Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Operation Iraqi Freedom Ends in Victory

The last official combat units of American troops had already left Iraq earlier this month, but the formal end of Operation Iraqi Freedom (the Liberation of Iraq) is taking place now. Fifty-thousand United States soldiers will remain in Iraq to continue training the Iraqi security forces and for contingencies as Iraq becomes ever more capable of defending itself from the militant Islamist insurgency and Iranian machinations.

The fact that the current debate is whether or not President Barak Obama will give credit for the success in Iraq to his predecessor, George W. Bush, demonstrates the progress U.S. troops have made in Iraq. Obama had opposed the troop surge, which was the centerpiece of the Bush Administration’s counterinsurgency strategy, and predicted its failure. But Obama continued Bush’s policy in Iraq and copied it in Afghanistan, even putting General David Petraeus, the hero of the Iraqi troop surge, in charge of the Afghan War. Obama telephoned Bush and his administration is claiming credit for the victory in Iraq, but regardless of whether Obama gives credit to his predecessor, his actions vindicate Bush. Obama had opposed the Liberation of Iraq in the first place. He still refuses to use the word “victory” and has set artificial deadlines in both Iraq and Afghanistan for the withdrawal of U.S. forces. Nevertheless, his continuance thus far, for the most part, of Bush’s policies have led to the dramatic success that is underscored by the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Before the war began in 2003, public opinion polls indicated that Americans would support the Liberation of Iraq, as long as there were no more than an equal number of American troops killed as Americans who were killed in the September 11 Attacks (nearly 3,000). After seven years, despite the additional task of defeating al-Qaeda and other foreign jihadis who joined the Iraqi insurgency, American combat deaths in Operation Iraqi Freedom totaled over 3,400, with all U.S. deaths totaling over 4,000, yet public opinion had turned against the war long, long beforehand. Many people by then had forgotten the Iraqi sponsorship of terrorism and Iraq’s daily attacks on U.S.-led Coalition aircraft, its refusal to prove it had eliminated its weapons of mass destruction, as required by UN resolutions and the fear the serial agressor caused its neighbors. To some degree, the U.S. was a victim of its own success, as it had swiftly removed the Baathist regime led by Saddam Hussein with an unexpectedly low number of casualties, which raised the expectations of Americans for a quick, relatively painless victory, as the Afghan War had appeared to be at the time. But the U.S. troops then had to slog through the long Iraqi insurgency sparked by the Baathists that was joined by the other militant Muslims. At times, politicians like Obama declared the war unwinnable or not even worth trying, as if they would have preferred to have let Hussein remain in power; some, like Vice President Joe Biden, insisted that a united Iraq could never govern itself in freedom. The American soldiers who participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom and the Iraqi people themselves proved them wrong.

The achievements of the U.S. soldiers who participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom must be acknowledged: they removed a regime from power that had harbored and financed terrorists who targeted and killed Americans, defeated al-Qaeda and other jihadi terrorists in Iraq, ended the oppression of a brutal tyrant and allowed the Iraqi people to freely choose their own representative government – one that is now an ally in the War on Terrorism, brought Iraqi war criminals to justice, enforced United Nations resolutions, captured and destroyed the hundreds of known Iraqi weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and removed a security threat to the region with a history of aggression which allowed the U.S. to withdraw its soldiers from Saudi Arabia, where al-Qaeda and other jihadis had been attacking them. As a bonus, Libya renounced terrorism and destroyed its WMD and ended its production program.

Congratulations to the soldiers of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Let us remember those who sacrificed their lives for this just cause and thank all the soldiers who served in it.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The New Obama Tax on Depositors

When United States President Barak Obama signed the new banking regulation bill passed by the liberal Democratic Congress into law recently, he essentially was imposing a tax on those who deposit their money in banks.

The federal regulations on banks limited the fees banks could impose in certain situations, which reduced the profitability of their businesses during this recession. The banks have responded by raising fees or creating new fees on all depositors, especially for those with checking accounts. With interest rates at near record lows, the new fees are causing many depositors to lose money on their checking accounts. In other words, not only are checking accounts no longer free, thanks to Obama and the Democratic Congress, but depositors must actually pay the bank for the privilege of maintaining a checking account.

A regulation is a cost of government, like a tax. When government decides exactly what fees businesses may charge, such a regulation creates costs of doing business that are passed along to customers. Thus, the price of the federal policy to protect a few favored constituents is the higher fees that all will have to pay -- the Obama tax on depositors, just as the Republicans in Congress who opposed the new federal banking regulations had predicted.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Federal Judge Confirms that Law Takes Precedence over Executive Orders

A United States federal district judge has ruled that federal law takes precedence under the U.S. Constitution over federal regulation that is based upon a presidential executive order.

