Friday, September 26, 2008

"Free Syria" Website Published My Article: Thanks!


Back in May, I wrote an article titled "Expansionist Iran: Lebanon, Syria, Gaza." I didn't know it until recently, but a website called "Free Syria" published it, under my name, the same day I first published it on Gather.com. While I didn't know about it, I appreciate the exposure, and wanted to return the favor. I'm publishing an excerpt from the Chief Editor's Word, Oct. '06:


The fear of freedom is the worst of all fears. A timorous leader is a prisoner who is simply unaware of the real importance of freedom. It is the only key to guarantee a national unity that could be weakened by oppression, it is the only incentive for rising up a country and promoting stability for the whole society. Freedom is the first step towards democracy which will guarantee the citizens' rights to decide for their own destiny and to exercise their freedom of religion, thinking and expression.



Syria has been living for the past decades under a constant confiscation of public and private liberties and natural rights. This situation profoundly ripped Syria's national unity, weakened and impoverished its structure and led to the spread of corruption in a country where law, justice and rights are simply nonexistent notions.



This situation is even more dangerous since one individual and one family are constantly manipulating the country's destiny, spreading corruption, stealing public money, sowing fear and terror among citizens and supporting oppressive policies.



In the light of all this we felt that it is our national duty to create this website in order to help liberating Syria from an oppressive, unjust and corrupted regime so that a new democratic regime will be established. Democracy will guarantee the respect of both public and private liberties and will allow our population to exercise freely its natural rights.




"Free Syria" supports the Syrian National Salvation Front, which is devoted to democratic reforms and human rights in Syria. I'm honored that Free Syria published my piece in their "special articles" section, which features a wide spectrum of pro-freedom points of view. I highly recommend them as an insight into the Syrian "opposition" effort. As dismal as things look these days, I have hope for my brothers and sisters in Syria. One day, they will enjoy the peace and prosperity of democratic freedoms.



GO CHECK OUT "FREE SYRIA," FOR CRYIN' OUT LOUD!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

RUSH LIMBAUGH AND MEXICANS SLANDERED BY OBAMA CAMPAIGN


I'm sorry, but the Obama campaign has stepped over the line with this one. Connecting Sen. McCain to Rush Limbaugh is beyond the pale. It was one thing, when their strategy was to paint McCain as "Bush III," but Mr. Limbaugh is even further from McCain than President Bush is, politically. In their zest to discredit Sen. McCain, Sen. Obama's campaign has done just this, with a "Spanish language" commercial using "quotes" from Rush to characterize Sen. McCain as hostile to Latinos.



However, the two "quotes" from Rush Limbaugh are actually his characterizations of other points of view, not his own opinion. Here are the quotes:



". . . stupid and unskilled Mexicans" and "You shut your mouth or you get out!"



This is an excerpt from Rush's WSJ piece about the "controversy." (link)




And more to the point, these sound bites are a deception, and Mr. Obama knows it. The first sound bite was extracted from a 1993 humorous monologue poking fun at the arguments against the North American Free Trade Agreement. Here's the context:



"If you are unskilled and uneducated, your job is going south. Skilled workers, educated people are going to do fine 'cause those are the kinds of jobs Nafta is going to create. If we are going to start rewarding no skills and stupid people, I'm serious, let the unskilled jobs that take absolutely no knowledge whatsoever to do -- let stupid and unskilled Mexicans do that work."



My point, which is obvious, was that the people who were criticizing Nafta were demeaning workers, particularly low-skilled workers. I was criticizing the mind-set of the protectionists who opposed the treaty. There was no racial connotation to it and no one thought there was at the time. I was demeaning the arguments of the opponents.



As for the second sound bite, I was mocking the Mexican government's double standard -- i.e., urging open borders in this country while imposing draconian immigration requirements within its own borders. Thus, I took the restrictions Mexico imposes on immigrants and appropriated them as my own suggestions for a new immigration law.



Here's the context for that sound bite: "And another thing: You don't have the right to protest. You're allowed no demonstrations, no foreign flag waving, no political organizing, no bad-mouthing our president or his policies. You're a foreigner: shut your mouth or get out! And if you come here illegally, you're going to jail."



At the time, I made abundantly clear that this was a parody on the Mexican government's hypocrisy and nobody took it otherwise.




Here's the thing: why is this only in a "Spanish language" commercial? The answer is cultural/political; Obama is targeting Latinos that don't know much about Republicans/conservative politics, politicians, or punditry. Rush's column justly imputes base motives in the ad, which itself imputes unjust motives to Sen. McCain.



