Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Dishonesty of the Left: Bush Mustn’t Win

If Al Qaeda is reduced to a few backrooms of bumbling plotters, and if Iraq becomes a free, democratic and peaceful nation – no longer a threat to us or to its neighbors, and if Islamic terrorism is reduced to isolated, small incidents around the world, the left will say, “see, there never was a meaningful threat from Islamic fundamentalists at all. It was all about oil and power.”

On the other hand, if the terrorists take over Iraq and make it their home base, and then take over Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, and, as they always hoped to do, and have been trying unsuccessfully for years to do in Saudi Arabia, shut down the economies of the west by shutting off the oil, the left will say, “see, it is all Bush’s fault. There was no terrorism until Bush went into Afghanistan and Iraq”.

The problem here is that our response to 9/11 was the first meaningful response the U.S. has ever made to all the major acts of terrorism carried out against us since 1979, and, when taking our non-action into account, including the pullouts from the Lebanese airport and from Somalia – Osama Bin Laden was encouraged to declare us a “paper tiger”. It was certainly this non-action that encouraged him to attempt 9/11. If we have to go back into Iraq, having pulled out before completing the mission, it will be impossible for us to mount another attack, coordinated with a coalition of allies. This is it.

As far as Saddam and Iraq is concerned, let me repeat what former Democratic Senator Bob Kerrey had to say recently, “Let me restate the case for this Iraq war from the U.S. point of view. The U.S. led an invasion to overthrow Saddam Hussein because Iraq was rightly seen as a threat following Sept. 11, 2001. For two decades we had suffered attacks by radical Islamic groups but were lulled into a false sense of complacency because all previous attacks were "over there." It was our nation and our people who had been identified by Osama bin Laden as the "head of the snake." But suddenly Middle Eastern radicals had demonstrated extraordinary capacity to reach our shores.

As for Saddam, he had refused to comply with numerous U.N. Security Council resolutions outlining specific requirements related to disclosure of his weapons programs. He could have complied with the Security Council resolutions with the greatest of ease. He chose not to because he was stealing and extorting billions of dollars from the U.N. Oil for Food program….

The key question for Congress is whether or not Iraq has become the primary battleground against the same radical Islamists who declared war on the U.S. in the 1990s and who have carried out a series of terrorist operations including 9/11. The answer is emphatically "yes."" Bob Kerrey

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Get Out of the Way Pelosi and Reid

Now that the nonsense orchestrated by Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid to satisfy their kook base has been laid to rest, the grownups attempting to save western civilization from attacks by warring Muslims can concentrate on them. Yes, it’s about oil and it’s about interests, but it’s also about religious fanatics who want you dead, and must be prevented from ever getting their hands on the weapons that can make it so.

President Bush, at the time of the Baker report, may have decided to implement it AFTER achieving certain goals in stabilizing Iraq. Hence the surge and now this:

Bush, Reviving Baker-Hamilton Advice, Recasts Mission in Iraq
May 25 (Bloomberg) -- President George W. Bush, reviving the bipartisan advice of the Iraq Study Group he largely ignored five months ago, is redefining the ultimate U.S. mission as limited to training Iraq's forces, guarding its territory and battling al-Qaeda.

When the panel headed by former Secretary of State James Baker and former Representative Lee Hamilton issued its findings in December, Bush implicitly rejected its recommendations to negotiate unconditionally with Iran and Syria, withdraw most U.S. combat troops by the first quarter of 2008 and change the American role to one of support.

Yesterday, the president publicly embraced the report and sought to use it as a rationale for his troop buildup in Iraq. He called the military reinforcements a way-station to the smaller and narrower U.S. presence envisioned by the panel.

``The recommendations of Baker-Hamilton appeal to me, and that is to be embedded and to train and to guard the territorial integrity of the country and to have special forces to chase down al-Qaeda,'' Bush said at a White House news conference.

``But I didn't think we could get there unless we increased the troop levels to secure the capital,'' Bush said. ``And so, therefore, the decisions I made are all aimed at getting us to a different position.''

A few hours later, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the Pentagon has already begun planning for a transition to a smaller U.S. force with a mission limited to ``a train, equip, continue to go after al-Qaeda and provide support kind of role.''

Congressional Fight
During a Pentagon news conference, Gates added: ``That kind of a role clearly would involve fewer forces than we have now and forces with a different mission.'' He said he couldn't yet say how much U.S. troops could be reduced from their current level of about 155,000 or when the transition could begin.

The statements by Bush and Gates represented a significant shift by an administration that has fought efforts by congressional Democrats to limit the U.S. military role in Iraq. That role currently involves trying to quell a sectarian conflict between Sunni and Shiite Muslims. The Democrats earlier this week dropped an effort to tie new war funding to a withdrawal timetable after Bush vetoed the measure.

In responding to the Iraq Study Group's report, Bush said Dec. 7 he would authorize direct talks with Iran and Syria only if they first agreed ``to not fund terrorists, to help this young democracy survive, to help with the economics of the country.''
Bush brushed off the panel's recommendation to withdraw most U.S. combat forces by 2008, telling reporters he first wanted to hear the military's views. One month later, he announced he was sending an additional 21,500 combat troops -- a decision he argued was in line with the Baker-Hamilton approach.

Yesterday, members of the study group welcomed Bush's new support for their plan, which the president referred to favorably four times yesterday, while saying it was largely the result of the course of events in Iraq and declining political support for the war at home.

``We made 79 recommendations, and they were not really warmly embraced at the time,'' said a Republican panel member, former Senator Alan Simpson of Wyoming, in an interview. ``They did not crush them to their bosom. But now they're looking at them, which I think is tremendous.''

`Matter of Time'
A Democratic member of the study group, Leon Panetta, said Bush has already accepted the panel's recommendations to talk with Syria and Iran and set performance benchmarks for Iraq's government. ``It's only a matter of time before he embraces the recommendations to transition from combat to support,'' Panetta, who served as chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, said in an interview.

Panetta said the panel had expressed support for a temporary buildup only in the context of ``a larger strategy'' that included ``transition from combat to support and a gradual reduction'' of combat troops. Had Bush embraced this overall approach at that time, said Panetta, he would have encountered far less opposition to the buildup.

The commander of all U.S. forces in the Middle East, Admiral William Fallon, said Bush's new embrace of the Baker- Hamilton recommendations made sense in light of recent events that ``open up opportunities,'' such as new U.S. diplomatic contacts with Syria and Iran.

``My sense is the whole thing has been moving in that direction for a while,'' Fallon said in an interview. ``You can read the tea leaves. We said we're going to do the surge, have all the stops pulled out to make it work. We've said we're either going to recognize success or we're going to recognize that we're not making it.''

The U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, is scheduled to meet an Iranian diplomat in Baghdad to discuss Iraq on May 28. It will be one of the highest-level direct exchanges between U.S. and Iranian diplomats since the two countries severed ties in 1979.


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Monday, May 28, 2007

Two Media Bombs: Muslims and Immigration

America’s Muslims have vindicated those who think that immigration by Muslims should be stopped cold, that mosques have to be kept under surveillance and that non-citizen Imams and others who preach hate and death to America should be deported without delay. Those who consider the mainstream press, like the New York Times, to be aiding the enemy in the war on terror have also been vindicated by the latest Pew poll. Islam is a political movement, not just a religion, and it is a dangerous political movement that must be dealt with before we in the USA reach the point now gone past in the Netherlands and in Great Britain.

Media bombs
By Diana West
Published May 25, 2007

Funny how small 26 percent sounds when it describes, for example, the number of American voters who support the Senate's mass-amnesty, goody-bag bill for illegal aliens. In this case, the one in four people polled by Rasmussen this week who hope the legislation pass comes off as a minority voice, especially when compared to the whopping 72 percent of voters who favor border enforcement and the reduction of illegal immigration.

But 26 percent looms large when it describes the number of American Muslims, ages 18-29, who support suicide bombings "in defense of Islam" -- one of the sensational, if sensationally under-reported, findings of a recent Pew poll. According to Pew, the total Muslim population in America is 2.35 million, 30 percent of whom are between 18 and 29. By my figuring, the suicide-bomb-approving cohort works out to 183,000 people. The poll also tells us that 69 percent of younger American Muslims say suicide bombings are never justified. While representing a majority almost as great as the percentage of American voters who favor border enforcement, 69 percent in this particular case is wholly inadequate; indeed, it is a strikingly poor showing.

Why? In the case of the immigration bill, the poll reflects public opinion pertaining to a political process, a no-holds-barred, expletive-laced, free-for-all that, loathsome as it may sometimes seem, remains democratically rooted in a non-violent contest of ideas, politics and flim-flam. In such a context, one-quarter of anything pales next to three-quarters of anything.

In the case of suicide bombing, however, the context changes. According to Pew's data, one-quarter of younger American Muslims approve of the presence of skin-ripping, skull-crushing, organ-piercing violence in civilian life as a religious imperative -- "in defense of Islam." (The Pew pollsters declined to define "defense of Islam," but having lived through Pope Rage, Cartoon Rage, Koran Rage, Satanic Verses Rage, etc., I think it's safe to say this is a rather broad category.) Such approval for religious violence is not just another unfettered political opinion finding expression in a poll-taker's tally. On the contrary, the fact that a significant young chunk of American Islam believes such violence has a place in society indicates something closer to the end of unfettered political opinion. It may signal the beginning of physical coercion as a factor in the American political process. This helps explain why the 69 percent figure is no consolation prize; only unanimity is acceptable here.

It's not that a physical fear factor pertaining to mainly Islamic terrorism hasn't long existed -- just take a look at the dispiriting security perimeter erected around the Capitol, for instance. But this Pew poll may mark the first official acknowledgement that such violence, and, equally important, the threat of such violence, actually find approval within the American polity.

