America!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Pennsylvania Considers the Castle Doctrine

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives is considering the adoption of the “Castle Doctrine,” which gives citizens the right to use deadly force against an attacker, if reasonably necessary, to defend themselves wherever a citizen has a right to be.

Pennsylvania House Bill 40 would clarify the state's existing self-defense law by clearly adopting the standard derived from English Common Law that regards a man's home as his castle. The Castle Doctrine includes the abolition of the “duty to retreat” currently in Pennsylvania law, which would guarantee citizens the right to “stand their ground.”

Current Pennsylvania law forces citizens to prove that that the use of a deadly weapon in self-defense -- even only brandishing a firearm -- was justified. Citizens who defend themselves justifiably are often arrested, especially in Philadelphia County. Indeed, justice is unequal in Pennsylvania, as the use of a deadly weapon in self-defense is less prosecuted in many other counties. Under Pennsylvania House Bill 40, the burden will be on the prosecution to prove that the use of deadly force was not reasonable.

House Bill 40 would also provide citizens with immunity from lawsuits brought by criminals against citizens who use deadly weapons to defend themselves.

The adoption of the Castle Doctrine would safeguard citizens better than current Pennsylvania law by removing any fear of prosecution or litigation for justifiably defending themselves, which also would thereby better deter crime. Pennsylvania law should guarantee the rights of citizens to use deadly force to defend themselves and their property reasonably, which is why Pennsylvania House Bill 40 must pass.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

1,000th Visit to My Blog

My blog has now been visited over 1,000 times since April 2! I am pleased that it only took seven and a third months to pass this milestone, even though I have hardly advertised my blog at all. Thank you for your patronage. I am especially grateful to those of you who are loyal visitors.

Here are the statistics: I do not count my own visits, and do not count hits from the same person that occur less than one hour apart as a visit. If I were to include the latter total of hits, the total hits would be over 1,400.

Sixty people started their visits to my blog on its homepage. Many of them are loyal visitors; twelve of them alone visited my blog around 225 times! I appreciate that some of them posted links to my blog on the Internet.

Over 720 others either started their visit by directly linking to a post or by landing on it through web searches. Many of them returned for more visits or viewed my homepage or other posts. They landed on a total of 64 posts, going as far back as January, and viewed 10 additional posts. These visitors have come from 47 States in the Union, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico; the most have come from CA, followed by FL, NY, TX, PA and NJ. Visitors have come from 48 foreign states and Hong Kong on 6 continents; the most have come from Malaysia, the UK, Canada, Algeria, India and Pakistan. One of the last hits this morning came from the Peoples' Republic of China -- the first visit from a communist state (not counting Chinese-owned Hong Kong, which is still free).

The most popular posts are Rise and Fall of Islamic Civilization, with over 200 hits, and the Economy, Deficit and Debt at George W. Bush's Administration, with over 100. Other popular posts are Obama did not Inherit the Economy from Bush; Lepanto, by GK Chesterton; Father Stanley Jaki, Rest in Peace; Two Big Myths About the Founding Fathers; Follow-up on the Fall of Islamic Civilization; Radicals in the Obama Administration; and Analysis of Obama's Economic and Fiscal Policies.

Visitors have come from interesting places. Many are from colleges and universities. Some are from governments; although hits to posts had come from searchers at the U.S. House of Representatives before, for the first time since my last blog hit report, another visitor from there landed on my homepage after searching for my name and other information. I had mentioned a hit before in an early blog report from the Holy See, Vatican City, but another one since then came from a parish church (Ave Maria, Colorado). There have even been hits from the media; I had mentioned in an early blog hit report that one visitor came from the New York Times, who used my blog as background reading for a story, but another visitor since then came from CBS.

Again, thank you for visiting my blog and making it successful. Please continue to visit it regularly and to post comments or to submit suggestions for further topics. I have many more posts planned. Thank you!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Berlusconi Defies European Court, Keeps Crucifixes in Italian Schools

The European Court declared crucifixes in Italian state-run schools illegal, but Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi will defy the court and keep the crucifixes in the schools.

Although Catholicism is no longer the state religion of Italy, other Christians and even many non-Christians such as Muslims believe in the Scriptural account of the Crucifixion of Jesus, while many others at least recognize its historicity. Crucifixes have long been in Italian school classrooms, except during the Fascist regime, when they were replaced by large portraits of dictator Benito Mussolini.

Indeed, Crucifixes are the Italian way to remind them that their equal rights come from our Creator, not the state, just as American schoolchildren pledge allegiance to the Flag of their republic “under God.” Thus, even non-believers are dependent for their liberty on the faith of those who do believe. Therefore, it is only right that those believers publicly declare their faith from time to time, in order to reaffirm the commitment of the state to protect the liberty of all the people.

