Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Our Pakistan, Wrong or Wrong

The silly season on Pakistan began long before we learned that Osama bin Laden was living a short distance from a Pakistani army base. Now we hear cries from ignorant or opportunistic politicians (I think mostly Republicans) that all aid should be cut off from Pakistan, because of Pakistani perfidy and double-dealing.

Do they not understand Pakistan's problem?

Do they not understand that Pakistan is a Muslim country where most of the population sympathizes with Al Qaeda, and that Pakistan's politicians must often appease their public and their voters. Do they not understand that Pakistan has nuclear arms?

Sometimes resonable people have to stand and take it when unresonable people do unreasonable things. We should continue to work with Pakistan; we should continue to give them financial aid and weapons, and we should stop the shrill rhetoric.

Our Pakistan, Wrong or Wrong

By Frank Schell 6.28.11 American Spectator

While the Government of Pakistan merits charges of duplicity and incompetence for aiding and abetting Osama bin Laden, the desire of Congress to conduct a vendetta against the country and cut aid would be an emotionally understandable but realistically unwise course. Whether we like it or not, America is Pakistan's sponsor and has been so since the early days of the Cold War.

The recipient of about $20 billion in aid since 9/11, Pakistan is the conduit for an estimated 50% of U.S. military supplies going into Afghanistan. Disrupting that effort has already happened on occasion, during tension from border incidents and Predator drone strikes.

With 29 million Pashtuns in Pakistan and nearly 13 million in Afghanistan, Pakistan has ethnic and linguistic affinity for this population. The Pashtuns have Persian antecedents and reside on two sides of an arbitrary and largely unrecognized frontier known as the Durand Line, established by the British in the late 19th century. Pakistan will therefore be, for better or for worse, the guardian of the endgame accommodation when the U.S. and NATO substantially withdraw -- it cannot risk alienating this group known for its ethnic nationalism.

Democracies are not common in the Muslim world. Pakistan, the world's second largest Muslim nation, has a parliamentary system, relatively free press, respected judiciary, and of late, interest in election reform to prevent fraud. It is a struggling, fragile democracy founded on secular principles. Many leading Pakistanis also wish to see a lesser role for the Pakistan Army, with more civilian control of the nation's course.

While some in Pakistan recognize that they need U.S. sponsorship, opinion is quite divided about whether the U.S. or China is the natural and strategic long-term partner. China's construction of the port at Gwadar near the Persian Gulf is an opportunity for potential use by the Chinese navy, which would then have easy proximity to some the world's oil lanes. U.S. vindictiveness could cause Pakistan to embrace China, although China may not rush to underwrite a bad Pakistani economy and a nation viewed in the West as a failing or potentially failed state.

The time has come for the U.S. to transform the form and substance of foreign aid to Pakistan. It continues to be vague -- and a blank check. It is well-documented that it is offered through different administrative channels with various operating procedures, without sufficient transparency or third party review. U.S. aid is viewed in Pakistan as supporting the military and ISI, the intelligence service, for the benefit of an elite few -- in a tide of cynicism there, it is not seen as benefiting the people of the country.

Instead, U.S. aid should be directed at natural gas and electricity development projects, as these would have a direct benefit on the daily life of the people.

Natural gas is used in cooking, space heating, and automobile transportation and has industrial applications; electricity outages are well-known, affecting households and business and damaging productivity. Textiles are the leading export industry and would benefit greatly from more reliable electric power. A highly visible partnership in rural medicine could also help reposition U.S. aid to Pakistan.

There are reforms that only Pakistanis can enact for themselves: a vigorous tax collection system, land redistribution, free elections, an enhanced judiciary, and reduced control of the political system by the Pakistan Army and ISI -- which have both suffered major damage to their reputations for alleged complicity in harboring and protecting bin Laden.

However, there is more that the U.S. can do: it can recommend an anti-corruption initiative, with advice from the American Bar Association. While this will be opposed by the Pakistani government, the U.S. will then be on record for promoting better governance. This should be viewed favorably in Pakistan, where much of the population is outraged over the level of corruption which impairs governance and human initiative.