The judge granted a temporary injunction against federal funding for embryonic stem cell research that was permitted by a National Institute for Health regulation that implemented an executive order issued by President Barak Obama. Obama had issued the order shortly after he took office in order to lift a federal ban on embryonic stem cell research imposed by President George W. Bush. However, the judge ruled that a law approved annually since the late 1990s prohibits any federal funding that necessitated the destruction of human embryos. Bush had permitted federal funding for research only on pre-existing lines of embryonic stem cells, but the research Obama permitted would necessitate the destruction of the embryos, this violating the law, the judge ruled.

This ruling confirms the prediction I made in my post from March of this year, Federal Courts Would Rule that the Law Takes Precedence over an Executive Order, in which I note how Obama's executive order prohibiting federal funding for health insurance coverage for abortion would have no legal effect because the law he signed to federalize health insurance would require federal funding of health insurance coverage for abortion. See also my post, July Follow-Ups and Updates, in which I explained that Article I of the Constitution grants legislative power to Congress, not the Executive.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Mosque at the September 11 Site Would Represent a Militant Islamic Victory

The proposed mosque on the site of the September 11 Terrorist Attack on the World Trade Center in New York is intended as Islamic triumphalism. Indeed, minarets, which are the towers on mosques from which muezzins call Muslims to prayer, are symbols of Islamic military conquest.

The message a mosque at such a site in particular, unlike any other site, would convey is that the reward for a terrorist attack by Muslims on a Western target that destroys major buildings is that a mosque can then be built in its place, which would incentivize additional attacks by militant jihadis intend on spreading Islam through holy war. The presence of a mosque at the sight of a militant Muslim terrorist strike would suggest that the jihadist enemy is winning the War on Terrorism, which would thereby aid its morale and win new recruits to its cause of holy war against non-Muslims.

Moreover, as I have noted previously, Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam, was highly successful in military conquest, which attracted others to convert to this new religion, as his success seemed to confirm that he was being favored by Allah, while others were converted by force. Muhammad’s successors were also successful in conquering vast lands and winning many new converts for Islam. There have been several waves of Islamic militancy ever since, including the present. Therefore, it is necessary to defeat militant Muslims on the battlefield in order to prove that their leaders are not divinely favored. The placement of the proposed mosque on such a battlefield would confirm Islamic victory and suggest divine approval of their cause and even their strategy of terrorism. Furthermore, it is also necessary to defeat them militarily because they will not stop until they have conquered all lands for Islam and forced everyone to submit.

Some have argued that the freedom of religion requires the proponents of the mosque to be allowed to practice their religion freely, even to the extent of placing a mosque wherever they wish. The militant Muslim enemy would interpret its ability to use Western permissive interpretations of liberty against the Christian West as a sign of Western weakness and, by contrast, Islamic strength, which would further suggest that Allah favors Islam over Christianity. No one has a right to spread his faith through violence, even if only indirectly, which is what the proponents of the mosque at the bloodiest site of the September 11 terrorist attack would be doing.

Same-Sex “Marriage” Is Not a “Privilege or Immunity” under the Constitution

           A federal United States judge recently ruled in striking down California’s ban on gay marriage that there is a previously-unknown federal right under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution to have one’s marriage to whomever one wants be recognized by the state.

           In light of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas' brilliant concurring opinion in McDonald v. Chicago, the right to keep and bear arms case, it is necessary to explore whether or not gay marriage is a right under the Privileges and Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. “Privileges and immunities” is another way of saying “freedoms and rights.” See my July post, A Conservative Federalist Commentary on the Right to Keep and Bear Arms Ruling, in which I explain why this clause in the Amendment is controlling, not the Due Process Clause. The Privileges and Immunities Clause requires states to guarantee those pre-existing natural law rights endowed by our Creator that the states recognized under their own constitutions at the time of their ratification.

           The institution of marriage has always been recognized by the States as between one man and one woman. Therefore, there is no right that requires a state to recognize any other relationship as a marriage, as it is neither a privilege nor immunity under a state constitution. Thus, the federal constitution does not require states to recognize a right to same-sex “marriage” or any other “marriage” between any individuals other than one man and one woman.

The Liberal Media Does Not Know the Facts of Obama’s Faith

The liberal media is reporting the results of a public opinion survey that reveals a significant number of Americans believe that Barak Obama is a Muslim. The media declares this opinion, which it finds disturbing, to be “incorrect,” even though it often does not correct the false opinions or factual errors stated by others, and even perpetuates many itself.