Something new and barbarous under the sun, right? This is why it's all the more disturbing to review the happy headline-spin the story received. The blogger Ace of Spades provided an early roundup of the Orwellian tags, which included: "Poll: Most Muslims seek to adopt American lifestyle" (USA Today); "Muslims assimilate better in U.S. than Europe, poll finds" (New York Times); "Poll: US Muslims Feel Post-9/11 Backlash Despite Moderate Outlook" (Voice of America). My personal fave: "Upbeat portrait of US Muslims" (Sacramento Bee). The accompanying stories were no less giddy.

But why the journalistic rush to depict the shocking story as so much happy talk? Therein lies a tale, one of fanatical religious fervor-on the part of the mainstream media (MSM). Like other politically correct elites, the MSM follow their own version of the "true faith": multiculturalism. Multiculturalism preaches that all civilizations are the same, all religions are the same, all peoples are the same. The Pew results, meanwhile, tell them something else again: Some people -- some young American Muslim people -- approve of suicide bombing in defense of Islam. Does this finding perhaps introduce a qualitative difference among civilizations, religions, and peoples? That is, is there something more desirable about societies that don't inspire and glorify suicide bombings -- something worth preserving? Conversely, is there something about Islam our own society requires protection against? This is very tricky territory for the MSM. The logical answers are multiculturally blasphemous

The MSM response: it's better to say nothing at all. Or better yet, just smile. Big grin. Happy story. It's one measly quarter, after all. Just one in four. And isn't that something to be upbeat about?

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Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Lost Heroes of the War on Terror

The Lost Heroes of the War on Terror
By Jeff Emanuel
Published 5/25/2007 12:09:13 AM, The American Spectator

Despite taking place in an age of seemingly limitless information, the Global War on Terror (GWOT) has spawned a paucity of stories on the topics of heroic action and courage under fire. Regardless of whether this has been the result of honest, unfortunate oversight, or a byproduct of the "if it bleeds, it leads" mindset of a sensationalist 24-hour media apparatus which seems willing only to report the bad news from the various fronts in the War on Terror, the fact remains that there are no grand tales being told of modern Audie Murphies, Jimmy Doolittles, Pappy Boyingtons, Bill Pitsenbargers, or Bud Days, despite the fact that the nation -- and a significant amount of her soldiers -- is at war. This is not a new phenomenon; even the most recent pre-GWOT recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor -- Army sergeants Randy Shughart and Gary Gordon, who were killed in Mogadishu in 1993 -- are hardly household names. However, the high-profile nature of the War on Terror should mean that more such tales reach the living rooms of Americans who are hungry for more than the ordinary doom-and-gloom fare offered throughout the 24-hour news cycle.

This lack of reported stories of heroism on the part of America's fighting men and women is not due to a lack of media access to the military. On the contrary, Operation Iraqi Freedom has seen a new era of access for journalists with the advent of the Department of Defense's media embed program. Likewise, the lack of relevant reportage is not because there has been a deficiency in individual gallantry displayed on the field of battle; there have been numerous cases of exceptional courage under fire to this point in the War on Terror, and there will doubtless be many more before this conflict has drawn to a close.

Every man and woman fighting for America deserves respect and acknowledgment. There are some, though, who go above and beyond even the bravery and valor shown by the "average" soldier, sailor, airman, or Marine who puts his or her life on the line day in and day out in defense of America and in pursuit of the nation's goals. Here is a selection of four exceptional warriors -- one from each branch of service -- whose names and deeds every man, woman, and child should know. Each of these men is a true hero in every sense of the word, having fought in defense of America, and having made the ultimate sacrifice for their mission and for their fellow men.

Michael Monsoor, United States Navy
Michael Monsoor of Garden Grove, California, felt the same call to serve his country that had led his father and brother into the Marine Corps. He was pulled in a different direction than his family members, though: he was drawn to the U.S. Navy, not out of a desire to serve in the fleet, but out of a burning ambition to serve as a Navy SEAL, one of America's Special Operations elites.

Monsoor excelled at BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL) training, and was assigned to SEAL Team Three, based at Coronado, California. It was in Iraq, though, as he fought alongside his teammates, that he repeatedly demonstrated the bravery and heroism which are characteristic of America's fighting men and women, and it was in that same country, on September 29, 2006, that the 25-year-old hero gave his life to protect them.

A recipient of the Bronze Star Medal for his earlier actions in the War on Terror, Monsoor was earned a Silver Star, the third-highest medal conferred upon members of the United States military, for his valor and selflessness while engaged in a firefight in Ramadi in May, when, according to the report, "he and another SEAL pulled a team member shot in the leg to safety while bullets pinged off the ground around them." Only weeks later, Monsoor's willingness to risk his life for his teammates was demonstrated to the utmost, as he made the ultimate sacrifice to save the lives of the men around him.

According to the Navy's official narrative:
On 29 September, Monsoor was part of a sniper overwatch security position in eastern Ramadi, Iraq, with three other SEALs and eight Iraqi soldiers....Ramadi had been a violent and intense area for a very strong and aggressive insurgency for some time....An insurgency fighter...threw a fragment grenade into the overwatch position which hit Monsoor in the chest before falling in front of him. Monsoor yelled "Grenade!" and dropped on top of the grenade prior to it exploding. Monsoor's body shielded the others from the brunt of the fragmentation blast and two other SEALs were only wounded by the remaining blast.

The most important part of this incident to understand, in order to fully appreciate the magnitude of Monsoor's sacrifice, is this: due to the orientation of the room, and the location of its lone exit, he was the only person who could have escaped. Doing so, though, would have meant abandoning the others in the room to grievous injury or, more likely, to death. Knowing both courses of action, and the consequences of each, he had to make a split-second decision.

Said Monsoor's mother later, "We just knew that if Mike was put in a situation like he was, he wouldn't hesitate."

And he didn't. According to the Associated Press, "One SEAL lieutenant...watched Monsoor shield him and others from exploding hot metal...when the grenade blew up their sniper position. 'Mikey had the best chance of avoiding harm altogether,' said the officer. 'But he never took his eye off the grenade.'"

A mere two weeks from redeploying home from Iraq himself, Monsoor gave up his life so that the men around him would have a chance to return to their families.

As was so eloquently and succinctly put by the Chicago Tribune's Kristen Scharnberg shortly after the incident, in an article titled "Medals of Honor largely MIA among heroics of Iraq war":

The men who were there that day say they could see the options flicker across Michael Monsoor's face: save himself or save the men he had long considered brothers.

He chose them.[Emphasis added.]

The decision was made in less than an instant -- and those whose lives would have ended that day but for Monsoor's action will carry a weighty gratitude for as long as they live. Three months after making the ultimate sacrifice, Mike Monsoor was nominated for a posthumous Medal of Honor -- and, if there is any justice in this world, that request will be approved as quickly as possible.

Jason Dunham, United States Marine Corps
Coincidentally, Jason Dunham, of Scio, New York, shared a birthday (the day before Veteran's Day) with the United States Marine Corps. A Corporal in the Corps, he was killed in Iraq in 2004, at the age of 23; had he not given his life for his comrades on one fateful day three years ago, he would have turned 25 last fall on the day that the USMC, which has been fortunate beyond measure to have contained men of Dunham's quality for over two centuries, turned 231.

Dunham's death in Iraq is not the story in itself, though; it is his final actions, stunning in their selflessness and heroism, which deserve to be known and remembered. According to the official report:

On April 14, 2004, Corporal Dunham heroically saved the lives of two of his fellow Marines by jumping on a grenade during an ambush in the town of Karabilah.

When a nearby Marine convoy was ambushed, Corporal Dunham led his squad to the site of the attack, where he and his men stopped a convoy of cars trying to make an escape. As he moved to search one of the vehicles, an insurgent jumped out and grabbed the corporal by the throat.

The corporal engaged the enemy in hand-to-hand combat. At one point, he shouted to his fellow Marines, "No! No! No! Watch his hand!"

Moments later, an enemy grenade rolled out and Corporal Dunham jumped on the grenade to protect his fellow Marines, using his helmet and body to absorb the blast. Corporal Dunham succumbed to his wounds on April 22, 2004.

At the time of the battle in question, Lance Corporal Mark Edward Dean, a close friend of Dunham's, "didn't recognize the wounded Marine being loaded into the back of his Humvee. Blood from shrapnel wounds in the Marine's head and neck had covered his face. Then Lance Cpl. Dean spotted the tattoo on his chest -- an Ace of Spades and a skull -- and realized he was looking at one of his closest friends, Cpl. Dunham. A volunteer firefighter back home in Owasso, Oklahoma, Lance Cpl. Dean says he knew from his experience with car wrecks that his friend had a better chance of surviving if he stayed calm.

"You're going to be all right," Lance Cpl. Dean recalled saying to Dunham as the Humvee raced against the inevitability of time and mortal wounds, on a doomed quest to save the life of a brave Marine whose selfless act had just saved the lives of his comrades.

"We're going to get you home."

The situation was eerily familiar to Dean, who recalled Dunham's words to him and their comrades while on a trip to Las Vegas shortly before leaving the US for Iraq, when Dunham told them that he was planning to extend his enlistment and stay in Iraq for the battalion's entire tour. "You're crazy for extending," Lance Cpl. Dean said. "Why?"

Cpl. Dunham responded: "I want to make sure everyone makes it home alive. I want to be sure you go home to your wife alive."

And he did just that.

Though necessary, it hardly scratches the surface of sufficient repayment to Corporal Dunham, and to his family, that his parents were presented a posthumously awarded Medal of Honor, the nation's highest possible award for military valor, in his name by President Bush in a January 11 ceremony at the White House.

The Medal, established by Joint Resolution of Congress, can be awarded to an Armed Forces member who "distinguishes himself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against any enemy of the United States, while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force." The incredible bravery, love, and selflessness displayed that day showed that Corporal Jason Dunham embodied these principles and requirements to a "T," and he was as deserving of the Medal of Honor as any have ever been.

