We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are

Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Media's Bias

Have things gotten worse, or do we just notice it more?

In the 1990's I created a new career doing turnarounds of companies going into bankruptcy while the media talked-up the virtues of Clinton's "perfect economy".

Now we have an economy that is so stable that even a full year of interest rate hikes by the Fed and the total destruction of an American City cannot slow it down.

Yet, we hear nothing but bad news day after day. Even their polls (which now seem to come out every day) fail to weight the responses based on political affiliation (meaning if 75% of the responders view themselves as liberal, there's no adjustment to the bias of the people answering the question).

Has the media, the people we trusted to bring us the news every day, lost its way? Or has it been this way all along and we are waking up to the reality of an American Animal Farm?

"Left wing good, right wing bad"
"Liberal good, Conservative bad"

From Investors Business Daily:

Posted 11/22/2005
Media: No matter how well the economy is doing, it seems, the media manage to find something wrong. We wonder whether this is simple economic ignorance or some other agenda playing itself out.

We've been thinking a lot about this lately as we watch jobs, incomes and the stock market keep rising, while inflation — a real fear, given recent oil price hikes — remains tame.

And yet the media can't seem to focus on all that's going right with the economy right now — which is an awful lot.

Instead, we get coverage like USA Today's front page story Tuesday: "Economy Goes Forward, But Leaves Many Behind."

Inside are a number of linked stories — "Personal Savings Rate Falls To Just 1.9%," "Wages Aren't Keeping Up," "Unemployment Lasts Longer," and three others of similar gloomy content.

Each is meant to cast as dark a cloud over the economy's current prosperity as possible.

We hate to pick on USA Today, a paper we often enjoy, but it's sadly partaking of something we've pointed out here repeatedly over the years: the media's incessant need to talk down the economy, especially during Republican presidencies.

It could be any major newspaper in America, really. They all commit the same sin. We think back to the classic of this genre: the 1992 award-winning series by Don Bartlett and James Steele: "America: What Went Wrong?" It was about the 1980s Reagan era, one of the most economically successful decades in American history.

The title says it all.

Why is it this way? The fact of the matter is, most newspapers are run by people who are liberal. They do not like Republican politicians. They do not like George W. Bush. They will not admit their bias. It's that simple.
Just two years ago, the Pew Research Center queried journalists about their political beliefs. Of those national journalists queried, 34% said they were liberal. Just 7% said they were conservative.

As for the population at large, exit polls conducted by the TV networks after last year's presidential election found 21% of those who voted said they were liberal, while 34% called themselves conservative. Some 45% said they were moderate.

The media, it seems, are out of step with their readers — at least those readers who vote, which we imagine is most of them.

Reporters often argue that, yes, they might be liberal, but they are scrupulously fair when they report.

But let's just look at the past three years, which have seen a remarkable rebound in the American economy — a rebound that has defied fears that, after the stock market's collapse in 2000, the economy would be unable to get back on track.

We've seen repeated stories — and "series," obviously intended to win big media prizes — that pooh-pooh our current prosperity.

Here's the reality. The economy is growing faster, joblessness is lower, inflation is slower now than it has been on average for the past three decades.

We hate to sound like a broken record, but GDP growth has been above 3% for the last 10 quarters in a row. Unemployment has dropped to 5% from a level above 6% a little over a year ago. Core inflation — that is, inflation measured without volatile food and energy components — is 2%. These are all significant.

Oil prices have come down from their highs. And after rising above $3 a gallon in some places, gasoline is now selling at below $2.50 a gallon — and seems headed lower.

Key stock market indexes — gauges of future economic activity — hit 4 1/2-year highs in recent days. Some 57 million families own stocks — and 30% of those families have incomes below $50,000. Millions of others own stocks indirectly in pension plans. They're all getting richer.

Fact is, most people aren't falling behind. Most people are doing better — much better. Most people have jobs and will earn more this year than last year. Most people are doing just fine, thank you.

Yes, we have a bias too. We tend to see things getting better. But then, that's only backed up by 229 years of American economic history. How about a new series: "America: What Went Right?"

On Thanksgiving

In college, one of my best friends was Furuz Amjahdi, a Kurd from Iraq. He came to the US with his four brothers to escape the Hussein regime. He often spoke of his parents and the fear that he would never see them, or his country again.

From Investors Business Daily:
Posted 11/22/2005

Thanksgiving: From the moment hardy New Englanders proclaimed a day, nearly four centuries ago, to celebrate Providence, Americans have known it at least inchoately: Freedom and gratitude go together.
But gratitude for what? Today we may be grateful for retractable landing gear that works. Or for finding a spare vacuum cleaner belt just hours before holiday guests arrive. We keep flying and socializing because of such mundane matters.

So the faith that certain things will work propels us onward. Our daily decisions, small or large, are uncoerced, bidden by expectations of growth and happiness. Sometimes we undertake difficult tasks, not in anticipation of reward, but because they are right.

In such cases, we are truly rewarded.

Just last week we noticed a television spot sponsored by Kurdistan, whose minuscule budget purchased such little time it could not have been widely watched by Americans. For 30 seconds the Kurds expressed their joy, and their gratitude.

To Americans. For their freedom.

Kurdistan, bluntly, was targeted by Iraq's Saddam Hussein for extinction. He gassed whole villages of these nuisance ethnics, leaving multitudes of gasping bodies lying in dusty streets, their corpses destined for mass graves. Thousands of others he killed through more conventional methods.

Today, as their delegates work out a constitutional relationship with Sunnis and Shiites in greater Iraq, Kurds live, dream and make personal choices in a comparatively tranquil state of their own. American forces — young men and women who volunteered for duty, some dying — made the Kurds' new freedom possible.
As our politicians and media activists debate the U.S. role in Iraq, they might pause this long weekend to meditate on America's essential selflessness. They might offer thanks for a country that seeks to extend freedom to tyrannized lands around the world.

Reality may dictate that we cannot liberate every oppressed nation, as the anti-war crowd taunts, but maybe we can help those within our strategic interest and reach.

We cannot keep our own freedom if we do not strive to extend it.

That is why — not just on Thanksgiving Day — we must remind ourselves of the singular importance of America. Informed by a tested philosophy that places human liberty above mere politics or power, America remains humanity's best hope. If that philosophy fails here, darkness falls across the globe.

If anything, we should thank the Kurds — for thanking us. It reminds us that American influence is a force for good in the world — a powerful, positive influence for freedom.

Much of our culture may seem frivolous. (Why do we need robotized cats, anyway?) But even our frivolity betokens our inventiveness and our freedom, planted here as if by intelligent design, by cosmic mirth, a lure and an inspiration to the world's oppressed.

Looking for Weakness?

From Investors Business Daily:

Posted 11/22/2005
Iraq: Calls for a U.S. pullout come from Iraqi leaders, Iran's supreme ayatollah and Democrats in Congress — each with differing motives. But the fact is we are winning, and now is no time for retreat.

Iraqi Shiite, Kurdish and Sunni leaders under the auspices of the Arab League in Cairo called for a timetable for troop withdrawal in an agreement that itself signals democratic progress for Iraq. The timetable language was clearly designed to appease the Sunnis.

But key to understanding the communiqu is its explicit qualification that a U.S. disengagement be done "through putting in place an immediate national program to rebuild the armed forces . . . control the borders and the security situation." Training and strengthening Iraq's security forces is one of the things the U.S. has been doing there, and there are now more than 90 Iraqi army battalions fighting the insurgency alongside our forces.

Instituting a timetable would let the terrorists play a waiting game — and risk us leaving before Iraqi forces can combat the insurgency alone.

That is exactly why Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei just called on Iraqi President Jalal Talabani to pressure the U.S. to withdraw.

Yet calls to cut and run continue to come from Democrats in Washington, the latest from possible 2008 presidential candidate Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., who wants 50,000 U.S. troops out next year.

Biden's approach is no more rational than Rep. John Murtha's, D-Pa., call last week for an immediate pullout: Both commit the U.S. to a leap-before-you-look policy that could mean us leaving before the job is done.

Democratic leaders, in fact, have a waiting game of their own going on. When asked by reporters last week what the Democrats' position was on Iraq, Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., veteran of the Clinton White House and chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, triangulated:

"At the right time, we will have a position."

Whenever that position materializes it will likely be more about winning congressional seats for Democrats in 2006 than winning the war in Iraq for America.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld asked those seeking withdrawal to "think about the troops that are there and how it sounds to them."

Indeed this is no time for the U.S. to lose its nerve. A Knight-Ridder profile of insurgents by correspondent Hannah Allam this week indicated that the combination of U.S. commitment and terrorist atrocities against Muslims can break the will of even the most fanatical jihadists.

