Monday, May 31, 2004

Air America in Death Spiral

Liberal "talk radio" network, Air America, is a perfect example of the difference between the nice, happy thoughts of how one should do something and actually doing it. You might even consider using Air America as an example of liberal politics as a whole. They can't pay their bills, They don't know how much money they have - but it's less than they were told, they have to PAY radio networks to carry their show, nobody knows who's in charge and the rich guy gets screwed (Franken is no longer taking a salary) to keep the thing alive.

How about a frosty mug of "Spiral Death Syndrome"!

Russia Being Ushered Into WTO

With Russian politics so unpredictable, Europe is pushing very hard to get Russian into the WTO. Membership provides more measured economic relations between Russia and member countries. What does Russia give up to get in though?

Putin Vows to Get Rid of Werewolves

Werewolves are a household word in Russia. They are often more feared than the criminal gangs who roam the streets. But President Putin has vowed to clean them out.

Russia and US Cooperate on Old Reactors

With an eye toward preventing terrorists from obtaining radioactive materials, the US and Russia will work together on retrieving spent fuel rods from former Soviet reactors. There is also talk of working to better secure former Soviet nuclear facilities.

Iraq's Next President

With the majority of the ministry posts filled by IGC concensus and the Prime Minister chosen by UN envoy al-Brahimi, there remains the decision of who will be Iraq's next President. The debate is heated.

Most of the Iraqis in the IGC appear to favor engineer Ghazi al-Yawar. al-Yawar is a Sunni tribal leader and a relative of Sheikh Mohsen al-Yawar of the powerful Shamar tribe. This tribe consists of both Sunni and Shia members, which may be helpful to al-Yawar as President. al-Yawar was in exile in Saudi Arabia.

Adnan Pachachi is the favorite of US and UN representatives. Pachachi is also a Sunni and no neophyte to politics. He was foreign minister for Presidents Abdul Salam Arif and Abdul Rahman Arif in 1965-67 and was the permanent representative to the UN in 1959-65 and then again 1967-68. Pachachi has strong "hero appeal" as an anti-Saddam voice. Pachachi was in exile in the UAE.

Paul Bremer and al-Brahimi are talking of a possibility of compromise candidate for President, but it is not yet clear who that might be.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Sir Peter Ustinov Dies at 82

His agent has confirmed his death in Switzerland.

"Sir Peter starred in films such as Spartacus, Death on the Nile and Logan's Run, as well as many TV shows."

Farewell, Sir Peter.

Power Precariously Balanced

The Russian oil firm YUKOS is fighting for its life. Its former CEO and largest shareholder, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, stands trial for fraud and tax evasion. YUKOS is facing a 3.4 billion dollar government imposed penalty, which would bankrupt the firm.

This is a case of abuse of power. The question is whether the abuser is YUKOS or the Russian government.

Khodorkovsky is a part of the Yeltsin oligarchy and he has political ambitions. With the kind of political backing Khodorkovsky could muster, he was deemed a threat to the Putin oligarchy - mostly comprised of former KGB types and businesses friendly to them.

There's a twist, however. Liquidation of YUKOS assets to cover its penalties puts several important assets of Russia's energy infrastructure on the open market. Energy is about the only thing keeping the Russian economy from imploding and the economy is directly tied to Putin being reelected. Will YUKOS become "de-privatized" for the benefit of Russia (read Putin's oligarchy)?

Friday, May 28, 2004

New Old Source of Domestic Crude?

Previously thought to be pumped out, new Eugene Island find sparks interesting debate on real source of "fossil fuel".

(Hat tip to JCW)

Iraq and al-Qaeda linked? - Naaah!

Despite the plethora of information, which has been presented (search the Weekly Standard archives) to substantiate the connection between the Hussein regime and radical Islamic terrorism, many still refuse to concede the truth. Despite Saddam publicly offering money to Palestinian terrorists' families after they blow up Jewish people, many still refuse to concede the truth.

Well, here is another piece of (perhaps anecdotal) information one can choose to/not to ignore.

Deductive reasoning is interesting. Some have deduced President Bush was in collusion with the Saudis to drive oil prices up for profit, without a shred of support for the claim other than President Bush was once in the oil business. Yet, with multiple sources of information - including members of former administrations - over a period of time, that same ability to connect the dots completely disappears in the case of Hussein's support for terrorism or for the existence of proscribed weapons in Iraq.

Saudi Arabia's Unilateralism

Saudi Arabia has decided to go it alone in increasing oil production - drawing criticism from other OPEC nations.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Kerry's Four Snore Plan for Security

The only conclusion I can come to is Kerry is running for the 2000 election, instead of the 2004 election.

Kerry said if elected, his top security goal would be to prevent terrorists from obtaining weapons of mass destruction. His four principles for national security are:

1) An updated military to meet terrorist threats.

The American military is the most advanced fighting force on the planet. What exactly do you propose to update?

Where is this updated military going to meet the terrorist threats - In Chicago or UN Headquarters in NY?

I thought Kerry said in his book that fighting Terrorism was a law enforcement issue?

2) Use diplomacy, intelligence, economic power and "the appeal of our values and ideas" to keep the country safe.

Diplomacy? Here is a list of diplomacy attempts with Hussein:

UNSCR 678 - November 29, 1990
UNSCR 686 - March 2, 1991
UNSCR 688 - April 5, 1991
UNSCR 707 - August 15, 1991
UNSCR 715 - October 11, 1991
UNSCR 949 - October 15, 1994
UNSCR 1051 - March 27, 1996
UNSCR 1060 - June 12, 1996
UNSCR 1115 - June 21, 1997
UNSCR 1134 - October 23, 1997
UNSCR 1137 - November 12, 1997
UNSCR 1154 - March 2, 1998
UNSCR 1194 - September 9, 1998
UNSCR 1205 - November 5, 1998
UNSCR 1284 - December 17, 1999
UNSCR 1441 - November 8, 2001

What Kerry misunderstands is our enemies do not find our values and ideas appealing. They find them arbitrary, morally devoid and theologically dangerous. Kerry is still presuming (is that why they call him the Presumptive Candidate?) to be able to reason with terrorists.