As with the Raymond Davis affair, and more recently the arrest of alleged CIA informants who assisted in finding bin Laden, the relationship with Pakistan is subjected to more stress. Our dismay with Pakistan should, however, be expressed in private diplomatic channels. Public criticism only causes further intransigence and makes it easier to hype anti-American sentiment, already running at record levels.

Finally, U.S. encouragement of Indian moderation over the Kashmir dispute and the Line of Control separating the two countries would, even if only symbolic, be a constructive signal to allow Pakistan potentially to deploy more forces to address the Taliban to the west.

While the outrage over Pakistan's harboring of Osama bin Laden, is well-warranted, it is not wise to threaten to reduce U.S. civilian and military aid. Following a cooling-off period, we must hope that Congress sees that the issue is not the level of aid to Pakistan, as much as it is how that aid is structured and managed.

(These recommendations on U.S. aid and others may be found in the National Strategy Forum Review Spring 2011, "The U.S.-Pakistan Relationship: Toward a Complementary Strategy." )


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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Some Sobering Thoughts on Father's Day

The situation described below is the result of 60 years of liberal thinking and Democratic policies. To begin to restore America, please vote for conservative Republicans for all political offices. Don't let misplaced compassion completely destroy our culture and our freedoms.

The War on the Family Rages On

By Trevor Thomas June 19, 2011 The American Thinker

On Father's Day, here is some sobering information concerning dads. According to the U.S. Census, one-third of American children are growing up without their biological fathers, while 40% of newborn babies in the U.S. are delivered to unmarried mothers. This percentage has increased about ten-fold since 1950.

Even more sobering: According to the CDC, over 72% of black children in the U.S. are born out-of-wedlock, along with over 52% of Hispanic children. Thus, while accounting for only about one quarter of the total U.S. population, blacks and Hispanics account for about 57% of the total number of out-of-wedlock births.

The absence of dad is devastating for children in a wide variety of ways. Children from single-parent homes are twice as likely to be suspended or expelled from school and are more than twice as likely to be arrested for a juvenile crime. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 85% of children with behavioral disorders don't have a father at home.

Children living without dad are much more likely to abuse drugs, commit suicide, and run away from home. They are more likely to have lower academic achievement along with lower self-esteem. Children born to unwed mothers are about seven times more likely to live in poverty than children with fathers in the home. The correlation between fatherless homes and the negative effects on the family is irrefutable

With statistics like these, which have been trending in this negative direction for decades, one would think that no matter a person's religion, political persuasions, etc., it would be clear to most that it benefits our culture to support traditional marriage.

Yet, in spite of all this, the left continues its march towards the destruction of the family. Led by the homosexual movement and its war on marriage, like-minded liberals in the media, the aiding and abetting by Democrats in Washington, and Feministas like Gloria Steinem (who once declared, "A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.") and NY Times columnist Maureen Dowd, author of "Are Men Necessary?" (which has been described as "the manifesto of the man-hating movement"), the varied attacks on the family are well funded, coordinated, and unrelenting.

For example, recently in the U.S. House, a bill introduced by Democrat Pete Stark (CA), called the Every Child Deserves a Family Act, would, according to World magazine, "force any group that receives federal aid to place kids in foster families and adoptive families without regard to the sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status of the prospective parents."

Stark's bill currently has 52 co-sponsors in the House (all but one are Democrats). Not to be left out, Democrat Sen. Kristin Gillibrand (NY) plans to introduce similar legislation in the Senate

Then there's the case of the Redwood Heights Elementary School in Oakland, California. According to the Oakland Tribune, last month "children learned more about what gender means, how it's been expressed in different cultures throughout human history, and that it's possible to be both genders -- or neither."

Recently MSNBC (surprise!) proudly profiled Andrew Viveros as the "first transgender student in the United States to be crowned prom queen at a public school." Despite being born a boy and having male reproductive organs, Viveros wants to be a girl -- thus MSNBC treated him as a girl and permitted no voice in opposition to such behavior on their show. Echoing one of the great lies of the secular left, Andrew said, "it's OK to be who you are, it's OK to do what you want to do."

