Sunday, December 30, 2007

A Musical Tribute to Undecided Iowa Voters

Carry On Wayward Son

well, Kansas is next door to Iowa anyway, and this 10 year old lady plays AWESOME keyboard.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Substance Over Style - My Least Worst Dem

The assassination of Benazir Bhutto reinforces my belief that the next President of the United States cannot be ill equipped to deal with foreign policy decisions. There will probably be a big problem facing the next President in an area of the world Michael Yon has labeled troublestan.

A lot of discussion here at RedState recently about which is the best GOP candidate to be nominated and win the election and deal with this kind of crisis. You have got to demonstrate, at a moment of crisis, you can make a presidential decision in a world where you are given no good alternatives. You have got to seem presidential at a moment like this. And that means you have got to take the tough issue and take a stand.

I don't know why this question crossed my mind, perhaps 1 or 6 too many beers, but what if a Dem is elected? I pray this does not happen, but which one is the least of the worst if it does? Last night, on PBS NewHour David Brooks had this to say
I would say some are handling it well, some very poorly, and not -- you wouldn't predict who was doing one and who was doing the other.

Listen, Pakistan is a challenging problem. How do you deal with Pervez Musharraf? We have got multiple interests. Do we support him? How much do we support him? I count four candidates who have dealt with that difficult issue, whether it be pro-Musharraf, anti-, one way or another, take a position. And those are Biden, Richardson, Thompson, and McCain.

They have all at least addressed this difficult subject. The others have simply sidestepped it. I mean, John Edwards wished to educate Pakistan's children? Give me a break, that's not a policy. Hillary Clinton talks about her expertise. She knew Benazir Bhutto, but what would she do about Musharraf? You have got to answer that question.

You have got to demonstrate, at a moment of crisis, you can make a presidential decision in a world where you are given no good alternatives. And I would say most of the candidates, and most notably Clinton, have punted on that.

David Brooks' observations pointed me in the direction of Bill Richardson as my least worst Dem. I let Google be my friend, again, and I found this recent article in the Baltimore Sun. Here is a snippet that caught my attention
Nearly ten years ago, Al Qaeda first attacked America in East Africa. Months before that attack, I went to Afghanistan to press the Taliban to hand over Osama bin Laden, he said. They refused. So we imposed tough UN sanctions on them, and began building a coalition to keep America safe.

Richardson also said he has offered more detail than his Democratic opponents on what to do in Afghanistan, by calling for five brigades, about 20,000 troops, to be deployed there.

Two brigades should be sent to the border to stop terrorists from infiltrating Afghanistan through the Pakistani border, he said. I would send two brigades to the south to fight a resurgent Taliban there. And one brigade should redeploy to the west to deter any other country from any thoughts of expansionism.

I also discovered that Bill Richardson wrote a piece for Foreign Affairs around the same time that Mike Huckabee wrote his article. Richardson is liberal, but his foreign is organized, and not a mish mash.

Bill Richardson strongly supports the 2nd Amendment right for a citizen to keep and bear arms.

I was recently told by a former dem, (cough gamecock cough), that dems always choose their nominee on style over substance. If that is the case Bill Richardson has 0 chance of getting the nomination because he is getting lower grades on style as a dem candidate, than Fred Thompson is getting as a GOP candidate.

So I choose candidates by substance over style, and based on that and the limited research I have done Bill Richardson is my least worst dem. I did not base my conclusion on who would be the easiest dem candidate for the GOP to defeat. So with that in mind tear me a new one, and let me know which of the dems should be my least worst nightmare.

You Think Our MSM Is Bad...It's Worse In UK

I have been paying a lot of attention to Michael Yon's dispatches lately, and he really nailed the media in the UK in this dispatch about the UK treatment of their returning war veterans.

Michael starts the dispatch with a glowing account of compliments for patriotic Brits who came out 10,000 strong to watch and cheer at the parades of returning UK veterans from Iraq. He also had kind words for the "royals". Prince Harry and Prince William made unpublicized visits to hospitals to boost the morale of wounded soldiers. Lady Camilla was introduced to him by a British commander, and he wrote about how she has sent many handwritten letters to wounded soldiers, and she greeted the returning soldiers talking with them and their families for hours without an entourage.

After writing what was good Michael turned ugly on the UK media. Here is a snippet of what he wrote
While the pieces about the parades and medal ceremonies that greeted the returning “Lions of Basra” were accurate, it was impossible to miss the sensational headlines that gave equal weight to the bleating of Zawahiri, al Qaeda’s number two leader and number one propagandist.

From The Telegraph came this startling headline:

Britain ‘fleeing’ Iraq, says Zawahiri

Ready or not, UK hands Basra back to Iraqis
Leader: Basra is first step to leaving Iraq altogether.
Locals saw troops as conquerors, not saviours.

I had to shake my head a few times. Not only is it not accurate (British soldiers were not “fleeing” anything, they were drawing down wisely, why didn’t their own newspapers report that?), but it is absurd to cite anyone from al Qaeda as relevant to a discussion of Basra. Might as well quote Baghdad Bob. Al Qaeda is not one of the factions vying for control of Basra; it has never had any presence or proxy foothold there, and Saddam Hussein himself would find a warmer welcome. In fact, I challenge Zawahiri to make his asinine claims publicly from Basra, where I venture the locals would give him a chance to demonstrate how one flees from that city. He couldn’t get headlines like that from Iraqi press; for that kind of star treatment, he’s got to work the Western media.

Finally, this from The Independent:

Britain bows out of a five-year war it could never have won
“Britain stumbled into a small war in southern Iraq which it did not expect to fight and where its aims were always unclear. It is now stumbling out with very little achieved and its military reputation dented, after a conflict in which a victory could never have been won.”

This was interesting because if any blame could be placed for the charge of denting the reputation of British military, it has to be said to rest squarely with British media and their failure to get the story right. It’s one thing to ignore your own soldiers; it’s another thing to quote the enemy spokesperson without challenge. Someone needs to tell the newspapers over here in the U.K. that the situation in Iraq is actually looking good and gains that are not being reported are nonetheless holding and expanding. What will The Independent and others report if things actually work out in Iraq?

There is a disconnect between what principles and values a citizen in the UK holds dearly, and what that same citizen reads when he picks up a newspaper. Once upon a time reporters took pride in reporting news instead of writing political editorials, and most of us are too young to remember newspaper reporters like that.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Celebrating Christmas in the Holy Land

Nina Shea at NRO wrote a bleak report on Christian persecution in the Middle East. She reports the following:
In the Hamas-run Gaza strip there are about 3,000 Greek Orthodox living there. An extreme Wahhabi-style group wearing seventh-century robes recently emerged, calling them “Crusaders” and vowing to drive them out. It has succeeded in killing several Christians in recent months, including a prominent member of the community, Rami Khader.

In the West Bank’s only all-Christian town, now called Taybeh and once known by the Biblical name Ephraim, a Muslim mob from a neighboring village torched 14 houses last September to avenge the honor of a Muslim woman allegedly impregnated by her Christian employer.

Earlier this month in Egypt, an Islamist website urged a terrorist attack on the Cairo office of the Knights of Malta, a Catholic charitable group founded in 1087 to care for poor and sick pilgrims to the Holy Land. Posting photos of the Malta office, it exhorted: “Do not stint on your attacks, Egyptians, either with car or truck bombs.”

Turkey, where Paul preached to the Ephesians and Galatians, once the seat of the Eastern Christianity known as Byzantium, has one of the smallest Christian minorities. It is now home to less than 75,000 Christians, out of a population of 70 million. To be sure the Orthodox Church is being slowly strangled by the state closure of its seminary, but the violence is no longer systematic or official. It is more targeted, and carried out by zealous young men acting outside the law. Last Sunday, Italian Catholic priest, Fr. Adriano Franchini, was stabbed after Mass at a church in Izmir.

But there is one bright beacon of hope for Peace and Good Will among the peoples, and that bright star is in Iraq. From the Sydney Morning Herald in Australia comes this report of good news
IRAQI Christians who fled a district of Baghdad that declared itself an al-Qaeda caliphate have returned home to celebrate their first Christmas in two years.

Known as the "Vatican of Iraq", the small but long-established Christian enclave in the mainly Sunni district of Doura suffered constant terror at the hands of

al-Qaeda gunmen who tried to impose a Taliban-style rule.

