Quote of the week...
"Beyond those monuments to heroism is the Potomac River, and on the far shore the sloping hills of Arlington National Cemetery with its row on row of simple white markers bearing crosses or Stars of David. They add up to only a tiny fraction of the price that has been paid for our freedom... Under one such marker lies a young man—Martin Treptow—who left his job in a small-town barbershop in 1917 to go to France with the famed Rainbow Division. There, on the western front, he was killed trying to carry a message between battalions under heavy artillery fire. We are told that on his body was found a diary. On the flyleaf under the heading, 'My Pledge,' he had written these words: 'America must win this war. Therefore, I will work, I will save, I will sacrifice, I will endure, I will fight cheerfully and do my utmost, as if the issue of the whole struggle depended on me alone'." —Ronald Reagan (Read Ronald Reagan's tribute, "The boys of Pointe du Hoc.")
"War is an ugly thing but not the ugliest of things; the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feelings which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself." —John Stuart Mill
"We know in our hearts that peace never really lasts for long, which leads to an interesting question: Why is it that humans are apparently designed to desire good and noble things we cannot possibly have? Considering this question, C. S. Lewis concluded, 'If our deepest desires cannot be satisfied in this world, then we must have been made for another world'." —Charles Colson
News from the Swamp...
In the Executive Branch, President Bush tapped Karl Zinsmeister for Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy. Zinsmeister, editor-in-chief of The American Enterprise, brings a wealth of policy experience to the White House, and he continues a positive trend of "musical chairs" in which fresh faces and energetic minds bring new vigor to a beleaguered administration.
The House smells like bacon again.
The House smells like bacon after having passed the $18.4-billion 2007 Agriculture Department appropriations bill, 378-46. The bill may be $96 million less than its FY 2007 predecessor, but it's still $564 million more than the President requested. Meanwhile, several billion dollars of extra spending was approved for FY2007; again, above President Bush's request. An alternate lower budget was indeed proposed by Reps. Mike Pence and Jeb Hensarling; all too tellingly, though, it garnered only 94 Republican votes.
House Majority Leader John Boehner revealed his legislative agenda for the coming year, but with congressional Republicans focused on November and no record worth speaking of, no one seems to care. If Boehner really wants to capture the attention of those who brought him and the rest of the Republican bench to the dance, he will focus on the legislative agenda as outlined by Mr. Pence and the Republican Study Committee. Here in our humble editorial shop, let's just say we're not holding our breath.
In ethics news, video surveillance of Louisiana Democrat William Jefferson shows him accepting $100,000 in cash from an FBI informant. $90,000 of that money was later found in the congressman's freezer during a search of his home (talk about frozen assets!). Jefferson will likely be charged with taking bribes from indicted businessman Vernon Jackson in exchange for helping Jackson to secure deals for his telecommunications holdings in Africa.
A Saturday night raid (with warrant) on Jefferson's congressional offices in Washington has caused a scramble on Capitol Hill to circle the wagons. Citing concerns over "constitutionality," Speaker Hastert and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi issued a joint statement condemning the search of Jefferson's office and demanding that the papers taken be returned.
Since when, exactly, is Congress concerned about something so arcane as constitutionality? This spectacle of representatives claiming super-constitutional rights won't play well with voters already turned off by this arrogant Congress. It is precisely this imperious attitude that has obstructed Petition to Investigate and Indict John F. Kerry for acts of treason. President Bush has now ordered the seized documents sealed while the House and Justice Department seek a resolution to this so-called infringement upon the Legislative Branch.
New and notable legislation: While recently elected Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert visited President Bush at the White House this week to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as well as Iran's nuclear threat, the House adopted the "Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act," 361-37, signaling a hard line on the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority.
On the border...
The Senate finally passed its immigration legislation yesterday, 62-36, but the debate is far from over. The bill now heads to joint committee with the House, where many Republicans, including a few RINOs, have declared that they will not move toward the Senate's position. Speaker Dennis Hastert's "majority of the majority" rule may also spell a long slog. Hastert's rule works to block any bill from reaching the House floor for a vote when it appears that it will pass with less than a majority of the chamber's 231 Republicans. He defended the rule by saying, "The job of speaker is not to expedite legislation that runs counter to the wishes of the majority of his party."