But the Italian school Crucifix issue is part of a larger issue: the potential loss of sovereignty of member states to the European Union. These states, like Italy, have surrendered much of their sovereignty already, but it is not yet clear just how much they have lost. Berlusconi stated that he intends to defy the court order because it lacks any authority. He is right to stand up for federalism within the “United States of Europe,” just as conservatives in the United States of America must do.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Conservative Analysis of the 2009 Elections

The 2009 elections were more favorable to Republicans and conservatives than the 2008 elections. Although Republican and conservative candidates did not win every major race, they did win both of the most significant offices on the ballot: Bob McDonnel was elected Governor of Virginia and Chris Christie was elected Governor of New Jersey.

Both states had voted for Barak Obama for president and had Democratic governors for eight years. Although the 2009 election was not a referendum on Obama, it suggests – at least – that his waning popularity is not transferable to other liberal Democrats. At most, it could suggest voter dissatisfaction with the excessive spending, borrowing and taxing by liberal Democrats in both the federal and state governments. It also suggests that the strategy of campaigning against George W. Bush, such as incumbent New Jersey Governor John Corzine employed, no longer works.

McDonnel’s campaign was a particularly good example of a positive, issues-oriented campaign. His historic landslide produced GOP coat-tails in Virginia: Republicans swept all three statewide offices, including lieutenant governor and attorney general, and won several more seats in the state legislature.

One commonality to both Republican victories is that both nominees were former prosecutors. McDonnel was a state attorney general and Christie a U.S. Attorney. Christie’s election is particularly noteworthy because he had prosecuted successfully scores of public officials, including mostly Democrats, for corruption. Indeed, he never lost a case! Although Democratic-dominated New Jersey had developed a reputation as one of the most corrupt states, voters continued to elect Democrats. The 2009 elections suggest that voters prefer Republicans viewed as tough on crime.

Gubernatorial races are significant beyond suggesting the mood of the American electorate. Even though they are state elections, they have federal implications. For example, governors make appointments to the U.S. Senate when there are vacancies. In some states, like New Jersey, the governor appoints appellate judges, who rule on elections for federal office and congressional redistricting. The party of the governor is given preference on all of the state’s election ballots in some states, including for federal office. Also, governors are often presidential or vice presidential nominees. Moreover, their success at implementing reforms can serve as examples to other states.

There were other conservative Republican victories across the United States. In Pennsylvania, for example, strict-constructionist Republicans won at least six out of seven statewide judicial races, including a seat on the state Supreme Court that determined which party controls the majority on the highest court of appeals in the Keystone State. Republican judges will now be the referees in Pennsylvania of the congressional redistricting after the 2010 Census.

Conservatives must build on the momentum generated by these encouraging victories by recruiting and supporting candidates in Republican primary elections in 2010. In those elections for state and federal offices, voters will elect all 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives and one third of the seats in the Senate. Many states will elect governors and state legislators. In the meantime, conservatives must continue to speak out in favor of liberty, limited government, virtue and strong defense.

Jihad at Ft. Hood

The massacre by a Muslim soldier of other soldiers at Ft. Hood, Texas was an Islamic militant attack in furtherance of Jihad (Islamic holy war). Although the killer may have been suffering from some mental problems, those who would dismiss this attack as merely the actions of a madman cannot deny the facts: the killer’s statements and writings indicate not only his opposition to the War on Terrorism as a “war against Islam,” but even his support for suicide attacks against the soldiers of non-Muslim states.

Because many jihadis are driven by despair, it would be wrong to focus overly on any despair the killer felt instead of on his ideological beliefs. Indeed, the Ft. Hood killer suggested that to conduct a suicidal attack would not be suicide, which is prohibited by Islam, if it were not motivated by “despair,” meaning that jihad could provide an excuse to commit suicide for one who already had feelings of despair. In short, it is the militant Islamic ideology of jihad that is the sine qua non for suicide attacks.

The Ft. Hood massacre, however, was not an act of terrorism because it was an attack primarily on the military, not innocent civilians, although there were civilians in the area of the attack (See my post, Follow-up on the Definition of Terrorism). That the Ft. Hood attack was not terrorism makes it no less representative of jihad, as it is part of a pattern with al-Qaeda and other terrorists of targeting U.S. military forces (e.g. the bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia in 1995, the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole in 2000 and the attack of the Pentagon as part of the September 11, 2001 Attacks), regardless of whether the attack was intended to terrorize innocent civilians.

