Friday, September 14, 2007

My last post on Iraq--for now.

I seem to have become obsessed with what is happening in Iraq right now--while nearly every other blogger I read regularly is avoiding the subject. I genuinely do want to address other things that are important to me as a Libertarian, and as a citizen of this planet we call Earth. Everybody who reads my blog knows where I stand on the issue, while those who haven't read it yet will quickly and easily find out. Those who would agree with me already agree, while those who disagree with me will never see my point.
I have said just about all that I feel needs to be said on the subject.
One last thing--General Petreaus is not a political figure, no matter what certain Congress persons and Senators may think. He is just a guy who does his job, and does it well. When he delivered his report to Congress, he did not sugarcoat anything, he did not try to justify the American presence in Iraq, he only described what resources he had, what he has accomplished with those resources, what he needs, and what he can accomplish in the future. He is not running for office, he is not trying to get anybody elected or re-elected. He made it clear that he does not like to lose the lives of those with whom he has been entrusted. His job is to pick up pieces and make something out of them
The inserts, or blockquotes, in this post are taken from an article in The Daily Star--an English language e-newsletter from Lebanon--written by syndicated columnist David Ignatius, and titled "Petraeus' Iraq legacy is the real issue." It is a good read, and should be perused with an open mind.
When Petraeus was training the Iraqi Army, he liked to talk about "pop-ups" - the militia units that appear unexpectedly with charismatic commanders and more fighting zeal than the regular military. Unlike more rigid commanders, he was willing to go with the flow - to conform his strategy to these pop-up realities on the ground, rather than try to make things fit his own big picture. That's one of his strengths. He's basically winging it in Iraq - exploring what works and then going with it.

This is a good assessment of the man's character. He is there to get a job done, and is flexible enough to do that job under ever-changing circumstances. As the next paragraph of the article explains, he is not one who has decided to "stay the course" that was left to him:
This bottom-up style of Petraeus and his group represents a decisive break with the cocksure, top-down ethos of Donald Rumsfeld's Pentagon - and with a military leadership that bought into Rumsfeld's idea that technology had transformed the nature of warfare itself. Nonsense, said the colonels who advised Petraeus, many of whom, like him, are on their third tours in Iraq. They have learned the hard way to be skeptical of big ideas.

To those who think General Patreaus' methods are the same that have already been tried in Iraq, and have failed, think again--the General and his staff seem to have rejected any idea to continue the strategies that have already been tried. I need say no more. Mr. Ignatius sums it up very well in the last three paragraphs of his article:

Petraeus and his team understand, too, that this war is about people - and helping them one by one to break the cycle of intimidation. When I asked Colonel H.R. McMaster, a key Petraeus adviser, to name a turning point in Anbar, he cited the day last February when Al-Qaeda deposited at a hospital in Ramadi an ice chest containing the severed heads of the children of several sheikhs who had been cooperating with the United States. Rather than submitting to this barbarous act, the enraged sheikhs deepened their alliance with the US military.

We need to be honest about what's happening now in Iraq: Local solutions are better than no solutions; tribal power is better than terrorist intimidation; pop-ups can be better than the pre-planned models. But Petraeus' ad-hoc, ground-up security framework is not the same thing as stabilizing the country. In the time remaining, he has to pull things together as best he can - connect local successes to provincial and national institutions; extend the Sunni rebellion against extremists into the Shiite regions; break the control that Shiite militias now exert over the Interior Ministry and the police.

We do know how this is going to end: with US troops returning home. The question is what they will leave behind. It's likely to be a ragged, patchwork quilt, and there isn't much time left to stitch it together.

Careful what we wish for?