Indeed, the Senate bill, chock full of compromises, also falls short of what The Patriot has called for: Improved border security and enforcement; immediate detention and deportation of those crossing our borders illegally; deportation of any illegal alien convicted of a serious crime; a temporary-worker program (with reliable documentation a prerequisite) to meet the current demand for unskilled labor; penalties against employers who hire undocumented workers; no extension of amnesty and fast-track citizenship (new applicants to the back of the line); preservation of our tax-subsidized medical, educational and social services for American citizens and immigrants here legally; Americanization of new legal immigrants; and the removal of birthright citizenship for children of illegal aliens.
Rep. Mike Pence has introduced a revised bill in the House—The Border Integrity and Immigration Reform Act—that adds a needed guest-worker program to the previous enforcement measure, while at the same time stripping the felony provisions in the original legislation that even many conservatives objected to. The bill makes the important distinction between those who simply want to work temporarily and those who wish to become citizens. This free-market approach is certainly welcome.
Also last week, the upper chamber passed a resolution declaring English the national language. Symbolic, yes, but in the interest of full disclosure, some 34 senators voted against English—we presume because they had some other language in mind: Reid, Clinton, Kerry, Kennedy, Feingold, Biden and Schumer. Come to think of it, they're all fluent in double-speak.
Finally, while the immigration issue is clearly a complicated and highly emotional one, at least one person has it right—The Patriot's resident scholar Charlie Daniels.
The BIG hypocrite...
"I am so proud of the Senate [for passing the immigration bill]. This is the way we should legislate—on a bipartisan basis," said Minority Leader Harry Reid in front of a TV screen showing a live shot of the Senate floor on which fellow Democrats were mounting a filibuster against another of President Bush's judicial nominees, Brett Kavanaugh. Mr. Reid left the microphone to cast his vote for the filibuster.
In other news...
A Department of Veterans Affairs employee inexplicably (and without authorization) took home a laptop computer and disks containing the names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers and other information about as many as 26-million veterans only to have that data stolen in a burglary earlier this month. For two weeks the VA tried to deal with the issue internally before turning the issue over to the FBI and the Justice Department, costing precious time in following clues in the case. To date, however, there is no evidence of identity theft through use of the data.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, more than 27.3-million Americans from all walks of life have been victims of identity theft in the last five years—with more than ten million of them in the last year alone. As a service to our readers, The Patriot offers an excellent resource for identity-theft protection through one of our Patriot Affiliates providers. We encourage you to review our affiliate ID theft protection service and other valuable Patriot Affiliate business opportunities.
On the National Security front...
Choices about energy regulation are pivotal matters of national security.
In energy-related security news, even though geologists claim that the Gulf of Mexico is practically bubbling with fossil fuels while American motorists pay record high gas bills, environmentalists have for decades prevented exploration or drilling in these oil rich fields. Now Cuba is prepared to tap its own piece of the demarcated Florida Straits for oil, and it is prepared to sell parcels to China to do the same. The idea of Red China drilling for oil just off the coast of the United States while we remain hamstrung by dubious tree-hugging regulations is an embarrassment of monumental proportions. Republican Rep. John Peterson and 160 House co-sponsors have proposed a bill that would open coastal water for mining of natural gas, which has risen sharply in price. Richard Pombo (R-CA) is proposing a similar bill for the California shoreline. The Patriot commends these efforts, and we encourage lawmakers to start seeing choices about energy regulation as pivotal matters of national security.
This week, President Bush, who demonstrably understands energy as a matter of national security, became the first President since Jimmy Carter to visit a nuclear power plant. Speaking from the Limerick Generating Station in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, Mr. Bush called for the nation to "aggressively move forward" in expanding our nuclear power capacity, research and development, and called on Congress to fund his $250 million request for a Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, responsible for recycling nuclear waste. Expanding our nuclear energy capacity is a critical long-term measure to alleviate the emerging national energy crisis.
From the National Intelligence files...
Assured of his independence from Pentagon control, the Senate confirmed Air Force General Michael Hayden today to head the CIA, by a 78-15 vote. Hayden, who served as director of the NSA from March 1999 to April 2005, and currently serves as principal deputy director of national intelligence, had previously vowed to "reaffirm the CIA's proud culture of risk-taking." The Patriot endorsed General Hayden's nomination for Director of CIA, and welcomes his continued presence in the critical realm of national intelligence.
From the warfront with Jihadistan...
