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Friday, December 24, 2010

Blame it on the Russians

“It is not religion but atheism that requires a Darwinian explanation. It seems perplexing why nature would breed a group of people who see no purpose to life or the universe, indeed whose only moral drive seems to be sneering at their fellow human beings who do have a sense of purpose.” — Dinesh D’Souza

On December 24, 1979, the Soviet Union invades Afghanistan, under the pretext of upholding the Soviet-Afghan Friendship Treaty of 1978.

As midnight approached, the Soviets organized a massive military airlift into Kabul, involving an estimated 280 transport aircraft and three divisions of almost 8,500 men each. Within a few days, the Soviets had secured Kabul, deploying a special assault unit against Tajberg Palace. Elements of the Afghan army loyal to Hafizullah Amin put up a fierce, but brief resistance.

On December 27, Babrak Karmal, exiled leader of the Parcham faction of the Marxist People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA), was installed as Afghanistan's new head of government. And Soviet ground forces entered Afghanistan from the north.

The Soviets, however, were met with fierce resistance when they ventured out of their strongholds into the countryside. Resistance fighters, called mujahidin, saw the Christian or atheist Soviets controlling Afghanistan as a defilement of Islam as well as of their traditional culture. Proclaiming a "jihad"(holy war), they gained the support of the Islamic world.

The mujahidin employed guerrilla tactics against the Soviets. They would attack or raid quickly, then disappear into the mountains, causing great destruction without pitched battles. The fighters used whatever weapons they could grab from the Soviets or were given by the United States.

The tide of the war turned with the 1987 introduction of U.S. shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles. The Stingers allowed the mujahidin to shoot down Soviet planes and helicopters on a regular basis.

New Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev decided it was time to get out. Demoralized and with no victory in sight, Soviet forces started withdrawing in 1988. The last Soviet soldier crossed back across the border on February 15, 1989.

It was the first Soviet military expedition beyond the Eastern bloc since World War II and marked the end of a period of improving relations (known as détente) in the Cold War. Subsequently, the SALT II arms treaty was shelved and the U.S. began to re-arm. Fifteen thousand Soviet soldiers were killed.

The long-term impact of the invasion and subsequent war was profound. First, the Soviets never recovered from the public relations and financial losses, which significantly contributed to the fall of the Soviet empire in 1991. Secondly, the war created a breeding ground for terrorism and the rise of Osama bin Laden.

Let us take a look at 31 years of problems that were cast upon us when the Soviet Union decided to invade this mountainous nation nestled in between Iran and Pakistan.

Jimmy Carter was so upset at the Soviet invasion he called for a boycott of the 1980 summer Olympics that was being held in Moscow. In a fit of pique Carter felt betrayed by the Soviets, a country he was attempting to make peace with.

The United States began to dabble in the fight against the Soviets by delivering arms and technical advisers to the Afghan fighters — mujahidin and we learned the meaning of a new word — Jihad.

The Soviet Union boycotted the 1984 summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

We increased our aid to the mujahidin by supplying them with Stinger missiles. We thought we were making friends with the Islamic world.

Osama bin Laden, the son of a billionaire Saudi contractor set up shop in Afghanistan and began pouring money and arms into the fight.

When the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan in 1988 we thought we had beaten the Soviets in a major Cold War battle. Our myopic press shouted with glee how he Soviets had met their Vietnam and lost. The American people did not have the slightest idea who Osama bin Laden was.

The Taliban, who had been forming in Pakistan, took control of the central government in Kabul and began to institute strict Sharia law throughout Afghanistan.

The west begins to notice the brutality and intolerance of the Taliban when destroyed ancient Buddhists statues and instituted strict religious rule for women. They were not allowed an education and were prohibited from working outside of the home. We still heard nothing of Osama bin Laden.

Bin Laden supports the Somalian warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid in his attack on the U.S. forces sent to Mogadishu to secure the delivery of food to the famine sweeping the country. The Americans see U.S. soldiers dragged the streets of Mogadishu (Black Hawk down) and are abhorred. We still don’t know who bin Laden is.

Our embassies are bombed in Kenya and Tanzania. The CIA knows about bin Laden, but there is little mention of the mastermind behind the bombings — Osama bin Laden.

The Taliban begins to execute women in the Kabul soccer stadium for crimes against religious mores. Brandeis University mounts a public relations campaign to bring world attention to this brutality, but can do nothing about it.  They urge peaceful protest against the Taliban and the Taliban tells the world to go fly a kite. Still not too much about bin Laden

On September 11, 2001 nineteen radical Islamists fly planes into the World Trade Center, Pentagon and fail in attempt to hit the Capital when passengers take control of United Flight 93 and crash it into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania — 3,000 American die. Now we know who bin Laden is.

The United States sends troops to Afghanistan to rout the Taliban and kill bin Laden.

Battlefield irregulars are taken to Guantanamo Bay for detention causing vociferous debate and condemnation by the world press and left-wing in the United States.

The United States, along with a coalition of NATO countries invade Iraq on the premise Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction.

George W. Bush’s presidency is plagued by failed policies and strategies fighting he wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Saddam Hussein is removed from power and eventually executed for crimes against the Iraqi people, but the war takes the lives of over 4,000 American soldiers and maims thousands of others.

Hundreds of people are killed in London and Madrid from bombings of the transportation systems. Bin Laden and al Qaida claim responsibility in retaliation for our ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Radical Islam and the War on Terror become major topics in the media causing divisiveness throughout the country.

The United States backed government in Afghanistan is found to be corrupt and the Taliban regains strength.

The war in Iraq draws to a close after a surge of American troops take control of the county.

Christmas day 2009 a radical Islamists attempts to blow up an airliner as it make its approach into the Detroit Airport. This causes new and more stringent airport security measures including body scanners and intrusive body “pat downs”

1,442 U.S. soldiers and Marines die in Afghanistan with no apparent end in sight.

All of the above mentioned happenings can be traced back to the Soviet’s invasion of Afghanistan 31 years ago today.

Cholera in Haiti

“Where there is charity and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance.” — Francis of Assisi

Tonight while my wife and daughter were out finishing some last minute Christmas shopping I happened to catch the Greta Van Susteren show on Fox News. Her entire show was about Haiti and the aftermath of the earthquake and the cholera epidemic that is sweeping the county. Greta was accompanied by Sarah Palin and Franklin Graham, the founder of the Samaritans Purse charity.

At first I did not pay too much attention, but as the show progressed I became more and more drawn into what they were showing and talking about. I was particularly interested in what Sarah Palin had to say about the aid going to Haiti, the poorest country in the western hemisphere.

Palin was erudite and well informed and demonstrated a great deal of honest passion and caring for the children suffering from the effects of cholera. In case you don’t know cholera is an infection of the small intestine caused by the bacterium. The main symptoms are profuse watery diarrhea and vomiting. Transmission is primarily through consuming contaminated drinking water or food. The severity of the diarrhea and vomiting can lead to rapid dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. Primary treatment is with oral rehydration solution and if these are not tolerated intravenous fluids. Antibiotics are beneficial in those with severe disease. Worldwide it affects 3-5 million people and causes 100,000-130,000 deaths a year as of 2010. Cholera was one of the earliest infections to be studied by epidemiological methods.

Haiti has not had an outbreak of cholera for over 100 years. After the 2010 earthquake it is believed that the disease was brought in by United Nations Nepalese Peacekeepers. The Nepalese army has reacted angrily and said there is no evidence to support allegations the cholera emanated from septic tanks at their base in the Artibonite river valley, where the majority of cases and deaths have been. The United Nations has said it will name an international panel to investigate the origin of the epidemic. A team of US and Haitian researchers confirmed last week that the outbreak was likely sparked by a human source from outside the region.

So far there have been over 57,000 cases resulting in 3,000 deaths. The people doing the most to combat the epidemic are the faith based organizations with Franklin Graham’s Samaritans Purse leading the effort. They have set up secure hospitals staffed with volunteer medical staff that is doing a great job at saving lives. They are supplying tents for temporary shelter, sanitation facilities and building materials. Samaritans Purse is also providing over 1 million Christmas packages to the children of Haiti.

Haiti is a political nightmare. The recent elections proved nothing but allegations of fraud and rioting the streets. Right now there is talk of overturning the results of the elections and waiting until the country is more stabilized before calling for another election. In effect there is no central government and the gangs rule the streets of the cities, with Port-au-Prince being the worse. There are nightly murders and lynchings, mainly voodoo priests, and no one’s shelter or belongings are safe. Graham stated that to get his charitable goods through customs his organization had to pay thousands of dollars in bribes.

Most of the international aid has not reached the people and without the efforts of the faith based organizations things would be much worse. Where are Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, George Clooney and the rest of his Hollywood cohorts now? The stage lights have dimmed and the dirty work of providing sanitation, medical facilities and shelter is being done by Christian volunteers, not government workers.

The Fox special showed us the wonderful work the Christian organizations are doing at great risk to themselves. They are the ones on the front lines, not the celebrities and politicians. You may say, well, what about Palin, isn’t she a politician? Perhaps she is and this was an opportunity for her to draw attention to herself. Or it was Van Susteren and Fox News that was using Palin to boost ratings? This would be the view of the cynic, wouldn’t it? A wise man told me years ago that a cynic is a person who knows the price of everything, but the value of nothing. I believe this.

I prefer to not be a cynic. I saw real concern on the face of Palin and good reporting by Van Susteren. I do not have to defend Franklin Graham; his deeds speak loudly for him and his organization.