Whether we are talking about divorce, out-of-wedlock births, redefining marriage, or disappearing dads, there are profound consequences for everyone in our culture anytime we deviate from the traditional family model. It is amazing that such has to be said in these "enlightened" times -- as Mark Alexander wrote in 2006, "What cadre of nescient dolts does not already know (such things)?"

Adoption, education, legal issues such as custody, wills, inheritances and estates, matters concerning health care and retirement benefits -- all of these are affected by how a society -- and its government -- view marriage. President Reagan summed it up well when he noted, "The family has always been the cornerstone of American the family we learn our first lessons of God and man, love and discipline, rights and responsibilities...the strength of our families is vital to the strength of our nation."

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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Regarding Firearms, Personal Protection and Safety

Anyone who thinks through the implications of having a firearm available in the event of a serious threat soon realizes that compromises have to be made between protection and safety.

I have talked with several NRA certified instructors, and they all believed that a loaded revolver, kept handy, was the only way to go: loaded, because an unloaded handgun is useless, and a revolver, because of its reliability and simplicity. Nevertheless, I have made different choices because I believe that an accident with a handgun is much more likely than its use as intended.

I had a license to carry in Massachusetts for 30 years, and now that I am a Florida resident, I have one here. Not once have I ever had to use or even show a firearm in all that time. I have chosen to own two semiautomatic .380 pistols, a Walther PPK and a Kel-tec P3. I chose a .380 caliber because that is the smallest round that will stop an attacker if a non-lethal spot is hit.

My biggest fear with handguns has always been that a child would gain access to one and have a terrible accident. I chose pistols over revolvers because you can keep the chamber empty until a threat is perceived, and many pistols have external safety switches as well, which revolvers do not. You can also keep the clip separate from the pistol. The NRA instructors scoff at this, maintaining that, in the heat of the moment, the average person will fumble getting the pistol ready to shoot. I decided that I would just have to live with that. Pistols are also easier to carry on your person because they are flatter and smaller than the typical revolver.

I bought the Walther PPK many years ago. It has every feature one could want and is a marvel of design and workmanship. It is both single and double-action and has an external safety switch. It is very accurate and reliable, and it has a pin that sticks out when a round is in the chamber. Its only disadvantage is that it is a little heavy to carry. That is why I also bought the Kel-tec P3 to carry, which is very light and so small, it looks like a child’s cap gun. You could keep it comfortably in your pocket. The Kel-tec’s grip and lower body is made of plastic; the frame is aluminum, and the firing mechanism, the barrel and the slide are hardened steel. Even though there is little danger of an accidental firing because the hammer is recessed, and there is a trigger safety, I still carry it without a round in the chamber.

Another thing I like about both the Walther and the Kel-tec, having originally learned how to shoot and clean a Colt 1911 A1 (which are a bitch to clean without taking someone’s eye out with the recoil spring), is that they are both easy to disassemble, clean and reassemble.

I carry the Kel-tec and keep the Walther in my nightstand, and I made a small change in my handling of the Walther; I decided later in life to move a bit toward protection and away from safety. In the movies you always see someone who hears a noise in the night call out, “Who’s there?”. In real life this is the last thing you want to do. In real life you want to surprise the intruder, not the other way around. You want to approach in complete silence until you understand the situation; therefore you do not want to pull back the slide on your pistol. That makes a very loud sound in the middle of the night. Since there is virtually no chance of a child being in my condo now (when grandchildren visit I lock up my guns), I do keep a round in the chamber of the Walther, and I keep the safety on.

When I was a younger man with children in the house I kept my firearms secret and locked up at all times. There are two schools of thought on this. One is to teach your children all about guns and how to handle and to shoot them. The other theory is the one I followed. There were always so many children, stepchildren and playmates in and out of my house that I felt I had to keep the guns secure, out of sight and out of mind.