"I'm still in shock" at this month's Amman hotel bombings killing 59 people, said Mohammed Hikmet, a Jordanian insurgent who fled home after a 13-hour standoff with U.S. troops in Baghdad.

"Blowing up Shiites in Iraq? Bombing a hotel in Jordan? This is not resistance," Hikmet said.

As Vice President Dick Cheney said this week, "retreat would convince the terrorists that free nations will change our policies, forsake our friends, abandon our interests whenever we are confronted with murder and blackmail."

Fulfilling our commitment in Iraq, on the other hand, will demonstrate something our enemies doubt: the moral courage of Americans in the face of evil.

More on the Misled

From Investors Business Daily:

Posted 11/21/2005
Iraq: As the vice president points out, it was never our burden to prove Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. It was his burden to prove he didn't.

Speaking at the American Enterprise Institute, Vice President Dick Cheney accurately laid out the case for staying the course in Iraq amid cries from those he described as having lost their memory or backbone — or both.

He reminded the nation that the liberation of Iraq was not something planned after Bush took office, but something that became official U.S. policy in 1998 — after Bill Clinton signed the Iraq Liberation Act. That action followed years of violated U.N. resolutions, culminating in Saddam Hussein expelling U.N. inspectors.

Those who argue that Bush cherry-picked or manipulated prewar intelligence fail to explain this.

Clinton, who now claims liberating Iraq was a "big mistake," told the nation on Dec. 17, 1998: "Earlier today, I ordered America's armed forces to strike military and security targets in Iraq. . . . Their mission is to attack Iraq's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs and its military capacity to threaten its neighbors. . . . If we fail to respond today, Saddam and all those who would follow in his footsteps will be emboldened tomorrow."

If Bush misled his critics, who misled Clinton? Who misled spy agencies of the U.K., France, Germany, Israel and Russia, among other major nations?

Not only have Bush critics forgotten their own prewar statements, but they've also forgotten U.N. Resolution 1441, which stated that Saddam Hussein had a "final opportunity" to account for the inventory of weapons reported after Desert Storm or there would be "serious consequences." He didn't, and there were.

The consensus among the world's spy agencies was that Saddam still had an arsenal of unaccounted-for biological and chemical weapons and had moved to rebuild his nuclear program.

Cheney told the AEI audience he didn't question the patriotism of Vietnam veteran John Murtha, the Pennsylvania congressman who proposed an immediate withdrawal from Iraq. The vice president did point out the consequences of doing so — not the least of which might be putting Iraqis at the mercy of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and providing a host country for those who would kill us all.

Whether it was an immediate withdrawal or one with a date certain, it would tell terrorists to wait us out until we cut and ran, as we did after the 1983 bombing of our barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, a move that Osama bin Laden saw as a sign of our weakness.

A premature withdrawal would be a death sentence for all those who helped build an Iraqi democracy, from the publishers of newspapers to politicians who ran for office to the millions of Iraqis who risked their lives to vote in two free elections — and will do so again on Dec. 15 to elect a permanent government.

Three decades ago, Democratic "Watergate babies" were elected, and one of their first actions was to deny South Vietnam $800 million in military aid, including ammunition and spare parts. Five weeks later, North Vietnam began planning an invasion of the South, knowing we had grown war weary and wouldn't help.

Zarqawi, like North Vietnamese Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap, eagerly watches the attacks on an American president and his policies. He knows he cannot win on the ground. But he knows, as in Vietnam, he might win in the American press and in the Democratic caucus.

Don't Cry for GM

For all the talk about restructuring going on today, it is hard for many outside of the automotive industry to remember that in 1985, GM had a blueprint for the Toyota manufacturing model and chose to "bureacratize" it to fit GM's system.

The net result? Abysmal failure.

GM has claimed to be lean, synchronous and without constraint, but in truth, it was all a facade. Instead of taking inventory out and shortening the supply chain, GM out-sourced its warehouse to get the inventory out of the plants and increase the overall cost.

But, it looked good!

Instead of streamlining itsoperations and taking out all the levels of front office redundancy, GM instead chose to strong-arm its suppliers who were "price gouging". They actually expanded the number of employees in purchasing in order to expedite the extortion process. Instead of getting rid of poor performers or over staff, they gave them all books on lean manufacturing and turned them into supplier development "experts", sending them into suppliers plants to create more waste and chaos.

All this delayed the inevitable for close to 20 years, but as we all know the best con men know when to get out. Waggoner and company just tried to milk it too long.

While efficient manufacturers are building plants and profiting (along with their suppliers) right here in the US. GM is now on the attack, blaming pensions and health care for the reason that they can't design a car paople want and build it at a competitive cost. My question concerning health care and pensions; who negotiated the stupid contract in the first place?

I have stated time and again that there will always be automotive manufacturing in the US. Lean Manufacturing dictates that you should build as close to the point of sale as possible. The only thing is that the companies building those cars may no longer be US based.

From Investors Business Daily:

GM Isn't America
Posted 11/22/2005

Industry: The world changed. The world's largest (for now) automaker didn't. The good news is that most U.S. businesses haven't made the same mistake.

Barring some miracle — such as a car that really clicks with consumers — General Motors Corp. is facing a future with no pleasant options. The least painful would be drastic downsizing, which means axing whole divisions like Pontiac and Buick, not just closing a few plants as it announced this week. It also might go into Chapter 11 or sell itself off in pieces, if anyone will buy.

This is a woeful tale indeed, but it also comes with a sense of inevitability. No one has any reason to be surprised.

GM's management and unions have been denying reality not only for the last couple of years but for the last couple of decades. It's almost as if they were the only ones who didn't see disaster coming.

That may be why we aren't hearing an outcry, at least to this point, for a bailout or some other government intervention to save a company that once symbolized, and heavily influenced, the whole U.S. manufacturing economy.

That's not how this story would have played out in earlier times.

A smaller automaker, Chrysler, hit a rough patch in the late 1970s and Congress responded as if the nation were in crisis. A GM break-up or bankruptcy would have been unthinkable then and the government would have found a way to prevent it (as with Chrysler).

Now, it looks as if GM will have to sink or swim on its own, with government mainly in the role of pension insurer and bankruptcy referee. Local economies hit hard by plant closings stand to get some federal and state help, as do laid-off workers.

But no one seems to treat GM as indispensable.

That's because it's not. Even within the U.S. auto industry, GM is far from the dominant player it used to be. It still employs 162,000 in North America, but that number is due to shrink fast. Foreign automakers now employ nearly 60,000 here; Toyota alone has 13 North American plants with about 35,000 workers.
The lesson in those numbers is that we can still make it in America — just not GM's way.

The presence of foreign-based firms as major players in U.S. manufacturing is another mark of change.
In GM's heyday, the 1950s and '60s, the distinction between "foreign" and "domestic," in autos and much else, was clear and politically charged. Domestic firms employed Americans, while foreign companies employed foreigners. So the buying of foreign products was assumed to be bad for American workers.

GM benefited from this argument as long as it could, but it could not keep U.S. consumers away from cars that were seen as offering better quality for at least as good a price. The makers of those cars then set up shop in the U.S., putting thousands of Americans to work and further undercutting GM's status as a patriotic choice.
In his 1967 book "The New Industrial State," John Kenneth Galbraith argued that GM was so big that it could create consumer taste, not merely satisfy it: "Since General Motors produces some half of all the automobiles, its designs do not reflect the current mode, but are the current mode."

Galbraith turned out to be wrong. More to the point, GM acted as if he were right, and the company ended up misjudging its potential customers. As things turned out, the company was not synonymous with America, and it did not have some unspoken contract with the American people to always be their top carmaker.

If only it could have grasped that fact much earlier.

California Gouging

Do we really need a National Energy Policy? If we leave the supply of energy to the private sector energy companies and the legislation of energy demand to the voters of each state, wouldn't we have a better picture of what really works and what doesn't? How easy is it to hide fraud and abuse by nationalizing an industry and throwing out macro numbers instead of localized information?

From Investors Business Daily:

Like politicos everywhere, California's politicians wail like lost banshees whenever oil prices go up. Not because they actually believe that companies are price gouging, but because they know there are easy political points to be scored by ripping successful companies as corrupt, greedy and damaging to the car-dependent state.

This year's gasoline price run-up is a case in point. Some California politicians have been downright threatening. "Hurricane Katrina has broken families, devastated communities and destroyed lives," California's Attorney General Bill Lockyer said on Sept. 6, announcing a probe into price gouging. "To unjustly profit from tragedy is unconscionable." "People in California are no longer believing the excuses of the industry," added Democratic state Sen. Joe Dunn in mid-October. "If they can't fix their market behavior, we'll fix it for them."

They have a point: California has the highest gasoline prices in the country while its refiners have the highest profit margins in the industry.

