Thursday, June 30, 2011

Follow-Up on the Number of U.S. Wars

     In a post earlier this month, The Libyan and Yemeni Wars Are Not the Third and Fourth U.S. Wars, I observed that the United States has intermittently been involved in hostile action in Somalia since 2007, in the form of cruise missiles and bombardment by aircraft.  Although no activity had been reported since 2010, I stated that there was a possibility of ongoing covert action or a resumption of overt action.  Therefore, I argued, Somalia should be counted, along with the Philippines, as among the six current theaters or battles in the War on Terrorism.

     It has since been reported that the U.S. has now launched its first ever drone missile attack in Somalia, which validated my point.  Therefore, it is not a sixth U.S. war, as some have already called it, but the fourth (or fifth, if Yemen is dated to the first drone strike there early in the War on Terrorism and not only to the current strikes this year).  In all of these conflicts, the U.S. is engaged in hostile action with al-Qaeda or its affiliates, at least, with the exception of Libya.  But in all cases, these are interventions during the War on Terrorism in wars being waged by militant Muslims with a history of terrorism.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Update: Pennsylvania Gov. Corbett Signs Castle Doctrine Expansion and Tort Reform Bills into Law

     Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett, a Republican, signed two major bills into law.  One act expands the Castle Doctrine, while the other act reforms joint and several liability in civil cases.

     The Castle Doctrine, which allows citizens to use deadly force to defend themselves, is now expanded beyond the home to any place a person has a legal right to be.

     The tort reform act changes the civil procedure rules for joint and several liability to make the payment of damages more proportional to a defendant's degree of liability.  Previously, a civil defendant could be found 1% liable and yet be responsible for 100% of the damages if the primary defendant were unable to satisfy the judgment.  Plaintiffs, through their civil trial lawyers, were using the old rule to sue businesses or other organizations as the deep pockets, in order to win damages when a defendant was unable to pay.  The old rule was recognized as being anti-business and thus harmful to the economy.  The new rule establishes a more proportional system of liability.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Morocco: First Fruits of the Arab Spring

     King Muhammad VI of Morocco has proposed to give up his near absolute rule in favor of a liberal constitutional parliamentary monarchy. The King would continue as the head of state, but the prime minister would be the head of government. Freedoms would be guaranteed, including minority rights. Minorities in Morocco include Christians, Jews and ethnic groups.

     Moroccans will vote for the proposal in a referendum this summer, which is expected to pass. Moroccans have favored the retention of the monarchy, but have wanted more freedom and representation. Only some small Islamist and Maoist parties oppose the referendum.

     Morocco will have thereby accomplished with much less bloodshed what others throughout the Arab world have only been hoping to accomplish during the “Arab Spring.”

European Digest: Serbia, European Monetary Union, Geert Wilders

Serbia Captures Ratko Mladic

     I praise Serbia for its capture of Bosnian war criminal General Ratko Mladic, perpetrator of ethnic cleansing during the Bosnian Civil War. The capture after over 16 years will enable Serbia to be brought more fully into the European community.

European Monetary Union Update: Greek and Italian Governments Survive Confidence Votes

     The Socialist-led Greek government survived a close confidence vote for its latest austerity plan. The plan was necessary in order to receive the latest tranche of funds from the European Monetary Union’s bailout plan. Greece was in danger of defaulting on its sovereign debt, as its tax increases had diminished the economic growth necessary to generate revenue to pay the high interest on its debt. The Greek government has also slashed spending. It needs to sell off unnecessary state assets. A Greek default would have been disastrous for the Union and Europe in general, which also would have adversely impacted the global economy.

     Italy’s center-right government won a confidence vote by a comfortable margin. The vote was necessary after the failure of four government-supported referenda and the defeat of center-right candidates in local elections. Italy’s economic growth has been weak, although the world’s eighth largest economy has structural strengths. Its relatively strong banks have taken a hit from exposure to Greek debt. Italy has implemented an austerity plan, but its sovereign debt is still large enough that an Italian government default would certainly bring down the European Monetary Union. Thus, there is some thought that Italy, more than Spain, is the last line of the Union’s defense, should Greece, Portugal or Ireland default.

Update: Geert Wilders Is Acquitted

     Geert Wilders, the leader of a Dutch political party, was acquitted of inciting violence against Muslims. He had been charged because of anti-Jihadist statements, but Wilders had no objection to Muslim immigrants to the Netherlands who assimilated and did not support jihad. Wilders’ acquittal is an important victory for freedom of expression in Europe.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Cinfici Certified as a Winner in the Primary Election for Reading School Director

     The results of the 2011 Primary Election were certified in Berks County more than three weeks after the Primary Election, with little public notice. Now that the absentee and provisional ballots have been counted and all the results are official, I am pleased to report that I received nearly 2,100 votes total on both the Republican and Democratic ballots in the primary for Reading School Director.  

     Having finished first on the Republican ballot, my name, William Cinfici, will be listed first on the GOP ballot, which is first of all ballots for the office, as the Republicans hold the left-hand column because the Governor is a Republican.  There are eight candidates for five seats on the Reading School Board of Directors. 