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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Judge Judy and Faux Disabilities

I love Judge Judy, and I’m not too proud to admit I watch her program when I can. In a world full of complexities and grey areas that can never be solved because some interest group will object, (even NAMBLA, the group that promotes sex with young boys, and thinks it’s normal and wholesome, has the support of the ACLU), Judge Judy cuts right through to the core and renders a decision that sticks.

Judge Judy also often expresses moral outrage that is all too missing in our society these days – moral outrage at the charlatans who fraudulently live to exist on the compassion of society expressed through various welfare and disability benefit programs. Many of those litigants who stand before her are obvious dregs of society, and, all too often, we learn that they survive through some sort of highly questionable disability benefit. It makes one wonder just what the rules are, and what can be in the minds of the decision-makers.

During yesterday's program a woman who received disability payments for "agoraphobia" turned out to be someone who paid all her bills in cash at various stores. That's whats known in literature as an "oxymoron". Another woman lived on AFDC payments she received for five children from five different fathers. Something is really rotten in Denmark

I wonder also if George H.W. Bush was aware that drug addicts, alcoholics and extremely fat people would receive benefits and protections when he signed the terribly flawed Americans With Disabilities Act.

If Weiner’s sick, so too is much of the nation

By Marybeth Hicks 6/15/2011 Townhall

It must be said: Rep. Anthony D. Weiner is what’s wrong with America today. Once again, when confronted with behavior that clearly speaks to the character of a man’s heart, we’re being asked to accept that he’s not entirely responsible for his actions because of some unspecified “disorder.” (Maybe narcissism, maybe obsessive-compulsive disorder, maybe chronic nerdism; hard to say without a psych assessment.)

There was a time - in low-tech America - when actions like Mr. Weiner’s would have taken place in a park and involved a trench coat. But there I go again, longing for a simpler era when a pervert was a pervert and not necessarily a guy with a condition.

As it is, now that Mr. Weiner has used Twitter to indulge his icky sexual proclivities and yet refuses to resign from his congressional seat, we’re again confronted with the new American reality: You don’t have to suffer the consequences of your actions.

Not just that. Even if you’re as skeevy as yesterday’s sweaty socks, people who like your politics will tolerate your creepiness. To wit: Mr. Weiner maintains the support of the president of the New York chapter of the National Organization for Women, Julie Kirshner . She claims that just because she has learned her congressman is “a 14-year-old boy” doesn’t mean he doesn’t support feminist causes.

Sorry, Ms. Kirshner , but you’re making a big mistake. You can’t simply write Mr. Weiner’s antics off as immature for the purposes of political pragmatism. At least, not without further eroding our national ethos.

Our habit of detaching a person’s behavior from his character is having a deleterious impact on our country, and, at the risk of using hyperbole, is going to be our ultimate undoing. Maybe not in this specific case, as it’s likely the two-week leave of absence that has been granted to Mr. Weiner will turn into an early retirement with well-wishes for a “full recovery.”

No, it’s not Mr. Weiner , but the habit of moral relativism he represents that scares me. The now-familiar pattern - heinous immoral behavior, indignant denial, public humiliation, victimization through disease - is likely a manifestation of our decades-long infatuation with unconditional self-esteem.

Americans are so focused on feeling good about themselves, no matter what abhorrent behavior they put on display, they no longer exhibit the shame that ought to come with wrongdoing. You might say, well, Mr. Weiner must have felt shame because he tried to lie his way out of the mess he created for himself. That was only an effort to cover his … tracks.

No, if he feels shame, he quits Congress. Simple as that. A person of good character knows a congressman would never, could never, do the things Mr. Weiner has done and remain in office. It’s insulting to the office and the constituents he serves, not to mention humiliating for his family and friends.

Which is why this incident doesn’t prove Mr. Weiner is “a 14-year-old boy,” it proves he’s a man without a conscience, and this is what’s wrong with America.

The bad news? It’s only going to get worse.