3) New alliances with foreign countries

You mean, like Bush has done with Poland? What countries do you propose forming new alliances with?

4) Freedom from dependence on Mid-east oil.

How? The leftist wind idea is a costly, land invading flop. You don't want to drill more domestically. You don't want nuclear power. We've already started working more with Russia on oil programs. What are you proposing?

The fact is we will be dependent upon Mid-east oil until we secure more domestic sources of oil. Our dependence on oil is not going to decrease (it will actually increase) anytime in the near future. Changing just vehicles to new fuel sources is too costly to automakers, too costly to consumers, and perceived to be inconvenient to our lifestyles in general.

I find it ironic, how easily President Bush is castigated for his 5 point plan on Iraq even before he gives the speech, yet Kerry can put out oversimplified drivel like this and he is touted as a political genius.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Kerry to accept nomination afterall.

Clarke claims responsibility for post 9/11 bin Laden family flights

He says, “On 9-11, 9-12 and 9-13, many things didn’t get any higher than me. I decided it in consultation with the FBI.”

Not that I think this will actually put any of the conspiracy theories to bed. The Democratic party is still a hijacked by leftists entity.

Five Points of Reality Jim Gets Wrong

WaPo Columnist Jim Hoagland wrote a respectful, yet castigating letter to President Bush regarding the President's "Iraq Plan" speech. Mr. Hoagland, you are just plain wrong.

Mr Hoagland says of President Bush, "Your recent vacillation on policies -- unilateralist one day, U.N.-centered the next -- suggests you are letting yourself be pulled in different directions by putative allies and your aides in daily, desperate improvisation. By letting King Abdullah of Jordan and other Sunni leaders poison your view of what Shiite rule in Iraq would mean, you leave the impression that you had not thought through your promise of democracy for Iraq before going to war."

Mr Hoagland, have you read the list of nations involved in operations in Iraq? Unilateral is not defined as "without UN permission". Unilateral means "alone". We are not, nor have we ever been, alone in our determination to rid the world of the threat posed by Saddam Hussein's regime. This rhetoric is old, old, old. The "phony war" agenda is a team of two old, worn out horses, pulling an old, rickety wagon. One horse is dead in its traces (no connection between Al-Qaida and Saddam)and two of the wheels (no WMDs in Iraq) are gone. But those like you, Mr. Hoagland, are that other horse - blinders in place, determined to keep pulling along.

You also mention Sunnis "poisoning" President Bush against "Shiite rule" in Iraq. You only need to look at what Shiite rule has accomplished in other nations (Iran maybe?)to understand why that particular theocracy would be a bad idea. I also thought President Bush made it clear that there would be no particular group left out of governing Iraq. You have accused President Bush of poor leadership because he has been willing to listen to ideas from other governments in the region. You don't find it astute to understand how other nations will react to the form of government being attempted in Iraq? I would think it a key factor in determining the probability of success.

You contradict yourself, Mr. Hoagland. You state the President should not have concentrated power in a provisional authority because it was damaging to the credibility of the purpose of liberation, rather than occupation. Then in your very next point you state the local "legitimized" government can't possibly be ready to do the job after June 30th. In your attempt to denigrate the President's reasoning, you make the case for why things are as they should be.

First there was a shrill left wind of "where's the UN??". Now the shrill left wind is "Brahimi is ineffective and his reported choice for a Shiite (A report which is being stated as incorrect today) Prime Minister is unpopular." First of all, the President has been trying to make it clear the UN was ineffective for a couple of years now. Now you believe him? Secondly, Unpopular to whom, Mr. Hoagland? This is national politics - of course people are going to disagree on who should be the Prime Minister.

You have said, Mr. Hoagland, that NATO allies are not going to take up new burdens while the President campaigns for reelection and Germany and France have no incentive to risk taking on such a burden. I agree, but you fail to understand NATO countries are already involved in Iraq and we don't need Russia (zero combat troops in GW1), Germany (zero boots on the ground in GW1) or France (7K soldiers in GW1). We are not fighting an Iraqi army - we are building one.

Your final point is so incomprehensible, as to be difficult to address. I think you reference which combatants should be held in accordance with the Geneva Conventions and which should not. I think the President made the distinction very clear many months ago. If you weren't listening, that is really more your fault and not the President's.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

UN Kosovo Chief Resigns

The UN Administrator in Kosovo has resigned two months early on complaints he receives too little support from the US and Europe. The UN has administered Kosovo for almost 5 years.

What is Kerry's Iraq Plan?

We have heard again what the Bush administration intends in Iraq. Some say the plan has faults - most plans do. Others say the plan doesn't matter, after screaming that there wasn't one.

Well, I see it differently. I see an administration committed to a goal, as it was stated well over a year ago. Sure there have been detours along the way. Certainly, this has not been an easy row to hoe, but no one ever promised a rose garden from The Rose Garden. You were promised the opposite.

What we have not heard is a clear plan for Iraq by the man who presumes to be the Democratic candidate for President - John Kerry. He will "formally, literally go back to the UN and rejoin the community of nations."

Guess what, Mr. Kerry - the UN is involved in Iraqi reconstruction. So is NATO. The involvement of both of those organizations is likely to increase as Iraq gains its sovereignty June 30.

I suggest it is Mr. Kerry who has no plan for Iraq. Mr. Kerry has shown his misunderstanding of this effort for many months, just as he showed his misunderstanding of the Iraq issue 12 years ago. This was a time when he voted against expelling Saddam from Kuwait. Actually, I take it back - we do have a clear plan for Iraq from Mr. Kerry. His plan for Iraq is do nothing, unless the UN says it's ok.

13th Ministry Turned Over To Iraqi Control

Today Ambassador Bremer attended a ceremony with the Iraqi Minister of
Transportation to officially hand over the Ministry to Iraqi control.