Palin stated that Haiti needed a great deal of help, but was leery of government to government aid, as it never seems to work its way down the people who need it. She believes, with a great deal of justification, that the faith based organizations will be the ones to best serve the Haitian people. This I wholly support.

Haiti has great potential as an island resort in the Caribbean, but only if it can be governed by a stable, democratic government that can induce business investment. Right now I do not have much hope for the Haitian people.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

It’s a Wonderful Life

He appeared in a body, Was vindicated by the Spirit, Was seen by angels, Was preached among the nations, Was believed on in the world, Was taken up in glory.” — I Timothy 3:16 (New International Version) Merry Christmas!

To many of us, the season wouldn't be complete without at least a few scenes from "It's a Wonderful Life." The movie wasn't much of a hit when it was first released just after the Second World War, but it's acquired quite a following since — and even a certain critical acclaim.

But there are those who still give it a thumb's down. Years ago I read a (too) critical analysis of "It's a Wonderful Life" by a professor of American Studies at Boston University. His conclusion: “While the movie shows that life can be an enriching Norman Rockwell experience, it also can be smothering, where you end up marrying the girl you went to high school with, and you never get to go to Europe. It tells us George is one of the most sad and lonely and tragic characters ever imagined. I cry when I see it."

That's about the only similarity between the professor's take on the movie and mine — because I've shed a few tears myself over "It's a Wonderful Life." But not for the professor's reasons. Nothing in the movie seems as sad to me as the professor's analysis of it. Take it from somebody who ended up marrying his high-school sweetheart: A tragedy it isn't. It can be a comedy, an education, a dance to the music of time, that and a lot more. But a tragedy? Please.

Not all the characters in the movie are heroes. And not every banker is a George Bailey. With his camera eye, Frank Capra saw the sordid Potterville inside every wholesome Bedford Falls. He saw the jealousy, envy, greed and misplaced values. There's that devastating moment when George sees his friend driving off to Florida, complete with homburg, plaid suit, limo and a wife out of the 1940s' Good Life catalog, fur piece and all.

At that moment, like the professor in Boston, George sees his life as tragic. All he can think to do is gaze at his own old jalopy and kick the door. He's convinced he's missed The “Chance of a Lifetime”. And here he is stuck in a miserable little town that's never going to be anything but a miserable little town. He doesn't see how important, how central, how essential he's been — until Clarence, his bumbling guardian angel, opens his eyes.

The movie is a celebration of the ordinary middle-class virtues -- like fidelity and family, not to mention hope, faith and charity. Virtues that aren't nearly ordinary enough in these times, or in any other.

While doing research for his book Dupes Paul Kengor discovered a document buried away in the archives of the old Soviet Union that urged the ACLU to pursue lawsuits against schools for the singing Christmas carols. In the 1930s the ACLU began with a suit against a California school to ban the singing of Christmas carols. Fortunately the suit was thrown out of Federal Court, but the ACLU was just getting started.

The document went on to state that one of the ways to bring Communism to the United States was to break down the influence of churches by using the courts, with selected progressive judges, to rule against any displays of religious symbols or traditions.

Roger Baldwin, the first director of the ACLU, was a communist. He explains in his book, Liberty Under the Soviets, “I joined. I don’t regret being a part of the Communist tactic, which increased the effectiveness of a good cause. I knew what I was doing. I was not an innocent liberal. I wanted what the Communists wanted.”

William Z. Foster, then National Chairman of the Communist Party USA and an ACLU co-founder, is famous for this 1932 quote: “The establishment of an American Soviet government will involve the confiscation of large landed estates in town and country, and also, the whole body to forests, mineral deposits, lakes, rivers and so on.” He was the author of "Toward Soviet America".

Since then, the Left has redoubled its efforts to reinforce the mythical "wall of separation between church and state," assuming, as is now common, that those words originally penned by Thomas Jefferson to some of his constituents in Connecticut, supersede the only language in our Constitution concerning such a constraint.

Across the United States, celebrations for what many Americans now refer to as the "C word" have been all but restricted to churches and private homes.

In Wichita, Kansas, a local newspaper ran an apology after referring to a "Christmas tree", rather than a "community tree" at the city's Winterfest celebration. In Denver, a Christian church float was barred from the city's parade while Chinese lion dancers and German folk dancers were welcomed. In parts of Florida, fir trees have been banned this year from government-owned property.

A mayor in Massachusetts issued a formal apology to anyone offended by a press release that mistakenly described the town of Somerville's holiday party as a "Christmas party". Schools in Florida and New Jersey have banned all carols and elsewhere in Washington state a school principal banned a production of A Christmas Carol mainly because Tiny Tim prays: "God bless us, every one."

In one New Jersey school district, where the singing of Christmas carols has long been abandoned, officials have this year forbidden children's orchestras to play songs such as Silent Night because that might remind people of their Christian content.

Frosty the Snowman and Winter Wonderland have, however, been deemed acceptable as they are devoid of any religious references.

That errant assumption, however, lacks even a shred of validity, and it was certainly not Jefferson's intent.

Our Founders were rightly suspect of any encroachment by government upon religious freedom, and they codified a proscription against such in the First Amendment of our Bill of Rights. It reads, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

And yet, through decades of liberal interpretation of the so-called "living constitution," the Left has adulterated the authentic document via judicial diktat to comport with whatever agenda it desires.

How is it that we've come to this place in our nation's history? How is it that the God who endowed us with "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" has been expelled from the public square under the supposition that religion and politics are antithetical?

Even Barack Hussein Obama, while cynically citing our Declaration of Independence in five public speeches recently, omitted the words "endowed by our Creator" from its context. Indeed, our president even proclaimed during an international forum that our national motto is "E pluribus unum," when it is, of course, "In God We Trust."

The unavoidable Truth is that our nation is founded on the principle that rights of man are endowed by God and not subordinate to the will of other men. The exclusion of God from the public discourse, then, is the objective of those who believe they are the arbiters of the rights of others, and who thus use "separation of church and state" as a means to that end.

This battle — between those who seek to conserve our endowment by God, so that God can rule through the hearts of men, and those who seek to separate us from God so that their chosen men can rule over all others -- reflects the fundamental spiritual battle between God's purpose for us and our desire to be our own God.

Thus, the battle between Liberty and tyranny is really the battle between Light and Dark, which brings me to this perspective about the origins of the celebration of the birth of Christ in December.

The early church did not observe the celebration of Christ's birth. Annual year-end celebrations in the first centuries AD were predominantly pagan festivals associated with the winter solstice on the ancient Roman calendar.

The Puritans did not recognize Christmas as a day of celebration, in fact they did not celebrate much of anything except that we are all sinners in the eyes of God. Jehovah Witnesses do not celebrate Christmas, but they deny no one the opportunity to do so. I know that as I have a close friend of is a Jehovah Witness

History does not confirm for us who instituted the tradition to also celebrate Christ's birth at that time of year, but they were a brilliant lot. Pagans celebrated the solstice because it was the longest day of winter darkness, and because it thus heralded the season's change and the promise of more light and longer days, the growing seasons upon which they depended for life. Isn't that precisely what Christmas represents, the dawn of a new season of Light through the birth of Jesus?

For most of us, Christmas is a collage of our childhood memories and family traditions. As I child growing up during the days of World War II I did not have much in the way of toys. There were no X-Boxes or Wiis, no electronic games to play. Toys were made of compressed sawdust or cardboard. Games like Chinese checkers and Monopoly were in vogue. I can remember with clarity my father and I walking, in the snow, to the store to get my present, a Gilbert Erector Set with an electric motor. It was shortly after the war had ended and such toys were now available, but he demand was high so my erector set had to be backordered.

We always managed to have a Christmas tree, albeit scrawny and small that would shed its needles two after it was put up. Our ornaments were family heirlooms and the lights were the kind that when one bulb went out the entire string went dark. Hours would be spent searching for the dead bulb hoping the replacement you had was not defective. I think one of the best developments for Christmas was the parallel lighting strings where only one bulb went dark when it burned out, not the entire string.

While toys were scarce family was not. We always had family gatherings for Christmas. There were aunts, uncles and cousins at our house for Christmas dinner. And of course there was midnight Mass where as a member of the boys choir I would sing.

Stores were decorated with an abundance of Merry Christmas signs and when the signs began to proclaim Xmas there was a campaign to put “Christ” back into Christmas.

Today we live in a society where to proclaim “Merry Christmas” in public is considered bad taste or in some cases an offense against the community. Even the Dickens’ story, “A Christmas Carol” is being banned in public schools because Tiny Tim proclaims “God Bless us, every one.” Somehow this is thought to be offensive to some people.

The secular left wants to replace Bedford Falls with Pottersville. It’s their way of creating a socialist state where we all live in misery.

I sometimes think of that professor/film critic at this time of the year. I hope he's had many a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year since he wrote that silly review — and, yes, a wonderful life.

As Calvin Coolidge stated; "To the American People: Christmas is not a time or a season but a state of mind. To cherish peace and good will, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas. If we think on these things, there will be born in us a Savior and over us will shine a star sending its gleam of hope to the world."

At the risk of offending some, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Who Will Oppose Obama in 2012?