The latest Internet audio post from Osama bin Laden declares that convicted 9/11 terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui "had no connection at all with September 11... I am the one in charge of the 19 brothers, and I never assigned brother Zacarias to be with them in that mission." Bravely spoken, Obie. We don't suppose you'd have the courage to testify under oath during brother Zac's appeal?
On the Homeland Security front...
Two top Democrats on the House Homeland Security Committee are raising a ruckus over reports that the Department of Homeland Security has supposedly owed them since 2003. Ranking Democrat Bennie Thompson and Kendrick Meek, the ranking Demo on the management subcommittee, stated that DHS did not release reports on 118 security plans for transportation, ports and borders. DHS, however, maintains that it has cooperated with Congress' requests for information on numerous occasions, and the impression created by Thompson and Meeks that the department is uncooperative is completely false. Thompson has been a critic of DHS since its creation.
From the "Department of Military Readiness"...
Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld recently approved the campaign plan for the "Global War on [Islamist] Terrorism," which breaks down in three parts. First, the overall plan seeks to set priorities, allocate resources and coordinate operations among the Regional Combatant Commanders (RCC). A second aspect focuses on specific enemy groups such as al-Qa'ida, while a third addresses disrupting and responding to major terrorist attacks on the U.S., while providing the "how to" for a counterattack overseas.
Special Operations Command (SOCOM) is the lead headquarters for planning and implementing the U.S. National Strategy, though the RCCs remain in charge in their area of operational responsibility. Enhancing the capacity to respond, the Special Operations Forces' budget and troop strength are growing rapidly—the budget by 60 percent to $8 billion in FY 2007 and troop strength to 13,000-plus.
All battle plans must be revised upon contact with the enemy.
Of course, all battle plans must be revised upon contact with the enemy (as General Eisenhower said, the D-Day plan was worthless on D-plus-1), but the planning process itself is invaluable. That's what we're seeing in the military's self-taught counterterrorism and counterinsurgency planning, and Secretary Rumsfeld's new campaign plan is only the latest stage in that evolution.
From the "Court Jesters" File, a class-action lawsuit filed against FEMA last week seeks to extend benefits of the organization's 403 housing program for Katrina and Rita evacuees, currently slated to end on 31 May. Beginning in June, evacuees would be "forced" to take part in FEMA's 408 program, which, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition "has more stringent eligibility criteria" (gasp!) than the current 403 program.
This is the third such lawsuit that has been filed against FEMA as the result of the Katrina and Rita disasters. Considering the high-profile law firms and civil-rights groups involved, it's hard to say that this case is purely about concern for hurricane victims and not the approximately $62 billion in federal tax dollars FEMA is charged with dispensing. While these recent natural disasters illustrate that proper emergency management is vital to our national well being, we consider increased accountability for our tax dollars an equally important concern.
From the Left...
Rep. John Murtha, that stalwart supporter of the troops, has been awarded the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award for his valiant and repeated calls for us to raise the white flag and cut and run in Iraq. Yet it was JFK himself who once famously declared, "Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty." The award recipient doesn't seem to share that sentiment, which would logically seem to be a prerequisite. President Kennedy, please call your office.
This week's "Alpha Jackass" award:
Senator John McCain experienced the receiving end of a little free political speech at New York's New College graduation ceremony, where he was booed and heckled by students while giving the commencement address. Sadly, the heckling was for McCain's pro-Iraq war stance—not his efforts to suppress Americans' First Amendment rights via the McCain-Feingold Incumbent Protection Act. Just last month, McCain defended his anti-free-speech legislation by saying he'd "rather have a clean government than one where, quote, 'First Amendment rights' are being respected that has become corrupt." What U.S. Senator, pray tell, dares puts quotes around First Amendment rights?
"[I'd] rather have a clean government than one where, quote, 'First Amendment rights' are being respected that has become corrupt."
Proving the point, a Maine federal court this week ruled on the basis of McCain-Feingold's so-called "campaign-finance reform" that Maine's Christian Civic League cannot air a radio ad during Senate deliberations on the Federal Marriage Protection Amendment. This is so because the spot mentions RINO Sen. Olympia Snowe, who's up for re-election, but more to the point, supports homosexual "marriage." That's quite enough. It's time for Congress to repeal McCain-Feingold, and for Arizonans to return Sen. John McCain to private life.
From the Leftmedia...