Tommy Franks to be Knighted

Retired US Army General, Tommy Franks, to receive Honorary Knighthood.

Monday, May 24, 2004

President Outlines Iraq Steps

(text from

8:00 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. Thank you and good evening. I'm honored to visit the Army War College. Generations of officers have come here to study the strategies and history of warfare. I've come here tonight to report to all Americans, and to the Iraqi people, on the strategy our nation is pursuing in Iraq, and the specific steps were taking to achieve our goals.

The actions of our enemies over the last few weeks have been brutal, calculating, and instructive. We've seen a car bombing take the life of a 61-year-old Iraqi named Izzedin Saleem, who was serving as President of the Governing Council. This crime shows our enemy's intention to prevent Iraqi self-government, even if that means killing a lifelong Iraqi patriot and a faithful Muslim. Mr. Saleem was assassinated by terrorists seeking the return of tyranny and the death of democracy.

We've also seen images of a young American facing decapitation. This vile display shows a contempt for all the rules of warfare, and all the bounds of civilized behavior. It reveals a fanaticism that was not caused by any action of ours, and would not be appeased by any concession. We suspect that the man with the knife was an al Qaeda associate named Zarqawi. He and other terrorists know that Iraq is now the central front in the war on terror. And we must understand that, as well. The return of tyranny to Iraq would be an unprecedented terrorist victory, and a cause for killers to rejoice. It would also embolden the terrorists, leading to more bombings, more beheadings, and more murders of the innocent around the world.

The rise of a free and self-governing Iraq will deny terrorists a base of operation, discredit their narrow ideology, and give momentum to reformers across the region. This will be a decisive blow to terrorism at the heart of its power, and a victory for the security of America and the civilized world.

Our work in Iraq has been hard. Our coalition has faced changing conditions of war, and that has required perseverance, sacrifice, and an ability to adapt. The swift removal of Saddam Hussein's regime last spring had an unintended effect: Instead of being killed or captured on the battlefield, some of Saddam's elite guards shed their uniforms and melted into the civilian population. These elements of Saddam's repressive regime and secret police have reorganized, rearmed, and adopted sophisticated terrorist tactics. They've linked up with foreign fighters and terrorists. In a few cities, extremists have tried to sow chaos and seize regional power for themselves. These groups and individuals have conflicting ambitions, but they share a goal: They hope to wear out the patience of Americans, our coalition, and Iraqis before the arrival of effective self-government, and before Iraqis have the capability to defend their freedom.

Iraq now faces a critical moment. As the Iraqi people move closer to governing themselves, the terrorists are likely to become more active and more brutal. There are difficult days ahead, and the way forward may sometimes appear chaotic. Yet our coalition is strong, our efforts are focused and unrelenting, and no power of the enemy will stop Iraq's progress. (Applause.)

Helping construct a stable democracy after decades of dictatorship is a massive undertaking. Yet we have a great advantage. Whenever people are given a choice in the matter, they prefer lives of freedom to lives of fear. Our enemies in Iraq are good at filling hospitals, but they do not build any. They can incite men to murder and suicide, but they cannot inspire men to live, and hope, and add to the progress of their country. The terrorists' only influence is violence, and their only agenda is death.

Our agenda, in contrast, is freedom and independence, security and prosperity for the Iraqi people. And by removing a source of terrorist violence and instability in the Middle East, we also make our own country more secure.

Our coalition has a clear goal, understood by all -- to see the Iraqi people in charge of Iraq for the first time in generations. America's task in Iraq is not only to defeat an enemy, it is to give strength to a friend - a free, representative government that serves its people and fights on their behalf. And the sooner this goal is achieved, the sooner our job will be done.

There are five steps in our plan to help Iraq achieve democracy and freedom. We will hand over authority to a sovereign Iraqi government, help establish security, continue rebuilding Iraq's infrastructure, encourage more international support, and move toward a national election that will bring forward new leaders empowered by the Iraqi people.

The first of these steps will occur next month, when our coalition will transfer full sovereignty to a government of Iraqi citizens who will prepare the way for national elections. On June 30th, the Coalition Provisional Authority will cease to exist, and will not be replaced. The occupation will end, and Iraqis will govern their own affairs. America's ambassador to Iraq, John Negroponte, will present his credentials to the new president of Iraq. Our embassy in Baghdad will have the same purpose as any other American embassy, to assure good relations with a sovereign nation. America and other countries will continue to provide technical experts to help Iraq's ministries of government, but these ministries will report to Iraq's new prime minister.

The United Nations Special Envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, is now consulting with a broad spectrum of Iraqis to determine the composition of this interim government. The special envoy intends to put forward the names of interim government officials this week. In addition to a president, two vice presidents, and a prime minister, 26 Iraqi ministers will oversee government departments, from health to justice to defense. This new government will be advised by a national council, which will be chosen in July by Iraqis representing their country's diversity. This interim government will exercise full sovereignty until national elections are held. America fully supports Mr. Brahimi's efforts, and I have instructed the Coalition Provisional Authority to assist him in every way possible.

In preparation for sovereignty, many functions of government have already been transferred. Twelve government ministries are currently under the direct control of Iraqis. The Ministry of Education, for example, is out of the propaganda business, and is now concerned with educating Iraqi children. Under the direction of Dr. Ala'din al-Alwan, the Ministry has trained more than 30,000 teachers and supervisors for the schools of a new Iraq.

All along, some have questioned whether the Iraqi people are ready for self-government, or even want it. And all along, the Iraqi people have given their answer. In settings where Iraqis have met to discuss their country's future, they have endorsed representative government. And they are practicing representative government. Many of Iraq's cities and towns now have elected town councils or city governments - and beyond the violence, a civil society is emerging.