Case closed? Not exactly. A new report from the state, looking into claims of price gouging by retail gasoline stations, found that a host of market ills caused California's gasoline prices to soar to record highs in August and September - but none included price gouging.

So what did the local markets in? In this case, wholesale traders, fearful of not having oil to supply customers, helped bid up prices after Hurricane Katrina. California boosted its sales of gasoline to Arizona, where shortages had also cropped up.

California's refineries, the only ones in the country to make the state's federally mandated "boutique blends," experienced production problems. Some oil that was headed for the Golden State was diverted to the Gulf Coast. And so on.

But no, gouging wasn't listed as one of the reasons.

Then again, it never is. There have been at least 26 state and federal investigations of price gouging in the energy markets over the last 30 years. None have found illegal activity or gouging. None.

The report from California's Energy Commission is only part of a national trend to blame large, profitable companies for problems, real or imagined.

What we've noted here many times bears repeating: California is what's known as a "fuel island." That is, rules on what fuels cars can burn are so strict, no one else makes gasoline California can use. Any shortages, anywhere, lead to higher prices.

Oil demand in California is growing 2% to 3% a year, as the population grows by half a million people each year. Yet the last oil refinery in the state was built in 1969. Is it any surprise, then, that just four refiners now control 70% of the market, making it one of the most vulnerable markets in the world to supply disruptions?

In addition to high gas prices, Californians also pay the highest taxes in the country on gasoline - 54 cents a gallon as of August. That's something politicians don't say. The oil industry pays another $8 billion or so a year in taxes.

Right now, both nationally and at the state level, there's a lot of talk about imposing "windfall profit taxes" on the oil companies. But who's really getting the windfall here? As prices rise, oil companies have been plowing money into expanding output - that means more energy, not less.

Politicians likewise have gotten their own windfall, but who knows what they'll spend it on.

We have a modest proposal. It turns out California's government is making money hand over fist from consumers' gas pains. So why shouldn't they rebate that money?

We know, we know. Even with California's budget now expected to be in balance next year, the chances of a rebate of anything is next to impossible.

Barring that, maybe a genuine apology from Lockyer, Dunn and others who have vilified an industry that adds $77 billion each year to the state's economy would be in order.

But don't hold your breath.

Murtha's Misdirection?

Could it be that the Democratic "Hawk" was about to become a victim of the same kind of ethics investigation that has dogged Tom delay? If so, then this man should be expelled from Congress immediatly. The idea that a politician would create a media misdirection that clearly emboldens the enemy to kill every American soldier they can in hopes of accelerating our desire to cut and run for the sole purpose of shielding himself from an ethics investigation is tantamount to treason. How could anyone, especially a former military man stoop so low?

This does make my blood boil.

From Investors Business Daily:
"Will The Real Murtha Stand Up? "

We're supposed to believe that Murtha is a fiercely pro-defense Democrat trying to save his beloved military from President Bush. CBS News calls the Pennsylvania Democrat a "leading supporter" of the war in Iraq.

That's funny. In calling for a pullout last week, Murtha said, "All of Iraq must know that Iraq is free - free from a United States occupation." He added: "This war has been so mishandled from the very start." Despite media and partisan insistence that after some deep introspection Murtha just recently changed his position on Iraq, his stand is nothing new.

A year and a half ago, he and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., held a joint press conference to announce that the war in Iraq isn't winnable. Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., who was in the Marines for 25 years, said at the time, "I was furious" with Murtha, "because when that message gets out to our forces, they won't feel love and support. They'll feel betrayal."

Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., also worried back then that Murtha's statement "emboldens America's enemies."

It's not the late pro-defense Democrat Henry "Scoop" Jackson whom Murtha should be compared to, but Porky Pig in fatigues.

As ranking Democrat on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, Murtha "walks on water," explained Keith Ashdown of Taxpayers for Common Sense, in an interview with Washington's The Hill newspaper. "If you want anything done on the committee, you go to Murtha." He's delivered so much pork to his congressional district, an airport and a major highway are named after Murtha.

Ashdown and his nonpartisan watchdog group criticized Murtha for using the $417 billion fiscal 2005 Pentagon spending bill to give business to his lobbyist brother.

The Los Angeles Times in June reported that Murtha funneled nearly $21 million to 10 or more corporate clients of KSA Consulting, where Robert "Kit" Murtha is a senior partner. Carmen Scialabba, a Murtha congressional aide for 27 years, is also a high-ranking official at KSA.

In one case, a small Arkansas manufacturer of military vehicles who was a KSA client was awarded $1.7 million - triple its total sales for 2004. One defense contractor based in Murtha's home state of Pennsylvania even told the Times he hired KSA on the recommendation of a top Murtha aide.

The newspaper Roll Call reported that there might be a House ethics committee investigation of Murtha's apparent improprieties.

But is that possible now that Murtha has become the media's "hawk with a conscience?" Come to think of it, could Murtha have been thinking about a possible ethics investigation when he decided to throw himself into the public limelight last week?

National Security: Contrary to popular opinion, Rep. John Murtha, the decorated ex-Marine who called for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq, is no hawk. He may also soon be probed for misusing defense appropriations.

Who Misled Clinton?

I'm so sick of the theatrics being played out in Congress over Iraqi weapons capabilities and the "manipulation" of that information by President Bush leading up to the invasion. For any Democrat to say that they were misled by Bush is simply a lie.

From the AP, December 16 1998:

Clinton: Iraq has abused its final chance
American president defends timing and need for strikes

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, December 16) -- President Bill Clinton Wednesday defended his decision to order airstrikes against Iraq, saying Saddam Hussein had failed his "one last chance" to cooperate with United Nations resolutions. "So we've had to act and act now."

"Earlier today I ordered America's armed forces to strike military and security targets in Iraq. They are joined by British forces," Clinton said during his Oval Office address to the nation.

"Their mission is to attack Iraq's nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons programs, and its military capacity to threaten its neighbors. Their purpose is to protect the national interest of the United States, and indeed the interests of people throughout the middle east and around the world," Clinton said.

A showdown between the U.S. and Iraq six weeks ago, when again the military action was threatened, ended with Saddam Hussein's promise to give U.N. inspectors unconditional access to Iraqi facilities so they could determine if Iraq was rebuilding its biological, chemical and nuclear weapons programs.

At the time, Clinton said he "concluded then that the right thing to do was to use restraint and give Saddam one last chance to prove his willingness to cooperate. I made it very clear at that time what 'unconditional cooperation' meant."

The American president said a report by inspectors to the U.N. over the weekend determined that Iraq had failed to fulfill that promise and had instead placed new restrictions on the inspections.
In response, Clinton gave the go ahead for "Operation Desert Fox."

Both directly and indirectly, Clinton addressed the impeachment crisis his presidency is currently facing. He defended the timing of strikes, which his critics have questioned in light of Thursday's scheduled debate and floor vote.

He also said that Saddam Hussein should not believe that domestic troubles in the U.S. would deter the nation from taking decisive action.

"Saddam Hussein and the other enemies of peace may have thought that the serious debate before the House of Representatives would distract Americans," Clinton said. "But once more the United States has proven that although we are never eager to use force, when we must act in America's vital interests we will do so."

White House press secretary Joe Lockhart said earlier that the president made his decision Wednesday morning after reviewing the United Nation's report.

If you click the word LINK, you can go directly to the site and see links to speeches by such "patriots" as Al Gore, Carl Levin and John Kerry.

It's time to call these people out for what they are doing. This is no longer about constituent representation in our government, this is about the quest for power. These people are dangerous and they must be stopped through the electoral process.

Please link to this and send it to anyone who believes for a second that all this started in January 2001.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Stop The Madness

This is so pathetic, I can't even comment. We worked so hard to get conservatives in congress and they can't even cut the growth of spending let alone make a spending cut for obsolete programs the benefit no one and bridges to nowhere that should be the responsibility of the state budgets. BUT, they're more than happy to tell the people in Alaska that they cannot open their land up for oil exploration. Had enough? Just wait until the next election year:

From Investors Business Daily:
Posted 11/18/2005

Federal Budget: A House vote to slow spending has horrified some interest groups who are predictably yelping about "cuts." It has likewise prompted yet another round of misleading coverage.

Haven't we been through this before? A decade ago Washington was in a tizzy about the draconian cuts a new Republican Congress was visiting on the American people.

Out-of-power Democrats, left-leaning interest groups and grandstanding media types that posed as champions of the poor were red-faced in their outrage.

Except the cuts they were so indignant about weren't really cuts at all. The GOP Congress was merely attempting to slow the growth of spending.

Now it's 2005 and House Republicans, apparently feeling pressure over legitimate criticism of bridges to nowhere and out-of-control pork spending, have voted to slow spending increases, some of it from entitlements, by $50 billion over five years.