The media’s responsibility is to inform the public with facts. Instead, it has been focused on taking the opportunity to discredit Obama’s political opponents by refuting the more easily disprovable false allegations some of them have made, while the media has also revealed its liberal bias by attempting to debunk the theory that the President of the United States it supports is a Muslim by sometimes citing unconvincing evidence as fact.

The media has presented with certainty as fact that which is unknowable. Although the media should refute some of the factual errors that have been claimed about Obama’s faith and report his statements or practices that suggest he is a Christian, it is only for God to judge whether or not he truly is a Christian or a Muslim, as only He knows a person’s sincere beliefs. It is not for the media or for any man to judge the faith of another. In short, another person’s religion is not a provable fact. One can, at best, only form an opinion about another’s religion based upon the perception of that individual’s statements and actions.

The media’s citation of evidence of Obama’s Christianity sometimes demonstrates its ignorance of Islam. For example, the media and Obama’s supporters cite Obama’s reading of the Bible and his swearing into office upon it to prove his Christianity. Although his inauguration on the Bible disproves the false allegation that he was sworn in on a Koran, the Islamic scripture, one’s belief in the Bible does not necessarily prove one’s Christianity, as Muslims also believe in the Bible. Therefore, this piece of evidence fails to prove Obama’s Christianity.

As I noted in my June post, The Clintonian Cynicism and Deceptions of Obama and His Supporters, Obama made a statement during the presidential campaign when he was asked about his religion that did not adequately answer the question, declaring that he “prays to Jesus,” which implied that he might be a Christian, but which did not necessarily disprove that he was a Muslim. Prayer is not the equivalent of worship, and Muslims believe in Jesus – as a Prophet. One can sometimes read into the deceptively-worded statements of politicians like Obama what one wants. His answer allowed Christians to think he is a Christian, while allowing Muslims to cling to the hope that he might secretly be a Muslim concealing his faith in Islam in order to advance Islam or the interests of Muslims more effectively. Indeed, Muslims justify even lying if it is intended to advance Islam, which makes even most definitive statements of faith suspect. Obama’s stated purpose as a matter of foreign policy is to make Muslims believe that he understands them, which might explain his reluctance to confess definitely his Christian faith, so as not to alienate them. Another plausible explanation for Obama’s ambiguity about his faith could be his understandable fear of being accused of apostasy – a crime in Islam punishable by death – for renouncing the faith of his father, which, under Muslim law, makes him a Muslim, too.

Contrary to the assertion sometimes made in the media and by Obama’s supporters, Obama has apparently not necessarily declared himself definitively to be a Christian (i.e. that he recognizes Jesus Christ as the Divine Son of God), although he was “baptized” and has made a number of statements that suggest that he might recognize Christ as more than a Prophet. For example, he has stated that he recognizes Christ as his Redeemer. However, there are non-Christians who recognize Christ as the Redeemer who do not recognize Him as Divine. It is possible that Obama is uncomfortable expressing his Christian faith publicly, but his lack of clarity creates the public perception that he is either unsure of his faith or is concealing his true beliefs.

Regardless, Obama’s declarations of himself as a Christian do not necessarily make his Christianity a fact, nor do anyone’s self-declarations. I am not accusing him of being a hypocrite or a Muslim. I am discussing this matter not in an effort to judge Obama’s faith, but to demonstrate that the media knows nothing about it for certain. Based upon some of his statements and practices, I presume Obama is a Christian, or at least a follower of Christ and not of Islam, but neither I nor anyone else – not even the self-described “authoritative” media – can know with certainty what his religious beliefs are for a fact. The media has no authority to judge Obama’s faith or to label anyone else’s opinions about it “correct” or “incorrect.”

Given Obama’s mysterious background, including his own admission of his understanding of Islam based upon his childhood in Muslim Indonesia, his affiliation with a black radical church he has since disavowed, and his ambiguity about his true faith, it is understandable that a growing plurality of Americans are unsure of Obama’s faith and that a growing majority of the rest have developed a perception of him as a Muslim. If the media truly wants to settle the question of Obama’s faith in terms of public perception, then I call upon it to ask Obama to declare definitively whether or not he believes Muhammad is a true Prophet – the one belief about which no Muslim could lie – and whether or not he believes Jesus Christ is Divine.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

2,000 Visits to My Blog

My blog has now been visited 2,000 times since I began tracking hits on April 2, 2009. Thank you for visiting!