The June 30th transfer of sovereignty is an essential commitment of our strategy. Iraqis are proud people who resent foreign control of their affairs, just as we would. After decades under the tyrant, they are also reluctant to trust authority. By keeping our promise on June 30th, the coalition will demonstrate that we have no interest in occupation. And full sovereignty will give Iraqis a direct interest in the success of their own government. Iraqis will know that when they build a school or repair a bridge, they're not working for the Coalition Provisional Authority, they are working for themselves. And when they patrol the streets of Baghdad, or engage radical militias, they will be fighting for their own country.

The second step in the plan for Iraqi democracy is to help establish the stability and security that democracy requires. Coalition forces and the Iraqi people have the same enemies -- the terrorists, illegal militia, and Saddam loyalists who stand between the Iraqi people and their future as a free nation. Working as allies, we will defend Iraq and defeat these enemies.

America will provide forces and support necessary for achieving these goals. Our commanders had estimated that a troop level below 115,000 would be sufficient at this point in the conflict. Given the recent increase in violence, we'll maintain our troop level at the current 138,000 as long as necessary. This has required extended duty for the 1st Armored Division and the 2nd Light Cavalry Regiment -- 20,000 men and women who were scheduled to leave Iraq in April. Our nation appreciates their hard work and sacrifice, and they can know that they will be heading home soon. General Abizaid and other commanders in Iraq are constantly assessing the level of troops they need to fulfill the mission. If they need more troops, I will send them. The mission of our forces in Iraq is demanding and dangerous. Our troops are showing exceptional skill and courage. I thank them for their sacrifices and their duty. (Applause.)

In the city of Fallujah, there's been considerable violence by Saddam loyalists and foreign fighters, including the murder of four American contractors. American soldiers and Marines could have used overwhelming force. Our commanders, however, consulted with Iraq's Governing Council and local officials, and determined that massive strikes against the enemy would alienate the local population, and increase support for the insurgency. So we have pursued a different approach. We're making security a shared responsibility in Fallujah. Coalition commanders have worked with local leaders to create an all-Iraqi security force, which is now patrolling the city. Our soldiers and Marines will continue to disrupt enemy attacks on our supply routes, conduct joint patrols with Iraqis to destroy bomb factories and safe houses, and kill or capture any enemy.

We want Iraqi forces to gain experience and confidence in dealing with their country's enemies. We want the Iraqi people to know that we trust their growing capabilities, even as we help build them. At the same time, Fallujah must cease to be a sanctuary for the enemy, and those responsible for terrorism will be held to account.

In the cities of Najaf and Karbala and Kufa, most of the violence has been incited by a young, radical cleric who commands an illegal militia. These enemies have been hiding behind an innocent civilian population, storing arms and ammunition in mosques, and launching attacks from holy shrines. Our soldiers have treated religious sites with respect, while systematically dismantling the illegal militia. We're also seeing Iraqis, themselves, take more responsibility for restoring order. In recent weeks, Iraqi forces have ejected elements of this militia from the governor's office in Najaf. Yesterday, an elite Iraqi unit cleared out a weapons cache from a large mosque in Kufa. Respected Shia leaders have called on the militia to withdraw from these towns. Ordinary Iraqis have marched in protest against the militants.

As challenges arise in Fallujah, Najaf, and elsewhere, the tactics of our military will be flexible. Commanders on the ground will pay close attention to local conditions. And we will do all that is necessary -- by measured force or overwhelming force -- to achieve a stable Iraq.

Iraq's military, police, and border forces have begun to take on broader responsibilities. Eventually, they must be the primary defenders of Iraqi security, as American and coalition forces are withdrawn. And we're helping them to prepare for this role. In some cases, the early performance of Iraqi forces fell short. Some refused orders to engage the enemy. We've learned from these failures, and we've taken steps to correct them. Successful fighting units need a sense of cohesion, so we've lengthened and intensified their training. Successful units need to know they are fighting for the future of their own country, not for any occupying power, so we are ensuring that Iraqi forces serve under an Iraqi chain of command. Successful fighting units need the best possible leadership, so we improved the vetting and training of Iraqi officers and senior enlisted men.

At my direction, and with the support of Iraqi authorities, we are accelerating our program to help train Iraqis to defend their country. A new team of senior military officers is now assessing every unit in Iraq's security forces. I've asked this team to oversee the training of a force of 260,000 Iraqi soldiers, police, and other security personnel. Five Iraqi army battalions are in the field now, with another eight battalions to join them by July the 1st. The eventual goal is an Iraqi army of 35,000 soldiers in 27 battalions, fully prepared to defend their country.

After June 30th, American and other forces will still have important duties. American military forces in Iraq will operate under American command as a part of a multinational force authorized by the United Nations. Iraq's new sovereign government will still face enormous security challenges, and our forces will be there to help.

The third step in the plan for Iraqi democracy is to continue rebuilding that nation's infrastructure, so that a free Iraq can quickly gain economic independence and a better quality of life. Our coalition has already helped Iraqis to rebuild schools and refurbish hospitals and health clinics, repair bridges, upgrade the electrical grid, and modernize the communications system. And now a growing private economy is taking shape. A new currency has been introduced. Iraq's Governing Council approved a new law that opens the country to foreign investment for the first time in decades. Iraq has liberalized its trade policy, and today an Iraqi observer attends meetings of the World Trade Organization. Iraqi oil production has reached more than two million barrels per day, bringing revenues of nearly $6 billion so far this year, which is being used to help the people of Iraq. And thanks in part to our efforts -- to the efforts of former Secretary of State James Baker, many of Iraq's largest creditors have pledged to forgive or substantially reduce Iraqi debt incurred by the former regime.

We're making progress. Yet there still is much work to do. Over the decades of Saddam's rule, Iraq's infrastructure was allowed to crumble, while money was diverted to palaces, and to wars, and to weapons programs. We're urging other nations to contribute to Iraqi reconstruction -- and 37 countries and the IMF and the World Bank have so far pledged $13.5 billion in aid. America has dedicated more than $20 billion to reconstruction and development projects in Iraq. To ensure our money is spent wisely and effectively, our new embassy in Iraq will have regional offices in several key cities. These offices will work closely with Iraqis at all levels of government to help make sure projects are completed on time and on budget.