That's so small as to be nearly nonexistent. Congress will spend a massive $14 trillion over those same five years. So it's the equivalent of cutting $50 from a $14,000 budget.

Nevertheless, the House's Deficit Reduction Act nearly failed to get enough votes, passing only 217-215.
Looking only at that narrow vote and reading media reports lamenting "sweeping" cuts and a plan that "squeezes" the poor, college students and farmers, one would never guess that in fact entitlements will grow — just not as fast as some demand.

Our children and grandchildren will suffer if entitlement growth isn't restrained. More than half of what lawmakers spend each year is considered "mandatory." That money is spent on Social Security, Medicare, the coming prescription drug benefit and other programs that have been set to automatically grow by previous Congresses. They've set in motion some painful train wrecks.

Consider Medicare. Through 2075, it's underfunded by $62 trillion. But it goes into the red much sooner. The hospitalization component, known as Part A, could go broke as early as 2019.

Social Security faces the same fate. By 2018, it will begin to run a deficit. Within 25 years of that, the Social Security Trust Fund, which doesn't exist in any meaningful way outside the mind of Al Gore, will be exhausted.
What then? Tax hikes? Benefit cuts? President Bush tried to change the ruinous dynamic of Social Security, but his plan to establish modest personal accounts to help ease the crisis ran into heavy flak. It's been sidelined indefinitely — along with any hope of wrestling our looming fiscal insolvency to the ground.

The House's Deficit Reduction Act didn't shake the earth, nor should it have. But it's a small step and perhaps a grudging admission that Washington needs to get serious about reforming entitlements and trim overall spending.

The country is in deep need of some real budget cuts. This is a start — but only that.

Mexico Outfoxes Chavez With Free Trade

Hugo Chavez has replaced Castro as the latin darling of the left-wing media. Just like Castro, his glory is more myth then fact, and thanks to alternative news outlets, he won't have the run that Castro had.

From Investors Business Daily:
Posted 11/18/2005

Latin America: With all the wounded puffery of a bully, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez last week singled out the president of Mexico with the hoary epithet of U.S. "lap dog." It's proof he's losing his own war over free trade.

Ahead of July's Mexican presidential election, the four-point rise in the polls of Vicente Fox's PAN party on the heels of the Chavez outburst signals it's clearly backfiring. Mexicans are rallying around their president.

Chavez attacked Fox precisely because Mexico is one of the world's leading emblems of free trade. It has signed 27 trade pacts, more than any other country except Chile, and not just with the U.S. and Canada. It's also doing business with heavies like Japan, the European Union, South Korea and rising stars like Chile. It's about to sign another with Central America.

Mexico is a growing player on the world stage and has shown that free trade is two-way empowerment, not lap dog servility.

Mexico is hardly less Mexican now that its citizens can buy giant packages of paper towels from new Costco outlets at home. What's significant is how Mexico's own reach has expanded. Its North American neighbors can now buy products like fresh salsa flown in from processing plants in Irapuato. Meanwhile, Corona Extra has overtaken mighty Heineken as the world's best-selling beer.

Mexico is also showing itself to be something of a free-trade pioneer. In 1994, when the North American Free Trade Agreement was signed, the U.S. and Canada were seen taking a risk by signing a trade deal with then less-developed Mexico.

Naysayers warned that Mexico would drag the bigger economies down. At the same time, they claimed free trade would impoverish Mexico as big corporations somehow took over.

Instead, Mexico's gross domestic product has doubled to $1 trillion.In terms of GDP per capita, Mexico's was $6,090 in 1995 while Venezuela's was $5,640. By 2002, Venezuela's under Chavez was $5,380 and Mexico's under Fox was $8,970.

Markets tell an even stronger story: In 1987, the capitalizations of the Mexican and Venezuelan stock markets were roughly the same at $10 billion, according to Venezuelan investment banker Miguel Octavio. Today, Mexico's market cap is close to $164 billion, while Venezuela's is less than $5 billion.

In 1980, Mexico and Venezuela each had oil-dominated exports of about $20 billion. Today, Mexico exports more than $222 billion a year, with only 11% of it oil. Venezuela, by contrast, exports a mere $45 billion, 80% of it crude.

The rest of the world has noticed and followed Mexico's lead. A Google search of "free trade" shows an array of pacts under negotiation or being signed all over the world. Participants include Israel, China, Chile, Australia, Panama, Oman, Japan and South Africa.

One of the most impressive involves seven nations of South Asia. Those seven, led by India, began steps toward a South Asian Free Trade Agreement to be called SAFTA.

This weekend at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, Mexico, Peru and Chile were leading a charge to unblock trade measures for a world pact that, in the end, will simplify global trade.

This is no secret to Chavez, a far-left demagogue who seeks to isolate the hemisphere from free trade.
In addition to insulting Mexico, he's begun to intimidate pro-free-trade Colombia, and there may be rumblings against other states such as Canada.

Given that Chavez claimed Fox's free-trade statements were an "aggression," it's no surprise he considers free trade an act of war. He defines his "revolution" solely in terms of opposition to the U.S., and there's one little secret about free trade that must freeze his mind: a recent Economist survey showing that states that had free trade or were pursuing free trade were the most U.S.-friendly in the hemisphere.

Suddenly it becomes clear what Chavez's real game was in attacking Mexico.

For his part, Fox said he had better things to do than argue with Chavez. As Mexico's leader headed to South Korea to stand up for free trade at the APEC summit, it's also clear his country is winning a fight against Chavez just by trading goods.

Posted 11/18/2005

It was said that in World War II, politics "stopped at the shores", meaning that inspite of their ideaological diffrnences the Democrats and Republicans in congree always put our national security ahead of their own ambitions. Fortunately the current crop of congress-people weren't in office back then, we'd all be speaking German and turning in our parents and neighbors to the SS. Who will defend this country against an aggressor so ruthless that all rules of engagement are broken? Certainly not a party who time and time again seems to willing to surrender at the first signs of a fight. Harry Reid and company would fit in well in France. But this is not France and my father and many like him did not volunteer to fight the Nazi's for the sole purpose of turning us into a weak-knee'd marshmellow. It's time to clean the House and the Senate and find people who want to run the government, not rule over the country.

From Investors Business Daily:
Posted 11/18/2005

War On Terror: When we heard that key congressional defense "hawk" John Murtha regretfully decided to call for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, we had one question: Who is John Murtha?

We're not trying to be cute. Democrat Murtha, who got front-page play in the nation's major newspapers and whose diatribe against Bush's Iraq policy led the network TV news, is hardly a household name. Even in his home state of Pennsylvania.

Yet, his comments were treated as if some major figure in America's national security community had suddenly "turned" in his support for Operation Iraqi Freedom. Repeatedly we heard Murtha, a decorated Vietnam vet, called a defense "hawk." But on the issue of Iraq, there's no evidence of that at all. And his "opposition" is nothing new.

For the record, Murtha on Thursday offered a resolution to compel President Bush to withdraw 160,000 troops from Iraq "at the earliest predictable date."

Near as we can tell, Murtha's plan seems to be a trial balloon floated by the pacifist wing of the Democratic Party. Its leaders knew full well they could push forward an obscure backbencher and get the media to play it up on Page One. It seemed to work like a charm.

Except that, as we went to press Friday, the Republicans looked ready to call the Democrats' bluff — planning a late-day vote on Murtha's resolution, something the Democrats doubtless thought they'd never do.

Democrats have fiercely defended Murtha. Fine. Though horribly wrong on this, he's a fine man — twice decorated with the Purple Heart and a recipient of the Bronze Star in Vietnam. We're grateful to him for his service 40 years ago — and we mean it.

But he's just one of 435 members of Congress. On Friday, it appeared that they'd all have a chance to go on the record. We didn't know how the vote would go, but we were quite sure the Democrats didn't welcome it. We were also sure of this: the "ayes" had better be ready to defend their decision next year.

Still, we wonder why Democrats and their allies in the media pounced on Murtha as the messenger for their apparent desire to surrender to the terrorists. Murtha's been opposed to the war for at least two years and has repeatedly criticized it — often contradicting himself in the process. This is no hawk turning into a dove.

In May 2004, for instance, he said a withdrawal would be "disastrous." But three months later he called for more troops. Now, he wants to pull out. That pretty much covers all the options.
The question is, what do Democrats hope to achieve by withdrawal? The demoralization of our troops and allies? A cheap win over a president they loathe in midterm elections — at the expense of a war on terror that we happen to be winning?

Sure, Iraq is troubled. After four decades under a pathological dictator, what country wouldn't be? Still, it's moving steadily toward democracy, with an election next month. It has written a constitution, and it's training an army. Patience is in order.