The Leftmedia often love to make news and then report on it. Such was the case with a recent headline, "Bush Snubs Gore Film on Global Warming." The "story," however, completely revolved around what appears to be a question asked of the President by the media: something along the lines of "Are you going to see Al Gore's latest movie? (Are you? Huh? Huh?)" President Bush replied, "Doubt it," and all of the sudden, it's news! And now for the next approval poll of people exiting the Gore film...pollaganda we call it.
On the other hand, The New York Times is in full campaign mode for Hillary in '08 Clinton. A 2,000-word tome (including "interviews with some 50 people") on how wonderful the Clintons' marriage is graced a recent front page. Obviously it was a slow news day.
From the "Regulatory Commissars" File...
The Federal Trade Commission reported no evidence of "price gouging" by oil companies, but rather something generally known as "supply and demand."
This story may have been printed in invisible ink in The New York Times, but it's worth noting that the Federal Trade Commission has reported no evidence that the oil industry manipulated gas prices after Hurricane Katrina last year. Any changes in price were not due to gouging but a natural reaction to market conditions—something generally known as "supply and demand." Predictably, "Big Oil" critics think the report is simply Cheney-esque, Halliburton-inspired hogwash, but at least now the numbers can speak for themselves.
This week's "Braying Jenny" award:
"We need to reform our energy taxes so that large oil companies who reap huge benefits from unexpectedly high energy prices over the next two years will be required to pay a portion of their profits into the strategic energy fund... Right now, instead of national security dictating our energy policy, our failed energy policy dictates our national security." —Hillary in '08 Clinton, seeking to regulate "Big Oil" in the name of national security
Regarding the redistribution of your income...
As the school year ends and students (or at least their parents) look forward to the fall, college tuition costs come quickly to mind for many. Tuition fees have risen faster than inflation since 1975 and a slowdown does not appear to be on the horizon. In all, tuition has risen 40 percent since 2000. Students at state schools now pay a whopping average of $12,127 per year, while their private-school counterparts pay $29,026, yet Congress has not hauled university administrators in for a "price gouging" inquisition as they have with "Big Oil" executives. Indeed, the only answer we hear for tuition costs from many pols is—Ta-da!—more subsidies. Why not subsidize "Big Oil"? Surely that would help!
On the contrary, while rising demand (more Americans going to college) is causing some of the tuition rise, federal subsidies—your tax dollars—are largely responsible for bloated prices. Republicans succeeded in making minor subsidy cuts late last year, which will help, but getting the federal government out of the loan business altogether is the only real solution—and likely the only one that's not considered in DC.
From the "Non Compos Mentis" Files...
Just when we thought Congress couldn't outdo its own inanity, the House on Monday passed, by no less than a 349-24 vote, the "Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act" (HR 3858). The bill requires states to include pet rescue and care in emergency response plans, or else lose Federal Emergency Management Agency grant money. Speaking of a televised shot of a boy who lost his dog in a Katrina rescue operation, the bill's sponsor, Demo Rep. Tom Lantos, said, "The dog was taken away from this little boy, and to watch his face was a singularly revealing and tragic experience. This legislation was born at that moment."
Apparently, the Tenth Amendment's prohibition of such mandates needs to be reborn.
From the "Village Academic Curriculum" File...
Harvard University was once the pinnacle of academic thought in America. Now, as Harvard Professor Harvey Mansfield notes, most professors "no longer maintain high standards of academic excellence that Harvard used to have [but] rather take pride in finding ways of avoiding them." For example, students these days can look forward to dressing in drag for class, creating Wikipedia entries for a final project or writing a short essay as a letter "expressing your gratitude to a person whom you appreciate—to someone you haven't thanked enough." Other intellectually rigorous assignments include one from English 101: The History and Structure of the English Language in which students learned to speak and read Jamaican Patois, a form of Creole. Literature and Arts C-40: Chinese Literati is not far behind—students must keep "ledgers of merit and demerit" for their good and bad deeds each day. A popular psychology class, Human Sexuality, requires a ten-page paper recounting the student's personal sexual development. Tens of thousands of dollars sure doesn't buy what it used to.
Around the nation...
The New Orleans mayoral election was a case of "pin the tail on the donkey" politics.
It was a case of "pin the tail on the donkey" politics when New Orleans' citizens went to the mayoral polls last weekend. Given the so-called "choice" between "Chocolate-City" Democrat incumbent Nagin and his white, political-dynasty-bred opponent Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu, Willy Wonka Nagin won out.