Ross McGinnis, United States Army
When most young men are turning 17, they are thinking about their upcoming senior year of high school, their sports career, or their choice of college. When Ross McGinnis, of Knox, Pennsylvania, turned 17, he marched down to the recruiter's office and joined the Army via the delayed enlistment program.

When in kindergarten, said Rebecca McGinnis, her son "drew a soldier...when he was supposed to picture what he wanted to be when he grew up." At the age of 18, the ambidextrous McGinnis was in training to be an infantryman, where he qualified as a sharpshooter with both left and right hands. Shortly thereafter, he was assigned to Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, based in Schweinfurt, Germany, where he was the youngest soldier in the unit.

In August of last year, he found himself in Iraq, patrolling the streets of Baghdad, and in November, immediately following the Saddam-trial verdict, he helped forcefully put down a premeditated violent uprising by insurgents.

McGinnis distinguished himself so greatly in his first three months in Iraq that a waiver was requested -- and granted -- to promote him to Specialist (E-4) despite lacking the requisite time in service.

On December 4, 2006, at the age of 19, Ross McGinnis traded his life for the lives of four members of his squad, when he jumped on a grenade and shielded them from the blast. He remains 19 years old forever.

On the last day of his life, PFC McGinnis was manning the .50-caliber machine gun mounted in a turret atop his Humvee, and serving as the rear guard in a mounted combat patrol against insurgents and sectarian fighters. As the convoy made a turn onto a narrow street, a fragmentation grenade was thrown from the rooftop of an adjacent building. According to the official report, "[McGinnis] immediately yelled "Grenade!" on the vehicle's intercom system to alert the four other members of his crew...[he] made an attempt to personally deflect the grenade, but was unable to prevent it from falling through the gunner's hatch."

For his subsequent actions, McGinnis was posthumously awarded the Silver Star, the military's third-highest award for combat heroism (specifically, for "gallantry in action against an enemy of the United States").

According to platoon sergeant Cedric Thomas, who was commanding the vehicle, "McGinnis yelled 'Grenade...It's in the truck!'...I looked out of the corner of my eye as I was crouching down and I saw him pin it down.

"He had time to jump out of the truck. He chose not to."

Thomas reportedly "remembered McGinnis talking about how he would respond in such a situation. McGinnis said then he didn't know how he would act, but when the time came, he delivered."

"He gave his life to save his crew," Thomas said. "He's a hero. He's a professional. He was just an awesome guy."

McGinnis's Silver Star citation recounts the events in greater detail:
His Platoon Sergeant, the truck commander, was unaware that the grenade physically entered the vehicle and shouted "where?" to PFC McGinnis. When an average man would have leapt out of the gunner's cupola to safety, PFC McGinnis decided to stay with his crew. Unhesitatingly and with complete disregard for his own life he announced "the grenade is in the truck" and threw his back over the grenade to pin it between his body and the truck's radio mount.

When the grenade detonated, PFC McGinnis absorbed all lethal fragments and the concussion with his own body killing him instantly. His early warning allowed all four members of his crew to position their bodies in a protective posture to prepare for the grenade's blast. As a result of his quick reflexes and heroic measures, no other members of the vehicle crew were seriously wounded in the attack. His gallant action and total disregard for his personal well-being directly saved four men from certain serious injury or death.

The tremendous sacrifice involved in such a gallant, heroic act is indescribable. At the age of 19, the youngest man in his Company, Ross McGinnis willingly forfeited his own life, his own desires, and his own future so that his comrades -- those with whom he had been facing enemy fire -- could have them.

"He was that kind of person," said Michael Blair, a fellow 1-26 infantryman. "He would rather take it himself than have his buddies go down."

We can only hope and pray that when Tom and Rebecca McGinnis think of their son Ross, which they will always do with a sorrow that none but a parent can know, they will dwell not on the life that was lost, but on those that were saved -- and that they focus not on the act that took his life, but on the manner in which he conducted himself in willingly giving it. The fact that their son committed the ultimate act of love, heroism, sacrifice, and selflessness, giving his life that others might live, may be little comfort to a grieving parent. However, it is no small achievement, no mean feat, and is worthy of nothing but the highest possible recognition from the grateful nation that he died serving.

And he may yet receive the highest recognition that America can offer him. Due to the unparalleled heroism with which he conducted himself, PFC Ross McGinnis has been submitted for a Medal of Honor of his own. We can only hope that the earthly memory of his final act is justly served, and that his nomination is quickly approved.

Ross's posthumous Silver Star was presented to his parents at a memorial service, held with full military honors, on December 17 in Knox, Pennsylvania. Most deservingly, his final resting place will be Arlington National Cemetery, where he will no doubt be welcomed with open arms by those fallen heroes who already await him there.

Jason Cunningham, United States Air Force
Jason Cunningham of Carlsbad, New Mexico, joined the U.S. Navy at the age of 19, but he didn't stay long. After just under four years in the fleet, Cunningham decided on a radical career change, setting his sights on joining an elite Air Force fraternity known as Pararescuemen. The USAF has fewer than 1,000 of these medical professionals whose job is to deploy by any means necessary -- sea, air, or land -- to rescue downed aircrew members and injured special operators.

Cunningham succeeded in his goal of becoming a PJ, and was assigned to the 38th Rescue Squadron at Moody AFB, GA. Only eight months later, he deployed to Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. The PJs there were based in an air operations building which also housed a forward surgical team -- a training opportunity which he took advantage of almost immediately.

"Every time we had a casualty event [Cunningham] was always the first one here offering to help," said Dr. (Maj.) Brian Burlingame, the surgical unit's commander. "His enthusiasm was just genuine to the core, which was what endeared him to us. He was like a little brother."

"He had more motivation than any one man should have," said a Pararescue colleague. "He was all about saving people's lives."

Besides honing his personal medical skills, Cunningham's involvement with the surgeons down the hall at Bagram directly resulted in a development which would save the lives of American soldiers in the very near future: the allowing of PJs to carry whole blood into combat as a part of their medical loadout. This was a controversial step, Dr. Burlingame told the Air Force Times, because:
"Blood is an FDA-controlled substance. It's very, very regulated." Special training, not to mention lots of paperwork, is required before medics are considered qualified to administer blood in the field. After Cunningham and Burlingame started talking, all the pararescuers here took the classes and filled out the paperwork.

"We then pushed blood forward with [Cunningham's] group," Burlingame said.

Perhaps the most famous battle of Operation Enduring Freedom, the battle of "Roberts Ridge" (a subset of Operation Anaconda which saw a loss of life unprecedented in the special operations community since Mogadishu in 1993), was Cunningham's first -- and last -- taste of combat. After Navy SEAL Neil Roberts fell out of an MH-47 Chinook helicopter which took heavy fire while attempting to insert a SEAL team onto a hilltop to overwatch the Anaconda battlefield, and a second helicopter had deposited the remainder of Roberts's squad and an Air Force combat controller (Tech. Sgt. John Chapman, whose actions during the battle cost him his life but earned him a posthumous Air Force Cross) on the hilltop in an attempt to rescue the fallen sailor, whom Predator UAV footage had shown being captured by Taliban fighters, a quick reaction force (QRF) composed mainly of a squad of Army Rangers was launched to reinforce the outmanned and outgunned Americans who had quickly become pinned down in an exposed position.

As it approached the landing zone, the QRF helicopter came under such significant ground fire that it was forced to make a crash landing in an exposed area of the hilltop, only 100 meters from a fortified enemy position. The soldiers on board immediately took fire, and casualties began to mount instantly.

Cunningham worked feverishly to treat the wounded Rangers and aviators, doing so in the back of the downed Chinook helicopter until it caught fire and became the target of increasingly accurate enemy mortar fire. Making the decision to move his patients, Cunningham crossed the line of fire seven separate times while successfully transporting them to higher ground -- then was forced to move them twice more to avoid the enemy fire raining down on their static, vulnerable casualty collection points. Finally, just after midnight, after so much success defying enemy fire to move and treat his patients, Cunningham's luck ran out, and he was shot in the abdomen just below his protective vest. According to the Air Force Times, "Cunningham must have known he was in serious trouble. But despite his worsening condition, he continued to treat patients and advise others on how to care for the critically wounded. One of the two blood packs he had brought [and which he was directly responsible for PJs being able to carry] saved a badly wounded Ranger. The medics gave the other packet to Cunningham himself, whose life was slowly flowing out in a red stream onto the white snow."

Nearly twenty hours after suffering serious internal injuries, and not long before the area became cold enough for rescue helicopters to arrive and evacuate the wounded fighters, Cunningham succumbed to his wounds. He had treated patients to the end, and was credited afterward with having almost single-handedly made sure that only seven men died rather than seventeen -- though such dedication and seriousness of purpose ended up costing him his own life. Every wounded man he treated survived the encounter, and for his extraordinary heroism and gallant action in living the Pararescue motto ("That Others May Live"), he was posthumously awarded the Air Force Cross, the second-highest award that the USAF offers. According to the citation, "As a result of [Cunningham's] extraordinary heroism, his team returned 10 seriously wounded personnel to life-saving medical care."

"He was right in the thick of it, doing it right up to the end," said a fellow Pararescueman. "Jason was right where every PJ wants to be. He was where guys needed him, and he was saving lives."

No Greater Love...
These four men exemplify a mindset that is both incomprehensible and unimaginable to all who have not been in such a situation. When faced with a life or death situation, with an escape route both simple and available, and against every instinct of self-preservation, every one of them chose death -- and, in doing so, allowed men with them, marked for death, to keep their lives.

The mindset that compels a man to put himself into harm's way for the purpose of saving another is impossible to describe; however, it is a defining characteristic of the true warrior who has faced combat, and who has experienced the reality of having his life entirely in the hands of the men next to him, while having each of those in his own hands.