We already know the next generation of Americans is growing up without a proper moral compass. In its biennial survey of teenagers, the Josephson Institute of Ethics in 2010 once again established the alarming disconnect between the immoral and unethical behavior of our teens - which it describes as “entrenched” - and their positive self-esteem. More than 90 percent say they feel good about their moral and ethical selves despite habitual lying, cheating and stealing.

Can’t wait until they run for Congress.

To be fair, everyone makes mistakes. Actually, to be more accurate, everyone sins. Guilt and remorse are how a well-formed conscience tells us we’ve sinned, and repentance is how we recover and make amends.

But sin has consequences, and in Mr. Weiner’s case, those consequences must be more than therapy.


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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Can We See Obama's Emails Too?

As most of you know, a left-wing website, supported by the New York Times and the Washington Post, using the Freedom of Information Act, gained access to the e-mails written by Sarah Palin while she was governor of Alaska. The Times and the Post also went so far as to ask their readers to help them examine the e-mails - looking for dirt. Have we ever seen the lengths to which these horrible people will go to try to destroy this woman?

Is it possible that we can gain access to Obama's e-mails? How about Bill Clintons? Never mind. It will never be tried. Even the most obnoxious right-wing group would not stoop so far down into the muck to do such a thing.

Sarah Palin email frenzy backfires on her media antagonists

By Toby Harnden June 11th, 2011 Telegraph (Excerpt)

"The trove of more than 13,000 emails detailing almost every aspect of Sarah Palin’s governorship of Alaska, released late on Friday, paints a picture of her as an idealistic, conscientious, humorous and humane woman slightly bemused by the world of politics.

One can only assume that the Left-leaning editors who dispatched teams of reporters to remote Juneau, the Alaskan capital, to pore over the emails in the hope of digging up a scandal are now viewing the result as a rather poor return on their considerable investment.

If anything, Mrs Palin seems likely to emerge from the scrutiny of the 24,000 pages, contained in six boxes and weighing 275 pounds, with her reputation considerably enhanced. As a blogger at Powerline noted , the whole saga might come to be viewed as “an embarrassment for legacy media”.

Mrs Palin, who suddenly resigned as Alaska governor in July 2009, is no longer a public official. She holds no position in the Republican party. Despite the media hubbub that surrounds her every move, she is unlikely to be a candidate for the White House in 2012.

She is, however, viewed with a kind of horrified fascination by many in the media, who faithfully records everything she says and does while at the same time decrying her as ignorant and even evil.

Whether or not she runs for the White House – and the solid consensus among Republican leaders is that she won’t – the scramble over the Palin emails confirms her status as a pivotal figure in the race to challenge President Barack Obama next year.

It comes at a moment when the battle for the Republican nomination appears set to be transformed by the late entry of Governor Rick Perry of Texas, a social conservative and Palin ally who could almost immediately leap to the front of a currently lacklustre field.

Sources close to Mr Perry have confirmed that he is “highly likely” to announce a presidential run in the coming days. Intriguingly, they have also hinted at a something they believe would increase immeasurably Mr Perry’s chances of winning the White House – an endorsement from Mrs Palin.

On policy, Mrs Palin and Mr Perry, who succeeded George W Bush in 2000 and has since become the longest-serving governor in Texas history, are in almost perfect alignment. In addition, they are both beloved of the Tea Party, highly suspicious of Washington and physically attractive (Mr Perry is often likened to the Marlboro Man), charismatic figures.

Mrs Palin has repeatedly said that she believes Mr Obama can be defeated and that she will do everything to achieve that. With her popularity among independent voters very low, despite the intensity of her core support, throwing her weight behind a stronger candidate would be a better way of preserving her political capital and earning power than being one of the losing candidates in the Republican primaries.
The notion of Mrs Palin as White House kingmaker would have seemed wildly improbable if anyone had raised it before August 2008.

It was then that she was catapulted to international fame by Senator John McCain’s surprise decision to make her his vice-presidential running mate. Her reaction? “Can you flippinbelieveit?!”