“A return to first principles in a republic is sometimes caused by the simple virtues of one man. His good example has such an influence that the good men strive to imitate him, and the wicked are ashamed to lead a life so contrary to his example.” — Niccolo Machiavelli

The silly season is fast approaching. As we cross into 2011 the pundits and “experts” will begin handicapping the Republicans who will make a run at dethroning Obama in 2012. So at the risk of being wrong I will attempt to evaluate the field of Republican’s who might take on the anointed one and hopefully bring the country back to fiscal sanity and restore our national pride.

Whoever the candidate is they will have to garner the full and passionate support of Republicans and independents, especially the Tea Party. Without this support they will fail as did John McCain in 2008. The candidate must have a resume of fiscal responsibility and constitutional conservatism. The candidate will have to process charisma and a stage presence that will capture the heart of the American people — no dull intellectuals. He or she will need the skills and experience to take control of the dialogue and beat Obama in debates without appearing mean and confrontational — in other words another Ronald Reagan.

I know we will not get another Reagan, but the Republicans need a candidate who can talk the talk and walk the walk of Reagan. Republicans will need someone who has a proven record of cutting taxes, adhering to the principles of the Constitution and is unabashedly proud of America and can effectively communicate these values to the 65% of American who are not professed kool aid drinking liberals and will vote for Obama no matter who opposes him. They will also have to run a smart and disciplined campaign to capture the electoral votes of the swing states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Missouri, Florida and Virginia. So with this in mind here is my take on the existing pool of Republican hopefuls with my comments as to why or why not they can make the grade. Some of these candidates are professed possibilities while others are mere candidates of the media.

By my count, there are 24 people who are beneficiaries of nontrivial presidential buzz: Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, John Thune, Tim Pawlenty, Mitch Daniels, Mike Pence, Rick Santorum, Haley Barbour, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, Paul Ryan, David Petraeus, Ron Paul, Jeb Bush, John Bolton, Bob McDonnell, Jim DeMint, Chris Christie, Herman Cain, Gary Johnson, Judd Gregg, Marco Rubio and Rick Perry. Half of these people are almost surely not running.

Earlier this year, there was a lot of talk about General Petraeus running. But then the Army general gave a lot of dull, substantive speeches in which he didn't say anything about ethanol or the Hawkeye State's divine right to hold the first-in-the-nation contest. It seems like he prefers Kandahar to Ames.

Rubio, Ryan and Jindal, respectively the incoming junior senator from Florida, the incoming chairman of the House Budget Committee and the governor of Louisiana, are all wisely sitting out the presidential contest to concentrate on their to-do lists, though the three golden boys of the GOP are ripe vice presidential picks. Rubio, while a good looking and possibly charismatic candidate, who could capture Hispanic voters, has not served one day in Congress as of this witting. By Election Day he would have the same weak national resume as Obama had and I think the public would be wary of being taken again. He would make an attractive VP candidate.

Ryan, while a fiscal and constitution conservative and would be an attractive candidate to Tea Party members, is still a Congressman with no real executive experience. He might be able to turn the blue state of Wisconsin with its 10 electoral votes into a red one.

Jindal, the governor of Louisiana is from a red state with 9 electoral votes. Jindal, a constitutional conservative of Indian heritage, has proven himself a more than competent chief executive, especially during the BP oil spill. He has also reduced the size of the Louisiana state government, balanced the budget and is bringing business back to his state by allowing tax breaks and reducing regulations. He would have problems due to his Indian heritage. A good VP choice.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and the current governors of New Jersey, Virginia and Texas — Christie, McDonnell and Perry — probably aren't running, though they all enjoy deep reservoirs of admiration on the right, particularly Christie, whose YouTube videos are passed around like hotcakes. Also, there's growing buzz that Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and a fierce defender of his top-tier contender status, may not run because he's got a big new contract with Fox News in the works.

Jeb Bush, while a competent governor of Florida, is a Bush. There is nothing more to be said. Florida went blue in 2008, but in the last elections it sent Rubio, a conservative Republican to the U.S. Senate. A good conservative could regain Florida’s 27 (or 29 after the census) electoral votes.

McDonnell is not well known outside of Virginia and has indicated little or no interest in either the presidential or vice presidential positions. He beat a liberal Democrat in 2009 for the governorship and should be able to return Virginia’s 13 electoral votes to the Republican column.

Christie, the Governor of New Jersey, is a maverick and a new kid on the block. He has been making a lot of noise by taking on the teachers and public service unions to reduce the pension liabilities. He has a confrontational style and is weak on foreign policy issues. New Jersey’s 15 electoral votes will probably go the Democrat, so his value as a VP candidate is minimal.

Rick Perry, the Governor of Texas, is very popular at home. He is gaining visibility on the national scene with his sound fiscal policies for Texas and his fight against illegal immigration. Texas’ 34 electoral votes will remain with the Republicans, but he could be a good VP choice. However, I doubt if he is interested.

Huckabee is a big national name due to his run in 2008 and his constant appearance on Fox News. He has a strong following among the Christian right and has demon stated a comfortable folksy style. Through his Fox show he has demonstrated a sound knowledge of domestic and foreign issues. Whether he runs or not will depend on is he wants the money or the power. Arkansas is a red state and will stay red.

DeMint, the South Carolina senator and the Tea Party's man on the inside, has said he's not running but acts like he might be. Meanwhile, Gregg, New Hampshire's retiring senator, acts likes he's not running but hasn't ruled it out. (If he did run as a New Hampshire favorite son, it would complicate things for Romney.) Pence, the Indiana representative, definitely wants to run but now may switch to the Indiana governorship instead.

Of this group DeMint is has the highest visibility. He is the darling of the Tea Party and a strong fiscal conservative with a broad knowledge of domestic and foreign issues. He would be good in debates against Obama, but he is really hated by the left. They will try to thorough everything, including the kitchen sink, at him. South Carolina’s 8 electoral votes went to Obama in 2008, but I think they will go back to the Republicans in 2012. The Tea party is strong there.

Mike Pence has two years to prove himself as a leader in the House, but presidents don’t come from the House of Representatives. If Mitch Daniels, the current governor of Indiana makes a run at the presidency Pence would probably go for Daniels seat. Pence is a strong fiscal conservative, but his image on international affairs is weak. Mike Pence needs chief executive experience.

Barbour, perhaps the sharpest political operator with a natural Southern constituency in a Southern-dominated party, could be a front-runner (and a hilarious adept debate opponent for Obama), but his plans remain murky. Also, I don’t think a president can come from Mississippi. As a VP candidate he can contribute very little, the state’s 6 electoral votes will remain red.

That leaves 11 who are probably, but not definitely, running: Romney, Gingrich, Palin, Pawlenty, Santorum, Bolton, Daniels, Cain, Johnson, Paul and Thune. Five of these are unlikely to last long as serious contenders, not least because talk-show and grass-roots popularity doesn't necessarily win in the "money primary."

Paul's issues — gutting the Federal Reserve, shrinking government, foreign policy noninterventionism, drug legalization — are the ripest they've ever been in the GOP. But, at 75, that's just about the only way "ripe" and "Ron Paul" can be used together in a sentence. He has an incredible cadre of passionate supporters, mainly Libertarian, but this is not enough to gain him much.

Thune will probably discover early that his Senate colleagues telling him to run isn't necessarily a compliment. In many respects, Thune is the GOP version of John Kerry: a candidate with very presidential hair who seems "electable" despite not having done much of anything. South Dakota’s 3 electoral votes will remain red. Also, due to some of his recent votes he has lost Tea Party support.

Bolton, the famously mustachioed and gruff former U.N. ambassador, is a tireless and brilliant guy, but he's never run for federal office. Presumably he wants to highlight national security issues and, I hope, duke it out with Ron Paul. Bolton brings nothing to the political table and will be someone’s adviser on international affairs.

Cain, the former chief executive of Godfather's Pizza, is a charismatic superstar on the Tea Party circuit and in many rank-and-file conservative circles. An African-American who likes to joke about his "dark-horse candidacy," he's a lot more than merely a sane Alan Keyes. But it's hard to imagine him amounting to more than an exciting also-ran. Any Republican who gets the nomination would be wise to include Cain on their team of economic advisers for his small business acumen.

Johnson, the former New Mexico governor, Libertarian and a keynoter at last weekend's KushCon II, will focus attention on pot legalization. Meanwhile, Santorum, a former senator, will focus attention on Rick Santorum while he makes his appearances on Fox. Neither of these guys are serious contenders.

That leaves us with a top tier of five front-runners: Romney, Palin, Gingrich, Pawlenty and Daniels. Romney is the organizational front-runner; Daniels is the first pick of wonks and D.C. eggheads; Palin probably has the most devoted following among actual voters; Gingrich will dominate the debates; and Pawlenty (vying with Daniels) is the least disliked.

Romney ran in 2008 and did not get the nomination. He is erudite and polished, but never seems to show passion for any issues. As the founder of Staples, Manager of the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics (which made a profit) and Governor of Massachusetts he has a great deal of executive experience, more than any other potential contender. His Achilles heel is the failing Massachusetts Health Care Program that was instituted under his term as governor. He would be good in debates with Obama, especially on the economy and jobs. His other problem is that he is a Mormon and that will be used against him by the secular left and the media.

Pawlenty, the outgoing Governor of Minnesota, is a nice fellow and seems to be a fiscal and constitutional conservative. He was able to get elected in a really deep blue state. He is not too well known outside of Minnesota and could be another Harold Stassen. I don’t see him as a major player in 2012.