Said Dr. Joseph Blake, a sociologist who has researched the act of soldiers throwing themselves on grenades and other acts of sacrifice in the line of fire, "A combat situation has not a whole lot to do with patriotism or the folks back home...They are fighting for their buddies. They don't want to let their buddies down."

There truly can be no greater love, no more heroic acts, than these. The men whose lives were saved by the direct intervention of Mike Monsoor, Jason Dunham, Ross McGinnis, Jason Cunningham and others will carry the burden of gratitude with them to the grave, and beyond.

However, the scope of these men's sacrifices is far greater than the relatively small number of people who were spared by their action. Every one of the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines who has died in combat has done so to save each of us; the bullets they have taken, and the grenades they have thrown themselves upon, have been aimed, indirectly, at every one of us, and those who have felt their impact, and have given their lives in battle, have done so that we may live.

So, to these men and women and to others like them, every American owes -- at the very least -- her eternal gratitude, and an undying commitment to never take for granted those things which we, due to their sacrifices, can continue to enjoy, but which they, due to those same sacrifices, will never again be able to do. As Memorial Day nears, take a moment to thank a friend, family member, or total stranger who has served -- or is serving -- this country, for, while they will never seek the praise or thanks of their fellow man, all will appreciate the gratitude. It is our solemn duty to honor those who have kept us safe and free for the past 230-plus years. America has stood strong for those years largely because of men like these, their comrades, their forbears and those who will come after them, and it is because of men like them that we shall remain so.

The sacrifices of these true warriors, like those of the countless others whose stories have not yet been told to a public which anxiously awaits such news, did not make them heroes.

It simply demonstrated what heroes they were all along.

Jeff Emanuel is a director of, a special operations Iraq veteran, and a fellow at the University of Georgia's Center for International Trade and Security.


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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Border Agent Prosecutor Appears On Glen Beck

Johnny Sutton, the U.S. Attorney whose office prosecuted the Border Control Agents Ramos and Compean, the agents who received lengthy prison sentences (11 and 12 years) for firing at and hitting an illegal-alien, drug smuggler, appeared on the Glen Beck show the other night to discuss this case.

I had previously heard Sutton in an interview with Bill O’Reilly discuss this case, and I was very disturbed at that time with the impression he made. His answers and demeanor indicated that a government coverup of a mishandled case was in progress. I have posted articles about this case before, taking the position that these agents should not have been prosecuted, but should have been disciplined for improper, after-the-fact reporting procedures.

After this latest appearance, I am more convinced than ever that a gross injustice has been done to these men (they have been beaten up in prison). What appears more likely than a collusive effort with the government of Mexico to prosecute any agent who fires at an illegal (this Mexican is a major drug smuggler who was subsequently caught again in the act), as has been suggested in many quarters, is that Sutton was just angered that Ramos and Campean’s actions after the fact have jeopardized other cases Sutton was working on, and he went after them to teach them a lesson.

If you have been following this case, Ramos and Campean “may” not have followed procedures in filing their after-action report. All the evidence against them for the shooting itself was provided by the drug smuggler himself, who was granted immunity.

This case continues to cry out for a presidential pardon, and Sutton is making himself look more and more foolish and vindictive by appearing on TV to smear the agents.


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Friday, May 25, 2007

The Culture of Death

When Iraqi insurgents began killing each other in the name of religion and to settle old scores, there were many serious calls for U.S. forces to withdraw to the sidelines and let them kill one another. In the interests of humanity and to avoid allowing the region to fall into complete chaos, President Bush rejected that advice.

Today, Iraq is beginning to look like one of the more stabile areas of the Middle East with various Muslim groups killing each other in Gaza and Lebanon and with serious problems of Muslim fundamentalism appearing in Egypt and Saudi Arabia and resurfacing in Afghanistan.


May 22, 2007 -- TERROR in Tripoli. Havoc in Gaza. Palestinians assassinating the innocent and blaming it on their own victimization.

Sounds a lot like 1982. Except that yesteryear's political hit-men are now fanatics. And the Palestinians have blown yet another chance - to the relief of their fellow Arabs.

No Arab potentate wants the Palestinians to build a successful, rule-of-law state that co-exists with Israel. Nor does a single Arab ruler like democracy in Lebanon.

The Lebanese army's siege of the Nahr el-Bared refugee camp in Tripoli is an act of desperation. Forced to accept the autonomy of Palestinian bastions on Lebanese soil, a succession of Beirut governments has had to watch the growth of Islamist radicalism as rich Arab states played up the Palestinian cause - and ignored flesh-and-blood Palestinians.

The camp under fire (by the way, the shelling isn't indiscriminate - the Lebanese gunners just aren't very good shots) has 32,000 registered residents. The real number may be closer to 50,000, all crammed in a ghetto where poverty reigns and ignorance rules - exactly the kind of situation in which Saudis, Syrians and Gulf Arabs like to keep Palestinians.

The destitute camp - really, an urban slum - would seem to be a perfect recruiting ground for fanatics. Yet most of the local refugees, who have lived in Lebanon for a full generation, are siding with the Lebanese government. They don't like being shelled, but they want the terrorists gone. For their part, the terrorists hope the fighting will spread to other camps.

And who are these terrorists whose actions brought the Lebanese army down on their heads?

Fatah al-Islam is one of those countless splinter groups right out of Monty Python's "Life of Brian" - except for its murderous bent. Aligned with al Qaeda and backed by Syria, its immediate mission is to make Lebanon ungovernable.

So the bodies pile up as the buildings burn.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian try at self-government in Gaza is an even greater shambles. When Israel withdrew its forces in 2005, Palestinian leaders had an unprecedented chance to prove that they could govern competently. With aid in the pipeline (from the West, of course) and goodwill abounding, they could have given the people they ruled a chance.

Instead, they gave them anarchy, economic collapse, rampant criminality, a return to "honor killings" and a society broken by blood feuds and internecine hatred.

Last week, the Gaza fighting spun out of control, and Fatah forces, whose leadership now quietly leans on Israel for support, proved tougher than the Hamas thugs expected. With newly trained security-forces in play, Fatah threatened to seize the local initiative.

Hamas responded by launching waves of missiles against civilian targets in Israel. By week's end, the Hamas barbarism had become intolerable. Israel responded by killing dozens of Hamas terrorists - including senior figures - with stand-off weaponry.

The result? A fragile truce to which Fatah had to agree in the name of Palestinian solidarity. But the Pal-on-Pal fighting will resume soon enough. After winning the last election, Hamas outed itself as a pure-terrorist organization obsessed with killing Israelis and grabbing power for itself - not a party dedicated to improving the lives of the people.

Average Palestinians would like to get on with the shabby lives left to them. And some are staging a quiet rebellion against Hamas: A significant number of the targets Israel struck over the past several days were identified via Palestinian tip-offs.

Arab societies have a genius for self-destruction (look at Iraq), but President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah party may prove readier to deal sensibly with Israel than any Palestinian faction in the past. Abbas recognizes that, today, the greatest danger comes from within, not from Tel Aviv or Jerusalem.

As for the mess in Lebanon, Syria's inability to refrain from deadly mischief is a blessing in at least one respect: It makes it harder for the advocates of phony Realpolitik (such as former Secretary of State Jim "Have you hugged your dictator today?" Baker) to push us back into yesteryear's cozy relationships with genocidal Arab despots.

But who really are the victims here?

Obviously, Israelis continue to suffer from Arab terror-as-self-actualization. But the global media hates Israel. So don't expect to hear much about the rockets raining on Sderot, beyond a perfunctory aside from a dismissive anchor-babe.

Of course, the Lebanese have been the long-standing victims of meddling Arab powers and the refusal of larger and far richer Arab states to give Palestinians hope for better lives. If the Saudis love the Palestinians so much, why not build a model city in the Kingdom for the 400,000 or so stranded in Lebanon? (Actually, few Palestinians would choose to live in such an oppressive place.)

And couldn't the tasteless Donald Trumps of Dubai spare at least one of those gold-plated, gated condo developments for deserving Palestinians?

The truth is that other Arabs want the Palestinians to continue to suffer. It's useful as an excuse for all their failings. They have about as much sympathy for the refugees as all those good Germans had for the Jews whose real estate was suddenly available.

But the ultimate victims of this round of Palestinian violence are the Palestinians themselves.

After passing up so many chances for peace and statehood, they can no longer be classed as victims of Zionism. Yet the Palestinians are victims - of the other Arabs who exploit them and neglect them. And of the madmen spawned from their own kind.

If you need someone to blame for the current carnage, blame the Palestinian terrorists for whom violence has become a way of life (and death). Forget the rage of the dispossessed and all that sanctimonious claptrap. For the Palestinians preying upon their brethren, terror's a business.

And business is good.

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

With a New Sock, Red Sox Add Distance

By DAVID PICKER, New York Times, May 24, 2007

The symbol of the 2004 Red Sox was the sock that Curt Schilling bloodied while he conquered the Yankees and the St. Louis Cardinals that October on the way to Boston’s first World Series championship in 86 seasons.

Now the Red Sox are riding high again, far ahead of the Yankees in the American League East, and, appropriately enough, a sock is the team symbol again. Only this time it is a five-toed version popularized by their two new Japanese pitchers — Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hideki Okajima.

The socks, which fit like a glove with each toe individually encased, were met with curiosity in Boston’s clubhouse during spring training. Before long, Matsuzaka began offering pairs to anyone who expressed an interest. And a number of players did, including Mike Lowell, Álex Cora and Doug Mirabelli, who are now playing in them regularly. Looking for a reason for Boston’s great start to the season? Maybe it is the socks.

“At first they feel kind of weird,” Mirabelli said. “They got some sticky things on the bottom, like little kids would have on the bottom of their socks. But you get used to them.”