The Ft. Hood massacre is also part of a pattern of domestic attacks by Muslims, usually operating individually, within the United States. Regardless of whether these attacks are acts of terrorism, they clearly represent acts of Islamic militancy in furtherance of jihad. These attacks began before September 11, but have continued since. They are usually dismissed by the media and other commentators, many liberal politicians and some Islamic leaders as isolated events not related to “terrorism.”

The same tolerance of terrorist and other militant Muslim attacks against Americans abroad before September 11 is being practiced domestically, as each attack is seen in isolation and not as part of a pattern, and dismissed as the acts of those who are insane, instead of recognizing the ideology of militant jihad (See my post, An Attack on Americans Anywhere is an Attack on Us). We ignore these threats at our own peril. We must not make the same mistake here in the United States as we did abroad.

The Federalization of Health Insurance is Dangerous to Liberty

The United States House of Representatives narrowly passed a bill to federalize health insurance and require all American residents to purchase health insurance or face a fine and larger employers to provide health insurance benefits. The massive new welfare entitlement would provide health insurance for most, but far from all, of those who currently do not have health insurance, including illegal immigrants, even though many of those who are uninsured neither need nor want it and most people who have private health insurance are satisfied with their coverage.

The bill would do so by creating an optional federal government-run health insurance program and by subsidizing private plans Americans will be forced to purchase, often at a higher premium than they are currently paying. In other words, the redistributionist bill would essentially take money from one group of Americans and give it to another. Redistribution of income denies the liberty of the pursuit of happiness because it denies the fruits of one’s labor. Because it would take money from those who earn it and gives it to those who do not, it would subsidize unemployment. Subsidizing something only encourages it, as those who are lazy will have even less incentive to work.

The federalization of health insurance would therefore represent a takeover by the federal government of a large sector of the economy, which would lead to higher taxes and deficits and more bureaucracy. The only way the federal government would be able to reduce costs is to ration care, as happens in other states with socialized healthcare, which means that healthcare for seniors, for example, would be reduced, and there would be waiting lists for many procedures. As a welfare program, it would make people even more dependent on government, and thereby less free. Indeed, the federalization of health insurance would reduce the liberty of all Americans because the federal government would be empowered to regulate more and more areas of the lives of Americans that might possibly affect the costs of health care. Thus, the “pro-choice” liberals who propose this bill, led by President Barak Obama and Congressional Democrats, would reduce choices about both health insurance and health care for all Americans.

Health insurance, however, is not a federal issue. There is nothing inherently federal about it. Government exists to protect the rights of the people. The federalization of health insurance would distract the federal government, which is primarily responsible for protecting Americans from foreign threats, from fulfilling its purpose. The federal government, which was already large and inefficient, has been taking over more and more sectors of the private economy. There is no effort whatsoever by the proponents of federalized health insurance to explain what is federal about health insurance in order to justify federalizing it. These liberals cannot even find in the constitution where they get the authority to require purchase of something as a condition of residence in the United States, which would be unprecedented. Indeed, they dismiss the question of constitutional authority as irrelevant or stretch its meaning to such a degree as to render it irrelevant. For example, they use the constitutional clause granting the power to the federal government to regulate interstate commerce to mandate how employers compensate their employees, even if they only engage in intrastate commerce.

The federalization of health insurance is the latest example of how the federal government recognizes no limit in its authority at all, at the expense of the rights of the states and the people. The liberals who support the federalization of health insurance do not believe in the principle of federalism established by the Framers of the Constitution which limits the powers of the federal government only to federal matters. They have effectively repealed that document by ignoring it. And there are few conservative voices who even cry out against this centralization of power that violates the constitutional principal of checks and balances by proclaiming such liberal schemes as inappropriate matters for the federal government with which to interfere, let alone control.

The Senate is considering a bill similar to the one that passed the House to federalize health insurance. If the Senate bill passes that body in a different form from the one passed by the House, a conference committee will work out the differences and submit the compromise bill for the final approval of both bodies to send to the President for his signature into law. Conservatives must act to stop this bill that is dangerous to liberty from ever becoming law.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Personal Note; Election Day Reminder

I am sorry that I have been unable to post to my blog lately, as I have been preoccupied once again with local political matters. I am taking this opportunity to remind all readers that General Election Day is one week from today (Tuesday, November 3) in Pennsylvania and other states.

In the Keystone State, there are some critically important statewide appellate judicial races, including one which will determine which party controls the State Supreme Court (which will be especially important because of congressional redistricting after the 2010 Census), as well as many local races for judges, municipalities and school districts which effect citizens most directly. It is noteworthy that New Jersey and Virginia have gubernatorial elections, while there is a mayoral contest in New York City.