Nagin's re-election comes despite an abysmal financial picture that has the city borrowing $150 million from several banks. Though reports later surfaced that this deal is not yet signed and sealed, the loan would precede the hoped-for summer arrival of $10 billion in federal dollars. Given Nagin's track record of pointing a finger at the White House when things go bad, we hope the management of our tax dollars under his administration is handled better than the evacuation of the citizens he (uh, rather Gov. Kathleen Blanco, no wait, FEMA... hang on now, it must have been Bush!) was responsible for.
In business/economic news...
So you thought it was all just home sales? That's not the picture of the nation's bustling economy given by the Commerce Department this week, which reported revised first quarter growth at 5.3 percent, up from the initial estimate of 4.8 percent. What's more, existing home sales declined by 2 percent in the same period. In all, the bulk of growth was in overseas sales and inventory-building; in other words, non-inflationary growth. So much for bashers of the Bush tax cuts and pro-growth attitude—the numbers are in.
On the culture front...
Back in 2003, Dixie Chicks' star Natalie Maines made headlines when she announced to a London audience, "[W]e're ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas." The Chicks thus alienated fans, and a large number of country music stations opted not to play their music any longer.
Now, the trio has released a new album featuring the single "Not Ready to Make Nice," and, as Brent Bozell astutely notes, "They asked themselves: How can we get ourselves featured on the cover of TIME and hailed on CBS's '60 Minutes' just before the new CD comes out? Easy. Trash George W. Bush again." So Maines pontificated in her TIME interview, "I don't feel [President Bush] is owed any respect whatsoever," while Marty Maguire displayed the group's arrogant attitude toward fans: "I'd rather have a small following of really cool people who get it, who will grow with us as we grow and are fans for life, than people that have us in their five-disc changer with Reba McEntire and Toby Keith. We don't want those kinds of fans. They limit what you can do." And saying stuff like that limits how many albums you sell.
Around the world...
Last Saturday, Iraq took another step towards stability with the swearing-in of its new government. In addition to defeating the insurgency, the new assembly faces many significant issues, such as deciding who will run the Departments of Defense and Interior, which control the Iraqi army and police forces. For now, Prime Minister Maliki, a Shi'ite, will run Interior, while one of his deputies, a Sunni, will oversee Defense. On Monday, British Prime Minister Tony Blair discussed the security situation with Maliki, agreeing that Iraqi forces would assume full security responsibilities for some areas next month, though Maliki said it could take 18 more months before Iraqi forces secured all of Iraq. No timetable was set for a full Coalition withdrawal, though British sources say coalition forces could be out within four years.
Regarding the continuing violence, Maliki promised to use "maximum force against the terrorists." How much force he uses against Shi'ite militias, some of which are tied to parties that support Maliki, will be a telling moment. As an increasing number of independent and almost completely unregulated militias and "protective services" have flourished in and around Baghdad, the need for security is a top priority for the new Iraqi government. Not surprisingly, many of these militias have evolved into either brutal criminal enterprises at best or terror cells at worst. It's past time to centralize Iraqi police and security efforts with consistent oversight and training, preferably by Coalition Special Forces that are fully integrated into every unit. In the near term, Maliki cannot afford to let the Shi'ites off lightly, or his whole government, and the hope of a stable Iraq, could collapse.
Sri Lanka is planning to pardon some of its wildest, most destructive elephants from the death penalty—elephants which destroyed crops and killed 84 people last year alone. Now, rather than allow angry villagers to kill these rampaging beasts (as they did 156 times in 2005), the elephants will be captured, rehabilitated and put to work giving rides in the tourism industry. Likewise, Buddhists are hopeful that this will curb an elephant shortage in their ceremonial processions.
Here at home, a similar plan of action may be just what the doctor ordered, since our own GOP pachyderms have accomplished little more than exchanging liberalism's big government for an indistinguishable variety Republicans call their own. Come November, armed with the Sri Lankan model, perhaps we Patriots can bag the wildest, nastiest members of the Republican herd, rehabilitate them and direct them to more appropriate pursuits.
Lex et Libertas—Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus, et Fidelis! Mark Alexander, Publisher, for the editors and staff. (Please pray for our Patriot Armed Forces standing in harm's way around the world, and for their families, especially those of our fallen Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen, who have died in defense of American liberty while prosecuting the war with Jihadistan.)