Churches were car-bombed, women were threatened for not wearing Islamic headscarves, and families had to pay off local mosques to keep them safe from kidnap gangs.

But now al-Qaeda has been rooted out of Doura and the hundreds of Christian families who left the area are returning.

On Christmas Day they will congregate in the battle-scarred St Mary's Church, where part of the crucifix on its tower is still missing after being shot at.

"We closed the church two years ago because of all the trouble," said the priest, Father Younadim Shamoon, 45, who has decorated its bullet-cratered walls with modest fairy lights.

"But many people are coming back after word got around that the local Muslim people were welcoming us again. We thank God and hope that we can live together again as brothers."

Overlooking the River Tigris on Baghdad's southern outskirts, Doura was home to 4000 followers of the Chaldean Catholic and Assyrian Orthodox churches. The neighbourhood has churches, monasteries and convents, and the Christian residents' homes stand out because of their neat gardens.

Relations with their Muslim neighbours began to fray in late 2004 when al-Qaeda zealots joined forces with local Sunnis fighting the US occupation. Soon Doura became one of Baghdad's most notorious al-Qaeda strongholds, with the movement designating it part of a new self-declared Sunni Islamic state of Iraq. The Christians were an easy target for the insurgent gangs' fund-raising activities. Al-Qaeda-backed cells would frequently kidnap them for money, claiming the victims were "crusaders" or US allies.

By the middle of this year, half of the local Christians had left, part of a wider exodus that saw hundreds of thousands of Baghdad Christians head for Syria. Those who stayed in Doura had to pay monthly tithes of 15,000 dinars ($15) as "protection money" to Sunni mosques.

Nine months into the US troop build-up, though, local Sunnis have been persuaded to reject al-Qaeda's influence. Last week, Sheik Samir al-Jibouri, a local Sunni cleric, visited Father Shamoon to give him his guarantee that his flock would be safe.

"He has also told us that we don't have to pay protection money any more," Father Shamoon said.

Major Kirk Luedeke, a US Army spokesman, confirmed Christian families were returning. "What is more important is that the Muslim tribal leaders are openly showing support for their Christian neighbours," he said.

Abu Firas, a Christian father of three who had taken his family to Syria, arrived in Doura on Friday after a call from Father Shamoon. His house had been used by an al-Qaeda gang while he was away, and is riddled with bullet holes.

But a hug from a Muslim neighbour made up for it. "I can fix the doors and the windows, that is easy," he said. "The most important thing is that I came back home to live among my people."

Gateway Pundit has an excellent blog about this phenomena with a link to this AP photograph.

For quite a while, and especially now with the assassination of Bhutto, we are going to hear a lot of talk about what a mistake fighting in Iraq has been. I posted this blog in defiance of that kind of talk. There is much good that has come from first toppling Saddam, and then turning back the al Qaeda who planned to fill that vacuum. Despite what the WaPo writes the Iraqis are seeing things differently. An Iraqi blogger, Iraqi Pundit put it this way in his recent blog

Look, Iraqis can see that things have improved recently because of the U.S. presence. Do you really think Iraqis want thugs to roam the streets again?

I have more confidence in the Iraqi's account than I will ever have of the Washington Post.

I close with a reading from Luke, Chapter 2 vs 13-14
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Understanding How The World Operates - Fred '08

Today more than any day has brought home the realization that it is absolutely critical that the President of the United States understands how the world operates. I just came across an article from December 19, 2007 by Stephen Hayes of The Weekly Standard. He was covering a Fred Thompson campaign event in Waterloo, Iowa. Fred had just given a 25-minute speech and taking questions from the audience. Here is part of his report:
One Iowan asked: "What about habeas corpus?" Thompson explained that terrorists captured elsewhere are not entitled to the protections provided in the U.S. Constitution. Then he turned his attention to Huckabee.

"I'm not here to run anybody down tonight," he said. "I'm in the Christmas spirit. Sort of. But when I hear one of the fellows who's running for the Republican nomination say that we need to shut down Guantanamo and bring those prisoners over here. I don't know if he realizes it or not, but when they touch American soil they're going to get rights they don't ordinarily have."

He continued: "The notion that we're going to ingratiate ourselves if we do that, to our enemies or foreign governments--I wonder if he understands how the world really operates." Thompson's tone is one of incredulousness, and, after a short pause, he finishes the thought. "I don't wonder, either. I think I have a pretty good idea."

This is the real deal. We definitely do not need to wonder if the next President of the United States understands how the world operates.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A Changing Wind in La Belle Province Quebec?

A Quebec folk group whose name translated to English is My Ancestors produced this song and video. The name of the song is Degeneration, (a play-on-words, meaning both degeneration and the generations). It recently is listed as one of the most down-loaded songs on Canada's i-Tunes store.

At Christmas time my hope springs eternal that perhaps there is some buyer's remorse going on with some over their hedonistic socialist lifestyle.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Rudyard Kipling on Mike Huckabee Foreign Policy

Mike Huckabee wrote an article for Foreign Affairs magazine. He begins with this
The United States, as the world's only superpower, is less vulnerable to military defeat. But it is more vulnerable to the animosity of other countries. Much like a top high school student, if it is modest about its abilities and achievements, if it is generous in helping others, it is loved. But if it attempts to dominate others, it is despised.

American foreign policy needs to change its tone and attitude, open up, and reach out. The Bush administration's arrogant bunker mentality has been counterproductive at home and abroad.

Rudyard Kipling (A.D. 980-1016) answers Mike Huckabee

A.D. 980-1016

It is always a temptation to an armed and agile nation
To call upon a neighbour and to say: --
"We invaded you last night--we are quite prepared to fight,
Unless you pay us cash to go away."

And that is called asking for Dane-geld,
And the people who ask it explain
That you've only to pay 'em the Dane-geld
And then you'll get rid of the Dane!

It is always a temptation for a rich and lazy nation,
To puff and look important and to say: --
"Though we know we should defeat you, we have not the time to meet you.
We will therefore pay you cash to go away."

And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
But we've proved it again and again,
That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
You never get rid of the Dane.

It is wrong to put temptation in the path of any nation,
For fear they should succumb and go astray;
So when you are requested to pay up or be molested,
You will find it better policy to say: --

"We never pay any-one Dane-geld,
No matter how trifling the cost;
For the end of that game is oppression and shame,
And the nation that pays it is lost!"

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Blogging From Cuba

Please watch this WSJ video report on Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez. George Moneo at Babalu blog posted some comments of Yoani and by Yoani.
To get around Cuba's restrictions on Web access, the waif-like 32-year-old posed as a tourist to slip into an Internet cafe in one of the city's luxury hotels, which normally bar Cubans. Dressed in gray surf shorts, T-shirt and lime-green espadrilles, she strode toward a guard at the hotel's threshold and flashed a wide smile. The guard, a towering man with a shaved head, stepped aside.

"I think I'm able to do this because I look so harmless," says Ms. Sánchez, who says she is sometimes mistaken for a teenager. Once inside the cafe, she attached a flash memory drive to the hotel computer and, in quick, intense movements, uploaded her material. Time matters: The $3 she paid for a half-hour is nearly a week's wage for many Cubans.

Ms. Sánchez has done this cloak-and-dagger routine since April, publishing essays that capture the privation, irony and even humor of Cuba's tropical Communism -- "Stalinism with conga drums," as she and her husband jokingly call it. From writing about the book fair that blacklisted her favorite authors to the schoolyard where parents smuggle food to their hungry children, Ms. Sánchez paints an unflinching, and deeply personal, portrait of the Cuban experience.

While there are plenty of bloggers who dish out harsh opinions on Mr. Castro, most do so from the cozy confines of Miami. Ms. Sánchez is one of the few who do so from Havana.
For seven months, Yoani Sanchez has been publishing an often highly critical blog about Cuba -- from Havana. And her writing has become important for those trying to understand Cuba in Castro's twilight years.

"What makes her so special is that she is fresh, observant and on-the-scene," says Philip Peters, a former Latin America official at the State Department who now studies Cuba at the Lexington Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank. "Almost all of the Cuba blogs are written by people who travel there occasionally, or by people who haven't seen the island in 40 years, if ever," he says.

Not only does she write from Cuba, she even signs her name and posts a photo of herself on her Web site. Most Havana bloggers are anonymous. "Once you experience the flavor of saying what you think, of publishing it and signing it with your name, well, there's no turning back," she says. "One of the first things we have to do, a great way to begin to change, is to be more honest about saying what you think."