I urge those conservatives who have been protesting the growth of the federal government this year to come out to vote on Tuesday, November 3 in these state elections for those candidates who most closely share their views, which would send a message to Washington to reign in the spending, borrowing and taxing and to restore liberty.

I am eager to return to posting regularly as soon as I can, but am pleased in the meantime to have had this timely opportunity to post today. I thank my readers for their loyalty to my blog.

Remember to vote on Tuesday, November 3!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Obama Admits U.S. Is the Wealthiest Economy

United States President Barak Obama admitted recently that the U.S. is “the wealthiest nation in the world.” He made the comments in order to justify the expenditure of his proposed federalization of health insurance, which amounts to a massive new welfare entitlement financed with tax increases and higher insurance premiums.

Of course, as I have noted in earlier posts, the U.S. is neither a nation nor a nation-state, but a union of states. Regardless, the point is that despite the recession, which Obama and his supporters have attempted to portray as the worst since the Great Depression, he has admitted that the U.S. remains the wealthiest economy in the world.

Wealth is measured by economists in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Even though U.S. GDP has contracted in 2009 for the first time in many years (it even increased in 2008, even though some economists date the beginning of the recession as late 2007), the U.S. GDP is still larger -- by trillions of dollars -- than that of any other economy in the world.

The financial crisis of 2008 did cause the recession to become one of the worst since the Great Depression. Although it is true that it was the worst financial crisis, during which banks became reluctant to extend credit, a depression was avoided by swift federal action. It is not yet clear that the Panic of 2008 has been the worst economic recession, a title still held by the 1981-1982 recession, during which unemployment peaked at well over 10%.

Indeed, those same economists who declared the recession began in 2007 have just announced that the recession is already over -- before most of Obama's policies have taken effect. The same natural business cycle that caused the recession, albeit with some contribution from liberal policies that triggered the collapse of the mortgage industry, has caused its recovery, albeit with some contribution from tax rebates, lower interest rates and the extension of federal credit to the financial industry. In short, this recession was scary, but not proof of the failure of the free market system that would justify Obama's massive spending, borrowing and taxing

Nevertheless, it is worth considering Obama's point that the U.S. economy is so strong that even such a blow as the Panic of 2008, like September 11, could only temporarily weaken it and not even come close to allowing the next largest economies, as measured by GDP, to pass it in size.

If Obama realizes that the U.S. still has the wealthiest economy in the world -- by far -- and the recession is over, according to the economists he trusts, then he should save the 90% of his spending spree that he had insisted was a necessary component of his so-called “stimulus” bill but has not yet been spent. Those hundreds of billions of dollars are thus not necessary to stimulate an economy already in recovery and instead should be saved and used to pay down the debt or reduce taxes, which would promote long-term growth instead of risking another recession which would be caused by the higher taxes and inflation the economic stimulus would necessitate.

Although Obama and his liberal supporters are already making the dubious claim of credit for the economic recovery, we conservatives should encourage the opportunity be taken to rescind the most unnecessary parts of the stimulus spending, which would be good for the U.S. economy, for which both parties could share the credit, as when the Republican Congress rescued the Democratic President Bill Clinton from his economic mistakes. Otherwise, after claiming credit for the current recovery, Obama would not be able to escape the blame for the “double-dip” recession his inflationary policies would trigger.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Celebrate Columbus Day

Two major media articles recently focused on the Columbus Day Holiday. Neither was positive, with one praising the negative treatment of Christopher Columbus in schools as being more balanced, and the other focusing on how the holiday is increasingly less observed in terms of days off or celebrations and is under attack from those who do not appreciate the achievement of the Discoverer of the New World.

The first article celebrated how the negative aspects of the Discovery of the New World, or even about Columbus himself, are included in the curriculum in many schools across the United States, which the article indicated represents a change from the more heroic treatment of Columbus before. I find this premise shocking, as Columbus was totally ignored in the curriculum of the 1970s and early 1980s to which I was exposed. Furthermore, it is nothing new for the left to criticize Columbus, as it has long been a trend among liberals to attempt to ruin the reputations of American heroes and Founders. The far left especially does not appreciate the introduction of Christianity and Western ideals of liberty and equality to the New World by Columbus. Leftists cannot acknowledge that it was these very ideals that ended slavery, not the pseudo-egalitarian Marxism to which they subscribe.