The socks that Matsuzaka wears are covered with hundreds of tiny rubbery beads on the sole for better traction. As for Okajima, the individual toe slots help with his balance because he can firmly grip each toe. he said.

Before the Red Sox played the Yankees on Monday, Matsuzaka ran in the outfield wearing his five-toed socks and no cleats. The pitching coach, John Farrell, could not figure out why, so he asked Matsuzaka’s interpreter, Masa Hoshino, for an explanation.

“He likes the feel of the grass on his feet,” Hoshino said with a smile.

Matsuzaka later said that he runs in socks, without cleats, to improve his balance and footwork.

“They give me a better feel and perception of the ground, a sensitivity similar to bare feet,” Matsuzaka said through Hoshino.

Matsuzaka has been wearing the five-toed socks since he signed his first professional contract in 1999, with the Seibu Lions of Japan’s Pacific League. The socks are popular among professional baseball players in Japan, and versions of them are also common among the general public in Japan. Okajima, who wears only five-toed socks while playing baseball, said they are available in Japanese department stores.

Joe Cochran, who has been Boston’s equipment and home clubhouse manager since 1992, said he had never seen five-toed socks before this season. Mirabelli, however, recalled seeing Hideo Nomo of Japan wear them when they both played for the Red Sox in 2001. Before each game, Cochran has a clubhouse attendant place a pair of red socks, no extra toes, in each player’s locker. The Red Sox, like every major league team, provide regular socks to players, Cochran said. Players who prefer five-toed socks must make their own arrangements, he added.

So far, Matsuzaka appears to be the main distributor of five-toed socks in Boston’s clubhouse. His socks are individually made and shipped to him from Japan by his sponsor, Nike. Okajima’s socks are supplied by his sponsor, Rawlings.

A Nike spokesman based in Beaverton, Ore., said that Matsuzaka had requested at least a few dozen pairs of socks in various sizes this season, presumably to accommodate his interested teammates.

According to Susan Goodenow, a spokeswoman for Major League Baseball, the licenses for official caps, uniforms, undergarments and socks for all 30 teams are held by four sports apparel companies. But players can veer from the official socks, made by Twin City Knitting, and wear a different version as long as the color of the socks conforms to what the team wears and the socks have no visible logos that would contrast with the official sponsor, Goodenow said.

Cora had a pair of five-toed socks (red with gray tips) hanging in his locker before Tuesday’s game against the Yankees. Each sock included a Nike swoosh that was calf-high and would have been covered by his uniform.

The Yankees are not completely sockless in this battle. Hideki Matsui has been wearing five-toed socks for more than 10 years and gets his supply from his sponsor, Mizuno. He has introduced them from time to time to some of his teammates, including Gary Sheffield, now with the Detroit Tigers, and Jason Giambi.

“Sheff was very curious about it,” Matsui said through an interpreter in the Yankees’ clubhouse Tuesday. “He tried some on, and he actually liked it. He still wears it. But looking around here, I don’t see anybody wearing it now.”

Matsui played 10 seasons in Japan for the Yomiuri Giants, who have been known to make their players run in the sand during spring training while wearing tabi socks, which are traditional Japanese socks that separate the big toe from the other toes.
Matsuzaka was just getting to know his teammates when he began sharing his socks. So his inspiration was probably to foster camaraderie.

Still, his own catcher is a holdout. Jason Varitek said he has never worn five-toed socks.

“I don’t know why,” Varitek said with a shrug. “I just don’t like the toes separated.” But like every other player on the Red Sox, he is happy with the distance between New York and Boston in the standings, currently measured by five toes and 10 ½ games.


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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Trail of Poisoned Medicine

Liberal Democrats recently raised a major brouhaha over resistance by the Bush Administration to the importation of prescription drugs. They (the Democrats) did not get their way. Thank goodness.

From China to Panama, a Trail of Poisoned Medicine
New York Times, May 6, 2007 (Excerpt)

“The kidneys fail first. Then the central nervous system begins to misfire. Paralysis spreads, making breathing difficult, then often impossible without assistance. In the end, most victims die.

Many of them are children, poisoned at the hands of their unsuspecting parents.

The syrupy poison, diethylene glycol, is an indispensable part of the modern world, an industrial solvent and prime ingredient in some antifreeze.

It is also a killer. And the deaths, if not intentional, are often no accident.

Over the years, the poison has been loaded into all varieties of medicine — cough syrup, fever medication, injectable drugs — a result of counterfeiters who profit by substituting the sweet-tasting solvent for a safe, more expensive syrup, usually glycerin, commonly used in drugs, food, toothpaste and other products.

Toxic syrup has figured in at least eight mass poisonings around the world in the past two decades. Researchers estimate that thousands have died. In many cases, the precise origin of the poison has never been determined. But records and interviews show that in three of the last four cases it was made in China, a major source of counterfeit drugs.

Panama is the most recent victim. Last year, government officials there unwittingly mixed diethylene glycol into 260,000 bottles of cold medicine — with devastating results. Families have reported 365 deaths from the poison, 100 of which have been confirmed so far. With the onset of the rainy season, investigators are racing to exhume as many potential victims as possible before bodies decompose even more.

Panama’s death toll leads directly to Chinese companies that made and exported the poison as 99.5 percent pure glycerin.

Forty-six barrels of the toxic syrup arrived via a poison pipeline stretching halfway around the world. Through shipping records and interviews with government officials, The New York Times traced this pipeline from the Panamanian port of Colón, back through trading companies in Barcelona, Spain, and Beijing, to its beginning near the Yangtze Delta in a place local people call “chemical country.”

The counterfeit glycerin passed through three trading companies on three continents, yet not one of them tested the syrup to confirm what was on the label. Along the way, a certificate falsely attesting to the purity of the shipment was repeatedly altered, eliminating the name of the manufacturer and previous owner. As a result, traders bought the syrup without knowing where it came from, or who made it. With this information, the traders might have discovered — as The Times did — that the manufacturer was not certified to make pharmaceutical ingredients.

An examination of the two poisoning cases last year — in Panama and earlier in China — shows how China’s safety regulations have lagged behind its growing role as low-cost supplier to the world. It also demonstrates how a poorly policed chain of traders in country after country allows counterfeit medicine to contaminate the global market.

Last week, the United States Food and Drug Administration warned drug makers and suppliers in the United States “to be especially vigilant” in watching for diethylene glycol. The warning did not specifically mention China, and it said there was “no reason to believe” that glycerin in this country was tainted. Even so, the agency asked that all glycerin shipments be tested for diethylene glycol, and said it was “exploring how supplies of glycerin become contaminated.”

China is already being accused by United States authorities of exporting wheat gluten containing an industrial chemical, melamine, that ended up in pet food and livestock feed. The F.D.A. recently banned imports of Chinese-made wheat gluten after it was linked to pet deaths in the United States.

Beyond Panama and China, toxic syrup has caused mass poisonings in Haiti, Bangladesh, Argentina, Nigeria and twice in India.

In Bangladesh, investigators found poison in seven brands of fever medication in 1992, but only after countless children died. A Massachusetts laboratory detected the contamination after Dr. Michael L. Bennish, a pediatrician who works in developing countries, smuggled samples of the tainted syrup out of the country in a suitcase. Dr. Bennish, who investigated the Bangladesh epidemic and helped write a 1995 article about it for BMJ, formerly known as the British Medical Journal, said that given the amount of medication distributed, deaths “must be in the thousands or tens of thousands.””

The same mentality that wants to open our borders to imported drugs also wants to have the federal government negotiate drug prices – thereby reducing the number of drugs available to seniors and scuttling investment in new drug discoveries. What is it they don’t understand about how the world works?


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Monday, May 21, 2007

One of My Worst Nights

After a busy summer, my wife and I decided to get away for a weekend in Rockport, Maine, a charming fishing village - now a mecca for tourists. During the summer my teenage stepson, Fred, had worked with a crew of mine helping to build a restaurant building in New Bedford, Mass. (I had a construction company as well as my main business). The building was essentially finished, and the crew was tending to a few loose ends.

After we found and checked into a motel near Rockport, I called home and learned that my teenage daughter, Sharon, had been in an automobile accident and was in a hospital in Taunton, Mass. We checked out and rushed to the hospital where we found Sharon in pretty good shape, although she had cuts on her face that would require plastic surgery. She had gone through the windshield. We then returned home, a distance of about 15 miles.

Fred didn’t show up for dinner that night, an occurrence that didn’t bother us much, but when, later on, there was no sign of him, I began calling around - to no avail. In fact, I couldn’t reach any of my crew. Around midnight we were really starting to worry when the phone rang, and an obviously drunk female voice told me “not to worry, I had a wonderful son”. When I tried to find out where she was, she cursed me and hung up. A few minutes later she called back and put Fred on the line. I could tell from his voice that he was a little scared but having fun. He told me he didn’t know where he was, but that the crew had started drinking and gone to a party in New Bedford somewhere – a party that had gotten so raucous that the police came and arrested them all. At that point the phone was taken away and hung up again.

I decided to leave and drive to New Bedford immediately, about an hour’s drive. I got there about 2:00 AM and went to the nearest police station looking for my crew. A friendly sergeant told me the location of the station that had a jail, and I went there and found them. All four of them, including the foreman, were in a cell in the basement, looking like a puppy looks when it knows it has done something wrong. The foreman, Bob, told me that the party had been somewhere on Rockdale Avenue near a landmark I recognized, but he didn’t know the address. Also, he asked if I would bail them out, but I refused and left to look for Fred. It was now about 3:00AM.

While driving slowly down Rockdale Avenue I noticed a commotion over to my right, and a police car. On the curb was a young woman, obviously drunk, cursing a cop and calling him a pig. Fred was saying, “yeah, yeah”. I pulled over and grabbed Fred and made him get in the car, and we left to go home. Going home involved driving a ways on Route 140, then a new superhighway with no lights, no traffic and no services of any kind. It was then I noticed that my gas gauge read empty. We had driven from Rockport, Maine to Taunton, Mass., home and then to New Bedford, and I hadn’t really noticed the gas. I slowed down to 35 and limped to Taunton, where I thought there was an all-night station; and we made it that far.