Daniels, the current governor of Indiana is a strong fiscal and constitutional conservative. He was elected to his second term by an 18-point margin on November 4, 2008. Previously, he was the Director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget under George W. Bush and worked for Eli Lilly and Company. He is cited as a rising star in the Republican Party and has approval ratings hovering near 70%. As a two term Governor Daniels is a serious contender for the nomination. Daniels is someone to keep an eye on 2011 to see if he can generate the passion of the Tea Party.

Gingrich is no doubt the sharpest knife in the drawer of contenders. As a historian, teacher, author, lecturer and former Speaker of the House of Representatives Gingrich has the experience and knowledge to carry out the duties of Commander-in-Chief. He is well versed in domestic policy, government, economics, international affairs, the Constitution and world and United States history. He would absolutely destroy Obama in a debate. He is well known, perhaps too well, for his constant appearances on Fox News. Gingrich, the author of the Contract with America, rose to Speaker of the House after the Republicans took control of the House in 1994 and drove President Clinton to the center. His major problem is the baggage he has  due to a divorce and a reputation for being mean spirited. He no doubt could get the full support of the Tea Party, but he will be viciously attacked by the left.

This leaves us with Sarah Palin, the former Governor of Alaska and 2008 running mate with John McCain. Palin is no doubt the best known of all the Republican contenders, probably because she is the most hated by the left. She is a super star of the Tea Party and has the ability to raise millions of dollars for the party’s coffers. She did well with her endorsements in the 2010 elections. She is the author of two books, a Fox News contributor and a has a top rated show on the Learning Channel (TLC), which will no doubt be picked up for a second season. Palin shows passion for America, has a son serving in Afghanistan, and is good looking. Her major hurdle is the failed run by John McCain and the way his handlers managed Palin and some of the gaffs she made during interviews in 2008.

She is absolutely despised by the left-wing media. Even the establishment Republicans have disdain for her. She has been increasing her image in international affairs and is currently touring earthquake ravaged Haiti. It is also doubtful a woman could be elected president in 2012. 

This is my end of 2010 take on the candidates for the Republican nomination in 2012. I am sure things will change over the next 12 months as the 112th Republican controlled Congress begins to prove itself. If the Congress does well and the economy improves it will help the Republican cause, if not they will have problems. They cannot discount Obama, he is a fierce campaigner, and it’s what he does best.

Let’s see who starts making trips to Iowa in 2011 laying the groundwork for 2012 and who can raise the money.

If the Republicans can recapture Colorado, New Mexico, Indiana, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida and Iowa all once traditional red states and with the traditional blue states losing as many a 5 congressional seats they will win the 2012 election by 5-7 electoral votes. Click here for the 2008 electoral map.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Marines against repeal of DADT

“Make no mistake: the anti-war voices long for us to lose any war they cannot prevent.” — Colonel Ralph Peters

CNS.Com reported on December 20, 2010 that 66.5 percent of U.S. Marine combat forces surveyed by a special Defense Department working group said that putting homosexuals in their units would hurt their effectiveness in the field, and 47.8 percent of Marines in combat units specifically said putting homosexuals in their units would hurt their effectiveness “in an intense combat situation.”

The U.S. Congress voted last week to repeal the law — commonly known as Don’t Ask, Don’ Tell — that barred homosexuals from serving in the military.

Earlier this year, after President Barack Obama said in his 2010 State of the Union Address that he wanted to end the ban on homosexuals in the military, Defense Secretary Robert Gates put together a special working group to begin making plans for integrating homosexuals into the Armed Forces if Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell were in fact repealed.

The working group secured the services of Westat Corporation, a polling company, to survey more than 115,000 active duty service members on their attitudes and views about integrating homosexuals into the military. Among those surveyed by Westat were 989 men serving in Marine combat units.

Question 71a in Westat’s survey of these Marine combat forces read as follows: “If Don't Ask, Don't Tell is repealed and you are working with a Service member in your immediate unit who has said he or she is gay or lesbian, how, if at all, would it affect your immediate unit's effectiveness at completing its mission ... In a field environment or out to sea?” The Marines were given 6 options for answering: Very positively, Positively, Equally as positively as negatively, Negatively, Very negatively, No effect.

The Marines in combat units answered as follows:
  • Very positively: 2.9 percent
  • Positively: 3.0 percent
  • Equally as positively as negatively: 18.8 percent
  • Negatively: 23.9 percent
  • Very negatively: 42.6 percent
  • No effect: 8.7 percent
Only a combined 5.9 percent said putting a homosexual in their combat unit would have a positive or very positive effect on their ability to complete their mission in the field, while 66.5 percent said it would have either a negative or very negative effect.

Almost half of the Marine combat forces surveyed specifically said placing a homosexual in their unit would have a negative or very negative effect on the unit’s effectiveness even in “an intense combat situation.”

Question 71c in Westat’s survey of Marine combat forces read as follows: “If Don’t Ask, Don't Tell is repealed and you are working with a Service member in your immediate unit who has said he or she is gay or lesbian, how, if at all, would it affect your immediate unit's effectiveness at completing its mission... In an intense combat situation”

The Marines in combat units answered as follows:
  • Very positively: 3.2 percent
  • Positively: 6.0 percent
  • Equally as positively as negatively: 28.4 percent
  • Negatively: 17.8 percent
  • Very negatively: 30.0 percent
  • No effect: 16.7 percent
Last week, before Congress voted to lift the ban on homosexuals in the military, Gen. James Amos, the commandant of the Marines, told reporters that he opposed lifting the ban because of what he had heard from Marines about it.

On December 21 CNS reported that Rep. Barney Frank (D.-Mass. And a homosexual male) says he agrees with the recommendation of a Department of Defense (DOD) working group that straight and gay military personnel of the same gender should be required to shower together when the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law goes into effect. Click here for the video

“What do you think happens in gyms all over America?" Frank said when asked by about the working group's recommendation that straights be required to shower with gays. "What do you think happens in the House of Representatives? Of course people shower with homosexuals. What a silly issue. What do you think goes wrong with showering with homosexuals? Do you think the spray makes it catching? I mean people shower with homosexuals in college dormitories, in gyms where people play sports; in gyms elsewhere. It is a complete non-issue. ” then asked Frank why he thinks it is a non-issue.

“To accept the principle that homosexuals can’t shower with other people is a degree of discrimination that goes far beyond this. We don’t get ourselves dry cleaned. We tend to take showers when we go to the gym; when we play sports,” he responded.

Rep. Frank continued, “The notion that knowing that someone is gay or lesbian as opposed to knowing that they are gay or lesbian people that have to pretend who they are; that that somehow makes a difference is pretty silly,”

As I stated in a previous blog post the repeal of DADT is not so much about gay and lesbians serving in the military (they already do) as it is about destroying our military’s effectiveness to protect our nation. This is being done by forces, representing less than 7% of our population, who are anti military and want to bring it down.

Top military leaders must find or certify that changes to the current policy “must not affect troop readiness, cohesion or military recruitment and retention.” How is this possible when Marine Commandant General Jim Amos has already said that the changes would cost lives? Calling repeal a major distraction, Amos said, “I don’t want to lose any Marines to the distraction. I don’t want to have any Marines that I’m visiting at Bethesda [National Naval Medical Center, in Maryland] with no legs be the result of any type of distraction.”

A New York Times story on the “repeal” simply noted, “The repeal will not take effect for at least 60 days while some other procedural steps are taken. In addition, the bill requires the defense secretary to determine that policies are in place to carry out the repeal ‘consistent with military standards for readiness, effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention.’”

The “procedural steps” that are part of the bill give the new conservative-controlled House an opportunity to derail the repeal policy.

The Center for Military Readiness, a group that specializes in social issues in the military and has opposed repeal, said the new legislation “will impose heavy, unnecessary burdens on the backs of military men and women.” It said the Senate majority voted with “needless haste” by not waiting for hearings into a recent Department of Defense study of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Elaine Donnelly, president of the group, said that the Pentagon’s survey indicated that 32 percent of Marines and 21.4 percent of Army combat troops would leave the military sooner than planned if “don’t ask, don’t tell” were repealed.

Only two days after it proclaimed the end of the Pentagon’s homosexual exclusion policy, The Washington Post is now admitting that open homosexuals can NOT join the military services. “‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ ban on gays won’t change immediately,” was the headline over the article in the print edition of the paper.

Even after Obama scrawls his signature, the law won't actually change until the Pentagon certifies to Congress that the military has met several preconditions, including education and training programs for troops. On Monday, Pentagon officials repeatedly declined to predict how long they would need, saying only that they would proceed at a "methodical" and "deliberate" pace.

"I don't think anybody has any idea yet how long this will take," Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said.

As senior military leaders prepare to integrate openly gay men and lesbians, they are drawing on conclusions of a Pentagon study outlining tricky scenarios that might arise. Among the hypothetical situations in the report: A chaplain's sermon includes several direct statements calling homosexuality a sin. An applicant informs recruiters that he is gay. Troops are heard making jokes about using the same showers as gay colleagues.

Some commanders who oppose the repeal warned in the days before Saturday's historic vote to end the ban that such incidents could compromise the military's ability to fight two wars. But the 300-plus-page report provides potential solutions for each, and reminds commanders that such issues should be treated the same as incidents of harassment, racism or sexism.