The Discovery of the New World by Columbus led to its liberation not only from slavery and politically, but spiritually because God is Freedom. The beginnings of liberation could already be seen in Columbus’ own time. Indeed, Columbus could be called the Liberator of the Caribbean Sea. That sea was named for the Carib Indians, who practiced a most vicious form of cannibalism, in which they would capture Taino Indians, kill them and eat them, except for the young women, whom they raped so as to produce young males, whom they would fatten until adolescence, upon which they, too, would be killed and eaten. The Tainos lived in absolute terror of the Caribs, until Columbus liberated them. The multiculturalist left who insists that all cultures are equal, except that it condemns Western Civilization as the root of all evil, cannot bring itself either to criticize any non-Westerners for such practices or to give the least bit of credit to Westerners for ending them.

It is not unreasonable to raise the point that the initial contact between any two peoples leads to an exchange of diseases, as there is a lack of immunity on the part of one people for the diseases carried by the other. Therefore, it is something that would have happened if the American Indians had discovered the Old World. However, this necessary consequence of discoveries ought not to be the primary emphasis on the Discovery of the New World, which would be like regarding the Discovery and all the riches and new foods it brought as a bad thing for the Old World strictly because the Indians gave the Europeans syphilis. In other words, it is one thing to point out negative consequences of the Discovery, but another thing to regard the entire Discovery as a bad thing because of them, despite all the good things which outweigh them.

Finally, the article on the curriculum made much of the ignorant old argument that Columbus could not have discovered the New World because there were already people there, as if Columbus’ discovery detracts from theirs, as if one’s discovery is mutually exclusive of another’s, or even as if to credit Columbus for his discovery is to ignore the humanity of the American Indians. It ought to be reasonable to expect that in a school, the origin of the word discovery would be explained in the first place. Alas, it is often not. Discovery comes from the Latin prefix dis, which means “to do the opposite of” and the word cover, which put together mean “to uncover.” The Atlantic Ocean was the cover that hid the Old World and New from each other. Through his exceptional skills as a navigator, Columbus removed that cover by permanently bridging the two worlds, which produced a double discovery as each world discovered the other – the greatest discovery in the history of the world.

As for the second article, I intend this post to represent a proper commemoration of Columbus Day, contrary to the trend of minimizing or ignoring the day. Conservatives ought to celebrate Columbus Day as equally as other federal or state holidays and support accurate education about the Discovery of the New World as part of a broad defense of Western Civilization.

Happy Columbus Day!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Obama Wins Nobel Liberal Popularity Contest

United States President Barak Hussein Obama won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, a once prestigious prize that has been reduced to a popularity contest for European liberals. Along with some more worthy awardees, Obama joins a gallery of fools, phonies, violent communists and even a terrorist who have won the prize in recent decades.

The selection by the Nobel Peace Prize Committee of the new U.S. president also reflects a trend toward awarding recipients in the hope that they will achieve peace, instead of awarding those who have already achieved it.

The Nobel Committee’s announcement that it was awarding the Peace Prize to Obama was unusual because it contained numerous criticisms of another individual, namely former President George W. Bush, and by extension, the United States, none of which were necessary if Obama’s accomplishments were worthy of the award on their own merit. Instead, it appears as if the Committee awarded the Prize to Obama for representing a break with Bush’s policies, with which it sometimes did not agree.

In selecting Obama, the Nobel Committee pointed to Obama’s emphasis on diplomacy and his acceptance of the primacy of the United Nations. It welcomed Obama’s policies as changes from those of Bush, as if he did not support diplomacy or the U.N. Apparently, the fact that Bush did what the U.N was unwilling to do in order to enforce its own resolutions was interpreted by the Nobel Committee as a rejection of the primacy of the U.N.

Bush did, in fact, engage in diplomacy – through the U.N – in regard to Iraq. He had obtained a unanimous vote from the UN Security Council threatening Iraq with war for failing to fulfill its obligations under previous U.N resolutions to eliminate its weapons of mass destruction programs. I doubt that opponents of the Liberation of Iraq who complain about a lack of sufficient “diplomacy,” like the Nobel Committee, mean diplomacy between the U.S. and Saddam Hussein. They more likely mean diplomacy with the French and others at the time who lacked the willingness to back up their words and enforce U.N resolutions. In other words, these supporters of “diplomacy” mean that the U.S. should have agreed with those opponents who favored continuing weapons inspections upon which Iraq was cheating, while continuing economic sanctions, upon which Iraq was also cheating. Neither act, however, would have represented diplomacy, let alone resolved the crisis. For many liberals, especially European ones, the process is more important than the result. Moreover, Bush attained numerous diplomatic agreements with other states in regard to cooperation in the War on Terrorism. But when it better served U.S. interests, he bypassed the U.N and instead diplomatically gained unanimous support from NATO, such as in Afghanistan.