     I am grateful to all the people who voted for me and all those who supported me in any way and ask for your continued support.

Peace Sign Restoration Would Threaten the Environment

     A local peace group asked Reading City Council to restore the “Peace Sign” that has been on Mt. Penn’s barren west flank for forty years. The view of the sign from the city below has naturally become obstructed by trees.

     The City, which has been declared “financially distressed,” by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, rejected the plan, not only because of the cost, but because the removal of the trees would cause runoff, which poses an environmental problem.

     Although some might see an irony in the rejection of this liberal group’s plan to kill trees because of legitimate environmental concerns, perhaps it is not ironic that the restoration of a demonic sign of “peace,” an encircled inverted cross, would do violence to Creation. The so-called peace sign has been adopted by the Left as a symbol of man’s peace, i.e. the Devil’s peace, not of God’s Peace, which is better signified by the Dove. Thank God that this plan to restore an evil sign has been thwarted.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Blog Hit Milestones: Four More Posts Have Been Visited 100 Times

     As of a few days ago, StatCounter has tracked over 100 visits to four more posts to my blog: Commentary on the Roman Influence on America Exhibit, Radicals in the Obama Administration, Misleading Media Phrases and Obama Did Not Inherit the Economy From Bush. Seven posts have now reached this milestone. 

     Visits are defined as pageviews at least one hour apart and do not include my own.  Visits to my home page or archives are not included.  Blogger tracks two-to-three times as many page views, but I report on its tracking separately.

     Thank you for visiting and for your comments.  Please visit at least one or twice a week.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

More Language for Conservatives to Avoid: Gender vs. Sex

     The words sex and gender are increasingly being used interchangeably nowadays, but they are not interchangeable. Sex is not a synonym of gender.

     The Left is supplanting “sex” with “gender” because it is stretching the meaning of sex beyond male and female to include additional categories for political purposes. As a result, “gender” is increasingly being used in place of “sex” by people who are unaware of the difference between these words that have little in common. Although “gender” is being used more broadly than “sex,” its meaning is much narrower.

     Sex comes from the Latin infinitive secoare, “to cut,” because the human race is divided into male and female. Sex has to do with the physical division of male and female and their distinct roles in reproduction and the raising of children. Gender is a grammatical term that refers to masculine, feminine or neuter forms of words. Thus, words might have “gender,” but not “sex.”

     The blurring of the distinction between sex and gender masks the grammatical significance of gender, which reflects the Left’s goal of feminizing society, even through language. Many languages, including some Indo-European ones, make broad use of gender. The difference between whether a word is masculine or feminine is often arbitrary. In English, gender is relatively less emphasized. The use of gender is required in only a few cases, mostly involving prepositions, a part of speech that is inherently reflective of sex.

     The masculine gender prevails in English more commonly, but the feminine gender is less commonly applied because it is reserved for more important matters. Thus, there is a gender balance in English. Masculine prepositions are used in order to refer generally to people who might be of either sex, as in the following example: “He who laughs last, laughs best.” Feminine prepositions are used in regard to the Church, America, States of the Union, foreign states, vessels, and even ideals such as Liberty and Justice. 

     For political purposes, liberals are trying to emasculate the English language by eliminating the masculine gender and thereby make conservatives seem sexist when they use proper grammar in instances when the masculine gender ought to prevail. As a result of the Left’s increasingly successful efforts, the language is now out of balance and tilted toward the feminine gender.

     Neither liberals, nor anyone else have any right to change the language, especially because our liberty depends upon written law. They must not be allowed to change the law by changing the meaning of the words and convincing activist liberal judges to agree with them that the law ought to be interpreting by using the new meaning of the words instead of what the words were originally intended to mean when they were written and approved by the representatives of the people.

     Furthermore, in addition to giving an impression of ignorance or disrespect for good grammar and for standards, the misuse of words decreases precision. The high degree of precision is the strength of English, which is a hybrid language. In the particular example of sex and gender, the difference is not one of degree, but of kind. The distraction and confusion caused by poor grammar or pronunciation or the misuse of words hinder communication. 

     Also, English-speaking students of foreign languages that use gender more heavily than English are thereby less prepared to learn those languages and less appreciative of the origins of English. One of the benefits of learning a foreign language is the gaining of a better perspective of one’s native language. That perspective is being lost as English speakers grow less knowledgeable of the proper grammar of their own language and thus cannot observe its differences and similarities with other languages. 

     Therefore, conservatives should not only avoid saying “gender” in place of “sex,” but avoid clumsy contrivances such as “he or she,” “him or her,” “he/she,” “his/hers” or “s/he,” the last of which is unpronounceable. Additional examples of the emasculation of English are the use of plural prepositions, “they,” “their,” “theirs,” or “them,” instead of masculine singular prepositions when referring to a single person who might be of either sex (e.g. “Someone left their briefcase on the bus” instead of “Someone left his briefcase on the bus”), the elimination of the word man for a human being of either sex, the unnecessary use of the phrase “men and women” instead of “men” for human beings of either sex, and even more extreme examples such as the substitution of the suffix man with “person,” and the use of “chair” instead of “chairman,” all of which ought to be avoided. The last example is also worthy of a post by itself.