The sermons and teachings of the chaplain could not be restricted, unless he publicly maligned military leaders, the report said. The applicant who shares his sexual orientation should be handled like any other recruit. Commanders should remind the joking troops that discrimination or harassment against gay colleagues is inappropriate, but could grant a service member's request not to shower among them

Frank Barrett, a professor of management and organizational behavior at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., predicted that the military will move quickly to implement the new law, but that the ease of doing so will vary widely among the different branches.

"The real challenge of repealing 'don't ask, don't tell' is that it challenges the warrior ethos, what it means to be a warrior," Barrett said. Warriors, he said, forge a "bonding love" during combat and preparation for war. The question that arises, he said, is: Can people who are uncomfortable with gays continue to form those close warrior bonds with openly gay troops?

"The Marines are going to have the hardest time, and the Air Force is going to have the easiest time," he said. "The Air Force doesn't do eye-to-eye combat. But Marines, they are close-knit in close quarters, and the identity of hyper-masculinity is so core to their mission."

In order to secure the vote of Senator Jim Webb, Democrat of Virginia, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that “neither he [Admiral Mullen] nor I would sign a certification until we were satisfied, after having consulted with each of the Service Chiefs and Combatant Commanders, that risks to combat readiness, unit cohesion, and effectiveness had, in fact, been mitigated, if not eliminated, to the extent possible for all Services, commands, and units.”

The law, however, specifically states that the changes must be “consistent with the standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention of the Armed Forces.” The option of changing the policy as long as the negative impact is just “mitigated” is not there.

Senator Webb, a highly-decorated combat Marine in Vietnam and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee, voted for the “repeal” anyway.

In a statement opposing the overturning of the homosexual exclusion policy, Jimmie L. Foster, national commander of The American Legion, said that “The American Legion remains convinced a repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ cannot be easily implemented and could compromise the effectiveness of crucially needed fighting forces.”

Mike Gravel, a failed presidential candidate, former Democrat U.S. Senator from Alaska, and all around nut case, claimed repeal of DADT was in the best interest of the military. Gravel, a former lieutenant in the U.S. Army, claimed that the most fearsome fighters in history were the Spartans, and most of them were homosexual. He said that the Spartans encouraged their soldiers to enter into homosexual relationships because they would fight to the death save their lovers. This is partially true in a historic sense, but Sparta is not the U.S. Military. Sparta did not have sensitivity and diversity sessions for its soldiers, nor did they have a Uniform Code of Military Justice. They took young boys as sex toys, but they also entered into heterosexual marriages.

The burden is now on the gay rights lobby to prove that the changes will have no negative effect on any of the above. How can they prove such a thing when the Pentagon has already concluded that the change is risky and faces opposition from as many as 60 percent of our combat troops?

What is going to happen when a straight soldier is sexually harassed or assaulted by a gay soldier? How will that play out?

The next time you hear about Gays, diversity and sensitivity please consider the story of  Leon A. "Jed" Jedziniak of the 101st Airborne during the Battle of the Bulge.  These were soldiers, not rear echelon weenies whining about diversity and equal rights. The only equal rights they had was the right to die for freedom.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Forget the Terrorists; the Real Threat is Climate Change

"If the natural tendencies of mankind are so bad that it is not safe to permit people to be free, how is it that the tendencies of these organizers are always good? Do not the legislators and their appointed agents also belong to the human race? Or do they believe that they themselves are made of a finer clay than the rest of mankind?" — Frédéric Bastiat (The Law)

The Wall Street Journal reported on December 21 “U.K. police arrested 12 men in a large-scale counterterrorism operation described as "absolutely necessary" for public safety, underscoring concerns that the threat of terrorist attacks across Europe is escalating.”

The suspects, who ranged in age from 17 to 28, had been under surveillance for weeks and were believed to have links to Pakistan and Bangladesh, security officials said.

The arrests come amid growing concerns in Europe over terrorism following a suicide bombing in Sweden and reported threats of a terror attack on a European city modeled on the deadly shooting spree in Mumbai, India.”

Police swooped in before dawn Monday in coordinated raids on houses in four cities _ London, the Welsh city of Cardiff and the English cities of Birmingham and Stoke-on-Trent. The officers were unarmed, suggesting any planned attack was not imminent.”

The raid, a joint operation by Britain's domestic spy agency MI5 and police, was the largest since April 2009, when 12 men were detained over an alleged al-Qaida bomb plot in the northern city of Manchester.

Counterterrorism officials declined to give more details of the latest alleged plot, saying only that the men had been under surveillance for several weeks. No details were given as to whether explosives or arms were found, and searches were under way in the homes where the arrests took place.

CNS.Com reported on December 17 that a new mission for the Department of Homeland Security was to fight the effects of climate change. “At an all-day White House conference on "environmental justice," Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced that her department is creating a new task force to battle the effects of climate change on domestic security operations.”

Speaking at the first White House Forum on Environmental Justice on Thursday, Napolitano discussed the initial findings of the department’s recently created "Climate Change and Adaptation Task Force."

Napolitano explained that the task force was charged with “identifying and assessing the impact that climate change could have on the missions and operations of the Department of Homeland Security.”

According to the former Arizona governor, the task force would address specific questions, including:  “How will FEMA work with state and local partners to plan for increased flooding or wildfire or hurricane activity that is more serious than we’ve seen before? What assistance can the Coast Guard bring to bear to assist remote villages in, for example, Alaska which already have been negatively affected by changes up in the Arctic?”

The findings from the Homeland Security Department (DHS) also asked: “How can we focus on how climate change is going to affect our rural citizenry including those who live along our boarders both northern and southern?”

The all day White House Forum on Environmental Justice also included talks by White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley, EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, Attorney General Eric Holder, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius.

Napolitano was at this conference just two days after Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was murdered in the Arizona desert by bandits. Terry was killed on December 14, 2010.

On ABC’s World News (December 20th), Diane Sawyer sat down with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to talk about the possibility of a terror attack over the holidays. Napolitano, doing her best to keep us all feeling cozy and warm, said it’s almost a year-round operation: “What I say to the American people is that… thousands of people are working 24/7, 364 days a year to keep the American people safe.”

Hmm — 364 days, she says. So which day is it when the staff at DHS is at the beach? On that day I will stay at home. No airports, bus stations, subways or salad bars for me. I’ll skip the family reunion and take a pass on a visit to Times Square or Detroit (I’ll skip Detroit the other 364). I’ll become a paranoid mess and dig a hole in my back yard and spend that 24 hour stretch out of sight. Ops! What about leap year, does this mean that the folks at DHS get an extra day off?

Napolitano didn’t specify which day was the Homeland Security “off day,” which of course helps to keep our terrorist enemies off guard. After all, if they don’t know the magic day when all are defenses are down, how can they plan an attack? Is it New Year’s Eve? (Perhaps too obvious) Flag Day? Is it Arbor Day or National Cupcake Day? Can we agree to make it a day when I’m out of town?

To watch Napolitano’s brilliant moment click here.

If someone like Napolitano is dumb enough not to realize there are 365 days in a year, what does this say about how capacity to handle homeland security issues? Don’t worry though. Napolitano is directing the DHS to focus like a laser on a really important security issue. No, not the borders, or Islamic terrorists, but global warming!

Only one day out of the year are Terrorists not going to have to worry about the Department of Homeland Security keeping the American People safe. If someone like Napolitano is dumb enough not to realize there are 365 days in a year, what does this say about her capacity to handle Homeland Security issues? Her comment went unchallenged by the fair and balanced Diane and the only media to pick on it was, yes your guessed it — the conservative blogs and radio talkers. Just think if Sarah Palin had made such a gaff — it would have been a gaff heard round the world.

It's been almost a year since Abdulmutallab attempted to blow up Northwest Airlines Flight 253 with a bomb hidden in his crotch. The administration's initial reaction — as with other major acts of terror such as the Fort Hood massacre — was to minimize the threat. President Obama referred to Abdulmutallab as an "isolated extremist," and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said there was "no indication" the attack was "part of anything larger." When Abdulmutallab was initially arraigned in court last December, he was charged with two criminal counts related to putting a bomb on an aircraft. A grand jury indictment in January added four more counts, including attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and attempted murder, but there was no charge of terrorism.

On December 26, 2009 the brilliant Janet Napolitano told us not to be concerned about the ability of the underwear bomber to attempt to blow up an airplane over Detroit. She said “all systems were in place and they worked.” Yes they sure were. Abdulmutallab was tagged by his father as a potential terrorist. He informed the US embassy in Nigeria as well as the Nigerian Intelligence Agency of his son's extremist views and associations with al Qaeda. Abdulmutallab was entered into an intelligence database of known and suspected terrorists a month prior to his flight to Detroit, but added Napolitano stated there was not enough data on him at the time to put him on a "no-fly" list.

Abdulmutallab cleared security at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam without so much as a second glance and it took a passenger and crew members to subdue him as he attempted to ignite the explosives concealed in his underwear as the were approaching the Detroit airport. Even after his being detained by airport security he was handed over to the FBI, who questioned him for 90 minutes before he called for an attorney. Oh yea, all systems worked. Thank God for alert passengers and a faulty mix of explosive compounds — all systems worked. Two days later Napolitano revised her statement and said there would be in investigation into the security measures that were in place.