There is a definite plus to Dr. Ron Paul's candidacy for the Republican Presidential nomination; he is getting part of the Libertarian message out to a large segment of the voting public--substantially more than he did as a Libertarian Presidential Candidate in 1988. He is making his point on the Libertarian principles of non-initiation of force, the unconstitutionality of the Federal Income Tax, and the need to repeal the IRS, the need for smaller government, and the importance of free market capitalism in keeping our economy healthy. Every Libertarian, and most conservatives, agree that the United Nations is a useless, and needless entity that we, as a sovereign nation could do without. Dr. Paul has been very articulate on this subject.
I am certain that, given the opportunity, Ron Paul would make a statement declaring that all Federal lands and mineral rights should be sold to private ownership, where the decision on whether or not to drill for oil, cut timber, grow crops of the owner's choice, raise livestock, etc, is up to the owner of the property.
It would be good for us, the Libertarians, if Dr. Paul would address some other issues. We would be happy to hear him explain that the government has no right to legislate individual moral decisions, such as the personal choice of abortion, or to choose or not choose to consume or participate in marijuana, prostitution, gambling, alcohol, or other "vices" that should be a matter of personal responsibility. Of course, we know that in the Texas State Legislature, and in Congress, that Dr. Paul has voted for laws that would prosecute physicians who perform abortions, and his silence on the issue of prohibition is absolutely deafening.
Dr. Paul has also failed to address the participation of the AMA in the act of persuading legislators to limit individual rights, and the support that organization has expressed for "universal" health care. Being the politician he is, and owing his chosen vocation to the AMA, we can't expect that he would say much to criticise that organization.

Where are the solutions? It's easy to argue that open borders would eventually even out the world economy, provided that there is still a way to prevent the smuggling of weapons that could be used against the citizens of a country. An open border can not be a one way portal--in order for a border to be genuinely open, it has to go both ways. We should, for instance, just as easily be able to get a job with competitive wages in Mexico as it is for someone in Mexico to come here and get a desirable job. Ron Paul, or any other candidate for that matter, would do well to venture a proposal on how to create borders that are truly open.
The debate over how we got to Iraq has been discussed ad naseum. That discussion does not address the question of how do we fix it. Every scenario projected for the region in the event of a precipitous withdrawal of US military forces includes the genocide of Iraqi Sunnis and a large scale war between Farsi and Arab. Nuclear holocaust is another situation that could happen, if Israel sees a need to protect itself by green glassing the entire region. Ron Paul's solution is to "let it happen," but there are no other candidates who have any solution at all.
The problem here is, there can be no economy in any nation without energy, and, for at least the next twenty years, Mid East oil is a very important energy source. The Wahadi Fundamentalist Caliphate of Mesopotamia, envisioned by Bin Ladin and others, would not allow the trade of oil to any other nation, including Islamic nations, that does not subscribe to Wahadi Fundamentalism. The Mesopotamian Caliphate would detrimentally effect the economy of every nation in the world.
Any large scale war in the region would undoubtedly result in the closure of the Straits of Hormuz. This is an important sea lane necessary for trade not only for oil, but for technological and other goods important to the world economy. China has already declared that it would be military involved in the prevention of closure of that important trade route. Again, in this scenario all that can happen is an escalation of hostilities.
The bottom line here is that no other nation in the world would trust the United States as a trading partner if this country were responsible, by negligence, for either a large scale genocide, or a larger scale war over trade routes and energy.
Libertarian philosophy is a good thing if it can be applied in a practical manner. In order to be practical, it needs to be applied universally. This can happen, but not with an isolationist attitude. The entire world is not going to become Libertarian simultaneously, so Ron Paul, and his supporters, should keep this in mind.
The big minus is the answer to the question "what if Ron Paul won the Republican nomination?" The electorate tends to vote for what it knows, rather than for the unknown. A victory for Dr. Paul in the nomination race, would mean a victory for the Democratic Party in the presidential race. The American public is not ready to accept the entire Libertarian agenda, and would rather have double digit unemployment figures and socialized medicine than the prosperity Libertarianism promises. In the long run, the economic ruin that would be caused by a Democratic administration, coupled with a Democratic Congress, would create enough backlash to make Libertarianism the next logical step, but that same backlash could also translate to more of "they can't win, so don't bother voting for them." As Libertarians, concerning Ron Paul as a Republican candidate, we need to be careful what we wish for.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

What Purpose Does it Serve?