A new Iraq will also need a humane, well-supervised prison system. Under the dictator, prisons like Abu Ghraib were symbols of death and torture. That same prison became a symbol of disgraceful conduct by a few American troops who dishonored our country and disregarded our values. America will fund the construction of a modern, maximum security prison. When that prison is completed, detainees at Abu Ghraib will be relocated. Then, with the approval of the Iraqi government, we will demolish the Abu Ghraib prison, as a fitting symbol of Iraq's new beginning. (Applause.)

The fourth step in our plan is to enlist additional international support for Iraq's transition. At every stage, the United States has gone to the United Nations -- to confront Saddam Hussein, to promise serious consequences for his actions, and to begin Iraqi reconstruction. Today, the United States and Great Britain presented a new resolution in the Security Council to help move Iraq toward self-government. I've directed Secretary Powell to work with fellow members of the Council to endorse the timetable the Iraqis have adopted, to express international support for Iraq's interim government, to reaffirm the world's security commitment to the Iraqi people, and to encourage other U.N. members to join in the effort. Despite past disagreements, most nations have indicated strong support for the success of a free Iraq. And I'm confident they will share in the responsibility of assuring that success.

Next month, at the NATO summit in Istanbul, I will thank our 15 NATO allies who together have more than 17,000 troops on the ground in Iraq. Great Britain and Poland are each leading a multinational division that is securing important parts of the country. And NATO, itself, is giving helpful intelligence, communications, and logistical support to the Polish-led division. At the summit, we will discuss NATO's role in helping Iraq build and secure its democracy.

The fifth and most important step is free, national elections, to be held no later than next January. A United Nations team, headed by Carina Perelli, is now in Iraq, helping form an independent election commission that will oversee an orderly, accurate national election. In that election, the Iraqi people will choose a transitional national assembly, the first freely-elected, truly representative national governing body in Iraq's history. This assembly will serve as Iraq's legislature, and it will choose a transitional government with executive powers. The transitional national assembly will also draft a new constitution, which will be presented to the Iraqi people in a referendum scheduled for the fall of 2005. Under this new constitution, Iraq will elect a permanent government by the end of next year.

In this time of war and liberation and rebuilding, American soldiers and civilians on the ground have come to know and respect the citizens of Iraq. They're a proud people who hold strong and diverse opinions. Yet Iraqis are united in a broad and deep conviction: They're determined never again to live at the mercy of a dictator. And they believe that a national election will put that dark time behind them. A representative government that protects basic rights, elected by Iraqis, is the best defense against the return of tyranny -- and that election is coming. (Applause.)

Completing the five steps to Iraqi elected self-government will not be easy. There's likely to be more violence before the transfer of sovereignty, and after the transfer of sovereignty. The terrorists and Saddam loyalists would rather see many Iraqis die than have any live in freedom. But terrorists will not determine the future of Iraq. (Applause.)

That nation is moving every week toward free elections and a permanent place among free nations. Like every nation that has made the journey to democracy, Iraqis will raise up a government that reflects their own culture and values. I sent American troops to Iraq to defend our security, not to stay as an occupying power. I sent American troops to Iraq to make its people free, not to make them American. Iraqis will write their own history, and find their own way. As they do, Iraqis can be certain, a free Iraq will always have a friend in the United States of America. (Applause.)

In the last 32 months, history has placed great demands on our country, and events have come quickly. Americans have seen the flames of September the 11th, followed battles in the mountains of Afghanistan, and learned new terms like "orange alert" and "ricin" and "dirty bomb." We've seen killers at work on trains in Madrid, in a bank in Istanbul, at a synagogue in Tunis, and at a nightclub in Bali. And now the families of our soldiers and civilian workers pray for their sons and daughters in Mosul and Karbala and Baghdad.

We did not seek this war on terror, but this is the world as we find it. We must keep our focus. We must do our duty. History is moving, and it will tend toward hope, or tend toward tragedy. Our terrorist enemies have a vision that guides and explains all their varied acts of murder. They seek to impose Taliban-like rule, country by country, across the greater Middle East. They seek the total control of every person, and mind, and soul, a harsh society in which women are voiceless and brutalized. They seek bases of operation to train more killers and export more violence. They commit dramatic acts of murder to shock, frighten and demoralize civilized nations, hoping we will retreat from the world and give them free rein. They seek weapons of mass destruction, to impose their will through blackmail and catastrophic attacks. None of this is the expression of a religion. It is a totalitarian political ideology, pursued with consuming zeal, and without conscience.

Our actions, too, are guided by a vision. We believe that freedom can advance and change lives in the greater Middle East, as it has advanced and changed lives in Asia, and Latin America, and Eastern Europe, and Africa. We believe it is a tragedy of history that in the Middle East -- which gave the world great gifts of law and science and faith -- so many have been held back by lawless tyranny and fanaticism. We believe that when all Middle Eastern peoples are finally allowed to live and think and work and worship as free men and women, they will reclaim the greatness of their own heritage. And when that day comes, the bitterness and burning hatreds that feed terrorism will fade and die away. America and all the world will be safer when hope has returned to the Middle East.

These two visions -- one of tyranny and murder, the other of liberty and life -- clashed in Afghanistan. And thanks to brave U.S. and coalition forces and to Afghan patriots, the nightmare of the Taliban is over, and that nation is coming to life again. These two visions have now met in Iraq, and are contending for the future of that country. The failure of freedom would only mark the beginning of peril and violence. But, my fellow Americans, we will not fail. We will persevere, and defeat this enemy, and hold this hard-won ground for the realm of liberty.

May God bless our country. (Applause.)

END 8:34 P.M. EDT

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Rates To Rise As Economy Grows

With 3 straight quarters of significant growth, economic worries seem to be coming to an end in the US - almost. The worry now is the economy will grow out of control - inflating prices along the way.