This was a world, as the emails reveal, in which the then Alaska governor fretted about things like there being alcohol in her official residence, that might be a temptation to the teenage friends of her children.

In May 2007, she sought help from her staff in keeping the alcohol in the governor’s mansion away from young people, stating that it should be boxed up and “removed from the People’s House” – both for practical reasons and as a statement about her administration.

“Here’s my thinking: with so many kids and teens coming and going in that house, esp during this season of celebrations for young people – proms, graduations, etc, I want to send the msg that we can be – and ‘the People’s House’ needs to be – alcohol-free. There’s a lot of booze there – its too accessible and may be too tempting to any number of all those teens coming and going.”

In a February 2007 exchange, one adviser recommended that when she was in Washington she meet Pete Rouse, a Senate official who had lived in Alaska. “He’s now chief-of-staff for a guy named Barack Obama,” the aide wrote, adding that Mr Rouse “wants to help Alaska however he can”. Far from shrinking at the idea of conferring with a Democrat, Mrs Palin replied: “I’m game to meet him.”

The emails will finally confirm – in all but the darkest recesses of the world of Left-wing conspiracy theories – that Mrs Palin is, in fact, the mother of her youngest son Trig, who has Down’s Syndrome.

After relentless promotion by Andrew Sullivan , the British blogger who now works for Daily Beast/Newsweek, of the proposition that the mother was in fact Mrs Palin’s daughter Bristol, a teenager at the time, the subject had become part of mainstream debate.

The emails show Mrs Palin’s determination to protect Bristol but also her desire for a degree of privacy. “I wish I could shame people into ceasing such gossip about a teen, but I can’t figure out how to do that,” she wrote.

Communications from her children and husband make her family appear close and loving.

An email from Bristol, referring to her younger sister, said: “Hello Mother, Um, I’m sitting in library and I really thing you need to get Piper a cell phone!! Wouldn’t that be so adorable! She could text me while she was in class!! It’s a done deal right?! Perfect! Ok, I will talk to you later and I need some cash flow! Love ya!”

To an extent, the emails remind Americans of the person they saw take the state at the Republican National Convention in Minnesota nearly three years ago – refreshing, plain-speaking, open and uncomplicated." Telegraph

I have a confession to make. Andrew Sullivan may have been the first to spread the blood libel about Sarah's son, Trig, but Alan Colmes put this up on his website. I like the Bill O'Reilly program, but I turn it off whenever Colmes appears. I don't allow him into my house, even on TV.

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Monday, June 06, 2011

I Once Campaigned for Romney, Never Again

It is indeed ironic that people who live in Boston, the center of this country’s most advanced medical institutions, are increasingly finding that they have to go to New Hampshire to find a doctor. This situation, coupling shortages of doctors and medical facilities with greatly increased medical costs and is a system that is already failing, is the direct result of what people call “Romneycare”.

In 1994 I was Mitt Romney’s Campaign Coordinator for Bristol County in Massachusetts when he ran for the U.S. Senate against the incumbent, Ted Kennedy. I ended up disgusted with Romney. I was willing to work for him because he described himself as a conservative, but in the final weeks of the campaign he decided to get to the left of Kennedy. Obviously it didn’t do him any good.

Now we learn that Romney has decided to finesse the climate change issue, by declaring that “I believe the world’s getting warmer. I can’t prove that, but I believe based on what I read that the world is getting warmer”. He has obviously not read the temperature readings since 1998. In the past he has also switched positions on abortion at least three times.

There is no way that I can support Romney in his campaign for the Republican nomination. My candidate is Sarah Palin, the only person who has been reviled for being a wholesome person. Until lately, I didn’t think Sarah could beat Obama, but now, considering the rest of the field and the necessity to explain why only a plan like the Ryan plan can save Medicare for our children, I believe she has the best chance. The thing I like best about Sarah is that I trust her instincts to do the right thing in the face of grey and complex issues.

Of course, if Romney wins the nomination I will support him, because, flawed as he is, Romney would still be a much better president than Obama.


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