The Nobel Committee remarked that a leader only has authority when his leadership is based on the views of a majority, which is a typical liberal European view. A policy is neither right nor wrong based upon popularity, but upon whether it is moral and effective. Furthermore, majority vote of U.N. members would mean two things that hardly confer legitimacy: 1) weighing the vote of each member, no matter how small, as equal to that of the greatest powers and 2) weighing the votes of dictatorships that violate human rights as equal with those of representative democracies that respect human rights.

The Committee cited Obama’s encouragement of another round of negotiations between the Israelis and the Arabs even though no agreement is expected from the latest round. Apparently, the Committee, which never awarded the Peace Prize to President George W. Bush, gave Bush less credit for successfully mediating an end to the long, bloody civil war in Southern Sudan and successfully mediating a quick end to the Macedonian civil war before it escalated into a major regional conflict than to Obama for only initiating the latest round of peace talks on the Palestinian Question – something that every recent U.S. president has done.

Obama had expressed the goal of eliminating nuclear weapons, which the Nobel Committee cited as a factor worthy of the Peace Prize. Every recent U.S. president has expressed similar thoughts. Apparently, President George W. Bush received less credit from the Nobel Committee for successfully negotiating nuclear weapons cuts with Russia than it gave Obama for only announcing his goal.

Finally, the Nobel Committee again contrasted Obama’s support for climate change policies with Bush’s policies. Liberals believe that climate change will lead to conflict. Apparently, Bush’s extraordinarily successful humanitarian efforts in Africa did not merit consideration.

The Nobel Peace Prize has been given to a number of undeserving awardees over the last quarter century:
Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu won the Peace Prize for his opposition to apartheid in South Africa, even though he refused to condemn the violent practices towards other blacks of the communist African National Congress; Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet dictator who tried to rescue communism, was awarded the Peace Prize for not invading Europe after the overthrow of communism there, as if he would have been reasonable to have done so; Terrorist Yassir Arafat shared the Prize with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin after having made an agreement with Israel that he failed to keep and reverting to terrorism; Rigoberta Menchu, the Marxist opponent of the pro-American Guatemalan government, won the Prize based upon her autobiography, which was later exposed as containing false accusations of atrocities against that government, and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter won the Nobel Peace Prize for his support for human rights that has largely been unsuccessful, and for the deal he made on behalf of President Bill Clinton with North Korea’s Communist regime to eliminate its nuclear weapons program in return for generous aid, a deal it began to violate not long after Carter’s appeasement.

Conversely, George W. Bush is in good company with some of the people the Nobel Committee never deemed worthy of a Peace Prize, such as Ronald Reagan, who, as the former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said, “won the Cold War without firing a shot,” or Pope John Paul II the Great, for his successful nonviolent opposition to communism. The Nobel Committee would never have considered Bush for the Peace Prize for combating the scourge of terrorism.

Thankfully, the Nobel Committee made no mention of Obama’s role as a wartime president in Iraq or Afghanistan. To his credit, Obama defended his support for the Afghan War in his speech announcing his acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize, citing the danger to world peace represented by the enemy the U.S. is fighting there. It is a concern that the award will alter Obama’s decision-making as Commander in Chief in order to live up to the reputation – a result that some have speculated was the Committee’s purpose. We conservatives must continue to encourage Obama not to reject his generals’ proposal to increase the number of troops in Afghanistan in order to win the counterinsurgency campaign against the Taliban so that they do not take that country over again and turn it back into a safe haven for al-Qaeda and other terrorists, or not to avoid the last-resort option of military force against Iran if it is necessary to prevent that terrorist-sponsoring regime from acquiring nuclear weapons.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Readers' Opinion Survey: The Greatest Foreign Threat to U.S. Security

I am interested in what the readers of this blog consider to be the greatest foreign threat to the security of the United States. Therefore, I am inviting you to participate in an opinion survey.

There are many choices. Please choose from among the following, listed in alphabetical order:

China, H1N1 Influenza, Iran/Syria/Hezbollah/Hamas, North Korea, al-Qaeda and its allies, Russia, or Venezuala and its allies

I did not include illegal drugs because -- alas -- it is an import arising from domestic demand, which makes it an internal threat. I also did not include the entry of people into the U.S., legally or illegally, as it is more of a potential means for the other security threats to enter than a security threat itself. However, please feel free to make another choice in addition to the ones I have suggested.

Please post a comment to this post indicating your choice and a brief explanation. You may choose more than one if you are categorizing your choices (e.g. greatest short-term threat vs. long-term threat, most likely to attack, most potentially dangerous, etc.).