In a statement posted on the Web site dated Saturday December 18th, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has claimed responsibility for the attack. In the statement, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula said Mr. Abdulmutallab coordinated with members of the group, an alliance of militants based in Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

Abdulmutallab's ties to foreign terror groups were known soon after the attack - and in some quarters beforehand - especially his links to al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki. After the original charges were filed against Abdulmutallab, al-Awlaki was deemed threatening enough to be placed on a targeted killing list personally authorized by President Obama. This "contract" is controversial since al-Awlaki is an American citizen, and a lawsuit brought by his father and the American Civil Liberties Union over the order was dismissed by a federal district judge on Dec. 8. Bringing a terrorism charge against Abdulmutallab, whom al-Awlaki described as one of his "students," helps reinforce the case that the al Qaeda leader is too dangerous to be left alive.

One important development is the Transportation Security Administration's new crotch-inspection policy, which was a response to Abdulmutallab's attempted attack. The controversial groping has been justified as a necessary bulwark against future terror attacks. It would be difficult for the government to sustain this line of argument if it didn't brand the pioneer of underwear-bombing as a terrorist himself.

It would have been better if the government had acknowledged from the beginning that Abdulmutallab was a Muslim radical bent on suicide terrorism, and it's likely the administration will still downplay or wholly ignore his jihadist motives, as it has with one of al-Awlaki's other students, Fort Hood shooter Nidal Malik Hasan. At least the Obama administration finally has decided to admit a person who tried to commit an act of mass murder against innocents to make a political point is a terrorist.

It seems as though this administration, both the Department of Justice and Homeland Security can’t get their act together. Holder’s prosecutors were only able to get a conviction on one of 285 counts related to al Qaeda's 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania This prosecutorial incompetence has called into question the Obama team's centerpiece policy of bringing terrorists to trial in U.S. courts. The Justice Department needs to demonstrate it can decisively win such a trial, and since Abdulmutallab has officially been promoted to the ranks of the terrorists, he may provide the legitimizing victory the administration needs.

Fear not, Holder and Napolitano have, however, decided that the fight against global warming is more important. Brian Terry and the folks in Arizona don’t seem to count for much at DHS.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Obama, the Man behind the Curtain

"If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one, subject to particular exceptions." — James Madison

Portions of this post were excerpted from an article by Professor Victor Davis Hanson for Pajamas Media.

At some point in late 2010 once optimistic independent voters, moderate Republicans, and centrist Democrats stopped listening. They abruptly concluded that their 2008 Barack Obama proved not to be the great uniter, the great communicator, and the humanist who was to bring the country together around “centrist” values. They discovered anointed one was a mere mortal hiding behind the curtain of the left-wing media.

At about the same time, a once rapturous liberal base began to worry that President Obama was not the brilliant post-racial social organizer, the brilliant progressive explicator, and the brilliant big government architect who would take a center-right country with him hard to the left.

The result has been a sort of political implosion, the proverbial “pay no attention to that man behind the curtain” moment when the omnipotent wizard’s face projected on the screen becomes exposed as a rather frightened Frank Morgan, busy with levers and gears — or, in our morality play, a deer-in-the-headlights Barack Obama was relieved to outsource his White House press room to a designated president, Bill Clinton, who at last was back on his home turf.

In a number of ways, we can see how the Obama administration has been reduced to a sort of virtual administration. The messianic spell of 2008 ended with the largest midterm rebuke since 1938. Whereas in 2009 it was considered racist for a conservative to question the president’s wisdom at a Tea Party rally, by 2010 Democratic congressional representatives were vying with each other to find creative ways of using the “F”-word to belittle the president. Since his inauguration, the president has lost a point in the polls about every three weeks of his presidency, without much deviation.

There is little presidential stature left. When Barack Obama addresses the Senate minority leader as “Mike” McConnell or claims the U.S. motto is e pluribus unum [sic] rather than “In God We Trust,” this is by now a non-news story — right after “57 states” or “corpse-men” or Austrian-speaking Austrians. Proclaiming that at some point individuals have made enough money raises no eyebrows either — not after “spread the wealth,” “redistributive change,” and claiming that the purpose of capital gains tax hikes was not to increase federal revenue but to ensure “fairness.” If the president were to go on another riff about “fat cat bankers,” limb-lopping surgeons, or Vegas junkets, eyes would roll — in the manner that today’s students start text messaging when their aging 60s hold-over professors keep ranting about Halliburton. Martha’s Vineyard and Costa del Sol helped see to that.

An Obama speech echoing boilerplate themes such as “there are no red states, there are no blue states” today simply could not be given — the laughing in the audience would be far too much. After Eric Holder’s “cowards” outburst, the beer summit, Van Jones, the slurs against Arizona, and the video appeals targeted at particular racial groups, the public takes for granted that a Rev. Wright, the clingers speech, “typical white person,” and Michelle’s angst (e.g., “downright mean country,” “never been proud,” “raise the bar,” etc.) were disturbing premonitions rather than right-wing racialist paranoias.

For a while, “working across the aisle” delivered in honeyed tones assured millions that their soon-to-be president had not compiled the most partisan voting record in the U.S. Senate (to the left of the nation’s only self-avowed socialist senator - Bernie Sanders). Now we yawn when Obama goes off on Republicans as “enemies” who cannot sit in the front seat of the car or are holding him hostage. Alinsky-style “target the enemy has gone from shocking” to trite for this president.

Until 2008-9, the rubric $250,000 was just an arbitrary number. Now it is a sharp ethical divide in a strange new class war in which those above are veritable parasites who “do not pay their fair share”, while the 50% of the population who pay no income tax ipso facto are suddenly moral and patriotic. In sum, no president in 78 years has done more to incite class resentment, envy, and polarization — a fact is as shocking as the sun rising in the morning. “Oh, more of Obama’s class warfare? So what else is new?”

Abroad, there is now not a reset foreign policy but a twice reset foreign policy. The president could not give another straight-faced speech about the Islamic roots of the Western Enlightenment, why Guantanamo has to be closed this year, how KSM will be tried in a civilian court, or why Harold Koh is stopping renditions, tribunals, and predators in worry over their constitutionality. Either no one would believe him, or they would snore half way through at the boilerplate, or they would point out that Obama 1.0 and Obama 2.0 do not even share the same operating system. If an American diplomat were to give another “we are not Bush” reset speech, the audience would respond with a Jon Stewart type ironic look. A bow to another Saudi prince would be as shocking as Obama on the golf course. We live in an age in which Iraq is Obama’s “greatest achievement”.

When a Paul O’Neil, Scott McClellan, or Colin Powell left the Bush administration, critics saw a crisis and looked for whistle-blowing juicy tell-alls about Bush’s incompetency. Now we sleep when Obama officials plan to flee halfway in a first term, the fixer Rahm Emanuel, the architects of the $3 trillion borrowing that was supposed to ensure that unemployment did not go above 8% — Peter Orszag, Christina Romer, and Larry Summers — the wartime team of a General McKiernan, General McChrystal, and soon to be gone National Security Advisor Gen. Jones, and Defense Secretary Gates.

I do not know if President Obama is our “worst” president, as the Left often said of George W. Bush (who of us is all that familiar with the administrations of a Millard Fillmore or James Buchanan — our first gay president? (Take note Jimmy Carter) And are not we all tired of such empty superlatives? Much less do I think Obama has ruined the United States, or has done such damage that it cannot be undone. But I do feel that after only 23 months, the presidency is becoming a caricature of a presidency — and, scarier still, is being recognized as such abroad. Whereas Bill Clinton triangulated to save his administration from descending into Carteresque liberal irrelevancy, the choices of Obama seem much starker — perhaps understandable given the vast gaps and inconsistencies in his resume.

In sum, Obama will either insidiously ignore everything he once preached about (e.g., the seas endlessly rising unless we have cap and trade, the evil rich who make $250,001, the Constitutional-shredding Bush-Cheney nexus), or he will simply give the same empty platitudinous sermons that now come off as convincing as an Al Gore thundering about carbon offsets, John Edwards pontificating on “two Americas” or John Kerry lecturing about the need for higher taxes — or he will at times do both.

The crowd fainting at the sound of our “hope and change” Oz is over. We are already at the end of the movie when Toto pulled away the curtain — witnessing the nuts and bolts of how it once was all projected onto the screen.

And it isn’t pretty.

How Educated are our College Students and Office Holders?

“There is nothing so stupid as the educated man if you get him off the thing he was educated in.” — Will Rogers

Conventional wisdom holds that there is a strong connection between how much people know and how much college education they receive — the more college, the more knowledge. The Intercollegiate Studies Institute’s research, however, demonstrates that on most campuses, this seemingly obvious correlation is quite marginal where knowledge of America’s history and institutions is concerned.

In 2008 the Intercollegiate Studies Institute held a conference at the National Press Club to release the results of their latest survey of civic literacy and higher education. The title was appropriately blunt, “Failing our Students, Failing America: Holding Colleges Accountable for Teaching America’s History and Institutions.” The basis was a survey ISI commissioned from the University of Connecticut’s Dept. of Public Policy. It was given to over 14,000 college freshmen and seniors, and assessed their knowledge of American history and government, America and the world, and the market economy. The basis of analysis was simple: compare the scores of the freshmen at a school to those of the seniors in order to see how four years of undergraduate education had improved their civic knowledge.

The results were grim. No school could claim even a “C” average for its seniors. Harvard, whose senior class performed the best, garnered a “D+.” Even worse, college, on average, hinders the acquisition of civic knowledge, and the most expensive and prestigious schools often decreased their students’ understanding of basic American civics. Of the 50 schools surveyed, the bottom five included Princeton, Duke, Yale, and Cornell, all of which saw seniors post lower scores than their freshmen did. Harvard was the best of the Ivy League, boosting scores from 63.6% to 69.6%.