Truth to be told, McCain's campaign is just as dishonest, in some ads. I just don't like the use of a such great American as Rush Limbaugh, under false pretenses. It was a dirty shot, in more than one way. Sen. McCain is the best shot for reconciling the issue of illegal immigration, and far more knowledgeable on the issue than Sen. Obama.



If voters who care about this issue want a solution, the choice is clear: Sen. Obama will side with the left, and fight against at least half of US public opinion. Sen. McCain is trying to "pick up" on a few of the "right's" issues (border security, deportation of criminal aliens), and compromise with the "left's" issues about keeping families together, and civil rights. Both sides of the debate have valid points, and Sen. McCain has been an agent for a "comprehensive compromise."



However, I have to report seeing an NBC "Latino" progam at 6:30 AM, and all of the guests were stridently "pro-Obama," for "the Latino community." It seemed a little "Stepford Wives" to me. I think there's more political diversity in all communities, including Latinos, and Obama's commercial will backfire. We'll see.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

WHY AREN'T FANNIE AND FREDDIE BEING BROKEN UP, AND SOLD OFF?


The biggest "scandal" of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is that they exist. Now that it's official that you and I "own" them, let's break them up, and sell them off to private firms, over the next few years. These corporations were "tools" for the government, to provide "liquidity" and "stability" in the housing markets. If you don't know it, these two objectives were at odds with each other, when housing prices "crashed." "Liquidity" means that if you want to sell a house, you should be able to find a buyer fairly quickly. "Stability" means that if you want to buy a house, it is going to be a good investment, over the long term. Fannie and Freddie have proved to be a failure at both of these policy objectives.They serve no purpose, other than political power over a large piece of the economy, for their political patrons.



Because they had the implicit backing of the US taxpayer, they were allowed to grow larger than they should have, and to gain political and bureaucratic influence greater than any normal publicly-traded private corporation had. While their support in congress was somewhat bipartisan, any quick look at their corporate leadership shows mostly Democrat names involved in their many scandals. Fraklin Raines, Clinton's former budget director, resigned in shame from Fannie, and Jamie Gorelick, contributor to the Reno Justice Dept's "wall between intelligence gathering and law enforcement" (who later minimized her role in that policy, when sitting on the 9/11 commission), was vice chair of Fannie from 1998-2003. Both of these individuals are millionaires, thanks to altering Fannie's books to give them larger bonuses.



Fannie's original mandate was to loan money to banks, for mortgages. Freddie was created by the US government after Fannie was "privatized," to provide "competition." David Frum has an excellent piece from July of this year, which gives a brief history of these institutions, and even predicts "the voters will likely exact a political price for the debacle from John McCain and the Republicans - even though the party most tainted by the failure ought to have been the Democrats." This is why, when Fannie and Freddie did get bailed out, Obama outright blamed it on the GOP; he's following a script written a long time ago. I don't think it will wash with the voters, this time.



Look at the government bailout of AIG insurance company. It's being loaned $85 billion, as it sells itself off to other companies. The government is hoping to make back the $85 billion from the sale, but the important thing is that AIG customers still have insurance. Fannie and Freddie should be treated the same. It's a bigger "hit" on the budget than AIG will be, but it's worth it to get rid of these corrupt bureaucracies, and the political poison they've spread in our economy. The difference between Fannie/Freddie and AIG is who their customers are.



Who are Fannie and Freddie's "customers?" Banks. Some try to claim that "poor people, trying to stay in their homes" are Fan/Fred's real customers, or that "we all" are dependent on these institutions, in some way that is beyond our ken. I understand exactly how the default of these entities would affect the world economy, not just ours. They can not be allowed to wreak havok on the economy, because each time they do, it seems exponentially worse.



The modern world has surpassed the efficiencies these companies provided, decades ago. Liquidity has been improved by technology, and stability was sacrificed by low interest rates, as housing prices drastically increased. Their (Fan/Fred's) accumulated debt now has been added to our government's balance sheet, but there is no political will to sell them off as soon as possible, and wash our hands of them. Why? Because of the money they pump into our elected representatives.



I don't hold the Dems solely responsible for this scandal. John McCain was in the top 20 recipients of their political donations, over the last few decades. I just find it interesting that Barack Obama was the second highest beneficiary of their political favor, second only to Chris Dodd. Now, McCain and Dodd have been senators for a LONG time, and Obama has only been a senator for a few years. How did he end up in the number two spot on this list, and why does that make me think that "he doth protest too much," when he blames Fannie and Freddie's failure on the GOP?