It's easy to see why Ms. Sánchez is such a mystery. In a place known for bombastic gesticulation, she makes her points with subtle wit. She is passionate about Cuban culture, but doesn't care for signature elements like baseball and cigars. Though a critic of the government, she hasn't affiliated with the island's official political opposition. Perhaps most surprising on an island that many risk their lives to flee, she left Cuba in 2002, only to return two years later.

Her blog is called Generación Y. The title refers to a fad for names starting with "Y" that began in the 1960s. Cuba's boxing team, for instance, has members named Yoandry, Yuciel, Yampier and Yordenis. Roughly between 25 and 40 today, people in this generation are the offspring of the revolutionaries. Weaned on Soviet cartoons and Communist slogans about a "luminous future," they came of age amid shortages of food, clothing and soap as the economy crumbled.

This group will play a critical role in forging a new Cuba once Mr. Castro is gone. Many expect a showdown between Ms. Sánchez's broadly disillusioned generation and an older group of hard-liners who will try to keep a version of the Castro model going after he dies. Her writing has become required reading for Cuba experts seeking insight into the psychology of this group. Her blog received a half-million hits in October.

In addition to publishing her blog, she talks freely about taboo subjects. She tells neighbors that she doesn't vote, a shocking admission in Cuba. She isn't a member of any of Cuba's quasi-compulsory political organizations.

"There are many ways to pretend in Cuba: you can say things that you don't believe, or you can stay quiet about the things you don't like," she says. "I have the tranquility of being able to look at my son and he knows that I don't fake it."

At the same time, she tries not to cross a line that will give the government a reason to shut her blog down. She uses only public Internet sites, instead of trying to set up an illegal Internet link from home, as some Cubans do. The family lives on between $20 and $60 a month, she says, earned from working with tourists. She confines her writing to the Web. Critiques published on paper are considered propaganda, while the Internet is a gray area.

Still, there is no guarantee that Ms. Sánchez's activities won't land her in legal trouble. Even if jailed, Ms. Sánchez says she would find ways to publish her blog. "You have to believe that you are free and try to act like it," she says. "Little by little, acting as though you are free can be contagious."

I visited her web site, and I added it to my bookmarks. There is one post she wrote that makes the point of her using subtle wit. This is the post about a crowd of Cubans trying to get inside the movie theater to watch a German film about the spying machinery operating in the shadows in the former Soviet Union. The doors to cinema were closed, and people outside wanting in began chanting "Open Up!" The post from her blog:

Here I leave you this picture from last Saturday at the entrance to the Acapulco Cinema, to see the film “The Life of others”. I think that it has been the biggest mob seen in that festival. Those of us outside were yelling “Open up!”, after seeing that they were closing the doors, in reaction to the stampede that wanted in. I imagine that such scream was not limited to pass the entrance to the Acapulco Cinema, but it was a call to “Opening” with capital letters. I yelled it, also, thinking about the dams, the limits and the borders that have to yield and let us through.

Open up! We yelled outside the cinema and one hour later we could hear the character in the film saying “the wall has fallen”. “Open up!” -we said with faces against the glass, while we were pushed back-. “Open up!” -we continued thinking, even when we were already in the comfy chairs, the lights about to go off. “Open up!” -They were the words that I kept from that night, and I repeated them the next morning.

So, the movie, renamed here “Our lives”, allowed us to yell openly, right in the middle of 26th st, a verb that concentrates all of our desires: “Open up!”.

I think some things are going to happen in Cuba. I do not know what they are, or if they are going to make life better or worse in the short term for Cubans. I do know that I am going to occasionally surf over to Yoani's web site. It is worth my time to do so.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Badges! We don't Need No !?&*# Badges!

Pay close attention to the pictures of the badges.

The first set are the heraldic lion depicted on the Nordic Battlegroup's coat of arms of the Swedish military. Do you notice a difference from the original on the left vs the new one on the right? The one on the right came about after a group of Swedish women lodged a complaint to the European Court of justice. A comment from a Swedish on-line newspaper The Local:

But although the army was eventually happy to make the changes in the interests of gender equality, the artist who designed the insignia was less than pleased.

"A heraldic lion is a powerful and stately figure with its genitalia intact and I cannot approve an edited image," Vladimir A Sagerlund from the National Archives told Göteborgs-Posten.

Sagerlund blasted the army for making changes to the coat of arms without his permission.

"The army lacks knowledge about heraldry. Once upon a time coats of arms containing lions without genitalia were given to those who betrayed the Crown," said Sagerlund.

But the castrated lion has already won the day and is now worn on the arms of all soldiers in the battle group's Swedish battalions.

The other badge is worn by soccer players for the Barcelona Club. A report from e-news:
According to the Catalan newspaper La Vanguardia, the Spanish football club Barcelona is altering its famous badge in some Arab countries in order to avoid offending Muslims.

The badge is especially altered in Saudi Arabia or Algeria, where the Barcelona shirts are being sold without the red cross of Saint George, the patron saint of the Catalan region which Barca claims to represent, the La Vanguardia newspaper found in a private investigation.

The badge, which was created in 1906, features a single vertical red line in Saudi Arabia and Algeria, due to the fact that there, the red cross represents the symbol of the brutal mediaeval Christian crusades against Islam.

La Vanguardia, in its Saturday edition, expressed its indignation as well as shock, asking the officials of the club to respond to the situation.

Speaking of soccer

this link is about an Italian soccer team:

A Turkish lawyer has filed a complaint to UEFA, the European football federation, after Italian club Inter Milan wore a football jersey with a symbol said to be offensive to Islam, during a game with the Turkish team Fenerbahçe.

The symbol of the northern Italian city of Milan, a red cross on a white background, was on the Inter Milan shirts during the Champions League game in November which saw Fenerbahçe lose by 3 goals to zero at Milan's San Siro stadium.

Where does this nanny-statist political correctness run amok end? Some may argue that it's a little thing just to calm down these women protesters and Islamist protesters by appeasing them. I strongly disagree with this argument. We have a Western Democratic value of freedom of assembly and freedom of speech. These values must overrule any attempts by any group to stifle them. period.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Brother, Can You Spare 36 min. Time?

That is the time of a video of a trip to Cuba by south Florida radio personality John "Footy" Cross and Cuban-American sportswear business owner Ignacio Mendez. The video is called Faces of Cuba and the only place it can be found is on the WIOD web site.

I watched it twice, the second time in full-screen mode. Robert M. at Babalu blog reviews the video by writing
Footy's purpose for doing the documentary is plainly stated right at the beginning: an effort to educate Americans about the "desperate imprisonment of 11 million people by a psycho". The piece runs the gamut from shots of Old Havana and other locations around Cuba to Ignacio Mendez's personal journey to visit relatives, as well as a visit to his old family house and school. Intertwined throughout the documentary are Footy and Mendez's feelings about the state of Cuba and note a feeling of hopelessness in Cubans.

In other words, this isn't your typical MSM fluff piece. This is two men's accounts of what they saw and experienced in the real Cuba, not the La La land-like experience most tourists see, nor is it a mouthpiece for a specific U.S. policy towards Cuba. In that sense, it is refreshing and refreshingly honest.

The whole thing is about 36 minutes long, so you'll need a little time to view it in its entirety, but it's well worth it in my opinion. Finally, a note of thanks to Footy for being willing to do this and for being an American who "gets it", and to Ignacio Mendez for sharing his personal story with us.

As Footy mentions during the video, what's going on in Cuba goes against the values Americans hold close, and if Americans really took the time to learn about the truth instead of relying on propaganda, they would feel as outraged and motivated as Footy to do something about it.

So I ask you to spare this 36 minutes because you are not going to know listening to Sean Penn, Michael Moore, or Danny Glover. You also are not going to know the real Cuba spending more than 36 minutes at one of these yahoos movies.