As Friday's bombings of two mosques in Iraq showed, our enemies can still cause mayhem. Leaving now would leave Iraq in chaos, with the very real possibility of rebellion, civil war, collapse and slaughter on a mass scale. Is that what Democrats stand for?

Boys Behaving Badly

In my opinion, Jimmy Carter was the worst President of the 20th century. Ok, so we survived 4 years of economic destruction under his leadership and the socialist agenda of the Democratic Congress in the late 70's and all would be forgiven if the man would just slip gracefully into the night farming peanuts or building houses for the poor (which the local gavernments later seize for back-taxes). But the man will not go away. He won a nobel peace prize (I don't capitalize because I think it's become a farce) for giving away nuclear weapons technology to North Korea and now he goes around bad mouthing America for rolling up our sleevs and trying to fix the mess that he and his bot Clinton created during the 90's. What's worse, he and slick Willie seem to be competing for who can bad-mouth us better. We all know that Clinton will say anything to anyone to get an applause, but at what cost to our future?

From Investors Business Daily:

Posted 11/18/2005

Leadership: It's never held up perfectly, but one of our traditions restrains ex-presidents from criticizing sitting successors. A sensible tradition, especially in war. So why did Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton fail the lesson?

On one level the tradition evolved from civic grace. Having exited the White House, onetime occupants had exhausted, over four or eight years, their chance to execute the policies they'd beforehand formulated, refined, compromised and fashioned into campaign platforms. Post-presidential years were to be surrendered to the judgment of history.

A more critical restraint — again, as an unwritten code — descends on ex-presidents when the issue is foreign policy, especially in wartime or acutely dangerous times. If a figure of such political stature obstructs the current commander in chief's course, he jeopardizes national security and places our fighting forces' lives at risk.

Was it an unseemly breach for Bill Clinton — whom the ridiculous lords of Esquire magazine have dubbed the "most influential man in the world" — to travel to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, to tell Arab students that the U.S. invasion of Iraq was a "big mistake"?

Absolutely. Dubai may be one of Islam's more progressive oases, but surely Clinton realized Al-Jazeera, the Arab propaganda network, would broadcast his remarks to al-Qaida's breeding grounds.

And never mind the predictable Clintonian parsing. Here's what our 42nd president said: "It was a big mistake. The American government made several errors . . . one of which is how easy it would be to get rid of Saddam and how hard it would be to unite the country."

Hello? In fact, our military's mission to overthrow dictator Saddam Hussein was achieved with such speed, the anti-war elements in Clinton's party and the media were dumbfounded. And Iraq's Shiite and Sunni populations are uniting under a democratic constitution, whereas Clinton's pals said it could never be done.
Does Clinton know he's undermining the Bush administration's counterterrorism policy? You can bet on it. His long-cultivated Bad Boy routine has gone into too many acts. It's time for somebody, perhaps his presidential-aspirant spouse, to bring the curtain down.

Nor does civic grace fall naturally on Jimmy Carter's shoulders. Our 39th commander in chief, on whose watch the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, communist provocateurs created chaos in Africa and Latin America, and Islamo-fascists seized the government of Iran, is on a book tour blasting Bush's foreign policy.
In "Our Endangered Values," Carter suits up his well-known churchianity to go into battle against the political conservatism he sees as having taken over since, well, voters overwhelmingly repudiated his failed administration in 1980. We keep out of theological debates on this page, but it's impossible to ignore the holier-than-thou spirit of Carter's thoroughly politicized, and therefore toxic, religion.

Carter happened to be booming his book on NBC's "Today Show" on the morning The Washington Post broke the news of America's secret overseas prison network for terrorists. Without proof, and without admonishing the newspaper for its possible security breach, he told Matt Lauer that Americans were torturing terrorists in these undisclosed cells.

Did he hand a propaganda arms cache to our enemies? Of course, and he probably knew it. He then complained the administration had overturned American values by launching a "pre-emptive" war.

No, it might be said, Carter doesn't believe in proactive defense. But as Clinton's emissary, he helped arm the North Koreans, one of the world's foremost menaces, with nuclear materials. Disarming Pyongyang remains one of the most vexing problems for the current administration.

Endangered values, anyone? There is something low and reprehensible about this kind of post-presidential behavior. It's telling that Carter chose the squish word "values." Values are subjective, enabling the most mendacious and power-driven to dance around them. What we should nurture are moral principles, which have consequences akin to physical law.

In reasserting Western principles against those who put them under siege, the Bush administration gets the difference. Carter and Clinton manifestly do not. And Gerald Ford, wherever you are, we hope you're having a wonderful day.

Friday, November 18, 2005

The Loss of Parental Rights

Isn't it scary, the thought that some day, the government might take your kids away from you for poisoning their minds with ideas about Christianity? Far fetched? The 9th circuit court of appeals just took one step closer:

California's assault on the family
by Star Parker (Townhall.com)

November has been a banner month so far in California for
assaulting the traditional family. Last Tuesday, California
voters rejected Proposition 73, which would have required
parental notification before allowing a minor to receive an
abortion. The week before, California's wacko 9th Circuit
Court of Appeals ruled that parents do not have "exclusive"
right in their children's sex education.

Now, in the state of California, a 15-year-old girl has
full and exclusive sovereignty over the production and
destruction of life. However, her 40-year-old parents have
only limited jurisdiction over the values that this child
learns and how she lives her life.

The absurdity speaks for itself.

Aside from the angst that comes from watching the long-term
implosion of a society, I have immediate concerns that
California's assault on the traditional family is
simultaneously an assault on blacks and the poor.

The nation's highest rate of teen abortions is among blacks.
It is more than double the national average and more than
three times higher than the rate among whites.

Data compiled by the Heritage Foundation show that teens
from homes headed by single, never-married women are twice
as likely to be sexually active than teens from homes
headed by married couples. Black children are three times
more likely than white children to be living in a single-
parent household and are three times more likely to be

So despite arguments from Planned Parenthood and other
liberal advocates that inserting government between parents
and their children protects children, things are quite the
opposite. The reality of the black community is testimony
that the formula for keeping children poor, and assuring
that their children will be poor, is to destroy the
integrity of the family.

Government subsidization and protection of irresponsible
behavior has gotten blacks into the social black hole in
which they now find themselves. Black kids are not suffer-
ing because they need more rights. They are suffering
because they are not learning, from an early age, about
responsibilities and consequences.

It's not an accident that in polling before the Proposition
73 vote, blacks supported the initiative. It's also not an
accident that 75 percent of blacks supported the ban on gay
marriage that passed in Texas in the week past.

Blacks are increasingly appreciating that the No.1 challenge
in our community is the restoration of family. This is a
challenge under any circumstances. All the more so today,
in the midst of a prevailing culture that increasingly goes
in the opposite direction in the values it promotes.
The 9th Circuit Court ruling upheld a decision by a local
school district to ask kids ages 7 to 10 to respond to a
questionnaire asking explicit questions about their sexual
Parents sued claiming that the school had intruded on their
fundamental right to "control the upbringing of their
children" regarding matters of values and sex.

No, said the court. Parents have no "exclusive" right here.
The school is their partner in raising their children.

According to the court's Justice Reinhardt, parents have
no right "to prevent a public school from providing its
students with whatever information it wishes to provide,
sexual or otherwise, when and as the school determines that
it is appropriate to do so."

This is a supposedly free country, right? However, you
don't have a choice whether to send your kid to school.
And, if you don't have resources, you don't have a choice
but to send your kid to a public school where, certainly
in California, the government will be your partner in
teaching your kid values.

The very decision of the court tells you what values the
government will teach. Marginalize the traditional family
and have Justice Reinhardt, or his equivalent, join you as
the co-parent of your kids.

Poor black kids, already coming from broken homes, are
forced into broken schools where they are taught the very
values that will increase the probability that they will
stay poor, as will their children. And liberals think they
are our friends?

Blacks see and feel the crisis. We are trying to rebuild
our families and communities.

For more about Star Parker, click here:


California Dreamin'

From Investors Business Daily

If the States coffers are so full, wouldn't it be prudent to then look at federal spending bills and cut out all federal pork earmarked for that state? After all, if they want to tax the Oil Companies' "windfall profits" (that's 7 cents profit for every dollar of sales), shouldn't they take the same approach in the public sector?

Posted 11/17/2005
States: Its top fiscal analyst says California's $5 billion budget gap will disappear next year — thanks to an unexpected surge in tax revenues. Good news? Sure. But we remember the last time this happened.

It was 1999, and California's dot-com economy was booming. Revenues soared as the government cashed in capital gains taxes paid by all those Internet millionaires. The problem then seemed simple: How to handle all the newfound high-tech wealth? Lawmakers had an answer: Spend, spend, spend.