The station was closed, but there was a pay phone there, and I called home. I asked my wife to take the other car (a Volkswagen bus) and head for Taunton, while I continued to limp home. Unfortunately, she drove right by us, and I didn’t dare turn around to chase her. I continued driving at 35 mph and made it home on fumes. When I got home I realized I didn’t have any house keys and threw stones at the house to wake someone up. My son, Steve, woke up and let us in. About 45 minutes later (about 5:30 AM), my wife pulled in, and we finally went to bed.

The night was not over, though. About 7:00 AM the phone rang. It was the mother of the drunken woman I had left on the curb in New Bedford cursing the cop. It seems her daughter was the girlfriend of one of my carpenters, and she demanded to know where she was. I just hung up the phone, unplugged the phones and went back to bed.

My daughter, Sharon, did need plastic surgery, which she had. It was very successful and returned her to the beautiful girl she was and the beautiful woman she is today.


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Turning The Corner In Iraq

There may be an underlying reason why the attitude of the Germans and the French seems to be changing. In addition to their belated recognition of their Muslim problem, perhaps their mass media is a little more truthful than ours in reporting what's happening in Iraq. We know the violence has dropped substantially since the surge got going, but there is more to it than that:

Turning The Corner In Iraq
By Steve Schippert May 18, 2007

The progress in the past three short months in Iraq is unmistakable. Since General Petraeus has taken command of MNF-I forces in mid February, the convergence of developments has fundamentally changed the outlook in Iraq. While “The Surge” has dominated discussion – be it on operational tempo within Baghdad or withdrawal timetables within the DC Beltway – progress on several vital fronts is beginning to reshape realities on the ground.

As the contentious internal American political debate continues, our leaders and the American public would do well to acknowledge the significantly changing situation.

In Baghdad, for example, the over-hyped Muqtada al-Sadr has long made tracks for the more hospitable climes of Iran. The Baker Commission’s Iraq Study Group Report estimated the Mahdi Army (Jaish al-Mahdi or JAM) to consist of 40-60 thousand armed fighters. In the absence of its leadership, Sadr’s ‘army’ has splintered into the various bands of Shia street thugs they always were. Sure, there are exceptions, such as the particular hard core ‘extremist’ extra-judicial killing (EJK) cells hunting Sunnis to stoke Iran’s much-desired Iraqi civil war. But an estimated 3,000 Iranian-backed extremists in EJK cells still roaming the streets must be seen as an undeniable improvement over the tens of thousands recently under the Mahdi Army banner.

Iraqi Shi’a Party Rebuffs Iranian Direction

Additional bad news for Iran is the seismic shift of Iraq’s largest political party away from Iran. The Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) began to fundamentally distance itself from Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khameini, taking on a more nationalistic stance. It has removed ‘Revolution’ from its name – as well as historical deference to Qom - and is now looking to Iraq’s Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani for religious guidance.

This announcement came just ten days after Iran’s Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, Ali Larijani, visited Sistani in Najaf, Iraq. After the meeting, Larijani said to Iranian media, according to Asia Times, that “Sistani informed him that the US government has been holding meetings with Iraqi terrorist groups.” The Asia Times went on to say that the meeting between the two was of great significance, “reminding the world of Iran's close ties to the Shi'ite power hierarchy in Iraq.”

In fact, what exists is a deep rivalry between the revolutionary Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khameini and the traditionalist Grand Ayatollah Sistani, both claiming authority over the Shi’a faith. While the Khomeinist revolutionary Khameini clearly believes in Shi’a theocracy, the Iraqi Ayatollah Sistani believes that the faith can exist within a democracy without theological conflict. And while the Iranians work to spin the growing Sunni tribal rejection of al-Qaeda as Americans “negotiating with terrorists,” Sistani himself has always had open channels of communication with American forces and the Iraqi government.

Iran Evidence Turned SCIRI, Sistani Popular In Iran

It was through those open channels that the United States clearly shared evidence of Iranian material support for specific Sunni groups engaged in targeting Shi’a Iraqis in attacks. And it was clearly compelling enough to cause Iraq’ largest Shi’a political party to seek guidance from the traditionalist (and pro-democracy) al-Sistani instead of the revolutionary Iranian leaders.

While it is not known publicly what specific Iran intelligence was shared with the SCIRI leadership, the compelling details surely included such things as the information gained through December and January Baghdad and Irbil raids on Iranain Quds Force operatives. One official confirmed, “We found plans for attacks, phone numbers affiliated with Sunni bad guys, a lot of things that filled in the blanks on what these guys are up to.” Such detailed information proving Iranian cooperation with Sunni groups killing Iraqi Shi’a civilians likely proved compelling enough to the SCIRI leadership that Iran’s support is far less than advertised.

Indicative that what was announced is the tip of an iceberg of change, the announcement of the change in the new Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (formerly SCIRI) came with a claim that more profound changes are yet to come.

Sistani’s appeal does not end at the Iraqi border, as Iranians increasingly observe his leadership with interest and fondness. Some are “intrigued by the more freewheeling experiment in Shi'ite empowerment taking place across the border in Iraq,” which is fundamentally different in approach than the Iranian theocratic brand of dictated observance and obedience. The Boston Globe’s Anne Barnard reports that within Tehran’s own central bazaar, “an increasing number of merchants are sending their religious donations, a 20 percent tithe expected from all who can spare it, to Iraq's most senior Shi'ite cleric.”

While it is difficult to understate the significance of the monumental shift within Iraq, it should also be recognized that the decision to transform the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq into simply the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council was not arrived at with unanimity. Nor was it arrived at without heated debate. As well, many of the SCIRI party’s elected government officials have ties and allegiances to Iran that are unlikely to simply evaporate overnight. But a profoundly significant Shi’a nationalist transformation process has begun, and this is a very positive development – one good for Iraq and beneficial to American interests in the region.

Al Qaeda’s Forced Migration From Anbar to Diyala

On the Sunni front, the steadily increasing membership and activities of the Anbar Salvation Council under Sheikh Abdul Sattar has given rise to a new and formidable enemy for al-Qaeda in Iraq. Sattar’s Anbar Salvation Council movement, which was joined by many Anbar tribal sheikhs in rejection of al-Qaeda’s murderous ways and oppression and intimidation of local populations, served as the catalyst that drove al-Qaeda terrorists from their relatively comfortable perches in Anbar province. The sheer will and exponentially increased intelligence capabilities that the local tribal leaders bring to their partnership with US and Iraqi government forces against the terrorists in their midst has caused al-Qaeda to lose the initiative in Anbar, most notably in their former Ramadi stronghold southwest of Baghdad.

As the situation in Anbar began to turn increasingly sour for al-Qaeda, their defacto base of terrorist operations migrated to Diyala province on the opposite side of Baghdad. As was the case in Anbar province, al-Qaeda terrorists, led by Abu Ayyub al-Masri, used brutal intimidation and violence to entrench themselves within the new province’s Sunni population, targeting reluctant or resistant tribal leaders there and terrorizing the population into submission.

But the Sunni nationalist movement is growing, most recently challenging al-Qaeda in their new stronghold in Diyala province, which stretches from northeast Baghdad to the Iranian border. As in Anbar, Diyala tribal sheikhs opposed to al-Qaeda’s murderous means and theological ends have openly announced the formation of the Diyala Salvation Council, reportedly consisting of over 280 local tribal leaders. This opposition has existed well before the announcement, but fear of al-Qaeda retribution kept its participants underground. The threat of retribution is still a clear and present danger of those publicly taking the stand. But the Coalition presence in Diyala is growing ahead of predictably imminent major US and Iraqi military operations that will sweep through the province once ample cordoning forces can be put into place, expected by the end of June.

The public formation of the Diyala Salvation Council comes after the operation against al-Qaeda in which it was initially believerd that al-Qaeda In Iraq leader Abu Ayyub al-Masri had been killed by tribal forces loyal to Shiekh Abdul Sattar’s movement. While a man named al-Masri (“the Egyptian”) had indeed been killed, it was not the terrorist leader who also hails from Egyptian origin. But the confrontation sought out by the tribal forces should be seen in retrospect as a sign of growing confidence and operational capability in Diyala province. The open announcement of the official public formation of the Diyala Salvation Council is a natural progression of that confidence and a clear indicator of the will to eradicate al-Qaeda terrorists from Iraqi soil.

To be sure, its creation is no coincidence, nor is its similar name, and is evidence of the growth and popularity of Sheikh Adul Sattar’s Iraq Awakening (Sahwat Al Anbar) nationalist movement that itself emerged from the Anbar Salvation Front (later renamed Anbar Salvation Council). The Diyala organization comes under the Iraq Awakening umbrella as the national appeal of both the Iraq Awakening movement and Sheikh Sattar begins to take concrete form.

Turning The Corner In Iraq

At the end of the day, it must be acknowledged – particularly by American political leaders – that the situation is improving going forward, particularly because Iraqis themselves are taking ownership of the survival and security of their own country, neighborhood by neighborhood, city by city and troubled province by troubled province. While the Sunni tribal leaders increasingly reject al-Qaeda and transform into the terrorists’ newest and most damaging new enemy, the Shi’a leadership also has begun to internally acknowledge the shallowness and duplicity of Iran’s stated support for them.

There is much work to be done, both by Iraqis and by Coalition forces, and much fighting lay ahead, particularly in the coming bloody house-to-house street fighting against increasingly desperate al-Qaeda terrorists who have lost Anbar and see the cordon beginning to encircle their new Diyala powerbase. Americans should be prepared for the necessary fight ahead.