The top five schools were Eastern Connecticut State University (with a gain of 9.7% in scores), Marian College (+9.4%), Murray State University (+9.1%), Concordia University (+9%), and St. Cloud State University (+8.6%). To be sure, the more prestigious schools generally had higher scores from both freshman and seniors. But the evidence is clear that, for example, Yale students outperformed their Pfeiffer University. counterparts because of excellence before college. Yale attendees lost basic civic knowledge (-3.1%), while Pfeiffer University students gained (+8.25%). What’s the point of the best high school kids in the nation going to Yale when it will take them from a “C-” to a “D” over four years? Pfeiffer might be getting third-rate students, but at least they’re learning. (Note, the + numbers indicate percentages above the average score)

This study controlled for different course concentrations not by asking about majors, but by asking students how many courses they had taken in civics (American history, economics, and the like). This allowed the researchers to see how scores improved (or didn’t) as a result of civics courses. Once again, Yale, Duke, Princeton, and Cornell took 4 of the 5 lowest spots. Students at Cornell fared the worst, with the average student losing 1.8% on the test for each civics course taken. Concordia University was the best, with students gaining 3.72% for each civics course.

As dramatic as some of these results are (go to Yale, lose knowledge!), the problem isn’t just in those schools where seniors scored lower than the freshman. College is supposed to draw the best and brightest for further instruction, and schools love to proclaim that they are producing better citizens. But for many schools, the rate of knowledge acquisition in the undergraduate years was slower than it had been previously. At the University of Pennsylvania, students were barely nudged, from a 62.7% to a 63.5%. Random guessing would score 20% on the multiple choice test. So we can assume that 1st through 12th grades increased student scores by at least 42.7%. Four more years of education at the University of Pennsylvania added only another 0.8%, even though the “D” average of incoming freshman left plenty of room for upward movement.

The average score for all 2,508 Americans taking the following test was 49%; college educators scored 55%. Can you do better? Questions were drawn from past ISI surveys, as well as other nationally recognized exams. You can take the survey yourself by clicking here. The questions are general in nature and any high school graduate should be able to well — you would think.

Americans spend billions on higher education. Parents save to pay for their children, state and federal governments spend billions on universities, Americans owe tens of billions of dollars in student loans, and donors give billions in charitable donations to schools. But this doesn’t produce even a minimally informed citizenry — people who will vote. In fact, the study found that the more tuition costs, the less student scores improved. Clearly, there needs to be accountability, and it is to be hoped that ISI’s study will help provide that. The results have been released to the schools as well as the media, in the hope that interested parties will take action.

The average score for all 2,508 Americans taking the following test was 49%; college educators scored 55%. Can you do better? Questions were drawn from past ISI surveys, as well as other nationally recognized exams.

What’s even more disturbing is the test was given to those claiming to hold or have held elected office — politicians who purport to be our leaders and should be knowledgeable of our Constitution, government and history. On the whole they did worse than the average citizen.

Here are a few results from the office holders who took the test
  • Seventy-nine percent of those who have been elected to government office do not know the Bill of Rights expressly prohibits establishing an official religion for the U.S.
  • Thirty percent do not know that “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” are the inalienable rights referred to in the Declaration of Independence.
  • Twenty-seven percent cannot name even one right or freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment.
  • Forty-three percent do not know what the Electoral College does. One in five thinks it either “trains those aspiring for higher political office” or “was established to supervise the first televised presidential debates.”
  • Fifty-four percent do not know the Constitution gives Congress the power to declare war. Thirty-nine percent think that power belongs to the president, and 10% think it belongs to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
  • Only 32% can properly define the free enterprise system, and only 41% can identify business profit as “revenue minus expenses.”
To me these percentages are appalling. To have elected office holders scoring lower than the average citizen is inexcusable. This is borne out by the “man of the street” interviews conducted by TV personalities like Jay Leno and Sean Hannity. People are asked questions like: Who is the Vice President, Who is the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Name the Speaker of the House, and what rights does the Second Amendment protect? Most people on the street cannot answerer these simple questions. They do much worse when asked questions about the function of the Federal Reserve or who has the power to levy taxes or declare war. It is amazing how uninformed the folks interviewed are — especially the ones claiming a college degree. In fact it frightens me that these same people are the ones who vote in our elections.

I do not have a college degree but I did get a pretty good high school education some 55 years ago when schools were far different than they are today. History, civics, government and geography were taught honestly by teachers that did not have liberal agendas or were restrained by bureaucratic regulations and rules. In our history classes we were taught about the founding fathers and our constitution not just about civil rights and social justice. Our civics classes focused on government and how it works, not on homosexuality, diversity and gender equality. Geography was about the country and world we live in, not about global warming.  Our report cards were simple. You received letter grades not long work sheets loaded with gobbledygook. Test and quizzes were graded given letter grades and errors were marked in red pencil. Terms like “nice try”, “you’re doing well” or “improvement needed” were not used. The teacher told you where you were wrong and what you needed to do to improve your grades. If you received an “A” and one of your fellow classmates got a “D” so be it — teachers didn’t worry about his or her “feelings” and self esteem.

Part of the problem might be that the consumers of higher education want advanced career prospects more than civic literacy. I believe most students go to college so they may earn more money after graduation, not because they are interested in the life of the mind. Many view universities as nothing more than expensive, glorified job training firms. Those presenting the report agreed that this was indeed part of the problem. The very idea of “consumers” of education is anathema to the traditional mission of the university — and the academics who are tenured there. Those responsible for higher education must stand firm and insist that they have a mission to produce knowledgeable citizens as well as qualified employees. Click here to see the results  of the online test , you will them amazing

You can read more at my blog post "What's Wrong with our Government Education System

Buy the way I took the test and I got all 33 questions correct. This is not bragging, it’s merely to show that you don’t need a college education to know your country’s history and how your government and economy works. When Sarah Palin referred to the Boston tea party as having taken place in 1773 she was blasted by the left-wing media for not knowing enough about American history. Many “elite” journalists and commentators claimed Palin was wrong, it took place in 1776 — Sarah was right and they were ignorant.

You can read mt test results by clicking here.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Anarchy South of the Border

“To be called a sovereign nation, a nation has to be able to control its own borders. It is controlling your own destiny in a way, and we don't control our own borders.” — Tom Tancredo

December 17, 2010 AP News Reported that 141 inmates escaped from a Mexican prison; “Nearly 150 inmates escaped Friday from a state prison in the northern Mexico border city of Nuevo Laredo, and authorities said the breakout was probably helped by prison employees.”

“The public safety department of Tamaulipas state, where the prison is located near the border with Laredo, Texas, said 141 inmates got out through a service entrance used by vehicles, "presumably with the assistance of the prison staff."

“The department said the prison's director could not be located, adding that he and other officials were under investigation.”

“Eighty-three of the prisoners were being held for trial or had been convicted of crimes like theft, assault and other state offenses, while 58 were being held on federal charges, which include weapons possession and drug trafficking.”

“Tamaulipas has been plagued by a steady wave of violence tied to turf battles between the Gulf and Zetas drug gangs, but it was unclear whether members of those groups were among the escaped inmates.”

“States like Tamaulipas have said in the past they are not prepared to handle highly dangerous federal prisoners, and again on Friday the state urged the federal government to take charge of such inmates.”

"The state does not have the capacity to prevent them escaping," the department said in a statement. The federal Interior Department blamed the breakout on local authorities, saying they did not properly guard the facility.”

"The absence of effective methods of guarding and control by local authorities is deplorable, and it has caused frequent escapes from prisons that put the public at risk," the department said in a statement. It called on state authorities to clean up their prison and judicial systems by increased screening and vetting of corrections officers. In past cases, prison guards — often underpaid or under threat from gangs — have been implicated in prison escapes.”

On November 30, 2010 the woman leading the police department in the northern Mexican town of Meoqui was slain while driving to work, the Chihuahua state Attorney General's Office said Monday.

Hermila Garcia was named last month as chief of the 90-strong police force in Meoqui, located 70 kilometers (43 miles) from Chihuahua City, the state capital.

Garcia was found fatally shot in her car at a spot near her home about 10 kilometers (6 miles) from the town center, the AG's office said.

Authorities suspect the police chief, whose prior experience included working as an investigator for the federal AG's office, was murdered by gunmen working for drug traffickers or other organized crime elements.

Chihuahua, which borders Texas, has three other female police chiefs, including 20-year-old criminology student Marisol Valles, recently appointed the top law enforcement officer in Praxedis G. Guerrero.

Juarez, just across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas, is Mexico's murder capital, with more than 2,700 homicides so far this year and roughly 8,000 slain since the beginning of 2008.

The carnage is blamed on a bitter turf battle between rival drug cartels, itself part of a wider conflict involving the gangs and the Mexican security forces that has claimed nearly 30,000 lives nationwide over the past four years. Chihuahua has accounted for around a third of all the drug war fatalities.

Hermila Garcia Quinones, 38, was sworn in on Oct. 9 as chief of the 90-person police force. Despite the growing drug-related violence in the region, "La Jefa," as Garcia Quinones was known, refused to have bodyguards or carry a weapon. The National Geographic Channel highlighted this brave woman in an October episode of its Border Wars series.

"If you don't owe anything, you don't fear anything," she was fond of saying when asked why she didn't have security. She was killed Nov. 29, another death in what has become a bloodbath in Mexico tied to drug traffickers, whose wares supply users in the U.S.