This Ad Reminds Me of 110th Majority Team

You have to admit certain behavioral patterns of certain Democratic Senators and Representatives fit the descriptions in this ad. I have some ideas of which congresscritter™ matches which actor in this commercial. Do you?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

UNICEF Photo of the Year

A press release from the UNICEF website.
The American photographer Stephanie Sinclair is the winner of the international photo competition “UNICEF Photo of the Year”. Her photo shows a wedding couple in Afghanistan who could not be more opposite. The groom, Mohammed, looks much older than his 40 years. The bride, Ghulam, is still a child; she just turned 11. “The UNICEF Photo of the Year 2007 raises awareness about a worldwide problem. Millions of girls are married while they are still under age. Most of theses child brides are forever denied a self-determined life”, says UNICEF Patroness Eva Luise Köhler at the award ceremony in Berlin. According to UNICEF, there are about 60 million young women worldwide who were married before they came of age, half of them in South Asia.

The UNICEF Photo of the Year 2007 is one of a series of photos about child marriages taken by Stephanie Sinclair between 2005 and 2007 in Afghanistan, Nepal and Ethiopia. During a stay in Afghanistan, it consistently struck the 34-year old freelance photographer, how many young girls are married to much older men. She decided to raise awareness about this topic with her pictures. According to UNICEF estimates, about 50% of Afghan women are married before they turn 18. In Afghanistan, in most parts of South Asia and in Southern Africa, marriage is often seen as a business transaction that has nothing to do with personal desires. In this process, the bride is the article of trade - the younger she is, the higher the bride price. “What are you feeling today?” Stephanie Sinclair asked Ghulam on her engagement. “Nothing,” the bewildered girl answered. “I do not know this man. What am I supposed to feel?”

The part I put in boldface is intended to make clear that my post is not another religion bashing post. Because it is not religion, but it is culture in backwater parts of the world that deserve criticism. Unfortunately there are too many misguided folks in Western Europe and Canada, (but I repeat myself), who think the backwater cultures should not be criticized.

Michelle Malkin has this up at her website. One of the commenters, Rational Thought, posted
Mark Steyn is being called before a Canadian “human rights commission” for the crime of pointing out in his best-selling book “America Alone” that the flavor is Islam illustrated in that photo above is incompatible with Western democracy. We musn’t criticize such multiculturalism because, you know, that 11-year-old girl really wants to be raped by that nasty old deviant. She has 2 choices: submit to the rape, or have her father/uncles/cousins slit her throat. But, hey, don’t you dare call such practices incompatible with Western democracy. Don’t you dare. God help us. Where’s the outrage?

I really do not want to criticize a religion. I just want to criticize any and all actions that are incompatible with Western Democracy. And this liberty to be free to speak out is non-negotiable with me.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Rip in Dem Majority Big Tent

I missed it when this happened last summer on the House floor. Val Prieta of Babalu blog recently brought it to my attention. I did a little digging over at the THOMAS web site, and found this conversation on the floor concerning an amendment offered by House Ways and Means Chairman, Charlie Rangel.
Mr. Chairman, I want to congratulate Chairman Peterson for an excellent farm bill which I support and look forward to supporting, assuming this amendment is not added to it.

I do have the utmost respect for the gentleman from New York and have enjoyed my time serving with him in the House of Representatives, but I rise in opposition to his amendment which provides the Cuban regime with the ability to open bank accounts in the United States and obtain visas for regime officials to visit U.S. production facilities.

I strongly support the farm bill, but this amendment needlessly adds a volatile political issue to this important bill.

Cuba is one of five countries in the world that is a state sponsor of terror, along with North Korea, Iran, Syria and Sudan. This amendment would allow access to our financial institutions by a regime that is and maintains close relationships with other state sponsors of terrorism.

Recently, we have been especially vigilant about not allowing access to our financial institutions since 9/11. We adopted the Bank Secrecy Act. We have made sure there are countless accountability measures to ensure that financial institutions have the ability to protect themselves from people who would do us harm, and this amendment would go in the opposite direction.

Additionally, regular Cuban citizens are prohibited from engaging in private economic activity; thus, general agricultural licenses will only serve the purpose of allowing agents of the Cuban Government into the United States.

Finally, I want to remind Members that while the Castro regime seeks U.S. concessions to finance its existence, it has consistently rejected offers of direct U.S. humanitarian assistance to the Cuban people.

I ask my colleagues to vote against this amendment. The Cuban people stand at the cusp of actualizing their dreams of freedom. It is our duty to stand by them during this historic time.

Now unless you clicked on the link you probably think this was spoken by a GOP member of Congress who is Cuban-American and very much anti-Castro. You would be mistaken. This dissent to Charlie Rangel came from Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and she lobbied to get 65 other Dems to join with her and 179 Republicans to defeat this amendment. She did not just get some back benchers to join her, but she got several of the leadership to side with her against Rangel. She got Steny Hoyer, James Clyburn, Louise Slaughter, Ike Skelton, Bennie thompson, and Silvestre Reyes to vote against the Chairman of the House Ways and Means.

Sure I wish these Dems were not so lock step with Nancy and her pals over supporting the US armed services and their mission in Iraq, but at least some of them have enough sense to keep an enemy at bay 90 miles from our shore.

WSJ reporter David Rogers wrote a nice report on this incident
Anti-Castro lawmakers are delighted by a House vote last week rejecting efforts to ease restrictions on financing for U.S. agricultural exports to Cuba.

The 245-182 vote quashes speculation that the new Democratic Congress will change U.S.-Cuban policy substantially. The message is very clear, said Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R., Fla.). There will be no possibility of a relaxation of sanctions until there is a democratic constitution in Cuba.

...the vote on the Rangel amendment came the day after Raul Castro, Fidel’s brother, addressed his nation on Revolution Day. Also, Wasserman Schultz warned colleagues against adding a politically volatile issue to the farm bill.

It went too far. We could not let it go, said Ms. Wasserman Schultz. The message, she said, is there has not been a lessening of support for the sanctions against Cuba. Among Democrats there is a solid base for pushing for reform on the island.

Perhaps there is still a faint glimmer of hope for this 231 year old republic after all.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Transnational Progressivism Exposed

I recently posted a blog here that defined transnational progressivism as a new political movement replacing the classical liberal democratic movement in American politics. One of the defining principles
A good part of the energy for transnational progressivism is provided by human rights activists, who consistently evoke "evolving norms of international law." The main legal conflict between traditional American liberal democrats and transnational progressives is ultimately the question of whether the U. S. Constitution trumps international law or vice versa.

Dan Riehl posted on his blog something that made me think about this situation. He provided some of the exchange that went on at the GOP Iowa debate between the candidates and the moderator. Here is the part, especially the boldfaced, that seemed to me like an exposure of this phenomena.

I want to take on a new issue. I would like to see a show of hands. How many of you believe global climate change is a serious threat and caused by human activity?

THOMPSON: You want to give me a minute to answer that?

WASHBURN: No, I don't.

THOMPSON: Well, then I'm not going to answer it.




THOMPSON: You want a show of hands. I'm not giving it to you.

WASHBURN: We're going to follow up on that, but what I need to know is: Who believes global climate change is serious and caused by human activity? And then we'll talk in more detail about it.


MCCAIN: I think that climate change is real and I...



WASHBURN: I'm going to start with Senator McCain and come back to Mayor Giuliani.

MCCAIN: I've been involved in this issue since the year 2000. I have had hearings. I've traveled the world. I know that climate change is real.

But let me put it to you this way: Suppose that climate change is not real and all we do is adopt green technologies, which our economy and our technology is perfectly capable of. Then all we've done is given our kids a cleaner world.

But suppose they are wrong. Suppose they are wrong and climate change is real and we've done nothing. What kind of a planet are we going to pass on to the next generation of Americans?

It's real, we've got to address it, we can do it with technology, with cap and trade, with capitalist and free enterprise motivation. And I'm confident that we can pass on to our children and grandchildren a cleaner, better world.

WASHBURN: Mayor Giuliani?

GIULIANI: I agree with John. Climate change is real. It's happening. I believe human beings are contributing to it.

I think the best way to deal with it is through energy independence. And I...

WASHBURN: Who doesn't...

GIULIANI: And I think energy independence is...

WASHBURN: Who doesn't agree?

HUNTER: He said contributing, but not totally.





GIULIANI: And I think that all parties should embrace this as an issue for us and our...

WASHBURN: Let me come at it this way. Let me come at it this way.

What impact on the economy would be acceptable in order to reverse global warming and greenhouse gas emissions?

Governor Romney?

ROMNEY: Well, it's going to help our economy because we're going to invest in new technologies to get ourselves off of foreign oil. And as we get ourselves off of foreign oil, we also dramatically reduce our CO2 emissions.