Even before General Petraeus delivered his report to Congress, he was being criticised for what he might say. MoveOn, a left wing extremist organization bought a discounted ($100K below the quoted rate) full page ad in the NY Times, which read as follows:
General Petreaus or General Betray us? Cooking the books for the White House.

Now, Jeffery Feldman, of the Huffington Post, claims that "Betray us," does not necessarily imply that the General is a "traitor," and that "cooking the books" does not necessarily imply that he is a "liar."
So, there you have it--MoveOn shelled out $65 grand to say nothing, which is something they should say more often.
Likewise, we can expect Democratic Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton to declare that, when she said, "I have to suspend my disbelief, (when listening to the report)," she was not calling the report a lie, nor was she calling the General a "liar."
Such statements do serve a purpose: Now, we know for certain that, when politicians talk about the war as if it were a political issue, they say nothing.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

For My Country on 9/11

9/11 Tribute: Kevin P. Connors (Re-published)

Kevin P. Connors, of Greenwich, Connecticut once bought a boat in which he planned to sail solo around the world. The boat sank off the coast of South America, and he survived that He survived because he was a winner who would not accept defeat. He loved challenges, and when the challenge of selecting a good investment for his clients at Euro Brokers wasn't enough, he went mountain climbing.
On September 11, 2001, Mr. Connors, a vice president at Euro Brokers in the World Trade Center, didn't even get a chance to face a challenge, when people whom he had never met decided he must die.
It is an honor to pay tribute to this shipwreck survivor, and, on the fifth anniversary of the tragedy, to honor him and the rest of the fallen. Kevin P. Connors, who was 55 years old, was a winner and a hero to his four brothers and his sister, and to those who knew and worked with him. May we all find peace in his memory.

Not My Kind

Republican candidate for the Presidential nomination, Congressman Ron Paul, presents himself as a libertarian, and is favored by roughly 50% of the Libertarian Party members. He is, however, not my kind of Libertarian.
My kind of Libertarian is pragmatic, rather than a blind follower of the Faith in Libertarian principles. The pragmatic Libertarian is no less a believer in Libertarian principles than is the Ivory Tower Libertarian, but the pragmatic is inclined to apply those principles within the tolerance of the situation in question.
Dr. Paul fails to acknowledge the facts. He tries to shove the Libertarian principles down our throats, without consideration of the situation. He defends his views by citing the crackpot 9/11 conspiracy theorists when talking about his opposition to the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is, in fact, a politician, not a statesman, as can be seen in his Wikipedia entry. In fact, he was the only professional politician ever to run for office as a Libertarian. It should be remembered that, when he ran for President in 1988, he received the lowest national vote count in the history of the Libertarian Party. It should also be remembered that, after the 1988 elections, he was heavily criticised by Libertarians for improperly representing the Libertarian principles.
Where would Dr. Paul draw the line of defense against those who do us harm? Would he actually wait until there is another invasion of our sovereignty, in which thousands of innocent citizens are killed? It is true that, if Saddam had been left alone, we would not be fighting Al Qaeda in Iraq, but, where would we be fighting them? Our enemy, which is waging a continuing war against us, is not a foreign country. Our enemy is a population of men who follow an extremely radical religious philosophy, in which the only way to reach Paradise is to murder those who do not follow their particular brand of religion. They have no borders. If we were to wait for them to come to us, the toll in human lives would be catastrophic. Dr. Paul's isolationist philosophy would ensure that such a toll would be taken. The pragmatic Libertarian is not an isolationist.
Dr. Paul does not represent all of the Libertarian principles. He is an ardent prohibitionist. On the issue of abortion, he would like to return to the days of back alley butchers.
Libertarian philosophy can not be imposed from the top down--it must work its way up from the individual and the smallest possible community.
Neal Boortz, who literally wrote the book on the Fair Tax Initiative, is my kind of Libertarian. He understands that preserving the future of our way of life is not the "temporary" security of which Ben Franklin spoke. Walter E. Williams, who often writes about the need of the individual to take personal responsibility in order to earn and preserve our natural rights, is my kind of Libertarian.
Gary Johnson was elected Governor of New Mexico in 1994 and served in that office for the full two terms allowed by that state's constitution. As Governor, he was an outstanding example of how the pragmatic Libertarian operates within the practical situation. He successfully repealed New Mexico's prohibition of package liquors on Sunday, which resulted in a dramatic drop in DWI/DUI incidents in that state. After he granted permission for a Native American clan in New Mexico to open a casino on its reservation/property, the Federal government sought an injunction against the opening of that casino. Governor Johnson successfully stood against the Feds, in the name of states' rights and property rights, and the injunction was dropped. He allowed homosexual partnerships to be legally recognized in New Mexico. While not able to repeal New Mexico's income tax, he reduced spending while creating tax incentives for commercial ventures in New Mexico, dramatically improving that state's economy--a policy that was continued by Governor Bill Richardson. Amid severe criticism from both Democratic and Republican politicians, Governor Johnson brought the question of marijuana prohibition to the forefront. Johnson did all this with very little experience in politics. He is not, by any means, a professional politician. Gary Johnson, of course, is my kind of Libertarian.
The Libertarian Party has been trying to shake the image of the "Ivory Tower Libertarian Crackpot" for many years. Dr. Paul has, in the Republican Party Presidential nomination debates, presented himself as just that. Libertarians would do well to ignore his bid for the Presidency.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Glamour Girl