"This is an area where Los Zetas operate in. Los Zetas are the meanest, most sadistic, most psychotic criminal organization in Mexico," said George W. Grayson, a crime expert and professor at William and Mary College. "I don't know that they did it. But they don't have any regard for gender, age, profession. They enjoy killing. They have raised the bar of brutality."

Meoqui, which borders Texas, was not always a dangerous region. But in recent months it has started to see some of the drug-related violence which has claimed almost 30,000 lives in Mexico since 2006. In the last year, there have been 40 drug-related deaths in the town. When men refused to take the police chief position in Meoqui, Garcia Quinones stepped forward.

But Garcia Quinones was not the only woman who has stepped up to the plate in Mexico. Marisol Valles Garcia, called "the bravest woman in Mexico," was sworn in last month as the head of a new program of crime prevention in a farming town located in one of the bloodiest regions in Mexico. Since her predecessor's head was left outside the police station over a year ago, no one wanted to fill the vacancy. Valles Garcia, a 20-year-old criminology student and mother of one, took the position.

Felipe Calderón assumed the office of Mexico’s president and supreme commander of the military on December 1, 2006. Calderón, a member of the National Action Party (PAN) has done three things since his ascendancy to the presidency; He addressed a joint session of the United States Congress where he blasted our immigration policies; he addressed the 16th Congress on Climate Change (COP-16) in Cancún; and he has allowed his nation to drift into anarchy.

He has lost control of his military and federal police. Many in the federal police force are members of the drug cartels, especially Los Zetas the largest and most brutal of the cartels. This drug cartel was founded by a small group of Mexican Army Special Forces deserters and now includes corrupt former federal, state, and local police officers, as well as ex-Kaibiles (Special Forces) from Guatemala.

These drug cartels exceed the brutality and open arrogance of Colombia’s Medellín and Cali Cartels. The Medellín Cartel was headed by Pablo Escobar who was killed by Colombian Special Forces in a shoot out on 1993. The Cali Cartel was founded by the Rodríguez Orejuela brothers, Gilberto and Miguel, as well as associate José Santacruz Londoño. The Rodríguez brothers were extradited in 2006 to the United States and pleaded guilty in Miami, Florida to charges of conspiracy to import cocaine into the United States. Upon their confession they agreed to forfeit $2.1 billion in assets. Santacruz Londoño was killed on March 5, 1996 by Colombian police while “attempting to flee custody.”

These Colombian cartels were powerful and brutal. They openly assassinated judges, prosecutors, police officials and journalists. They planted car bombs in commercial and residential areas of major cities. It finally took a cooperative effort by the Colombian military, Los Pepes, CIA and our Delta Force to bring hem down.

Los Zetas and the other Mexican drug cartels practice even greater violence. They not only do what the Colombian cartels did, but the have added kidnapping and human trafficking to their list of crimes. Their favorite manner of killing is to behead their victims and then deliver the head to family members of government offices. The traffic in human smuggling across the U.S. border and demand thousands of dollars from their victims. If they do not pay the “fee” they will be hunted down and kidnapped or killed. When kidnapped, the victims’ families will be expected to pay the ransom or they will be killed.

These cartels are feed by our insatiable appetite for narcotics — cocaine and marijuana. The drug users in the United States are in many ways responsible for those 30,000 deaths.

Some people claim that if we legalized these narcotics the cartels would go out of business. That’s just crazy. Legalization would only increase the demand and the cartels would get stronger.

Today Mexico is in a state of anarchy. It is a society where their lawlessness is coming over our border. Phoenix is the kidnap capital of the United States. There are large areas of Arizona that are closed to the public due to the danger of being killed or kidnapped by cartel members. Soon the violence of the cartels will reach our northern cities, if it already hasn’t. We can stop the influx of drugs and violence by sealing the border, but we can’t eliminate the cartels — that’s up to the Mexicans. Perhaps when the death toll reaches 100,000 and more police chiefs are killed the Mexicans will demand forceful action from their corrupt government. They can always call on our Delta Forces to assist them as we did in Columbia. This is not a matter of criminal justice, it’s a war — a war every bit as vital to our national security as the war we are waging in Afghanistan.

Another Intrusion from our National “Mom”, Michelle Obama

“The state is the great fictitious entity by which everyone seeks to live at the expense of everyone else.” — Frederic Bastiat

A significant percentage Americans oppose the Healthy Hunger-free Kids Act pushed by First Lady Michelle Obama and signed into law by President Barack Obama signed on December 13, 2010.

Among other things, the $4.6 billion law allows the USDA to set nutritional standards for foods made and sold in schools; increases the number of children who qualify for school meal programs, and “sets basic standards for school wellness policies including goals for nutrition promotion and education and physical activity.”

According to a new Rasmussen poll, however, only 23 percent of those surveyed think the federal government should have a direct role in setting the nutritional standards for public schools.

As the act was pushed through Congress, both Michelle Obama and Nancy Pelosi stressed the need for the new regulations, saying that childhood obesity was not only an “economic threat,” but a “national security issue” as well. While recent polls show that Americans are concerned about issues of obesity in the country, 51 percent failed to see the threat to national security.

Preferences for federal intervention in childhood nutrition are more divided when factoring in race. A majority of whites think parents and local governments should have the ultimate say in kids’ eating habits. Conversely, a majority of blacks believe the federal government was capable of the decision.

Overall, however, 34 percent of respondents thought that parents should have the ultimate say in their child’s nutritional diet. Seventeen percent believed state and local governments, respectfully, know best when setting such standards.

While former president and new co president Bill Clinton worked on the tax bill and other projects, President Barack Obama admits that his other co- president is behind his latest government takeover of parental responsibilities, The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act.

"Had I not been able to get this bill passed, I would be sleeping on the couch," he joked, referring to his wife, the force behind this $4.5 billion act. The act provides more free school meals to the pool, and gives the government more power to decide what foods can be offered in those meals, as well as in school vending machines and fundraisers during school hours.

The White House describes the bill thusly; “The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 will improve the quality of school breakfasts, lunches and other foods sold in schools while also strengthening nutrition programs that serve young children, including WIC and the Child and Adult Care Food Program.”

“The bill is an important advancement of the Obama Administration's goal of solving the problem of childhood obesity within a generation, which First Lady Michelle Obama has championed through the Let's Move! Initiative.”

After nominal president Obama spoke, Michelle took over: “When our kids spend so much of their time each day in school, and when many children get up to half their daily calories from school meals, it's clear that we as a nation have a responsibility to meet as well," Mrs. Obama said. "We can't just leave it up to the parents. I think that parents have a right to expect that their efforts at home won't be undone each day in the school cafeteria or in the vending machine in the hallway. I think that our parents have a right to expect that their kids will be served fresh, healthy food that meets high nutritional standards."

This free lunch bill is not quite the free lunch it appears to be; it is paid for by reductions in funding for food stamps where people can actually select what food to buy for their kids, say potatoes or potato chips, in their food desserts.

And why do so many kids get "half their daily calories from school meals"? This is another area of responsibility removed from the parent(s) and handed over to the government; parents don't even have to make their kids lunch to take to school, like my mom and wife did for our kids. Or even breakfast or dinner. A rising number of kids also eat these meals in school paid for by the government (you) relieving parents of another responsibility with a corresponding lack of familial bonding.

And the kids, crammed together in noisy lunchrooms for these not always happy meals, don't even get a healthy toy for eating all their healthy food instead of leaving their healthy food on the plate, on the floor, or throwing it at another student. This is the fate of most of the free student food.

This is another example of the growing nanny state where the government knows better how to run our lives from the cradle to the grave. Now we have some bureaucrat in Washington, D.C. telling parents what their kids should eat. I can see it now as the kids go through the line getting their little plates filled with this “nutritious” processed food supplied by the Department of Agriculture. There will, no doubt, be sections of foods for Jews, Muslims and Vegans, if not the ACLU will make sure there are. Or, in an effort to save money and satisfy all special interest groups the schools will serve only apples, oranges, broccoli, carrots and spinach — all healthy, non fattening foods. I am sure the kids will love it.

In San Francisco, and soon to be other cities where the left-wing loons run things, MacDonald’s Happy Meals containing toys have been banned. The City of New You has banned salt fro restaurant tables and the City of Los Angeles is banning the opening of any new fast food restaurants in low income neighborhoods. Los Angeles’ decision is based on the premise that low income people are too stupid to make proper eating choices. Perhaps they are, but it’s not the business of government to decide for them. Also, I am sure there will be no five star restaurants opening in these areas very soon and besides who to say an occasional Subway sandwich, a taco salad, some cashew chicken or a burger aren’t healthy. People make food choices based on their culture and budgets.  It’s not the governments business to tell us what to eat or drink. If medical affiliated groups like the American Heart Association wants to put out publications about healthy diets that’s fine — it’s their dollar. I don’t mind the government joining them in their advertising campaigns, but keep the regulators out.

We are becoming a nation of whining special interest groups. If you don’t like smoking then you get smoking banned. If you don’t like fat people you get mandatory dietary regulations enacted. If you are annoyed by barking dogs you get dogs banned. If you don’t like Christmas trees you say you are offended and get them banned and so on and on and on.

We are, by our propensity to do good, becoming an over regulated society. These regulations erode our basic freedoms and cost us billions of dollars. The problem is that everyone has their own definition of good.