I shall reserve from commenting on the choices until after I have received your responses. The more responses, the better the survey will be. Look for a post summarizing the results and providing my thoughts within a few weeks. Until then, readers may follow the progress of the survey by viewing the comments.

Thank you for your participation. I hope you enjoy the opportunity to express your thoughts.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Six-Month Blog Report

Thank you for visiting my blog. There have now been well over 800 visits to my blog since April 2. Hits have come from all but three States in the Union, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, as well as 44 foreign states. California and Malaysia continue to be the American and foreign state leaders, respectively. Searchers have landed on 56 pages and viewed a total of ten more, in addition to those searchers who also visited my homepage. Interesting hits in the last month from searchers included the first visit from an Ivy League School, the University of Pennsylvania, as well as one from the National Defense University. I am especially appreciative of those of you who regularly view my homepage.

Please continue to visit every few days and to post comments or to ask questions or make suggestions for topics. Again, thank you for making blogging enjoyable.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Two Unintended Positive Consequences of Obama's Policies

There have been at least two positive consequences of the policies of United States President Barak Obama that he did not intend.

The first one has been a sharp increase in the purchase of guns, which represents the bonus of being one of the few policies Obama has implemented that have actually stimulated the economy. Many Americans apparently have been concerned that the Obama Administration might try to violate the right to keep and bear arms that is protected by the Second Amendment to the Constitution. Therefore, they are stocking up on guns and ammunition.

The second one has been that a plurality of Americans now consider themselves to be pro-life, as opposed to having been pro-abortion before Obama took office. Obama's policy of providing taxpayer money to groups that promote abortion abroad, as well as to the destruction of human embryos, has caused some Americans to reconsider their views on abortion. Obama's proposed federalization of health care would include coverage for abortion, which may be adding to the discontent that some Americans are experiencing on this issue.

The World is Rejecting Obama

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) rejected the passionate in-person pleas of United States President Barak Obama and his wife on behalf of Chicago's bid to host the 2016 Olympics and instead awarded the bid to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Chicago, Obama's hometown, received the least number of votes among the four cities bidding to host the quadrennial games.

Obama's premise as a presidential candidate was that American allies were not cooperating with the U.S. because of a lack of respect for U.S. President George W. Bush. Obama's liberal supporters supported a change in American foreign policy, which they believed would be better served by a more humble and enlightened leader. They opposed the candidacy of Republican presidential nominee John McCain, whose policies they regarded as too similar to Bush's.

Two examples that Obama and his supporters cited were Guantanamo Bay and Afghanistan. In the case of the former, American allies were reluctant to accept Bush's requests to take in terrorist detainees in order to help the U.S. close the facility that its allies opposed. In the latter case, American allies were reluctant to send a significant number of combat troops to Afghanistan to support the American war effort there. However, there are a number of reasons why American allies decline to assist the U.S., none of which were necessarily based upon a lack of respect for Bush in particular.

American allies have declined to accept terrorist detainees for the same reasons that Americans do not want the terrorists on their soil, either. One reason American allies declined to send anything more than a few combat troops to Afghanistan is because they are unable to do so, as they have become increasingly dependent on American protection and have neglected to contribute financially to their own defense.

A reason some allies oppose American policies at times is just for the sake of opposing American policies in order to appear independent from the U.S. to their domestic populations, or out of nationalism, as in the case of the previous French government (which has since been replaced by a more pro-American one), which had declared its policy to be based upon opposition to a unipolar (read: American-led) world.

Another reason American allies sometimes oppose U.S. policies is because they sometimes disagree with the U.S. Their populations especially hold different views from Americans, if not the governments themselves. For example, many Europeans and other Westerners do not regard the Afghan War as their war, but as an American war. Indeed, they do not regard it as any more of a war of necessity than the Liberation of Iraq. They regard both as wars of choice, as they do not even consider the War on Terrorism to be a literal war. Furthermore, they are more concerned about provoking terrorist attacks by siding with the U.S., such as the Madrid bombing by al-Qaeda that resulted in the election of a liberal government that rewarded terrorism by pulling Spanish troops from Iraq as al-Qaeda had demanded.

Bush was nonetheless able to receive much cooperation from allies and others around the world for the War on Terrorism, but American allies oppose American policies at times for their own reasons, not necessarily because of a lack of personal respect for the American president.

Obama and his supporters expected that his personal qualities and anti-American rhetoric would lead to greater cooperation from American allies than Bush received in regard to Guantanamo Bay and Afghanistan, but he has not received significantly more support in either case: allies have agreed to accept only a token number of terrorist detainees from Guantanamo and have promised to send only a few more combat troops to Afghanistan.