While overnight loan rates are still at a record low of 1%, analysts agree rates must come up to closer to 4% over the next year to offset the possibility for widespread inflation.

Data analysis points to a 95% chance the FED will raise interest rates by 1/4 percent during it's June 30 meeting.

US Troops Return Karbala To Citizens

In an area which has seen some of the most intensive fighting between coalition forces and the thug cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi militia, residents are now opening their businesses and walking the streets. Militia members have been using the city's mosques as centers of operations for their attacks on Iraqi security and US forces. US forces have shown great restraint by not engaging militia members in a way which would cause damage to holy sites.

I find it ironic that this supposed holy man would allow his followers to conduct combat operations from mosques. It seems like he sees these holy sites as belonging to him, rather than to the Iraqi people. It is clear US forces, acting in a manner befitting their upbringing and training, have more respect for Iraqi holy sites than Muqtada al-Sadr.

The Presumptive Democratic Presidential Candidate

The John Kerry campaign is considering not accepting the party nomination for President at the Democratic National Convention on September 1st - opting to accept the nomination at a later date. It's a money issue really. Accepting the nomination would start an FEC spending cap of $75 million in public funds between September 1st and election day. This would occur before the same spending cap is applied to the Bush campaign at the Republican Convention 5 weeks later. It would also put a stop to the monumental fundraising success the Democrats have had during the 2004 capaign year.

To many voters, however, Kerry is presumptive in more ways than one. Some voters may find a level of arrogance in this strategy unacceptable to them. There have been rumblings of things like, "He can take our money, but not our nomination?" Also, not accepting the nomination may waste some valuable post-convention "feel good time" for a party which has not appeared to put forth a cohesive agenda (other than "We hate Bush") for the presidential election. In this case, voters have expressed that Kerry presumes to be the party candidate without having clearly expressed his position on any controversial issues.

Or maybe Kerry will accept the nomination anyway, and the fundraising will go underground to the Shadow Party 527 and 501c organizations. These groups raise enormous sums for the Democratic party - twice that of Republican non-profits.

It is assured the Kerry campaign will have a good answer prepared for whatever happens in Boston on September 1st. it will be a wonderful touchy - feely night! I foresee Ted Kennedy talking about how Kerry is the most important political figure since his brother was in office. I foresee a lot of Bush-bashing without one hint of how Kerry would do things differently - so more of the same. I don't foresee any vision for the future, except maybe how much longer John Kerry will be "presumptive".

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Fueling the Debate

People are having such a hard time understanding why fuel prices are so high (technically incorrect, but save that for another article).

I have heard a myraid of reasons, here are a few of the most popular on the Left:

Bush and his Saudi buddies are jacking up the prices to make money.
Bush pissed off the Arab street and they are punishing us with high prices
The oil companies (bad CEOs!) are jacking up the prices and gouging the little people.

Well consider this:


Oil Production has limits. There might be boundless barrels of oil in the deserts (not really true) and tundras around the world, but the capacity to pump it out, refine it, ship it and store it has limits.

OPEC, which supplies roughly 30-32% of our oil is made up of the following nations: Algeria,Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates,Venezuela. The rest comes from Canada, Mexico and much smaller capacity markets.


Demand worldwide is up considerably. Demand in the US has risen 15% in the past ten years. But consider China, which has doubled it's demand for oil in the past 10 years, as it indutrializes. When you have a limited quantity of something and more people want more of it, the price goes up. Some of you beanie baby collectors ought to be able to understand this one.

Good News

OPEC will consider increasing production by 15% in order to curb the cost of fuel worldwide. It should be noted, the proposal came from Saudi Arabia and Saudi Arabia is the only OPEC nation with the capability to significantly increase oil production.

Bad News
We don't have the refinery capacity to make more crude oil into usable fuel. We have not built a new refinery in the US in nearly 30 years, and overall capacity upgrades have only created an 8% increase in capacity.

Our high fuel prices are a result of a simple economic law - supply and demand, coupled with the fact that we have done nothing to secure our own sources of oil or reasonably priced alternative fuels. People scream about relying on OPEC oil, but fight against nuclear energy. People scream about OPEC oil, but don't want to secure more domestic sources. People scream about relying on OPEC oil, but propose alternative energy sources, which would be far more costly to the consumer than oil. People scream about relying on OPEC oil, but drive ten blocks to work. These same people will pay $1.29 for 32oz of soda and $3.00 for 2 liters of water without complaint.

Spc. Sivits Gets Max

Spc Jeremy Sivits, described as a Father and Little League Coach, pleaded guilty in a Baghdad Court-Martial. He received a sentence of one year in a military confinement facility, reduction in rank to Private and a bad-conduct discharge. The maximum sentence for this type of court-martial.

Sivits stated he knew, without doubt the treatment the detainees were receiving was wrong, but indicated he had heard MI was condoning this sort of treatment.

Was his sentence just?

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Reviews Announced for Release of Gitmo Detainees

In a departure from current policy regarding the release of enemy combatants during a war, the Department of Defense announced today it is instituting review prodedures for Afghan combatants detained in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz ordered a review procedure which consists mainly of the following:

1) Each detainee may appear annually before a military tribunal to make a case for being released.

2) Each detainee may have an officer assigned to them to assist with their appeal to the tribunal.

3)The tribunal will accept documents from family, friends and the national government of the enemy combatant along with documents from US government agencies during the deliberations of the appeal for release.

Subverting the Federal Justice System

The independence of the Judicial Branch is no longer. Today, the White House struck a deal with Senate Democrats to allow Senate confirmation votes to occur for 25 "non-controversial" judicial appointments if President Bush promises not to use his constitutional recess appointment power. President Bush has used this power to appoint Charles Pickering and William Pryor to the US Circuit Court of Appeals.

Article II, section 2, clause 2 of the Constitution states The President "...shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments."