Which is exactly what they did. The general-fund budget exploded from $59.87 billion in 1996 to just under $100 billion by 2002 — up 40% in just six years.

Why worry about spending when revenues were through the roof? When boom went bust, California found out. The capital gains revenues that the state relied on dried up, and from 2003 through 2004, the state racked up $45 billion in operating deficits — more than any state, ever. More, in fact, than all the other 49 states combined for those two years.

Now, comes word from the state's top budget analyst, Elizabeth Hill, that in 2006 the deficit will shrink to zero, instead of the $10 billion in red ink expected just last year.

Seems the legislature, with its feet held to the fire by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, has actually cut $6 billion since the Governator took office.

The state is also benefiting from a resurgent national economy that has boosted business and personal tax revenues and spurred new capital gains. Higher oil prices have also helped: In addition to an 18-cent-a-gallon gas tax, California levies a 7.25% sales tax on fuel.

Have spendthrift legislators learned their lesson? Or will it be like 1999 all over again?
"The state has to keep its foot on the gas pedal of getting its fiscal house in order," said budget analyst Hill. "We are not out of the woods yet, and those operating shortfalls are very important."

Yes, "those operating shortfalls." Next year's budget may be OK, but (as the chart shows) things don't look so good beyond that. At current trends, California will in three years be back to a $4 billion operating deficit if nothing is done.

During their last run of good luck, legislators built in all sorts of automatic spending increases. Now, roughly 70% of spending is off-limits to them — making cuts painful if times get tough.
Let's hope they've wised up. When it comes to budgets, a little sobriety goes a long way.

Who Will Protect Us?

Isn't time we took a hard look at our elected candidates and start holding them accountable? Like it or not, the enemy recognizes that they are at war with us and no, this is not a few Iraqi Insurgents (look up the word). This is an ideological war that will determine whether or not our children live in freedom or theological oppression. Few in Washington seem to care.

This is why I register Independent...

Posted 11/17/2005
Republicans And Iraq: Democrats now call openly for surrender, and al-Qaida can see the prospect of victory. So where is the president's own party in all this?

We wish we could say that it stands shoulder-to-shoulder with George W. Bush, supporting him, supporting the troops, supporting American interests and letting the Democrats dig their own political grave as the Party of Defeat.

What we see instead, especially in the Senate, is a party losing its nerve. With a few noble exceptions — the 13 Republicans who joined with two Democrats this week in voting against resolutions that undermine the Iraq mission — the Senate GOP has joined the antiwar-lite camp. They won't go so far as to demand a timetable for pulling out, but they've raised withdrawal on their priority list, perhaps above victory.

The Democrats, seeing so many weak Republican knees, just get bolder in calling for an end to U.S. involvement in Iraq (which would not end the war, of course; al-Qaida and the rest of the terrorist insurgency would go on fighting).

Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., called Thursday for an immediate pullout of U.S. troops. Murtha is a decorated veteran and an adviser to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. He also voted for the war in 2002. So his party got exactly the news angle it wanted: Hawk turns dove, Vietnam vet turns the tables on draft-deferred Dick Cheney.

The Republicans are up against a lot, no doubt about that. The Democrats know how to play the media, and the media are happy to be played. But the GOP has been up against that combine for decades and has won some big victories against it.

The party also has some powerful resources of its own, such as a loyal base willing to open its wallets for the right cause. And — not to sound too sappy — it has truth on its side. There's no denying that leading Democrats who once supported the war and proclaimed Saddam Hussein to be a threat to the human race have turned tail and are now trying to rewrite their own history.
Bill and Hillary Clinton, Howard Dean, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Evan Bayh, Joe Biden, Jay Rockefeller, Sandy Berger, Madeleine Albright, John Edwards — the Republican National Committee has them all on tape at its Web site (rnc.org) saying the words they now would like everyone to forget. It's good that the RNC is putting this clip on the Internet, but it can do much more.

It certainly isn't hurting for money. The RNC announced Thursday that it has raised $85.7 million in the first 10 months of 2005 — a record for a nonelection year. It had $34 million cash-on-hand at the end of October. So we suggest that it start buying some serious air time. It has the material, which can be edited into punchy 20- or 30-second spots. Millions of Americans who don't routinely prowl the Web would then see where the Democratic Party has been and, in sharp contrast, where it is now.

Would a nationwide blitz of prime-time ads raise howls of protest from Democrats? Of course. Would it work? To judge from the success of the public unions' campaign against Arnold Schwarzenegger in California, we'd say yes. Just as the unions flattened Arnold with a TV ad campaign, the RNC could get the public thinking about what the Democrats are actually proposing — surrender, pure and simple — and put them on the defensive for once.
But to do this takes a will to fight. Does the GOP still have it?

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Snowe Queen

From Investors Business Daily:

If Republicans want to maintain the support of their base, they'll need to stop looking like Democrats, very, very soon. I was part of the movement in the early 90's to push Pat Buchanan out of the party. Buchanan is not a conservative, he is a Theocrat who would impose his religious views on all of us through legislation, to me he is no better than Bin Laden. Unfortunately, in pushing out people like Buchanan, we gave liberals like Olympia Snowe, Arlen Spector and Lincoln Chaffe a free pass. This has gone on too long and needs to stop. They are killing the party and hurting the country. I guess this is why I registered as an Independent...

Posted 11/16/2005
Fiscal Policy: Sen. Olympia Snowe may have killed an extension of lower investment tax rates in committee. But the majority leader has pledged to restore them. It's about time these renegade Republicans got rolled.
Disney releases its film adaptation of C.S. Lewis' "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" next month. In this beloved tale, four children magically enter Narnia, a peaceful land that would be paradise except for the fact it's been cursed with perpetual snow by the evil White Witch.

That's kind of the problem Republicans have had in Congress, especially the Senate. They've enjoyed majority control for a decade, but their repeated attempts to reduce high taxes, big government and burdensome regulations have been cursed by the handful of Olympia Snowes within their own party.

Republican leaders, however, may be learning how to deal with these renegades. The Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday endorsed a package to cut taxes by $60 billion over five years. Snowe stepped in and pressured the committee to scrap an extension of the lower tax rates for investment income that were passed in 2003 but which expire in 2008.

According to Snowe, "We're now in a very different world than even just a few months ago when we voted on the budget."

Mostly what's different is that the president who led the fight for passing the tax cuts on investment is in political trouble, and the Snowes in Congress feel more comfortable casting their spells.

This time, however, Republican leaders are riding to the rescue. The finance panel's capitulation to Snowe "will not stop Congress from extending these provisions," Leader Bill Frist has promised.

"When the House and Senate meet to work out the difference between their two bills," Frist said, "I will insist that negotiators include an extension of the capital gains and dividend tax relief. I will not bring a conference report to the Senate floor that does not include this extension." Frist is confident of full Senate passage.

The extension is also strongly supported in the House of Representatives. Without it, the 15% top tax rate would rise to 20% after 2008 for capital gains, and to regular income tax rates in the case of dividends.

The U.S. economy in recent years has weathered a stock crash, a recession, a terrorist attack, a spike in oil prices, 12 interest-rate hikes and multiple major natural disasters. A big reason it's done so well in spite of all this is that President Bush and Congress put more money into the pockets of those who invest.

As a result, GDP growth has topped 3% for 10 straight quarters, businesses have created more than 4 million jobs, productivity is soaring and unemployment has fallen to just 5% — well below the average rates of the '70s, '80s and '90s.

For this to continue, businesses and investors must be assured that congressional leaders will thwart the wicked wiles of Snowe queens every chance they get.

PBS Kids

From Investors Business Daily:

More evidence of how far we've gotten away from the Constitution-based Government spending model. No one is saying that PBS should not exist, just that it should exist in the free, public market without subsidization from our federal tax dollars.

Posted 11/16/2005
Media: So the former chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is accused of breaking the law by politicizing the system. Well, for those who don't want politics in the CPB, we have a solution: stop funding it.

That's right: Let public television and radio, which suck up taxpayer dollars doled out by the CPB, stand on their own.

Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, the former chairman at the center of the probe, is a Republican. Already a member of the CPB board, he was given the gavel by President Bush. He saw it as his job to bring needed balance to the programming on public television, which has always listed to the port side. But his modest efforts put him on the bad side of Kenneth A. Konz, CPB inspector general.

Konz's 67-page report puts Tomlinson squarely in the role of a public enemy. It charges him with interfering in programming, being "motivated by political considerations" from the White House and breaking federal law when he tried to hire Patricia Harrison, a former Republican Party co-chairwoman who was appointed to the CPB board anyway.

The hiring attempt, Konz concluded, violated the Federal Broadcasting Act, which bans the use of political tests in employment.