That's good for the environment. It's also good for our economy. Because buying $300 billion or $400 billion worth of oil a year from other people who use it against us, that's bad for our economy. It's also bad for the environment.

We can do these things in a way that help both the environment and the economy and national security. That's the beauty of what we're talking about here.

Is global warming an issue for the world? Absolutely.

Is it something we can deal with by becoming energy independent and energy secure? We sure can.

But at the same time, we call it global warming, not America warming. So let's not put a burden on us alone and have the rest of the world skate by without having to participate in this effort. It's a global effort.

But our independence is something we can do unilaterally.

WASHBURN: Mr. Keyes, what do you think about this?

KEYES: Well, what I think is that a lot of folks out there ought to understand that what you're watching represents the situation in our country. Ask yourself who represents the people they don't let you hear from. And you'll know who you should vote for in the Iowa Caucuses.

Who represents the voice that they're absolutely determined to overlook in the discussion of our sovereignty and the betrayal of this people's sovereignty, on the border, on our moral principles, on the major export overseas -- which is our jobs?

These folks represent the very elite who year, after year, after year, have destroyed our Constitution, betrayed our rights and undermined our strength created by our people in the world.

WASHBURN: Ambassador?

KEYES: And yet the one person willing to talk about that is overlooked, time and time again. That person...

THOMPSON: I agree with Alan Keyes' position on global warming.


WASHBURN: Let me come to...

KEYES: I'm in favor of reducing global warming, because I think the most important emission we need to control is the hot air emission of politicians who pretend one thing and don't deliver.

So, does the international AGW movement trump the U.S. Constitution or vice versa? If our system is based not on individual rights (as defined by the U. S. Constitution) but on group consciousness (as defined by international law); not on constitutional law, but on transnational law; then the regime will cease to be "constitutional," "liberal," "democratic," and "American," in the understood sense of those terms, but will become in reality a new hybrid system that is "post-constitutional," "post-liberal," "post-democratic," and "post-American."

Saturday, December 15, 2007

My 3 Top Choices and Why

Before I reel off the names of the people who are my top 3 choices for POTUS I first want to explain the why part. I choose among the candidates, based on their speeches, papers, and interviews, who could be POTUS and have a conversation with the leader from another country the way that Pres. Reagan conversed with Mikhail Gorbachev.

The conversation I am referring to took place on the morning of October 16, 1986. From the CNN website you can read the entire transcript of these talks. In this post I just want to provide a piece of it.

Secretary General Gorbachev: We know that you plan to deploy SDI. But we do not have such plans. And we cannot assume an obligation relative to such a transition. We have a different conception.

Secretary of State Shultz: I would like to mention also the third question, which we included because you emphasize it so much. This is the situation which would exist until the time when the conditions indicated above were realized. The question is: what general understanding can the parties reach relative to the restrictions imposed by the ABM Treaty on activity related to creating a long-range strategic defense?

The President stated to you and the whole world that he will not renounce the SDI program. You do not agree with that. But as I understand it, you recognize his problem and that he is trying to meet your concern half-way.

Secretary General Gorbachev: But I think that I am even helping the president with SDI. After all, your people say that if Gorbachev attacks SDI and space weapons so much, it means the idea deserves more respect. They even say that if it were not for me, no one would listen to the idea at all. And some even claim that I want to drag the United States into unnecessary expenditures with this. But if the first ones are right, then I am on your side in this matter, but you have not appreciated it.

President Reagan: What the hell use will ABM's or anything else be if we eliminate nuclear weapons?

Secretary General Gorbachev: Absolutely right. I am for that. But the point is that under the ABM Treaty the parties do not have a large-scale antimissile defense, and you want to deploy such a defense.

President Reagan: But what difference does it make if it is not nuclear weapons? What difference whether it exists or not?

On the other hand, you know that even in this situation we will not be able to guarantee that someone will not begin to make nuclear weapons again at some point.

Secretary General Gorbachev: Mr. President, you just made a historic statement: What the hell use will SDI be if we eliminate nuclear weapons? But it is exactly because we are moving toward a reduction and elimination of nuclear weapons that I favor strengthening the ABM Treaty. In these conditions it becomes even more important. As for your arguments about the madman who decides to resort to nuclear weapons, I think that we will be able to solve that problem, it is not that serious.

President Reagan: It appears that the point is that I am the oldest man here. And I understand that after the war the nations decided that they would renounce poison gases. But thank God the gas mask continued to exist. Something similar can happen with nuclear weapons. And we will have to shield against them in any case.

Secretary General Gorbachev: I am increasingly convinced of something I knew previously only second-hand. The President of the United States does not like to retreat. I see now that you do not want to meet us half-way on the issue of the ABM Treaty, which is absolutely essential in conditions where we are undertaking large reductions in nuclear arms, and you do not want to begin negotiations on stopping nuclear testing. So I see that the possibilities of agreement are exhausted.


Secretary General Gorbachev: It is a shame, Mr. President, that you and I do not have enough time to discuss humanitarian issues. We have concrete ideas on this which we simply are not going to have time to discuss. I have to say that people in the Soviet Union are very concerned about the human rights situation in the United States. There is one other important subject. This is the importance of mutual information in our day. The situation now is this: the Voice of America broadcasts around the clock in many languages from stations you have in various countries in Europe and Asia, while we cannot present our point of view to the American people. Therefore, to achieve parity, we are forced to jam Voice of America broadcasts. I propose the following: we will stop jamming Voice of America and you will be able to broadcast what you consider necessary to us, but at the same time you will meet us half-way and help us lease, from you or in neighboring countries, radio stations that would allow us to reach the American people with our point of view.

President Reagan: The difference between us is that we recognize freedom of the press and the right of people to listen to any point of view. This does not exist in your press. Today in Washington there will be a press conference, and Americans will see it, and newspapers will publish the text of it. It is not that way in your country. Your system envisions only a government press.

Secretary General Gorbachev: But I asked a concrete question. I proposed that we can stop jamming Voice of America if you will meet us half-way and give us an opportunity to lease a radio station from you or lease or build a station in one of your neighboring countries.

President Reagan: I will consult about this when I return to the United States, and I will take a favorable position.

Secretary General Gorbachev: We are for parity in general. In the information field, for example, or in film. Almost half of the movies showing in our theaters are American. Soviet movies are hardly ever shown in the United States. That is not parity.

President Reagan: We do not have any ban on your movies. The film industry is a free business, and if someone wants to show your films he can do it.

Secretary General Gorbachev: I see that the President avoids this question and goes into talk about business.

President Reagan: Our government cannot control the film market. If you want to inundate us with your movies go right ahead. How our movies get to your country, I do not know.

Secretary General Gorbachev: It is an interesting situation, simply a paradox. In your country, the most democratic country, obstacles arise to showing our movies, while in our country, a totalitarian country, almost half the movies being shown are American. How can you reconcile this, that the Soviet Union is an undemocratic country but your films are being shown?

President Reagan: There is a difference between free enterprise and government ownership. You have no free enterprise, everything belongs to the government and the government puts everything on the market. In the United States we have private industry, and other countries have the right to sell their goods, movies and so on. You have the right to set up a rental organization in our country to distribute your movies, or to lease some theater. But we cannot order it.

Secretary General Gorbachev: One more question. There were two television bridges between the USSR and the United States recently. One involved the participation of the communities of Leningrad, Copenhagen, and Boston, and the other had Soviet and American doctors. In our country they were watched by 150 million people, but in the United States they were not shown.

President Reagan: The only thing I can answer is that the movie theaters and all belong to your government, and you show what you want in them. But our government cannot compete with private business.

But I want to tell you that your performing groups, such as the Leningrad Ballet, draw an enormous crowd in the United States, and they are shown on television too. But if you want to show other things too, please do. We have leasing companies, and theaters which show foreign films.

Secretary General Gorbachev: Mr. President, we have quite a few complaints about the United States. Here is the last question. For 30 years now you have refused to let our trade union figures enter the United States. Mr. Shultz simply does not give them visas. Where is the parity here? You know, your trade union figures come to the USSR and have interesting professional contacts and meetings with workers. But you do not let our people in. In your country, which is so self-confident, they are viewed as subversive elements.

President Reagan: I would like to look into this. Maybe I will have some proposals on the film problem that you mentioned.

Secretary General Gorbachev: Good.