But there is a corner being turned in Iraq by Sunni and Shi’a alike, and Americans currently engaged in the incessant debate on the Iraq War would do well to look up long enough to notice. To fail to do so would be to once again trade military victory for political defeat. We’ve been down this road before. When discussing withdrawal at this stage – just as the corner is being turned – would leave yet another population to the un-tender mercies of unabated terror and tyranny.

This is the generational test of our nation’s character. What we do or do not do will define us in the eyes of enemy and ally alike. Most importantly, our actions will lie at the feet of our own collective conscience.

We stand as a nation at the bank teller window, accessing our National Character account. The question remains: Will our balance reflect a deposit or a withdrawal?


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Sunday, May 20, 2007

Some Thoughts on Immigration Reform

We are being told that this is a “fair” bill and that this is the best we can do. Conservative and traditional Americans who wish to preserve the values and institutions that made this country great must understand that one-worlders and secular-progressives, like Senators Kennedy, Reid and Durbin, and also Americans who hate America, have taken over our educational system and our information and entertainment media and have great influence within our political system.

The new immigration bill, as it now stands, contains amnesty for illegals now here, a guest worker program and stronger measures to control our borders. It also provides that the amnesty and guest-worker provisions would not kick in until the border control measures are in place and certified to be working.

Somewhere in this great country, there is probably someone who believes this. One of the biggest problems that the Republican leadership has now is that the Republican rank and file don’t believe them. On immigration, we don’t believe President Bush, and we don’t believe Senator McCain that illegal immigration will be substantially ended before the amnesty and guest worker provisions kick in. If nothing else, the ability of the affected agency, CIS, to carry out these provisions is laughable.

The Immigration Bill: Comprehensive or Incomprehensible?
By Fred Thompson, May 19, 2007, RealClearPolitics

Most Americans know that we have an illegal immigration problem in this country, with perhaps as many as 20 million people residing here unlawfully. And I think most Americans have a pretty good idea about how to at least start solving the problem - secure our nation's borders.

But there's an old saying in Washington that, in dealing with any tough issue, half the politicians hope that citizens don't understand it while the other half fear that people actually do. This kind of thinking was apparent with the "comprehensive" immigration reform bill that the U.S. Senate and the White House negotiated yesterday.

I'd tell you what was in the legislation, but 24 hours after the politicians agreed the bill looked good, the Senate lawyers were still writing what may turn out to be a one thousand page document. In fact, a final version of the bill most likely will not be made available to the public until after the legislation is passed. That may come five days from now. That's like trying to digest an eight-course meal on a fifteen-minute lunch break.

We've tried the "comprehensive" route before to solve the illegal immigration problem with a bit more care and deliberation, and the results haven't been good. Back in May 1985, Congress promised us that it would come up with a comprehensive plan to solve the problem of illegal immigration and our porous borders. Eighteen months later, in November 1986, that comprehensive plan was signed into law.

Twenty-two years and millions of illegal immigrants later, that comprehensive plan hasn't done what most Americans wanted it to do -- secure America's borders. Now Washington says the new "comprehensive" plan will solve the problem that the last comprehensive plan didn't.

The fact is our border and immigration systems are still badly broken. We were reminded of this when Newsweek reported that the family of three of the men, arrested last week for allegedly plotting to kill American military personnel at Fort Dix, New Jersey, entered the U.S. illegally more than 20 years ago; filed for asylum back in 1989, but fell off the government's radar screen when federal bureaucrats essentially lost track of the paperwork. Wonder how many times that's been replicated?

Is it any wonder that a lot of folks today feel like they're being sold a phony bill of goods on border security? A "comprehensive" plan doesn't mean much if the government can't accomplish one of its most basic responsibilities for its citizens -- securing its borders. A nation without secure borders will not long be a sovereign nation.

No matter how much lipstick Washington tries to slap onto this legislative pig, it's not going to win any beauty contests. In fact, given Congress's track record, the bill will probably get a lot uglier -- at least from the public's point of view. And agreeing to policies before actually seeing what the policies are is a heck of a way to do business.

We should scrap this "comprehensive" immigration bill and the whole debate until the government can show the American people that we have secured the borders -- or at least made great headway. That would give proponents of the bill a chance to explain why putting illegals in a more favorable position than those who play by the rules is not really amnesty. Fred Thompson

We know that we do not have the ability or the ruthlessness to round up the 12 or 20 million illegals now here and deport them. These people are now taxing our social structure and resources; if they and their families are given amnesty and become legal, this will destroy our Medicare and Social Security Systems, and mean the end of the Republican Party.

I do not see what is wrong with shutting down illegal immigration, putting in place a guest worker program and a more liberal “legal” immigration policy and continuing to deport illegals on a case by case basis as we are supposed to be doing now. Please get in touch with your senator and representative and demand that amnesty be removed from this bill.

Added note: The U.S. has now constructed 3/10ths of one percent (2 miles) of the 700 miles of fencing on the southern border provided for in 2006's Secure Fence Act.


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Friday, May 18, 2007

Clinton aide forfeits law license in Justice probe

Sandy Berger joins his fellow felon, former President William Clinton, in being stripped of his law license. Can we now expect that he will submit to the court-ordered lie detector test so that U.S. citizens, the victims of his treachery, can find out exactly what documents he took, why he took them and what lies he may have told the 9/11 Commission?

By Jerry Seper
Published May 17, 2007 (Excerpt)

Samuel R. Berger, the Clinton White House national security adviser who was caught taking highly classified documents from the National Archives, has agreed to forfeit his license to practice law.

In a written statement issued by Larry Breuer, Mr. Berger's attorney, the former national security adviser said he pleaded guilty in the Justice Department investigation, accepted the penalties sought by the department and recognized that his law license would be affected.

"I have decided to voluntarily relinquish my license," he said. "While I derived great satisfaction from years of practicing law, I have not done so for 15 years and do not envision returning to the profession. I am very sorry for what I did, and I deeply apologize."

In giving up his license, Mr. Berger avoids being cross-examined by the Board on Bar Counsel, where he risked further disclosure of specific details of his theft. The agreement is expected to be formalized today.

Mr. Berger, national security adviser from 1997 to 2001, was convicted of removing documents from the Archives in 2005 while preparing to testify before the September 11 commission.

Fined $50,000, sentenced to 100 hours of community service and barred from access to classified material for three years, he also was ordered to undergo a polygraph test if asked -- although the Justice Department has declined to administer the test despite urging by Rep. Thomas M. Davis III of Virginia, ranking Republican on the House Committee on Oversight and Governmental Reform.

In February, Mr. Davis called for a new investigation by the committee into the Berger theft, saying the Justice Department gave him a "free pass" in its investigation. In a terse letter signed by 17 Republicans, he said the department was "unacceptably incurious" about Mr. Berger's visits to the Archives in May 2002 and July 2003 and never told the September 11 commission he removed original, uninventoried documents.

David Marin, the committee's Republican staff director, said the Justice Department told the September 11 commission it had everything Mr. Berger removed from the Archives and the nation's national-security exposure was "zero."

But, Mr. Marin said, no one told the commission that Mr. Berger had access to original documents, which he could have taken without detection.

"We wanted the highest possible level of assurance that Mr. Berger did not take other documents," Mr. Marin said. "We still have the same concerns. Obvious investigative tools were not used. If you do not look, you will obviously not find the evidence."

Brian McNicoll, Mr. Davis' spokesman, said yesterday the decision by Mr. Berger to accept disbarment rather than face questions "does seem to cast doubt on claims by Mr. Berger and the Department of Justice that he need not complete the terms of his plea agreement and submit to a polygraph because he has revealed everything of significance he has to offer."

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Israel Should Attack Now

It is clear that the Palestinians and the Hezbollah are continuously waging war on Israel, and that this is nothing new. Day after day, year after year, Arab terrorists attack innocent Israeli civilians, and this has been going on, almost non-stop, since 1948. Four times Arab armies have invaded Israel and ended up causing only death and dismal refugee status for Palestinians. (There actually is no such thing as a Palestinian.) Despite all offers, despite attempts to trade land for peace, despite unilateral withdrawal from lands taken during defensive battle, there is no letup in the violence directed at Israel. Each act is a continuing act of war justifying an effective response. Full scale war should be directed at the terrorists until they capitulate or are dead. If I were an Israeli leader, when the next missile lands, I would order a full-scale attack on the Gaza strip and kill or drive out every Palestinian Arab there in order to occupy the area and build fortifications and settlements. If the Hezbollah attacked from the south, I would occupy southern Lebanon, as before.

Today, and almost every day, lethal missiles are hurled down on Israeli civilians from Islamic terrorists located in Gaza. The wall has reduced the homicide bombers, but still they persist. Last summer the Hezbollah, another Islamic terrorist group, invaded Israel, kidnapping and murdering its soldiers, and then began another reign of terror by launching rockets supplied by Iran. Today, they are readying themselves for another attack. Every day, Mullahs preach death and hatred for Israelis and Americans from their mosques, and urge their followers to train their children to be homicide bombers. Why should the world continue to expect the Israelis to just stand and take this violence and this vitriol?

Because of the heavy Muslim and third world makeup of the United Nations and because of the rampant anti-Semitism that has returned to left-wing Europe, the UN passes resolutions condemning Israel for defending herself. Surely Israelis have nothing more to fear from the UN by taking positive steps to defend herself – steps that would push out her borders to make them more defensible as her enemies gain access to longer range missiles.

As an American who wouldn’t put up with an attack on Americans for one minute, I cannot understand how Israelis can take this slaughter without responding appropriately. I realize that American presidents have placed great pressure on the Israelis to keep their responses to this terror measured, and probably have threatened to deny them military supplies and equipment, but this murderous nonsense has to stop, and we should help them stop it.