As always, I do not count my own visits and only count page views that are at least one hour apart as separate visits. If I counted all such page views as hits besides my own plus visits to unidentified pages, there would be about 2,800.

The highlights since my last report include the 400th and 200th visits to my blog’s two most popular posts, respectively: The Rise and Fall of Islamic Civilization and The Economy, Deficit and Debt at George W. Bush’s Inauguration. Five other posts have now been visited 50-100 times: Obama Did Not Inherit the Deficit from Bush, Radicals in the Obama Administration, Lepanto, by G.K. Chesterton, Follow-up on the Rise and Fall of Islamic Civilization, and A Comparison of the Federal Response to Hurricane Katrina and the Haitian Earthquake. The next most popular posts also continue to receive visits. These figures include only visitors who landed on these pages, not those who might have viewed these pages from my blog homepage. In addition to those who viewed my blog homepage, visitors have landed on 119 posts and visited 14 more.

Visitors have come from 70 foreign states and Hong Kong, with the most from Malaysia, followed by Canada. There were even visits from Andorra, Cyprus and Micronesia since my last report. There were visitors from at least 49 American states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, with the most outside of Pennsylvania coming from California.

I am thankful that there are now 10 followers to my blog. I am especially grateful to my most loyal readers. Please continue to visit, comment or suggest topics or ask questions.

As always, in between posts, I make notes for future posts. I have dozens planned, in addition to being ready to respond to developing issues. Visit at least weekly in order not to miss any posts, as my homepage only displays the seven most recent posts (you may view older posts by clicking on the link to them on the bottom of the homepage of my blog or by using the links to the archive on the left-hand column).

I shall take this opportunity to add that after I observed in a post earlier this month that Europe is providing a model for the Obama Administration to cut spending, there was some commentary calling upon the Administration to follow that model instead of proposing more spending.

Also, I have noted how Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez has been spreading his Marxist revolution throughout Latin America. United States Representative Connie Mack (R-FL) has introduced a bill in Congress to declare Venezuela a state sponsor of terrorism for its aid to FARC, the Colombian narco-terrorist Marxist rebels. Venezuela provides aid and gives safe harbor to the terrorist organization, which meets the definition of a state sponsor of terrorism. The designation as a terrorist sponsor triggers several harsh measures against that state.

Again, I thank all of you for your patronage.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

More Media Errors

I am continuing my series on media errors. The media, which presents itself as authoritative, makes numerous factual, grammatical and pronunciation errors, as well as misleading statements. The following is my compilation of additional ones I have noticed since my last post on this topic:

Referring to Sufism as a “sect”

Sufism is not a sect, but Islamic mysticism.

“54,000” Americans killed in the Korean War

There were 37,000 Americans killed in the Korean War. The higher figure is a well-known error that people, including in the media, continue to repeat.

Referring to the oil well in the Gulf of Mexico as “busted”

“Busted” is a basic grammatical error. The correct word is “broken,” although in this case, because the well was blown out, it would be acceptable to say that the well had “burst.”

See also my posts, Media Errors on Iraq and Afghanistan, from March of 2009, Misleading Media Phrases, from May of 2009 and Afghanistan Is Not the Longest Ever U.S. War, from June of 2010.

A Lesson from Italy for Obama and the Congressional Liberal Democrats

Like many European states facing large budget deficits, Italy is focusing on reducing its deficit. The Italian parliament recently approved the government’s austerity measures, which included spending reductions and a crackdown on delinquent taxpayers. Unlike the austerity plans of many other European states, however, Italy’s plan does not include a tax increase.

United States President Barak Obama and the liberal Congressional Democrats plan to allow some of the tax cuts signed into law by President George W. Bush to expire, which would represent a massive tax increase. Income taxes would rise not only for the wealthy, but also for many small businesses for which the owners file personal tax returns. Additionally, many middle class taxpayers will be among those whose taxes will increase because of a significant increase in the capital gains tax.

The Obama Administration, which, unlike the European governments it usually likes to copy, has been conducting an unprecedented spending spree, claims that raising taxes is a responsible way to reduce the deficit. However, as the conservative Italian government recognizes, tax increases are counterproductive to reducing deficits because they reduce economic growth by removing more money from the private sector, which, in turn, reduces government revenue. Tax increases are especially harmful to the economy during recessions. Conversely, tax cuts increase economic growth.

A better way than raising taxes to reduce deficits is to reduce spending. The European states are cutting spending by reducing the generous pensions of government workers, for example, or even their salaries. Obama and the Congressional liberal Democrats ought to adopt the best European budget-cutting practices and the Italian model of avoiding tax increases in particular.