This exchange is historic, and to me it marked the beginning of collapse of the USSR. Frank Kaplan wrote an article at Slate magazine where he points this out.
The Reykjavik talks finally fizzled. Gorbachev said he'd accept the zero-nukes plan if Reagan pledged not to test nuclear weapons in outer space (a crucial element of SDI). Reagan wouldn't accept that condition.

However, Gorbachev returned to Moscow persuaded that Reagan—who had earlier struck him as a "caveman"—honestly had no intention of launching a first strike against the Soviet Union, and he made this point clear to the Politburo. He could continue with perestroika, which involved not just economic reforms but—as a necessary precondition—massive defense cuts and a transformation of international relations. He needed assurances of external security in order to move forward with this domestic upheaval. Reagan gave him those reassurances. Subsequent conversations between his foreign minister, Edvard Shevardnadze, and Secretary of State George Shultz reinforced his confidence.

In the last couple years of the Reagan administration, Reagan would propose extravagant measures in arms reductions. His hawkish aides would go along with them, thinking the Soviets would reject them (and the United States would win a propaganda victory). Then, to the surprise of everyone (except perhaps Reagan, who meant the proposals without cynicism), Gorbachev would accept them.

In the end, Reagan and Gorbachev needed each other. Gorbachev needed to move swiftly if his reforms were to take hold. Reagan exerted the pressure that forced him to move swiftly and offered the rewards that made his foes and skeptics in the Politburo think the cutbacks might be worth it.

Gorbachev wasn't the only decisive presence. If Reagan hadn't been president—if Jimmy Carter or Walter Mondale had defeated him or if Reagan had died and George H.W. Bush taken his place—Gorbachev almost certainly would not have received the push or reinforcement that he needed. Those other politicians would have been too traditional, too cautious, to push such radical proposals (zero nukes and SDI) or to take Gorbachev's radicalism at face value. (There's no need to speculate on this point. When Bush Sr. succeeded Reagan in 1989, U.S.-Soviet relations took a huge step backward; it took nearly a year for Bush and his advisers to realize that Gorby was for real.)

My heart swells with pride when I read this transcript, and I am so thankful our country had a President who knew how to converse and defend the USA instead of apologizing. This president knew how to explain the freedoms of a private sector capitalist system vs the tyranny of a communist system.

When I think who amongst the current crop can stand up for the USA in this manner I have reached the conclusion that they include:
1. Fred Thompson
2. Rudy Giuliani
3. Mitt Romney

Friday, December 14, 2007

Cambio Tres

Earlier I posted this blog that included this You-tube video of apartheid in Cuba caught on video. Today at Babalu Blog I learned a little more information about the gentleman on the video who was told on the tape that his Cuban girl friend is not allowed a room at the hotel. He is from Spain, and his name is Manuel Benito del Valle. He is 29 years old. From Val Prieta at Babalu
Meet Manuel Benito del Valle. He’s a 29 year old Spaniard. He had an internship at the Spanish Institute of Exterior Commerce which entitled him to a diplomatic passport.

He broke the cardinal rule of a Spaniard in Cuba, he broke the Apartheid Rule. He mingled and got friendly with the natives. According to his father, he had been warned not to mix with the “population and their sad circumstances”.

He befriended some Cubans. Maybe fell in love with a Cuban woman-who wouldn’t? He certainly fell in love with that island-who can resist? Once he noticed that Cubans, including his new friends, were second class citizens in their own country, his social conscience awakened. It is very difficult for some people, when faced with an immoral situation that goes against what they know to be right and wrong, to turn and look the other way.

Manuel took a stand on December 10, 2007. He bore witness to the oppression, brutality and exposed it. When he walked into that park, surrounded by Cuban State Security agents and a trained mob of thugs, he did not know if he would make it out alive.

He did. Manuel is back in Spain. He’s lost his scholarship, but gained the eternal gratitude of a people and a place in its history. He’s lost his diplomatic Spanish passport, but as you can see, his body is stamped with a visa that will always guarantee him a Cuban passport.

Gracias, Manuel.


Perhaps King Juan Carlos is not the only one from Spain who understand the vulgar ugliness of Latin American tyrants. I just wish there were more speaking out against this apartheid in Cuba here in the USA. I am glad that there is one who gets it.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A List of House Seats To Target


The 20 freshman members of Congress who had the most special-interest spending, or "earmarks," in the House and Senate spending bills. This includes only spending items with a single sponsor, not multiple sponsors.

Member, party, state, (district)

Total earmarks

Rep. Christopher Carney, D-Pa. (10th)


Sen. Robert Casey, D-Pa.


Rep. Jason Altmire, D-Pa. (4th)


Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Pa. (8th)


Rep. Joe Sestak, D-Pa. (7th)


Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va.


Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa (1st)


Rep. Steve Kagen, D-Wis. (8th)


Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky. (3rd)


Rep. Nick Lampson, D-Texas (22nd)


Rep. Brad Ellsworth, D-Ind. (8th)


Rep. Heath Shuler, D-N.C. (11th)


Rep. Chris Murphy, D-Conn. (5th)


Rep. Baron Hill, D-Ind. (9th)


Rep. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind. (2nd)


Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Calif. (11th)


Rep. Paul Hodes, D-N.H. (2nd)


Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt. (at-large)


Rep. Charlie Wilson, D-Ohio (6th)


Rep. Michael Arcuri, D-N.Y. (24th)


Source: USA TODAY analysis based on data from Taxpayers for Common Sense

Nine of these twenty are member of the Blue Dog Coalition bloc of the democratic Party. They claim to be the true fiscal conservatives in the Congress who never vote to spend taxpayer dollars that aren't paid for and essential for the country.

Seventeen of the eighteen defeated an incumbent Republican or seat that was last held by a Republican. They won by demonizing the Republicans for getting pork through the House for their lobbyist pals. Now they are doing the very same thing they accused their opponent of doing.

The only two that can't be targeted in '08 from this list are Senator Webb and Senator Casey. We will have to wait until 2012 to kick them out.

Michael Barone wrote an interesting article about off year elections for the House.
A snippet
The minority party often does well in special elections; a voter knows that his vote will not determine which party controls the House. The fact that Democrat Nikki Tsongas won by only 51 to 45 percent in the very seriously contested race in October in Massachusetts 5 (a 57-to-41 John Kerry district in 2004) was bad news for Democrats. This week's results were not bad news for Republicans. Yes, Latta ran 4 points behind Bush's 2004 percentage, but that's not as much as the 6 points Tsongas ran behind Kerry's 2004 percentage. To me this suggests that the low job approval rating for Congress poses more problems for Democrats than for Republicans in 2008.

Michael Barone is a living breathing almanac of American politics. I respect his analysis more than any other pol, pundit or pollster bar none.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Today's Democratic Party Is An Oxymoron

Democratic Party 1828-1963
One man with courage makes a majority.
Andrew Jackson

Jacksonian Code of Honor

The unacknowledged code of honor that shapes so much of American behavior and aspiration today is a recognizable descendent of the frontier codes of honor of early Jacksonian America. The appeal of this code is one of the reasons that Jacksonian values have spread to so many people outside the original ethnic and social nexus in which Jacksonian America was formed.

The first principle of this code is self-reliance. Earning and keeping a place in this community on the basis of honest work is the first principle of Jacksonian honor, and it remains a serious insult even to imply that a member of the American middle class is not pulling his or her weight in the world.

The second principle of the code is equality. Among those members of the folk community who do pull their weight, there is an absolute equality of dignity and right. No one has a right to tell the self-reliant Jacksonian what to say, do or think. Any infringement on equality will be met with defiance and resistance. Male or female, the Jacksonian is, and insists on remaining, independent of church, state, social hierarchy, political parties and labor unions.

The third principle is individualism. The Jacksonian does not just have the right to self-fulfillment--he or she has a duty to seek it. In Jacksonian America, everyone must find his or her way: each individual must choose a faith, or no faith, and code of conduct based on conscience and reason. Despite this individualism, the Jacksonian code also mandates acceptance of certain social mores and principles. Loyalty to family, raising children "right", sexual decency (heterosexual monogamy--which can be serial) and honesty within the community are virtues that commend themselves to the Jacksonian spirit. Children of both sexes can be wild, but both women and men must be strong. Corporal punishment is customary and common; Jacksonians find objections to this time-honored and (they feel) effective method of discipline outlandish and absurd. Although women should be more discreet, both sexes can sow wild oats before marriage. After it, to enjoy the esteem of their community a couple must be seen to put their children's welfare ahead of personal gratification.