Two wounded by Qassams; IAF targets Hamas in Gaza

PM approves 'severe and harsh' response to Qassam rocket fire

By Aluf Benn, Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel, May 15, 2007 (Excerpt)

"Prime Minister Ehud Olmert approved Wednesday a "severe and harsh" response to the ongoing Qassam rocket fire, including the resumption of targeted killings of Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip, according to the Prime Minister's Office.

The decision came as Palestinian militants continued their rocket barrage on the western Negev on Wednesday, with nearly 50 Qassams fired since Tuesday. On Wednesday, some 25 rockets were fired at the area, wounding two people.

Olmert held security consultations with the participation of Defense Minister Amir Peretz, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Asheknazi, and other senior military and defense officials.

The PMO statement said the ministers approved "a series of actions to target the those who launch rockets and their commanders, to thwart their ability to fire [rockets] and to damage the terrorist infrastructure."

"Israel will take severe and decisive measures to put an end to these attacks and will allow the residents of Sderot and southern communities to live in peace," said David Baker, an official in the PMO.”

This was the first time that Livni took part in security consultations, and the foreign minister's participation is a direct result of the Winograd Committee's recommendations in the wake of the Second Lebanon War.

A 70-year-old woman was moderately to seriously wounded and a man lightly hurt Wednesday when a Qassam rocket hit a house in Sderot.

The woman, who was wounded by shrapnel, was evacuated to Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon. Four other people were treated for shock.

The rocket hit a residential complex, causing damage to much of the buildings. The complex is home to the family of Yaakov Yaakobov, who was killed by a Qassam rocket in November of last year.

On Wednesday evening, a rocket struck Sderot and knocked out power throughout the entire town.

Earlier in the day, the Israel Air Force fired missiles at a car carrying Hamas militants in northern Gaza. Palestinians sources said one militant was killed and two other Palestinians were wounded.

The IDF confirmed the airstrike, saying it targeted a Palestinian rocket crew that had just launched rockets at Israel.

Also Wednesday, the IAF fired missiles into a Hamas operations headquarters in the southern Gaza town of Rafah. Palestinian officials said four Hamas gunmen were killed in the attack, and at least 20 were wounded.

IDF sources confirmed that the attack came as a response to the continued firing of Qassam rockets over the past days on the western Negev. "Hamas must know that there is a price to be paid for launching rockets at Sderot and the surrounding area," the sources said.

One of the Qassams landed near a kibbutz in the Ashkelon Coast regional council, while two others fell north of Sderot. On Tuesday, a woman was seriously injured and some 30 others moderately to lightly wounded in the attacks.

On Wednesday afternoon, two Qassam rockets hit open areas in the western Negev, causing no damage or injuries.

A Qassam rocket also struck a home next to the Sderot residence of Defense Minister Amir Peretz early on Wednesday, causing damage but no injuries.

Peretz was not at home at the time of the attack, part of a barrage of Palestinian rockets that also hit a basketball court in the town Wednesday morning.

The defense minister blamed Hamas for the attack, maintaining they are "trying to cover up the murderous act of their men against Fatah militants."

Peretz, who was touring an IDF exercise in the north, called the rocket firing "intolerable and will reap a response." He reiterated that "Israel has no intention to intervene with the internal clashes in [Gaza] Strip, but we are not going to tolerate that these clashes will impact the security of Israeli residents; these events will reap a suitable response."

IAF helicopters attacked in response to the rocket barrage open fields in the northern Gaza Strip where Qassam rockets are suspected to be launched from.

Dozens of Sderot residents on Wednesday crammed into buses, provided by Russian-Israeli billionaire Arcadi Gaydamak, seeking refuge from the battered town. The residents will stay in a Be'er Sheva hotel courtesy of Gaydamak.

The prime minister, however, criticized the evacuation of Sderot residents, saying "these are exactly the pictures that Hamas is waiting for, and I will not grant any victory to terrorism."

Following the security consultations, Olmert instructed the relevant government agencies and organizations to take the necessary steps to provide the area's residents with the assistance they require.

The prime minister also called Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal and expressed his solidarity with the town's residents.

As a result of the barrage, the public bomb shelters in Sderot were opened for the first time on Tuesday, and classes will be canceled Wednesday for the second straight day.

Hamas openly claimed credit for the strikes and announced it plans to continue them.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Anger Of The Left

When one third of Democratic voters say that they believe President Bush knew in advance of 9/11, and a majority of Democrats either believe this nonsense or aren’t sure about it, we are obviously in deep trouble. How has our society and our educational system failed so badly? How can so many people ignore crystal clear facts and reach conclusions of such lunatic proportions?

The answer is probably that the poll is actually wrong – that Democrats, who are mostly liberals, harbor such hatred that their anger reacted to the poll question. Every conservative has come into contact with this anger – this onslaught of hatred because you don’t share their views and are interfering with their need to run everyone’s lives. What’s missing in their lives is any understanding of the fundamentals of American governance, and this is largely the result of so many public schools dropping the teaching of civics at all levels. Here are a few excerpts of thoughts on this matter:

“O’Connor: Schools Not Teaching Civics at Peril of Nation (Phoenix, AZ) - Nov 17, 2006

Retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor spoke in support of civic education during a recent interview with the Associated Press. O’Connor praised the current focus on math, science, and reading, but warned that “we may not neglect government and civics and American history if we’re going to maintain ourselves as a nation.”

What Supreme Court? Many Americans Lack Basic Supreme Court Knowledge
U.S. News & World Report (Washington, D.C.) - Sep 29, 2006

A newly released study by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania shows that Americans are ignorant of the basic structure of the U.S. government, but retain confidence in the judicial branch. The study revealed that one-third of Americans cannot name even one of the three branches of the U.S. government. Americans also believe that the president can ignore Supreme Court rulings. The study, presented by Kathleen Hall Jamieson at Georgetown University Law Center’s “State of the Judiciary” conference, supported a theme of the conference—that Americans are in dire need of civic education.

Teach Reasons for Patriotism
Detroit Free Press (Detroit, Michigan) - Jul 17, 2006

Americans are the most patriotic people in the world, but studies show that we do not understand American history, government, or civics, says Judge Michael Warren, board member of the Michigan Center for Civic Education. Americans are at risk of becoming “puppet patriots” because we focus on the outward signs of our success but are ignorant of the reason why we our successful—our freedom secured through our first principles—the rule of law, equality, consent of the governed, limited government, and unalienable rights.

Have We Forgotten Civic Education?”
Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, California) - Jul 02, 2006

Thomas Jefferson recognized the need for a “sound history and civic education,” says Marshall Croddy in this opinion piece, but California students get a low “D” for their knowledge of civics. Survey results show that California students do not trust government and do not think it is important for them to be involved in state and local issues. These facts point to the need for a “renewal of civic education in our nation’s schools.” Read the California Survey of Civic Education at


The Anger Of The Left

By Thomas Sowell, RealClearPolitics, May 15, 2007

That people on the political left have a certain set of opinions, just as people do in other parts of the ideological spectrum, is not surprising. What is surprising, however, is how often the opinions of those on the left are accompanied by hostility and even hatred.

Particular issues can arouse passions here and there for anyone with any political views. But, for many on the left, indignation is not a sometime thing. It is a way of life.

How often have you seen conservatives or libertarians take to the streets, shouting angry slogans? How often have conservative students on campus shouted down a visiting speaker or rioted to prevent the visitor from speaking at all?

The source of the anger of liberals, "progressives" or radicals is by no means readily apparent. The targets of their anger have included people who are non-confrontational or even genial, such as Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.

It is hard to think of a time when Karl Rove or Dick Cheney has even raised his voice but they are hated like the devil incarnate.

There doesn't even have to be any identifiable individual to arouse the ire of the left. "Tax cuts for the rich" is more than a political slogan. It is incitement to anger.

All sorts of people can have all sorts of beliefs about what tax rates are best from various points of view. But how can people work themselves into a lather over the fact that some taxpayers are able to keep more of the money they earned, instead of turning it over to politicians to dispense in ways calculated to get themselves re-elected?

The angry left has no time to spend even considering the argument that what they call "tax cuts for the rich" are in fact tax cuts for the economy.

Nor is the idea new that tax cuts can sometimes spur economic growth, resulting in more jobs for workers and higher earnings for business, leading to more tax revenue for the government.

A highly regarded economist once observed that "taxation may be so high as to defeat its object," so that sometimes "a reduction of taxation will run a better chance, than an increase, of balancing the Budget."

Who said that? Milton Friedman? Arthur Laffer? No. It was said in 1933 by John Maynard Keynes, a liberal icon.

Lower tax rates have led to higher tax revenues many times, both before and since Keynes' statement -- the Kennedy tax cuts in the 1960s, the Reagan tax cuts in the 1980s, and the recent Bush tax cuts that have led to record high tax revenues this April.

Budget deficits have often resulted from runaway spending but seldom from reduced tax rates.

Those on the other side may have different arguments. However, the question here is not why the left has different arguments, but why there is such anger.

Often it is an exercise in futility even to seek to find a principle behind the anger. For example, the left's obsession with the high incomes of corporate executives never seems to extend to equally high -- or higher -- incomes of professional athletes, entertainers, or best-selling authors like Danielle Steel.

If the reason for the anger is a feeling that corporate CEOs are overpaid for their contributions, then there should be even more anger at people who get even more money for doing absolutely nothing, because they have inherited fortunes.

Yet how often has the left gotten worked up into high dudgeon over those who inherited the Rockefeller, Roosevelt or Kennedy fortunes? Even spoiled heirs like Paris Hilton don't really seem to set them off.

If it is hard to find a principle behind what angers the left, it is not equally hard to find an attitude.

Their greatest anger seems to be directed at people and things that thwart or undermine the social vision of the left, the political melodrama starring the left as saviors of the poor, the environment, and other busybody tasks that they have taken on.

It seems to be the threat to their egos that they hate. And nothing is more of a threat to their desire to run other people's lives than the free market and its defenders


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