Fannie/Freddie are long overdue for a "special investigation," as long as it is of a criminal nature. These corrupt enterprises need to be stripped of their political cover. I was aggravated that Bush didn't do this in 2003, but understand that he was using all of his "political captal" on Iraq at the time. Now, it's up to McCain to take the point on this, because Obama surely won't.



This issue ought to be "front and center" in the election debate. Fannie and Freddie have been plagued with scandals, and it would be interesting to see exactly who promoted giving "sub-prime" mortgages to people who couldn't afford a house, and relaxing the "regulations" on getting mortgages "without a credit check." Was it all done by the Bush administration, and the GOP? -Or was there signifigant support from the Dems, particularly Sen. Obama? Let the truth come out, and all of the players come to light, regardless of party affiliation.



Hat tip to Rob Port, of Say Anything, and Michelle Malkin.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The "Bush Doctrine" Was a Media Creation


When Charles Gibson asked Gov. Palin if she agreed with the "Bush doctrine," I confess I wasn't sure what he was talking about. I remember this term, but I also remember it being used by many people, to describe different Bush policy positions. Indeed, no single policy was ever oficially labeled "the Bush Doctrine."



The media have taken, over time, different statements from several Bush speeches, and claimed them to be his "doctrine.*" I wasn't surprised that she didn't know which one he was talking about. "In what respect, Charlie?" was the correct reply.



Further, as Bill Sammon of FOX NEWS points out (link):




Gibson and his colleagues have been all over the map in defining the Bush Doctrine over the last seven years. In 2001, Gibson himself defined it as "a promise that all terrorists organizations with global reach will be found, stopped and defeated."



But when Palin tried to give a similar definition on Thursday, Gibson corrected her.



"I believe that what President Bush has attempted to do is rid this world of Islamic extremism, terrorists who are hell bent on destroying our nation," Palin said in her first interview since being nominated as the GOP's vice presidential candidate.



Gibson countered: "The Bush doctrine, as I understand it, is that we have the right of anticipatory self-defense, that we have the right to a preemptive strike against any other country that we think is going to attack us."




This seemed like a "gotcha" question, and somewhat condescending, as well. First of all, he asked a subjective question, giving her a "yes or no" option on "agreeing with Bush." Second, he asked her to "define" a term that has different meanings to different people. Third, when she gave her definition, he ignored the fact that he had defined it in the same terms, and proceeded to try to "correct" her.



All this proves is that she's not "up" on the latest "liberal" definition of the "Bush doctrine." He might think he came out looking "smarter" than all of us who didn't know what the "Bush doctrine" is supposed to be, but her answer seemed to make alot of sense to the average voter.



BTW, I think that both Gov. Palin, and the average voter agree with the "Bush doctrine," in one (or more) of it's formulations. Gibson simply picked the one that sounds most unpopular, these days.



* Besides what Gov. Palin and Mr. Gibson mentioned, the "Bush doctrine" has been described as "bringing democracy to the Middle East," and "treating states that harbor terrorists as terrorists themselves," among others that have been pointed out since the Gibson interview with the Gov.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

McCain Takes Lead in Polls; Obama Campaign "Rattled"

I don't know if it's just me, but Sen Obama seems a little "shakey" in his recent campaign events. His "lipstick" gaffe is a prime example, but it's more than that. He seems to have trouble focusing on what he's trying to say, as if he's "overthinking" every word. The "uuh's" and other lapses don't sound like the candidate that beat Sen. Clinton in the primaries. That is, unless you count the later stages of the primaries, when he couldn't win the nomination outright. He "backed into" the nomination, and he knows it.


No sooner did he "smooth things over" with Sen. Clinton (if not all of her supporters), when Sen. McCain named Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate. Since then, Sen. McCain has had a signifigant "bounce" in almost all of the various polls. This was a bigger swing than after the Rev. Wright mess came to light, late in the primaries. (With all due respect to Sean Hannity, who broke the Wright story much earlier).

There is more to this "bounce." Sen. Obama has lost some of the lustre he had, as a "new" type of politician. He is increasingly being defined as a "typical liberal" on many issues, when compared to McCain, who has had to explain his crossovers into liberal territory (illegal immigration, campaign finance reform, etc...). McCain has given definitive answers on why he votes the way he has, and has a long record to defend.