The fourth principle in the Jacksonian honor code is financial esprit. The strict Jacksonian code of honor does not enjoin what others see as financial probity. What it demands, rather, is a daring and entrepreneurial spirit. Credit is seen less as an obligation than as an opportunity. Jacksonians have always supported loose monetary policy and looser bankruptcy laws.

The fifth principle is courage, the crowning and indispensable part of the code. Jacksonians must be ready to defend their honor in great things and small. Americans ought to stick up for what they believe.


In general, while the other schools welcome the representative character of our democracy, Jacksonians tend to see representative rather than direct institutions as necessary evils, and to believe that governments breed corruption and inefficiency the way picnics breed ants. Every administration will be corrupt; every Congress and legislature will be, to some extent, the plaything of lobbyists. Career politicians are inherently untrustworthy; if it spends its life buzzing around the outhouse, it's probably a fly. Jacksonians see corruption as human nature and, within certain ill-defined boundaries of reason and moderation, an inevitable by-product of government.

It is perversion rather than corruption that most troubles Jacksonians: the possibility that the powers of government will be turned from the natural and proper object of supporting the well-being of the majority toward oppressing the majority in the service of an economic or cultural elite--or, worse still, in the interests of powerful foreigners. Instead of trying, however ineptly, to serve the people, have the politicians turned the government against the people? Are they serving large commercial interests with malicious designs on the common good? Are they either by ineptitude or wickedness serving hostile foreign interests--giving all our industrial markets to the Japanese, or allowing communists to steal our secrets and hand them to the Chinese? Are they fecklessly frittering away huge sums of money on worthless foreign aid programs that transfer billions to corrupt foreign dictators?

For Jacksonians, the world community Wilsonians want to build is not merely a moral impossibility but a monstrosity. An American foreign policy that, for example, takes tax money from middle-class Americans to give to a corrupt and incompetent dictatorship overseas is nonsense; it hurts Americans and does little for Borrioboola-Gha. Countries, like families, should take care of their own; if everybody did that we would all be better off. Charity, meanwhile, should be left to private initiatives and private funds; Jacksonian America is not ungenerous but it lacks all confidence in the government's ability to administer charity, either at home or abroad.

Jacksonians believe that international life is and will remain both anarchic and violent. The United States must be vigilant and strongly armed. Our diplomacy must be cunning, forceful and no more scrupulous than anybody else's. At times, we must fight pre-emptive wars. There is absolutely nothing wrong with subverting foreign governments or assassinating foreign leaders whose bad intentions are clear. Thus, Jacksonians are more likely to tax political leaders with a failure to employ vigorous measures than to worry about the niceties of international law.
Indeed, of all the major currents in American society, Jacksonians have the least regard for international law and international institutions. They prefer the rule of custom to the written law, and that is as true in the international sphere as it is in personal relations at home. Jacksonians believe that there is an honor code in international life--as there was in clan warfare in the borderlands of England--and those who live by the code will be treated under it. But those who violate the code--who commit terrorist acts in peacetime, for example--forfeit its protection and deserve no consideration.

The Gulf War was a popular war in Jacksonian circles because the defense of the nation's oil supply struck a chord with Jacksonian opinion. That opinion--which has not forgotten the oil shortages and price hikes of the 1970s--clearly considers stability of the oil supply a vital national interest and is prepared to fight to defend it. The atrocity propaganda about alleged Iraqi barbarisms in Kuwait did not inspire Jacksonians to war, and neither did legalistic arguments about U.S. obligations under the UN Charter to defend a member state from aggression. Those are useful arguments to screw Wilsonian courage to the sticking place, but they mean little for Jacksonians. Had there been no UN Charter and had Kuwait been even more corrupt and repressive that it is, Jacksonian opinion would still have supported the Gulf War. It would have supported a full-scale war with Iran over the 1980 hostage crisis, and it will take an equally hawkish stance toward any future threat to perceived U.S. interests in the Persian Gulf region.

In the absence of a clearly defined threat to the national interest, Jacksonian opinion is much less aggressive. It has not, for example, been enthusiastic about the U.S. intervention in the case of Bosnia. There the evidence of unspeakable atrocities was much greater than in Kuwait, and the legal case for intervention was as strong. Yet Jacksonian opinion saw no threat to the interests, as it understood them, of the United States, and Wilsonians were the only segment of the population that was actively eager for war.


While in many respects Jacksonian Americans have an optimistic outlook, there is a large and important sense in which they are pessimistic. Whatever the theological views of individual Jacksonians may be, Jacksonian culture believes in Original Sin and does not accept the Enlightenment's belief in the perfectibility of human nature. As a corollary, Jacksonians are pre-millennialist: they do not believe that utopia is just around the corner. In fact, they tend to believe the reverse--the anti-Christ will get here before Jesus does, and human history will end in catastrophe and flames, followed by the Day of Judgment.

Jacksonians believe that neither Wilsonians nor Hamiltonians nor anybody else will ever succeed in building a peaceful world order, and that the only world order we are likely to get will be a bad one. No matter how much money we ship overseas, and no matter how cleverly the development bureaucrats spend it, it will not create peace on earth. Plans for universal disarmament and world courts of justice founder on the same rock of historical skepticism. Jacksonians just tend not to believe that any of these things will do much good.


Jacksonian America has clear ideas about how wars should be fought, how enemies should be treated, and what should happen when the wars are over. It recognizes two kinds of enemies and two kinds of fighting: honorable enemies fight a clean fight and are entitled to be opposed in the same way; dishonorable enemies fight dirty wars and in that case all rules are off.

Just as Jacksonian opinion resents limits on American weapons and tactics, it also resents stopping short of victory. Unconditional surrender is not always a literal and absolute demand. The Confederate surrenders in 1865 included generous provisions for the losing armies. The Japanese were assured after the Potsdam Declaration that, while the United States insisted on unconditional surrender and acceptance of the terms, they could keep the "emperor system" after the war. However, there is only so much give in the idea: all resistance must cease; U.S. forces must make an unopposed entry into and occupation of the surrendering country; the political objectives of the war must be conceded in toto.

In the international conflicts of the twentieth century, it is noteworthy that there have been no major populist backlashes calling for harsher treatment of defeated enemies. But when foreign enemies lack the good taste to surrender, Jacksonian opinion carries grudges that last for decades. Some of the roots of anti-China feeling in the United States today date back to mistreatment of American prisoners during the Korean War. U.S. food and energy aid to North Korea, indeed any engagement at all with that defiant regime, remains profoundly unpopular for the same reason. The mullahs of Iran, the assassins of Libya and Fidel Castro have never been forgiven by Jacksonian opinion for their crimes against and defiance of the United States. Neither will they be, until they acknowledge their sins.

The Indispensable Element

Most progressive, right thinking intellectuals in mid-century America believed that the future of American populism lay in a social democratic movement based on urban immigrants. Social activists like Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger consciously sought to use cultural forms like folk songs to ease the transition from the old individualistic folk world to the collective new one that they believed was the wave of the future; they celebrated unions and other strange, European ideas in down home country twangs so that, in the bitter words of Hiram Evans, "There is a steady flood of alien ideas being spread over the country, always carefully disguised as American." What came next surprised almost everyone. The tables turned, and Evans' Americans "americanized" the immigrants rather than the other way around. In what is still a largely unheralded triumph of the melting pot, Northern immigrants gradually assimilated the values of Jacksonian individualism. Each generation of new Americans was less "social" and more individualistic than the preceding one.

Jacksonian influence in American history has been--and remains--enormous. The United States cannot wage a major international war without Jacksonian support; once engaged, politicians cannot safely end the war except on Jacksonian terms. From the perspective of members of other schools and many foreign observers, when Jacksonian sentiment favors a given course of action, the United States will move too far too fast and too unilaterally in pursuit of its goals. When Jacksonian sentiment is strongly opposed, the United States will be seen to move too slowly or not at all. For anyone wishing to anticipate the course of American policy, an understanding of the structure of Jacksonian beliefs and values is essential.