This would indicate the Senate vote on Presidential appointments for these offices. The Democrats have stalled appointments in committee, denying the Senate an opportunity to vote by simple majority (51 Votes) - while filibustering to force a cloture vote, which requires a super majority (60 Votes) to pass. The Constitution has been very clear about which items require a super majority - this is not one of them. The democrats do this only because the Republicans have a majority in the Senate. Rather than lobby Republican Senators to agree with their point of view, they use an obscure point of Senate procedure to violate the Constitution.

What Democrats call a "flagrant abuse of Presidential power" is his use of Article II, section 2, clause 3 - "The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session."

The Executive and the Legislative branches of government are clearly in battle to control the slant of the Judicial. While this is nothing new, subverting the Constitution to gain political control of the Federal Judiciary is a threat to American Freedom.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Kerry Wrong On Veterans' Health Care

John Kerry criticized the Bush administration today for cutting funding for Veterans Administration health programs, leaving hundreds of thousands without veterans health benefits.

This is not just political vote-gathering rhetoric - it's an outright lie.

President Bush has increased funding for the Veterans Administration by 27% in his first three years in office. With the acceptance of the 2005 budget, the total increase on Veterans Administration spending under the Bush administration will be 38%. Compare this to an increase of almost 32% over the eight years President Clinton was in office.

What is significant about the Bush VA funding increases is he has increased discretionary funding alone by over 30% - not just the funding for disability benefits. According to the VA, the number of veterans receiving health benefits has increased by 1.8 million veterans or 26% during the Bush administration and the number of VA clinics is up nearly 40%.

Anthony Principi, Secretary of Veterans Affairs made a statement before the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs on 4 February, 2004 in which personally presented President Bush's 2005 budget proposal for the VA. He notes an increase which supports his three highest priorities. Secretary Principi also notes he will be able to now treat 5.2 million unique patients - a 21% increase over Clinton administration totals.

Secretary Principi notes he isn't getting everything he wants and he wants to work with Congress to secure funding for certain programs, like getting rid of the pharmacy co-payment, but goes on to say, "The 2005 budget includes several other legislative and regulatory proposals that are designed to expand health care benefits for the Nation's veterans. Among the most significant of these is a provision that would give the Department the authority to pay for insured veteran patients' out-of-pocket expenses for urgent care services if emergency/urgent care is obtained outside of the VA health care system."

Finally, Secretary Principi states, "The President's 2005 budget will provide VA with the resources necessary to continue to improve our delivery of benefits and services, particularly for veterans with service-connected conditions, those with lower incomes, and veterans with special health care needs."

This is what John Kerry calls a cut in Veteran's benefits.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Is the Kerry campaign breaking the law?

The RNC recently filed a federal complaint against non-profit organizations, Media Fund and Voices for Working Families, citing an illegal conspiracy with the John Kerry campaign to advocate Kerry as a political candidate. The organizations in question are 527 groups - tax-exempt, political organizations, which under the new McCain/Feingold campaign finance reform law cannot endorse a political figure for office. These groups, however, do not have to disclose their donors.

Does the complaint have merit? You decide. produces some of the most negative attacks against the Bush administration and has openly endorsed nearly every Democratic Presidential Candidate. employee Zack Exley was recently hired by the Kerry campaign to be its communications director.

Jim Jordan, who was John Kerry's '04 election campaign manager until November 2003, now works for Media Fund, which has Harold Ickes as its president and founder. Mr. Ickes was Deputy White House chief of staff under President Clinton. Media Fund and work closely together on Anti-Bush TV ads.

Voices for Working Families has among its Officers some familiar names: Geraldine Ferraro - former Democratic VP candidate, former US House Representative and The Honorable Bill Richardson - a Democrat Congressman from New Mexico, who has been Ambassador to the UN, Clinton's Energy Secretary and a person who many contend to be a perfect choice as John Kerry's running mate.

The Kerry campaign, and the leaders of the various 527 organizations, are quick to denounce the RNC complaint as frivolous. RNC Press Secretary, Heather Layman states even though the GOP fought against passage of the McCain/Feingold campaign finance reform law, it is the law and needs to be adhered to.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

No Moral Equivalent

I have expressed my outrage at the treatment of prisoners by a few morons in the 800th MP Brigade at Abu Ghraib. Prisoners faced humiliation few people can appreciate - things we certainly would not want to see in photos of American POWs. This being said, I cannot believe there are Americans actually making a moral equivalent between those stupid acts and the beheading of a non-combatant. There is no equivalent between being naked with a dog collar on and being brutally killed with a knife.

Nick Berg's murderers claimed to be avenging the dignity of the Iraqis who suffered abuse by their American captors. Anyone remotely familiar with al-Zarquawi knows he has never needed a reason to kill, other than to see the extermination of infidels.

Only a sociopath could think the murder of Nick Berg in any way dignifies anyone or could think this is some tit for tat exercise, justified by our "Invasion of Iraq". This event had nothing to do with Iraq. Just as the recent al-Qaida attacks in Syria, Saudi Arabia and Jordan had nothing to do with Iraq. Al-Qaida is at war with all infidels - given the chance, they will kill you too.

The murder of Nick Berg is a shining example of why it is so important for the United States, alone if need be, to take decisive action against the agents of barbarism represented by al-Qaida and other groups actively seeking our demise.

Americans must strengthen their resolve. We must stop listening to the mealy-mouthed and the seditious - we do not owe our attention to fools. Perhaps we should look more closely at the words coming from some of our representatives in Congress. Perhaps, Nick Berg's death was a self-fulfilling prophecy based upon the hand-wringing and politicizing by those in the media, Ted Kennedy and his ilk. Is it too much to think our enemies are listening and acting on the fear pouring out of some of the speeches on the floor of the Senate or watching our news broadcasts?

We also owe nothing to those who commit violence against us. We do not owe them our understanding - the only thing we need to understand is they want us dead. We don't need to know why they hate us - it is enough to know they hate us enough to murder. If we do not act in our own interests, as we have in Iraq, we put our very existence in peril.