This is all so . . . Orwellian. That Tomlinson is accused of political interference with programming for merely trying to inject some reasonable balance is absurd — at least to anyone who doesn't believe that left-of-center values and ideology are the natural order of things. His critics have a lot of brass accusing him of bias.

The attack on Tomlinson is no surprise, though. The left that so adores and dominates public TV and radio has been after his head for some time. It was President Clinton who appointed him to the CPB board, and Democrats put up with him until after he became chairman in 2003. But setting out to right a wrong proved to be too much.

This would not be an issue, and Tomlinson could have remained on his Virginia farm raising his beloved thoroughbred horses, if Congress had zeroed out the CPB as a budget item years ago. There's no constitutional authority for it to exist. Nor is it a legitimate function of a government in a free society.

Any talk of defunding the CPB — an unlikely event — would invariably bring shrieks about Big Bird being put on the endangered species list and the curtain coming down on Masterpiece Theater. Ignore them. In a market environment, the best that public television and radio have to offer can stand on its own.

As for the elitist — and too often blatantly biased — news broadcasts on both TV and radio, they could be bounced like a bad sitcom with abysmal ratings. Last time we looked, there was no shortage of media outlets for Democratic talking points.

All things considered (to borrow a phrase), defunding the CPB is the best way to go.

It's Every Coward For Him/Herself

From Investors Business Daily:

When in history have we seen the major media and a major party attack our war efforts with such veracity? Oh yeah, Vietnam; and the end result was the death of several hundred thousand innocent people and an extension of the cold war by at least 10 years. If the USSR had not been so emboldened by our cowardice, they would never have invaded Afghanistan. While this ultimately led to their undoing, it was a back door victory with huge costs in human capital and the birth of Bin Laden. It is time to start sending these people home and replace them with people who will put the interest of their constituents first.

Click the word LINK to see the actual voting results:

Posted 11/16/2005
War On Terror: Here we are in the middle of a great conflict that may well decide the course of our country and civilization. But you'd never know it by watching the United States Senate.
The Senate's vote to force the administration to report quarterly on its "progress" toward pulling out of Iraq will go down as one of the most ignominious examples of bipartisan cowardice in congressional history.

It was bad enough watching the GOP embrace the Democrats' plan to weaken the U.S. war effort in Iraq. What made it truly painful was realizing most Republicans did so only because they feared for their poll numbers and were worried about the 2006 elections .

Click to view image

Majority Leader Bill Frist may have given them a vote to cover their political posteriors. In doing so, he also gave the anti-war caucus a major victory in its effort to surrender Iraq to the terrorists.

Some leadership. It would be hard to calculate a better way to demoralize our troops while giving aid, comfort and support to our terrorist enemy than by setting a "timetable" for withdrawal, or by making those fighting the war report every three months on "progress" toward that goal.

As a matter of truth in advertising, maybe the Senate's resolution should instead have been called the "Support for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi Act of 2005." It was that bad.

That Democrats would vote for such a thing is no surprise. As a party, they have a history of hypocrisy and incompetence in foreign policy. Just look at the votes of Sens. Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton in the tally above. Both were early and ardent supporters of the Iraq war when polls showed broad public support. Now, with polls looking a bit dicey, they've changed their minds.

Such behavior is the source, by the way, of the now-infamous phrase, "We support the troops, but . . ." Has anything more vacuous emerged from Congress and the far left in the past two years?

No one voting "aye" on either of the resolutions that came before the Senate Tuesday, Republican or Democrat, can say he or she supports the troops. Quite the contrary.

By showing a lack of resolve, weakness, and by letting the terrorists know they can sit back and wait for us to leave, they put American soldiers' lives in even greater danger. And all for what, so a handful of quaking congressmen don't lose their precious Senate seats next year? We hope they're proud.

The only ones who can be proud are the 15 who voted "no" on both proposals. They include 13 Republicans and two Democrats. You can find them above. We hope they're all rewarded for their courage and principle when election time comes around.

That Republicans in control of Congress could hand such a major victory to the minority speaks volumes for their leadership. That they also seem ready to cut and run from Iraq says even more about their lack of character and backbone.

What's truly sad is that Iraq is now on the verge of major success. From one of the most brutal dictatorships on Earth just three years ago, it now has a constitution, elections, a burgeoning civil society and, most important, a future.

A month from now, Iraqis will go back to the polls to hold a national election. But can they do so in confidence, knowing the U.S. might walk away just as their democracy begins to blossom?
We've lost 2,080 American heroes, men and women who voluntarily went to fight a war they believed in, one that they felt would make their country and the world safer from terrorism. They did it for the most uncynical of reasons, for patriotism, for America.

Those who remain in Iraq deserve our unwavering support, something that was sadly lacking this week in the U.S. Senate.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

A Right To Television?

Since when does the constitution protect our right to Hi-Definition television?

From Investors Business Daily:

Posted 11/15/2005

Entitlements: To the ever-growing list of goodies Washington hands out, you can add digital television converter boxes. No, this isn't news from an alternate universe.

The Senate has voted a $3 billion subsidy for Americans whose sets can't handle the eventual — and coerced — transition to digital TV. A slightly more restrained House might pass a bill setting aside a bit less than $1 billion for the same purpose.

Texas Republican Joe Barton, chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, defends this "one time" expense. Converter boxes run $40 to $50, he reckons, and low-income households would have a hard time coming up with the dough.

Last time we checked, the Constitution was silent on the right to TV. But that doesn't cut much ice with a Congress that routinely bulls its way through and over the founding document.

The converter-box subsidy wouldn't be necessary if Congress weren't also forcing changes on the TV industry.
The House wants to require broadcasters to convert to all-digital broadcasting by April 7, 2009. The Senate could require the change by Dec. 31, 2008. Once the conversion is complete, the old analog or nondigital TVs that are connected to cable or satellite can no longer receive a picture.

Nothing wrong with the networks broadcasting in digital. But if digital's the way to go, the free market will make that clear soon enough. Washington is exceeding its authority by forcing those networks to broadcast in digital just as it would exceed its authority by subsidizing viewers who need converter boxes.

We suppose a few billion dollars more for set-top boxes will mean little in a federal budget that now tops $2 trillion. But programs like this, plus the entitlement mentality that such giveaways foster, make deficit-reduction that much harder.

They also make us wonder what in the world congressional leaders are thinking when they insist they've cut enough and can cut no more.

McCain's Mutiny

The major news groups continue to push the idea of torture with regard to interrogation of enemy combatants in the war on terror. The same people who have time and again sawed the heads off of innocent people while chanting "Praise God" and then sending the video of such acts out on the web (if you want to see such videos visit http://www.homestead.com/prosites-prs/index.html under "Know Your Enemy").

I've never been tortured and I don't claim to be an expert in torture, but I am smart enough to understand the difference between sleep deprivation and having your fingers (among other things) smashed with a hammer or yanked off with pliers. I also have no problem with the use of psychotropic drugs if it means saving the life of one innocent American.

Read on:

From Investors Business Daily
Posted 11/15/2005

War On Terror:

Sen. John McCain says that allowing torture would ruin our image. Is that worse than terrorists ruining our landscape? We want them to fear being tortured, not know they have the right to an attorney.

McCain knows torture firsthand, having suffered horribly at the hands of the North Vietnamese during the Vietnam War. We do not question his right to speak on the subject with authority.

We do question his attempt to pass legislation banning the torture of prisoners of war and detainees captured on foreign battlefields. It's not because we advocate torture, but because the benefits gained by telling the world we have a law that bans it are outweighed by terrorists' and enemies' knowing we have such a law.
Speaking Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation," McCain argued: "If we are viewed as a country that engages in torture . . . any possible information that we might be able to gain is far counterbalanced by (the negative effect) of public opinion." Any possible information?

We accept his view that torture doesn't often work and is often counterproductive. Often, but not always. And this would be a rule begging for an exception. Let's hope that if a terrorist planted a nuke set to go off in an hour in Washington, D.C., we wouldn't tell him (or her): "You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be held against you. You have the right to an attorney. Now, please, tell us where you planted the nuke."

McCain's legislation is vague on precisely what is considered torture. Is it to be defined by the eyes of the beholder? Is sleep deprivation torture? How about "mishandling" the Quran?

We need to distinguish what torture is. Sawing off Nicholas Berg's head was torture. Saddam's routine practice of putting dissidents into tree shredders feet first was torture. World opinion was silent on that.
With such a fuzzy definition of torture, the legislation is next to useless. But it could be harmful in the hands of administration critics, the good folks at places like Amnesty International and even those who fly planes into buildings and wear bombs to weddings.