Today's Democratic Party

The word liberal originally meant that you were for freedom ... that you were willing to stand against big power and on behalf of the individual. But, in the last 30, 40 years it has been turned up on its head as a word to describe “big government.” I prefer the word progressive. I consider myself a modern progressive.
Hillary Clinton


The key concepts of transnational progressivism could be described as follows:

1. The ascribed group over the individual citizen. The key political unit is not the individual citizen, who forms voluntary associations and works with fellow citizens regardless of race, sex, or national origin, but the ascriptive group (racial, ethnic, or gender) into which one is born.

A dichotomy of groups: Oppressor vs. victim groups, with immigrant groups designated as victims. Transnational ideologists have incorporated the essentially Hegelian Marxist "privileged vs. marginalized" dichotomy.

Only the tribe matters. You are a White, or a Black, a Feminist or a Muslim or a Mexican. You are no longer a free individual. You gave no consent to joining these groups - you are born into them and can never leave.

2. Group proportionalism as the goal of "fairness." Transnational progressivism assumes that "victim" groups should be represented in all professions roughly proportionate to their percentage of the population. If not, there is a problem of "underrepresentation."

3. The values of all dominant institutions to be changed to reflect the perspectives of the victim groups. Transnational progressives insist that it is not enough to have proportional representation of minorities in major institutions if these institutions continue to reflect the worldview of the "dominant" culture. Instead, the distinct worldviews of ethnic, gender, and linguistic minorities must be represented within these institutions.

4. The "demographic imperative." The demographic imperative tells us that major demographic changes are occurring in the U. S. as millions of new immigrants from non-Western cultures enter American life. The traditional paradigm based on the assimilation of immigrants into an existing American civic culture is obsolete and must be changed to a framework that promotes "diversity," defined as group proportionalism.
The older concepts of American assimulation must be abandoned to accomodate multiple unassimulated cultures and their unique “perspectives.”

5. The redefinition of democracy and "democratic ideals." Transnational progressives have been altering the definition of "democracy" from that of a system of majority rule among equal citizens to one of power sharing among ethnic groups composed of both citizens and non-citizens. James Banks, one of American education's leading textbook writers, noted in 1994 that "to create an authentic democratic Unum with moral authority and perceived legitimacy, the pluribus (diverse peoples) must negotiate and share power." Hence, American democracy is not authentic; real democracy will come when the different "peoples" that live within America "share power" as groups.

6. Deconstruction of national narratives and national symbols of democratic nation-states in the West. In the U.S., the proposed "National History Standards," recommended altering the traditional historical narrative. Instead of emphasizing the story of European settlers, American civilization would be redefined as a multicultural "convergence" of three civilizations—Amerindian, West African, and European.

7. Promotion of the concept of postnational citizenship. To the transnationalist, patriotism is racist and simple-minded. American Patriots prize their social-economic system above all others in the world, which degrades alternative prospectives.

8. The idea of transnationalism as a major conceptual tool. Americans are the enemy of the self-proclaimed American intelligensia because Americans are populist, anti-elitist, anti-”intellectual” and are technology supremacists. This populism is a strong part of American consumerism and capitalism and inherent in our political system. This means Americans are bad people, especially the Jacksonians.


The social base of transnational progressivism constitutes a rising postnational intelligentsia (international law professors, NGO activists, foundation officers, UN bureaucrats, EU administrators, corporate executives, and politicians.)


A good part of the energy for transnational progressivism is provided by human rights activists, who consistently evoke "evolving norms of international law." The main legal conflict between traditional American liberal democrats and transnational progressives is ultimately the question of whether the U. S. Constitution trumps international law or vice versa.


Transnational progressivism rejects the concept of the hyphenated American and endorse what they call the "ampersand" citizen. Thus, instead of traditional "Mexican-Americans" who are loyal citizens but proud of their ethnic roots, they prefer postnational citizens, who are both "Mexican & American," who retain "loyalties" to their "original homeland" and vote in both countries.


The challenge from transnational progressivism to traditional American concepts of citizenship, patriotism, assimilation, and the meaning of democracy itself is fundamental. If our system is based not on individual rights (as defined by the U. S. Constitution) but on group consciousness (as defined by international law); not on equality of citizenship but on group preferences for non- citizens (including illegal immigrants) and for certain categories of citizens; not on majority rule within constitutional limits but on power-sharing by different ethnic, racial, gender, and linguistic groups; not on constitutional law, but on transnational law; not on immigrants becoming Americans, but on migrants linked between transnational communities; then the regime will cease to be "constitutional," "liberal," "democratic," and "American," in the understood sense of those terms, but will become in reality a new hybrid system that is "post-constitutional," "post-liberal," "post-democratic," and "post-American."

Monday, December 10, 2007

Cambio Dos

Sunday morning, December 9, I put a blog up to call attention to a movement that is happening in Cuba. A march in Havana to protest the apartheid in Cuba occurred. Dr. Darsi Ferrer, his wife and several dissidents were severely beaten by mobs organized and controlled by the Castro regime. The same thugs who attacked Dr. Ferrer and his wife, also attacked foreign journalists who were trying to cover the protest.

A report from the south Florida Sun-Sentinel

Moments after Perez Roque's news conference, anti-government demonstrators led by dissident Darsi Ferrer locked arms and embarked on a silent march around a Havana park, located near the U.N. offices.

As the demonstrators marched and a handful of other people joined them, government supporters shouted "traitors" and "Viva Fidel."

After circling the park, the marchers were quickly surrounded by dozens of government supporters and plainclothes security agents who pushed and shoved the protestors.

"Fidel! Fidel!" the government supporters shouted.

One demonstrator, an elderly man with a cane, was dragged away by security agents. The crowd pushed and shoved the other marchers for several blocks.

Another demonstrator, a young woman in her late teens or early 20s, was assaulted by a female government supporter who had to be pulled away by security agents. The demonstrators dispersed after about a half-hour as the angry crowd became more hostile.

Police have picked up dozens of dissidents in recent days for temporary detention, according to the island's main rights group, the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation.

It was unclear how many of Monday's demonstrators were detained.

A blogger at provides the last e-mail he received from Dr. Darso Ferrer
My home is surrounded by state security security forces. The entire neighborhood has been under siege since Saturday.

Our neighbors, who sympathize with the cause of a free Cuba and are concerned for out safety, have helped identify several of the officer who are participating in this operation.

The headquarter for the state security officers has been set up about three blocks from our house. There are abut 4 dozen officers in there.

Neighbors have also reported that they have seen trucks carrying troops of the so called "special forces" wearing camouflage uniforms and others with soldiers wearing civilian clothes.

This is the situation we are facing. We are determined to exercise our rights no matter what happens.

May God bless our nation. Dr. Darsi Ferrer

Sometimes it just gets confusing to read the news and see the pictures from Cuba, and wonder why a revolt against this Castro regime hasn't happened yet. Sometimes, you run across a short story that can give you so much more insight than news photos and reports. I came across a blogger, Alberto de la Cruz, who has given me a lot more insight. I came across this posting on December 10

Author’s Note: This short story is a fictional account based on true and actual events that take place in Cuba on a regular basis. The characters in this story are based on a culmination of real life Cubans who have shared with me their individual stories of repression and violence at the hands of the despotic dictatorship that rules Cuba today. This story may be fictional, but there are tens of thousands of true stories, similar to this one, that have taken place in Cuba since 1959.

The noise and commotion awoke four year old Mariela from her afternoon nap. She rose from her small bed in the cramped bedroom she shared with her 17 year old brother and with her frayed stuffed dog held tightly to her chest, she opened the door and peeked out into the living room of their first floor apartment in Havana.
She noticed the dinette table had been pushed up against the couch and one of its chairs had been knocked over on its side. She then peered further out and saw the front door open to the hallway. Voices were coming from the street through the doorway and the open windows facing the street.
Mariela then stepped out into the living room. The voices all seemed unfamiliar, except for the voice of her older brother, Ricky. She then heard her mother yell above the din.
“Ricky, don’t be afraid of them! They are nothing but cowards,” she said.
Mariela began walking toward the window to see what was happening outside when she saw a round white band laying on the floor in the middle of the room. She stopped in front of it and picked it up. It was the rubber bracelet with letters embossed on it that her brother had been wearing on his wrist earlier in the day. She wondered why he had taken it off, but then she heard a scream that sounded like her mother.
I strongly recommend clicking here to finish reading his short story. It's short enough for one screen, but it does provide some insight into Cuba like I have never seen elsewhere. This story will touch you no matter what your situation. As a father of a daughter I tell you that it especially touched me.