Friday, May 07, 2004

Kerry on New Jobs Numbers

US Newswire reported a news release today by John Kerry regarding the outstanding jobs performance numbers. Apparently, the Kerry campaign is so overwhelmed by the good news they can only grudgingly conceed it is even good news.

At the same time, John Kerry is apparently ignorant of certain issues regarding employment. He states, "...but let's be clear: we still have a long way to go to get America working again. America is still in the worst job recovery since the Great Depression, with 2.2 million private- sector jobs lost in the Bush presidency, 8.1 million Americans still looking for work, and long-term unemployment at the highest level in twenty years."

Fortunately, we don't have to take Mr. Kerry's word for the state of our economy. The Bureau of Labor Statistics provides some great historical economic data. America is in one of the best economic recoveries since the Great Depression with one-half million jobs being gained in only two months. Unemployment is actually quite low. In 1992, the annual unemployment rate was about 7.4%. It wasn't until 1997 that it reached the 5.6% level it is at now. Between 1998 and 2001, the average rate was below 5.0% - yes even after Bush became President.

It was only in October 2001 that the unemployment rate began to climb. It should also be noted that unemployment has never risen above 6.3 percent in any given month - and only a single month at that rate - during the Bush presidency. This is lower, and in many cases much lower, than any month during the first 3 1/2 years of the Clinton administration - where the average monthly unemployment rate was between 6.4% and 7.8%.

The bottom line is Kerry is wrong on the economy. He states he has a plan to fix it, but isn't even aware of its actual state. His numbers don't add up. Unemployment is not nearly as bad as the gloom and doom Leftists want you to believe. They know that if they create your data for you, you won't have to go look it up yourself - and you won't know the truth.

By all means, don't take my word for it. Go look at the statistics yourself.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Al-Sadr's Movement Will Fizzle

I have said before, the insurrection perpetrated by Muqtada al-Sadr's Al-Mahdi Army is a grab for power. It is an Iranian supported attempt to gain a Shiite theocracy, which could eventually have become an insurmountable force in the middle east. Al-Sadr was able to create a popular revolt among people poor enough to have little hope in attaining by any other means, al-Sadr's promised prosperity. Had the promises been well-intentioned or even plausible, al-Sadr would not be in the position he is in now. His support is fizzling and we will soon see him either hiding in exile or killed by supporters of other clerics.

The name al-Mahdi has serious religious implications in the Muslim world, particularly for the Shia to whom "The Mahdi" is a divinely guided savior. The name, "The al-Mahdi Militia" has been seen as a bit presumptuous by other clerics, but the clerics have felt it is best to wait and see how these things go. Maybe the militia is divinely guided, afterall. Today however, the clerics appear to be a little more sure that this is just another action of an upstart, as al-Sadr has long been perceived.

Al-Sadr is being asked now by a group of well over one-hundred Shiite clerics to end his revolt, specifically to end operations in and near Shiite mosques. They are basically pushing him out into traffic by appealing to him to move his operations away from holy areas. This crumbling of silence by other Shiite leaders is the first step toward al-Sadr's eventual demise. Al-Sadr is now at a crossroads. He can pursue the possibility of appealing to the Americans through Shiite leaders in an attempt to have the apologize for him - "he's young and confused, but an Iraqi patriot. He is good but misguided". This would help him retain his power and call a sort of victory - "we showed them Iraqi resolve!" The other option is to try to strengthen his resistance. This will only bring further bloodshed, delay the rebuilding of critical Iraqi infrastructure and signal the end for al-Sadr. Either way, it is recognized that al-Sadr must go. The only question is, which way.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Cinco De Mayo

Today is a holiday. A holiday marked in Mexico and southwest US States by parties, concerts and lots of great food.

What's the celebration about? No, it's not Mexican Independence Day. It's a celebration of the defeat of the French army by Mexican forces at the Battle of Pueblo. Yes, Mexico is also a part of the long and distinguished list of countries, which the French have been forced to bow to militarily. So, Viva Mexico!

Don't forget there is another important holiday coming up - French independence from the Germans is celebrated on June 6.

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Just Following Orders

Abu Ghurayb Prison has never been a pleasant place. It has a history of atrocity since its inception. Under Saddam Hussein it was a place of vast and vile torture, of flesh and blood being torn from "criminals" of all types and strewn about helter skelter. A grisly place, at best.

Several soldiers of a National Guard military police (MP) unit are being investigated and censured for abuses of enemy combatants being held there. The photographs they took show the disgusting, humiliating scenarios, which the detainees were forced to participate in. It is an abomination of the laws of warfare and needs to be punished - severely. On the flip side, at least their bodies were not charred beyond recognition, beaten while being dragged through the streets and hung from the support rafters of a bridge - but that is another article.

Several of the members of this MP unit are corrections officers back in the land of the Big PX, yet they claim not to have direction or training enough to know this was inappropriate. There are claims these disgusting actions were performed at the direction of intelligence gathering agencies - the soldiers were "just following orders".

Part of a soldiers initial training and yearly continuity training of mission essential tasks consists of treatment of captured enemy combatants (Silence, Segregate, Safeguard). The last paragraph of The Code of Conduct, which is a part of the daily uniform in every command I have been in, states: "I will never forget that I am an American fighting for freedom, responsible for my actions, and dedicated to the principles which made my country free..."

"Just following orders" doesn't wash - orders must be lawful in order to be considered an order at all. Certainly, these soldiers realized an order to place naked prisoners in humiliating positions and then enjoy having their pictures taken with them would be unlawful - especially the professional corrections officers, right?

"Just following orders" is a cop out. The officers, non-commissioned officers and enlisted soldiers who knew what was happening, knew better. Their parents taught them better. Their basic training taught them better. I am certain their MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) training taught them better. This is a group of people who found themselves capable of taking advantage of someone who was weaker than they were and the pictures showed they were enjoying it.

That is not what America stands for!