Not long ago, Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin bellowed that "describing what Americans had done to prisoners in our control, you would almost certainly believe this must have been done by the Nazis, Soviets in their gulags or some mad regime — Pol Pot or others — that had no concern for human beings."

What atrocities was Durbin describing? He quoted e-mail from an FBI agent that on "one occasion the air conditioning had been turned so far and the temperature was so cold in the room that the barefooted detainee was shaking with cold."

Vice President Dick Cheney has been attacked for wanting the CIA exempted in any such legislation, amid reports of secret CIA prisons around the world. These prisons are exactly the right place to keep the rabid murderers who would kill us all if they could.

If the existence of these prisons and the possibility of torture makes just one jihadist spill the beans and save American lives, the fear they instill is justified. McCain's bill would take that fear away.

A Man From the Mainstream

From Investors Business Daily:

Posted 11/15/2005
Supreme Court: Samuel Alito is said to be downplaying a clear-cut 1985 statement of his political and legal views. We hope he hasn't evolved too far.

Here's some of what Alito said on an application for the job of deputy assistant attorney general under then-Attorney General Edwin Meese:

"I believe very strongly in limited government, federalism, free enterprise, the supremacy of the elected branches of government, the need for a strong defense and effective law enforcement, and the legitimacy of a government role in protecting traditional values."
Regarding the field of law, he wrote, "I disagree strenuously with the usurpation by the judiciary of decision-making authority that should be exercised by the branches of government responsible to the electorate."

What's wrong here? Nothing. One couldn't ask for a better, more concise credo of judicial restraint.

Getting more specific, Alito noted with pride that he had worked on cases in which the government argued "that racial and ethnic quotas should not be allowed, that the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion."

Those words are the red flags that have liberals like Sen. Edward Kennedy all stirred up. In Kennedy's words, Alito's "extreme statements" are "deeply troubling."

On Tuesday, though, Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein claimed that Alito had put that political stuff behind him. She said Alito told her in private that the comments in question were those of "an advocate seeking a job" and that he now sets his personal views aside when interpreting the law.

As well he should — up to a point. But certain personal views, such as those on the role of judges and the foundations of the law, can't be set aside, because they bear directly on the work of judging. On these topics, we hope Alito has stuck to his opinions and will give them a spirited and articulate defense. What he said 20 years ago is as valid, and securely mainstream, today as then.

That goes for Alito's 1985 view on Roe v. Wade; that view was (and is) shared by many legal thinkers, not all of them conservative. The public has plenty of Roe skeptics, too. According to the Harris Poll, nearly half of Americans continue to disapprove of it. In 1985, 50% of the respondents favored Roe and 47% (like Alito) were opposed. In 2005, 52% are in favor and 47% remain opposed.

It bears mentioning that 51% of the voters in 2004 re-elected a president who made it clear he wanted to name conservatives to the Supreme Court. And back when Alito was offering his opinions to Meese, a president who held those same views — and who wasn't shy about proclaiming them — had just been re-elected by a popular majority of nearly 59%, winning all but 13 electoral votes.

So who's the real extremist? In light of that 1984 landslide, Ronald Reagan (and Alito) clearly had the mainstream credentials that liberals such as Kennedy lacked.

We'd guess that Alito is still in the mainstream today, even if he hasn't changed his opinions one bit.

A Case for Charges of Treason

From Investors Business Daily

With everything that they have done to defeat the US in this world war on Islamic Fascism, do the Democrats really believe that we'll ever trust them to protect us and our children. Read on and keep in mind what a big deal they've made about Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame:

Posted 11/15/2005
Aid And Comfort:

The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee says he gave advance warning of our plans to invade Iraq to the president of a terrorist state, Syria. A full-scale investigation is warranted.

Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia has been relentless in seeking information to undercut our mission in Iraq. But he has some of his own explaining to do. In an interview last weekend with Chris Wallace on "Fox News Sunday," Rockefeller said:

"I took a trip by myself in January of 2002 to Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria, and I told each of the heads of state that it was my view that George Bush had already made up his mind to go to war against Iraq, that that was a predetermined set course which had taken shape shortly after 9-11."

What exactly is a U.S. senator with special access to classified information doing providing private briefings to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose country has been on the State Department's list of terrorist sponsors since that list's inception in 1979?

What's he doing sharing U.S. strategy in waging war on terrorists with the nation that, according to the State Department, gives "substantial amounts of financial, training, weapons, explosives, political, diplomatic and organizational aid" to the terrorist group Hezbollah? Hezbollah was responsible for, among other acts of terror, the Beirut truck bombing that killed 241 American servicemen in their barracks in 1983.

Rockefeller's little venture in freelance diplomacy may have violated the Logan Act, which calls for fining or imprisoning any U.S. citizen who deals with a foreign government "with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government . . . or to defeat the measures of the United States."

If a Senate Ethics Committee investigation were to confirm that Rockefeller was guilty of "a significant breach of confidentiality or unauthorized disclosure," it could "recommend appropriate action such as censure, removal from committee membership or expulsion from the Senate."

It's hard to top a senator entrusted with classified materials providing previews of U.S. military actions to a terrorist state. But Senate Republicans are doing their best.

All but 13 voted with all but six Democrats Tuesday in passing a resolution that amounts to a de facto timetable for withdrawal from Iraq. It's exactly the kind of signal that will encourage terrorists in Iraq to be patient and keep fighting: The American infidels not only lack staying power; they also have a plan to surrender.

Members of "The World's Greatest Deliberative Body" are going to have to convince the American people that they haven't forgotten we are at war. They can start by showing some fortitude in supporting the mission in Iraq for the long haul. And by having a formal investigation of the misconduct of Jay Rockefeller.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The 'Oh, Really?' Factor

From Investor Business Daily:
Posted 11/14/2005

Junk Science:
Has the "fair and balanced" network swallowed the spin on global warming? A Fox News special warns us the sky is falling, the seas are rising and your SUV is causing it all.

On Sunday, Fox News aired a special hosted by reporter Rick Folbaum, "The Heat Is On: The Case Of Global Warming," seriously entertaining the greenie notion that global warming is real, that mankind is the cause and disaster is on its way in the form of melting glaciers and rising seas.

Contrary opinions were conspicuously absent. But at least Folbaum was a tad more subtle than has been Fox's Bill O'Reilly. He was once quoted in a Sept. 26, 2004, profile on CBS' "60 Minutes" as announcing: "Global warming is here. All these idiots that run around and say it isn't here — that's ridiculous."

Yes, global warming is here, just not for the first time. According to S. Fred Singer, professor emeritus of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia, "The earth has experienced some 17 ice ages in the last 2 million years. Ice cores, ocean sediment cores and tree rings all show evidence of large and rapid climate changes, even in recorded history, i.e., the last 3,000 years."

After each ice age is a natural warming period. Earth is in one now.

One segment of the Fox special begins with the tease that we are about to take a "disturbing tour of Montana's Glacier National Park" with environmental activists Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Laurie David, both with the National Resources Defense Council.

But we're not told that, according to Cybercast News Service, the special was approved after Kennedy reportedly "dragged" Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes to a lecture by former Vice President Al Gore. The Bangor (Maine) Daily News on Sept. 23 reported Kennedy's comments about having "dragged" Ailes to the lecture.

Gore, author of "Earth In The Balance," recently said: "I don't want to diminish the threat of terrorism at all. It is extremely serious. But on a long-term global basis, global warming is the most serious problem we're facing."

According to a column by Amanda Griscom Little in the November edition of Outside Magazine, Ailes telephoned David to discuss the "one-hour global warming report that this network will air in the fall, thanks in large part to Laurie's badgering."

Yes, the Montana glaciers have receded. So too have the glaciers that once covered much of North America. Melting glaciers in Montana may be bad for tourism but, as environmental scientist Patrick Michaels writes on www.techcentralstation.com, if all the non-polar glaciers in the world were to melt completely, sea level would rise no more than five to seven inches.

We are shown footage of the collapse of the Larsen B ice shelf on the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula. It is warming and has been for decades. But it comprises just 2% of the continent. And temperature readings averaged over the entire continent show that as a whole it has been cooling for decades.

A research team from the University of Missouri at Columbia analyzed data from the European Space Agency's radar satellites ERS-1 and ERS-2 and calculated that between 1992 and 2003, the East Antarctic ice sheet gained about 45 billion tons of ice, thickening at an average rate of 1.8 centimeters a year.

The earth in fact experienced greater warming between the 10th and 15th centuries, when vineyards flourished in England, predating the Industrial Revolution. When Eric the Red brought settlers to Greenland in 986, the climate supported the Viking way of life based upon cattle, hay, grain and herring for about the next 300 years.

Was it man-made pollution that allowed 300 years of Nordic settlement in Greenland?

We report. You decide.