     To avoid the misuse of words is to defend liberty. In this particular case, even more is at stake than liberty.

The Libyan and Yemeni Wars Are Not the Third and Fourth U.S. Wars

     The recent wars in Libya and Yemen are being called the “Third” and “Fourth” wars in which the United States is currently fighting. Although an argument could be made that they are wars, they are actually battles or theaters in the global War on Terrorism, which is being fought against Islamist militants of various kinds. Regardless, the ordinal references to these conflicts are incorrect.

     Afghanistan (2001) was the first battle of the war. The Philippines (2002) was second, and Iraq (2003, although Iraq had been clashing with the Coalition enforcing the No-Fly Zones for years before) was third. Somalia became the fourth battle in 2007. The U.S. continued to bomb Somalia periodically at least until 2010, according to media reports. The U.S. fired the first missile in Yemen early in the War on Terrorism, but it developed into a battle in 2011, followed by Libya. Note the inverse order of Yemen and Libya from what the media is presenting.

     Although the U.S. troops who are training the Filipino military to fight Islamist militants had been prohibited from engaging in combat since the beginning, they are permitted to defend themselves, as they did in a firefight in 2002 after being attacked by the Islamist Filipino enemy. The enemy insurgents, who have killed three American soldiers in bombings over the years, could again shoot at U.S. advisors in the field, which could again trigger combat. Therefore, it is premature to declare the U.S. participation in hostile action in the Philippine Muslim Insurgency to have ended.

     Because of the possibility of current covert action or a future return to overt action, it is also premature to declare the U.S. involvement in the Somali Civil War to have ended. Furthermore, a case could be made that actions taken against Somali pirates ought to be included, as their piracy is a result of the Somali Civil War. Regardless of whether their piracy is considered part of that war, it is part of the larger war against Islamist militancy, as the pirates are motivated in part by jihad. The 2007-2010 American involvement in the Somali Civil War is the second time the U.S. has been involved overtly in that war. The first was in 1993.

     Thus, although Libya and Yemen could be called the “Fifth” or “Fourth” wars, respectively, in which the U.S. is currently engaged, there are better understood as battles or theaters in the War on Terrorism.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Cinfici's Interview on Rick Santorum's Presidential Candidacy

     I was interviewed today by WEEU Radio 850 AM in Reading, Pennsylvania on former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum's announcement that he is seeking the Republican nomination for President of the United States of America.

     I observed that even though Pennsylvania is a major state and a political swing state, there has not been a president or vice president from the Keystone State in a long time.  It is good to have a Pennsylvanian as a candidate.  I noted that Senator Santorum has experience as a U.S. Senator on defense and foreign policy, judicial matters, and as the author of the welfare reform bill that was approved in the 1990s.  He is knowledgeable and articulate and fills a niche in the Republican presidential field that lacks a clear front-runner, which is an unusual circumstance, although I stated that I believe Republicans would like to see more candidates enter the field in order to provide more choices.

     When asked whether Santorum would have the interests of Berks County in mind, I noted that he had always done well in Berks County and I expressed confidence that he would.  But I said that I believed he would focus first on getting our fiscal situation in order, as well as on continuing to resist the terrorists.  I cited his concern about Iran's nuclear program in particular.

     I was then asked about Santorum's announcement at the Flight 93 sight in Scwhenksville, Pennsylvania.  I remarked that it was a poignant venue because it was the sight of the first successful resistance to the terrorists; the victims gave their lives in order to prevent the terrorists from striking their intended target.  We must continue to resist terrorism.

Election Results in Portugal, Peru

     The recent election results in Portugal and Peru were mixed.  The Portuguese ousted the Socialist government which had adopted an austerity program that included raising taxes, even on the poor.  The center-right Social Democrats will return to power, although they may have to form a coalition government with a conservative party.  Portugal is being bailed out of its fiscal crisis by the European Monetary Union after having overspent with borrowed funds to finance its welfare state and low worker productivity, like Greece.  The new Portuguese government will have to continue the austerity program, but one that stimulates growth through lower taxes instead.

     In Peru, the leftist candidate has apparently defeated the rightist one in a close race.  The leftist is an admirer of Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez, but had to back away from some of his more radical positions.  The rightist candidate had the albatross around her head of being the daughter of former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori.  Fujimori had defeated the vicious Shining Path Maoist rebels, among other accomplishments, but was imprisoned for alleged corruption.  Thus, Peruvians felt that had two bad choices to make.  The new president will be monitored for any potential backsliding from representative democracy to authoritarianism.  Already investors are losing confidence in the Peruvian market.  Peru, has a free trade agreement with the United States, negotiated under the Administration of President George W. Bush, which has been beneficial to Peru and contributed to its relative prosperity.

     As I have been posting, election results worldwide have suggested a rightward shift in the last two years.  Even the relatively few victories by the left, as in Peru, have been narrow and achieved only by promising the maintenance of successful conservative, free-market policies.