The rejection of these American requests made by Obama, together with the IOC's rejection of Chicago's bid, disproves the premise held by Obama and his supporters that the lack of allied support for the U.S. was because of Bush. Opposition from American allies and others to U.S. policies and interests is not because of a lack of respect for Obama, per se, any more than it was of Bush, but because Obama's premise held that allied opposition to the U.S. was strictly personal, then he must accept the personal responsibility for allied rejection of himself. Indeed, Obama's premise only served to raise the stakes for his requests to allies for assistance. Obama and his liberal supporters appear to be suffering from the psychological condition of projection, whereby they are projecting domestic attitudes onto foreigners.

Moreover, Obama's anti-American rhetoric appears to be validating anti-Americanism instead of abating it through his emphasis on a change in American foreign policy, a concern I first expressed here in my post, Obama's Anti-American Address to Muslims Fails to Achieve Its Purpose, in regard to Muslims. His rhetoric is apparently having a similar effect on anti-American Westerners.

The world's rejection of Obama's policies is exposing him and his liberal supporters as foolish and their policies as counterproductive, to the detriment of American interests.

Friday, September 25, 2009

A Comparison of Switzerland and Iraq

I mentioned Libyan dictator Muammar Khadafi’s speech before the UN General Assembly yesterday in my last post, but another one of his recent speeches was also interesting. Khadafi suggested that the artificial state of Switzerland should be abolished and its territory split between Germany, France and Italy.

The Swiss Confederation is comprised of numerous Cantons that are mostly German, but also French and Italian, and one small Canton that is Romansh. Some of the Cantons are Catholic, some are Protestant. In short, Switzerland represents a compromise on the Alpine frontier between three of Europe’s most powerful states, as well as between Western Europe’s two religions.

The discussion about Switzerland provides the opportunity to compare Iraq. Iraq, it is often stated, is comprised of three rival peoples, Sunnis, Shi’ites and Kurds, who could not reasonably be expected to form a nation-state together. Indeed, as a Senator, Joseph Biden, the Vice President of the United States, once proposed the partition of Iraq into three states comprised of the three groups.

But the theory that Iraq’s peoples cannot unite themselves into a state overlooks the example of Switzerland. Indeed, I submit that Switzerland is an even more improbable state than Iraq.

First of all, the view that Iraq is comprised mostly of three peoples, like Switzerland, is false. Iraq is comprised mostly of only two ethnic peoples: Arabs and Kurds. The reference to Iraq as comprised of “Sunnis, Shi’ites and Kurds” is misleading because it combines two religious groups with an ethnic group (See my post, Media Errors on Afghanistan and Iraq). However, Kurds are Sunni Muslims, too. The Sh’ites, like the rest of the Sunnis, are Arabs. Of course, as in Switzerland, there are other ethnic and religious minorities in Iraq, but Sunni Arabs, Shi’ite Arabs and Kurds are the three main groups.

Iraqis have a sense of national identity as The Cradle of Civilization and the land of Harun al-Rashid, whose age of wealth and culture gave rise to the legend of Sinbad. Kurds have been part of Iraq’s history for a long time. Saddam Hussein even fancied himself another Saladin, the Kurdish Sultan who led the Muslim forces that defeated the Crusaders. The Kurdish rebellion against him, like the Shi’ite rebellion, was more a reaction to his brutality than a reflection of division between Iraq’s peoples. In a sense, the Kurds and Shi’ites were already united – in opposition to Hussein’s regime. At the same time, Kurds and Sunni Arabs are united in opposition to Iranian influence.

Moreover, Islam unites the Kurds to Arabs more than Christianity unites the German, French and Italians in Switzerland. Christianity does not even unite the same ethnic group in Switzerland; Swiss Germans are especially divided between Catholicism and Protestantism. The split between Sunnis and Shi’ites is more one of schism than of heresy, unlike that between Catholics and Protestants. Sunnis and Shi’ites even worship at the same mosque, whereas Catholics and Protestants have separate churches. In fact, Sunnis and Shi’ites often live in proximity and sometimes even intermarry.

The argument advanced by liberals and isolationists opposed to the Liberation of Iraq, or realists skeptical of the success of any post-Hussein Iraqi state, that the Iraqi peoples hated each other represented a misunderstanding. The failure of the al-Qaeda strategy of trying to pit the groups against each other proved the falsehood of the argument. Al-Qaeda’s ruthless massacres only further united the Iraqi people in opposition to this foreign threat.

Iraqis face many challenges in establishing their state, but if an artificial state like Switzerland that is even more ethnically and religiously diverse than Iraq can peacefully exist, then so, too, can Iraq.