Because I felt the need to post a picture on this blog. I present Clansi, a cat who knows how to pose.

This also gives me the opportunity to recommend Riotcats, a photo blog with a clever and humorous twist for cat lovers.
While I'm on the subject of humor, I will remind the readers, that if you don't like what you read on my blog, I recommend you use The Pornolizer, with the warning that it is for mature audiences only. Try it, you'll like it.

An alternative translation


The following is a summary of the highlights of Osama Bin Ladin's latest video-taped speech, as translated, poorly, by our own Sheik Aywan Yobudi:

One morning I woke up and discovered I had grey hair. As the world's most feared terrorist leader, I begain feeling as if I no longer had control over the jihad. I felt like I was getting too old, and for three years I lacked the confidence to make new videos.
Then, I discovered Just For Men. I used it, and after only five minutes, the gray was gone. My confidence returned, and I could score chicks again. In fact I am so confident that I have decided to announce my candidacy for the office of the President of the United States.
"What," you ask, "can Osama do for me as President?"
I will tell you what I can do for you as President:
Your Congress has not done as they have promised and removed the American armed forces from Iraq. As President, I will make sure that Congress keeps their promise, and then I will have their feet and hands removed before I have them stoned and their heads removed...
Your economy is failing, with a class separation between the rich and the poor. As President, I will make sure there is no class separation among the dhimmis. I will take all the money and give it to the Wahadi Sect of Islam, and to the jihad, and I will keep the rest...
Taxes are making you poor, but, remember, as dhimmis you can not own property or a business, and you may keep only enough money to keep yourself fed, so you will not have to worry about taxes if I am President...
In America, you have crime caused by the partaking of alcohol, tobacco, drugs, and scantily clad women. As your President, I will invoke Sharia Law, and there will be no partaking of alcohol, tobacco, or drugs, and there will be no scantily clad women except for those I wish for myself...
In America you have no choices--you have to be all that you can be. As your President, I can offer you many choices...
You can convert to the Wahadi Sect of Islam and live and die in the Glory of Allah...
You can convert to Islam as a heretic and die by Sharia Law, which means you will have your hands and feet removed, then you will be stoned, then you will be hanged, then you will be stoned again, then you will have your head removed, and then you will be stoned one more time...
You can be as you are and live in the dirt and in servitude as dhimmis...
Or you can remain as you are and refuse dhimmi status and be infidels, which means you will be stoned and then you...oh, you know what it means.
So, as your President I will be the only one who can help America find its way...
Thank-you, good night, and Death to America.
Oh, and remember--it's Osama not Obama.