This will likely be a close race, but I won't be surprised if McCain wins by a larger margin than either of the last two elections. Sen. Obama is a formidable candidate, and may be a great president, if elected. Or not. Still, it might be interesting to see the Democrats running not only the presidency, but both houses of the Congress. "SHUDDER"

Seriously, though, Sen. McCain, and Gov. Palin really are "agents of change," in the Republican party. Many of the old "Reagan Democrats" (including many women in their '40's) are still around, and they're the vanguard of this movement in the polls. Whether it will last is the question. Stay tuned, for further analysis.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Friday, September 05, 2008

TAKE THAT, NBC!


"Save the Cheerleader, Save the World."



It's not demeaning to compare Sarah Palin to the "cheerleader" in the NBC Sci-Fi show "Heroes." After all, the "cheerleader" is also an "indestructible hero." You gotta love this lady.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

BABYGATE: IS GOV. PALIN "GETTING VETTED" BY THE MSM, OR IS THE MSM "GETTING VETTED" BY THE VOTERS?


Before Gov. Palin addresses the Republican National Convention Wednesday night, I want to review some of the "vetting" that has occupied the media since Friday. If I were a conspiracy theorist, I would say that McCain has "baited a trap" for the liberal media, and they took the bait. Let's start with the story of her daughter Bristol's pregnancy, which was front-page news in every newspaper, and the lead subject of every TV news outlet, both broadcast and cable, in the nation.



I don't have the time or patience to review all of the coverage, so I will cite one example. On PBS, Mark Shields implied that Gov. Palin's acceptance of McCain's offer of the VP slot "guaranteed that her daughter would be known globally as the best known 17-year-old unwed teenager in the world, and that decision many people question." I'm sure he meant to say "pregnant" in there, but he continued on: "The ambition of going on a national ticket, and her love and consideration of her daughter, being known once and for all as ‘Aren't you the daughter who was pregnant of the vice presidential candidate in 2008?'" Yes, this will be remembered for a long time, Mr. Shields. NOT.



It gets worse, as Shields stresses his concern for Bristol: "The question of how it affected her daughter is not open to question. It has made her daughter a front-page item for the country. That would not have been the case if Sarah Palin had said to John McCain, ‘thanks but no thanks. This is a private time for my daughter, an important and terribly difficult time in her life.' I really can only imagine the painful time that girl is going through, not simply to be known and introduced to the nation this way, but also being conflicted about what this pregnancy could do to her mother's career and all the rest of that. So I don't think there's any question the impact it was going to have upon her."



The flip side of this might be related to Shields' second to last sentence, "but also being conflicted about what this pregnancy could do to her mother's career and all the rest of that." He makes no mention of the other side of that "conflict." What would Bristol feel if her mother declined this opportunity because of Bristol's pregnancy? Might that not be more traumatizing, in the long term, than the brief glare of the "media assault" she, and her future husband are enduring right now? I heard this point from another commentator, on another show, but I don't remember who it was (except that it was a woman). I just want to give her credit for a thoughtful point of view, but one that Sheilds totally ignored.



There are far worse examples of bias in the MSM coverage of this non-story. I picked Shields' remarks because of their phony concern for "the daughter," diverting attention from the slam at the Mother/candidate. I found myself yelling at the TV while watching this, and later found a link to some of Shields' quotes at Newsbusters.org. There are more examples at their website, which you can judge for yourselves.



Gov. Palin does not have a "broken family," as an online commenter suggested elsewhere. It's just gotten larger by two members: Bristol's baby, and future husband (Levi "I'm a f-in' redneck" Johnston). Watch how the media attempt to exploit them, and Bristol, to discredit Gov. Palin. If the left-wing media didn't already realize it, let me say it clearly: Your coverage is being "vetted" by the public, and it's being rejected. This will end up hurting the candidate that you so obviously support, through no fault of his own. You forget that your power is a double-edged sword; you expose your "in the tank" coverage of Obama by your completely "out of the tank" coverage of Palin. Media popularity can be destroyed as easily as it is created, by public opinion.



I hope Gov. Palin kicks your liberal media asses, in her speech. I almost feel bad for Sen. Obama, because your sins shouldn't be visited on him. In big league politics, though, that's the breaks. Let's see what the Governor "brings to the ticket," besides conservative enthusiasm. I'll continue to bloviate on other criticisms of the GOP VP nominee, and why they'll continue to backfire on the liberal media, not to mention the most liberal Dem nominees since Carter/Mondale.



Who's being "vetted" here? Not just Gov. Palin, that's for sure.